THE HOTTEST SALSA & BACHATA ARTISTS
Sergio Jasso was born in Mexico City, where he grew up listening to salsa and cumbia. Since that time, he was distinguished and recognized for his unique abilities in music and dance. In 2000, he moved to San Diego and formed his company, “Onfire,” and gained great success.
In 2006, Sergio and Gaby Equiz Jasso joined to form the dance company, “Alma Latina” and immediately had great successes in their first year, gaining a reputation nationally and internationally with their unique style of dance and superior training programs and distinctive choreography. Now, Alma Latina is the most award winning salsa dance team on the West Coast, with over 32 awards in multiple divisions.
Sergio and Bianca Chapman, a member of the Alma Latina professional team in California, are currently ranked 2nd in the world in the On2 Professional Salsa division of the World Latin Dance Cup 2012. Last year, they won 2nd place in the Professional Bachata division. Recently, they placed 2nd in the Los Angeles International Bachata Congress Professional Competition.
Francisco Vazquez is the Director and Master Choreographer of Los Rumberos Dance Company. He is an accomplished Instructor and Professional Entertainer now residing in Los Angeles, California. He first became famous, when he and his brothers, Johny Vazquez and Luis Vazquez, pioneered the L. A. Salsa scene in the 90s. Francisco Vazquez has become known around the world, as the King of Salsa and the legendary Pioneer of L.A. Style Salsa (on 1).
For the last 26 years, Francisco has developed innovative ideas and paved the way for salsa across the globe. Famous for introducing acrobatics, combining tricks with complex hand patterns, fast foot work and crazy spins. He transformed the dance scene, winning numerous competitions, along with his brothers and their dance companies.
For many years, he has travelled the world to perform and share his vast knowledge. And together for ten years with his dance partner, Monica Gonzales, they brought their inspiration and musical productions to a new level! Francisco has traveled all over Europe, Asia, Central and South America. He has had the honor of dancing with many talented dancers, including Charlene Rose, Teria Morada, Daniela Settanni, Stephanie and Cindy Stevenson, Jennifer Silvas, Diana Sanchez, Ruby Karen and Marilyn Garduno and Shakaia Francois.
Francisco's eye for detail, taste for precision and discipline to technique are part of what makes him so special. He is able to effortlessly interpret the music and bring to you the essence and passion, the heart of salsa, thru his performance and choreography. Currently, you can catch him in Los Angeles. He is open for private lessons, group classes, performances, workshops and customized choreography.
Mike Diaz director of Fuego y sabor Latino. His company is specialized in Latin rhythms and it is the ONLY Company of Colombian Salsa style on the West Coast. Instruction, Choreographies & Entertainment!
Stephanie Stevenson is a world class Salsa dancer, choreographer and instructor. She holds numerous titles including "LA Top Women's Champion." Stephanie has choreographed for some of the biggest shows on television; including "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance." She has served as judge on International TV and participated as dancer/choreographer on many International dance shows. She is married and about to give birth to her second child. She is widely recognized as one of the top female salsa dancers in the world.
Grizzly Hidriago is a latin jazz and cabaret specialist. Originally from Caracas, Venezula, Grizzly has been dancing from a young age and is trained in virtually every style of dance from Ballet to the Cabaret and Theatre Arts. He has made a name for himself in the salsa world with two championship wins in the cabaret category at the World Latin Dance Cup.
Grizzly Hidriago is known for his big tricks and precise technique as well as his innovative choreography. He is also the director of Grizzly Dance Company, based in Los Angeles, which performs and competes at events around the world. Grizzly is also a promoter for the Venezuela Salsa Congress and Grizzly Dance Fest.
Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia J.J. Villar had several career changes before breaking into the Entertainment Industry. Villar has traveled the world as a dancer / choreographer / director performing with some of the most amazing artists to date. With credits such as Latin Super Star, Pilar Montenegro, Disco Queen Gloria Gaynor, Reggae Pop Artist Triniti, Hip Hop Superstar Pras from the Fugees, young sensation Colby O’Donis of Konvict music, R&B sensation Toni Braxton, Taylor Dane and Sheila E to name a few. His talent and drive has allowed him to be a part of numerous music videos, industrials, tours, films, stage shows, and commercials.
In the year 2000, Villar created his own entertainment company. Feel The Music Entertainment quickly became a place for people to find excellent talent and well produced shows for any type of venue and occasion. Directing, choreographing and producing shows became a passion for Villar as he soon linked up with Choreographer / Director Frank Boehm. Later that year he started assisting Mr. Boehm by choreographing and directing multimillion dollar corporate events and trade shows for companies such as Panasonic, IBM, McDonalds, Cisco Systems, Merle Norman and CES.
Villar was later taken under the wing of Director, Producer, Choreographer Carey Ysais of the “Choreographer’s Ball the Carnival”, the most respected dance show in the world. J.J. became partners with Ysais, and worked alongside him to choreograph and direct the showcase in L.A, London, Japan, and Australia.
In 2004, Villar began teaching at the world famous studio, Millennium Dance Complex. JJ traveled all over the United States, Europe, and Japan teaching masterclasses and workshops in all different genres of dance. Villar served as dance captain for the Toni Braxton show at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. He worked to help Direct and Choreograph the world famous X Burlesque show at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino. JJ also consulted for different shows including “Burlesque The Show”. Villar has been choreographing the extravagant New Years high rollers event for the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino for several years alongside Barry Morgan and other events such as the MGM & Mandalay Bay Employee of the Year Awards, Special Holiday events at Studio 54 and other nightclubs, Comic Con, Con Expo, and more. 6 years ago, JJ had reached one of his life long dreams as a performer when he booked one of the biggest performing role of his career. It has always been a dream for JJ to dance with the biggest legend in music and now you can find him on stage dancing in, The Michael Jackson ONE show by Cirque Du Soleil. Shortly after he received a performing contract he was offered a coaching and choreographer contract for his specialty skill as the flag coach for the show. Although Cirque takes up most of his time, JJ still finds time to choreograph stage shows and productions such as the 2014 American Billboard Awards for Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull, The Temptations, Boyz II Men, Pointer Sisters, and the 4 Top. With credits like Dancing With The Stars, Miss USA, The Ellen Degeneres Show and many others, JJ has had a successful career of over 20 years in the business.
