Archives for category: Salsa

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Wow, last night I experienced a shift in dance class.

I have been teaching the adult class more intentionally this session, beginning each class in a circle with self-connection exercises, breathing in and out consciously and setting intentions for how we’d like to feel walking out of the class.  We begin warming up our basic Salsa steps in the circle and then move into lines for learning purposes.  This is all in alignment with how I want to be facilitating all of the classes I teach: intentionally offering people a way to center and connect with themselves in a healthy way so they can connect with life and all others in a healthy way.

Last night, I experienced a shift during our warm up when we were practicing our “Cuban Slide Shine”.  One student started asking questions about a variation of the slide shine.  Demonstrating that variation, I then encouraged the students to practice whatever variation of the slide shine they wanted.  Experimenting too and having fun, I was moved by what took place next.

I looked behind me to see everyone concentrating on their steps, intent on getting the timing right while adding flare and style to express themselves.  It was incredible to be in a room full of adults who were completely engaged with themselves and having fun through the dance with a bunch of other adults doing the same thing.  There was no right or wrong, there just was the experience of it.

There was something so special about this moment.  I was one of them, no longer the “teacher” of the “student”.  A BIG smile spread across my face as I watched the transformation take place in front of my own eyes and felt an openness in my heart.

At the completion of the class, we circled up again.  The music was playing and I said, “Freestyle time!”  We all boogied down in the circle together moving in whatever way we wanted.  It felt so freeing, so fun, so playful, to see all of us adults dancing freely in a circle, expressing ourselves to our hearts content, together.  I called out “pose” when the song was about to end and we all struck a position, laughing, breathless, when it was over.

What is this about freedom and playfulness, fun and joy?

How does this get co-created in life, where people feel open enough to let go and be themselves?

How about you?

What do YOU need to let go and open to the flow of your own Soul and Spirit?

How will you dance your heart out?

What does it look, sound, taste, smell and feel like?

When will you start?

More clarity has come about my inquiry from last night after reading a dear friend and amazing professional dancer and choreographer’s reply to the previous post “Learning how to dance”.

There is an inquiry about Life and how “building a solid foundation” while learning a specific style of dance relates to having the tools and wherewithal to live a rich and fulfilling life, which includes being fully self expressed.

So, what IS this strong foundation in dance when techniques and styles can change and there are so many DIFFERENT WAYS of doing things “properly” from dance to dance?

And how DO we learn to be that space where pure Spirit and Source can come through us and express fully, purely, in a way that serves all?

Is technique and foundation necessary for this to happen or is it being open enough to trust and flow with what we are feeling wants to be expressed through us in the moment and express that?

OK, so it is even MORE clear now.

Is it learning technique and foundation first or is it being an open channel to pure possibility and Source’s expression, then learning the technique and foundation to support that expression?  Paola Blanton, an international researcher and teacher of Spiritual dance, says:

” It’s neither, in my opinion. Instead of one first and the other second, I tend to think of the true objective as being the development of a lifelong dialogue between the two forces – Technique/Discipline/Form and Creativity/Instinct/Insight. They can’t really exist without each other. The better our technique the farther we can reach with our creativity. The more creative we get, the more solid our technique becomes, allowing technique to be internalized so seamlessly that it is no longer an issue. Like any other language is internalized – we arrive at not really having to think too much about the language we are fluent in; certain scaffolds with time fall away and we are free to be poetic.”

I see now that technical proficiency on the dance floor can absolutely support someone’s personal expression being fully realized.  It is like learning how to swim before deciding to swim across the English Channel, for instance.  To reverse the order could be suicide.

Some say it may be “in the blood”.  I believe it is a natural inclination towards something combined with YEARS of proper training, technique practice, possibly culture, and LOVE that fuel the best dancers out there!  Technique supports personal expression to the fullest.

What lights you up, brings you alive, gets you going?

What steps can you take to fully manifest your potentials in this area of your life?

When will you start?

OK, this is a conundrum that has been present for me recently.

I teach dance, predominantly Latin styles with some Hip-Hop and Beginner Breakdancing as well.

Studying and experimenting with dance for many years, I have done both freestyle and choreography, learned great technique, learned new technique, had different people tell me to do the same thing in different ways, learned on my own, etc.

In this new phase of my life, I am learning that there is something SO wonderful about personal expression.  Something SO SPECIAL about it and unique!

I remember the look on a students face when they said excitedly, “Look, this is what we do on the dance floor normally,” as he demonstrated how he turned the woman around every which way, hands over the head, around the body, backwards and forwards, with no rhyme or reason, not on time with the music, not dancing with the basic step, just trying things out.

