Physics of Salsa Dancing

Good Essays
Salsa has become an ever more popular dance in the United States, especially with the emergence of Latin artists including Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, and Shakira. Go to any club or ballroom dance and you will hear a pulsating beat moving you out of your chair and onto the floor. Even Broadway has been affected by Latin music. For instance, Cell Block Tango in the smash hit Chicago has a driving Latin beat. It doesn't matter if you are partying in Miami or sipping martinis in Massachusetts, Salsa has invaded America and taken a grip on the culture. Some even consider Salsa an addiction. "Perhaps it's because of the addictive quality inherent in this rhythm which fuels the desire to become part of it and express it physically..." (Tripp).

The Danzon from Haiti, Rhumbas from Africa, and the Son from Cuba mix together to create what we know as Salsa (Pretell). Because of its diverse background it is hard to know exactly how it originated. The most widely believed origin is Cuba where everything is hot, from the weather down to the cuisine. What else can you expect from that environment but music that will have you dancing in the streets?

Key Words

Leader- does just that, gives the leads, usually a man

Follower- takes the leads, usually a woman

*Both can be either gender, the pictures used in this site show the leader as the man and the follower as the woman.

Open Position- follower's hands are palms down on top of the leader's hands

Closed Position- follower's left hand grips the leader's right arm and right hand is held by the leader's left, the leader's right hand presses against the follower's shoulder blade.

Basic Step

This is fundamental, starting off the dance and used between more com...

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...t's say we want the follower to have an acceleration of A. Now the equation says: Ftotal =mA, so normal force- normal force+x=mA where x is the force needed to make the equation equal, so if you have the mass of the follower and the acceleration you want you can find the force needed.


Adrienne Tripp. Truth in Salsa!. Planet Salsa. 23 November 2004 .

Antonio Gambadoro. Instruments. Salsa Tropical. 23 November 2004 .

Chicago. Dir. Rob Marshall. Perf. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere. Miramax, 2002.

Jaime Andres Pretell. Salsa. Central Home. 23 November 2004 .

Rose Hillbrand. Step One Dance Shoes. 23 November 2004 .
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