Bio coming soon.
Daiana Koren is a professional dancer/choreographer and instructor. She is of Romanian descent but was born in Haifa, Israel. She has choreographed for film, stage, television and special events in Los Angeles, New York and New Jersey. Daiana is a versatile dancer who specializes in Brazilian Samba, Musical Theatre, Ballet, Contemporary, Jazz, Hip Hop and Bachata. She has toured for Nike & Reebok and choreographed as well as taught for special events such as the Annual Hollywood Awards, Israeli festivals in LA & Miami and Move production's Regional & National dance competitions. She holds a BFA Degree in Theatre Arts & Dance from California State University Los Angeles and California Institute of the Arts. Daiana speaks Hebrew, Romanian, Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish and is also an elementary school teacher.
He was born July 3,1950 in the same hospital as Tito Puente; raised by his Puerto Rican parents in Spanish Harlem, a.k.a. El Barrio, New York City. Torres's mother, a hospital worker; his father an inventive plumber, sparked Eddie's knack for inventing. No dancers or musicians in the gene pool to Eddie's best knowledge.
He was merely 12 years old when he caught the dancing bug. Just back in New York after a two year sojourn in Puerto Rico, he developed a puppy-love crush on a girl from the hood. Shyly, he asked her to the movies and she made a counter-offer: why didn't he come to her house? That Saturday, when Renée opened the door, Eddie was surprised to see a tall, good-looking guy sitting on the couch. Renée whispered apologetically, "He's my ex-boyfriend. He's looking to make up with me." Then, in an attempt to break the tension, she asked Eddie, "Do you know how to Latin?" She wanted to know if he knew how to dance Latin. Fresh from Puerto Rico, his confidence emboldened him. Renée leaned over the record player and dropped the needle on the groove of Eddie Palmieri's Azucar Pa' Ti. Not knowing a thing about leading position or about timing, the young suitor started jumping around, then glanced over to collect looks of approval. But his rival on the couch sat clamping his jaw closed, holding back a burst of laughter. Two minutes into the number, Renée retired her inexperienced partner, pulled her ex-boyfriend up and explained in a professorial manner, "Let me show you the way WE do the Latin." It was plain to see that there was a lot of coordination, plenty of moving together and all sorts of turns. The more they danced, the worse Eddie felt. After the dance demonstration, his love interest pulled him to one side and explained, "He really wants to make up with me." From that moment, Eddie made himself a promise, "This is never going to happen to me again. I'm going to learn how to dance."
The idea of learning "to dance Latin" became an obsession. Schooling took the form of going to all the clubs and hanging out with all the good dancers--watching, imitating, asking, and being a pest. Slowly he started to learn the foundations of the dance.
In those days, not many clubs allowed teenagers in, but the famous Hunts Point Palace opened every Sunday from noon to midnight, and for $5, they presented five top Latin bands, back-to-back, on two stages. Fifteen-year-old Eddie punched the clock when the club opened and sauntered out at closing time, exhausted but determined to learn.
Eight years later, he was teaching and competing in dance contests and garnering a reputation amongst the good dancers as being one of the best. One night, while he was dancing in a head-to-toe white outfit, in a club lit with nothing but black lights, his sister pulled him off the floor. It seems Renée, his childhood flame, spotted a slick dancer and wanted an intro. In the dark, Eddie's sister did the honors."Renée, I want you to meet Eddie." Upon recognizing the skillful dancer, she froze as if she'd seen ten ghosts. Eddie wanted to dance with her desperately, he wanted to thank her, "You're the reason why I got into this." But she disappeared and that was the last time he saw her.
LEARNING THE BASICS
There were no studios where one could learn how to dance this style, so the nightclub scene was the nurturing ground for aspiring dancers. And not all dancers were generous. "There were dancers who didn't even want you to look at their steps, 'cause they didn't want you to learn: That's private stock!" Lucky for Eddie, he had a knack for picking up steps just by watching. He observed dancers like Louie Máquina, who got his nickname from his "real rapid-fire footwork"; Gerard, a dancer known for his scandalous antics on the floor; George Boscones, the teacher of the newcomers and especially Jo-Jo Smith, a professional jazz teacher with a unique style of mambo jazz dancing.
The pros of that time were Freddy Rios, the Cha Cha Aces, Tommy Johnson and the one team who were the greatest influence of all, the prima donna team: Augie and Margo. After the first time Eddie saw them at Roseland, he was in such a state of euphoria that he couldn't sleep for weeks. He kept thinking, "I want to be Augie and I have to find Margo."
As soon as he learned to hold his own, he set up shop as a dance teacher, because he wanted to share his knowledge. Armed with a rented phonograph and a bunch of friends, he was soon in business. With no concept of timing, technique or theory, his instruction consisted of rudimentary pointers: "You hear that accent? That means you break forward with the left foot and when you hear it again, you break back." This is known as dancing on two, Eddie would soon find out. Breaking on two meant that of a four beat measure, you stepped forward with the left foot on the second beat and on the second beat second measure you stepped back on the right foot. According to Eddie's mentor, Tito Puente, that's why beat two is so popular, because it compliments the tumbao of the conga and the rhythm section.
From 1975 to about 1986, the Corso nightclub on East 86th Street became home to the second generation of the Palladium era. Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays found Eddie Torres strutting his Harlem steps to the likes of T.P. and Machito. From the beginning, Tito Puente's music really spoke to him. This was during the years that Puente had the ass-kicking band with Santos Colón. Testing his skill in dance contests, Torres garnered so many awards that at one point, Marty Ahret, Corso's owner, asked him to sit out the contests and judge.
One Sunday evening, as Tito Puente came off the stage, Eddie approached the maestro to pay his compliments. Tito perceived Eddie's flair, "You've got talent for dancing. You need to do something more than just spend all your time here dancing socially." "There's no mentors," Eddie retorted. Tito whipped around, "Forget about mentors. Develop your own ideas and put a little act together. Figure it out yourself." Emboldened, Eddie persisted, "If I had an act, could we do some work together?" "Get something together and show me." All Eddie ever wanted to do was to dance with Tito's band.
