Salsa is not my first love, but it has become one of the primary loves of my life. I’m an introvert at heart, but I work in environments that require a lot of interactions with people. I was blessed to discover salsa at a young age during my teenage years, and it has helped me to not only express myself but to communicate with people in my work as well as in my personal life through a common passion.
The multidimensional aspects of connection that take place during salsa have allowed me to learn and grow so much as a person through this art form; it is the gateway that permits me to fully express my love for movement, culture, and art. Partner dancing in particular has given me the unique ability to connect with both another person and myself through music and movement on a physical, intellectual, and spiritual level.
Our first realm of connection when we begin dance always occurs on the physical realm. Through leading and following, call and response, we develop a sense of care for our partners. Moreover, connecting with the frame and shaping the way our bodies are moving back and forth on the floor cues us into the balance of body awareness so that two bodies become one — gliding effortlessly across the floor. We become more aware of something as simple as leading our partner in space, with the knowledge that there are others dancing around us whom we must also be aware and careful of too.
As we become more adept in dance, we begin to connect with our partners on an intellectual realm. Dancing is an expressive art that challenges you to learn the skills and techniques that enable you to speak individually through the dance. It’s a language of its own; we teach our minds a new way of communicating — one in which we speak through our bodies to both others and to ourselves. It is a constant mental exercise to find the balance between what you and your partner want to express, and connecting that to the music and the groove of what the song is telling both dancers.
Speaking, however, is just the beginning. When the physical and intellectual connection come together, they lead us to the spiritual realm. This is a place few people understand, but it is what I call the dancers’ Nirvana: understanding what we want to say through dance and fully embodying it.
Connecting with your partner on a spiritual level also means connecting with their excitement and joy. When I can reach this stage, it feels akin to being in a trance; it’s like a state of constant meditation — a place in which you clear your thoughts, stop worrying about the projections of people around you, and let go to fully enjoy the present moment.
Moving through these three realms takes time, and they do not necessarily happen in consecutive order. You might find yourself shifting from one realm to the next and then shifting back. Ultimately, the goal is to get to a place where you can experience dance from a balanced place of all three realms. Reaching this allows you to connect with your own vulnerability and learning to be open to being you. It connects you to your roots, grounds you, and helps you learn to expand this aura outward.
My personal experience with connecting with others while dancing differs between partners, as does the intensity and intention, but a feeling of connection is always there. In short, the connection we experience through dance is essential for our expression and enables us to be both free and connected all at once.
Angie Egea, Masacote Dance Company
Angeline Egea is a dancer and an instructor for Masacote Entertainment. She is also the Afro-Latin dance specialist and resident artist at Hyde Square Task Force, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping inner-city youth build communities through music and dance. Angie believes dance is a wonderful vehicle through which people can better express and connect with themselves. Connect with her to learn more about her work: (Facebook, Instagram: @angiegea)
Photography Credit: Enrique Yaptenco Photography