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Social Dancing Vs. Performance

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Social Dancing Vs. Performance

Post  meenakshi on Mon Mar 02, 2009 9:48 pm

Article credit - Lillian Y Wong

The passion of the salsa dancer is unparalleled; rich, overflowing, mad – and quickly becoming one of the most organized & professional street dances in the world. This is the kind of dance that is both internalized and externalized. Salsa is nothing without a least a little wow factor, but salsa is also nothing if you can’t just lose yourself in the music and dance like nobody’s watching.
In this article, we ask the question: how does social dancing compare to performance for the student looking to tap into the unique passion of salsa?
The night-clubs challenge the student dancer differently than dancing a choreographed routine before an audience. Ideally, a good salsa dancer should be capable in both social dancing and performance, but each dancer will build, or prefer to build, their foundation differently.

Alexandra Sell of Mambo Productions (Calgary, CANADA), commented, “Social dancing allows you to develop lead & follow skills, strengthen reflexes, improvise and increase attentiveness to the music. Choreography, on the other hand, trains stage presence, sharpness, technique, ability to handle pressure, etc.”
It is arguable, however, that dancers who mainly reserve their dancing to performance or choreographed classes lack spontaneity and adaptability, whereas, dancers who mainly reserve their dancing to the social floor never learn any new moves, lack growth – and are often there for other reasons than salsa.

Randy Atlas from International Hustle and Salsa Competition, (Miami, USA), believes that salsa should be primarily danced as a social dance. “Social dancing is where the real roots of the music and dance are. The performances are for the instructors and exhibitionists. They reflect only 5% of the actual dance population.”
According to Alexandra Sell, “From my own experience, performing has definitely forced me out of my comfort zone. Had it not been for performing, I would have never had the opportunity to grow as a dancer. The stage made me want to get better, invest in my training, costumes, and the like.”
“However,” she added, “I never lose sight of what salsa really is: a street dance. Social dancing is unquestionably better at feeling the music and connecting with your dance partner. I don’t see how choreography can do that. After all, that is what it is – choreography, so the moves do not have to be lead-able. As with everything else, repeatedly training the same routine and music is bound to become monotonous, tedious and lose its spontaneity.”

Arif Maherali of Latin Soul Dance Company (Calgary, Canada) commented, "I have both performed and danced socially, and I can definitely say that social dancing is what has increased my skill level bar none. A true street dancer will be able to pick any girl or guy and be able to create a story, without predetermined moves.”

Everybody learns differently, according to Erika Sanchez from Grupo America (Vancouver, Canada ). Some people learn to feel the music better in choreography because the timing and execution has to be perfect. “These dancers not only follow a routine based on counts but on the changes and highlights of a song, plus they learn the feeling of each piece when the choreographer explains it.”

“Performance and choreography is taking what you learned to the next level and treating salsa as more than a past-time or hobby,” according to Arthur Ga of Salsa Picante Dance Company (Toronto, Canada). “Performance is an accomplishment for the student and a test of confidence. It has more drama and showmanship; an opportunity to really shine in ways that may not be appropriate on a social floor, for example: doing flips and lifts and dramatic dips."
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