The drizzly weather put a damper on some Cinco de Mayo activities, but the best offering of my weekend was inside. ClubViva and My Latin Rhythms brought in Juan Calderon and Christina Piedra of Cultural Explosion for a weekend of workshops and performances. The word “incredible” comes to mind.
Saturday afternoon was filled with back to back workshops led by these two talented instructors. The workshops touched on musicality, styling, leads/follows, Salsa On 1, Salsa On 2, and Bachata, with a bit of Meringue thrown in. For me, the workshop seemed to be tailor fit to my current level of dancing. Juan focused more on leads/follows than footwork, and had a lot of great comments and insights about how lead/follow relationships work.
Christina did a full workshop on what they were calling improv, and I think of as shines. Instead of teaching set patterns, she broke it down into pattern components and explained her thoughts on how arms are used in styling. That one workshop alone made the entire afternoon worth it, and made me sad that I wasn’t able to do her second styling workshop on Sunday.
One thing that I noticed was that they didn’t spend a lot of time focusing on footwork during the partner work segments. In some ways I found this challenging because it was a completely different approach than what I normally take. However, I think that it was a fantastic way to go for the workshop. With so many different levels of experience, I think that this resulted in a better experience for some of the newer guys- they spent more time focused on how to lead the techniques rather than where their feet should be. I would guess that this approach is a result of Juan's philosophy of being able to dance with everyone, no matter what flavor of Salsa they prefer.
After the workshops, we got back together for an evening of dancing at Club Viva. The dance floor was packed to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. I don’t think I left the floor for the first hour of dancing- which is an absolutely awesome feeling. When I finally left the floor, I had to find a corner to hide in so I wouldn’t be pulled back out again.
|Juan dancing with a local dancer.|
And then Juan asked me to dance. He had said during the workshops earlier that his goal with each girl he danced with was to give her the best dance of her night. In my case, he succeeded; I seriously considered taking off my dance shoes and going home after that. Sometimes you hear the analogy that the man creates the frame with the lady as a picture-- his job is to show her to her best advantage. If that is the case- I may not be a Monet as a dancer, but last night I sure felt like it.
To end the night, we were treated to performances by Juan and Christina- one improvised Salsa and one choreographed Bachata. Both were incredible shows of talent and grace. I have to say that I preferred the Salsa over the Bachata – but since I started dancing, I have discovered that I am partial to lead-follow dances.
The weekend with Juan and Christina was incredible, and I hope that they make it back to St. Louis again soon for another round of workshops, performances, and most of all – dancing.
Cultural Explosion -http://www.culturalexplosion.com/
Club Viva -http://clubvivastl.com/web/
My Latin Rhythms - http://www.mylatinrhythms.com/