Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dance Into Health

Out and About on the Ecovia Again

Maya was ready for school this morning. I warned her not to say anything about H1N1 otherwise known as swine flu. She felt ready to go, had no fever for over 24 hours, was taking her Tamiflu, ate breakfast, had her energy back. I was worried about another phone call from the school asking me to pick her up, but it never came, and when I met her after school, she was ready for ballet class on pointe, so sending her to school turned out to be the right decision.

We Live Next to the Ministry of Health: Useful

Maya has recovered more rapidly than I have. But I forced myself to write my essay for Spanish class ( I wrote it in English and used Google translator to help me, not quite what I was supposed to do, but I did not feel energetic enough to do it entirely on my own), take a two hour class with Amparo, and get to my salsa lesson, which woke me up and brought me back to life.

It feels wonderful to dance. I am not sure how it happens that I dance, because I really do not know what I am doing, but my feet move and my body moves and somehow I find myself dancing and remembering what I learned earlier in the week. My instructor ( I never caught his name although I greet him with a kiss and have shared two intimate hours with him), gives names to the moves, like 'coca cola' and the 'seventy' and the 'eighty' and others which I forget. I do not know which name goes with which combination, and I don't really know the steps, but with his lead, I find myself moving across the dance floor and keeping up. I decide that this dance is very forgiving, because there is a pause every third step, so there is time to recover if lost.

Maya and I watched Eric's lesson yesterday, and Eric politely came and suffered through mine today. I am not sure if watching helps the learning process ( Eric's class was one hour of the 'basic step'), but I want him to learn how to lead, and what makes it possible for me to dance with my instructor is that he is using his hands to communicate how to move. The man leads and the woman follows, so if the man knows what he is doing, he can indicate to me what to do and I can figure out the steps from there. This may be very ambitious on my part. I love to dance and Eric suffers through it. He struggles with hearing the rhythm and moving to the rhythm and dancing does not feel natural or all that fun for him. I am very aware of what a stretch this is for Eric, but I prefer to dance with him, not with a stranger. He has a lesson tomorrow but is planning to drive to Yanayacu (cloud forest) in the morning. I wondered for a moment if he organized the trip as a way to avoid salsa class. So I will take his lesson instead.

I listened to salsa music on itunes when I got home. It was fun to try out every song on each album to finally choose one for our practice tonight. I discovered a site online with video dancing lessons, but I could hardly recognize the dance being taught. I know that there are several different salsa types, but I am not sure which style I am learning. The way I have been learning feels more intuitive and less 'instructional'. I just started dancing and following, and figuring out the steps along the way. The instructional videos were incomprehensible, but perhaps when I devote more time to them, they will become recognizable.

I read whatever I could find online about salsa (thanks to Wikipedia). I was interested in the rhythm, because I believe that if Eric can hear the rhythm, the dance will come. But the rhythm is confusing (quote from Wikipedia):

"Music suitable for dancing ranges from about 150 beats per minute (bpm) to around 250 beats per minute (bpm), although most dancing is done to music somewhere between 160-220 bpm. Every Salsa composition involves complex African percussion based around the Clave Rhythm (which has 4 types), though there can be moments when the clave is hidden for a while, often when quoting Changüí or Bomba. The key instrument that provides the core groove of a salsa song is the conga drum. The conga drummer slaps (high pitch) on the 2nd beat of each measure and strikes twice with an open tone (often on a 2nd lower pitched conga) on the 4th beat (see salsa music).Every instrument in a Salsa band is either playing with the clave (generally: congas, timbales, piano, tres guitar, bongos, claves (instrument), strings) or playing independent of the clave rhythm (generally: bass, maracas, güiro, cowbell). Melodic components of the music and dancers can choose to be in clave or out of clave at any point. However it is taboo to play or dance to the wrong type of clave rhythm (see salsa music). While dancers can mark the clave rhythm directly, it is more common to do so indirectly (with, for example, a shoulder movement)."

I think the more I read about salsa the more confused I am, so I think I will stick to my lessons and simply enjoy the music and the movement. And hope that Eric will feel the rhythm.


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