Chanty Vietnam Pose

Super Mario and the Chanty Salsa Dance Move

Last Saturday, February 16th 2019, I joined a salsa dance bootcamp of Super Mario, which was organized by DJ Bripa ‘El Loco’ at Event Center Fokker in The Netherlands. It was great seeing the legendary ‘Million Moves Man’ in action and learning from him again after so many years.

Mario’s workshop was very educational and entertaining at the same time. Hallmarks of a true salsa dance icon. His flawless combination of humor, superior teaching skills and tantalizing new dance techniques kept us all wanting for more. It felt like standing in a bakery and eating all the pastry you love without any remorse!  And Cinnamon van den Aakster – a teacher at Latin Club Fiesta and also the Dutch Salsa Dance Champion of 2016 – assisted him perfectly!

Evolution by Popularity

Mario Hazarika is one of the few dancers who radically changed the way salsa has been danced from the early 2000’s up to this day. The ‘Million Moves Man’ introduced many rules and technicalities for modern salsa dancing into the international salsa dance community such as:

  • The ‘8 count rule’: The hand of the follow stays where the lead puts it on the follow’s body, usually on the lower back of the follow whilst turning and/or spinning. If nothing happens after 8 beats, then the follow may use that hand as he or she pleases,
  • Many of the so called ‘Hand Shines’,
  • Hand Flicks, Hand Drops & Catches,
  • The ‘Hand Slides’, ‘Clicks’ and the ‘Gravity Rule’ for the follow are directly responsible for the fast paced & Cuban looking armstylings which have become very popular since the last couple of years,
  • The ‘Sticky Hand Rule’: If the lead puts the hand of the follow on his or her body, then that hand stays there until the lead grabs the hand, or lose contact in which case the ‘Gravity Rule’ applies,
  • Etcetera.

By first inventing and then teaching these new rules & dance techniques in London, Super Mario has helped to create a new style of dancing called ‘London Style Salsa’ at the end of the 90’s. From there on, Super Mario’s brand of salsa spread like wildfire across the planet. His instructional salsa dance DVD’s have not only changed L.A. Style salsa on1, but they also changed the way in which the Eddie Torres Mambo on2 is being danced. Furthermore, many of these dance techniques have been adopted into the Bachata Moderna and – in some extend – into the Bachata Sensual as well.

Click on the following link to buy Super Mario’s DVD’s. I highly recommend them!

http://www.salsaclass.tv/dvds.asp?pageID=8

So, in contrast to Ballroom and Latin dance, the evolution of salsa has been driven by popularity, and not so through rulings being dictated by a committee or an organization . ‘Inventor Dance Instructors’ such as Eddie Torres, Super Mario, Ismael Otero, Edie ‘The Salsa Freak’, Leon Rose, Susana Montero, Adolfo Indacochea, Fernando Sosa and the Vazquez brothers (just to name a few) play the drums to which the international salsa scene has been responding to accordingly. Until a couple of years ago, that is. Now the popularity of YouTube videos with the most hits are slowly starting to dominate and change the Afro Latin Dance market. Just take a look at the explosive growth of sensual bachata and kizomba in the last 5 to 10 years.

Now listen to what Super Mario himself has to say about all of this:

THE CHANTY SALSA DANCE MOVE

During the bootcamp, Super Mario taught us two variations of a salsa dance move which are danced over 2 bars (16 counts). A Cross Body Inside Turn followed by a 360 is a good example of a (semi) standard 16 count salsa dance technique. But these moves Super Mario taught us last Saturday were entirely new dance moves for a lot of us. And Super Mario also told us he was playing more with 16 count moves.

Very exciting stuff! 🙂

Chanty Jacobs, an assistant for salsa school Latin Club Fiesta who teaches together with me on Mondays at the Event Center Fokker was also following Super Mario’s bootcamp at the time. She was standing across the room. As soon as Mario explained the first variation of his 16 count move, I started to lip sync yell ‘Chanty Move!’ Chanty Move!’ towards Chanty. But she didn’t understand what I meant. I think she thought I ment she should move from there 🙂

What was I trying to explain to her anyway?

Next to her assisting me, I’m also training Chanty ‘on the job’ to become a salsa dance instructor. On Monday, December 3rd 2018, I gave Chanty a surprise assignment: collect the dance techniques which the students would suggest to her and turn those dance moves into a turn pattern on the spot. The students did not comply. So, Chanty decided to create a dance technique on her own. She did it in a couple of seconds. I tested it with her, we polished it together, and voila: the Chanty Salsa Dance Move was born!

The Chanty Move is also a 16 count salsa dance move. That’s why I got so excited. Because Super Mario had just confirmed Chanty was thinking in the right direction.

See the Chanty Salsa Dance Move for yourself!

I have also created some variations to the Chanty Move for myself and taught these to my salsa students on Fridays for Latin Club Fiesta (Haarlem), on Wednesdays for salsa school Sizzling Salsa (Alkmaar) and for my students at salsa school Happy Salsa (Den Helder). All these salsa dance students know the Chanty Move by now.

