Fabio Boschetti from Perth, AUSTRALIA:
(Fabio runs the website: www.salsaisgood.com and has the largest collection of reviews
of instructional salsa dancing videos in the world.)
Formal review of DVD video series:
(Click here for the review as originally printed and reviews of my other videos.)
"If you have been dancing for a while and you are into salsa DVDs, chances are that you would have learned via some of Eric's early videos; whether via his 'Salsa a la Cubana' series or 'Hot Moves for the Salsa Addict' series, Eric trained a generation of salsa dancers into crazy Cuban moves or refined LA/NY cool moves. Then Eric became quiet for a while and there was reason to believe that he was up to something. Indeed he was, and this latest series is the outcome. 'Salsa from the Start' is the offspring of someone who took some time off to think and reconsider the entire process of teaching/learning salsa from zero to an intermediate level.
In principle anyone could do this, but not everyone would be able to do a good job of it and Eric has several credentials which makes him a perfect candidate for this salsa 'synthesis'. First, he has been dancing for a very long time, as long as any of the 'old generation' salsa stars still around. Second, he has danced and learned everywhere, dedicating himself to mastering all styles from the very beginning, that is back when the salsa world was still divided into LA, NY and Cuban niches, with little communication and exchange. Third, via his frequent, long and extensive travelling he has taught to crowds everywhere in the world and this has given him considerable experience in seeing what is common among the needs of dancers with different cultural backgrounds. Finally, Eric is an engineer, with an analytical mind, for which synthesis comes natural.
These features manifest themselves clearly in the way this series is organised. Together with the DVDs, Eric provides in downloadable form written instructions which he suggests you print and have handy when you watch the DVDs. These instructions help you understand and remember what you see. Each chapter of these instructions refers to a section in the DVDs, which you can choose via a well organised DVD menu. As he explains, some sections need to be watched only once, others will need your careful attention and several goes; the written instructions will help you handling this selection process well. Since my brain works similar to Eric's, I think this is 'the' way to learn something as structured and complex as salsa.
However, many salsa dancers may freak out at the thought of following written instructions and here is the good news: you do not actually 'need' them because the DVDs flow naturally; if you wish you can ignore all that and still learn everything simply by watching the DVDs as you would for all other instructional salsa DVDs.
This series is generous with time: the 3 DVDs sum to roughly 6 hours of material, covering basically all a student needs to face: timing, basic steps, body style, attitude, leading and following, basic turns, basic turn patterns. This is undoubtedly a lot and Eric is at his best in cleverly handling all the material. What is at the core of the success of these products? Firstly, he takes a lot of time in each section: he explains clearly, he demonstrates, he re-explains, he provides examples, he runs a few exercises in which you can follow the material just learned and he gives tips. Secondly, he does not compartmentalise the content: style hints appear at different points in the series as does focus on the footwork, so that you can progress smoothly through the different challenges while you learn some of each element. Thirdly, Eric's experience enables him to know where the difficulties are and where the common mistakes are likely to occur and he highlights them to you as soon as they may appear. Fourthly, this series has the feel of a relaxed workshop: it really feels like you are attending one of Eric's classes, with plenty of time available, a perfect environment to learn. Finally, Eric's aim is very clear: to train people to dance for fun, something I believe is very noble and often forgotten; there is no stress on needless details, but rather a focus on what will help you develop the skill you need to approach the dance floor confidently in search of enjoyment. Basically, Eric strives to make things look and feel simple, which is the utmost wisdom.
Coming to the technical details, this DVD is on1, focusing mostly on dancing on the line, what we would have called LA style a few years ago; the instructions for the leading and following are also designed mostly with this style in mind. If this is the style you wish to learn, I think this DVD series ranks surely as among the best and most complete.
In the DVD intro Eric says that the natural customers for this series include complete beginners or dancers who know how to dance already but have not gone through a formal salsa course. I would add two more groups: students who have learned already but may find it handy to have a salsa 'synthesis' at home to refer to occasionally, or who need time to digest the content from a live salsa class; and finally, salsa instructors, who may benefit from Eric's experience in filling up some gaps in their curriculum.. I believe Eric has really thought about everything (!) you may need for it. Last, but not least, I should include a note about Martha, Eric's dancing partner and demonstrator in the DVDs, who does a remarkable job at making everything look nice and spontaneous at the same time."
Willie Young from Vallejo, CA:
"I can't imagine how the 'Salsa from the Start' series could be better. I have been dancing salsa on-and-off for the past five or six years, and no live instructor or instructional DVD, that I experienced, made learning and enjoying salsa dancing easier than the 'Salsa from the Start' series. Great work!"
Ragib Karamehmedovic from Sarajevo, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA:
"Many times I have been told that is is impossible to be precise in teaching salsa and to have a precise cirucullum beacuse it is an art. But this is the best pedagogical approach to the matter I have ever seen containing moves, excersises, combos and even written material!!!
