Salsa > World Salsa Federation Controversy

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by pygmalion, Dec 14, 2003.

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

  2. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    This is a very interesting story. I know Isaac personally, and I have been around people who have expressed concern over his methods. I have definitely heard him curse on a microphone, and I did find it odd at the time, since there were children present, but I didn't try to make a big deal out of it. I also remember a couple of people saying that Isaac told them the event he was holding would be far bigger than it ended up being. Isaac is definitely a controversial figure in the Salsa World. Is he all bad? Or does he have some good qualities that people are overlooking? Is there some place on the internet that is full of WSF supporters?
  3. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    Well I'll just say I definitely don't agree with his ideas on shaping the salsa world. I disagree so much that I didn't attend any of the events he and his wife attended when they were here in Denver at the beginning of the month.
  4. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Anyone who tells you that all you need to do is 'listen to them' is the last person you should be listening too. Period.
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Personal pecadilloes (and cursing) aside, what do you think of the idea of introducing a formalized syllabus for salsa? (Don't forget -- I'm not taking a position, just asking a question!)
  6. salsarhythms

    salsarhythms New Member



    I hate it...
  7. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Honestly? Salsa isn't like Ford Motor Company where you put it on a assembly line and end up with a bunch of Pancake like cars. It is a thing of beauty, one that isn't achieved from the moves but from the soul. A syllabus will deny creativity, limit feeling the music (not physically feeling the bang bang bang of the one-ness of the instuments, but feeling beyond physical measures), It will hinder its growth, it will give power to the egos who think of themselves bigger than the music, etc...

    It is saddening enough as it is to go out and see everyone look the same minus a few details, just imagine how it will be when we are told that it has to be done this way and and only this way... The lack luster instuctors are to blame, not the student, then it will be the syllabus... That will be end of soul depth love and the birth of salsa communism... While excelent in theory awful in practice. Have we failed to notice that humans strive to be themselves/unique? Oooops, too bad that people are too willing to follow for fear of hurting an ego... God, did I ever get off topic here.

    Must say that although I know nothing about ballroom salsa, it might just help there.
  8. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    At the very least, you need to recognize the many different styles of Salsa, because the moves are quite different in Rueda, Palladium, LA Style, etc.

    Maybe Isaac should just call what he is doing "Ballroom Salsa".
  9. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Any attempt to standardize salsa – be it in ballroom studios or local salsa enclaves – is entirely in the dark regarding salsa. Sure, teaching can use a set syllabus, but that is an instructional device, not some canonical manifesto. The very idea that there should be a standardized salsa syllabus reeks of sterility and the idea what one can be certified by sending in a videotape of one’s dancing reduces art to, at best, mere production.
  10. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    Not at all, Boriken!

    I've been thinking about much the same issues. Ballroom Salsa aside, most of the 'elite SALSA studios' are churning out students by the dozens onto the dance floor doing exactly what they've learnt in class (AND dance with the same people from the same group, ALL the time), you can play 'Spot the Studio' every night you see them out there :roll: !

    What happened to the 'sabor' we grew up with.....? Are the techniques and 'styling' taking over and stopping people new to the scene about absorbing the true heart & soul of this lifestyle (I see salsa as more than a dance)?
  11. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    And that's why I asked the question. When you hear true salseros/salseras talk, it's about feeling the music. But the salsa students I've come into contact with, are learning the same stuff, and look pretty cookie-cutter uniform to me. That looks like a syllabus, to me. How does one develop a unique style? Or is that another of those things from the past?
  12. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    I've been thinking about this one a lot. The salsa scene had gone through so much changes over the years, I'm really not sure how to answer this question.

    But I can tell you what I've been telling the newbies. I've been telling them (if anyone is willing to listen) how WE began dancing.

    We meet & dance with EVERYONE.

    We respect the Latinos from the old country, for without them there wouldn't even have been a salsa scene in the first place.

    We learn form them, not just the dance, but the music, history, lifestyle, food etc. We form bonds with each other, turning up to house parties/BBQ, and jam (grabbing ANYTHING to bang along!) in the street/beach.

    Then we DANCE. Knowing that we all share the same love for this lifestyle.

    We are one. We are la familia.

    Where do we go from now....? Well, I tell everybody to start talking/dancing & break the clique.

    That is the start. Ultimately I want people to experience what I had been fortunate enough to have experience......

