We want your
articles and publications! We DO publish. Do you want to
write a review? Do you want to write a commentary?
name it, we'll publish it! Submit your articles, or ask
for our writing guidelines,
SALSA DANCE STARS WORKSHOP (FEB 2002)
Tiffany Sanchez, special
Did you miss the
Workshop? Next time - join our
mailing lists to stay informed!
DO NOT MISS
THE RENO TRIP - COMING IN APRIL!
SIGN UP FOR THE
TRIP NOW BY
PLEASE GIVE A
LOCAL INSTRUCTOR CREDIT FOR THE REFERRAL!
Date: February 2,
On Saturday, February 2 I had the chance to attend the Salsa Stars workshop in
downtown Oakland, always a fun event! It is sometimes difficult to decide which
classes to take when you have four new choices each hour, but you gotta just go
with your gut. I generally prefer to take the LA teachersí classes, just because
I donít normally have a chance to see their styles. This time I decided to
really get to know the instructors I was taking, so I took both of Edie & Alís
classes and both of Mike Belloís. I really missed Jobyís ladies styling this
time! Where was it?
Salsa Stars has one logistical problem they have to deal with: getting hundreds
of people in there by 10:00 a.m. If you want to be in the building by 10:00 a.m.
for the start of classes and donuts, you have to get to the door at the latest
by 9:45 a.m., which is not so easy on a Saturday morning after spending all
Friday night watching Edie & Al do their thang at Dance Spectrum!
MIKE BELLO - LECTURES AND SHINES
The Mambo Fello provides us non-musicians with an invaluable service. He breaks
down the music for us based on the patterns of percussion weaving around the
clave. His workshop is mostly about understanding exactly and in detail what the
clave is, how to find it and feel it when dancing, and the different types of
clave patterns. If you already know these (son clave, reverse clave, and rumba
clave), try to think back to when you were a beginner and didnít know what they
were. Remember how confusing and intimidating it all was? Thatís the Mambo
Felloís niche in the salsa/mambo world, explaining it to all the rest of us,
because believe me, a lot of us need it broken down. Not to say that the
advanced dancer too doesnít have quite a bit to learn from Bello, because his
information does go deep into the history of salsa music and mambo dance.
Another exceptional thing about the Mambo Felloís lecture is that he introduces
most every other instrument which comes into play in your normal salsa song, and
demonstrates what it individually sounds like and what its rhythm is. He
dissects the entire structure of a salsa song, and then when he puts it back
together for you; itís like you listen to it way more completely than before. I
remember after his workshop last year when I first got what the cascara rhythm
was, I ran around banging it out with a pencil on every surface I could find. I
still have the ultimate personal goal of being able to do the cascara with one
hand while maintaining doing the clave with the other hand! Try it sometime,
itís harder than it sounds!
I first learned about the clave a year ago, and Iím telling you it helps the
dancing a ton. Knowing the parts of the song, the instruments involved, and what
exactly they do, absolutely gives our dancing more depth and makes us better.
Why? Well, of course, the more familiar you are with the music the more you can
feel it and be on the beat. But also, the more you can hit subtle accents and
the more you can pick and choose which instrumentís accents you want to style to
in different parts of the song.
Belloís mission is to make us find the ultra "cool" dancer within each of us and
allow us to be living representations of the music, in his words. On his awesome
website, www.mambofello.com, you can
find a pretty comprehensive summary of his material, under "Salsa Mambo
Training." But thereís something about seeing him in person in his lecture class
that makes it all a little easier to understand, especially for people like me
with NO background in music theory whatsoever! Heís big on anecdotes,
well-spoken, and always entertaining.
After the first hour of lecture, we stood up and spread out for the next class:
shines. It was time to put what we had learned into practice, if you will. His
choice of teaching open shines on the Classic "2" is helpful for understanding
and becoming fluent "on 2". Here in the Bay Area, we can learn the Modern "2"
from a growing number of teachers, so itís nice to practice traditional mambo
for a change, just to keep the dancing flexible.
My favorite part of the shines class was definitely the body motion drill, the
point of which was to make sure your torso and hips are going in the natural way
in relation to which foot is stepping. Bello taught us a shine, where we swivel
from our toes to our heels on each beat (toe toe heel heel, and swivel them in
between each transition), and then put on Larry Harlowís beautiful upbeat song
"La Cartera." We danced the &*$# out of that shine, the whole song. Itís
actually a really good idea to do a shine for the duration of a song, because
then you get a really good workout too. Sometimes dance classes have you walk
through stuff ("marking it") so much that it becomes more cerebral than
physical. And despite the repetition it wasnít boring at all. My calves are
still sore from all that swiveliní.!
Then Bello taught us a five-shine pattern from his list of something like 50
shines. The idea is that the shines are arranged in a way that they flow well
into each other, so if you learned the whole thing, it would be a mambo line
dance. (Someday thereíll be our own salsa version of the electric slide to do at
weddings, just wait & see.) Most of us who took last yearís workshop probably
still have our shines list, itís nice and small enough to fit in your wallet. He
taught some from around the middle of the list, and the whole class got into it
and had a blast. Heís a great dancer to watch, and as many people noted, Bello
is a really nice, down-to-earth, approachable guy. As were all the teachers from
the Salsa Stars, including Edie the Salsa Freak and her husband Al "Liquid
Please use THESE links to purchase
these excellent products, and help support SalsaCrazy.Com:
BUY THE COMPLETE ON TWO TRAINING PACK HERE! (ed: Recommended)
BUY THE SALSA/MAMBO PRACTICE AND COUNTING CD!
