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What is L.A. Style....
WHAT IS L.A. STYLE....
The flashy salsa of Los Angeles, California, which emphasizes sensuality, theatricality and acrobatics, is truly a representation of the area where it was developed. L.A. style salsa features multiple spins and daring stunts that lead observers to breathlessly admit they have never seen anything like it before.
Who created the style and when it exactly it originated is up for debate. The L.A. style as it is known today was pioneered by what many consider some of the most famous and influential people in dance. Albert Torres, Laura Canellias and Joe Cassini rightfully deserve much of the credit for the early development and growth of L.A. Style Salsa. Francisco Vazquez, along with his two brothers, Luis and Johnny, are often credited with developing the L.A. style of salsa. Francisco taught both of his brothers how to dance and they all went on to become famous worldwide because their unique interpretation of salsa music. Francisco and Johnny went on to found Los Rumberos Dance Company at the start of their careers and it is still regcognized as the leading dance company in Los Angeles. Luis and Joby Vazquez (now Joby Martinez) founded Salsa Brava Dance Company, which was another leading dance school in Los Angeles for many years.
Through the founding of these schools and others like it, a formalization process began. Interested students finally had a way to learn L.A. style and soon the movement began.
Other people who also helped create the L.A. style we know today are, Rogelio Moreno, Alex Da Silva, Joby Martinez, Josie Neglia, Diana Sanchez, Cristian Oviedo, and Luis 'Zonik' Aguilar. Tony Cordero and Robert Menache helped spread the influence of the L.A. style to Long Beach and Orange County, California.
Despite being a fairly new take on a very traditional Latin form of dance, L.A. style has become popular very quickly. Part of the reason for L.A. style salsa's success is its unique blend of dances. L.A. style connects concepts from salsa and other styles of dancing, like the Cuban mambo and West Coast Swing, seamlessly.
Because of its wide array of influences and flamboyant moves, L.A. style attracts an eclectic variety of people; everyone from hip hop to ballroom dancers find it exciting as well as familiar.
THE BASICS OF LA STYLE
L.A. style is danced on a slot and starts on the one beat ("on 1"), which is usually the down beat in a salsa song. In contrast, New York style salsa begins on the two beat ("on 2"). As with New York style, the back and forth Mambo basic, again in a linear motion, is still used in L.A. style. But by beginning on 1, L.A. style feels faster to dancers and the moves appear more powerful to audiences. In L.A. style, the leader breaks forward with their left foot on 1. The follower mirrors the leader's footwork and steps back with their right foot on 1.
As with ballroom dances, the two essential elements of L.A. style are the forward and backward basic steps and the cross-body lead. Similar to New York style and the Cuban Casino style (dile que no) , many of the moves are based from cross-body lead variations.
In a cross-body lead, the leader and the follower switch places on the slot. The leader steps forward on the on 1 and then steps to the right on the second and third beats while turning 90 degrees counter-clockwise (facing to the left). The follower then steps forward on the fifth and sixth beats and then turns to face her partner on the seventh and eight beats. To finish the move, the leader makes another turn 90 degrees counter-clockwise. After these eight counts of music, the leader and follower should have successfully exchanged positions and should be facing each other, heart to heart.
Musicality, the ability of a dancer to be harmonious with the music playing, is a major part in all forms of salsa dancing, including L.A. style. Solo choreography moves, known as "shines," are an important component of this type of salsa and can be used to explore musicality. Shines usually involve more complex, jazz inspired, speedy footwork and can occur when a pair of dancer wants to take a break from partner dancing during a song. Shines can be previously choreographed or spontaneous. Either way, shines are considered a form of freestyle dancing.
Styling is another term related to musicality in L.A. style salsa. Styling refers to the way dancers pepper their dances with flourishes of personality communicated by flairs in their movement. Each person will develop their own personal style of dance but a person interested in developing their styling can absolutely do so with instruction from a professional. In L.A. style salsa, styling is a huge component.
