Salsa in the Park (SITP)|
MetaMovements is a dancing/gymnastics company in the Boston area,
led by Anara Piers Frank. Their goal is to help participants attain the
"metamorphosis" they seek in their own fitness level and through the
medium of dance.
One of their more popular offerings is "Salsa in The Park."
Taking over the patio in front of the Blackstone Community Center,
MetaMovements enable 300-500 salsa lovers to dance under the stars.
A deeply rooted urban environment with basketball courts,
limited parking and children playing everywhere, the Blackstone
Community Center's the dance floors heat up in the park as the night
air cools off and the stars come out.
Dancing outside under the stars is so appealing, Salsa in the Park
often saw 300-500 people participating. SITP is also a way to
give back to the community. Dancers volunteer all summer, donating
their time to teach dance lessons to adults and children, set up dance
floors, assist with event staffing, maintain a recycling program, and
clean up from the festivities until late into the evening.
MetaMovements in Uphams Corner
But that is not what MetaMovements was doing in Uphams Corner.
Kudos to the Boston Public Library, Main Branch, for sponsoring
MetaMovements to come out to the UC Library on Oct 25 to teach salsa - dancing and playing instruments.
Scheduled in association with Hispanic Heritage Month (Sep 15 - Oct
15), "Salsa in the Library" provided an introduction to Salsa hand-held
percussive instruments. MetaMovements also lead participants in four
different Latin-style dances, starting with Salsa.
According to Salsa is Good,
salsa (historically) finds its roots in Cuba. African rhythms
brought there by slaves mixed with various forms of popular Spanish
music and this generated a number of different new music styles.
Salsa literally means the "sauce" that creates the character of Spanish
food. You can think of it also as indicating how ingredients were
mixed to obtain a new, rich flavour of music.
interesting is the fact that modern salsa is a product of
New York in the 70's, so heavily influenced by the increasing Latino
population. Not stopping there, the evolving musical style
journeyed back and forth to Cuba and Puerto Rico and the US again,
providing a cultural exchange that matured the music.
Salsa is now an international dance, having exploded far beyond its
original 'Caribbean' borders. Top bands nowadays come from Puerto Rico
as well as from Japan, Senegal, France and even Finland. Salsa
competitions are at times won by 'western' and even Asian dancers. This
is nothing but a natural result of the widespread development of any
form of art.
Uphams Corner Branch Library Prepares for Fun
Moving everything (tables, chairs, etc) away from the center of the
library, the staff prepared well for an event that normally happens in
gymnasiums or dance halls. MetaMovements brought their entourage
of dance teachers and hand-held percussive salsa instruments including
congas, bongos, maracas, guiros and claves.
Except for the congas, a paired set of tall drums, which produce
salsa's lowest-frequency rhythms, MetaMovements encouraged participants
to try out all the salsa instruments to learn the basics of salsa
The most important instrument is the clave, two wooden rods of
differing size which the player strikes together to produce a
percussive tone. Why is it so important? According to
the Salsa Musicality Blogspot, the salsa instruments nearly always tie into the clave pattern, including the bass and the piano. The clave establishes
the fundamental key to the music/beat.
Two different clave beats are the standard in salsa music
and are differentiated by the "direction" of the clave, either 2/3 or
3/2. Either way, whether the clave instrument is present or not,
salsa music is based around the clave.
Without going into the technicalities of how two measures of 4/4 time
allow percussive instruments to strike only three beats, suffice it to
say that counting in different patterns from 1 to 8 is how the salsa
rhythm for each instrument was taught. And it worked very well.
The participants, now avid students of dance rhythms, learned how to
play the instrument in hand. After a short learning period, the group played together and it was
||Maracas are rattles,
originally of hollow gourds filled with beads, though now often made of
hide or plastic. Volume and pitch are set by the size and shape of
capsule and bead material. The maracas are matched as a sexed
pair; the higher pitched being the macho (male), and the lower being
the hembra (female).
|The güiro is a single large gourd scored with horizontal grooves on one
side, and holes cut into the other so that it can be held. Sound is created by running a
small-diameter rod, held horizontally, over the grooves to
produce a ratcheting sound. The gourd version is notoriously fragile but güiros are also available in
plastic, fibreglass and wood.
|Clave are consist of a pair of turned hardwood rods which are
struck together. They are matched as sexed pairs, one higher in pitch
than the other. Other interesting sounds are possible if the higher pitched stick is carved out to form a resonating chamber.
The bongos are a matched set of two small- to medium-sized drums, made
from wood or fiberglass. Each set features drums of different size to
produce two distinct tones.
The congas are tall drums, ranging from 28 to 32 inches in height. The
player uses both hands to produce salsa's lowest-frequency rhythms.
Merengue - Taught and Performed
From Salsa is Good,
we learn that Merengue is the musical icon of the Dominican Republic
and is still a purely Dominican tradition. In the Dominican
Republic, it is everywhere: Radio, shops, taxis, nightclubs,
streets. As with Salsa, the roots come from the African rhythm brought
to the Dominican Republic by African slaves. Simpler than other
Spanish music, merengue is played in two beats with heavy accents on the
strong beat; this makes the music relatively simple.
Basic merengue movements are easy to learn but they don't remain basic
for very long. Nonetheless, with the instruments and chairs out
of the way and the full dance floor available to those "stepping out," the
music, the descriptive callouts to the dancers and the teacher's model
dancing all led to a group of strangers swaying and moving as if they
had been company / friends forever.
Dancing loosens up the body, frees the mind, takes your cares away and leaves you laughing and smiling.
Not to be outdone by the locals, two of the best MetaMovements dancers
provided a powerful performance of the merengue, she adorned in a
bright red dress that swirled to the turns and rhythmic movements of
the music and the dance moves. Breathtaking, sensual, artistic
Thanks to the Boston Public Library and Uphams Corner Branch
Without doubt, "Salsa in the Library" was one of the best attended and
most enthusiastically received Uphams Corner Library events. Our
thanks go out to MetaMovements and their great teachers and
staff. Note the comment they made in their blog - that this type
of event is "community building," which is what every community can
use, not the least of which is Uphams Corner.
A great big thanks to the BPL for sponsoring MetaMovements, and, hey, let's plan to do this every month.
Photos on two pages show the level of participation, the enthusiastic
and engaged participants and, for the performance,
a clear indication of professional salsa dancing in our midst.
Photos below focus on the group learning to play salsa
Be sure to look at the photos on page 2 as well which shows the group dancing the merengue and the extraordinary performance from MetaMovements.
Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Thank you, Nancy, as always, for publicizing Uphams Corner Branch's
adult events. Uphams Corner News' in depth coverage of 'Salsa in the
Library' was appreciated. Have a good Thanksgiving.
|Posted: November 3, 2012
Nancy J Conrad