Showing posts with label salsa dance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label salsa dance. Show all posts

Monday, 7 January 2013

Exciting Events: Singapore International Bachata & Latin Festival

Singapore International Bachata and Latin Festival

Dear Singapore, En Motion organised another exciting event that is coming your way! The Singapore International Bachata and Latin Festival aka En La Pasion would take place on 25th to 27th January. So it's another weekend chock full of social dancing to the wee hours in the morning at SCAPE, which is located conveniently at the heart of Orchard Road.

This event, like its predecessors, will have an Asian Bachata Championship. There are up to $1300 in cash rewards and event passes to be won in the championship, and the winners will get the chance to represent Singapore in the World Bachata Championship. These attractive prizes are not to be missed!

There are more than 20 local and international artiste in the event conducting 20+ workshops over the weekend. The opportunity to learn under the masters of latin dancing is hard to come by, and what are the chances that you get to social dance with an international artiste unless you're at the event's party itself?

Not only that, my university's salsa student performance team will be showcasing their work on Saturday night. Be sure to cheer them on and show your support for young talents!

There will be a Salsa Jack and Jill competition on Sunday, so this is a chance for you to show your salsa dancing finesse to a new face. There isn't a clear indication on whether or not there are different levels for the J&J unlike Swingvitation with categories like newcomer, novice, and intermediate. I would have to enquire about that soon. (Nevertheless, I still don't feel ready to take on a salsa J&J at this point as I still have many aspects in salsa dancing that I need to work on like body movement and taking smaller steps.)

You can still get an early-bird ticket price for the event at $299 by January 24th. The full event pass will cost $319 when you purchase it at the door. So if you're certain that you will attend it, be sure to grab your tickets by then! You may purchase them online at the En La Pasion website.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Reflections: 2012 Wrap-up

It's been my most eventful year thus far. Other than the fact that I started this blog around the end of May this year and got into a dance scholarship, it's also the year where I forged new bonds with people I have least expected to have as well. From the salsa team to my current dance scholars, this is a year I won't forget for sure.

Swinging Salsera wrap up

Major events in 2012:

My first salsa dance class and salsa social, ever. I had a good time dancing with guys who were beginners like me (or maybe even advanced guys disguised as beginners just to make me feel better.) I was warming up to a supportive community of dancers in Jitterbugs Swingapore, a dance studio that is versatile in dance styles, pioneers of Lindy Hop, and possibly Singapore's biggest dance studio ever. You can't miss it, it's at the Basement level of The Grand Cathay. While movie goers are upstairs enjoying their date, dancers are downstairs plotting to take over the world practicing hard for performances.

I was introduced to west coast swing during March, but only started taking lessons in April. I recall getting my first west coast swing social dance either at the end of March or early April, and of all the details I could remember, I remember dancing in close hold to the song Hate that I love You by Rihanna. After that I was slowly introduced to the idea of tension in west coast swing, and they felt different than salsa. Usually salsa's tempo is really quick, so the push and pull is always easy to miss, whereas in west coast swing, you have a lot of stretch in order to feel the lead and follow. Then again, it was my beginning months into partner dancing, so I was still trying to grasp the concept of lead and follow, and how the feelings are completely different in both.

Watching Jitterbugs' Wanna Dance Recital got me pumped to get better in both salsa and west coast swing, and it also got me excited to perform and chip in a few choreography ideas for my tap dance recital. The highlight was definitely the ballet-jazz number with Zelia, Nicholas, Wei Cheng and Yee Shan. It was  hilarious to watch, yet they displayed technical prowess in dance too. A special shoutout to Fen for the awesome choreography.

I revisit my love-hate relationship with solo dances outside of tap as I step into my first Jazz class with Jitterbugs. All I can say is that the teaching here is much different than what I had experienced 5 years ago. But that's maybe because I was in the kids class, and the teacher was probably more focused in fun choreography rather than technique. I probably wasn't that good, technique-wise, in the advanced kids teens class, and I doubt there was any across the floor work back then. This jazz class was a big sucker punch, as I found myself face to face with a crunch routine that lasted for 3 and a half minutes, and to top that off, planks...I was trembling by the end of that class, and I even suffered from delayed onset muscle soreness. But thanks to the support I got, I decided to audition for the Developing Artiste Programme 2 days later, and I got in!

