An investigation into the cultural influences on the development of Salsa.
University of Wales
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This study investigates cultural influences that remain evident today or have previously influenced the evolution of salsa. Elements of African, Cuban, American and Puerto Rican cultures have been fused and integrated together through a complicated mixture to create salsa as an outcome (Rust, 1969). Investigating elements as far back as the African slave trade in the 1450s show the underlying rhythms and instruments that remain an important factor of salsa music today (www.salsayork.com). During the slave trade, slaves were ordered to migrate to many countries to work for their owners. Whilst within these countries, slaves were able to observe the music and dance apparent in other cultures (Tallmadge, 1957). From the end of the slave trade in the 1850s to the 1970s (the year salsa was developed), musicians travelled to different countries to understand and become more knowledgeable about their music (Beasley, 2000). Consequently from the blending and fusion of many cultural influences within the 1970s, New York saw a beneficial opportunity and labelled the genre salsa (Bohlman, 1991). Meaning 'sauce' the name derived to appeal to large audiences irrelevant of their age, gender, race and ability for marketing purposes (Gerard, 2001). Through the media, salsa entered the mainstream where the genre was to be recognised around the world as a fun, enjoyable and sensual experience (Bauknecht, 2009). Dance is found within different contexts for varying reasons (Adshead, 1981). In relation to Salsa, three different styles have evolved including Los Angeles (L.A), New York and Cuban style. The building blocks for all styles are similar for example the instruments included in its arrangement or continuously marking the basic step of the dance, however particular elements differ depending on the individual style (www.centralhome.com). Salsa is available within social and professional contexts dependant on the style of salsa. Cuban style is usually found in social contexts such as clubs and social events whereas L.A style is usually found in professional contexts such as competitions and on the television due to its level of difficulty (Febres, 1997). The media has affected the popularity of salsa dancing throughout the world, professional dancers are observed on particular dance programmes and encourage viewers of a dance and non dance background to participate themselves (Bauknecht, 2009). Salsa classes, social events and congresses take place within every major city of the world to learn to dance but most importantly, to socialise. Within these settings, it provides people with an opportunity to dance and meet one another (www.artsci.washington.edu). A recent review in 2009, states that the media has boosted popularity of salsa dancing and is currently being carried out by participants within their millions (www.artsci.washington.edu).
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