Dance Performance Today by JD Smith (Boston)

The other night after a really hard and satisfying salsa workout, one of my salsa dance buddies and I went out for a bite and a beer. I mentioned that I was trying to come up with a topic to write about for this column and if she had any ideas that I might develop. She immediately came out with a good one, the current trends in salsa performance.

This is a subject, as it turns out, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to myself. I began thinking about which performances at the various congresses I’ve attended stand out in my memory.

Invariably, the ones I remember best and enjoyed most are the ones that feature some kind of dramatic theme(s) worked in and around innovative and original choreography.

I am not alone in my enjoyment of this kind of performance if the strong audience response to this kind of thing is any indication. There are some truly fertile and creative minds at work out there.

However the more I thought about it, the more I pondered what I perceive as a disconnect between the musicians who create and play this music and the performers who dance it. Unless I’m wrong or very uninformed, I do not see the close association of composers and arrangers in the salsa field and the top flight dance performance groups.

In the so called classical world of music, there have always been these kinds of collaborative efforts between musicians and dancers. What I mean by this is the kind of cooperative unions that bring the most talented composers and choreographers together to present new and original performances.

The question I’ve been asking myself is why aren’t these two worlds communicating more effectively in the field of Latin Music? Given the long history of an extremely close relationship between Latin dance and music, I find this question puzzling.

If I were directing a dance company, or leading a band, I would certainly be seeking opportunities to work collaboratively by commissioning new and original music to be performed with new and original choreography.

Imagine if you will someone like let’s say, Eddie Palmieri, or Jimmy Bosch, composing a new work to be performed by Eddie Torres dance company or any of the great and talented dance performance groups currently on the scene. Now to me, that would really be something to see at a Conrgesso.

Heralded and trumpeted with a lot of fanfare and pomp, this kind of thing could have the potential to be major artistic events that could easily , if properly planned, gain solid mainstream support from established arts foundations and similar organizations who grant funding for these kinds of projects.

Personally, I think it is an idea whose time has truly arrived. Now who will be the first to step up to the plate?