Azúcar! News – Week of April 29

Monday is news day on the Azúcar! Blog. This week, we’re gearing up for our Open House this Saturday, introducing our new Twitter account, and giving you a new and awesome way to give someone an Azúcar! gift card!


Spring Open House on May 4
th!
We’ll be kicking off our Spring/Summer session with an Open House this Saturday night! This is a FREE event including 3 workshops as well as social dancing! For more details, check out the Facebook event page.

Spring/Summer session starts next Monday!
We’ll be back with a full array of classes on Monday, May 6th. Our Spring/Summer schedule is already up on our web site, to be sure to check it out at http://azucarottawa.com/schedule

Twitter
We’re on Twitter!
We’ve seen the light, joined the 21st century, and got with it. Connect with us – we’re  @AzucarOttawa. Come chat, ask questions, and get news and updates from the worldwide salsa scene.

smakk logoAzúcar! gift cards available on SMAKK.com!
We know a few of our students got their lessons as gifts for a special occasion. Now we’re making it even easier to give your loved ones the gift of dance – you can send them an Azúcar! gift card from SMAKK.com. Click, order, and have the card send directly to them, electronically or by mail!

This week’s events
For a list of other socials happening this week, check out Salsa à la carte.

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Ana’s Kit for Happy Feet

by Ana Gherasim

The more you dance, the more important your feet become. We’ve talked about protecting your feet before, but I thought I’d talk a bit more about a footcare routine you can do regularly that will keep your soles happy.

There are a lot of footcare products and “kits” out there that you can buy pre-packaged, but their efficiency varies. Through trial and error, I put together a simple, fairly minimal kit for myself, and I thought I’d help you do the same, if you’re so inclined. Here’s what’s in mine:

  1. Epsom salt
    Magnesium sulphate (Epsom salt) is the main ingredient in most bath salt and foot soak mixes, and has great benefits, from relieving aches to relaxing muscles and promoting their proper functioning. You can get a big bag of Epsom salt for cheap at any drug store. Mix ½ cup of salt into a large pan or basin of warm water and soak your feet as long as it feels right. You can also add essential oils for more benefits (see next point).
  2. Tea Tree Oil (or the essential oil of your choice)
    Essential oils can also help relax muscles and refresh tired feet. Tea Tree Oil is my current favourite, but lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon or rose all work well – read up on their individual benefits or ask the staff at your favourite natural health store for a recommendation. A few drops of pure oil are enough for a foot bath.
  3. Pumice stone
    Dancers learn to love well-placed callouses. Having tougher skin in the right spots protects us from pain when we’re dancing for hours. I still like having smooth feet though, and a pumice stone is great for smoothing the skin without being invasive. Gently pumice your freshly soaked feet until your soles feel smooth, then rinse and dry your feet.
  4. Foot cream
    The skin on our feet is prone to dryness, but a good moisturizer helps keep it supple. Look for a thicker, nourishing cream or butter that your skin absorbs slowly (I like the Body Shop hemp line, and Tashodi Body Butters), and massage it thoroughly into your soles, concentrating where you feel the most tension.
  5. Toe spreaders
    This one’s especially for women, since our shoes tend to push our toes together – over time, this pressure builds up and can lead to bunions, especially if you’re genetically prone to them like I am (thanks, nature!). Toe spreaders help realign your toes as well as relax the muscles in your feet. You can get them at most drug stores; they look something like this. They are easiest to use once your feet have been moisturized – just put your feet up and relax for 5-10 minutes!

How do you keep your feet happy and healthy? Share your tips, favourite products, and routines in the comments!

Azúcar! News – Week of April 22

Monday is news day on the Azúcar! Blog. Here are your latest school updates and news from around the Ottawa salsa scene.

The school is officially on break for the next 2 weeks, while we prepare for our Spring/Summer session. Big thanks to everyone who came out to our Salsa & Bachata social last Wednesday! Our Sunday workshops were also a blast, and we look forward to holding more special one-time workshops in the future!

While most of our group classes are on break, Emilie Phaneuf’s special workshops are still happening on Tuesdays (Ladies’ Styling, Dancehall Funk and Reggaeton) and Saturdays (Burlesque).

We are also still offering private lessons – email us at info@azucarottawa.com to schedule a class!


Spring Open House on May 4th!
We’ll be kicking off our Spring/Summer session with an Open House on the evening of May 4th! This is a FREE event including 3 workshops as well as social dancing!

For more details, check out the Facebook event page.

Spring/Summer session starts the week of May 6th!
We’ll be back with a full array of classes on Monday, May 6th. Our Spring/Summer schedule is already up on our web site, to be sure to check it out at http://azucarottawa.com/schedule

This week’s events
For a list of other socials happening this week, check out Salsa à la carte.

Azucar! Latin Dance Company is hiring! … Sort of

by Ana Gherasim

It’s been 7 months since our opening, and I’ve loved every day of it – from teaching and promoting the school, to cleaning up after events and filing our taxes (ok, maybe I’d rather mop than do our taxes, but still). But running a dance studio comes with its share of paperwork, legwork, and all sorts of other kinds of work, and all of it is a bit much for one person (me) to do, so we’re hiring. Sort of.

Internship Opportunity

I’m looking for someone who can commit around 8 hours per week (some weekday/daytime availability would be preferable) between May 6 and August 11, to help me run and promote the school. Duties might range from the mundane (data entry, filing, helping with registration) to the more exciting (event planning, expanding our social media presence, writing articles for this blog…), depending on the person’s skills & interests, and on the demands of the day.

In exchange, you get free access to any and all group classes we run over that period, as well as 1-2 hours of private dance instruction (with me) per week over that same period.