The Dappies before me perform their graduation show this month, and the fresh Dappies and I were backstage helping them out. Initially, I was quite pressured by the fact that their 10% looked like my 60% - their dance technique seemed like an external limb for all of them! But then I took the time to digest and dissect each of their moves, and decided maybe it can be done with practice during a year or two's time. Needless to say it was an inspiring show as well, and I can't wait to go out there to be like them, or better than them. You'll never know, as aesthetics are generally subjective.

This was the month I had most fun with - performing a tap number, bonding with the salsa team, swinging around with the Mosaic people, and then ending it off by putting on weight and losing my hard earned abs. Damn, I had too much fun for 10 days, and I have to get back in shape for 2013. Oh well, at least I think my demi pointes are getting better. My feet still needs to support my weight though, because my arch looks good on tendus, but not on releves. However, I'm still glad to say that I've definitely lived my life fully in 2012.

Here's to 2013, everyone. Keep swinging on!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Tips: Connection in WCS

A few days ago, I stumbled across this dance tip by Two Step Tidewater. Since I also had the opportunity to go for one workshop with Melissa and Chuck about the connection, I want to share a few tips from that class as well.

What's important to note when having the connection is that the lead should not overlead and drag the follower along, and the followers should know how to control their movement. The basic rules still apply that the lead must step out and give a visual signal at count 2, and the follow must keep moving in the direction that they're lead until the lead stops them or redirects them. From the article, the follow has been likened to a car, and the lead is the driver; there should be only one lead at the first count ie: counts 1 & 3 only, and done with only one gentle push. This is an intermediate/advanced concept that I think shouldn't be applied to people who have yet to know how to travel back and fourth properly, so stick to the no autopiloting rules first.

In a previous blog post, I have talked about tension. The neutral position in the connection is when a tension is established, and that there's still enough rope to lead moves. Also, one should always feel like they're being pulled both upwards from the torso onwards and downwards to the legs as they dance, so the opposing movements will help place emphasis on your feet pressing to the floor. This connection helps establish the flowing movements in West Coast Swing.

For the more experienced dancers, a natural tendency for my classmates - perhaps to other dancers as well - who follows is to take the statement of "stay away from the lead to create tension" literally. This habit can help prevent injuries during social dancing with newer leads, as they too have a tendency to lead too strong. However, it gives a very heavy feeling that more experienced leads will have trouble adjusting to. I have experimented with leading, and when I dealt with "heavy" ladies, I found that my stamina would dwindle quickly. I'm sure the leads would have the same complains. So the followers should adjust themselves such that they post at a lighter tension before swinging back at counts & a 1.

Mastering the connection will help you learn the other elements of West Coast Swing a lot faster, but it still doesn't make the dance any less difficult. Don't be demotivated, though. Sometimes the concepts are introduced at a later stage so that you can still have fun dancing without worrying too much about how you should move around.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Bite-Sized Dance Stories: Romantic Novels Don't Translate Well In Real Life

My body trembled out of nervousness. This was a dance venue that I have never been to, and boy was it crowded. If there's anything that I learnt about salsa dancing in slots and tight spaces, this place was pushing me to the ultimate test.

Standing by the sidelines watching how each dancer was able to narrowly miss each other summoned cold sweat down my face. I didn't know anyone who was there and I couldn't spot any familiar faces from my dance school. These dancers also seemed to produce an aura that I wasn't familiar with, and it was intimidating to just watch how they could flaunt their style flawlessly. I felt awfully outclassed and started to think twice whether going alone was a good idea after all. But before I could do anything else, a stranger offered his hand to me. I accepted his offer for a dance out of courtesy, and had my toes crossed wishing myself good luck, or rather, break a leg.

The guy I was dancing to was a good-looking Latino. He struck up a conversation with me as we danced in our allotted slot on the dance floor. He asked me who I am, what I do, and other mundane questions. But when it was my turn to ask him, he didn't reveal much and cracked a few jokes along the way. Somehow, that piqued my curiousity, and found myself slightly attracted to this guy. Throughout the dance, he's been giving me gentle leads, and was also nice enough to apologise when he messed up a move.

