Teaching Some Salsa to Kids

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by suitz, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. suitz

    suitz Nuevo Ritmo

    Hey all,

    I did a search for this topic and although something did come up, I have a few other questions on my mind and would like to get your opinions on...

    I'm working over in the US for the while and I may have the opportunity to teach some colleagues and children some salsa - or perhaps more generically some dancing.

    A few apprehensions come to mind:

    1. Is it alright to teach salsa to children? It seems some people aren't too comfortable with the idea... I have heard that the main apprehension (not from me personally, but from the decision maker of where we are) that they don't like the idea of children dancing salsa with each other... for reasons which you may be able to guess...

    2. Is it okay to mix adults with children together for dancing?

    3. I would love to be able to teach some dancing or other some how (most of all because I want my own salsa fix from it all, but also to share something that I really enjoy with people, although I am far from an expert in salsa and nor can I really claim to have much teaching experience...)

    4. I do have some experience in breakdancing and hip hop-esque dancing, and although I could wrap up my proposal under this guise, it's obvious to those in charge by now that I actually mean salsa... Can anyone help me sort of 'sell the idea/benefits' of learning to dance salsa for kids as a fun activity to someone who is just sort of semi-open to the idea?

    Thanks all!
  2. timberamayor

    timberamayor Maestro 'El Diferente' Canales

    1. there are people who think all dancing is a sin and should be forbidden so there will always be someone with apprehensions. If the colleagues think it's OK for their kids to learn then that should be fine. it's the parents who should decide. On the other hand I'd not teach them grinding, or running of hands all over the body etc. There is nothing inherently "nasty" about salsa dancing. the movements are not inherently sexual unless the dancers decide to take it there. the CBL isn't dirty dancing.

    2. In Latin America it is quite common for all generations to dance together. Dance and music are not nearly as age-segregated as they are in Europe and the US. Families get together and grannies dance salsa with the little 2 year old who has just learned to walk.

    There are some all children salsa groups like LA Salsa Kids. Show some videos of that and see if people find it offensive or if they think it's cool. hahaha I just went to look at the videos and they are almost all with the girls very scantily clad so that might be a bad idea. If this is what comes to mind I can see why parents might thing salsa is inappropriate for children. One of the problems of performance video is that the costumes are often extreme and misleading as to what you will see at a real salsa night, where you might get more jeans and tank tops than mini skirts and midriff-baring glitter tops.

    I'd say the one real problem I can see with teaching kids to dance is the lack of places for them to dance. they can't go to clubs so they might get disappointed after a while unless you can get enough momentum for a family social matinee once a month or something. that way your colleagues are also there and can supervise their children themselves but the kids still get a chance for a dance fix. I think it would be a great way to strengthen family bonds as well.
  3. sagitta

    sagitta Pattern Police

    I actually have no idea why someone wouldn't want kids dancing salsa with each other. If I am teaching kids to dance there are things I may not show them that I may show adults. That is the difference. One caters to one's audience, whether it is families, just kids, or just adults. And so yes it is ok to mix adults and children when dancing.

    If there are concerns then you can always propose to stick to open position dancing when there are kids. That should eliminate all concerns.
  4. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    1. Yes - the advantages are:
    increasing children's knowledge of the cultural activities of music and dance; children will learn to have respectful bodily contact with the opposite sex whilst observing dancers' etiquette; children will be taught the importance of hygiene (i.e. clean body, clothing and teeth.)

    2. No imo, I very strongly recommend that adults demo and assist whilst children only dance with each other. (I have worked in education for over a decade so I do have some knowledge.)

    4. Re. hip hop dance, that's another valid proposal you could do instead or as well, the advantages of salsa are that children are less likely to have been exposed to it already so it will be more educational, it has the educational advantages of being a partner dance, and it is less sexual and/or aggressive than hip hop. Re. selling salsa, see 1. above.

    p.s. Next Salsa Nottingham is Sat June 9th, I hope you can make it, details to follow in the appropriate section.
  5. ColdSalsero

    ColdSalsero Shine Officer

    If people are uncomfortable teaching children to dance salsa, it sounds like they don't really understand what salsa dancing is, and that they have a misperception of it from watching too many movies or tv shows that try to oversell salsa as a sexual dance.

