Two to Tango

-Pragya Pokhrel

Healthylife’s dance workshop at Pep Up Dance Inc as witnessed by Pragya Pokhrel

On December 13, a hall was filled with dance enthusiasts waiting for their dance maestro. The hall belonged to Pep Up Dance Inc. The scene was set for some serious dancing.

Healthylife started their monthly workshop to get close with its readers and improve direct participation in order to learn and teach something new to them. So the workshop at Pep Up was healthylife’s initiative to reach out to its readers. Pep up is an emerging dance institute that was started seven months back. The institute is centrally located in New Baneshwor and offer classes in B-Boying, Zumba, Hip-Hop, Robotic, Salsa, Contemporary, Jazz, Free Style, Dance Aerobics, and Belly Dance. The institution claims that all its dance courses are taught by certified trainers.

Life is full of chaos, but even then, health is always a priority. When both the husband and the wife are working, it’s quite difficult spending quality time together. What if there was an idea that could bring you together for the togetherness and awesome-ness of the dance moves of salsa? Salsa is a popular form of social dance that originated in New York with influences from Latin America, particularly Cuba and Puerto Rico. The movements of salsa have its origins in Cuban Son, Cha cha cha, Mambo and other dance forms, and the dance, along with the music, originated in the mid 1970s in New York. Talking about salsa with Rajendra Rajbahak, the instructor for the workshop, he mentioned that it has been some time since the dance form has gathered attention in Asian countries.

He shares that while he was learning salsa a few years back, he used to be quite shy and would hesitate to ask a partner to dance with him. His teacher would have to grab him and make him dance with a partner. Much to his amusement, he shared that this awkwardness went away and his dancing improved in time. He received an opportunity from the American Embassy in Nepal to participate in the International Salsa Fest, a workshop organized by Salsa Nepal, one of the oldest salsa training institutes, a few years back. He started taking dance classes in 2002 and there was no looking back after that. Rajbahak continued his classes in Salsa Nepal and has since attended various salsa festivals organized by Salsa Nepal and other international dance festivals. He’s been teaching salsa nowadays at Y-Stand Dance Institute and is a freelance choreographer too.

Jyoti Thapa, an emerging zumba instructor, also felt the same way about the workshop. For her, it was more fun to dance with a partner. For beginners, she suggests trying certain moves even though they won’t be able to do them perfectly the first time.
Similarly, Rajiv Samar, the hiphop instructor at Western Dance Studio, liked the idea of having such a workshop. He liked the building up part with the partner. Ajay Mahato, a freestyle instructor, also shared that he had a great experience joining the workshop and catching up with old friends.

When asked about what keeps salsa lovers going, Manisha Adhikari Dulal, the proprietor of Pep Up, said that the dance form is different than the rest as it can be done with your partner, and it includes chemistry or friendship between two dancers. It is fun as one needs to follow the cue given by one’s partner.

Dancing is never easy, it never has been. But, when you get gurus whose influence can make you a better dancer, it’s certainly worth giving it a shot. You never know, you might just become a great dancer some day. The energy never goes to waste as it is a good calorie burner too. May it be Vaslav Nijinsky, Martha Graham, or modern day dancing goddesses like Jenifer Lopez, all of them have bodies to die for. So, enjoy the art of dancing, expressing yourself to the beats. From ballet to contemporary, from hip-hop to salsa, and from oriental to flamenco, Nepali people are certainly welcoming salsa wholeheartedly.

How to Learn Salsa Faster
-Tips by Rajendra Rajbahak

One needs to have patience to learn anything new
Be one step ahead in terms of learning
One thing that you always need to take care of while dancing is body posture
Girls are good learners. Guys lead in salsa, so it’s important to develop a good understanding with your dance partner
Attend social salsa gatherings, try out practicing the dance you have learned with different partnersAfter the 45-minute workout session with Rajbahak, we tried finding out how the participants felt about the workshop. Sumnima Pandey, a freestyle dance instructor at Western Dance School said that it was her first time attending a salsa workshop through Pep Up. She expects to join similar events in the future too.

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