As we continued talking and dancing, these positive thoughts about him made me feel like jelly on the inside. It was like going on a date. Consciously, I didn't know that it had been affecting my performance on the dance floor, until at one point, I tripped forward, and fell onto him. Luckily, he was able to sense my imbalance and caught me in time.

It was at that moment I realised that our bodies were pressed against each other. I looked up to see his impish smile and his dark brown eyes piercing into mine. In that moment, it seemed that time had frozen for a split second and it had been just the two of us getting more than the connection we have while partner dancing. And then, a realisation struck me: this is just like the romantic novels, in its heightened ecstatic glory of meeting your potential love of your life. In those instances it seemed that his face glowed more and his hair was gently swept by the wind from the air-con. It's too surreal, and I felt lightheaded from all these thoughts and possible responses I should do. When I was able to gather my thoughts, I did what I knew had to be the best solution to such a situation.

Run out of the dance floor shrieking like a banshee, never to return again.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Exciting Events: Singapore International Salsa Festival 2012

The next big Salsa event in Singapore in coming really soon! From 12-14 October, party it down at Downtown East at Pasir Ris Close to the hottest artistes and DJs like Santo Rico Dance Co., Terry and Cecile, Alberto and Mika, and other famous international acts. DJ Mauri, Javed, The Professor, and Jason would be there to spin some hot salsa hits to pump up the dance floor.

Even our local talents from Mosaic Dance and Attitude Dance Studio will be performing on the event, so that's something not to be missed.

Jitterbugs's student team Salsa Swingapore would also be performing at the event itself, so if you're going to SISF do say hi to them for me! Unfortunately I doubt I would go as the ticket prices are expensive and I am still on a strict budget. But I would definitely be seeing some of you at the Inter-Tertiary Salsa Competition socials.

You can check out more details at the SISF website for the pricing info and other juicy details. Mercury's messenger in training, Swinging Salsera, over and out!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Guest Appearance: My Wife Doesn’t Even Like My Dancing

There was a time when I thought I was a great salsa dancer. I used to frequent dance clubs with my wife before we were married, and from my own perspective; I thought I was a great dancer. Nobody ever told me any different.

After I married my wife, we still went to clubs on occasion just to dance and have fun together. Still, I thought I was pretty good. Whenever I danced at dull weddings or parties, people generally followed and eventually everyone was dancing and having a good time. I thought I was rhythmically blessed.

Eventually, I got into a conversation with co-worker from the Dominican Republic, who just so happened to be into salsa dancing. She laughed when I said I was a pretty decent salsa dancer. I was too embarrassed to start a dance with no music, and all alone, so I challenged her to call my wife and ask her. She accepted the challenge.

I was pretty excited to make the phone call since I was almost 100% positive she would respond in my favor. When she answered the phone, I asked her, almost jokingly:

“Hi dear, this girl is here making fun of me and telling me that there is no way I am a good salsa dancer.”

I should probably add at this point that I have never been formally taught in the art of salsa dancing. I just watched a few videos, had pretty nimble feet, and tried to mimic what I thought was quality salsa.
Anyway, I’m not sure what I did to deserve it, but my wife’s response verbatim was:

“Well, I would have to say, you have your own………………style?”

Any passers-by may have thought my co-worker had just won the lottery with her response, minus the maniacal laughter. I, on the other hand, was absolutely dumbfounded. Still, I cannot believe my wife let me tippy-toe around the dance floor, utilizing my own salsa style.

Later, I asked my wife what she meant by her definition of my dancing, and she said she never wanted to hurt my feelings, or have her opinion make me stop dancing. I guess I should be flattered that she had so much fun dancing with me, but there is still that image in the back of my mind of her snickering whenever she envisioned me doing whatever it was I did when I thought I was dancing.

What I learned from this experience can easily be broken down to a few items:

  • Never assume you are a good salsa dancer without proper training and a trusted opinion.
  • If you aren’t facing certain humiliation, your wife cannot be considered a trusted opinion.
  • If you are facing certain humiliation, your wife will not only tell the truth, but launch into a myriad of embarrassing stories causing irreparable damage.
  • Lastly, you can’t stop a heart that pumps a salsa beat from attempting a salsa dance!

