Salsa Dance: Incorporating the Walk in a Routine

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I have been noticing that the Bay Area Salsa performers are getting quite friendly with “the walk” entering a stage. My aim in this blog is to critique “their walk” and hopefully they’d take this criticism as constructive.

What is “the walk” and where did it come from?

The walk is just that, a walk. But it is different from the normal walk everyone does going about their own business everyday, everywhere. “The walk’ exudes confidence. It gets attention. It could be in an introduction or at the end of the routine as performers walk out of the stage.

Where does “the walk” come from?

It is my belief that it came from the ballroom dance, to be specific, ballroom standard (Foxtrot, Waltz, Tango and Quickstep). The Latin Ballroom then later adopted it (Paso doble, jive, rumba, samba & cha-cha). Culturally, Europeans practice such “walk” in their lavish parties and events (you can see the walk most of the English movies such as Beethoven, Casanova, etc).

Maybe it’s just me, but I have never seen “the walk” adopted by salsa performers ’till less than two years ago. In fact, I don’t think East Coast salsa performers practice such walk. Not even Los Angeles. I have only noticed this from Bay Area performers. With that in mind, I commend them for being creative. But here comes the critique…

“The walk” falls short. It looks funny and annoying at the same time. There’s a difference between confidence and arrogance. To be honest, it doesn’t even look arrogant. If you have ever seen a geek trying to be a playa, you’d instantly notice that his gestures, actions and even words just don’t fit him – this is how I see some of the performers when they do “the walk.” I am not saying everyone does that type of walk, but I think that the dance directors should at least pay attention to their dancers and critique them if need be.

What is the proper walk?

The answer depends on what theme is in their routine. Is it an elegant routine? Walk elegantly. If you don’t know how to walk elegantly, watch movies, search the web and study everything about being elegant. It also really helps if you make some eye contact with the audience during the entrance. If your routine is sluttish, it’s the same thing, do a good amount of research.

In Ballroom, we train to develop the proper posture e.g., posture of our faces, shoulders and entire body. If you ever watch ballroom performers, you’d notice that their chin is not higher than the ceiling. There’s a big difference between being snobby and confident.

A year ago, I was talking to several Swing instructors after teaching bachata at the Chico Dance Sensation. In fact, I remember Felipe was present as well. We got into discussing “stepping out of the box” meaning being creative and innovating a dance. It was a roundtable of discussion to the point that we even went back to the history of dancing. We all agreed that the essence of any original dance shouldn’t be phased out or “throw out” altogether but that it should be respected, acknowledge and improved upon. We finished such discussion as very educational and Sarah Vann Drake, a respected Swing performer and teacher, said it so brilliantly, “there’s a difference between getting out of the box and stepping out of the box. When we step out of the box, it basically means, one of our foot is out of the box while the other foot never left the box.”

Salsa is a street and social dance. Yes it has evolved and we owe a great deal to many dance innovators out there, but let’s not forget where it came from and what it was all about. A street dance is never snobby or arrogant. It’s non-intimidating and fun.

Rodney Rodchata Aquino

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Comments on Salsa Dance: Incorporating the Walk in a Routine Leave a Comment

May 2, 2010

Thanks for writing this post. Now everything is clear for me.

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