Eight years lapsed before Eddie met Maria, his future wife and partner. His years of dancing and observing had evolved into a unique technique and style. Maria, a children's gymnastics teacher, felt rather intimidated at first, but quickly became Eddie's best student, learning faster than anyone he'd ever taught. "I would do a step and she would reflect it right back to me." But her style was provincial and lacked the Big Apple pizazz. Prompted by the possibilities, Eddie choreographed his first two tunes, El Cayuco and Palladium Days by Tito Puente, and trained Maria. In less than a year, she became a good stage dancer, but she didn't have any experience in club dancing. So when Eddie introduced Maria at the clubs as his new partner, his friends didn't think she had it. A couple of years later, they conceded, "You know, Eddie, she's getting pretty good." By the third year, they agreed, she was the best partner he'd ever had.
Filled with enthusiasm over his partner work, Eddie decided it was time to talk to Tito. Performing at Christopher's Cafe, in El Barrio, Mr. Puente spotted Eddie, "You're the dancer from the Corso." Torres offered him a makeshift business card, and pitched, "Do you think I can come over with my partner and demonstrate for you these two numbers that I choreographed? If you like them, maybe we could do a show with you?" Tito did not mince words, "You know, I'll be honest with you, Eddie. I'm very busy right now. I don't think I'll have a chance to call you...." Eddie frowned. "...But I'll tell you what I'll do. I'm going to introduce you to my musical director, Jimmy Frisaura. Tell Jimmy exactly what you want in the music, how you want us to play it, and in our next concert, I'll feature you with your partner." Eddie was flabbergasted.
The year was 1980. It was a dream come true-the debut show with Tito Puente took place at the New York Coliseum as part of a big Latin Expo. Eddie was really nervous, but he and his partner, Maria, were very prepared. They performed Cayuco first and then broke out into Palladium Days. The crowd was captivated and Tito had a big smile on his face. It was a total success.
Eddie Torres & Tito Puente have a friendly discussion.
From that day forward, everywhere Tito went, Eddie would follow, costume and shoes, ready to go. And Tito would always ask, "You guys like to do a number?" It was ad honorem, but Torres felt privileged to be working with Tito. Eventually, Torres became a fixture--part of the format of the show. Then he popped the question, "Tito, would you mind if we call ourselves the Tito Puente Dancers?" That dream, to be identified as Tito's dance team, took the form of a jacket with TP's picture playing timbales--it said Tito Puente Dancers, and Tito dug it. It was Eddie's biggest honor. Even more so when Jimmy Frisaura confided, "Tito doesn't share the stage with anybody too readily. He likes you."
WE WANT LATIN
In the mid-eighties, Latin was out and the hustle was in and it was very hard to get work as a Latin dancer. On one occasion, Eddie wanted to dance in a Latin concert at Madison Square Garden where Tito Puente was playing, but Ralph Mercado said, "Naw, no, no. I got the Disco Dance Dimensions for the intermission show. I don't see no need for you to be out there. That's not what the people want." Feeling hurt and upset, Eddie explained his frustration to Tito, "I'm not asking for money. I just want to go out and do my thing with you." Tito assured him, "Don't worry about it, baby. I'm gonna bring you in as the Tito Puente Dancers and I'm going to tell Ralphy he doesn't have to worry about nothing."
Ralph Mercado, RMM
The night of the concert, the Disco Dance Dimensions put on a crowd-pleasing show. Immediately after, Tito Puente played Para Los Rumberos, and got the crowd into a frenzy. Then, he signaled the dancing duo onto the stage to perform Palladium Days, a very fiery, intense mambo. Sternly, Eddie forewarned Maria, "I want you to dance blood." They danced as if they were on fire. Tito had a big ol' smile. And a pleased Ralph Mercado looked on from the sidelines. The roaring crowd in the Garden gave them a standing ovation, sending out a clear message: they preferred to see Latin dancing accompanying the Latin music. They wanted to let Ralph and everyone know, "Hey, that's what we want."
After that evening, Ralph Mercado started calling Eddie to do shows with him. In the nineties, Ralphy introduced his own captivating dance troupe called the RMM Dancers, who animate his concerts with sensuous salsa dancing, though Eddie's group continues to appear at RMM gigs.
During the eighties, when Maria and Eddie came on the scene, only a few pro dance teams were left. Aside from Ernie and Dottie and the Cha Cha Aces, there was little trace of the powerful Palladium era. It seems the Palladium dancers got so caught up dancing for their own enjoyment that they weren't thinking about future generations.
Early on, Eddie developed a vision: to see Latin dancing evolve to the point of a respected, classic art form. Recognizing the need to pass the traditions of the music and the dance on to future generations, Mr. T. took it upon himself to make it happen. People laughed at him, "Eddie, what are you doing? This dance is dead." But he obstinately continued his mission.
Before Eddie Torres came along, no one had laid down concepts of structure and technique. He has taught thousands of Latin dance aficionados. His children's dance program in the Bronx teaches approximately three hundred children throughout the year including Eddie's ten year old daughter Nadia, who is already a seasoned pro.
The unique idea of offering salsa or mambo dancing to children alongside other dance forms such as ballet, jazz, tap, modern or African, guarantees the future of Latin. The program developed by Eddie is now run by Maria.
HE'S GOT STYLE
When Latin dance first came to NY, it was an open position dance. That means that two dancers would dance in front of each other and there was not much contact, what we know today as partner work. But the second generation after the Palladium got into doing a lot of partner work. There seems to be a fascination for inventing turns and being in touch with the partner.
The Palladium dancers lay down the blue prints of the New York hip style of Latin dancing. "In NY, people like to dress slick, talk slick, to be very bebop jazzy. Especially Latinos. Being born and raised in Harlem carries a certain attitude about how you walk through the streets, attitude about the way you say things and how you use your body language. It carries such a signature that if I saw someone from New York dancing in Japan, I'd know it."
