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Many dancers feel lost when their partner releases them from the closed embrace and allows them to  dance freestyle salsa (known as Salsa Suelta in Cuba). Freestyle Salsa dancing allows the dancer to express his/her own attitude and personality through spontaneous,  improvisational movements inspired by the music. This workshop will introduce you to the fundamentals of balance, rhythm and musicality inspired by Cuban Salsa music. The workshop will incorporate rhythms and movements derived from folkloric and popular Cuban dance styles combined with contemporary club dancing.

This approach to movement and rhythm is seldom taught outside of Cuba. The goal of this workshop is to  make your freestyle dancing more spontaneous, fluid and enjoyable. This workshop will demystify how Salsa dancers can identify and engage their bodies with the core clave rhythms, bell patterns and piano montunos that give Salsa its passionate, exciting flavor.

Target Audience: Intermediate-Advanced Salsa dancers, but any level dancer will benefit from this session.  Men and women are encouraged to attend.

Pre-requisites: People attending this workshop should be very comfortable with  basic Salsa steps and rhythms, have attended basic Salsa styling classes and have at lease one year of social dancing.  No partners are necessary for this workshop.

Cost: $30 in advance, $40 at the door  - PAY ON SITE - ROOM AVAILABLE!


Total Body Warm up

This phase of the workshop is designed to increase body awareness, flexibility and control of shoulders, torso and hips using basic isolation exercises while listening  to popular Cuban music. The warm up will also introduce you to the three different rhythms found commonly in Salsa music.

Dance Moves

This section will focus on movements derived from 3 popular Cuban dance styles: Son, Mambo and Guaguanco.


 Most music historians agree that the Cuban son is the backbone for contemporary salsa. Son developed in the late 1800ís in the mountainous Oriente province, located in the eastern regions of Cuba.



Crab Crawl



 Mambo developed in Cuba in the late  1930ís and early 1940ís.  Mambo was initially done by nightclub performers but later became popular in the social clubs. Mambo is deeply rooted in African drum rhythms and spiritual practices brought to Cuba by the slaves. Historians suggest that mambo maybe derived from Congolese sacred music and means "conversation with the gods".


Mambo Strut

Mambo Hop




Guaguanco is one of the most popular styles of rumba that is still danced today. Rumba developed among the different African ethnic groups, primarily from Central and West Africa, who were brought to Cuba as slaves.  Guaguanco is danced by a male-female couple and consists of a flirtatious, sexual game with a distinctive body movement called the vacunao ("pelvic thrust) performed by the male dancer.


Side step

Around the Clock





These embellishments or special touches that can be add seductive, flirtatious flair to even the most simple salsa movements and patterns

Shoulder Shudder                              Hip Roll 

Shoulder Plop                                    Hip Pop


Participants will listen to a specific Cuban  music selection and begin to identify tempo, rhythm and mood changes. Participants will learn how to engage their body movements with the tone of different sections of the song and embrace the spirit and soul of the Salsa musicians.


Each workshop participant will be grouped in pairs and will be encouraged to play with the dance free style moves you have learned ( no touching allowed) by visually and emotionally connecting with the music, rhythms and your partnerís spontaneous improvisations. Participants will change partners several times so that they can  experience the creativity of many different people.

April 24 : Cuban  Styling Workshop,

 8:15-9:45 pm

FIT (3214 Fillmore Street @ Lombard)





There is limited space in this workshop, and it will likely sell out. Please pay in advance.

Cost: $30 in advance, $40 at the door - Please Pay on Site.

Questions? Call 510-428-1034 or email: Rita@salsacrazy.com .

TEACHER BIO: Rita Hargrave

How did Afro-Cuban and Afro-Puerto Rican music, mambo, rueda and Salsa dancing take over my life?  Well, the story begins many years ago.  As part of my motherís tireless efforts to purge me of my tomboyish ways, she sent me to ballet classes at age 5.  Maybe she thought I would get a little poise, style and refinement. (The jury is still out on whether this worked) But more importantly I developed a lifelong love affair with dance and performing in general. By the time I had finished high school I had studied ballet for 12 years, went on to try my hand at tap and modern dance and performed in local ballet companies, high school musicals and regional theater.  I continued my involvement in dance and theater in college, both as a dancer, choreographer and director.  

In 1994 I was watching the Grammy Awards of TV and I saw Gloria Estefanís performance of her award winning CD, "Mi Terra".  She has assembled a spectacular band that included Sheila Escovedo and Tito Puente.  Then the dancers appeared.  I could not take my eyes of the Salsa Dancersóso fluid, rhythmic and sexy.  I said right then and thereóIíve got to learn that dance.  Pretty soon several times per week I was taking classes at the old Kimballís Carnival from the legendary (or maybe infamous) Alex Da Silva. Since then I have studied with numerous teachers in the Bay Area, Washington D.C. and New York. For the past 3 years I have participated in intensive dance workshops in Cuba (See my articles on www.salsacrazy.com).  I am currently teaching with Salsacrazy on Sunday afternoons at FIT.

Thanks to the generosity of Mr. SalsaCrazy I have been an active contributor to www.salsacrazy.com and I have my own website www.salsaroots.com devoted to the history of Salsa.

Though my dance pursuits have expanded to include mambo, rueda, tango and Lindy Hopó I will always be a hard core Salsera.

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