Pilates is for everybody. Pat Guyton Pilates, Inc. is fortunate to have Bantaba World Dance and Music at the studio. The good vibes from the Salsa dancers come alive in classes and workshops. Sam Gill PhD, has researched and taught world dance history for more than a decade at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Jenny Gill received her degree in Ethnomusicology from the University of Washington in 2000. Carlos Martin is from Venezuela and has grown up with a strong love for salsa dance and music.
Sam began his private Pilates sessions with me a year ago. We had fun sharing our teaching experiences and our mutual love of movement. Sam’s body began to change and some of the imbalances that he felt in his movement were allowing him to see the challenges his students were having in class. We began to consider an experiment of teaching Pilates to Salsa students to see how the Pilates movement education might enhance their enjoyment of dance.
I would not say that I taught Pilatesalsa. I taught beginning mat and reformer. As the students began to understand the exercise, I could introduce performance concepts within the exercise that applied to dancing. We arranged the six reformers so that they faced each other in partners of three. The group was doing Stomach Massage, the twist. Each of the students were working the twist and lifting the torso. They were not seeing their partner on the reformer on the opposite side of the room. I asked them to send energy to their partner as they returned from the twist to the center. The whole room elevated! The bodies got longer and the smiles erupted.
One of the difficulties that serious students of dance experience is the focus on technique within their body. Partnering requires matching energy with another person. Finding a good partner demands two people who have technique and an ability to create a movement relationship. The ability to teach Pilates and performance enhancement is intuitive and delightful.
This class has allowed the students to learn about their body and the limitations they have that cannot be addressed within a dance class. The students have expressed that understanding of individual physical imbalances can be one reason for struggle in mastering a dance technique. They have all agreed that Pilates education has given them tools outside of the classroom that bring greater freedom and ease when they are rocking to the Salsa rhythm.
Through his work with young people, Sam has developed an approach that teaches all dancers both “lead” and “follow” parts—a significant innovation in the form and in the benefits to the participants. SalsAmigos was recently awarded a multi-year grant from the Youth Opportunities Board of the City of Boulder. For more information go to blog.salsa-challenge.com