Salsa Defined

Salsa Defined

Date added to ADN: Tue, February 21, 2012
Originally Published: Sun, January 01, 2012
by The AccessDance Network (About the Author)

A dance of energy and passion that flows while being performed at the dance floor, Salsa is its name. It oozes with sensuous style, its liveliness is contagious enough you want to get on your feet and dance to the rhythm.

The term 'Salsa' was derived from the Spanish word for '"sauce" which is apt for the nature of such dance. It is a combination of multiple cultures and creativity of different persons. Salsa evolved as a fusion of many Latin and Afro-Caribbean dances. However, a large part of the dance originated in the island of Cuba. The French who escaped to Cuba brought the Danzón, the English/French country dance. This dance began to be mixed with the African rhumbas. The Cubans added their Són, which was a fusion of the Spanish 'troubadour' and the African drumbeats. As the years passed, salsa sounds and the dance steps of salsa moved to the United States. Further development of the dance took place in New York City Latin population during the 60s and 70s. Puerto Rican and Cuban communities throughout Latin America and US shaped most of the steps being performed today.

The Salsa is a fiery, lively and truly enjoyable dance and its basic steps are really easy to learn. In salsa, four-beat patterns are used but it does not have the usual 1,2,3,4 step count known to many dances. It leaves out the fourth and eighth count, appearing like a slight pause. So it's counted as '1-2-3…5-6-7…' The male dancer will start by stepping with his left foot on the first count. On the second and third count, he will step with the right and the left. On the count of four, he will pause or tap his right foot. On counts 5, 6 and 7, he steps using right, left, right respectively. And pauses again on the count 8. As for his partner, she initiates the same role but the movements are shifted by four beats. When the male dancer's left foot is forward, his partner's right foot is backward. In essence, the Salsa dance is no more than a front and back step with your partner but with a sway to it. It's a partnership dance but with many 'shine steps' that can be executed individually. Salsa dance couples do not travel much over the dance floor but rather occupy a fixed area, making it a slot or spot dance.

The music of salsa is a mix of traditional Cuban, African and Latin American rhythms. It has an eight-beat pattern that recurs, with two bars of four beats. Salsa's music involves complex percussion rhythms with around 180 beats per minute. Typically, the instruments that accompany salsa dance include the thumping of congas, trumpets, cowbells, timbales and claves. With the boom of Salsa artists in the mainstream music world, English and Spanish-spoken songs by Latino musicians like Rey Ruiz, Marc Anthony and Gloria Estefan are being glided, twisted and turned to by salsa dancers.

Salsa is definitely a dance to be learned and enjoyed in a world where mesmerizing movements and intricate leg and arm work serve as romantic display of emotions. If you enjoyed watching Patrick Swayze's 'Dirty Dancing' and Richard Gere's 'Dance With Me', then explore the beauty and zeal of salsa dancing now!

About the Author:
Providing information for Ballroom Dance Lessons, Activities, Dance Competitions and News of the Dance Industry.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the AccessDance Network. Be aware that imagery is copyrighted and often licensed for use on AccessDance only. Copying of images is strictly prohibited.

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