Broadway musicals, Ailey's work, African dancing, and flamenco all were sources of inspiration for Eddie. Watching, imitating, and admiring the people that were the tops, Eddie slowly evolved as a pro. His style results from a true amalgamation of all those that came before him. With an uncanny ability to imitate, he incorporated a little jazz, a little ballet, a little tap, a little modern, and came out with his own style. Observing the different dancers of his time with their own signatures, he picked up from every one of their styles: JoJo Smith's jazz movements and expression of style; Freddy Rios's very Cuban typical style; a little of Louie Máquina. In dancing, that is known as eclectic styling.
THE TORRES REPERTOIRE
The late June Laberta, a ballroom dance teacher, was Eddie's greatest influence. She taught every ballroom dance in the book, but her greatest love was mambo. On many occasions, June accompanied Eddie to the Corso where the odd couple danced up a storm. He was in his twenties, she was in her late fifties. Creating kooky intricate little moves that came from jazz and everything that she knew, the lean Laberta would spin like a top.
June's mentoring was decisive in Eddie's teaching career. She said, "Eddie, I can help you learn the language of teaching." She took him to ballrooms on Friday nights warning, "These people are scholars and aficionados of the dance. If you don't break on the two, if you're not consistent with your timing, or if they ask questions about the theory and you don't know, they'll use it against you." Sure enough, after doing his fancy footwork, he'd hear the dreaded question, "Do you break on the two?" At that time, these theoretical points about clave and dancing didn't jive with Eddie. Fortunately for Eddie, he'd been on two all his life--he just didn't know it. And June continued harping, "It's going to enhance you as a dancer, as a teacher and as a choreographer. You'll go a lot further with this knowledge." But Eddie fought it. Fifteen years went by before he really learned.
Thanks to June Laberta, Eddie's steps all have names. This repertoire of steps and turns, with their corresponding names, provides a way of relating to students academically. Eddie's class syllabus documenting three hundred steps strangely parallels the habits of the old scholars of dance at the ballrooms. His laboratory is self-contained--sometimes steps spring up spontaneously in the class. Sometimes, just fooling around with a little break or phrase, a step is born. Nowadays, part of the fun is to invent a step and then find a name for it.
Today, dancing students are surpassing people who have been dancing socially for many years. Mr. T. gets calls all the time, "I'm a great dancer, people stop to watch me." One visit to a class and they get humbled. Natural talent is a plus, but Torres warns, "Amongst Latinos, we believe that we can walk on the dance floor and we just do it because we're Latinos, we're born with this. This is just not true."
"I've danced out of joy, I've danced out of pain. This is the kind of dance where if you want to jump up and say 'Azucar!' like Celia, and you want to move your shoulders and bob your head, this is where you can do it and it's O.K. It's cool. And it's hip. You can be you."
We must thank Tito Puente for showcasing salsa dancing in most of his concerts and for making his little speech about the importance of the dance when he presents our beloved Latin dancers.
Eddie's accomplishments include his many collaborations with the Tito Puente Orchestra, choreographing music videos for artists like Ruben Blades, Orquesta de la Luz, Tito Nieves, José Alberto El Canario, David Byrne, founding a dance company, dancing for the President George Bush, performing.at Carnegie Hall, the Apollo Theater, Madison Square Garden.
I’m Charlene Rose and I live to inspire and empower people of all walks of life to follow their passions, and make their dreams into reality.
I have been dancing and acting since I was 5 years old (My first acting role was playing the youngest Billy Goat in “Three Billy Goats Gruff” at our neighborhood showcase, lol).
I went on to study Dance and Musical Theater at Cornish College of the Arts, and since then I’ve performed for thousands on stages all around the world. I’ve also had the opportunity to participate in top shows such as the Young and the Restless, Dexter, Sense8, So You Think You Can Dance, and Dancing with the Stars to name a few, and I’ve worked with top artists such as Golden Globe winning and Oscar nominated actress, Sally Kirkland.
I was very shy growing up, and never would have imagined that I would go on to become a World Salsa Champion and a Leading Actress! Dancing and Acting changed my life, and when someone comes to me after a show and says my performance really made them feel something or inspired them to pursue a dream they were too afraid of before, it makes everything worth it.
That’s the impact I want to have on everyone who sees my work.! That extraordinary connection only shared by a performer and their audience.! It inspires lives. Come explore yours.
Isidro Corona is known for his creative and intricate choreography and energetic delivery. He is a US Salsa Open Professional On-1 Champion and a multiple-time World Salsa Championship finalist.
Isidro is the founder and director of South Bay’s Montuno Dance Company which represents his signature hard-hitting style. A seasoned international performer accustomed to the big stage, Isidro’s popular shows are guaranteed to spice up any event.
Born in Long Beach, Ca. Valerie Ann Olivas is an International Bachata Instructor. At the age of 9, her journey began with gymnastics and continued with jazz funk. Always an athlete, Valerie grew up with sports and dance. She made her journey to bachata via Samba 10 years ago and has been teaching it for over 8 years. She teaches primarily in ladies styling, focusing on body movement, spins, and technique.
Janette is an accomplished Salsa and Cha Cha dance instructor, choreographer and performer. She was artistic director and one of the original founders of Salsa Brava, the first Salsa dance company in California.
Janette was also a judge at the World Latin Dance Competition and has appeared in blockbuster movies like Dance with Me and Blow. She has instructed at all of LA's major salsa nightclubs including The Conga Room, Mama Juanas, Olivia's and El Floridita's.
Bio coming soon!
Marco, current Pro World Salsa Champion with Omambo Dance Project, is a professional Latin Dance instructor, competitor, choreographer, and dancer. He is the founder and director of Passion y Tumbao Dance Company, where he is teaching beginners, intermediate, and advanced dancers, as well as building teams to perform at nightclubs, events, festivals, and congresses. Marco has also instructed teams and students that have brought home gold, silver, and bronze medals from the Emerald Ball Competitions for the past few years. Recently, Marco placed 2nd in the World Latin Cup 2011 Competitions in Salsa and first on a Pro team in salsa for the 2015 World Latin Cup. His student teams of kids have taken home silver and bronze for the World Latin Dance Cup 2016. This year they have brought home, the Champion of Champions, Gold, Silver, and Bronze for teams, duets, and solo competitions in different categories at the Latin Mirage International Dance Competition in Los Angeles.
