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We teach performance level sequences in salsa, tango, swing jive, ballroom and tap. See below for childrens classes.
Most salsa music is played with one of the Son claves, though a Rumba clave is occasionally used, especially during Rumba sections of some songs. As an example of how a clave fits within the 8 beats of a salsa dance, the beats of the 2-3 Son clave are played on the counts of 2, 3, 5, the "and" of 6, and 8.
There are other aspects outside of the Clave that help define salsa rhythm: the cowbell, the Montuno rhythm and the Tumbao rhythm.
The cowbell rhythm emphasizes the "on-beats" of salsa: 1, 3, 5 and 7 while the conga rhythm emphasizes the "off-beats" of the music: 2, 4, 6, and 8. Some dancers like to use the strong sound of the cowbell to stay on the Salsa rhythm. Alternatively, others like to use the conga rhythm to create a jazzier feel to their dance since strong "off-beats" are a jazz element.
Tumbao is the name of the rhythm that is played with the conga drums. It sounds like: "cu, cum.. pa... cu, cum... pa". Its most basic pattern is played on the beats 2,3,4,6,7, and 8. Tumbao rhythm is helpful for learning to dance contra-tiempo ("On2"). The beats 2 and 6 are emphasized when dancing On2, and the Tumbao rhythm heavily emphasizes those beats as well.
The Montuno rhythm is a rhythm that is often played with a piano. The Montuno rhythm loops over the 8 counts and is useful for finding the direction of the music. By listening to the same rhythm, that loops back to the beginning after eight counts, one can recognize which count is the first beat of the music.
The basic Salsa dance rhythm consists of taking three steps for every four beats of music. The odd number of steps creates the inherent syncopation to the Salsa dancing and ensures that it takes 8 beats of music to loop back to a new sequence of steps. Different styles employ this syncopation differently. For "On1" dancers this rhythm is described as "quick, quick, slow, quick, quick, slow." For "On2" dancers this rhythm is "quick, quick, quick, pause, quick, quick, quick, pause." In all cases, only three steps are taken in each 4-beat measure (or 6 total over 8 beats.)
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