    See, for example, this movie scene with Penelope Cruz, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9Kf8RmK5JM.

    And this clip from a Mangos bar in Florida, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ooKndSqR6c.

    There are many ways to dance salsa, and it does not have to be over-sexualized. It's not like you're teaching kids to dance over-sexualized reggaeton, with grinding genitalia all over each other.

    In fact, I think learning to dance salsa is a very healthy social activity for kids. It's better than having them go join gangs and doing drugs after school. Salsa dancing reinforces a sense of community. Maybe you'll get a sense of that from this video of Salsa in the Park in Boston, which is run at a local community center (and yes, there are kids dancing with adults, there is nothing sexual or inappropriate about it),


    And of course, for your doubters, you can show them videos of kids dancing in salsa performances, which is not quite the same as social dancing, but perhaps will help dispel their misperception of salsa dancing as somehow being inappropriate for kids,


    Yes, of course, see my above salsa in the park video. Salsa dancing is very much a family-friendly activity. If people aren't comfortable with contact body rolls and other flirtatious stuff like that, just don't teach that stuff. You can still teach turn patterns, shines, and body movement, without the flirtatious contact between partners.

    Salsa does not equal bachata. I hope your doubters are not confusing the two...

    How does all of this sound?

    P.S. You might want to consider, would these same people be okay with teaching their children swing dancing, and dancing swing with them? If they are, well, salsa is in exactly the same vein as swing, so they should not have any problems with salsa dancing.

    Also, some other posters brought up this point as well, but it's worth repeating, people don't wear all those flashy and scanty costumes and stuff when they dance socially, those are only for shows. Regular street attire applies for social dancing...

    P.P.S. Here's another nice video you can use to show what salsa dancing (danced socially) is really like, I suspect that if you get a bunch of people together, this is what it's going to end up looking like,

    ElFantastico likes this.
  6. SalsaGipsy

    SalsaGipsy Capitán Del Estilo

    What ages are we talking about? Because for smaller kids you might have trouble even to make them come close to a specimen of the opposite sex, not talking about dancing together. :p

    And for other ages they might be too hormonal to not mess it all up. :D

    It might be that they would enjoy more to dance apart - shines and things like that, depending on the situation.

    I don't think it would be a good idea to mix adults and kids in the same group unless we are talking strictly parents and their children. Personally I wouldn't want to see small children dancing with adults they don't know and I'm sure few parents would be comfortable with it. But it seems that the specific group of people you have in mind know each other and that might be different.
  7. ColdSalsero

    ColdSalsero Shine Officer

    I can't find it right now, but I remember seeing a scene once from Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights of a bunch of people "salsa dancing" in a club, and it wasn't xbody or Cuban style, people were just sort of grinding with each other with sweaty bodies, and I remember thinking to myself, that is blatantly not how people actually dance salsa...at least in the clubs that I frequent ;)

    If I can find the video on youtube later I'll post it here, but the point is, that's another example of salsa dancing being oversold in the movies as being more sexual than it really is, and thus grossly misrepresented.

    EDIT: found it, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ep0w_IDyg1I

    Also, why not show videos of the way adults dance salsa socially? Not everyone dances with a sexual/flirtatious style. For example,

  8. wonderwoman

    wonderwoman Shine Officer

    I don't think it's til we're adults that we naturally attach sexuality with salsa dance, or with anything we do.. And I know when I first started to learn ballroom in a studio, I didn't associate it with sensuality at all, it was just fun dancing. I think the environment has a lot to do with it, and of course if it's all 21 and over adults who are drinking, that is much different than what the OP is wanting to do.

    I don't think there will be a problem.

    That said, I'm trying some of Penelope's moves there real soon. The video from Mangos? That is obscene? She's totally overcompensating for her absent dance talent.
  9. azana

    azana Super Moderator Staff Member

    Hi Suitz :) Hope it all works out for you in the US.

    I'm a schoolteacher, and I was asked to teach a dance elective. I taught at an all boys junior high school for several years, and wasn't sure if I'd even attract any students, but managed to get 5-10 each year. I usually got the soccer team members, who had good movement and adapted well.