With your help we can elevate the Chanty Move from a local dance move to an international salsa dance technique. Yes, you who’s reading this! Here is a link to the version of the Chanty Move on Facebook:

#new #salsatechnique #chantymove #latinclubfiesta #supersalsa #inventor #innovator

Posted by Sederick Blommestijn – Short on Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Will you help us by sharing this article, the Chanty Move YouTube video and/or the Chanty Move Facebook Video? You can also see it on my supersalsa8 Instagram account. Thank you very much in advance for sharing and spreading the love for salsa 🙂  

And make sure you buy some of Super Mario’s Dance DVD’s. You can also like the Super Mario Salsa Fans Page and check it out regularly for all of his workshops and bootcamps. Just click on the link below.

https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=supermario%20salsa%20fans%20page&epa=SEARCH_BOX

Que Viva La Salsa!

Sederick's Oldest Dance Picture

Bruce Lee and Merengue Dance

What does Bruce Lee have to do with the boring merengue dance? Why has merengue caused a salsa recession in the 80’s? What kind of influence did merengue have on the evolution of bachata and salsa? And  what is this ‘merengue show dance’?

Let’s delve into the virtual rabbit hole and follow the merengue breadcrumbs, shall we?

Kung Fu Merengue Dancing

At the beginning of the 80’s, a merengue band called Los Kenton did something very unique at the time. The Kenton brothers mixed merengue dancing with Shaolin Kung Fu (martial arts) to create a new way to dance merengue on stage. Singing whilst dancing short merengue dance choreographies became a new dance rage called the ‘Kentomania’. As the Kentomania spread along the whole of Latin America, many bands felt compelled to follow their act.

There was another element which precipitated this success: the popularisation of the video recorder. Because of that, people could practice the dance steps they saw the bands display on television and practice them at home. This way they could dance together with their favourite artists when performing live. These small choreographs were consequently copied, put on sequences and then performed by teenagers in merengue show teams. And that’s how I started my Afro Latin dance career dancing in 1983/1984: With merengue show dancing on the beautiful island of Curacao!

Merengue caused the Salsa Recession!

Bands such as the pioneering Johnny Ventura, Fernandito Villalona, Wilfrido Vargaz, the New York Band and Juan Luis Guerra y su 440 were dominating the international Latin music charts. From Santo Domingo to New York city: merengue set the pace. This ‘merengue overflow’ had a bad side effect for Fania Records and other smaller salsa music labels: their sales dropped dramatically! Bachata musicians started to speed up their ‘musica del amargue’ and put merengue on their bachata albums in order for them to sell more records. At the end of the 80’s and at the beginning of the 90’s, salsa music got a new boost because from artists such as Marc Anthony, Issac Delgado and Eddie Santiago who took the main theme of the popular ‘telenovelas’ ( = televised soap opera’s) & popular ballads and remixed them into salsa versions. Thus, Salsa Romantica was born.

Example: Ilan Chester’s original version of ‘Palabras del Alma’ ( = Words from the Soul).

And now Marc Anthony’s salsa version:

So, what happened to Merengue Show dancing?

The music was first converted to Merengue Hip Hop by bands such as Proyecto Uno and Sandy y Papo. The popular reggaeton swallowed up merengue, and merengue continues to be a trans-formative force in (Dominican) bachata music. Elvis Crespo made house versions of popular merengue songs. Merengue has also been integrated in other mainstream Latin house music.

As for the dance: The merengue show dance died because of the following facts:

  1. The dance was never intended to be danced in show teams. This has mainly to do with the repetitive nature of the small choreographies.
  2. The merengue partnering has never been fully developed in the way salsa partnering has.
  3. The original salsa dance teachers were folkloric dancers. Modern merengue dancing was not a part of their folklore.
  4. Many of us – merengue show dancers – only use(d) merengue as a means to teach the budding salsero students basic partnering dance techniques and body movements.
  5. Merengue dancing has never been a part of the international (salsa) dance congresses or festivals. It’s only used sometimes as a warming up by international bachata dance artists such as Jorjet Alcocer.

Today, many merengue dance steps (or variations thereof) can be seen in Dominican bachata, in Zumba and in animation dance routines.

El Nergito Del Batey

I’m very glad I had the honour to start my dance career with merengue dancing. I also danced merengue in the first Dutch semi professional Afro Latin dance team Euro Latinos. 20 years ago (on October 30, 1997) I started teaching salsa. All of that was only possible because of merengue 🙂

On June 1st 2018, the ‘King of Merengue’ José Tamárez Mateo – better known as Joseito Mateo – passed away. I wrote this article to honour him and the music with which he gave a lot of joy to millions of ‘merengue afficionados’ just like yours truly.

Fun fact: Bruce Lee was also the 1958 Cha Cha Cha Dance Champion of Hong Kong. Maybe the Kenton brothers got their inspiration from this fact about their hero?

Que Viva El Merengue!