    Salsa is NOT a 'elite' cookie cutter style dance. It is a lifestyle.
  13. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    Make it yours. It's one thing to learn a pattern (doesn't matter where you learn it from), it's a whole different thing to take what you learned and make it fit your personal dance style. What I hear alot is "I love what you did, but that doesn't look like what we learned." Yeah it was what we learned...I just did it with my my flava (and I'm not talking about technique here). It's so refreshing to see the different interpretations of simples moves (say a cbl).
  14. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Well, one thing that I can say is that I respect my dance teacher, Nedim Catal, on this issue. He always emphasizes that he is simply giving us, the students, the tools/technique etc for salsa. Just tonight he said that there are two groups: those that simply repeat the moves that they know and have learnt, and those that dance to the music; and that the difference is easy to see. That while he teaches moves he cannot teach us how to dance to the music. That comes from within each of us. For instance, Nedim showed a combination, then showed a couple different ways that the combination could be executed, doing the same steps but moving the body differently, exhorting us to find what we like of the combination, take ownership of the moves and move our body according to what the music is telling us. The other night he also said that we all start by imitating the style of others, such as us, his students, imitating him, but that we need to develop our own style over time.

    As for learning how the music moves you/to feel the music I guess I'm getting some of that just by immersing myself in the music. Sometimes just dancing to the music without paying attention to steps and moves... Also, having dance teachers that show how individuality can be developed is also useful. It shows that as long as certain elements remain the same the rest can be changes to suit your personality and the music. Often when learning it can be daunting to know which is which. :) Hope that this make sense!! :)
  15. peachexploration

    peachexploration New Member

    Well said youngsta! I did that in class one day while I was is in "Rebel Against the Cookie Cutter" mode (I hear 'ya pygmalion :wink: :D) and I felt much better. My teacher tweaked my technique but my own interpretation (flava) felt much comfortable for me. I wish more instructors will encourage it. It is very easy to get stuck in someone else's style that is not your own if you're not careful. The idea of sterilizing salsa really scares me. JMO :roll:
  16. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    Here is a more in depth interview with Henry Herrera of Salsa Racing:

    It's a very interesting story about how the blame for Henry losing might have been because of the Red Bull corporate sponsor.

    There seems to have been several issues with "qualified judges".

    Does anyone know just who these judges for the championships were?
    I don't know the individual that was the Red Bull corporate sponsor, but, on the surface, this doesn't sound like a "qualified judge" to me.
  17. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Developing unique style.... Expressing my feelings to dancers I seem to be left out in an island for I think differently about dancing salsa than many.

    My answer to this question is one hard to implement for those who see dollar sings and not the striking beauty of an illuminated soul during a dance. Most people want to learn a few moves and become over-night successes. Even some don’t really have it in them to take it to the next level, they just wanna have fun. Nothing wrong with that either… Due to it many dance studios teach steps and patterns but never really teach students how to feel the music and move the body. Yes, we will all develop our own styles in due time, but never-the-less there will be those who already at the beginning have far greater flava than many. That includes the accomplished, showy dancers, as well as the instructor. But why? What is it that separates the flavourful, from the flavourless? How can an instructor teach yungsta a move and have him make it look totally different?

    A simple answer is the mind, when you dance with the mind there is no time for flava, but when you feel with the soul all that will ever come out is flava. Why? because there is no ego in the soul, there is no next pattern, there is no next step, there is only a display of what the soul feels by the body. Feeling with the soul causes those faceless feelings to transform into what many call FLAVA.

    My answers usually falls with, don't teach students patterns at the beginning, teach them the music, then teach them how the body moves within the music, then tell them; I'm not here to teach but guide you to dance. Yes, I will eventually show you patterns and steps, but what I will do is guide you to your innerself, your inner dancer, that little drummer who wants to jam-away with the band but it doesn't know how to come out. I'll take you to him, and you do the rest. You will not dance because I'm teaching you but because you were taken to the water-well and decided to drink from it. Then and only then can you dance as to who you are and not what I am.

    The implications of my words will cause student body to lessen for the simple reason that we want things yesterday. We give up true gratification of a long seldom-traveled road to dance self-discovery, with immediate gratification and a lack luster philosophy of dancing. Now we see dancers who have every move in the book yet there is absolutely no flava to their dancing. I ask, is a flava that is a mimic of someone else’s flava truly yours? Or have you mistakenly borrowed a flava and believed it to be so yours just because you’ve being copying from day one that the difference between someone else’s dancing and yours is none? The addition of moves, patters, styling of someone else to your repertoire should never be confused with your own flava.
  18. salsarhythms

    salsarhythms New Member

    Ok, this is a touchy subject so here goes.

