Salsa is a syncreticdance form with origins from Cuba as a major original American meeting point of European and African cultures.
Salsa is normally a partner dance, although there are recognized solo forms such as solo dancing "suelta" and "Rueda de Casino" where multiple couples exchange partners in a circle. Salsa can be improvised or performed with a set routine.
Salsa is popular throughout Latin America as well as in North America, Europe, Australia, and some countries in Asia and the Middle East. It is fast becoming a global phenomenon.
OriginsSalsa movements originate from the Cuban Son dancing of the 1920s, and more specifically through the beat of Son Montuno with strong influences from the dance of Danzon, Mambo, Guaguancoand other Afro-Cuban folkloric dancing. Today's Salsa dancing is a rich blend of Latin-American and Western influences. Other dance styles that have influenced today's Salsa include Western and Ballroom dancing. Salsa traces a 90-year history in which there are numerous evolutionary paths, sometimes split due to political and social influences. As a result, today there are various distinct styles of Salsa dancing, namely Cuban ("Casino"), New York Style ("Mambo on 2"), Los Angeles Style ("On 1"), Colombian Salsa ("Cali-Style") and Miami-Style Salsa.
Salsa is typically a partner dance, although there are recognized solo forms, line dancing (suelta), and Rueda de Casino, where groups of couples exchange partners in a circle. Salsa can be improvised or performed with a set routine, choreography and freestyle.
Problems listening to this file? See media help.There are four types of clave rhythms, the 3-2 and 2-3 Son claves, and the 3-2 and 2-3 Rumba claves. Most salsa music is played with one of the Son claves, though a Rumba clave is occasionally used, especially during Rumba sections of some songs. As an example of how a clave fits within the 8 beats of a salsa dance, the beats of the 2-3 Son clave are played on the counts of 2, 3, 5, the "and" of 6, and 8.
There are other aspects outside of the Clave that help define Salsa rhythm: the cowbell, the Montuno rhythm and the Tumbao rhythm.
The cowbell is played on the core beats of Salsa, 1, 3, 5 and 7. The basic Salsa rhythm is quick, quick, slow, quick, quick, slow, in other words, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7, which are very similar to the beats of the cowbell. Recognizing the rhythm of the cowbell helps one stay on Salsa rhythm.
The Montuno rhythm is a rhythm that is often played with a piano. The Montuno rhythm loops over the 8 counts and is useful for finding the direction of the music. By listening to the same rhythm, that loops back to the beginning after eight counts, one can recognize which count is the first beat of the music.
Tumbao is a rhythm in salsa that is played with the conga drums. It sounds like: "cu, cum.. pa... cu, cum... pa". It is played with the counts of 8 and 2, & 4 and 6. Tumbao rhythm is helpful for learning contra-tiempo, ("On2" for North American Pundits). The beats 2 and 6 are emphasized when dancing On2 and the Tumbao rhythm heavily emphasizes those beats, as well.
StylesThis article or section appears to contradict itself. Please see its talk page for more information. (April 2011)Salsa's roots are based on many older dance traditions, including but not limited to Afro-Cuban Rumba and Son dancing (circa 1920s), and is open to improvisation and thus it is continuously evolving. New modern salsa styles are associated and named to the original geographic areas that developed them. There are often devotees of each of these styles outside of their home territory. Characteristics that may identify a style include: timing, basic steps, foot patterns, body rolls and movements, turns and figures, attitude, dance influences and the way that partners hold each other. The point in a musical bar music where a slightly larger step is taken (the break step) and the direction the step moves can often be used to identify a style.
Incorporating other dance styling techniques into salsa dancing has become very common, for both men and women: shimmies, leg work, arm work, body movement, spins, body isolations, shoulder shimmies, rolls, even hand styling, acrobatics and lifts.
North American styles have different characteristics: Los Angeles style breaks on the first beat "On 1" while New York style breaks on the second beat "On 2". Both have different origins and evolutionary path, as the New York Salsa is heavily influenced by Mambo and Jazz instruments in its early growth stage.
Colombian / Cali StyleMain article: Salsa (Cali Style)Cali-Style Salsa, also known as Colombian Salsa, is based on geographical location of the Colombian City of Cali. Cali is also known as the "Capital de la Salsa" (World's Salsa Capital); due to salsa music being the main genre in parties, nightclubs and festivals in the 21st century.
The elements of Cali-Style Salsa were strongly influenced by dances done to Colombian rhythms such as Cumbia and Boogaloo.
The basic step of Colombian Salsa is the "Atras" or "Diagonal"; breaking backwards diagonally instead of moving forwards and backwards as seen in the New York and L.A. Style. Dancers do not shift their body weight greatly as seen in other styles. Instead, dancers keep their upper body still, poised and relaxed while the feet execute endless intricacies. The dancer breaks mostly On1 (sometimes On3), with short measures of "4" instead of full "8" counts.