In order to learn L.A. style salsa the fundamentals -- the cross body lead and basic linear steps -- are essential. With proper training and practice, the extras, such as shine choreography and styling, can take a person's L.A. style dancing to the next level.
OTHER STYLES OF SALSA
Cuban salsa style is most similar to the original form of salsa rooted in Cuba . It is characterized by Afro Cuban style body movement which includes body isolation and hip movement. Cuban style salsa does not have many fast spins. Instead the movement is very circular as opposed to linear and partners tend to travel around each other. The hip movement is more noticeable in this style and stems from the pumping of the knees. The footwork is quite simple - the complexity lies in the arm work which requires the follower to have limber, flexible arms. Cuban style salsa is considered "male dominated" in the sense that the leader tends to be more showy and will create a greater push/pull feel for the follower then many other styles. Most Cuban style dancers tap on the pauses which are on the 4 th and 8 th beats if the dancers dance on 1. However, Cuban style salsa dancers do not always stay on the 1 beat and tend to stray depending on where the music takes them.
MIAMI STYLE / CLASSICO CUBANO / CASINO
Miami style salsa evolved from the Cuban style of salsa but is a more difficult and technically advanced style of Cuban salsa. Advanced Miami salsa moves tend to be intricate and pretzel-like and require a flexible follower to execute the moves. Many of the Miami moves are the same as Casino Rueda moves and the style is still more circular than linear. Open breaks or the Guapea basic (leader and follower break back and then push off each other) with a tap are the most common basic steps in Miami style salsa. Cross body lead variations are common but are executed in a more circular fashion.
CASINO RUEDA STYLE
Casino Rueda (meaning salsa wheel) is a group dance which originated in Havana , Cuba in the 1960s by a group called Guaracheros de Regla. In this dance, couples dance in a circle while one dancer, designated as "The Caller", provides hand signals or calls out the moves which will be executed by every couple in the circle simultaneously. Many of the Casino moves involve swapping or switching partners which makes the dance tricky to execute and spectacular to watch. Rueda is very popular in Cuba and Miami and has gained popularity all over the world. Cuban Rueda tends to be more playful with easy to follow fun moves while Miami Rueda has many complicated turn patterns and requires memorization and skill to execute. Many callers will know anywhere from 150-300 moves so memory, speed and accuracy is a key to ensuring the circle is not broken. The advantage of learning Casino Rueda is that all moves learned in the Rueda circle can be danced one on one with a partner adding to a dancer's repertoire of moves.
NEW YORK STYLE / MAMBO SALSA / ON 2 / EDDIE TORRES STYLE
Salsa on 2, commonly referred to as "Mambo", is a style of salsa first introduced by Eddie Torres in New York in the 1960s. Technically speaking, dancing "On 2" refers to the beat the dancers break forward on. Followers will break forward with the left foot on the 2 and leaders will break forward on the 6. New York style salsa is distinguished by smooth, controlled, highly technical movements that are elegant, graceful, flow well and are not rushed. The style is very linear and many of the turn patterns evolve from cross body lead variations. Multiple spins, complicated footwork, Afro Cuban body movement and shines are a must. Dancing "On 2" is rhythmically more difficult as it is easier to hear the 1 beat and break on this beat. Many dancers learn to dance "On 1" first and then train "On 2" as they feel it is more musically and rhythmically rich and complex.
PUERTO RICAN STYLE
Puerto Rican style salsa can be danced "On 1" or "On 2". If you are dancing Puerto Rican style "On 2" dancing, it is opposite from New York style in the sense that the leader breaks forward on 2 instead of the follower (can be called "On 6"). Some say that shines originated in Puerto Rico as these dancers would break away from their partners and execute extremely fast and complicated solo footwork. The lines are very clean and there are a great deal of shoulder shimmies incorporated into the dancing. There is an emphasis on dancing to the "Clave" especially the 2/3 clave (pa-pa, pa-pa-pa). In fact Felipe Polanco, one of the pioneers of Puerto Rican salsa, has created a unique basic that compliments the uneven 5 beat dance which incorporates a sliding forward and back motion that hits the accents of the clave.