He loves teaching and sharing his passion for dance with his students both young and old. He says, “Most of all I like helping students enjoy dance as a hobby or just giving them a safe place to leave the rest of the world behind them.”
Marco was born in Zacatecas, Mexico, where he entered into the world of dance.
From dancing merengue and other Mexican dances at family parties, he then became a boy focusing mainly on breakdancing and hip hop.
When he moved to LA, his uncle exposed him to salsa classes. Going to the salsa clubs, he was impressed with the awesome dancers, and vowed to become just like them one day. Later, to add to his repertoire of styles, Marco then took intensive courses in all the ballroom styles to become a ballroom instructor. In 2011, Marco ventured off to start his own dance company Passion y Tumbao and dance studio. Passion y Tumbao is continuing to grow in size and level. Passion y Tumbao is now a home of champions and has put Anaheim on the map for salsa.
Jahaira Fajardo and Angelica Medina, the Directors of In Lak’ech Dance Academy met and fell in love on the dance floor. They both share an immense passion for dance. In December 2015 they placed 1st in the Latin Ladies Same Gender Division, at the World Latin Dance Cup. Jahaira made history as the first Bachata female leader to become a World Champion. In 2018, they returned to the World Latin Dance Cup and won 1st place in the Same Gender Ladies Bachata Couple Pro Cabaret Division. Angelica and Jahaira are also the promoters of the The Queer Latin Dance Festival, in Oakland CA.
Representing Colombia & the San Francisco Bay Area, this amazing dancer/instructor/world champion has garnered too many titles to list. Suffice it to say that he has helped mold champions of the past, present & future with one of the proven best instructional methods & curriculums the Salsa dance world has yet seen.
John was a contestant on the national TV show “America’s Got Talent“ in 2014, along with his partner Andrew, and the duo made it through the auditions and Judgement Week to qualify for the quarterfinals.
John’s Latest Achivements:
Four Time 1st place WLDC Same Gender Champion 2009 to 2013
Two Time 1st place WLDC Team Champion
Two Time Pro Am 1st place WLDC Champion
Third Place On 2 Division WLDC 2015
Finalist Soloist WLDC 2015
John’s Latest Achivements:
Five Time 1st place WLDC Same Gender Champion 2009 to 2013 & 2018
WLDC 2015 -Third Place On 2 Division
2014-Euroson Latino -Top Three Salsa Couple National Salsa Champion
WLDC 2018- 1st place on2 Division
At only the young age of 18, DALIA LASCAREZ is a salsa instructor and competitor originally from Oaxaca, Mexico.
Dalia began her dancing career at the tender age of 6. She is known for her unique styling repertoire and spinning technique. She has become one of the top dancers in Mexico and currently ranks #1 in the “On 2” Salsa Couples division at the World Latin Dance Cup.
Erika Saucillo was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She started dancing at the young age of four. Throughout the years, she trained in various dances such as folklorico, jazz, and hip hop.
Erika began her Latin dance journey at the age of 21, when she first trained with "Alma Latina Los Angeles" directed by the world renown Sergio Jasso and Gaby Equiz. Erika quickly became the director of one of the largest Salsa/bachata team in Los Angeles, "Quest Salchata Crew". She is currently one of today's top rising instructor & performer. Erika has taught & performed at major clubs & dance festivals throughout North America and overseas.
Erika is a champion and top finalists at some of the world's most important Latin dance competitions. She won 3rd place at the World Latin Dance Cup Cha Cha Cha division, 2nd in the Top Female Bachata Social Dancer, and won first place at the 2016 LA top Female Salsa Social Dancer.
From Los Angeles to New York to Cuba she has inspired many with her dancing. Her hard work and dedication has allowed Erika to become one of today's top dancer throughout the world.
Mexican-born Yesenia Serratos trained as both an interpretive artist and a dedicated choreographer for over a decade in various dance communities both in the U.S. and abroad. Fueled by a passion for dance that began in her hometown, Yesenia was drawn to the United States where she continued her dancing in Ballet, Jazz, and Contemporary.
Beginning her professional dance career in Chicago, Yesenia performed as a member of companies such as Joel Hall Dancers and Luna Negra Dance Theater. After three years teaching and performing Jazz and Ballet, she decided to continue her dance journey in Los Angeles, where she became the top Ballet Instructor and Choreographer at Simi Dance Center. Yesenia also became a leading member of both the Los Angeles Choreographers and Media City Ballet companies, again both as a performer and an instructor.Yesenia has trained in a wide variety of dance styles and techniques, including Salsa, Cha Cha Cha, Ballroom, and Hustle. She has performed at the Kodak Theater, Greek Theater, Nokia Theater LA Live, as well as at the Gibson Amphitheater at Universal City-Walk.
She currently teaches, performs, and competes in Salsa, Cha Cha Cha, Hustle, and Ballroom dance competitions with her dance partner, Raul Santiago. Yesenia has found a passion for Latin Jazz, a fusion of the vibrant jazz technique and traditional Latin rhythms that have grown so well-known and loved. She spends her days performing, teaching, and choreographing these styles, which invigorate both her personal dancing as well as the lessons she passes on to her students.
Raul Santiago is widely regarded as one of the most innovative and renowned Latin Hustle instructors of his generation.
Raul’s exploration into the Latin Hustle roots and the choreographic possibilities native to dance, positions him as one of the foremost authorities in the genre. He is a leader of the Latin Hustle Movement.
In 2003, Raul established his own dance studio Soho Dance, in Soho NY, the Soho Dance Company was formed. The company gained notoriety within the Hustle dance community and then ultimately to the performing arts and Salsa community at large. To date, Raul Santiago and Soho Dance have performed and taught in over 50 cities and over 10 countries worldwide.
