Cuban Salsa: Alardes to the Body (Arm Checks)
This basic figure pops up in dance videos here and there, and I have traced its first known occurrence back to the “SALC” DVD #1, where the move is called “Arm Checks”. That is, slow movements of one of the Follow’s arms over not just the head but the body of the Lead, almost like pulling a blanket over your head.
The “Body Alardes” are slow, each takes a half count of eight, 1-2-3 or 5-6-7. The Follow walks behind the Lead’s back and is lead forward by the arm movements and the slight turning of the Lead. The move works well with 2, 4 or 6 Alardes to the body. The most common variation is right-to-right handed starting from Enchufla but normal handhold is also possible.
The first four videos are from the legendary “¡Salsa a la Cubana!” DVD #1 of 5, made and published by Eric Freeman, Boulder, Colorado, USA, 1999, “www.salsaville.com”. The location is Santiago de Cuba, featuring the instructors Ibert Vásques Moreno and Sunny Soriano Malo de Molina. On the “SALC” DVD, the body Alardes are not shown as a basic figure but in a sequence of figures starting with El Dedo and with DQN at the end. I have edited two “SALC” videos in order to show body Alardes as a basic figure, but I also show the original videos.
Four Alardes to the body
Video Clip #1 shows four Alardes to the body as a basic figure.
Video 2 shows the four Alardes to the body in a sequence of moves starting with El Dedo (a right-to-right handed Vacilala) and ending with Dile Que No.
Instead of going into Dile Que No when coming out of the last Alarde, the Lead could just as well give the Follow a right turn on 5-6-7
Six Alardes to the body
Video Clip #3 shows six Alardes to the body as a basic figure.
Video 4 shows six Alardes to the body in a sequence of moves beginning with El Dedo.
Using normal handhold
Video Clip 5 is a few seconds from a Yoel Marrero video. It shows two Alardes to the body using Enchufla with normal handhold.
What to call “Arm Checks”?
I am not sure of the intended meaning of “checks” in “Arm Checks”, but it could mean “slow”, “keeping something in check”. Since the name “Arm Checks” makes little sense to most dancers, I have considered calling “Arm Checks” for Enchufla con Alardes Lentos but the arm movements don’t require Enchufla to start them. Enchufla is only the most common way. Enchufla might be the best way to start “Arm Checks” but the arm movements themselves have much more in common with the Rodeo move.
I have decided, but I am ready to change my mind if presented with good arguments, to call “Arm Checks” for “Alardes to the body” or “Body Alardes”. I have not found a good Spanish name easy to understand and pronounce in an international context.
I am a great fan of the old SALC videos from Santiago de Cuba, at the end of the last century. Great inspiration. But we should not look too much at the footwork of the dancers but more at the overall picture of many of the SALC videos.
They are Cubans born and raised dancing. They just step without thinking about it with no plan or system except for their individual preferences and bad habits. Often they step junk if you start analysing the steps. No consistency.
The rest of the world, learning to dance as grownups, need a system, a comprehensive approach with generalised and optimised stepping easy for anyone to reproduce in a logical manner.