• Eddie Torres - The Mambo King

L.A. & The Rising Wave of On2

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ru-cu-PA-ca-ta-ca-tu-tu / ru-cu-PA-ca-ta-ca-tu-tu

If that PA didn’t grab your attention, or you didn’t recognize the pattern, that’s okay; you get a pass, but just this once. That PA is the reason you’re probably on this website reading this article. That PA is the reason this website even exists, as a matter of fact. It attempts to represent, textually, the sound of the tumbao: the essence of what this high rising wave of On2 is all about.

You might be gracing us virtually with your presence because you’re curious and wondering what On2 is, or maybe you recently started taking classes and progress is taking a little longer than expected/desired. Perhaps you’re a seasoned dancer that’s gone through the white jazz shoe phase and you’ve moved on to sporting ninja shoes or Crocs with suede on the bottom. Whatever your level of expertise is, the video clip below this commentary is worthy of your time, as I found it to be enriching to my dance experience.

As our lives get busier, and technology more prevalent and smarter, the deadlines we set for results gets shorter and shorter. Instant gratification is the modus operandi for the average citizen nowadays and the adage of time being valuable has acquired an exponential type importance to the point that we sometimes don’t give enough opportunity to new pursuits. It follows, then, that if you’re new to dancing On2 you might have doubts about devoting so much time to a style that, at first, may not feel that natural or comfortable.

This is especially true of the transitionary pains from established On 1 dancers. One’s mind, body and muscle memory have been accustomed to hearing and moving a certain way, that when we’re forced to change the basic step at its most fundamental level, it often feels like our mind is short-circuiting and in direct conflict with our body’s muscle memory which, then, may contribute to the “I just don’t feel it” phenomenon that some of us may experience when switching to the two.

Eddie Torres and Tito Puente
A collaboration for the ages.

Fear not, however, for you are not alone.  Eddie Torres is synonymous with New York style salsa (or On2 as most of us know it).  Pioneering the On2 movement since the Palladium days, he has trained many of the famous salsa names that we know which now travel the world sharing their talents and knowledge.  There’s an incredibly high probability that whoever you’ve learned or are learning On2 from, learned either from him or someone who learned from him – he’s your On2 grandpa, or great grandpa, or even great great grandpa; the point is, we’re the progeny of a vision he put into effect.

It is because of his integral part in developing and progressing the On2 movement from early on that the following clip, from an interview he did in Spain, is worth our time as dancers – at least in my opinion.  The context of anything we devote our time to enriches our experience, and as it relates to learning On2 in Los Angeles, watching Eddie Torres talk about the beginnings of this love of ours serves to remind us that it this On2 movement will have growing pains, but in the end it is worth it because as he puts it, it is “liberating.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8q6aHncUGyQ&w=420&h=345]

The clip above is part 2 of a 4 part series on Youtube.  You should easily be able to click on the remaining parts for additional stories from the On2 master.

Especially noteworthy is his description that the rhythm of dancing On2 like a wave – a fitting metaphor of ebbs & flows through constant movement with the music.

Es un ritmo, en un sentido, que libera a uno. El ritmo lleva como una ola.  /  It’s a rhythm, a feeling, that liberates.  The rhythm carries like a wave.

The theoretical foundation of that wave is based on music, and for that reason it’s important to understand the musical context of our dance steps.  As Eddie points out, even talent needs education:

Antes si saber eso, uno se tiraba para sentir la music. La sabiduria tiene su ventaja. Si tito puente no hubiese ido al colegio a estudiar musica, no llega a ser el musico que llego a ser y el maestro.  /  Back then, without knowing this, one would just jump into the feeling of music without much regard for its structure.  Wisdom has its advantages, however.  If Tito Puente had not attended school to study music, he would have never been the musician and the master he became.

Likewise, in dance, Eddie encourages us to be aware of how our dancing fits the music.

The experience of riding the wave will be much more fulfilling the more we’re able to synthesize our understanding with the beauty of what what we hear.

What’s up with the “L.A.” reference if this video clip is about Eddie Torres, you ask?  Well, to my Angelinos out there, or anywhere in the world for that matter, that are just getting started or interested in learning On2, I hope that a talk from the master himself helps you on your journey in one way or another. The On2 scene in Los Angeles, despite its starting point, is finally being embraced on a non-niche scale and that’s an exciting phrase to type.  Whatever resources and knowledge we can pass on, the better.

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