Now he has opened a new studio in Los Angeles. Soho Dance LA boasts over 6,000 square feet of studio space equipped with the highest quality floating hardwood dance floors, a state of the art sound system, and other such amenities. Raul’s dream to create a warm and inviting atmosphere for adults and children was realized. He built a space where all dancers can pursue their love and passion for dance, where there is a supportive environment for training with the best dance instructors in the country. Although his own career led him to be a world-renowned dancer, SoHo Dance LA remains a focus for Raul and more importantly a place that Raul, his students, and his staff can call home.
As a competitive performer, Raul has led a number of talented partners to dominate and win many sought-after titles in high profile competitions including the 2016 IHSC World Hustle Championship. Raul has served as a guest choreographer on the hit television show “So You Think You Can Dance,” and has taught and judged at several popular dance schools and venues throughout the United States.
Mike Ticas and Christina Haggerty
Mike has been dancing Salsa in Los Angeles scene since 1992. Christina's love for Salsa brought her to Los Angeles in the year 2000. Mike and Christina met each other in Salsa In The Mix dance group where they traveled and performed for 5 years. These two choreograph dynamic dance numbers that combine many music and dance styles with lively salsa music and dance steps.
Their styles range from mysterious heavily themed routines such as Vogue (Salsa in the Mix), to more traditional salsa and Cha Cha Cha routines. All their shows captivate the audience with hair raising tricks, lifts, dips and turn combinations. Their hard work and dedication have paid off with performances for television, films, festivals, professional competitions and trips in the United States and abroad.
Currently, they keep busy performing and teaching workshops and private lessons to share their knowledge and spread their passion for the music and dance.
Also known as the "First Lady of Salsa" is one of the foremost salsa instructors on the west coast. Originally from Texas , Laura started dancing jazz, ballet & tap at an early age and continued on into musical theater where she developed her skills as an actress & stage performer. She later focused her energies on various social dances which encompassed everything from ballroom to swing, Latin & country western. After moving to Los Angeles 28 years ago, Laura has made a name for herself in the world of salsa, affectionately referred to by some of her students & friends as "LA's Salsa Queen," "The First Lady of Salsa," or "L.A.'s Salsa Diva" she has been teaching as well as choreographing for television & stage while also appearing as a featured dancer with dance partner, Albert Torres, in films such as "The Mambo Kings," "Out To Sea" & "Dance With Me." One of the high points in her career was choreographing & performing "Oye Como Va" & "Ran Kan Kan" with the late, great Tito Puente in 1998 at the 4th Annual Achievement in Arts Award Show sponsored by The Whitney Houston Foundation. Another exciting night was performing in front of 50,000 people at the 2004 Montreal Jazz Festival with The Spanish Harlem Orchestra from NY. She was also the 2nd dance instructor, after her friend, Eddie Torres (NY) to be honored with the Andy Vasquez Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the salsa community, in San Juan , Puerto Rico at the 2000 Bacardi World Salsa Congress. She was recognized again for her contributions to this industry at the 1999 & 2003 West Coast Salsa Congress in Los Angeles & honored once again at the 10th Annual World Salsa Congress in Puerto Rico in July 2006. She produced & created Cardio Salsa™, an aerobic workout video/dvd using the basic steps & turns in Salsa, Cha-Cha & Merengue, which has been featured on the cable fitness program, Power Living By Jake, on the Warner Brothers hit sitcom, The Gilmore Girls as well as Smart Solutions on the Home & Garden Network. Even though her dance training covers a broad spectrum of dance, her first love has always been Latin music & dance which led her to produce 7 CDs for Rhino Records, the first three charting on Billboard's Tropical Music Charts: Salsa Fresca: Dance Hits of the 90's, Mambo Mania: The Kings & Queens of Mambo and Mondo Mambo: The Best of Perez Prado. In addition to these, she co-compiled four other CDs for Rhino Records: Let's Dance Ballroom Favorites (2 volumes), The Best of Tito Puente and More of The Kings & Queens of Mambo.
Born in Toronto, Canada, Josie Neglia grew up amongst many Italian friends as a middle child of Sicilian parents. From a very young age, she studied ballet and jazz and later entered University as a dance major where she had four years of extensive daily training in ballet and modern dance. Josie graduated from York University, Toronto with a Bachelors degree and entered the ballroom/Latin field as a teacher for a private studio where she trained daily and began teaching and competing as a professional in International Latin dance. Entering a Toronto Latin club, for the first time in 1990, Josie fell in love with Salsa. In 1994, she relocated to Los Angeles and single-handedly became a pioneer of the salsa video industry.
In 1996, JOSIE NEGLIA WAS THE FIRST IN LOS ANGELES TO PRODUCE L.A.STYLE SALSA INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS, and marketed them worldwide through her website LatinDance.com. Due to her strong professional presence on the web and through popular instructional video series, Josie became one of the most sought-after instructors and performers worldwide. Invited to teach and perform in over 40 cities in 18 countries, Josie is known for her easy-to-learn teaching methods and spectacular performance ability.
Being honored with an invitation to teach at the very first World Salsa Congress in Puerto Rico in 1997 (an honor being the only instructor from Los Angeles invited), and the first Salsa Festival in Japan in 1998, Josie quickly made a name for herself and is currently asked to do workshops in various cities across the Globe. Josie Neglia was also a feature dancer in the movie "DANCE WITH ME" with Vanessa Williams & Chayanne. Josie's dynamic personality and passion for Latin dance has earned her many awards and prestigious invitations to judge and teach at various international Latin dance conventions. Miss Neglia's motto is to share the ecstasy of Latin dance, one step at a time!
Hey there! I'm Aubrey, born and raised Arizona girl with a passion for dance! For as long as I can remember dance has always been my "happy place". What better way to share my "happy place" than to create a dance company that revolves around the confidence, creativity and passion dance provides.
