Afro-Cuban Somatic isolations

w/ Teddy Olaso & Asst. Instructors

Saturday, Nov. 27/10 – June 2011 (20 Sessions)

6 pm – 7:15 pm @ Martha Hicks School of Ballet

2384 Yonge St., 2nd Fl., Canada Post Bldg.

$250 (before Nov. 19) / $275 (before Nov. 27) / $300 after


Have you ever wondered what causes lack of coordination, clumsiness, stiffness, or the meaning of the phrase “trying too hard,” especially when executing body isolations and styling figures in general?  Yet why do others seem to be able to do them with very little effort?  What sets them apart?  What are those factors that make someone exceptional?  Why, even with so many lessons, nothing changes other than an increase of the amount of choreography for most people?  

Are you constantly told to “just practice” and “you’ll get better in time” without a specific process to get there?  And so, you try again and again, but you don’t land that performance spot you wish; you clearly see that there’s a gap between you and the people you use as an inspirational model for dance.  You wonder why your dance opportunities are limited and only receive “small talk” compliments at best.  Worse, you may be even oblivious to any these problems that limit you.

Perhaps you are one of the lucky “fast learners” and have never experienced any of these challenges.  But then how do you improve technically and artistically from any Salsa lesson or type of dance you are learning?  We are not referring to your pick-up ability, nor is it about how fast or powerful you can be--which are important factors, but are really just part of a larger equation.   Instead, what exercises are you learning that will enable you to go beyond your natural limits when it comes to controlling the size, speed, direction, and energy of your movements?  Are these exercises only done within the context of the choreography being taught to you wherein these elements can be easily missed let alone be improved upon on its own?  In these classes, Afro-Cuban choreography, technique, and, most importantly, the right mental framework to train will be covered to produce real change right before your very eyes.

Somatic Isolations

Somatic movement is an umbrella for many distinct disciplines. It involves techniques and approaches that focus on the individual developing and deepening a sense of the self within the body.  Somatic isolation is similar yet also considerably different from regular body isolation or styling classes.  While it shares the basic directional and routine breakdown of a regular body isolation or styling class, it equally focuses on theory and exercises on how to make your movements more even (lines), centered (wholesome), supple (relaxed), and with even or contrasting energies (sharp, smooth, or a combination).  Hence, this will create natural and effortless movements that many refer to as someone being “gifted” or born with.  These classes are rarely, if not at all, offered in Salsa classes as it requires instructors who are knowledgeable with the mechanics of the human body and its relation to the nervous system, muscles, etc., as well as students who are patient and determined enough to create lasting change. Simply doing one class after the other or another type of dance will have minimal success. One will end up only doing different types of choreography with the exact same problems, unless there are specific somatic exercises to address them, or one belongs to the 1% of the population that is naturally gifted enough to pick up movements flawlessly (it’s easier to win the lottery than be a part of this 1%, we think).

Course Outline

 Throughout the entire duration of the classes, students will be covering the major isolations required, somatic exercises to develop control of the movements, and Afro-Cuban Salsa styling (Yoruba gods and Cuban Rumba) to express these movements.  There will be a constant repetition of all the material covered in order for students to remember, internalize and gradually progress with qualitative practice.

 All participants will learn how to isolate their bodies gradually with these 7 major isolations:

  • Head
  • Shoulders
  • Rib Cage
  • Ascending Body Wave
  • Descending Body Wave
  • Cuban Roll
  • Hip Roll

Once the student fully internalizes the movement and learns how to control the speed, size, direction and energy of his/her movements, any other body isolation styling routine learned in the future will only simply be a matter of memorization of sequencing.  This can serve as solid foundation literally for any kind of dance involving body isolations.  Therefore, somatic exercises will covered to achieve these goals, such as:

  • Isolated Centering
  • Active Relaxation
  • Coordinated & Isolated Beginning & Ending
  • Internal/External Sound-Based Training
  • Energy Projection Play
  • Size, Speed and Directional Control

While all participants are learning the major isolations and the somatic exercises, Afro-Cuban movements will be introduced and taught, using everything that the student is learning.  Afro-Cuban movements involving various members of the Yoruba pantheon (Shango—the sky god; Oya—the spirit goddess; Babaluu—the healing god; Yemaya—the water goddess; Elegua—the messenger god; etc.), as well as basic-intermediate Cuban Rumba, will be the module wherein all these exercises will come into fruition.  Once the student is able to integrate the required isolations and somatic exercises, participants will not only learn the sequencing of these movements, but will have a better understanding on how to achieve a level wherein these movements can be executed with effortless complexity.

Who Is It Beneficial For?

Due to the nature and design of the class, it is actually beneficial for literally every level of student.  Those who are new will find themselves challenged, and those who already have some or advanced skill can be challenged to a higher point by increasing the level of artistic and technical challenge.  The goal is simple…once the student fully understands the movement theory and its application to the Afro-Cuban choreography involved, it really only becomes a matter of time and repetition before the participants start to witness in their own bodies the change they truly desire.

This also gives an opportunity to those who have never learned Afro-Cuban styling to get a taste of the challenging dance that is a more suitable form of styling for Salsa, as Salsa has evolved from Afro-Cuban. Those who have taken Afro-Cuban workshops or classes with Ana Machado will benefit especially because they will get to review some movements covered in the past and at the same time learn new ones but with a greater emphasis on execution.  This class is also the Afro-Cuban study group that we mentioned we will be holding for the year 2010-2011 after we finished Ana’s classes last summer.  In addition, those who attended these classes in the past will receive a 15% discount on top of the above-mentioned prices.  A class outline will be provided covering all exercises, so everyone is reminded what they need to keep in mind whenever any choreography is executed.  Furthermore, I would like individuals to record themselves on video so they see their progression throughout the coming months.  Last but not the least, I will make sure that Ana Machado herself teaches one of our study group/class session at the very end of the session at no extra cost to any of the participants.



Please email Teddy at  to register and to ensure that this class is suitable for you