Bart Vale is a writer for Sports Mall who enjoys writing about personal experiences to enrich others’ lives. Most of his leisure time is spent at this Salt Lake Swim and Tennis Club to stay in shape. He leaves the salsa dancing for when he is home alone, but is still quite the dancer in his mind.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Exciting Events: Inter-Tertiary Salsa Competition

Inter-tertiary salsa competition

Ladies and gentlemen, NTU presents to you the Inter-Tertiary Salsa competition 2012! The theme this year will be Sapphire Masquerade, so be sure to dress with flair and carry an air of mystery. Masks will be provided on the day itself, but you may bring your own to add to the mystique.

When: 25th August, 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm
Where: YMCA International House, 1 Orchard Road, Singapore
Price: $15 for students, $20 for public.
Contact Chloe of En Motion Dance Studio on FB for more info on how to buy the tickets. Please provide your name, mobile number and amount of tickets you would like to buy in your message.

This competition has brought about fierce competition between skilled salseros and salseras at tertiary school level, their choreographies are not to be missed! Along with that, there will be DJs spinning the hottest, spiciest salsa tunes to social dance into the night. Refreshing drinks will also be served.

I'll be going for the event itself, but I doubt that in such a short timespan I'll be able to find a partner and train enough to be at a competitive level. Either way, I'll see you there!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Tutorial Treasuries: Addicted2salsa

I'm pretty sure my followers know that I'm an advocate of Anthony Persaud's salsa tutorials. I really enjoy his teaching style, and having a video tutorial in your pocket makes it easier to swipe back and fourth to see stuff being repeated if you have to. Best part is, in the app, if you save it into favourites, you don't need Wifi to access them (which is great for me since I don't use 3G...I'm so ancient but I'm reluctant to change my phone number, please stop pestering me stupid voices inside my head that are telling me to switch to 3G.)

They also have a free version, but the features are really limited. Not only are there less videos, there are also less practice songs, and you're not able to access other YouTube videos on the free app that can certainly get creative juices flowing (especially those trying to figure their way around making a choreography. It's good to have a few references here and there so that you can piece it together to call your own at a later time.) But if you're hesitant about trying out the app directly you can always go for the free one first.

Not only that, buying the full app will also help Anthony continue to post video tutorials up and maintain his website too. So why not help a dancer to help you?

Pocket Salsa - addicted2salsa LLC

Also available on the iPad

ps: Yes I didn't do an entry on socials this time, because I missed last Friday. I had to worry about university related stuff and also attend my brother's birthday party. Expect a break in blogging pattern when university starts. 

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Tips: Compare & Contrast the Simple Right Turn (Salsa) and Tuck Turn (WCS)

Salsa and west coast swing are both partner dances, but uses different counting and technique in order to lead and follow. The two techniques discussed here look visually similar, but are very different in terms of the connection, feel, and timing. It is always important, as dancers who wish to become versatile, to tell the difference between two different dance styles that may look similar.

Simple Right Turn - Salsa
1. Every salsa move has to have the counting 1 2 3, 5 6 7.
2. The movement has to appear sharp, but gentle enough for the follow to balance and end off the turn well.
3. The leader gives the signal to follower by raising hand at count 3, then push follower into a turn. It should look like a halo is drawn on her follower's head. While executing the move, the leader may opt to do the side step or stationary basic steps without getting in the way of the follower in time for 5 6 7.
4. The leader's hands should be in a "high 5" position during count 3 to give a push, but only 2 fingers should be used when leading the turn so that the follower can maintain the C-hold.
5. On count 5, the followers step forward, steps back and turn quarter way through in count 6, and then bring their feet together and completes the turn at count 7. It is this move at count 7 that makes the turning look sharp and abrupt. Leaders will help the followers to complete the turn when at count 7 by resetting the hands at waist level again before moving on to another technique.