This person was really enjoying himself.  The joy emanating from him was palpable as he went for the dance with reckless abandon.  His partner smiled and seemed to nervously follow along, not sure where to go and when, which I could understand when I saw there was little to no sense of timing or rhythm, connection to the music or partnering technique in his dancing.

Instantly, I spoke up and said, “Yes, and when you learn how to do that within the timing of the music and with the basic step then it will feel REALLY GOOD for the both of you.”  I watched his face drop and the energy run right out of his body.  How sad, that was not the effect I wanted to have on him, however, his partner agreed and second my motion.

I felt the joy from the leader and heard the nervous laughter from his partner.  They were really enjoying what they were experiencing.  Yet, there was no sense to it, no rhyme or reason, it was all over the place, like they were trying to do something they’ve seen without the proper training.

So here is the conundrum:

What IS it about LEARNING a dance properly with technique, styling, timing, connection, awareness and consciousness WHILE expressing oneself fully on the dance floor?

Because I know what works technically and energetically on the dance floor, does that mean that I am in “control” of the dance?  Does that mean that I am robbing others of their own personal expression by “teaching” them how to do something the “right” way?  Or can someone NOT learn the proper technique of a dance and still “do the dance” with good feeling, timing, and connection in a way that makes sense when dancing with other people?

Is it about learning the foundation, tools, technique, styling and flavor of a dance and THEN being able to bring oneself to it fully and freely from a pure place of self-expression?  Or is it that when a person DANCES, that IS their full expression whether they are on time, in rhythm with the music, know proper technique or not?

What IS so important about supplying others with the knowledge of timing, connection, and technique?

Does this stamp out their light?

I believe it can only help their light shine brighter!

Ah, I know.  It is so that we can all communicate in a way that FEELS GOOD to Everyone involved!  Dance is a Universal Language and when we learn it, the foundation and the technique, it makes sense, it can be easy, fun and more creative!  We get to experiment when we all know how to play the game.  And we can do so safely, in ways that feel good to everyone involved, affirm life, inspire ourselves, others and add to the greater goodness of all.

What do you think dancers and non-dancers alike?

What is important about a solid foundation?

How can you continue to express your true self in the framework of a skill?

One Saturday night at the restaurant I was just getting ready to leave as one of my co-workers asked me a question.  There were a bunch of NYC Firemen visiting the area and they came to the restaurant for dinner.  The party filled up the back room.  There were probably 16 men or so, big, hunky, young, old, all shapes and sizes.  They were well fed with NY Strip steaks and Sockeye Salmons by the time I got to them.

One of the waiters was married to a sister of the man who brought the firefighters to the restaurant.  He always used to joke with me about my dancing and say, “Come on Sarah, do that move” and he would try to gyrate his upper body while pushing his fists out into the air!  Funny guy.  I would say, “No, no,” embarrassed, thinking he was making fun of me.

Well, this night, he asked me to come and show the Firemen my moves, “Come on Sarah, will you show them your moves?”  It was late, I was just leaving work, he was feeling a little saucy, I could tell, and I thought, “OK, I’ll do this.”

I followed him into the back room feeling excited and apprehensive.

He introduced me to the group and probably said something like, “Hey guys, this is Salsa Sarah, she does this great move like this (trying to imitate me) and I want her to show you her dancing!”

I smiled. “Hey everybody,” I said.

“OK, here we go,” I thought.

And you know what.  GO we went!

I took my hair down, pulled out of it’s ponytail, and shook it out in front of the men.  Instantly the temperature in the room rose.  I heard some sounds of excitement coming from the men.  They were ready!

Then I put my Salsa on…

I rolled my shoulders back in that typical Latin style and started dancing the basic salsa step (not a big deal!).

Well, this room of Firemen went up into an uproar.  They were hooting and hollering, yelling, it was all kinds of happening in there.

THEN, I threw in a little head whip with a right hand turn, hair flying through the air around my face, as I slowly turned around just milking the turn with sabor.

They were besides themselves.  They were banging on the walls, they were banging on the tables.  The cooks from the back of the kitchen came out because of the noise.  Other waiters and waitresses were taking a look trying to see what the commotion was all about.

I remember looking back after the display and seeing the staff’s faces slack with smiles and eyes lit with excitement, one young cooks face bright red.

After those few moments, I looked around the room and saw this beautiful, tall, largely built Firefighter smiling joyfully as he took his sat down at the table.

Sweet memory.

What does it feel like to be appreciated?

How can you show more appreciation for yourself and others today?

What’s important about that?

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