Cuban Salsa: Montaña
Montaña (mountain) is a great intermediate move. For a long time I used it in each and every social dance, and I still use it a lot. All dance schools should teach this dynamic move with a lot of small details to fine tune. It really is a signature move of Cuban Salsa.
Montaña is the proper name for a move going up and down like a mountain, and the hand signal for the move is a “M” type of hand motion indicating mountains. A few dance schools call the move Ochenta (80), and that is bad, when we have an excellent name easy to remember.
Video 1 is from “Son De Habana”, Bogotá, Columbia, 2015. This is the standard version of Montaña ending with a full Sombrero but of cause we could also end the move with a “half” Sombrero, or we could use “snake” arms for the ending.
There are several ways to do the Lead’s hook turn. In Rueda de Casino it is common to step the hook turn in place, but in social dancing I often use a walking hook turn instead, depending on the situation.
Video 2 is from the “Danceliker School” in Moscow, Russia, 2016, with Adonis Santiago and Svetlana Ovchinina. At the end of the move Adonis adds an extra Enchufla, in order to prolong the move, going easy, making it more suitable for social music driven dancing.
Rueda figures are condensed mini dances seldom optimised for social dancing. They are simply too compact. In music driven social dancing, there must be room to wiggle, either just to go easy or to express yourself through body motion with “Afro” or Reggaeton attitude.
My tutorial about Setenta por Abajo has another example of how Adornis sometimes adds extra steps to Rueda figures in order to make them more relaxed for social dancing, making it easier to enjoy the music, to play to the music, to be more music driven instead of just rushing ahead.
The third video, Video 3, is an example of the back rocking way to dance Cuban Salsa. The other videos in this tutorial don’t have this problem but the back rocking approach is pretty common, I could easily have shown 10 videos.
Look for the two Enchuflas, the first right after the Sombrero opening, the other right after the hook turn. Note how Amandino and Follow step back on one for Enchufla in the most dynamic fashion.
This could be interesting in a free styling session but when dancing on the partner circle, clockwise and counter clockwise, we should in my opinion honour the circular motion and keep it alive by stepping forward when doing Enchufla, instead of slowing the motion down by stepping back.
Amandino also back rocks in the most dramatic fashion when starting Setenta figures with the Vuelta right turn of American Salsa. But for Sombrero and Vacilala figures he opens up and tap on 7-8, and step forward on one.
In Video 4 from “BailarCasino.pl – Poznańska Szkoła Salsy Kubańskiej”, Polen, 2013, they dance as I preach, and Casino, Cuban Salsa, doesn’t get much better. Both Lead and Follow steps forward on one as a general rule. That does not mean that I like everything I see. We all have our own preferred way to dance Cuban Salsa.
Actually, I never step like Piotr Agassi Chajkowski often does on five. Notice how he puts his right foot behind his left foot, and lock it in and even lifts the heel! We often do that for the hook turn or at least that is one of the ways to start the hook turn, but I never step behind like that on five by default.
This way of stepping on five, Piotr has learned from Yoel Marrero’s MCC 2.0. I have also learned a lot from MCC 2.0, but I don’t like this “decadent” Cuban Dandy step. I strongly believe that we should step as natural as possible in Cuban Salsa. I always try to step as if walking except for special situations. When we walk, we never step behind in this manneristic way.