Cuban Salsa ~ by Kerry Ribchester
“In Love with the Cuban Lead and Following”
Dancing in Cuba, under the stars to live music with the man or woman of your dreams for those 3½ minutes is enough to melt the knees of anyone. It’s so easy to fall in love. So after your first Cuban dance you fall in love. Then you dance with the next Cuban dancer, and you think you have fallen in love again. By your fourth dance you realize they have something so special in the way they make you feel on the dance floor. Why is it that everything is so easy, relaxed and fun? Is it the rum or the atmosphere which has your body moving effortlessly in response to your Cadillac lead or feather light follower? All you know is it has taken your breath away!
Welcome to Cuban style!
There are so many reasons why dancing with a great Cuban dancer is magic. Not everyone in Cuba, or every Cuban style dancer is a fantastic lead, however when you do dance with a natural or well trained Cuban master, it is an experience you will want to repeat again and again and emulate.
The Roots of Salsa
The pure origin of Cuban Salsa traces back from SON, the mother of Salsa, back through the Rhythm of the Rumba, the father of Salsa, to the heart of Nigeria and the dances of the Orishas. The roots of Cuban Style Salsa trace back to the religion of Santeria and the intrinsic movement of the Yoruba tribes. Take a very close look at the basic steps of all the Gods, i.e. Chango, the god of war, Oshun the goddess of love and Ellegua the god that opens the way for your life, love and career and you will find the principle steps and movement of Cuban Salsa.
E.g Step to the side, step back and then repeat on the other side. Let the whole foot melt into the floor, as your toes and heel connect into the floor and send a reflection through your whole body. It is a three dimensional, sideways movement with the feet firmly grounded in the floor. The pelvis is relaxed and supported by the feet pressing down and the upper body is supported enough to be able to move freely and effortlessly. This may be one of the reasons why we love to dance Salsa so much. Could it be we are tapping into an ancient movement form the Yoruba tribe that can take you into a trance? Are we re- learning how to move efficiently without the stress of daily life?
Male and Female Styling and Attitude
Join the soap opera. The dance between the man and woman is a whole story of events, feelings, attitudes, boundaries, pleasure and play.
The woman circles the male with bags of Cuban attitude in her hips and a flower like lightness in her upper body. At all times she remains elegant and completely in control of her feminine movement, no matter what he is getting up to! Her arms move from the core of her body, supported by her ribcage, so they enhance the flow of the dance, without being a distraction. Her body movement is far more interesting to focus on. She holds her head high with a long neck, creating a great line in her posture, and occasionally adds some Temple or Afro-Cuban movement to spice up her interpretation of the music. This is a magic touch, not over kill.
Her body movement flows in an elegant and confident manner, due to connection her feet have to the floor. She shows an appreciation to her partner’s creativity and cheek. She will tease him, respond to his sensuality, and enjoy herself. She does all this with a lot of attention to him and no effort on her part.
The secret of the Cuban male styling is to have accurate, grounded and relaxed footwork. When the lower body is supported, as in martial arts, the upper body is free to shake with a great Rumba shimmer and to execute fast moving arms movements that dazzle and inspire the woman. The Cuban male lead is with relaxed arms, soft hands, and clear directional lead from the spine and core of the body.
The Cuban Male is out to impress her in more ways than one. He will show off how great he is, but not at the expense of losing his connection with his partner. A good male Cuban lead treats the woman as if she is a flower that is taken care of on the dance floor with kid gloves, and a raunchy body movement. She is the most beautiful woman in room while he is dancing with her. A female client of mine came off the dance floor from dancing with one of my team in Cuba called Erodis. (His lead is smooth, arms are light, and he ensures a clear direction is communicated to his partner), but he also adds that extra something, his personality. She said he had danced with her soul. It may all sound a bit corny at first to us Brits, but ask any Cuban about the secret of their dance; they are proud to dance from the heart! No apologies! What more could you ask for?