Starting dance at the age of three, my mom knew it was my passion from the moment I could walk. By the age of six I quickly became a competition dancer at a national level. From there, it was history. Ballet, jazz, tap, acrobatics, hip hop, you name it - I was dancing it. At the age of 12 I won the title of "Junior Miss Dance of Arizona 2006' and placed in the top ten at the "Dance Masters of America" National Competition. My love continued to grow and in 2008 I was crowned "Teen Miss Dance of Arizona". Balancing school with dance was quite the challenge and by my junior year of high school I added cheer to the mix. Captain of the cheer team, president of our dance company and a part of NHSDA (National Honors Society for the Dance Arts). By my senior year, I was ready for a new opportunity, "So You Think You Can Dance" . My Dad, Mom & 2 sisters packed up the minivan and drove to Los Angeles. What a great experience!!! Out of 3000 dancers they took 35 of us and l was sent straight to Vegas. At 18, you could say that was a pretty awesome opportunity. Although my life was busy preparing for college nothing was going to slow me down. I was honored to be a part of the "Arizona State Dance Team " which was one of the best experiences . ASU is where I learned the true meaning of TEAM WORK and through our teams dedication we placed 3rd at the UDA national finals in Orlando, Florida. BUT...cheering weekly at the ASU football and basketball games was gearing me up for the next endeavor in my life.
Miguel, originally from Toluca, Mexico, has been dancing for as long as he can remember. His father was trained dancer who studied at the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Mexico. Dancing and music was an everyday way of life for their family. At the age of 14, Miguel decided to take his dancing to the next level.He began taking Salsa classes with various instructors such as Tomas Olivera, Francisco Vasquez, and Carmen Bambaren. It was their classes where his passion for dance grew even more. Once graduated from High School, Miguel went to California State University Fullerton where he became a member of the CSUF Salsa Team. Under the direction of Kazumi DeVries, he learned different styles and performed at school events around campus. As he became more familiar with the Latin dance scene in Los Angeles, he soon discovered Stevens Steakhouse in the city of Commerce. It was there where he discovered his love of Bachata!
Miguel was a regular attendee for the Bachata Class at Stevens which was led by Jorge Contreras, Demetrio Rosario, and Aubrey Ares. Two months after taking Que Rico’s Bachata classes, he auditioned for their performance team. His first season with Que Rico was intense as he trained in the intermediate team and later moved up to the advanced team. His love of bachata turned into a career his third season with Que Rico when he was offered the opportunity to become a director and lead his own team. Teaching had always been something Miguel wanted to do, so when the opportunity presented itself he was ready. Six months later,he had two of his own teams. Now a director of Empowered Movement Dance Company, Miguel is training with Aubrey Ares and directing the Excel and Power Team. He is excited to be part of EMDC and cannot wait to see all the dancers grow within the company. Miguel plans on creating the same opportunity for his dancers as he once received and plans on doing that through Empowered Movement Dance Company.
Andrew Cervantes is a salsa instructor and competitor originally from Sacramento. Andrew began dancing salsa as a teen, and is now one of the top salsa dancers in the world and is an in-demand instructor and performer at salsa congresses around the globe.
The current reigning champion in the Same Gender division of the World Latin Dance Cup, Andrew has won the title 3 years in a row with his partner John Narvaez.
Andrew is a skilled dancer who is an expert in both leading and following technique. He often teaches workshops throughout the Bay Area on styling and spinning technique.
Andrew was a contestant on the national TV show “America’s Got Talent“ in 2014, along with his partner John, and the duo made it through the auditions and Judgement Week to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Liz Lira, the "Rose of Salsa", was born in La Paz, Bolivia, and immigrated to the United States at the early age of eight. Making Southern California her new home, she embraced the art of dance and excelled in both ballet and jazz.
For more than a dozen years, she trained at the most respected dance studios with top ballet coaches and traveled with her dance company, performing in front of thousands and on TV. Seen as one of the more talented young ballet dancers, she encountered numerous opportunities, including the possibility to move to New York and join one of the most prestigious ballet companies in the world – The New York City Ballet.
Admired by many for her warm personality and exceptional dancing skills, she quickly became one of the most recognizable personalities on TV and Film. Her outstanding teaching skills also made her a favorite among salsa students around the world. Creating The Liz Lira Dance Method.
She went on to capture her first major salsa dance championship at the Mayan World Salsa Championships in the summer of 2002. Along with many other competitions, her itinerary also included performances on the international stage, including appearances in her beloved Bolivia, South Korea, Canada, Guatemala, Mexico, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Finland, China, India and Japan.
Featured choreographer for So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with The Stars, Step Up, The Ugly Truth, Marc Anthony, Sky Dance 10th Anniversary, Tango Bar, KTLA, Make it or Break it, Chrysler, Extra, Dirty Dancing England.
Edwin Rivera is one of the most influential artists in today's Latin dance scene. With a career spanning almost two decades, He has made quite the impact as a dancer, dj and music producer throughout the world. Edwin is also the artistic director to some of today's premiere Latin dance Events across the country (Aventura dance cruise Miami, Aventura dance cruise Los Angeles, The New York International Salsa Congress, The Texas salsa congress, The Baltimore salsa & bachata Congress and now the Japan Salsa Congress. He is now the co- producer of the 2nd longest running congress in the world, "The Los Angeles salsa festival", also produces the Children’s teen salsa congress in Puerto Rico and is the co- producer of for the World Latin dance cup.
Alejandro Rey is a 6-Time Los Angeles Area Bachata Champion. He is also known for his Urban/R&B dancing and is also culturally inclined as a traditional Mexican folk dancer. Mr. Rey has instructed and performed internationally at some of the largest Bachata/Salsa Festivals in the world. Known as "The Biggest Mexican" he has also danced on multiple English and Spanish language TV programs as well as in movies and music videos.
Erica Nicole is a former model and Cal State University of Fullerton graduate who helps direct Paso De Oro Dance Company. She has performed and taught internationally and across the US with her partner Alejandro Rey. Ms. Nicole has also danced in many music videos and has appeared in movies.
Together they direct multiple teams within Paso De Oro Dance Company of all ages and skill levels. They own and operate Steps of Gold Dance Studio in Whittier, CA.
John & Liz are world salsa champions and acclaimed dance instructors. They are known for their hypnotic performances marked by high levels of grace, speed, and technical difficulty. They are equally acknowledged for their ability to provide fresh, accessible and entertaining salsa dance instruction for the social dance environment.
