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Have you heard?

The news! There’s now performance classes for Salsa/Mambo/Bachata in Chicago! What is the deal with this new fad and what does this all mean?

Hell if I know, but I certainly have my thoughts. 😉

I have to first start by saying that when I go out, I get the same “what are YOU doing here?” look from everyone because I don’t go out all that much. That being the case, I have started to notice new people around that I am not familiar with. Naturally, there are several studios in Chicago that teach a bunch of people and it would stand to reason that I won’t be familiar with all the new faces coming into the scene. That said, among the people I DO know….almost all of them are in groups now.

I don’t have enough fingers to keep track of the training teams, performance teams, Semi-pro teams, Pro teams, Bachata teams etc!

So this is good right? Well…

Let’s look at some of the good/bad of this. On one hand, people deserve to experience the thrill of being on stage. People LOVE dancing and anyway to help people learn about dance or get more into dancing the better. One look no further than Monday nights when Dancing with the Stars is on to see that celebrities voice those exact sentiments about dreaming about dance and wanting to experience it.

Laura and I have had the pleasure of teaching and training people from all walks of life: CEO’s, Doctors, Lawyers, Designers, business people and more. SO many people love to dance!

This is GOOD.

Now, if you guys have read my other posts, you know that Laura and I used to teach Ballroom dance. The thing about Ballroom that used to (and STILL does) bother me is that the dances which are taught as the standard dances used to be street dances! Outside of a tightly controlled studio situation, please tell me where i can go dress up and dance a Foxtrot and a Rumba. Anyone?

Yes. Exactly. We have a problem.

The problem I see is that the “business” of Ballroom dancing centers around hopefully getting people to compete. This is a big business and quite frankly, a well paying business for the dancers/teachers who train and perform with their students. So much effort has been put into making the dances about the “show” that a social scene is almost non existent. It’s not thought of, it’s not nurtured,so it doesn’t exist.

The Salsa/Mambo scene on the other hand, has a very particular characteristic that exists in a few dances, but not to the degree of our scene. You see, People are dancing at a club right NOW….yes NOW in Korea, Russia, Singapore, London, Puerto Rico, Paris and more. While great partner dances that enjoy tremendous popularity in the states exist, their grasp isn’t as far reaching.

Ours is a scene which almost completely IS ABOUT the social dance floor. Again, it’s not my place to say people shouldn’t have the chance to perform as there is obviously a need, but as leaders in the community, shouldn’t we be mindful of our “dancing footprint?”

The transition from a social to a performance based dance is a delicate balance. Isn’t it really just a monkey-see, monkey-do thing? Are the students really learning how to get better at the dance, or to simply get through the choreography? Outside of the Two and half minute performance that will come of it, are the students BETTER because of it?

By “dancing footprint” I mean the residual effects of the current actions we take. We have wrestled with offering a performance class at MMA for some time. A lot of these considerations were taken into account. While it’s likely that we will offer something to service our patrons, we still keep in mind the bigger picture. The social dance scene has to continue to thrive and we have to do our part to make sure it does.

AT MMA, we have had a lot of growing pains and experiences with making mistakes and learning from them. We have slowly developed a reputation of a studio which is considered the “next step” in your Salsa/Mambo development here in Chicago. This is something we are extremely proud of and will continue to refine and improve as we improve ourselves.

In developing a performance class, we will try and make it different and worth the while of the people attending. This will be in ADDITION to our mission to increase the level of excellence in our scene…

…One dancer at a time…

What do you guys think?

To your dancing,

Del

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