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Salsa Crazy SF

All things Salsa Crazy in the Bay Area....and then some....

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salsadance007
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Salsa Crazy News San Francisco

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June 25th, 2008

I ran into an old girlfriend this week whom I hadn't seen in about two years.   She looked amazing.  She showcased long and lean muscles all toned and compact and clean glowing skin.    I asked her what she had been doing for exercise, and she said she had gotten the salsa dancing bug and had been dancing at the clubs 3-4 nights a weeks.  

Well, I wish I had a before and after picture of her.  She looked amazing, easily comparable to the stunners from dancing with the stars.  So I thought I would pinpoint exactly what muscles are being exercised and focused on while salsa dancing. 

I am a certified pilates instructor. I have designed custom workouts to strengthen the muscles that are used in salsa dancing to give the dancers a secret edge.  But through this training I know exactly what muscles are hit the most.

So we will start with the main muscle that makes it all possible, the abdominals.  The abdominals are the stabilizing muscles for all salsa movements.  Without them, dancers would topple over when they are spinning and performing tricks that require fast footing, especially when performed on  heels (usually the case for followers).  The abdominals are also the key factors in performing body isolation movements including body rolls, shoulder shakes, and lots lots more. 

Another main muscle group that is worked are the muscles of the thighs, the Quadriceps and Hamstrings, the large muscle that runs down the front of the thigh is the Quadricep and the one is the back is the Hamstring.  Well, since salsa dancing is done standing, these muscles activate without really trying, but it is when you start to more forward and back, side to side, and perform turns that the muscles engage and start to do their work.  Getting into shines and intricate footwork will help these muscles strengthen even faster.





Salsa dancing also works and tones the muscles of your arms, creating beautifully sculpted shoulders, biceps and tri's.
It may not look like much, but holding your arms at waist level or shoulder level for hours at a time is not an easy feat.  You get beautiful tones limbs in no time. 

And this might be the last muscle you will be thinking about, but salsa is great for your calves as well as the tiny muscles that support your ankles.  Because salsa dancing is mostly done on the balls of our feet, the calves and ankle muscles have to work extra hard to keep your legs in a straight line and support your weight. 

Celebrities caught on to the slimming effects of salsa dancing a long time ago.  Check these beautiful salseras below.

Jennifer Lopez
Antonio Banderas
Shakira
Wrestler Ric Flair
Sofia Vergara
Ricki Martin


These dancers prove what salsa dancing can do for your body.  Photo from the 2008 World Salsa Championships




I don't know about you but I am going to get out there and start dancing!!

June 12th, 2008

The ON 2 Basic Step -  In our basic step, the man's left foot goes back and the woman's right foot goes forward on the 1st beat of this so-called 8 beat measure or bar.  We step with our feet on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th, 6th, and 7th beats of the measure .  We do not step on the 4th and 8th beats.  We actually "break" our movement, in other words we change body direction, on the 2nd and 6th beats of the measure.  We call it "breaking on 2",  or "dancing on 2", or "bailando en dos".  This is mambo, danced forward and back, in a line or slot, not side to side or in a circle or square.  

Our basic step is as follows:

1st beat of the measure -  The man steps back with his left foot.    The woman steps forward with her right foot.

2nd beat of the measure -  The man steps farther back with his right foot, then changes direction, starting to lean forward with his body = "breaks forward on 2".   The woman steps farther forward with her left foot, then changes direction, starting to lean back with her body = "breaking back on 2".

3rd beat of the measure -  The man steps in place with his left foot, while his body is moving forward.  The woman steps in place with her right foot, while her body is moving backward.

4th beat of the measure -  No steps.

5th beat of the measure -  The man   steps forward with his right foot, in front of his left foot.  The woman steps backward with her left foot, behind her right foot.

6th beat of the measure -  The man steps farther forward with his left foot, then changes direction, starting to lean backward with his body = "breaks back on 6".   The woman steps farther back with her right foot, then changes direction, starting to lean forward = "breaks forward on 6". 

7th beat of the measure -  The man steps in place with his right foot, while his body is moving backward.  The woman steps in place with her left foot, while her body is moving forward. 

8th beat of the measure -  No steps.

Technically, it is proper to start the dance in the following way:  You walk onto the dance floor with your partner, set up the standard partner position frame, and then begin on the 6th beat of the measure, with the man stepping forward with his left foot and the woman stepping back with her right.  On the 7th beat, the couple changes direction, with the man rocking back onto his right foot and the woman rocking forward onto her left foot.  They then go right into the basic step pattern which is maintained through the rest of the song:  the man's left foot goes back and the woman's right foot goes forward on the 1st beat of the measure, and the pattern continues as described above in detail.  Although this is technically the proper way to start, most New York dancers simply begin on the 1st beat of the measure as described above, sometimes not even setting up the partner position first.

Originally posted on salsacrazysf.vox.com

June 11th, 2008

Tips for Latin Hip Motion

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When you watch salsa dancing, there is one very important factor that makes the dance look the way it does.  That is the latin hip motion.  Some people seem like they were born with it.   For those of us who weren't, here are a few tips I have found.


