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Hailing from its native land of Cuba, the Afro-Cuban rhythms of salsa dance immigrated to America during the 20th century. The contagious groove permeated urban cities across the country, eventually becoming an artistic landmark in New York City and Los Angeles. The following paper addresses how the genre of salsa dance endured stylistic, social, and cultural changes during its migration overseas. Specifically, this paper contextualizes salsa dance in the rich history of the New York City and Los Angeles dance communities. By exploring how L.A style salsa dance teams became a global phenomenon, this essay articulates how the popularization of salsa dance was one element of Latinx culture that rose to the mainstream influence in America. Scholarship on the cultural tensions between Latinx and Mexican salsa dancers in Los Angeles is applied to demonstrate how the increasing popularity and competitiveness of this dance style caused a divide between these ethnic groups. Finally, the paper concludes with an analysis of how Los Angeles-based dance company CONTRA-TIEMPO Activist Dance Theater captures the complexity of salsa dance in relation to the social and political landscape of minority groups. In doing so, this essay is ultimately able to demonstrate how these distinct changes made to salsa dance over the course of its migration are omnipresent in the performance of the dance style in the present day.

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This Paper was selected under double-blind peer review as one of the best academic papers in dance of by a review committee consisting of members of the LMU National Dance Education Organization Student Chapter, Dance department students, William H. Hannon Librarians, Dance faculty and an external scholar.

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