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ISTD Salsa in India

ISTD Salsa in India

3 January 2018

Conrad Coelho introduces the new ISTD Salsa Syllabus in India

I have been teaching Latin American and Ballroom Dancing in Mumbai, India, since 2006. In my quest to pursue excellence in dance, I travelled to England in 2009 to learn the ISTD Syllabus and in due course gained the ISTD Ballroom Student Teacher and Latin American Associate qualifications. I am also a Salsa enthusiast and have been passionately promoting this dance style in Mumbai, along with other popular club dances such as Bachata and Merengue.

The unique selling point of Salsa has always been its ‘social dancing’ element ie you could frequent a Salsa club and dance Salsa with strangers and socialize. The biggest challenge to a Salsa teacher, however, is devising a syllabus for this dance that could have varied permutations of hand holds, arm positions, turn patterns, shines and styling. Any Salsa enthusiast would agree that once the fundamentals are learnt the possibilities of the combinations are limitless, allowing for personal expressions of the music.

The Salsa scene in India is growing exponentially with almost every city hosting a Salsa party on almost every night of the week. With this increasing popularity of the dance, the need for a relevant and credible syllabus is essential. 

During my interaction with Simon Cruwys, an ISTD Examiner, at a medal test exam day in Mumbai in December 2016, I was pleased to learn that the Authentic and Emerging Dance Committee (formerly the Club Dance Faculty) had recently released the ISTD Salsa syllabus. I was also aware that Susana Montero (world renowned Salsa expert and performer) was part of the Salsa syllabus framing team. So, very excited to learn the revised ISTD Salsa Syllabus, I travelled to the beautiful town of Bournemouth in England in May 2017 and commenced training with Suzanne Hammond, Fellow and Examiner, AED Committee member and co-author of the Salsa syllabus.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the syllabus study material consisted of four books: a Technique Book dedicated to each of the three main styles, LA, NY and Cuban coupled with a separate Study Book dedicated to understanding the rich history and evolution of the music and dance and also covering technical aspects of footwork, spinning, free styling, music definitions and much more. Care was taken to also add chapters on Class Structure, Legal Requirements and Professional Etiquette, which are invaluable to a new teacher entering the profession. It was also a pleasure to meet Cuban Salsa expert and author of the Cuban syllabus book Ian Postle, and gain insights on Cuban Salsa styling. 

Having studied intensively for two weeks with Suzanne Hammond, I was entered for the LA Salsa Associate exam on 20th May 2017 with Miss Anne Lingard as my examiner. I am pleased to announce that I passed with Highly Commended.

Gaining this qualification, I am so very proud to say that I have become the first ISTD qualified Salsa teacher in India.

On my return to India I was very much looking forward to sharing this extensive syllabus with my students and am now excited to announce that many of them will be taking the Salsa medal tests in December at my exam session. I also have four candidates currently studying for the LA Salsa Student Teacher examination.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Cruwys family for hosting me during my stay in England and Simon Cruwys and Suzanne Hammond-Cruwys for your whole hearted support and guidance. 

I now look forward to the ISTD Salsa Licentiate Qualification… Viva La Salsaaa!

Conrad Coelho, 
LA Salsa Associate, Latin American Associate, Ballroom Student Teacher, Mumbai, India

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