Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Dancing for a dream and happiness

We live in increasingly stressful and anxious times. Everyday we hear news of businesses laying off workers in a gloomy economy, accompanied by rising crimes, home foreclosures, lost of investment, so it sometimes becomes difficult to take your mind off all the bad news. What we really need is some stress buster activity: especially a passion or a hobby. Dance is one such magical activity that relieves you of the stresses of life and tends to brighten your day. Moving a few steps here and there, may be imperfectly, is sure way to give you a healthier life. Apart from being a great exercise, dancing gets you into a positive mood and stimulates your endorphins system, thus making you calmer and relaxed. Whether it's ballet or ballroom, jazz, bachata or salsa, dance is great for helping people of all ages.

Learning to dance can be a life-changing activity. It can easily breathe a new life into a tired soul and make a spirit soar. There is vibrant energy in dance that is beautiful and addictive. It can connect anyone to the rhythms of nature, and give cause for that feeling of happiness. There is a strong link between dance and the emotion of happiness, as you would love to dance when you are feeling happy, but not when you are sad.  

For a lot of youngsters, especially the underprivileged children, dancing can be a great way to fulfill their dreams. Learning dance can help struggling youths gain self-confidence, self-discipline, and a sense of accomplishment. Significantly, the activity also becomes a medium to learn and practice good etiquettes and make an overall positive impact on child’s personality development. And as these children grow their love and commitment to dance, they begin to understand the value of hard work and perseverance. Not only does it will give them a sense of pride and self worth, they will be better prepared for adulthood where they have lots of different challenges, besides having an appreciation of arts.

Friday, 15 June 2012

International dance forms gaining popularity in India

India has a rich cultural heritage and is known worldwide for its varied dance forms. But over the years a growing trend has been seen in form of various international dance styles gaining popularity in the country through dance contests, workshops, parties, and performances. In cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Pune and Bangalore, a lot of people of different age groups are putting on their dancing shoes and swaying to the mesmerizing beats of popular international dance forms.

For instance, Salsa was introduced in its original form only in the late nineties in India but in a short period of time has gained immense popularity. A major reason of this is because of its pounding rhythms, staccato beats, feet tapping music and sensual body movements. Numerous Salsa clubs have sprung up in the country that offer classes to Salsa enthusiasts. 

A recent trend indicates that a growing number of Indians are taking to Salsa as a way of reconnecting themselves and their bodies – with many looking to explore and unlock the newer energy within them. The diversity and complexity of Salsa music also keeps its listeners glued and surprised, and its dancers on their toes. Moreover, Salsa is also growing in popularity among celebrities as a mean to stay fit. Salsa dance classes prove to be the best aerobics classes whether you want to work on arms, back, buttocks, legs and all this is at the same time.

Click here to know more about dance classes at Moving Souls Dance Academy,Delhi

And it is not just salsa or the tango, other dance styles like samba, bachata, the merengue, the mambo, the pachanga and the rumba, casino rueda and street cha-cha-cha, too are gaining in popularity lately. These dance forms are also looked upon by many as a way to socialize as a relaxed friendly atmosphere encourages them to socialise, make friends and ask people to dance. 

Their craze is growing rapidly and now the country hosts a lot of major dance festivals like Pune International Dance Congress, Goa International Latin Dance Festival, International Salsa India Fiesta, Chennai Salsa Festival and Salsa Congress. And the latest addition to this list is upcoming 7th India International Salsa Congress, Bangalore. Such festivals also serve as a cultural exchange between the community and countries of the world.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Zouk Dancing

Zouk is a powerful and sensual style of dance and music of the French West Indies, combining African drumming styles with influences from American and Caribbean popular music. The word Zouk comes from the Creole word meaning “party,” which also means a kind of dance music developed for partying. This vibrant and exciting dance form is getting increasingly popular across the world and is signaling the transformation of dance music scene.

Zouk is based on a close hip to hip style that is distinctively Caribbean. To an observer it can be pretty fascinating to watch how the dancers execute various intricate movements and especially the close proximity between them. Zouk is a relatively easy to learn dance as those who have experienced dancing other traditional Latin dances, can bring many of the concept and techniques to Zouk.   

Unlike Salsa, which is led with the hands, the movements in Zouk are led by other parts of the body, particularly by the hips. When performing, dancers also connect by legs, arms, shoulders, head and eyes. The distinctive characteristic of this dance form is a rippling forward and backward wave-like motion, elongated steps, and especially the arching of the back (the cambré) and rolling of the head during turns by the ladies. Such movements are fun, and exude an air of deep sensuality, and tremendous magnetism. Zouk can be danced in an open or close embrace and the choice of hold depends on the comfort level of dancers and the type of music being used.  
Zouk is based on a close hip to hip style that is distinctively Caribbean. To an observer it can be pretty fascinating to watch how the dancers execute various intricate movements and especially the based on a close hip to hip style that is distinctively Caribbean. To an observer it can be pretty fascinating to watch how the dancers execute various intricate movements and especially the close proximity between them. close proximity between them. Zouk is a relatively easy to learn dance as those who have experienced dancing other traditional Latin dances, can bring many of the concept and techniques to Zouk.  
Zouk is an intimate and calm dance where one really needs to‘slow down’ to get the feel of its gentle and sensual flow. Here the woman completely surrenders to the man's lead while he holds strong ‘metador-like’ position. Surrendering provides the beautiful space to be in. This dance can give you a complete workout due to all the dips and fast-paced movement. Zouk is an easy to learn and relatively young dance, which offers the possibility to incorporate many of the concepts and techniques from other traditional Latin dances into it. A reason of its soaring popularity is also because it can be danced to R&B music, such as music from Rihanna, Neyo, Craig David, etc.

