Spring 2021

Contemporary Dance Technique: Salsa Performance and Culture

Listed in: Latinx and Latin Amer Studies, as LLAS-144H  |  Theater and Dance, as THDA-144H


Miguel Alejandro Castillo (Section 01)


This class introduces students to beginner-level salsa technique. We will explore the New York Mambo style of salsa, the Caracas street style, as well as elements of the Cuban Casino style. Students will master variations of the salsa basic step, turns, connecting steps, and arm work. Although we will mostly focus on solo practice, we will learn some essential concepts of partnering work based on the principles of leading and following. Toward the end of the semester, students will be able to use the acquired salsa vocabulary as the basis for improvising and choreographing combinations.

Through the study of salsa’s history, political dimensions, lyrical content, and matrilineal legacy, students will develop an understanding of this artistic expression not only as a dance form or musical genre, but also as a unifying voice of resistance and liberation for Caribbean and Latino cultures. Students will be able to recognize the voices of some of the most iconic Salsa artists and appreciate the contributions of some of the most important female Cuban and Cuban-American performers. We will investigate the legacy of Celia Cruz, paying close attention to the design and performance elements that defined her as The Queen of Salsa. Class discussions and brief writing assignments will serve as opportunities to reflect upon readings, documentaries and other information that will expand our understanding of the form.

Instruction in this course will take place online, supported by appropriate technology. Collaborative work may take place in other formats, online and in-person, if possible. A half course. Visiting Lecturer Miguel Castillo Le Maitre.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to theater and/or dance majors


Artistic Practice, Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Community Based Learning, Online Only