Latin hip motion is the rotation of the hips around the spine,
caused by the alternate bending and straightening action of the knees.

 
Definition >
 

When you want to create a shifting or "settling" action of the hips,
you will bend one knee while leaving the other straight.

 
 

In the diagram above, the woman is bending her left knee while leaving the right
knee straight. Notice the effect that this has on the position of her hips and body:

 

  • Because the left knee is bent, the left hip is lower than
    the right hip. Line (B) illustrates the resulting angle at the waistline.
  •  

  • Line (C) shows the clockwise rotation of the hips resulting from the
    straight knee and hip being pushed backwards while the bent knee
    and hip push forward.
  •  

  • The shoulder line (A), however, is still straight. The sides of the torso
    are therefore not equal; The left side is stretched long, while the right
    side is shorter.
  •  blog it


    Essential to salsa style, Cuban-motion is the name given to the characteristic latin-dance hip-action. Here is a step-by-step guide to achieving the proper salsa hip movement.


    Cuban motion

    Cuban-motion, the typical latin-dance hip action, is not hard to achieve and will give your salsa dancing an authentic look and feel: a controlled and pleasant swaying that arises naturally if the steps are performed in a relaxed manner. The hip movement should not be deliberate in any way, it should arise as a consequence of doing the steps properly with a smooth shifting of weight from foot to foot, it is not achieved by “wiggling you bum”.

    Preparation

    Find somewhere with a bit of space where you can move a few steps to left and right.

    This is what you do:

    Stand in a relaxed fashion with your feet together and your knees very slightly flexed. Bend your arms at the elbow so your forearms are more-or-less parallel to the floor. Your hands should be relaxed, quite close together, fingers slightly bent. Look straight ahead, not down at your feet.

    The upper part of your torso, ie, the upper-part of your spinal column (dorsal vertebrae) neck and head, should be more-or-less vertical throughout. Don’t tilt this part of your body to left or right. Keep your shoulders more-or-less parallel to the floor, but, on the other hand, don’t tense up in an effort to keep your shoulders level and your head straight.

    The footwork is what is known as “ball-flat”. This simply means that as you take a step, the ball of your foot should hit the ground slightly before you lower the rest of your foot. (As opposed to normal walking which is “heel-flat”.)

    • Gently shift your weight onto your right leg as you bend your left knee just a little and take a small step to the left, about 12 inches (30 centimetres). As you take the step, you should feel your hips move slightly to the right
    • Press down with your left foot to shift you weight onto your left leg and you should feel your hips moving to the left
    • Take a closing step with your right foot to bring your feet together
    • Let your weight shift back to your right foot and you will feel your hips going to the right
    • Repeat this sequence as you travel sideways across the room until you meet the wall or a piece of furniture.

    If you didn’t feel you hips moving in the way I described, make sure you’re taking small steps (about one foot, or 30 centimetres, but not less). It is very important to take small steps. Small steps and the smooth shifting of weight from foot to foot is what creates Cuban-motion. (Did I say you should take small steps?)

    When you reach the wall you should head back in the opposite direction so I’ll repeat the instructions with left and right reversed.

    • Gently shift your weight onto your left leg as you bend your right knee just a little and take a small step to the right, about 12 inches (30 centimetres). As you take the step, you should feel your hips move slightly to the left
    • Press down with your right foot to shift you weight onto your right leg and you should feel your hips moving to the right
    • Take a closing step with your left foot to bring your feet together
    • Let your weight shift back to your left foot and you will feel your hips going to the left
    • Repeat the sequence.

    The essence of what’s happening is this: your hips go away from the the side that is taking a step. When you step with your left foot, your hips go to the right. When you step with your right foot, your hips go to the left.

    OK, let’s assume at this point, that you’re stepping back and forth across the room with your hips swinging wildly. It’s time to tone it down. You should maintain sufficient muscle-tension in your lower back to keep the movement controlled, it should be a gentle, pleasant, swaying motion.

    Translating these steps into the salsa eight-beat sequence

    Stand as described above with your elbows bent and knees slightly flexed.

    Let your hips move as described above. Remember: small steps. Still going from side to side.

    Beat 1 Step to the left with your left foot.
    Beat 2 Step to the left with your right foot to bring your feet together (closing step).
    Beat 3 Step to the left with your left foot.
    Beat 4 Step to the left with your right foot while bending your knee a little more and touch the floor beside your left foot with your toe or the ball of your right foot. Your weight will stay on your left leg.
    Beat 5 Straighten your right leg as you step out to the right with your right foot.
    Beat 6 Step to the right with your left foot to bring your feet together (closing step).
    Beat 7 Step to the right with your right foot.
    Beat 8 Step to the right with your left foot while bending your knee a little more and touch the floor beside your right foot with your toe or the ball of your left foot. Your weight will stay on your left leg.


    Clipped from www.salsacity.com

    Originally posted on salsacrazysf.vox.com

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