BUY THE SALSA MUSIC, RHYTHM, PHRASING AND TIMING CD HERE
EDIE & AL
Edie the Salsa Freak is another teacher with an AMAZING website,
www.dancefreak.com . She writes about
everything, the practical stuff. Whereas Mike Belloís site explores the roots
and structure of what weíre doing, Edie gets right down to it and talks about
the social stuff, from salsa addiction to panty hose, and my personal favorite,
dealing with offbeat partners. You could spend hours reading her articles. So, I
was very excited to see her in person. She and her husband are hilarious, very
sweet, and excellent teachers.
Edie & Alís first class was how to do very fancy dip patterns. The length of the
routines was manageable for the class, but the dips seemed a little hard to
learn in just an hour. I decided to just watch because Iím not much on letting
guys (especially ones I donít know) experiment on dropping me by my neck or
balancing me on their leg. I may be too cautious, but thatís my neck! Itís very
valuable to me! And Iím especially paranoid after having my nose broken by my
own partner a couple of weeks back at the club. The other observers and I were
cringing at watching the occasional woman slipping or falling. Iím still not
sure how safe these dips and tricks are, but actually, about half the class was
getting it. But, just because Iím a scaredy-cat and my throbbing nose wouldnít
let me participate, does not mean that the class wasnít awesome!
If anyone can teach fancy dips and tricks, itís these two people. They explained
very clearly how both people should balance, what parts of the leaderís body
should be supporting the woman, in real detail. For those bolder than I, these
dips were very cool, and definitely help partner connection and coordination.
Edie and her poppiní & lockiní husbandís second class was of a very different
subject matter: hip hop/salsa fusion. Yes! Now I was getting really excited.
First the couple split us up into two groups to learn different sets of menís
and womenís shines. Edie was a perfect teacher for this section of the class,
and from what I could see of the guys on the other side of the room, they were
teariní up the floor as well. In a very crowded room full of eager hip hopsters,
Edie defied logistical obstacles and somehow provided us all with space and
adequate time in the front with access to see how she was demonstrating. She
managed in that small room with no mirrors. She was completely in control of the
class and kept it organized through very frequent rotation. Otherwise, most of
us would not have been able to see her, due to front crowding.
Side note: often class participants, in any dance genre, do not realize that if
they squeeze together in the front row, no one else in the class can see,
because they are effectively forming a wall, which results in even more front
crowding. A solution to this in a normal space is just for everyone to spread
out, but in this room, there was no space for that. So, like I said, Edie
expertly maneuvered the situation through rotations once every minute, which
made the class much better, despite a small number of students, to whom I would
like to note: When the teacher of a class or workshop says, "front line move to
the back," it means just that. So just do it, and stop trying to stay in the
front line for the whole class. Very often I see students from the front row
take one step back and think thatís sufficient. Guess what, if you donít move to
the back row, the rest of us donít get to move forward.
Back to the class. Edieís hip hop shines were awesome, and she taught them
effortlessly in heels. It was actually the most fun routine Iíve done in a long
time, and again I broke a sweat. The routine started with a purely hip hop style
side kick which brought the foot up much higher than a woman normally would in
salsa. It took a minute to get used to, but soon it felt great, because it gives
you the power to really hit the accent. The only concern would be at the club
not to kick anyone if you try to throw it in your styling. We then we went into
another present-day hip hop move that I loved; it was straight out of a Nelly
video. I chose to take it to the floor, because why not do it up, and you could
totally use it at the club. Thatís what hip hop can give ladiesí styling: sharp
clean movements that really accent the hips (read: "booty") and therefore can
make us even more sexy on the dance floor.
Then Edie got old school on us. She transitioned into a Hammer move (and she
gave props to Oaktown, thanks Edie!) This was a difficult move, but she broke it
down very clearly, her great teaching skills coming into play yet again. And
finally, she topped off the routine with an ultra cool move that reminded me of
one of my dance idols: Re-Run of Whatís Happeniní. I forgot what she called this
one but it was so fly, and involved circling both arms from overhead down the
sides of the body, and ending with a clap behind the back, complete with some
sharp looks left and right for fun and emphasis.
Next, in good-natured dance-off style, the men and women faced each other and
took turns doing our groove thang. Those men definitely were getting the point
of Alís choreography, and they were hitting each move with a stronger, harder
punch than usual in salsa. And it works. Sometimes salsa can be smooth and
tentative, but hip hop energy definitely blends in perfectly as well, especially
in certain songs or parts of certain songs (not the slow romantic buildup). I
can totally picture doing these moves during the hip hop breakdown of some DLG
The second half of the class was partner work, salsa choreography with a hip hop
feel to it. There was lots of room for body rolls in this class. The guys got to
do some masculine body rolliní too and overall, the class helped me think of
other ways to connect with my partner, and add different types of styling. Very
fun, and highly recommended.
Return to SalsaCrazy Featured Dance Articles
| Contact/Support | Write a Review | About SalsaCrazy | Private Policy |
Dance San Francisco |
Salsa Dance Clubs
& Events |
DanceSF Salsa Classes |
Salsa Cruise &
Get your Site Salsa Dance
Salsa Dance San Francisco
Your Online Salsa School
Ballroom + Latin
Dance Video Store!
Salsa Dance Videos