Chips, Salsa, or Both?

On Thursday, April 10, Frostburg State University (FSU) hosted a Salsa Dance workshop, allowing students, faculty, staff and Western Maryland locals to learn the basic moves of this exhilarating dance.

The fierce, fun, and free dance session began at 7 p.m. at the Lyric Theatre, located on 24 East Main Street in Frostburg, Maryland.

The moment participants walked in, they were surrounded in a Latin environment with bright lights and Latin music playing in the background. The dance floor filled quickly as the participants filed in the room.

First, Mary J. Plummer from FSU’s Cultural Event Series provided a brief introduction about salsa dancing. Palmer also explained, “[The workshop is] based on a performance for the Spanish Harlem Orchestra.” This performance was scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 12 at 7 p.m. in the ARMAH at the Lane Center.

The Spanish Harlem Orchestra (SHO), which started in New York in 2000, with 13 members is directed by Oscar Hernandez. Hernandez is a two-time Grammy recipient who focuses on salsa and jazz. Fourteen years later, SHO is still keeping salsa alive by teaching FSU a few basic moves.

Once Plummer finished her introduction about SHO, it was time for everyone to move and get their “left foot and right foot” on!

The instructor Don Beckstrom demonstrated a quick salsa routine with his assistant who wore a shimmered black and gold dress with a light blue flower in her hair. He then divided the room with females on one side and the males on the other. This was to teach each their role in the dance, referring to the leader and the follower.

As both sexes practiced their basic moves for their designated role, the room was filled with the words, “left foot together, right foot together” and “quick quick, slow.” At first, those unfamiliar with the steps were a bit confused, but after they practiced a few times, they were grooving.

Once everyone became familiar with the basic steps as either, leader or follower, they paired up and incorporated each other’s steps. At this point, it was obvious that everyone was having a great time, filling the room with laughs, smiles, mistakes, and grooving.

Another move taught during the session was the cross body lead, which is when the lead turns the follower as they spin. With those turns and steps, it was easy for participants to work up a sweat, but luckily refreshments were provided. There was water, chips and salsa, and with a proper ID, registrants were able to purchase margaritas.

The Salsa Dance workshop created a diverse learning experience. It was simply amazing to see how excited FSU students, faculty, staff and locals were to learn a dance such as this.

FSU student Eric Nixon said he greatly enjoyed the session and that it created a “cultural” experience for him.

Students who did not get a chance to attend the workshop, then certainly missed out. Fortunately, students can watch the actual performance on Saturday, April 12, as SHO take the stage and put on a great show.

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