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Salsa Dancing Pros and Cons


By Maya, Return to SalsaCrazy.Com Features


Let me tell you up-front.  It ain’t what you think. One question, who’s a pro in salsa, produces a multitude of opinions. Like in the famous fable, everybody’s pulling the cart in different directions: fish towards the water; bird towards the sky and wolf  - into the woods. Some say it’s whom WE recognize as pros; some think none of them, some say clave is the key and some suggest creating standards for salsa pros and co...sorry,- amateurs.

Guidelines similar to ballroom rules based on dancing as sport were floating in the air.

Dancing treated like sport? Dance-sport is an oxymoron! (The sport being the moron part, no offense). For hundreds of years dancing was considered an art form in every corner of the globe. It’s enough that ice-skating is part of the Olympics, but even here there’s a separate score for artistic expression).

Ballroom dancing does have Latin and Swing categories, but they’re so far removed from the original street creations, nobody even treats them as such anymore.  Unlike ballet, jazz and other professional dance forms - salsa, and tango, and samba and swing and later tap, hip-hop and breakdancing are all truly folk creations born on the streets.  Yes, some of them, like hip-hop and tap, invaded the stage thanks to their mainstream popularity.  Even breakdancing with its acrobatic features and almost no relation to music is considered a dance.  But I digress.

Before we can even discuss who’s a salsa pro, we got to face the music. In spite of its worldwide popularity, or maybe because of it, salsa is a SOCIAL dance first and foremost. It is not a performance dance in America. It is not a “professional” dance like jazz or ballet where people train for that since childhood in schools and universities where they are admitted, tested and degreed as professionals in their field of study and training.  One can almost always recognize a professionally trained dancer in salsa troupes.  As good as the other salseros might be, there’s still a gap in quality visible to all especially in shines.  That’s why, among other factors, salsa in its present level of performance is rarely seen on stage, even in Latin music shows. Who do you think is dancing in  top-of-the-line hip-hop performances? Street hip-hoppers? No, mostly professional dancers who learn the hip-hop moves presented to them by professional choreographers. How many top salseros would be able to pass auditions for mainstream dance shows? Think about it.

So discussing who’s a pro on this level is like milling water, it’s a “moo-point” like Joey from Friends once said (he meant moot). Does it mean those with passion for salsa should just forget about it? Absolutely not! Here’s a chance for all folks who have the drive and persistence to push salsa into the mainstream art form. Creation of official bodies governing the dance should come at the top of the pyramid after the foundation has been laid and solidified. Some suggestions to pursue:  schools of all levels that offer salsa credits to its dance students; creation of professional dance troupes selecting the best graduates; introduce salsa music and patterns to existing professional performing dance companies etc. etc. Is it possible? An uphill battle, that’s for sure. Is it necessary? That’s a whole other pot of tea.

Having said that, we can still decide what it means to be a pro in the salsa world. Why doesn’t anybody look up the word in his Webster’s? I ain’t gonna tell ya, besides, every dictionary will have differences in definitions.

Or here’s a thought: maybe we should just all relax and leave salsa to what it always meant to be: a social dance for all in all its forms and variations.  We can all have fun and dance or we can continue raising storms in a teapot. Your choice.


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