Turn up the heat with a bit of salsa
November 19, 2004
Luis Zegarra intends to bring energetic and explosive salsa directly to you - up close and personal, right there in the audience.
The festival features 45 shows in all and 72 top performers from the area and abroad - Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, Israel, the Dominican Republic. During the day, professional dance instructors and the performers will teach workshops at the festival's headquarters in Jersey City's Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Jersey City is an ideal headquarters, Zegarra said, because salsa is hot in the area - particularly the "on 2" style, in which dancers follow the music's second beat, as opposed to the "on 1" form that is popular in Los Angeles and Florida and often seen in movies. Both styles are thought to be rooted in Latin and Afro-Caribbean dance traditions.
Among the fans of "on 2" is Candy Mena, teacher and owner of Estilo Clasico dance school in Bellville. She's traveled the world as a salsa dancer and instructor and teaches at the Copacabana.
"The 'on 2' style has been around for a long time but hasn't been recognized," said Mena, who will teach a workshop and perform with Essence, her all-woman dance group, during the festival. "Now that it is out - so to speak - it's really starting to take off."
It's the tradition with both styles that the woman follow the man's lead. But Mena doesn't always play by the rules.
"I like to interrupt the man's flow by doing something sexy like tapping his shoulder or caressing his face," she said.
And how do her dance partners react?
"They remember me," Mena said.