A synthesis of mesmerizing Afro-Cuban beats and sultry Caribbean rhythms, salsa (Spanish for "sauce") has a wide-ranging appeal that extends far beyond the Latino community. The documentary EL ESPIRITU DE LA SALSA follows a diverse group of ten New Yorkers as they discover the transformative power of salsa dance
Academy Award®-nominated filmmakers Jon Alpert, Francisco Bello, Matthew O'Neill and Tim Sternberg follow ten amateur dancers who prepare for their first salsa performance with just six weeks of rehearsal under the tutelage of celebrated salsa dance instructor Tomas Guerrero of the Santo Rico Dance Company.
Ranging from the Hudson River's revitalized waterfront to the streets of Spanish Harlem to the glamour of Times Square, the documentary spotlights people from all over New York City - including an E.R. doctor from Battery Park, a heartbroken Wall Street trader, a Midtown Manhattan policeman and a macho Queens construction contractor - who have just one thing in common: a desire to invigorate their lives through the magic of dance.
Each week, Tomas Guerrero meets with the dancers in his Spanish Harlem dance studio, guiding them with the words "pride, power and perfection." Part demanding drill sergeant and part insightful psychologist, he challenges his students to stretch themselves physically and emotionally as he puts them through their paces.
Guerrero's hands-on, sometimes-confrontational teaching style inspires his students to face their fears and challenge their limitations, and provokes a confrontation when one of his dancers boils over with emotion.
After two months of intense training, the day of the debut performance finally arrives. Facing a full house of family and friends, Guerrero's troupe thrills its supporters and wins over the doubters in a triumphant display of art, will and love, proving his assertion that everyone can learn to salsa.
EL ESPIRITU DE LA SALSA features a red-hot soundtrack of music from legendary salsa masters Tito Puente, Eddie Santiago and Héctor Lavoe, as well as contemporary pop superstars such as Norah Jones.
Taking its name from two of salsa's creative centers, Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico, the Santo Rico Dance Company has influenced salsa style all over the world since 1995.
EL ESPIRITU DE LA SALSA was executive produced by Jon Alpert and Sheila Nevins; directed by Francisco Bello and Tim Sternberg; produced by Francisco Bello, Matthew O'Neill and Tim Sternberg; supervising producer, Sara Bernstein; editor, Paula Heredia; cinematographers, Jon Alpert, Francisco Bello and Matthew O'Neill; original music by Daniel Freiberg.