Since 2009, they have organized the San Francisco Salsa Festival, a weekend of world-class performances, dancing, and workshops with top salsa instructors, the Bay Area’s best DJs, and top live bands held annual every spring.
They are also the founders and directors of the Salsamania Dance Company. Formed in 2000, their dance company consists of several performance teams, including professional, semi-pro, amateur, ladies footwork, and training levels.
Born and raised in Colombia, John is a world-class ground-breaking salsa dance artist. In the last 17 years, his work etiquette, presence, and vision have set him apart from many others in the world of dance. He continues to innovate and inspire via extensive and detailed training combined with a tireless energy to share with his students.
“Do or do not; there is no try.” – Master Yoda
Also born and raised in Colombia, Liz is known for her unique extensive styling repertoire and is one of the top female instructors and artists in the world salsa community. “Salsa fills your soul with a fire that lets you express yourself on the dance floor with free style and vigor. I love to pass along the knowledge and passion that I have for this wonderful art.”
John & Liz have taken themselves and their dance company to the top of the world’s competitive mambo/salsa scene by ranking in the top three in the “On 2” couple division at the World Salsa Championships and taking first place in the professional and amateur team divisions at the World Latin Dance Cup. They have also led their teams to numerous victories in the San Francisco Bay Area Dance Troupe Competition. Whether you are a beginner just looking to learn the basics, or an intermediate to advanced salsa addict, John & Liz can help you build a solid foundation for total salsa enjoyment!
Producer of the longest running Latin dance festival in Mexico, "The Acapulco Salsa Congress". Creator of the Quebradita Salsa fusion style.
Rogelio Moreno is an actor, choreographer, and dancer originally from Los Angeles. He has studied a broad repertoire of dances, including salsa, cha-cha, merengue, mambo, bolero, quebradita and punta. He has appeared in numerous TV shows including “NYPD Blue” and “Buenos Dias”, and his choreography has been featured in several Hollywood films.
Rogelio is the founder and director the Los Angeles based salsa team, Salsabor Y Cache, and he is sought after worldwide for his unique and flavorful choreography.
Junior and Emily are a brother and sister team originally from San Francisco and now living in Los Angeles, California. Junior and Emily have performed, taught, and competed all over the world. They are one of the hottest Pro-couples on the International circuit bringing them to be one of the best in the world. Their electrifying routines blow the roof off of Congresses, Festivals, and corporate shows around the world. Through their dancing they have traveled and toured through the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia, South America, and Africa.
Through the years, Junior and Emily have created their own unique style of dancing, which has swept stages around the world. They are 8-time National and International Salsa Dance Champions and are the youngest solo internationally traveling couple. They have graced the cover of various Latin magazines, as well as been the face of many International Salsa Congresses around the world. They are currently one of the most sought out dance couples in the Salsa World.
They have been on TV and in commercials. They have worked with Celebrity Artists such as Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, Justin Timberlake, Jamie King, Selena Gomez, just to name a few. They have guest appeared on‘Dancing With The Stars’ in Italy and have also done promotions for ‘Dancing With The Stars’ in the US. They were recently on the hit TV show “America’s Got Talent” making it as one of the first salsa dance couples to make top 30 as well as become one of the first dance couples to bring salsa to Prime Time TV. They were also assistant choreographers on the hit TV show ‘ So You Think You Can Dance’ choreographing the Mambo in Season 2 and choreographers for Disney’s popular TV show ‘Austin and Alley.’ They were also featured dancers on Disney’s ‘Shake it Up’, The Kris Jenner Show, ABC’s ‘Make it or Break it’ and Diesel’s A-Z of Dance. They have accomplished so much at such a young age, but for them this is just the beginning. Junior and Emily will continue to deliver fast, energetic, and exciting performances that will inspire and welcome the new generation of dance.
Michelle Holland is passionate about dance and specializes in Latin Social Dancing. She teaches weekly group classes and is the Director of the ADP dance teams. With dance partners and on her own, she has choreographed over 50 dance routines and performed in 100’s of dance performances.
Michelle is a certified Salsa instructor through DVIDA also known as Dance Vision International Association. She has also been certified through Eddie The Salsa Freak, Professional Instructors Course which took place in Washington DC.
Michelle owns Alaska Dance Promotions. She has 11 years of teaching experience in her own licensed dance school. She has taught for the University of Anchorage, Alaska and the Anchorage School district. She started the Alaska Latin Dance Festival and the Alaska Salsa Festival and has hosted these for the last 9 years. Her energy and passion for dance is contagious.
Michelle has competed in the World Latin Dance Cup, the Hawaii Star Ballroom Competition, The Orange County Ballroom Competition, Dance Driven, Top of the World Dance and several other dance competition. She has also judged many local dance competitions.
Michelle has for several years been training off and on with Sergio Jasso of Jasso Dance Company. She has also been a part of several dance challenges including: Mambo with Santa Rico Dance Company at the New York Salsa Congress, Bachata with Andrea & Silvia from Italy, at the Las Vegas Salsa Congress, and Salsa with Christian Oviedo and Alien Ramerez at the San Francisco Salsa Congress.
Michelle has taught at many Dance Congresses and Festivals year after year, including:
Hawaii Salsa Congress, Honolulu, HI
Hawaii Latin Dance Festival< Honolulu, HI
Tuscon Dance Festival, Tuscon, AZ
Seattle Salsa Festival, Seattle, WA
Vancouver Latin Dance Festival, Vancouver, Canada
Las Vegas Dance Festival. Las Vegas, NV
LA Salsa Congress, Los Angeles, CA
Alaska Latin Dance Festival & the Alaska Salsa Festival, Anchorage, AK
Although Michelle has many years of experience in dance, she rarely brings up her accomplishments or qualifiers. Her belief is that people do not want to learn how to dance because of the instructors education, ethnicity or accomplishments. People want to learn from an instructor that makes learning fun, communicates well and loves it. Students will follow an instructor because they want to look and feel like that teacher and because they believe their teacher cares about their learning experience. Michelle loves teaching and dance and that passion radiates from her.
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