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.


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