Cuban salsa flavour

It has been a while since we updated our blog, so I thought it is about time I wrote something!

I wanted to talk about Orishas. We have started to include Orishas in our advanced salsa classes on Mondays at 8pm. Also, in our warm ups in the intermediate salsa classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8pm, we sometimes include the movements of the Orishas to improve our body movement. In our latter beginners salsa classes we start to talk about Orishas and illustrate how they can be applied to our salsa dancing.

An Orisha is a deity that reflects one of the manifestations of God in the Yoruba religion. Some of the orishas we have included in our salsa classes at La Suerte Dance School are:

Elegua
Elegua opens and closes the paths to mankind. Elegua ranges from a young child, who loves to play tricks, to a knowledgeable old man.

Ogun
Ogun is the orisha of the woods. Ogun is a strong man, he uses a heavy machete to chop everything in his path. He also knows how to manipulate iron. He is an inseparable friend of Elegua and Ochosi. He is the husband of Oshun and Oya. Oya, his lost wife, was stolen by his brother Chango. The children of Ogun are hard working. Ogun watches over them and when he is in battle for one of his children he will not rest until he has won.

Ochosi
Ochosi is always accompanied by Elegua and Ogun. He always carries a bow and arrow, which he uses for his hunt. Ochosi is the orisha of justice. Ochosi hunts with Elegua and Ogun.

Chango
Chango is the orisha of thunder. When the sound of thunder is roaring, it is Chango riding on his white horse. Chango is a tall handsome man with an excellent physique. He is a womanizer.

Obatala
Obatala is the orisha of the white cloth. He is the only orisha that has male and female aspects. He is said to vary from an old man, who is always trembling to a young person that is riding a horse. Everything put to Obatala is white. He is the father that all that the orishas look for.

Yemaya
Yemaya is the universal mother. She is the orisha of the ocean. Her colour is blue and all shades of it. She is the patron orisha of all women and women that bare children. As a mother, she is a warrior and will defend her children. She can be stern and punish her children. The same way she can punish and teach you a lesson. When Yemaya makes her appearance at a festival, she mimics the ocean waves. She spins in circles as a whirlpool. She is the sister of Ochun.

Oya
Oya can be a feared orisha, as she can create powerful storms. Oya was the wife of Ogun, before Chango took her away from him. Oya is said to be dressed in a wine colour dress with a belt, which holds a grass skirt. Oya is a great warrior who loves to go to battle alongside her husband Chango.

Oshun
Oshun is the orisha of love and happiness. Her father is the great Obatala. He raised her since she was a little girl. Oshun’s colour is yellow. When she was younger she had only one white dress. Everyday she would go to the river and wash it. The white dress started to turn yellow. Oshun was happy that she had a yellow dress, as none of the adult orishas owned or had anything with the color yellow. From then, yellow became the primary colour to Oshun.

The best way to learn how to dance orishas is at Cuban Salsa festivals and La Suerte Dance School :). The crazy salsa team from La Suerte Dance School will be going to Bachaturo in Poland. I am very excited as my favourite teacher will be there. Yeni Molinet is a master at teaching Afro-Cuban classes. See you soon on the dance floor!

Hungary + Crystal Salsa Festival 2011

Today will be a bit about salsa and something about foreign cultures and people, all of that because of another European Salsa trip. We have been so lucky, that we could spend the first few days of September in Hungary and Poland.

I will start from the beginning. 2nd September – flight from Manchester to Hungary. If you’ve watched some of our previous videos you will have noticed a weird person appearing in the end of most of them. That’s Andreas - our half Greek, half Hungarian friend. He was the reason we decided to go to Hungary. We wanted to visit him and do some research about the salsa world in Hungary. We know how it looks in Poland, so we expected a similar level and attitude to salsa in this part of Europe.

It was a great pleasure to change rainy and cold Manchester for HOOOT! Budapest for a few days. The weather was amazing. Thanks to that we could go to some open-air parties. The first one was at Puerto club. Good music, good dancers. The day after we experienced a completely different dance. We tried Greek dance. Andreas has been doing it since he was a kid, so he showed us a few basic steps. It was an amazing event. It doesn’t matter if you can dance, or not. Everybody dances together to live music. We really enjoyed this night. In the end went to the biggest hill in the city where from we could see how Buda and Pest looks during a night. If you ever have a chance to see that it is more than recommended.

