The Best of Salsa Classes, Salsa Clubs, Salsa Events
 Co-Author "Find the Rhythm - The Dancers' Guide to Salsa Music" with Alex Wilson



ˇViva Africando!

Album: ˇViva Africando!
Artists: Africando
Price: Ł12.95

Twenty years ago, when I took my first hip-swivelling steps into dancing salsa, Africando's rich fusion of hypnotic African vocals and beats, infused with explosive Latin rhythms, were everywhere. In the 1990's, dance floor anthems like Yaye Boy made the sound of this Senegal-New York combo unmistakable.

ˇViva Africando! - the group's 8th studio album – plugged me straight back into my days as a newbie salsa dancer. The style is salsa dura – classic big band salsa with knobs on, fuelled by the crew's original vocal stars Medoune Diallo, Sékouba Bambino, Amadou Ballaké and Shoubou. Now, they are joined by some of New York's top Latin musicians, led by pianist Oscar Hernandez.

But this is no homage to the past. This crew continues to draw from a deep well of Afro-Latin musical traditions and influences, producing an album bubbling with folkloric vitality and contemporary urban edge. Here earthy, velvet voices flow together with slick, tough, high energy
New York grooves and sweet ballads. The result is a depth of fresh, surprising flavours and some very danceable tunes.

Burn up the floor with high energy salsa numbers like Doundari, Ma Won Mio and Africa Es, performed by the Spanish Harlem Orchestra with Ray de la Paz on vocals. Lose yourself in the remorceless, percussive beats of Bouré Yayé Diama. Get romantic with slow-tempo Noche con Santana and Maria Mboka. Lee Knights



Salsa con Manana

REVIEW: Salsa con Manana
Artists: Osbanis Tejeda and Anneta Kepka
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Price: Ł24.99 (each DVD)

Former salsa champions in their own right, Osbanis Tejeda and Anneta Kepka
have released their second DVD together, Salsa con Manana.

This is the follow up to AfroCuban and Rumba - Osbanis and Anneta's first DVD, continuing their mission to pass on the tools dancers need to improvise with style and roots authenticity on the floor.

This starts with break downs of basic footwork for casino (Cuban-style salsa).
Next, Osbanis and Anneta move on to teaching ritual, folkloric figures drawn from the pantheon of the Santeria, Cuba's unique syncretic religion. Rarely taught on the salsa scene, these figures are at the heart of Cuban casino and timba styles.

Here, there is instruction on the dances of the Yuroba gods Elegua, Ochun, Chango, Oggun, Ochosi and Yemaya. Showing both the man and woman's roles with styling, in slow motion, at speed, with and without music, this gives an experienced dancer everything they need tointegrate these beautiful, fluid folkloric elements into their own casino basic steps and in partner-work.

The setting is a mirrored dance studio, with instructors offering their backs as well as facing the camera, making instruction easy to follow. The two DVDs are designed to give dancers a progression route through this material and need to be used in combination. There is a snag though - all the demos are done in men's timing, there's a lot of new footwork to learn, making this tough on the ladies.

Here, Osbanis and Anneta have captured on film the most elusive aspect of Cuban-style salsa. For many, even after years of salsa lessons, this still may be their first encounter with Afro-Cuban folkloric dances. Outside Havana, this is as close a dancer can get to the fiery, beating heart of salsa, without getting burned to a crisp.

Dazzling, inspiring and beautifully taught.
Lee Knights, co-author Find the Rhythm
 – The Dancers' Guide to Salsa Music