    #1. I completely, 100% disagree with "standardizing"
    salsa. I understand the reasoning behind what the WSF
    is trying to do. Basically, if a standards body is in place
    it will help to promote it at some level.

    Maybe this is ok in a Junior Olympics type of setting, but
    me personally, I really could care less about that. Watering
    the music down to a mere production and a standard way
    of doing things is just not my thing.

    I personally don't like the mission of WSF, but hey, they
    can do what they like and in the long run, it will be up to the
    public to decide if they want to go that route.

    I hope it never happens, but I can't control the will of the masses
    if it so happens that this is what they want.

    Standardization of anything is just not feasible in many cases.

    In the 1990's corporate america was on a mission to standardize,
    to make everything as cookie cutter as possible...

    I was at the fore-front of that movement. I worked at the time,
    for what was then known as Compaq Services. We had just
    landed the biggest outsourcing/standardization project in the
    history of the United States. The project was for Smith Barney
    and then everyone got on the bandwagon.

    Morgan Stanley, Citicorp, Travelers...every major corporation
    wanted it...

    Guess what...

    It failed miserably.

    Now, you may think that corporate america and salsa dancing
    have nothing in common, but...

    ...both corporate culture and salsa dancing are entities that
    continue to evolve, trying to standardize something that continues
    to grow and breath is impossible.

    Eventually, it will break free from the chains of standardization.

    Like I said, these are complex subjects, but in the end, the
    public will decide, and I for one will have my money on salsa
    not being standardized...
  19. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I hear what you're saying, salsarhythms. I'm really not sure where I stand on this, though. Having been "born and raised" so to speak, in the ballroom world, learning"salsa", I got a nasty awakening when I first went out into the real salsa world. That standardized stuff just didn't work in the real world. I looked and felt like a total idiot.

    On the other hand, a large and powerful organization with the name SALSA on the side could help promote the dance genre, but at what cost? Watering the dance down? And for whose benefit? The guys and girls in Miami or LA or wherever may or may not have a clue WSF exists, but they still can dance their butts off. And who is WSF, or any other group, to mandate what they do?

    And is it really possible to codify and encapsulate a dance "of the people" such as salsa? Okay waltz, you can contain, because for the most part, it's not a widespread social dance anymore. Lots of people do it, but they are largely learning it from formalized dance studios. But waltz, if I remember my dance history correctly (correct me here, d nice) went through quite a bit of evolution back in the nineteenth century, when everybody was doing it. Even waltz would have been hard to codify and "syllabize" (not a word. I know) back then.

    Salsa right now is alive and breathing. In my mind, the best you can hope to do is capture a snapshot.

    Oh yeah, and I have one small problem with your argument that the public will decide about salsa. There are two "publics" at least in my mind. The public out in the clubs, dancing. And the big-buck-paying public in dance studios, where this formalized salsa is taught. A lot of the people in the studios have NO CLUE that what they're being taught bears little resemblance to salsa in the real world. So how can they make an informed choice, when in many cases, they're insulated from reality by people who gain financially by keeping them in the dark? :x :?: (ooh. Sorry. My franchise experiences are coming bak to haunt me.)

    I have more to say, (incidentally, on the opposite side of the argument! :shock: This is complicated. :lol: ) but I'll do it later in the thread. 8)
  20. salsarhythms

    salsarhythms New Member

    By me using the word "public" I mean the people...

    The "market" if you will.

    Just like a companys launching a new product, that product's
    success or failure will ultimately depend on where the market
    or the public decides to go.

    Sure you will have people learning in studios, which is good
    because you do need some sort of structure to teach, but the
    bottom line is that the people that are out there at the clubs
    are the ones supporting these same clubs.

    Without them, you don't have anyone else.

    I don't care if you're the greatest promoter that ever lived, if
    the "market" that you are targeting does not want what you
    have to offer, they just won't be there.

    Salsa is what it is because the people have embraced it.

    Yes, you need promoters, organizations, and others to spread
    the word, but really the biggest promotion of all is word of mouth.

    When was the last time you checked out a restaurant, or a club, or
    a bar solely on the word of a critic?

    Now, when was the last time you checked out a restaurant, or a club
    or a bar based on what a friend tells you?

    For anything to have success the general public, or "market" has
    to embrace it and has to want it.

    It all depends on who you are targeting...

    What's good for one group of people, won't be good for another
    group of people...

    And the general public that does go dancing does not want (at least
    for now anyway) a "standard" cookie-cutter way of doing things.

    Where's the fun in that?

    What'll happen if you try to standardize hip-hop, or pop culture...

    There is no standard, it's just whatever evolves.

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