The slow tempo Cuban dance genre was selected because of the attending audience: all of them had been dancing studio or academy salsa for years. I wanted to provide a complementary experience; to develop skill sets under-emphasised by convention, and these features are key:
A convention of non-verbal vocalisations
Creating sounds with the human voice as a means of learning and propagating rhythm in the African tradition. We began with the vocalisation "gung-ging-gung" simulating the conga open tones of the bolero tumbao instead of an European-centric count of "and-4-and".
Synchronising movement to vocalisations
The lateral cradle-swing of the hips, thus transferring weight, was timed to the "gung-ging-gung" vocalisation. This brings the practice immediately to the First Stage of Independence (FSI), where each student is able to practice this without any external support. FSI is crucial for self-motivated, engaged students who would like to function in a flipped learning environment.
"Flipped Learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter." (from http://flippedlearning.org/cms/lib07/va01923112/centricity/domain/46/flip_handout_fnl_web.pdf)Correlating vocalisations to sonic artefacts in the music
Understanding that the sounds they produce have their counterparts in music, and that this relationship between human-generated sounds and instrument-generated sounds is one of co-operative complementarity, not of dominance-subservience.
Synchronising movement to sonic cues
Once sonic (vocal) and kinesthetic (movement) production is matched, the sonic production is synchronised to the sonic artefacts in the music, resulting, too, in synchronised movement.
Raising the seat up timing
Conventional salsa studio instruction is foot-based i.e. it is the foot-placement to the floor which is correlated to each number of the count. This means that the rest of the body, most importantly the hips and heart, move, and are felt to move after the beat. This causes a dissonance, and even disconnection with the rhythm. (Hearing-impaired dancers have better rhythm because they are taught to feel the low-frequency vibrations of music in their chest.)
The synchronous "gung-ging-gung"-pelvic sway practice moves the seat of timing off the floor, up to hip level.
Fine control of movement
With a tempo range of 80-100bpm, there is twice as much rhythmic distance between each beat in the bolero compared to salsa (160-220bpm). Movements must be made more slowly and smoothly in order to fill these elongated spaces.
The greatest challenge faced by any attendee is a conceptual one. Having spent years being selected for and being optimised in an European learning convention, whom might cope with the change to a non-European learning context?