Let’s take a look at two different styles of Zouk.

1. Caribbean Zouk    

Since Zouk has so many variations depending upon the theme and mood of the music, it is hard to choose a consistent theme which can be called as fundamental or original Zouk. Caribbean Zouk finds its roots in the Latin dance style known as merengue, a two-step beat with partners in a closed position. This dance style is felt in 2/2 time. Here the male hold his partner’s hip with his right hand and his partner's hand with his left hand. Inside ways movement, the hips move first and then the rest of the body. Today Brazilian Zouk is also danced on R&B, Latin pop and Arabic music, mixed with a Zouk music beat. This particular style is quite popular among Zouk enthusiasts around the world.

2. Brazilian Zouk                                       


Also called Zouk-Lambada, it is the smoother and sensual version of the Lambada (a Brazilian ballroom dance in which the partners press against each other tightly and gyrate sensually). This is danced to Zouk music or other music containing the Zouk beat. It is felt in 4/4 time, instead of the 2/2 time of Caribbean Zouk. Here the leader and follower retain the same stance and hand positions as regular Zouk. The characteristic of this dance form is flowing wave motion which the dancers reproduce through their bodies. The basic sideways step is lead by the hips while maintain the head-roll and upper-body roll. The Zouk-Lambada dancing styles are among the most popular non-ball room dances for couples in Brazil.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Bachata: Dominican and Modern style

Bachata is a popular form of Latin dance and a romantic style of music that originated in the Dominican Republic and has evolved over the years. The style has its roots in bachata music, and like other Latin dances, it has become very popular in the US and Europe. Some of the reasons that make it so popular are: an easy to learn dance that is sensual and a form that can be danced in very close contact with a dance partner. Moreover, R&B influences have also made it more attractive among the younger audience. 

Here dance moves may vary depending on the music, setting, mood and the interpretation. Unlike Salsa, Bachata dance does not usually include complex turn patterns but they are used more and more as the dance evolves. Bachata Dance styles are all about swaying with the music and enjoying the various moves. Like other social dances, the leading is done with a “pushing and pulling” hand and arm communication. 

Bachata is essentially an 8-beat dance, similar to the Salsa, in which partners can dance either in an open position or closed position, based on the mood. In Bachata dancing, the dancer takes three steps in one direction and add a lift or hip motion on the 4th count of the beat (1,2,3 and hip) and the same pattern in other direction. The sounds are like: "one, two, three, uh; one, two, three, uh." Overall, it is an incredibly fluid and dynamic dance where partners move together in harmony. Under the spell of music, the partners are bound to feel the connection unlike any other dance form. In this article we’ll explore its two major styles: 

1. Dominican Bachata:

The original style (Dominican bachata), accompanied by the music of same name, is characterized by jumps and lots of foot works and free style moves. Also called domibachata, the style originated around the late 1950s and continues to evolve in different ways. Domibachata’s basic dance sequence is a full 8 count moving within a square. A more open position allows for more plalyful footwork and body motion while closed position is for more romantic stance. It can be danced with or without bounce. The style was created for social dancing and is popular in the western world today.

2. Modern Bachata:   

It is the new version of the traditional Bachata that has origins in the 1980s. The basics are the same as the Traditional Style Bachata, but involves a lot of elements and styling from Salsa, Zouk-lambada, Ballroom, Tango, and some Hip-Hop elements. A tell-tale sign of this form is its free style moves which involves a lot of complex footwork: lock steps, guapachas, slides, enchufles etc.

Dancers usually move their upper torsos more, and women in particular use more exaggerated hip movements. In terms of steps, on each count you lead to a cross (cross on 1, cross on 2, cross on 3, cross over), but on the 4th count you keep the hip movement of the Traditional Style Bachata.

The overall growth in music industry has seen Bachata going immensely popular in a lot of countries. As a dance form, Bachata has branched out to many different styles, but the feeling of Bachata has not changed. People love to dance Bachata as per the emotions present in the music by combining elements from different dance styles.

Monday, 7 May 2012

The Different Styles of Salsa

If you have ever watched two people performing Salsa dance then you know how mesmerizing it is. The energy and the rhythm with which the dancers move, suitably supported by smooth Salsa music, creates a magical, fun and liberating experience. Salsa is a lively partner dance that is often characterized by continuous hip action, intricate quick footwork and precise and sharp movements– making it sensuous and flirtatious. Salsa has its origins in Cuba, and over the years the mingling of different heritages (Cuban, Puerto Rican, American) along with different music styles (Jazz, Mambo, Funk, Latin Rock), has led to changes within the salsa community. The biggest changes appeared when practioners started moving to different areas in the United States. In this article, we’ll explore some of the styles which hold their own characteristics when it comes to step timing, movement, step patterns, turns, attitude, and style of dress.