A major difference of Cali Style and the other styles is the footwork which has quick rapid steps and skipping motions. They do not execute Cross-body Lead or the "Dile Que No" as seen in the other salsa genres. Their footwork is intricate and precise, helping several Colombian Style dancers win major world championships. Cali hosts many annual salsa events such as the World Salsa Cali Festival and Encuentro de Melomanos y Coleccionistas.
Cuban "Casino" StyleMain article: Salsa dance (Cuban Style)Cuban-style salsa, also known as Casino-style, is popular in many places around the world, including in Europe, Latin America, North America, and even in some countries in the Middle East such as Israel. Dancing Casino is an expression of popular social culture; Latin Americans consider casino as part of social and cultural activities centering around their popular music. The origins of the name Casino are derived from the Spanish term for the dance halls where a lot of social Salsa dancing was done in Cuba during the mid-20th century and onward.
Historically, Casino traces its origin as a partner dance from Cuban Son dancing, and its rhythmic body motions from Afro-Cuban Rumba heritage. Son is considered an older version and ancestor to Salsa. Son is danced on delay measure upbeat (contra-tiempo) following the 2-3 clave (Son Clave) whereas Casino is usually danced on the downbeat break of 1 or 3 (a-tiempo). Musically, the beats 1, 3, 5 and 7 are considered downbeats; whereas 2, 4, 6 and 8 are considered upbeats. Casino was popularized in the late 1950s as the Cuban Son received upbeat and quicker arrangements by musicians. Casino has a very independent development, free from external influences such as Puerto Rican and North American dances partly due to the effect of the Cuban Embargo.
Cuban Solo DancingCuban-Salsa Solo Dancing ("Suelta") is dancing salsa without having a partner. It originates from stage singers and dancers who set up routines during orchestra and live performance. Dance singularly or in a group (usually male facing females on the dance floor) the movements are based on "a-tiempo" or "contra-tiempo" with intricate footwork and lively body movements.
Partner dancingOther partner dancing styles include "Trios" or "Quattros" in which a male lead will dance with two or more female partners in each arm in in intricate patterns. There are also a "Trios" version in which two male leaders share a female partner.
Miami-style CasinoDeveloped by Cuban migrants to Florida and centered around Miami, this form of Cuban Salsa fused with American culture and LA Style. Major differences of Miami-style Casino is that it is exclusive dance to downbeat (On1) and has elements of shines and showstyle added to it following repertoires of North American Styles.
Miami-style has many adherents, particularly Cuban-Americans and other Latinos based in South Florida.
Rueda de CasinoMain article: Rueda de CasinoIn the 1950s Salsa Rueda or more accurately Rueda de Casino was developed in Havana, Cuba. Pairs of dancers form a circle ("Rueda" in Spanish means "Wheel"), with dance moves called out by one person. Many of the moves involve rapidly swapping partners.
"Rueda de Cuba" is original type of Rueda, originating from Cuba. It is not as formal as Rueda de Miami and consists of about 30 calls. It was codified in the 1970s.
"Rueda de Miami" originated in the 1980s from Miami, is a formal style with many rules based on a mix, and is a hybridization of Rueda de Cuba & Los Angeles-style Salsa and dance routines that reflect American culture (e.g. Coca-cola, Dedo, Adios) which is not found in the traditional Cuban-style Rueda.
Los Angeles styleMain article: Salsa (LA Style)L.A. style is danced on 1, in a slot, with a measure of easiness and adaptability to it. It is strongly influenced by the Mambo, Swing, Argentine Tango and Latin Ballroom dancing styles. L.A. style places strong emphasis on sensuousness, theatricality, aerobics and musicality. The lifts, stunts and aerial works of today's salsa shows are derived mostly from L.A. Style forms with origins in Latin Ballroom and Ballet lifts.
The two essential elements of this dance are the forward–backward basic as described above and the cross-body lead. In this pattern, the leader steps forward on 1, steps to the right on 2-3 while turning 90 degrees counter-clockwise (facing to the left), leaving the slot open. The follower then steps straight forward on 5-6 and turns on 7-8, while the leader makes another 90 degrees counter-clockwise and slightly forward, coming back into the slot. After these 8 counts, the leader and follower have exchanged their positions.
New York styleMain article: Salsa (New York Style)Like LA-style salsa, New York style is danced in a line. However, unlike LA style, it is danced on the second beat of the music, and the follower steps forward on the first beat, not the leader.
Though he did not create New York style salsa, Eddie Torres is credited with popularizing it, and for having the follower step forward on the first beat.
New York style salsa emphasizes harmony with the percussive instruments in salsa music, such as the congas, timbales, and cowbell, since many or all of those instruments often mark the second beat in the music.
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