Tuck Turn - West Coast Swing
1. West Coast Swing has 2 types of counting: two steps and triple steps. Two steps are done with counts 1 2 (a downbeat and upbeat), whereas triple steps are counted as 1 & 2 (downbeat, an in between beat, and upbeat)
2. The tuck turn is a 6-count pattern with counting 1 2, 3 & 4, 5 & 6. The movement should appear relaxed and soft. The additional counts "& a" is meant to give a fluid feel to the dance.
3. The leaders pull their followers like in a push break on count 1 & a 2. At count 2, the hand should already be raised to give the signal for a tuck turn to the follower.
4. On count 3 & a, the leaders bring their hand slightly back to allow the followers to compress into them like in a push break. The leader just pushes the follower off to allow her to turn 180 and step back. There's no need to circle your hand around the follower's head.
5. The followers finish off the turn during counts 5 & a, while doing so the followers introduce tension gradually before reaching maximum tension at 6 & a. This is where both lead and follow will anchor and finish off the pattern.

For partner dancing, it's always vital to maintain a connection with your partner so that you can communicate to them. These simple steps should be mastered so that more advanced moves can be communicated in the social dance floor without having to explain how a pattern should be done to your partner. Leaders should remember that most movements have to be suggested to your partner before they can respond, and followers shouldn't autopilot and anticipate before a pattern is executed.

To those who have more experience or currently teaching partner dancing, feel free to add in what other details I've missed in this blogpost that compares the two patterns in the comments section below.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

A Proper Introduction

Hello, world! Since this is supposed to be my first blogpost, I should introduce myself, but firstly, thanks for stopping by to read my blog at the first place!

I'm a relatively new salsera and west coast swinger. I started salsa on February and West Coast Swing on April. However, the world of dance isn't a stranger to me, as you can read in my dance background page above.

So why am I blogging?

Don't I have some dancing to do? Of course I do, but my dancing takes up my weekends by a few hours only, which leaves plenty of time to do my second favourite thing - to write!

This blog would consist of my journey through salsa and west coast swing - as of October 2012, this blog would document every dance genre that I'm trying out from my dance scholarship with Jitterbugs which will include ballet, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, and definitely not forgetting tap dance! - which includes tips I learnt from class, browsing and sharing videos, online products to purchase and wear, and my blood, sweat and tears.

It's good to know I'm probably not the only dancer that jots down their progress. David Wilson of DaveTriesBallet documents his ballet progress, so why not do one for partner dancing? After all, the dynamics of partner work in social dances differ greatly from theatrical dances as they are improvisational in nature rather than choreographed.

What inspired me to take up salsa and west coast swing?

Many of my classmates in my first salsa class commented saying I'm too young to pick up salsa and left comments like, "Aren't people your age taking up hip hop or stuff like that?" I saved them from my sob story of being in a really disorganised street dance club in my high school and just said, "I just wanted something different."

I knew a few friends to does ballroom dancing too. Back then I thought to myself, "There isn't a need to look so flamboyant to appear attractive as a girl, I'll just keep on being my quirky artistic self." However, after a while, I had to give my stubborn mindset a revamp. Plus, watching videos of my friends' performances in school made me even more curious. Excitedly, after my International Baccalaureate exams are over, I inquired about the start dates for salsa dancing at Jitterbugs Swingapore. Even though I was initially deterred from the fact that they needed to postpone classes because of the lack of signups, I got hooked after staying on my first night of socials.

I remember coming home around 11 pm gushing to my mom, "OMG there are university students on social dances and I even managed to catch up to patterns that wasn't shown in class before and there's this cute guy can I stay late on Fridays?" in which she promptly commented on my excited state and that I need to calm down so I don't scare people, and then granted me permission to stay late.

Thus begins my perilous journey through the complexities of social dancing.

What about west coast swing?

West coast swing socials would happen concurrently with salsa dance socials, so after much coaxing from a salsero to give west coast swing a shot, I decided what the heck, there's nothing to lose. So I tried it and I am loving it so far. However, I am tuning in especially around this time when I'm just beginning. My dance teacher made an observation during socials that there are swingers who attempt complex patterns, but completely dismiss the fundamentals of swing dancing, thus appearing really messy. So it is vital that I pay extra attention during the intro classes so that I don't lose the basics as I go into more advanced partner work.

Stay tuned to see more of what I can collect so far. Until then, keep dancing!