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I have frequented professional dance shows for a while now; contemporary, ballet, hip hop and everything that strikes my fancy.

I have never taken a massive liking to Salsa shows and have always wondered why. Why can I pay a premium to visit the theatre but not sit through a set of Salsa shows even though they are free? There is something about Salsa shows that do not engage me and I know that I am not alone in feeling this way.

Now before people start unleashing their wrath and inner demons against me I would like to say that having been a part of several performance teams and I truly appreciate the effort and courage required to step onto the stage.

But I will put down my thoughts on Salsa shows and why they do not personally appeal to me.

LACK OF STORY

I used to date a budding writer and I remember her telling me that writing a great short story is infinitely harder than writing a great novel. The reason is that you have limited time to build a plot or build up convincing personalities. You can compare Salsa shows to short stories. Salsa shows only have a few minutes to make an impression and most do not. Havana Rakatan did capture my imagination as a “Salsa” show, but it was a much longer piece: http://www.havanarakatan.co.uk/

PERFORMANCE EXECUTION

To keep with the short story metaphor when writing a short story individual words are far more important than when writing a novel (give me some rope here). A misused word is far more visible in short stories as opposed to a novel. Whereas I have seen plenty of mistakes within an hour long productions these do not have the same impact as mistakes in a short Salsa performance. I find that the majority of Salsa shows fall short in the execution department.

MUSICALITY

Musicality means different things to different people. I regularly give talks about the three levels of musicality (personal view) and for me the vast majority are focused on dancing on instruments which is fine, but there is no context to draw me in and capture my imagination. A few times I have forgotten time and feel like I am in a trance while watching but this is very rare.

FINAL THOUGHTS

As I stated above I have the utmost respect for anyone that puts in the time, effort and has the courage to step onto the stage. However as I write this article I feel that the contemporary Salsa shows on display today are more demonstrations of a team’s ability i.e. cool moves, fancy footwork, team style as opposed to a show designed to elicit a response from an audience. This I guess this is why the majority of the time I do not feel engaged.

I will always applaud and support the effort of those who perform but I would rather applaud a show for moving me.

I would love to know your thoughts.

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Toan Hoang

Written by Toan Hoang

Toan Hoang has been dancing Salsa for more than 10 years and was the co-founder and managing director of TNT Dance in London; A dedicated and holistic Mambo school, that thrives on innovation, and hopes to develop and inspire the next generation of instructors and performers. www.tntdance.info

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