Cuban Salsa: Juana la Cubana

The move, Juana la Cubana, is one of the most popular intermediate Cuban Salsa moves. A classic. As a beginner, I learned it in three different dance schools in Copenhagen, and the number of videos found on YouTube bear witness to its popularity.

Juana la Cubana is not one of the easiest moves, and many intermediate Leads, having just learned it, tend to fail it in social dancing with other Follows than their class mates, and soon forget the move. But many of these Leads rediscover the move at advanced level, give it another try and now they succeed with almost any Follow and make it part of their standard repertoire.

Video 1 is from “Son De Habana”, Bogotá, Colombia, 2015. I like the videos with Alexander Barrerto and Susana Osorio, they have their own style of measured passion.

Same Video on YouTube

Video 2 is from “Salsafición”, Mexico, 2018. I like the videos with Amando and Anahí. They have a complete online free course in Cuban Sala, definitely worth looking at. It takes a while to get used to the fun style of Amando, though.

Same Video on YouTube

Juana la Cubana in context

Video 3 is from “bailarcasino.pl”, 2017, with some of my favourite dancers, Piotr Agassi and his fantastic “no back rocking” Follow. I don’t like that her name is never mentioned, she deserves a lot of credit.

The video is long, and Juana la Cubana only appears three times but it is superb dancing, and it is inspiring to see the figure in the context of a staged social dance. At 2:00 and 2:40 the move is shown with an alternative exit that I am testing at the moment. At 4:50 we see the standard Juana la Cubana.

Same Video on YouTube

For the discussion

Video 4 is from “Avinciia-Dance”, France, 2015. And I bring it as a warning. These people have several great videos out there, except that they are not typical Cuban Salsa. Juana la Cubana is a classical Cuban move. It is two handed all the way and has a characteristic Alarde to the Lead in the transition from the El Uno part to Exhibela. Both these features, defining the original move, are gone in Amandino’s version.

There is nothing wrong with the move of Amandino, as long as it is just a version “I some times use”. The problem arises if you systematically dilute the look and feel of Cuban Salsa in your dancing, as Amandino has a tendency to do.

Same Video on YouTube

Who is Juana la Cubana?

“Juana la Cubana” is the nickname for Juana Bacallao (born 1925), a Cuban singer and musician. “Juana la Cubana” is a 1988 hit song by La Pura Sabrosura. “Juana la Cubana” is a B-movie from 1994. None of the three are related. That is “Juana la Cubana” seems to be a metaphor or archetype for a sensual Cuban woman?

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