Coming back to salsa. Tuesday night we went to the same club, where we went to the Greek Party. Name of the club is Rio. We expected it will be at least as good as Perto, but unfortunately it wasn’t very good. Dancing level in Hungary is high, but music that night was terrible. It felt like Copa Cabana in Manchester – simply crap. It was a mix of old Puerto Rican and Colombian salsa mostly, few Berna Jam tracks and literally just a few good timba songs. What is cool… entrance to most of the parties in Budapest is free, people are younger than in England. Atmosphere is the same as in the other European cities.

Next day we spent inside a train. 11 hours journey from Budapest to Krakow through Slovakia and Czech Republic. We had to change in Katowice. We obviously used this opportunity to dance at the Train Station. It was very loud and we couldn’t hear the music, but another weird location added to our collection.

Last three days were the main reason of this trip – Crystal Salsa Festival (named this year Key Salsa Festival). It was the 5th edition of the event. In the past it was known as a line festival, but because of the huge number of people in South Poland dancing Cuban salsa, the organizers decided to expand the programme and do Cuban workshops with great artists and an open Cuban room during the party nights. The biggest star of the festival was Frankie Martinez – NY salsa dancer. Obviously not for us. There were few Cuban teachers announced – Yeni Molinet, Alex Carbo and Yunaisy Farray, Yoanis Tamayo, Ariel Rios and OlidaisyRizo Perez. Unfortunately because of some visa issues Yoanis couldn’t leave Cuba and join as at congress. He is great dancer and teacher, but was replaced very well by Alex.

Whole festival began with Thursdays preparty at Forty Club in Kraków. We danced there till the end of the night. Very good Cuban music was provided by Latin Project DJs – TJ Salsaero and Agent Tomasz. That night was only a starter to the main course – parties and workshops in Wieliczka. Wieliczka is small town just outside of Kraków. It is famous because of theSalt Mine, in which all parties took place. Yep… 125 meters under ground – two massive rooms, one with mambo and LA, second with Cuban music only… new timba, son with a bit of afrocuban and bachata. There wasn’t a lot of Cuban dancers, but thanks to that there was a lot of space to dance at the parties and during workshops. I can guess there were about 150 people, who joined festival because of Cuban salsa. Group of line dancers was at least 4-5 times bigger.

Friday night was the first festival night with Frankie Martinez and Abakua dance company show. It was kind of dance act. It took about 30 minutes, but to be completely honest I didn’t enjoy it. That night there wasn’t more shows. What’s more video recording was not permitted. What I didn’t like in this act? At first it was very, very long… and it didn’t tell any story. Dancers tried to present their amazing skills, which I believe are outstanding, but I really don’t like line dancing. It looks like there are only girls at the dancefloor. All males dance with weird manner – they move in a very feminine way. Probably there are a lot of people, who will not agree with me, but I am just giving my personal opinion.

We finished first night between 4 and 5 o’clock. After a few hours of sleep we attended the workshops. I started with son-cha class with Alex Carbo. He is amazing dancer. His style is pure, very masculine. The same day we had also Son, Rumba, Reggeaton and Cuban partnerwork classes. All of them except one were on very good level. It was the day we learnt loads. Tne one I didn’t like was Rumba with Ariel. He is very good dancer, but his teaching methods are terrible. Workshops were followed by another party. This time all artists presented their shows. Whole gala was based on news convention. Every single show was another news feature. Few of them were amazing. Especially contemporary dance by Clau& Luke and show by Swinguys. The second one was funny, entertaining, with some background, some story. For me performance like that is always the most valuable. That night Cuban dancers could present themselves as well. Alex and Yunaisy danced Afro Cuban, Yeni – Yemaya. These shows were good, but I wouldn’t remember them for long.

