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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. -Manny Siverio

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 junkie!

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' Tazz) 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 explained.
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 dancing, either.
Last take: 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.
Last take: 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.
Last take: 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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