Editor's Note: In all the craziness
of creating the SalsaNewYork Magazine section, I misplaced the name of
the author of this particular article. My apologies. I hope that you'll
forgive me and email me your identity when you stumble onto your work.
Ladies' Styling Review:
Videos And My Search For Style
- by Rene Luthe
What made me fall in love with salsa dancing was
not the percussion that virtually defines Latin music. As irresistible
and exciting as I find that, what made me totally lose my heart to salsa
was the no-holds-barred femininity that belongs to the woman's
part in Latin dance. I grew up in a non-dancing culture, and at a time
when feminism was advocating that women wear sensible shoes, trousers,
and no make-up (in other words, if you want people to think you have a
brain, appear more like a man!). So I guess it was inevitable that the
sensual, flirty gestures of salsa touched no, make that electrified
something primal in me. The rolling hips, the shimmying shoulders,
the tossing hair one look and I became a hopeless ladies' styling
Well, in my quest to acquire styling, I was
willing to canvass the country, but annoying little realities such as my
job soon got in the way. It became clear that instructional videos
would, for the most part, have to suffice. But as we all know, those
videos have some drawbacks: often, you are buying a product with no idea
if you'll like it, and at $20 to $30 each, shots in the dark are
expensive. So in the interest of helping my fellow salseras achieve
jaw-dropping feminine allure on the dance floor, I decided to review
three of the most popular ladies' styling videos currently on the
market: Jose Neglia's Latin Style and Technique for
Ladies, Addie Diaz's
Beginner Ladies' Styling, and Addie Rodriguez's (Razz M'
Salsa/Mambo Ladies' Styling Workshop. The following evaluations were
made with the beginner-to-intermediate level dancer in mind.
Josie Neglia's Latin Style and Technique for
ladies (approximately 25 min.): To
teach correct technique for Latin dance, Neglia begins at the
beginning that is, she provides the viewer with explanations and
exercises in elemental concepts, such as Latin and contra-body motion.
Posture, finger placement and how to spot during turns are also
covered, as are exercises in isolating the various parts of the body
used in salsa. Neglia then demonstrates basic turns and ends with a
few shine, or solo steps. Her instructions are specific and thoroughly
What's in it for you?
The instructions in the basics of Latin dance that Neglia provides
give the viewer a good solid foundation and for Neglia, that
foundation starts with the dancer's feet before she works her way
upward. This emphasis makes the video a great one for beginners.
Thanks to the clear instructions, implementing Neglia's teachings is
easy and will immediately improve your appearance on the floor.
Especially valuable is an excellent exercise in spotting during turns,
usually a tricky thing for new dancers to get the hang of. The segment
on shine steps is perhaps less helpful. It's not just that only a few
are covered, it's that they are presented in a hurried manner, only
broken down twice, without a close-up of the feet. To me, that segment
had a haphazard feel to it, as if the steps were just odds and ends
thrown in to use up the remaining tape. Another problem with the
shines is that they are presented without music, so the viewer doesn't
learn how to properly execute them to rhythm. The "bloopers"
at the end of the tape don't contribute to improving the viewer's
The video does a good job in providing the instruction in technique
and posture that the beginning dancer usually needs.
Addie Diaz's "On '2' with Addie-Tude,
Volume 1: Beginner Ladies' Styling" (approximately 45 min.): Diaz
presents basic shines with accompanying styling. Each shine is
carefully broken down and demonstrated several times as Diaz narrates
instruction on arm styling, then music is added and the shine is
practiced to rhythm. The first half of the video is punctuated by a
routine in which all the shines covered thus far are strung together;
again, first the routine is practiced slowly to a count, then music is
added. The video ends with another such routine, in which all the
shines taught in the video are practiced.
What's in it for you?
Since Diaz teaches styling to accompany specific shines, the viewer
has something concrete to do with all that pretty arm motion and
hair-stroking she's learned. Diaz's instructions are very precise,
with the camera providing close-ups of the feet and torso to
illustrate. Another thing I liked about this video is that each shine
is practiced to music before moving on to the next one after all,
memorizing footwork is one thing, but your body doesn't really
"know" a step until it's performed to music. This way, the
shine is more thoroughly learned, styling and all, before new material
is added. The beginner may be intimidated by the first shine Diaz
presents (it requires three bits of styling performed
simultaneously!), but don't be discouraged the steps after are a
little less daunting, and build gradually in complexity. Where this
video may be a little confusing for the new salsera is in its lack of
explanation about a Latin-dance basic, contra-body motion. While Diaz
refers often to it, no definition or breakdown was provided. For those
of us who've grown up in one of the "stiff upper-body"
cultures and haven't much practice in coordinating the movements of
the shoulders with those of the feet, this absence could be somewhat
frustrating. A few moments spent on explanation of the concept, plus
an isolating exercise, would have been helpful.
For those who'd like lots of alluring moves to add to their dancing
right now, this video is for you.
Razz M' Tazz's Salsa/Mambo Ladies' Styling
Workshop (approximately 55 min.): Led
by Razz M' Tazz director Addie Rodriguez, the video begins with a
series of isolating exercises, then moves on to cover basic steps and
turns, plus some more advanced shines. The camera alternates between
shots of Rodriguez alone demonstrating the step with styling, and
leading a class at New York's Latin Quarter. She ends by leading a
routine in which all the shines presented are performed to music.
What's in it for you?
The isolating exercises, which begin with the head and move down to
the hips, are great they're even relaxing and fun, thanks to
Rodriguez's funny, casual teaching style! And since she is instructing
a real class in these steps at the same time, the corrections she
makes to their mistakes are probably ones the viewer needs to hear at
that moment, too. The shines and accompanying styling moves are
repeated slowly, several times, so there's no feeling of being rushed.
What I especially enjoyed were the arm movements Rodriguez uses to
spice up basic turns. As for the advanced shines, they are called
"Addie's Sexy Steps," and believe me, they are aptly named!
Shrinking violets, beware! A lack in this video, in my opinion, was
that shines were not practiced to music before moving onto the next.
Again, no matter how you've memorized the footwork and arm styling,
you don't really know the move till you've done it to music
preferably with the example of an instructor who knows how in front of
you. While the video does feature a practice of all the material
covered set to music, it occurs at the end, maybe 20 minutes after you
initially learned the shine, and with them all strung together, one
right after the other. Another thing that puzzled me about this video
was that the camera frequently spent valuable time focused on the
students' faces as they practiced, rather than their bodies.
For those who need help loosening up, and/or want to add high drama to
their dancing, Razz M' Tazz's video delivers.
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