Next day Salsa Manchester crew started with another set of workshops. That day I went for Yemaya, Ochun and Oya by Yeni. I wanted to learn as much as possible about women’s orichas. I enjoyed this class a lot. Other classes were very good – salsa con afro free style, casino con rumba partnerwork. Only reggeaton with Olidaisy wasn’t the best. She presented a lot of ass shaking and that was it J

Sunday party – shows again and this time Swinguys performed something unusual. Another very good act was Zouk dance. It looks like we were bored with all line performances, which looked exactly the same… a lot of spinning, guys doing ladies styling and so on. I would forget about Olidaisy doing her ass shaking in show form. Yep… we could watch that as well. That was the best party from all four. We went a bit crazy, did a lot of crazy dancing. When we came back home we didn’t have a lot of time for sleep. Just few hours to plane and that’s how we finished our 6th festival this year.

In the end I can say it was a very good festival. Dancing level in Poland is high – it was definitely worth to go. Very good workshops, long parties and good weather (especially in Hungary). If next year the organizers will invite the same artists we will go for sure to see them again. I should say here that the price of this festival was quite high (about £100). Comparing to our next one it is almost double the price. And what is next? Belgrade, Serbia with Havana en Belgrado festival – 11– 13th of November. Almost all the same artists and a great band ManolitoSimonet y su Trabuco. Meanwhile I will try to write a bit about London Salsa Congress, Festival Cubano and Sierra Maestra Concert, we attended this year. Stay tuned.

Salsa Manchester goes to Cuban Salsa Congress - Bournemouth 2011

It won't be long post, because there is not to many good things I can tell about. Our expectations before festival should be huge, because of the names of teachers (Maykel Fonts, Alberto Valdez, Dawes Figeroa, Ariel Rios), but having in mind London Congress we decided to accept not expect. Unfortunately reality was worse than our predictions.

I will try to start with positives :). We decided to leave rainy Manchester for one weekend (6-8th of August) and travel to South – to Bournemouth. I have to admit that I am fan of Maykel Fonts and that was the main reason we wanted to take a part in this event. Classes with him are difficult to compare to any other Cuban Salsa experience. He is like Luis Vasquez for LA salsa dancers or Frankie Martinez for NY salsa dancers. Amazing skills and obviously great teaching methods. Sometimes when you go for salsa workshops is better to follow good teacher even on beginner level than choose higher level class with somebody else. We had pleasure to participate in Rumba and Chango classes with Maykel fonts.

I was very impressed with one Sunday class – Afro Cuban with Eloy Leyva from Clave Negra. Most of moves were based on Arrara. I really enjoyed this class. Another good one was Ogun and Ochun with Dawes and Teresa. It was surprise after their morning class, when they looked hangovered and during whole hour there was warm-up only – big, big, big disappointment. I liked Dawes classes in London. Here he came with different partner – Teresa (Ryada's sister - amazing dancer).

Now few unpleasant words. Most of teachers where were very, very lazy. I know them from other festivals in Europe and I have to tell that it is disrespectful to lower the level only because we are in England. This is the reason why probably I will never again go to any British Salsa Congress. Maybe after time something will change, but teachers like Ariel Rios or Alberto Valdez have already strong name on European salsa scene and even when they don't need to work on it any more, they need to do everything to not be forgotten in future.

I can't say a lot about parties, because we went only for Saturday One. I really enjoyed shows (some examples under this paragraph). Moe Flex successfully turned up crowd and there was really nice atmosphere. Dancing level very, very low comparing to other European events. I forgot to name one more person, that I noticed was very good dancer. His name is Nicola Medic, he comes from Serbia and his dance was impressive. He organizes Cuban Congress in Belgrade 11-13th November and we will definitely be there.

In summary it was weird weekend. We had few nice workshops and few very disappointing. We spent a weekend outside of Manchester, checked another Congress and we know where not to go next year. Next one.... Crystal Salsa Festival in Wieliczka (Poland)

De Nuevo Con La Timbala - Manchester Jazz Festival 2011

The concert began with Eleggua; it was a great introduction to the evening by the Afro-Cuban band.