    I approached it as a 'dance' class, so no-one was focused on just 'salsa' and any potential connotations. I knew that salsa wouldn't maintain the boys' attention for two terms, so I took a hip hop course myself so that I could introduce that as well. However, hip hop has such tricky timing and varying beats that I was able to convince the boys that they needed to learn salsa first, with its regular timing and footfalls. I stuck to shines and spent hours each week looking for/creating steps that boys would find 'cool'. At first, they became terrified if I put on anything faster than 'Acid', but soon enough, if they thought the step was fun they didn't notice a faster tempo. After a good six weeks of salsa, they found the transition to hip hop easy.

    We also spent time in the classroom discussing/studying music and movies, which helped them understand more about dance. I didn't use specific salsa movies - I used Footloose or Step Up etc and discussed the meaning of dance. (I did try Strictly Ballroom one year, examining the caste system within the dance world, but the students absolutely could not follow the bogan Australian accents! Shame - that's the funniest part of that movie :D )

    Success depended on the students I ended up with each year - the first year I landed a great bunch who seriously wanted to learn dancing; the second year they weren't so well-behaved; the last year two boys even agreed to perform in front of the school :eek:

    At the club I mostly hang out with in Japan, the two main teachers travel around the region conducting classes. At one rural place, a group of mothers in the class asked producer Manabu (a.k.a. Pedro - see my post in the salsa enemies thread hehehehe!!) to teach their children, most of whom were siblings. The result was the Los Valientes Kids, who have performed a few times at the LA Congress. The leading boy, now in high school, is on his way to becoming one of the best dancers in Japan (you should see him as a follower! :) ) He does push them kinda hard...but the combination of an accomplished dancer/awesome teacher and kids was pretty impressive :D
  10. kbitten

    kbitten Clave Commander

    some videos to show to parenst.. can help you...




  11. ColdSalsero

    ColdSalsero Shine Officer

    For that 3rd one, the presentation she does probably won't make parents happy...plus, the event where it's at is called "2 Sexy 2 Sensual Latin Dance Festival 2010"...
  12. Big10

    Big10 Shine Officer

    I'll reiterate what some of the other posters have already written for the idea that there is nothing inherently sexual about Salsa, any more than a person would find something sexual about any partner dance like Swing or Waltz or whatever. Plus, as has already been written, Salsa dancing is an essentially ageless component of the culture in many Latin societies, where young and old (and relatives) dance together on a regular basis.

    One way reduce the amount of discomfort within the class is to allow the participants to self-select their involvement based on the age issue. In other words, you should clearly promote the class as being for "ages 12 and up" (or whatever the minimum age will be), and then adults who join the class (or adults who send their children to the class) will be aware of the possibility for "mixing" of age groups. People who are uncomfortable with that idea just won't join your class in the first place.

    By the way, how young are you talking about when you said "children"? I was kind of assuming you were referring to teenagers, rather than something like 6 or 7 years old. If you are welcoming very young kids, then I would be concerned about the height/size issues of a 9-year-old boy trying to lead a tall adult woman, or an adult man trying to lead a tiny young girl. Of course, some of those size issues arise in adult classes -- but they would be pronounced with a bunch of young children in the class.

    As an anecdote, I don't teach children's classes, per se, but there is no explicit age restriction for my studio's classes and I've had three teens attend my group classes in prior years. One was a 16-year-old girl who attended with her older sister. The teen was about the size of an average woman and probably could pass for 19-22, so there were no issues with her or the other students in the class.

    Another time a woman brought her two teenaged children during a summer Beginner's cycle as something to do during the school vacation. If I recall correctly, the boy was around 16 and the girl was around 14. They clearly looked young and were a little shorter than the average adult, but not outrageously so. I didn't do anything different from my normal classes and just sent them through the partner rotations like any other group class. The mother attended the same class with them as another student. After the class cycle was over, I sent a standard e-mail to all of the students asking for honest feedback. One of the adult male students admitted/complained that he didn't like having a 14-year-old girl in the class, although he never explained the reasons. The complaining male was not Latino, and attended the class to accompany his Latina fiancee (indeed, one of his other complaints was having to rotate partners at all :rolleyes:, not just with the teen girl). I got the impression that the man didn't have much exposure to Salsa before coming to class, and perhaps he had the stereotypical "sexy" view of it -- even though my classes (especially Beginner level) are very tame in content. Plus, the fact that he was coming to class with his fiancee may have put him in the mindset of using the dance to strengthen their romantic connection -- again clouding his view of the "safe" approaches to Salsa. The bottom line is that it's tough to change some people's preconceived notions, regardless of how safely you conduct the class itself. That's why I made the earlier statement about being clear in your promotions/advertisements about the age range, so that students can't come in and claim to be surprised.
  13. ColdSalsero

