Albir Rojas (from Panama) continues to be one of the most popular and contracted Kizomba instructors in latin dance festivals across the globe.
His upbeat classes are a huge draw at every festival he attends, and his friendly, laid back persona make him incredibly easy to approach. We interviewed Albir last summer in Austin, Texas (Interview Here), and he was kind enough to sit down with us again.
This time we caught up with him at the B.I.G Salsa Festival in San Antonio, Texas. We discussed several topics includingKizomba, Carola Tauler (his new dance partner), and who would play him in a movie.
Kizomba has exploded in popularity over the past couple years…particularly at Latin dance festivals. Why do you think it has become so popular?
I think Kizomba brings a different feeling. When you dance with your partner, whether it’s a girl or a guy, there is a different kind of energy and communication. With Salsa you are a little more far away and the lead is with the hands. Same with Bachata. With Kizomba the lead is similar to Tango. Kizomba is deeper with the energy and connection, and the music is different as well.
What is one of the most important lessons that someone needs to learn in order to master Kizomba?
There are many, but they really need to learn to relax and enjoy the dance.
I love to dance hip-hop! I love Bachata as well, but mainly hip-hop. The energy between Kizomba and hip-hop is different. Kizomba is more relaxed, and hip-hop is really strong. Kizomba music is also much more chill.
Talk a little bit about your performance at the BIG Salsa Festival. You were asked to perform a few hours before show time. What did you want to bring to the stage?
The performance (with Brittney Vega) was a demo. When I normally do choreography with my new partner (Carola Tauler) it is much different. Kizomba in social dancing is really nice, but for a show it’s kind of boring (laughs). I have to be honest. We fuse Kizomba with different styles of dance in order to create a story, and make people enjoy it. We put in different themes so we can present them like actors. We want people to be entertained so we try to be creative with the music, backgrounds, and other things.
Speaking of Carola…you two have been dancing together since December (2013). How did you all meet and why do you all work well together?
We met in Madrid. Carola has a really good background in dance from ballet, jazz, and latin. She was a beginner in Kizomba when we became partners. When I first asked her to be my partner she said ‘No’. (laughs). She has been working in television and other things, so she didn’t know if she was going to be to busy. But we talked and reached an agreement to dance together.
What’s the most challenging aspect of being a traveling dance instructor? You all have so many different things to manage while you’re constantly on the road like your health, food, sleep, finances etc.
That’s a good question. I think, for me, it’s keeping a personal life. I would like to have a girlfriend, for example, but it’s hard because of the time and always traveling. If we wanted to go see a movie on the weekend…I can’t do that. I miss that.
I really love to dance! I really love Kizomba! I love dance in general. I love when you dance and see how people give you so much love, and all the applause when you’re onstage. The energy the people give makes me want to keep going because I really love to share dancing with the people.
So what is one thing that our audience would be surprised to know about you if you told them?
I love accounting (laughs). I graduated with a degree in Accounting. I love mathematics…but I don’t like to be in an office! When I tell people that they are always surprised!
This might be an odd question…but is there anything from your accounting background that transfers to your current career?
Yes! (laughs). Some organizers and promoters might try and confuse you when dealing with money…but you have to be fast! You have to say, ‘No, no, no…that’s not correct’. (laughs) I’m very fast when it comes to that.
So is there any advice you would give to someone who wants to do what you do for a living?
Work from your heart and be humble. You need to be good at communicating as well, but work with love and show the people your true heart. Those are important things.
Yes, but it’s not from Kizomba. I started to dance in 2000. There is sometimes the belief that if a guy dances, then he’s homosexual. Many parents put their girls in ballet and dance classes, but not the boys. I grew up dancing on the streets. When I started taking classes and improving my technique I had the chance to dance at a big event. In 2000 the Panama Canal was taken over again by Panama from the United States (The Panama Canal Treaty). They had a really big event for that transition and there were a lot of big artists, like Ruben Blades. We danced in a big, huge stadium and the energy was amazing. That was really fun to do.
You mentioned the attitudes that some have in regards to dance….Do dancers in Europe and the Americas approach Kizomba differently?
Yes. For example…if you go to a disco in the USA and ask a girl to dance. If she has a boyfriend then I can’t do that. He might try to kill me (laughs). Same if a girl tries to ask a guy to dance if he has a girlfriend. There is going to be a fight! In Europe you can ask anyone and there are no problems. You don’t have to worry about fighting on the dance floor, or dancing to close. Someone isn’t going to hurt you (laughs).
Here is a hypothetical for you. Pretend that someone is going to make a movie about Albir Rojas. Who would you want to play you in a movie? Why?
So let’s say you are acting in the movie now. Who would be your female co-star that you dance Kizomba with? Your leading lady?
That’s a hard one. Maybe…Julia Roberts. She was good in the movie Dying Young and I loved her in that movie.
What two musicians would you pick to do the soundtrack for your movie?
Ennio Morricone. I love him. He did important music for the movie Seven Pounds with Will Smith. He really touched me. The other would be Kenny G. (laughs). He did some of the music for the movie with Julia Roberts (Dying Young).
So, of course, we have to present you with a song that would be featured on Mr. Rojas’ soundtrack about his life. Enjoy.
For more information check out his Dance Planet Daily profile…..HERE!