No dance experience required! This would be a great opportunity for a student or anyone interested in learning Latin dance (or in improving quickly!) and willing to help a young entrepreneur out!

How to Apply

Email me at ana@azucarottawa com and tell me:

  1. A little about yourself
  2. Why you’re interested in being our intern
  3. What you’re awesome at that you could help me with
  4. What you’d like to learn in exchange
  5. What your availability is like for May-August

If this works out, I’d love to have an ongoing internship program with a new helper for every session, so if summer doesn’t work for you, check back in August!

Azúcar! News – Week of April 15

Monday is news day on the Azúcar! Blog. Here are your latest school updates and news from around the Ottawa salsa scene.

Hard to believe we’re starting the last week of our Winter 2013 session! Between all the great classes and fun events happening in the studio and the salsa scene, it feels like it’s gone by in the blink of an eye! Thank you for being with us for another session. We’ve got a few special events to wrap up the season, and a fresh session starting soon! Here are all the details:

Bachata and Salsa social this Wednesday!
Whether you’ve taken our Beginner Bachata class this session or if you know your bachata and can’t get enough of it, come show off your moves this Wednesday (April 17) starting at 8pm. We’re opening our studio to all dancers for FREE – bring your friends, and let’s make it a party!
For more details, check out the Facebook event page.

Introduction to Spinning Workshop this Sunday (noon – 1pm)
Take your turns to the next level by learning good spinning technique. This workshop will cover single spin technique, alone and with a partner. Guys, this is for you too!
More details on the Facebook event page.

Dips & Tricks Workshop this Sunday 1:30 – 3:00pm
Learn a fun combination of dips and tricks with Ali and Darnell.
Please note: this is a “partners only” intermediate-level workshop – you must sign up with a partner, and there will be no partner switching during class.

More details on the Facebook event page.

Spring Open House – May 4th!
Our next Open House event will take place on Saturday, May 4. Mark your calendars, and check back for more updates next week!

Next session starts the week of May 6th!
After this week, we’re taking a short break and we’ll be back with a full array of classes on Monday, May 6th. Our Spring/Summer schedule is already up on our web site, to be sure to check it out at http://azucarottawa.com/schedule

This week’s events
For a list of other socials happening this week, check out Salsa à la carte.

Artist feature: N’Klabe

N’Klabe

For this month’s salsa artist feature, I am jumping into the more modern side of things. N’Klabe is a Puerto Rican salsa band that started in 2003; a relatively young group when compared to many other salsa bands. N’Klabe quickly gained popularity in the Latin world for its members’ boyband-ish good looks, and the group’s almost chameleon-like ability to adapt to multiple styles of salsa. N’Klabe’s repertoire covers the entire salsa spectrum, ranging from classic salsa covers, to hard and fast salsa, to salsa romantica, to a fusion of pop and salsa music. Here are a few examples of their work:

N’Klabe – La Murga
A cover of a classic

 

N’Klabe – I love salsa
An extremely popular salsa song often played at salsa socials, great at whipping a crowd into a dance frenzy.

 

N’Klabe – A Puro Dolor
One of Jeff’s favorite romantic salsa songs (he has many)

 

N’Klabe – Mi Vida Eres Tu
A nice romantic pop salsa.

5 Essential Stretches for Dancers

The last 2 weeks, I’ve talked about salsa congresses – how much fun they are, how jam-packed the schedules can get, and how to get the most of out of the experience. I thought this week we could change pace and talk about wellness, and taking care of your muscles after a long night of dancing.

Stretching after dancing is always important, but it’s all the more vital when you’re spending all day on your feet. Salsa tends to take a toll on certain muscles more than others, and the effects can be cumulative – if you ever felt your calves seize up after a long night of dancing, or woke up with painful foot cramps, you know what I mean! Here are a few targeted stretches to keep you injury-free:

  1. Feet
    We’ve talked about the importance of foot care before on this blog. After taking off your dance shoes, use a tennis ball (always a good idea to keep a spare one in your dance bag) and roll your foot over it to relax and stretch the muscles in your arch, in the ball of your foot, and in your toes. Give yourself a quick foot massage – focus on spreading your toes, stretching your arch, and rolling your ankles.
  2. Calves
    This one, along with #3 below, is especially for the ladies. Dancing in heels and with knees slightly bent means your calves and hamstrings never get a break, and will be the first to seize up.  My favourite calf stretch is the stair stretch – find a stairway step (or curb, or any other slight ledge), put the ball of your foot on the step, and slowly drop your heel off the ledge until you feel a stretch in your calf, and hold for 20-30 seconds. Do this with straight knees to stretch your upper calf, then with knees bent to focus on your Achilles tendon. More calf stretches here.
  3. Hamstrings
    In addition to tightness or pain at the back of your thighs, tight hamstrings can lead to pain in your knees, hips and back – none of which is fun. The easiest way to stretch your hamstrings is to keep your legs straight, bend at the waist, and touch your toes – either from a standing or a sitting position. Try to keep your back straight, and bend only at the waist until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, then hold (don’t bounce!) for 20-30 seconds. More hamstring stretches here.
  4. Upper back and shoulders
    This one’s mainly for the guys – your job is to support and direct your partner, and a lot of that support and direction comes from keeping a strong frame through your shoulders and back. But prolonged stress on your back can lead to posture problems, back pain and headaches. To stretch your upper back and shoulders, round out your back and push your arms forward (like you’re trying to reach around a tree trunk). Shoulder and neck rolls also work well to relieve pressure. More upper back and shoulder stretches here.
  5. Anything else that needs it
    Everyone uses their muscles slightly differently, so if something that’s not on this list is aching or feeling tight after you dance, stretch it! If you’re not sure how to stretch a particular muscle, Google “[muscle/body part] stretches”.