Thursday, 15 December 2016

Dancing Authentically

So as I’m born and bred in Surrey, England, why am I claiming to be an expert in Latin dance styles?

As Mike Robbins says, “Authenticity has the power to inspire others.” I’m not from the Latino community, so therefore I must be lacking this authenticity. If we research this further however Brené Brown explains, “Being your authentic self is living in line with your values.” She also explains that we each have a unique perspective that nobody else has access to.  

I discovered Latin American style Salsa in Surrey. I fell in love with the music and the dancing but I was appreciating them from my own unique perspective. It was important for me to explore the genre in detail and to contextualise what I had found. I travelled to Africa, Cuba and New York and immersed myself in the various styles within their vernacular context. My aim however, has never been to become an imitation of a Cuban or Latino dancer.

There was an attempt by a few individuals from the Latino community to try and retain possession of Salsa dancing as it became popular in the UK. The majority of people, of course, paid little attention to this. They followed the dancers who inspired them, the ones who looked the best when they danced or those who danced in a manner that they found most appealing. Dance as a museum exhibition, as a relic from the past, does have its place and does have a value. As a form evolves and develops however, the interest and excitement builds. We explore, discover and expand what the dance can be.

The Cuban dance Son, often credited for being the original form of Salsa dancing, came from a fusion of European and African cultures. Partner dancing from Europe started to be combined with hip movements from Africa. You could argue that Salsa is as much European as it is African.

When I dance socially or perform my own choreography, I dance as myself. I love having the freedom to create my own style and express my personality. I absorb ideas from watching other dancers and I bring nuances from other dance styles. Other elements just emerge organically from somewhere within. I love to include some elegance and turn-out from Ballet and I naturally gravitate towards more sophisticated styles. I’ve travelled and trained with many of the best dancers in the world. For me, it’s all about trying on a variety of motions then sifting through to find what aligns with who I am.

My dancing authentically represents me.

Photo by Dee Organ

The great joy that then follows on from this is the inspiration that my dancing gives others. People are able to discover new things through me and to see new possibilities. It’s the best feeling when someone says to me “Now I know how I want to dance Salsa”, or “I prefer your style” when comparing me to other international artists.

The offerings of my business, Dance Diversion, also come from a thorough investigation into my authentic self. I’m offering what gives me the most joy and what opens up new opportunities for others. Modelling what other dance promoters were doing never quite tempted me to set up on my own. I’m very pleased to report that I’m courageously forging my own path. The word ‘courage’ comes from the Latin word ‘cor’ meaning ‘heart’. My business is an offering from the heart. What I offer isn’t for everyone. If you like words like ‘raw’ and ‘flava’ then my style of dancing probably isn’t for you. If you dance to avoid talking to people, then my events probably aren’t for you. If your values are similar to mine however, you are going to love what I do.

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