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Now anyone - and I do mean anyone - can learn to Salsa
on July 3, 2006
I used to believe there were two kinds of people: those who could dance and those who could not (and, more importantly, should not). I of course have always counted myself among the latter. The Quick and Dirty Guide to Salsa, Part One - Beginners has opened my eyes to a vast new world, however. Could I, one of the most uncoordinated individuals on the face of the earth, actually learn to dance? And I'm not talking about the kind of dancing Howard Sprague learned to do on The Andy Griffith Show - that's basically just walking around with a partner. I'm talking about Salsa dancing, the hottest dancing I know of, with all of its intricacies, fluid movements, and unadulterated fun. With the help of this amazing DVD, the impossible has truly been changed to the possible.
This DVD is specifically aimed at beginners; hopefully, DVDs for more advanced Salsa skills will be forthcoming from the guys and gals at Debdoot Das. When you begin the lessons, you immediately find yourself in very good hands. The lovely Gigi is a great teacher, and her partner Pedro adds a number of very helpful tips for male partners as we progress through the steps. Gigi starts at the very beginning, telling you what to do, showing you how to do it, and giving you the chance to do the steps along with her. As she gradually moves to more complicated moves, she works them into an increasingly comprehensive practice routine - what this means is that you basically practice all of the moves you have learned so far with each advancing lesson. You can't forget what has come before because Gigi doesn't let you. I won't name all of the different moves featured in this instructional DVD, but Gigi repeats each of them often enough that you know what move she is calling for when she calls for it. She also counts out the rhythm and pauses that make up each dance move, helping ensure you get not only the moves but the timing of those moves down pat.
The real secret to this DVD's success, aside from the wonderful Gigi, is of course the inclusion of three distinct camera angles. The instructional video runs for roughly 48 minutes; multiply that by the three camera angles and you get a thorough lesson of well over two hours. I would start, obviously, with the Front Angle because it lets you see the basic moves in the clearest of fashions (and Gigi is addressing you from this camera perspective). It can be hard to see what the dancers are doing at times, though, especially when one partner is moving in front of the other - that is where the other viewing angles come in. The High Angle viewpoint not only gives you a higher vantage point from which to observe the movements, it also offers a more close-up view of the action. The Back Angle is truly great and helpful - now you can see all the stuff you could not see from the other two angles (it also offers other advantages that I, as a guy, appreciated). These multiple-angle viewpoints are immeasurably helpful in making sure you can see exactly what each dancer is doing at all times.
It is also important to note that Gigi and Pedro make Salsa dancing fun, even when they are showing you the most basic of steps. They also make it seem easy to learn. Only after they have gone through all of the lessons and reviewed the moves multiple times do they add music to the mix. I also liked the fact that they did not actually dance until the end of the lessons - I think this is important because Salsa dancing itself looks like something I could never possibly learn. If I had seen how hard it looks before learning the basic moves, I would have been less confident and thus have gotten less out of these lessons than I did.
Simply stated, this DVD and a dance partner are all you need to learn basic Salsa dancing. If you want to learn but are too shy to take lessons, this DVD is perfect for you. You can't just watch the DVD and expect the information sink in, of course; you have to get up and do what Gigi and Pedro are showing you. At the very end of the lessons, Gigi and Pedro show you what more advanced Salsa dancing looks like, and I guarantee this will get you even more excited about practicing what you have learned and more than anxious to see a hoped-for follow-up DVD aimed at intermediate Salsa students.