Yambu followed, with a performance by Cesare and Nadia; the dancing was very good and the story they told worked well. The continued with a guaguancó repertoire; once again this was performed well and maintained a good theme.

 

Ceasre won first prize at the 20 Guaguancó Festival, Barcelona 2011, which the Crazy Salsa Manchester gang attended. He repeated the Columbia performance from the festival. Cesare is a very entertaining dancer and it was good to see his show again.

A collaboration of La Timbala with a jazz accompaniment followed; the song was composed by the saxophone player. It actually sounded like a Cuban Christmas song! This tune will definitely be played during the Christmas period by the Crazy Salsa Manchester crew; watch this website for some salsa dancing in random places to this song!

After the interval, there was Mozambique music, Cuban carnival music. This involved, once again, collaboration between La Timbala and the jazz band. The crowd certainly enjoyed this and the audience were up and dancing!

2nd Festival Internacional del Guaguancó Afro-Cubano, 24-26 June 2011, Barcelona

Friday, June 24

The crazy Salsa Manchester people begin their first Guaguanco festival, leaving Salsa and Bachata behind to begin a weekend of Cuban Rumba and Orishas!

The festival opened with a presentation of the artists, three languages were used for the introductions: Spanish; English and French. Commentary in English is invaluable at international festivals! It was great that English was initially used.

There were several opening shows. My favourite was performed by Daniel Pancerz from Poland. The choice of song was perfect and the use of body movement to the music was amazing.

There were great dancers at the party, and the choice of music was pleasing. Unfortunately the sound system was not very good; the music echoed somewhat, so it was hard to hear the beat; there was a different beat from one side of the room to another! The room also had a carpet; it was surprising to see this; one would expect a large hotel to have a room with a wooden floor for such occasions. Alternatively, the organizers could have chosen a venue with suitable flooring. In the end, however, the carpet was not that much of a problem and it was quite a relief to dance bare foot at the party after a full day of workshops! The party was also at this venue on Saturday night.

The dancers at the party were at a high level and I had some great dances!!

Saturday, June 25

The morning workshops were great. The basics of some of the orishas were explained. Body isolations for dancing the orishas were worked through. These classes were fantastic and such a welcome as they do not exist in Manchester!

Yeni Molinet is a fantastic teacher, who explains the basics wonderfully; her routines are brilliant and very useful for extracting certain moves for social Salsa dancing.

The Saturday night performances were great. The show performed by Calle Real was absolutely wonderful. Yeni was fantastic as Oya.

Sunday, June 26

The Sunday workshops were brilliant, except for two. The first class, by Jorge, the organizer of the festival, was spoken in Spanish; it seemed a really useful class regarding musicality, it is a shame that a limited portion of the audience could understand. He appeared to explain how to incorporate Rumba and Son into general Salsa dancing, with a great emphasis on timing; he was accompanied by a musician playing the congos to stress the beats.

Another class in the afternoon focusing on folk law songs was also in Spanish. It was disappointing that an English translation was not given, as it appeared to be a fascinating class too, people were even taking notes!

Havana D’Primera was awesome. The range of instruments they used was vast; they put on a great show. It was particularly amazing how they improvised a song. Alexander Abreu Manresa (the lead singer) has great charisma; he is like a conductor with his band. The crowd were really fun and they sang along to all the songs; the atmosphere was fantastic. It is a shame the venue was so small, as we could not dance, which was a great pity.

The after party took place in Mojito; after a pre-party at a bus stop! Great dancers were there and we got to dance a little bachata.

Walking through the streets of Barcelona, as the city was beginning a new day, was a wonderful end to a great festival!

The crazy Salsa Manchester crew prepared to return to the UK with a greater knowledge and understanding of these awesome Cuban dances.

Crazy salsa Manchester people go to Leeds

We've finished one of our salsa trips to Leeds dancing in city centre about 2 o'clock. Some funny people joined us. More videos from our random places dancing to follow :)

Next weekend Guaguanco Festival in Barcelona, so no classes thursday and friday (23, 24.06) in Cuba Cafe. Looks like we will have a lot of opportunities to show our creative side.