Dance Tidbits – Salsa

As one of the many dances originated in Cuba, Salsa came to be in the 1920’s with African influence. Salsa might be the least easily defined dance because it has other influences beside Afro-Cuban. The Caribbean countries have their version of Salsa as well as the Americans too. Salsa in Spanish means a mixture of spices together, making a tasty sauce. This is a perfect description of the dance Salsa, as it relates to how many countries embraced this dance to form their own version of it.

We know that the African slaves brought to Cuba had a major influence in many of the Latin dances due to the way they lived and defined themselves and Salsa is no exception. Concurrently, when slaves were brought to America by the Europeans, there developed another style of Salsa. This version of Salsa had Afro-Caribbean influence defined by the music, becoming a huge hit with Americans, especially New Yorkers. Americans enjoyed mixing Rumba with other ballroom dances and devising their own version of Salsa. As time went on, the Latino communities embraced these new versions and came up with still more versions by adding Swing steps.

If you had to describe Salsa, you could say it is like the Mambo except moves forward and backward, while Salsa moves more side to side. The upper body remains level and is not affected by weight changes in the steps. When you shift weight, it causes the hips to move. The traditional Cuban style of Salsa involves movement above the waist with up and down shoulder movements and shifting the ribcage.

Whether you learn versions of Salsa from Cuba, Africa, Europe or America, or a combination of all of them together, it is important to understand a few techniques. Salsa is a graceful and sensual dance. It requires the turns, lifts and throws to be in perfect harmony with your partner. The audience will be watching how you use your strength and how you control your movements while maintaining a kind of rigid posturing of your body – allowing us to see the elegant, beautiful lines of this dance.

Happy dancing,

Thought Of The Week:

Team Work Makes The Dream Work Usher, Recording Artist



Shane Meuwissen is the Media Specialist for Fordney Foundation.  He is a former dance instructor who know works with his company Slow Motion Dance Videos capture the beauty of dancing. If you would like to learn more about Shane and his video work, visit his website