Rachel Chimera on the Different Styles of Salsa Dancing

19 Feb

Popular throughout the Americas and beyond, “salsa” is not only an enjoyable pastime, but also an expression of social culture. Since the 1920s, salsa has spread, resulting in several different styles, each of which has distinct body movements, timing, basic steps and foot patterns, turns, and holds that reflect the cultures that helped shape them. Here are just a few salsa styles:

Cali: Hailing from Colombia, the “Salsa Capital of the World,” this style features a diagonal backward step, slightly less upper body movement, and very rapid footwork. Cali-style dancers are known for their precision.

New York: This style stresses more independence in its dancers, allowing “shines” in which dancers can perform solos separate from each other.

L.A.: Incorporating many influences, such as Latin ballroom dancing, swing, and even ballet, the L.A. style is perhaps the most theatrical. The style emphasizes sensuousness and musicality.

Cuban: Popular throughout the world, this style is incredibly rhythmic and adaptable. It emphasizes the male lead’s dominance as his partner has less opportunity to display stylized movements. As such, Cuban style has been recognized as a “macho” style.

About the Author:

Rachel Chimera is a dance enthusiast who has learned various styles while traveling the world. Along with studying east coast swing and hip hop, she spent one month in Havana, Cuba, learning salsa, and a month in Buenos Aires, Argentina, learning the tango.


Rachel Chimera on Discerning Wine Qualities

27 Jan

You don’t have to be a sommelier to be able to judge a good wine from a not-so-good one. And you certainly don’t have to take a wine expert’s word on quality, since everyone’s tastes are different. The best way to please your palate is to discover what it is you like in a wine, and, once you’ve found it, know how to find those qualities in the future. Here are some standards to keep in mind:

1. Balance-Identifying balance in a wine means determining which, if any, components stand out. The main components to consider are sweetness, acidity, alcohol, and tannin, the residual, slightly bitter-tasting skin of a grape.

2. Complexity-Wines can be somewhat flat, or they can prove more complex, offering a multiplicity of aromas and flavors. One wine might offer notes of black currant or apple, while others might be rather simple and straightforward.

3. Finish-This is the “aftertaste,” or the final impression a wine leaves you with after you’ve swallowed it. Wines can finish “hot,” indicating high alcohol content, or “bitter,” suggesting too much tannin.

Again, the quality of a wine is not absolute. It all depends on who is doing the tasting.

About the Author:
Rachel Chimera has previously worked in the wine/bar industry for many years. An ardent wine enthusiast, she is particularly fond of Italian white wines, champagne, and French Burgundies.

The Truth about Tango

14 Jan

The Truth about Tango
By Rachel Chimera

Most people probably first experienced tango as it was played out on the big screen: a sultry, mysterious woman dancing passionately around a tuxedo-clad man in an Argentine brothel, or some similarly far-removed fantastical place. This might have something to do with the common misconception that nobody really dances the tango, that only starlets of the silver screen and double agents from blockbuster hits do it.

Actually, though the popularity of tango has waxed and waned several times since the initial tango craze in the early 20th century, it is still considered one of the top social dance styles to learn. In fact, in 2009, UNESCO declared tango an “intangible cultural heritage.”

Another misconception is that the tango is too difficult to learn. While it takes slightly more practice, the payoff for that work is greater than in other dances. It can make you feel sensuality through the slightest movement. Much of learning the tango involves understanding musicality as much as learning steps. Technique is important, and, though only a basic level of understanding limits what you can do on the dance floor, you can still experience the passion of tango.

About the Author:
An avid dancer, Rachel Chimera has traveled the world to learn various styles, including salsa, Argentine tango, east coast swing, and hip hop. She has participated in film and theater productions as an Assistant Prop Stylist and Assistant Casting Director.