    ColdSalsero Shine Officer

    You know what else I think might be at work in people's misconception of salsa as being more sexual than it really is? Maybe it's also a matter that people think people go to salsa clubs to hook up, like in hip hop clubs.

    I think it's safe to say that in the hardcore venues, this is generally not the case, people are just out to dance, as I'm sure has been discussed ad nauseam in these forums and elsewhere already. It's probably a moot point though, since nobody's kids are going to be going to a salsa club anyways, just alcohol-free, kid-friendly socials.

    Okay, now that I've thought about it some more, isn't there some sort of stereotype among some people/salsa communities of the male teacher who dates/sleeps with all his attractive female students? I've seen articles (and some satirical videos) about that online here and there occasionally...I don't really know how much of that is true. Just seems like a lot of gossip and drama to me. It's certainly not a stereotype that exists here in Boston, and I'd venture to say in New York and most of the East Coast in general.

    Maybe the stereotype has something to do with Alex Da Silva, or maybe he just fed it a little, I don't know :/
  14. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    Quite a common practice in the UK. Many of the childrens classes are tutored by trainee teachers in Latin, from Rumba to samba ,even at the age of 5 .Of course, they are kept separate from the adult classes, and the irony is that, many dance better than the adults !! .

    I restrict my classes normally ,to 14 and over , but thats more about an attention span issue . And, some classes for kids are only 30 mins, and most now are 45 mins .
  15. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    I dont know why you find that unusual.I cant count the number of times Ive been asked ( even before a class ) did they have to change partners. It also happens in B/room.

    Looking at it from a more clinical viewpoint, many men are there at the behest of their partner , and their inadequicies create a built in fear of the subject at hand,so its quite understandable to me WHY they do not want to change in the very early stages ( and sometimes never ) .
  16. olamalam

    olamalam El Sabroso de Conguero

    There's a saying in Turkish:
    "You can bend a tree only when it is young"
    It's not a perfect translation, it sounds weird :)
    You can be more idealist with children, you can spend much more time on fundamentals. They won't get bored and leave you for another salsa school ;)

    On the other hand, in Turkey, everyone does belly dancing in the wedding ceremonies together regardless of their age, 7 years or 77 years old. This may result in some unpleasant personalities though :tongue:
  17. MacMoto

    MacMoto Administrator Staff Member

    I remember seeing a couple of films about the ballroom dancing programme for schools (high schools, I think) in NY: one documentary following kids from an innercity school as they took part in the interschool competition, and a based-on-a-true-story film starring Antonio Banderas as the teacher who pioneered the programme. So teaching school kids partner dancing is not such a new idea at least in some parts of the US.

    Also, one of the salsa teachers based in Edinburgh is a primary school teacher, and she managed to include a series of salsa classes for her pupils as part of teaching at her school. Adult salsa dancers were invited to the last class of the course to help out, which involved a big rueda circle. If you know rueda, it's a great way to introduce kids to salsa dancing - it's fun even at the beginner level with simple calls, and fast-paced sequences of dame's distract kids from the contact with the opposite sex :lol:
  18. Big10

    Big10 Shine Officer

    My use of the ":rolleyes:" smiley was not because I found his complaint unusual, just silly. I did send a reply to the guy letting him know (politely) that it's standard for any group class in any studio to have students change partners, or else pay a much higher price for private lessons.
  19. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    Something I dont do..IF its couples
  20. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    The name of the teacher is Pierre Dulane, and he made a documentary where he was involved directly with the kids . He's had a dance studio in NY for many yrs .Also,a former British Exhibition champion .

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