New York Style

Popularized by instructor Eddie Torres in the 1970s, the New York style is danced in a line. This dance form makes use of free style footwork, shines, multiple spins, rib cage movements and shimmying. This label is also alternatively known as dancing “On 2” where the dancers aim for smooth execution of tightly woven complex patterns. Dancing "On 2" refers to the beat the dancers break forward on and the leaders break back on. The characteristics which make New York style elegant, graceful and smooth flowing are its smooth and controlled movements. As mentioned earlier, dancers of this style lay greater emphasis on“shines” where dancers separate and showcase their individuality through complex footwork and body movements. A lot of beginners learn to dance "On 1" first and then train "On 2."

L.A. Style Salsa (Dancing "On 1")

This style is usually danced “On 1.” It puts greater emphasis on lots of flips, dips, drops, musicality, sensuality, and exhibits a high level of energy. Having roots in Mambo, here the dancer breaks on the 1 as against breaking on 2 like in NY Style. Practitioners of this form are said to “dance to the beat”since they follow the downbeats of the music. Over the years, LA style salsa has integrated many other forms of dancing that include: jazz, hip hop, and even ballroom. Some of the major differences between LA Style and NY Style are their approach to styling, the flow and the movement. Overall, this form can be summed up as an explosive and challenging which aims at delivering crisp and sharp movements. The main proponents of this form are Francisco Vazquez, along with his two brothers, Luis and Johnny, Rogelio Moreno, Alex Da Silva, Joby Martinez, Luis 'Zonik' Aguilar and many others.

Miami Style Salsa (Classico Cubano, Casino)

This style has roots in Cuban style of Salsa but is more technically advanced and rather difficult. Flexibility is the key here as the dancers need to execute intricate moves (involving flowing continuous circular turns) and often make use of many pretzel- like holds. Such hooks give the leader the much leverage to move his partner via the arm. One can identify this style as it comes with a“tap” between measures. On a social level, the followers need not to focus too much on spins, footwork or dips.

Cuban Salsa

The style, which is much similar to the original form of salsa rooted in Cuba, involves body isolation and hip movement. As against the linear movement, dancers move mostly in a circular motion and travel around each other. The women in particular tend to show beautiful and rhythmic body movements since the leader holds on to the women’s wrists during the majority of the dance, thus restricting her from extending her arms and fingers. The Cuban style is a male-dominated dance which is much different from the New York or Los Angeles style. In Cuban basic, the leader breaks back on 1-2-3 and perform forward basic on 5-6-7. A tap usually happens on beats 4 and/or 8. In contrast to other forms, in this style “On-2” dancing with hard-core Cuban music may appear hard to few, which, however can be overcomes with listening and practice.


This is a Group Dance, where a group of couples dance to the up-beat salsa music. Here the movement of the whole group is controlled by a “leader/caller” who give commands by calling out names and give hand signs of choreographed moves. It is a vivid and enjoyable Salsa form as it involves constant changing of partners. Practice is essential if one has to perform this dance effectively. An average caller (mostly male) would know up to 300 moves use which has to be executed by the followers, mostly ladies. Today there are two styles of Rueda -Miami Rueda and Cuban Rueda, which can differ greatly in hand signs and calls.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Rock it, salsa style!

The recent India Fiesta Latina attracted a worldwide crowd to New Delhi last month. As one of the biggest salsa events in Asia, Fiesta Latina brought together instructors and artists from over 40 countries, including Malaysia, UAE, Qatar, Singapore, China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Russia, Ukraine, Siberia, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Germany, Spain and Poland. 

Salsa, wildly popular throughout Latin America, Europe and the United States, is mostly performed with a partner.  It is a fun dance form, often sensual and flirtatious, and has easy, yet enjoyable, steps performed to popular songs.  The catchy beats and rhythmic footwork have helped promote the popularity of this dance.  Given the fast pace of the dance, salsa may appear complicated to beginners. However, in actuality it does not take too long to learn the style.  Often, a few sessions with a good instructor will get you in the groove. 

Salsa is also considered to be a superb way of maintaining fitness since it is a fast-paced and highly energetic dance form.  It’s a great aerobic exercise that promotes flexibility and reduces stress.  Today, many movie stars are including this dance form in their routine fitness schedule.

The phenomenon of salsa dancing in India has been just over a decade in the making.  Salsa started gaining popularity here in the late nineties, and there are now many salsa training centers in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. People of all ages, from youngsters to older people, are finding salsa thoroughly enjoyable. In recent years, a new trend has emerged where children and youth are taking admission in the dance schools as they then try to shine on television shows such as Dance India Dance or at a weekend party to impress friends and family. There is even growing interest among couples to include salsa dances and performances in their pre-wedding parties.

Trends indicate that salsa can be a viable career option in India.  Salsa dancers are already in great demand.  There are hundreds of schools in India’s major cities and more schools and teachers are coming up to help satisfy a fast-growing demand for this dance form.