Salsa comes in many 'flavors,' from mild to hot and spicy

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Salsa is danced in various styles, as demonstrated by Gia Jaggers and Sandro Virag, but all are based on the original Cuban style. CINDA SEAMON

Salsa today is much like Swing or Jitterbug - everyone seems to know some version of it or at least has heard of it.

Salsa is a popular form of social dance that originated in eastern Cuba. Different versions of the Salsa developed in Puerto Rico, Colombia, Los Angeles and New York - and each one is danced differently.

Salsa is one of the most popular Latin dances in America today. Salsa is not only gaining popularity in the U.S., but also in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and many other countries.

Salsa is suited to every age group, the music is fun and lively and every Salsa song is danceable. Because of the widespread acceptance, more and more individual styles started popping up.

One of those is Miami Style, influenced by the Cuban culture who immigrated to the United States around the Miami area.

Dancers do not shift their body weight greatly, as in other styles. Instead, dancers keep their upper body still, while concentrating more on the leg work or footwork. The moves are demanding in a more circular motion.

New York style Salsa is danced in a straight line. While dancers are dancing as partners, many times they break off from each other and both dancers will do their own steps without actual physical connection. Then, they will come back to each other to reconnect.

There are now Salsa national competitions as well as world competitions. These championships showcase all styles of Salsa -it's very interesting to see how one dance has transformed into many.

Salsa is not just a social dance anymore; it is becoming a formal competitive style. There are Salsa classes, workshops, coaching and competitions.

I love teaching Salsa because it is so easy for people to learn initially. The basic elements are easy pick up and retain. It is also one of the easiest dances to lead and follow.

The music is also a helpful tool because the beat is so pronounced and consistent. Due to the speed and the nature of the movements of Salsa, it is a great workout and is great exercise for the whole body.

Don't miss out on an opportunity to learn this dance. You will be surprised at how many places you will hear Salsa music today. And if you know the dance, you can show your skills on the dance floor. What fun!

Sandro Virag is a partner and instructor at Hilton Head Ballroom Dance Studio of Hilton Head, located in Bluffton at Seaquins Ballroom. hiltonheadballroom.com

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