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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Scope as SALSA Dancer

Spicy Steps




SALSA is one of the best known and best loved partner dances in the world. It's popularity in India has surged owing to the numerous dance and reality shows which depict it on TV. 


The dance has been named ‘Salsa’ to conjure a similar association like the ‘Salsa’ which is an ingredient associated with a spicy sauce, says Kaytee Namgyal, founder- director, Salsa India Productions. He elaborates: “The dance is also a mixture and fusion of various informal dance styles which have their roots in the Caribbean (especially in Cuba and Puerto Rico), and in Latin and North America. The dance originated through the mixture of typical Cuban dance forms in which there is also some African influence.” 
   Although there are some recognised solo steps Salsa is usually a partner dance. Also some forms of salsa are danced in groups of couples, with frequent exchanges of partners (Rueda de Casino). Salsa music is normally played by a 12-piece band, or Charanga Orchestra, and has a totally different rhythm. It’s the syncopated rhythm of Salsa, which enables the dancer to incorporate such a huge variety of expressions while dancing. 


Salsa is itself a therapy. Elaboarates Namgyal: “You cannot dance Salsa and find that it does nothing for the mind and soul, apart from the body. Thus, I would say that Salsa and Salsa dance therapy are correlated.” 
   Salsa dance therapy uses choreographed or improvised movements in conjunction with various different types of salsa music (like fun and fast, slow and romantic), as a way of treating social, emotional and physical problems. Moving as a group brings people together, creates social and emotional bonds and generates the feel good factor you get from being with others. “It is my love for dance and music in general that made me fall in love with Salsa when on a holiday in Japan,” reveals Namgyal. 
   Sharing his own experiences, he says: “When I returned to India, I gave up everything to start my own Salsa classes in 2000, although at that time Salsa was completely unknown in India. It was tough, but today, Salsa India has 19 studios across Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and Kolkata.” 


Having a career in dance is one of the most frustrating yet rewarding experiences of one's life, says Namgyal. “It is not easy and you are constantly trying to better your last piece every time you choreograph something, but the high of seeing your students perfect a complicated step is simply unmatched.” 
On the importance of formal training, he says: “I believe there is no substitute for training, whether you are doing a street dance, like hip hop or popping, or whether you are dancing Salsa, which is also a very informal dance. Training gives you the foundation on which you can build yourself into a stronger, finer and even more passionate dancer.” 


Salsa and other dances in India have become the latest craze and we have people clamouring to be a part of it, says Namgyal. He adds: “We have gone from 10 students in Delhi in 2001, to over 2,000 students today. Every year, we hold our Annual Salsa India Festival, which is a three-day workshop held by about 25 best Salsa instructors in the world followed by performances and parties over four nights. We have a crowd of about 500 people attending the workshops and over 3,000 at the performances and parties over the festival weekend. I can only see the popularity growing and the addiction, not easily given up, only increasing." 


You will start off small, but the scope for growth is immense, as the market is only growing, he assures, elaborating: “A fresher can look at paying for the training for the first six months , then, if he/she shows promise joining a dance troupe is a viable option. The fee charged by choreographers and performers fluctuate wildly, from something as little as Rs 5,000 per-performance to Rs 50,000 per-performance, depending on various factors.” 
   As a choreographer and a performer, he says, it means a lot when the audience rave about the choreography or the performance. His advice to aspirants: “Take heart and follow your passion. A career in any performing art is not a bed of roses initially, but each step up is thrilling.”





   Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group


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