Learn Salsa Dancing and Other Latin America Tropical Dances in Costa Rica, #KelsiAbroad Dancing the Night Away in Costa Rica

By: Kelsi Brooks 

I’m Kelsi, a junior Art major from Atlanta, Georgia studying abroad in Costa Rica for a second semester. I will be sharing my journey here on GoEnnounce as I explore Costa Rica. Please continue to follow my posts on Twitter with the hashtag #KelsiAbroad.

International Caribbean Dance Party at Veritas University

During my Fall 2013 semester at Veritas University in Costa Rica, I took a course called the Theory of Latin American Tropical Dance where I learned about the various styles of instrumentation and dances that spanned from Mexico to Argentina and Spain. Coming to Costa Rica, I had begun to dabble in and acquire knowledge of about four different dances (the bachata, the cumbia, the merengue, and salsa) by dancing with a group in high school. This was a great experience, but I believe I learned the most about dancing through the experience I had going to the dance course that was offered at Veritas University on Tuesday and Thursday nights. There we learned the fundamentals of each dance, how to dance with a partner, and how to dance in a group.

I would heavily recommend this dance class to any one who comes to Costa Rica to study abroad, Rosibel Hidalgo is a terrific dance instructor who inspires students to gain confidence in dancing, no matter what level you are. There were many students from Veritas who were beginners in dancing and returned to the States, after their study abroad experience, a much smooth and graceful dancer. This transformation did not just come from within the dance class itself but Rosibel encouraged students to practice their moves and techniques on a public dance floor as well.

Dance Class at Veritas University

In Costa Rica, I learned how to dance the night away with confidence and an eagerness to become more knowledgeable about Latin and Tropical dances. As a group, we organized nights in which we would take taxis to local dance clubs and bars in San Jose. Two of our favorites were Castro’s Bar and El Observatorio. Here we practiced our new dance techniques, built up our Latin and Tropical music repertoire, and stayed active doing some great exercise.

Here are some ways you can learn about Latin American and Tropical dance and music:

1. Listen to various genres and music artists.

My favorites growing up were “La Tortura” by Shakira, “Tengo un Amor” by Toby Love, and “Temperature” Sean Paul (Popular artists in the United States)

2. FInd like minded people who are interested in dance like you.

Join a group that dances on a regular basis, at the college or university that you are studying abroad at or form one for local and International students during your term.

3. Do some research on the origin of popular Latino and Tropical dancing.

Here is an excerpt from a book about the origins of the Salsa called Salsa: El orgullo del barrio by Enrique Romero:

“El boogaloo es el tercer ritmo creado por los latinos en EEUU antes de que hiciera su aparición definitiva en la escena musical. Al igual la pachanga, el boogaloo tuvo una vida breve, se desarrolló entre 1965 y 1969, pero, más importante que su duración es su significación social y musical, tanto para la comunidad latina como para la anglosajona. Las nuevas generaciones de latinos necesitaban un sonido propio porque “hay que dar la batalla a los Beatles y al soul negro. Hay que hacer música que hable de los rascacielos y de calles de sucias… En Nueva York casi nadie recuerda cómo son las palmeras” (32).Jose Manuel Gomez, Guia esencial de la salsa, page, 49. Editorial La Mascara. Valencia, España, 1995.

Traditional Dance Performance in Tamarindo

As music and dance styles are constantly evolving and being transformed, one should continue to do research about Latin American and Tropical dances. Music and dance are art forms born from adversity that have been passed down from one generation to the next; and are concepts that you can expect to remain constant no matter what is going on in the world.

My advice for students who study abroad: keep an open mind about art and music in the country that you are residing in, you may gain another perspective of art forms in your home country.

Stay tuned for my next post and follow #KelsiAbroad on GoEnnounce & Twitter!

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