Thanks for the excellent explanations. Your DVDs are really an excellent tool!!! They have really inspired me to continue my salsa adventures."
Evans Musomi from Nairobi, KENYA:
"Out of the 1000's of videos I have watched, I haven't seen one that's as informing, educative and entertaining for anyone who wants to start learning salsa or who wants to brush up on the most important part of any dance - the basics. What I like about the series is that the mechanics are broken down in detail to enable one to understand why certain things are done. You don't just do things without knowing why you're doing them.
The exercises on improvisation and moving freely while just keeping time with the music and your partner have been very helpful in my development as a dancer coz it has enabled me free my mind and experiment. I've learnt the best practices especially from Volume 3 that quite frankly...I don't know why many instructors around don't teach beginners during their first classes!
Almost all standard moves in clubs around are in your Volume 2 so really it's the best deal I've seen for Salsa from the Start - not only for beginners, but even intermediate dancers and advanced dancers who want to perfect their basics. It's not about the what you do - there are numerous videos that show turn patterns, shines and steps....this series does a good job at teaching the 'HOW' - the right way to do steps so you look nice and feel nice. Most importantly, the variations and exercises kind of liberate the minds of the lead and follower - which becomes a great asset as one progresses as a dancer. Leads with concepts can create new moves and make the dance more interesting for their partners. Followers can adapt better to different leads and styles from the techniques taught.
There is a joke about how beginners like to take intermediate classes, intermediate dancers like to take advanced classes, while advanced dancers take basic classes to improve their basics and body movements...well, I think all the above classes of dancers would find this series an asset. Anybody with an instructional video collection shouldn't miss this. Viva la Salsaville."
(Written later) "I was just re-visiting these DVDs this morning and I realised how much I would be missing if I didn't have them. The level of detail & simplicity is amazing. I've got a friend who has always insisted she had two left feet and two left hands and she gave up on learning salsa a year or so ago. We used some of the material in Volume 1 and by the time we were halfway through, she was so excited and she was dancing so nicely. Now she's convinced salsa is not difficult to learn like she had been misled into believing."
Jesse Sholinsky from Boulder, CO:
Refering to Volume III:
"Finally a video that addresses the nuances of salsa dancing and how to find a connection with your partner! I've been salsa dancing for a little while now and have never taken a class that really addressed what is in this video. I appreciated this video now after having been dancing for a while and I would have really benefited from it when I first started. Definitely another addition to my Salsa Library!"
Dana Romanoff from
Dana is a professional photogapher and has an intriguing website, DanaRomanoff.com
Refering to Volume III:
"Salsaville taught me the fundamentals of salsa movement; something I've never learned before even after taking salsa classes around the country. I learned how to hold my body and move my hips from watching the video and practicing along. As a female dancer, it is really nice to see the male and female role demonstrated separately as well as how the movements work together. My dance partner and I watch the video and pick out sequences we want to learn. Each time we go out dancing we have great new moves."
Tevis Morrow from
Refering to Volume I:
"The detail and organization is excellent; particularly the addition of the written study guide, which I printed out from your website. The study guide is a great idea; it makes it much easier to see where your are going, and check boxes so you know what you have already completed. Attention to detail is way above average; like the section and chapter numbers at the upper right corner of the video image, so you can cross reference where you are in the printed study guide. I have no doubt your background as a computer programmer is partially responsible for this unusual attention to organizational detail. I can have similar tendencies; which is probably why I got an MS Accounting degree.
In watching the DVD, I was impressed how you broke things down into such detail, explaining everything very carefully. This type of attention to instructional detail is difficult to replicate in most class settings, because of the sheer number of students you are trying to teach. There would definitely be advantages for a new salsa student to watch the beginner DVD's before doing salsa class; or watching the DVD between classes to reinforce the things you are learning and maybe absorbing more detail in the comfort of your own home. This would definitely speed up your progress and shorten the learning curve."
Joanna Aldrich from
"After taking some beginner classes, I bought 'Salsa from the Start.' Eric has the amazing ability based on his engineering background to teach intricate details of salsa that are easy to follow and make learning a pleasure! 'Salsa from the Start' clearly speeds up the learning curve and is an extremely helpful tool. I highly recommend these DVDs to anyone who is interested in salsa."
Patrick Holt from San Antonio, TX:
"Basically 'Salsa from the Start' is one of the few truly comprehensive technique dvd series out there. Instead of focusing on a ton of patterns, it includes some very usable "stock" patterns and uses them to help the dancer develop technique in salsa. The dvds follow a very nice progression of levels, with the third DVD really being all technique with an emphasis on Cuban or Contra Body Motion. (And with a little Merengue primer to boot.. ;-) )."
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