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You’ve just been in the best workshop of your life at your favorite dance congress.  The instructor was clear, concise, engaging and made you feel like you’re ready to dominate the dance scene with your new, fierce moves.  You chatted with the instructor briefly after class and they were very encouraging and kind.  You thank them and let them know you can’t wait to see them again at another festival.  You head back home…and start to wonder…”Where are they going next? How much do they travel?…Is all that travel really hard?…Do they get money for meals?”…Hmm.

We were wondering as well so we decided to investigate! We interviewed four individuals who definitely quality as ‘experts’ in the dance community;  Carlos Cinta (Bachata), Edie “The Salsa Freak” Williams (Salsa), Charles Ogar (Kizomba) and Ruby Red (Fusion/Swing/Blues).  They have taught all across the globe and have had extensive travel schedules.  They specialize in different disciplines and have varying experience, but they share a common profession…dance instructor.  We wanted to take a peak behind the curtain and see what their lives are really like.  We found that their professional lives can be both incredibly rewarding…but also hectic and drama filled.  Sounds like a good reality show!

Our panel was gracious enough to answer our series of questions so that the dance public may get a complete picture of…

“The Life Of A Travelling Dance Instructor”

 

How do you find work?

Ruby RedWord of mouth. Referrals.  Repeat.  Ruby (pictured right) said, “Word of mouth is king. I haven’t updated my website in two years because I’ve been to busy travelling. Apparently that doesn’t matter.”  Edie and Charles concurred.  The best way to get your next gig is to be great at your last one, impress the students and promoters, and go from there.  Carlos echoed that positive reviews from prior students can get him work because organizers become aware, and seek him out.  New instructors definitely have to search for work, while established instructors are more apt to be contacted by promoters because they have a history of proven success.

How much do you travel?

EdieSalsaFreak2If your goal is to be a “successful” travelling dance instructor then expect to spend almost every other weekend on the road. Charles indicated that he is booked to travel every weekend the next couple months.  At the height of Edie’s (pictured left) travel schedule she travelled at least half the year. Edie, who is now married, said, “When I was single I didn’t care if I lived on an airplane.  I would say ‘yes’ to every travel opportunity I was given.  I was living my dream (still am) and was loving every minute of it.”  Carlos currently travels about three weekends per month, while Ruby said that she can travel 3-5 months depending upon the season.  In conclusion, keep your passport current.

 

How far in advance do you plan your schedule? 

The general consensus is to plan ahead at least six months for festival gigs.  Periodically you can accept an event 2-3 months in advance, but most of the time the organizer would have booked his artists by then, and would already be promoting the event. Ruby said, “…it pays not to fully book your schedule so you can say yes to more local, spontaneous offerings”.  Carlos said workshops require a little less planning and he usually takes those a few months in advance.

On average, do you feel like you’re treated fairly by organizers?

The question brought about a wide range of answers, with pay being the most contentious issue. Ruby indicated that she has had good experiences with organizers and many of them have become her friends.  Charles commented that once promoters see his worth and what he brings to the table, that they treat him more than fairly.

Edie indicated that she’s seen her share of unfairness. She said, “There were times when the promoter would leave the country, never to be found…with all my income.” Edie warned that when she’s treated badly, she definitely let’s others know about it. CarlosCinta11Carlos (pictured right) brought up an interesting angle; the difference between European and American promoters.  He said it was common for promoters in the USA to try to give you the “B.S. budget line” in order to persuade instructors to lower their price, while European promoters either give you what you ask or just don’t hire you.  He said, “A lot of the American instructors are going overseas because they don’t play money games, and they treat you better.”  Carlos feels insulted by the pay that some American promoters offer because of the experience, knowledge, and credibility he brings to the table.

Obviously the question of treatment is contingent upon the individual promoter as they all have different business practices and behavior.  However, its safe to say that our panel feels instructors shouldn’t blindly trust those who contract them.

Are you reimbursed for your hotel, food, flight, and other travel costs?

Charles OgarYes…but be prepared to dig into your savings account.  Edie has always had her expenses paid in advance.  Charles (pictured left) indicated he typically has all those costs covered by the promoter.  Ruby and Carlos answered that some events cover travel costs and some don’t. Carlos reiterated the typical difference in the financial attitudes between US and European promoters that he’s experienced.  He said US organizers often try to negotiate that he pay a percentage of those costs, while European organizers cover all fees associated with travel and meals.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a travelling dance instructor?

Staying disciplined was high on the list of our panel.  Eating properly, getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and keeping fit are issues due to the demanding nature of travelling across the globe, and the typical late night hours dancing at socials.  Carlos mentioned that “…a lot of instructors get sick because they party too much and they lose sight of the importance of taking care of their body”…particularly those who drink a lot.  Edie (who has traveled to over 60 countries during her dance career) said, “I learned to sleep on airplanes, trains, ships, boats, and automobiles, not as a choice, but as a necessary requirement.”

Ruby Red2Another component of discipline is making sure that your lessons stay fresh, and that your teaching methods don’t get sloppy.  It takes a lot of hard work to elevate yourself above the rest as an instructor and Carlos stated, “The separation is in the preparation”.  Ruby commented that it is also tough to keep track of business items such as, “…housing, food, transport, promotion, bios, photos, social media, class hours, payment amount, payment method, etc…”

Another very challenging aspect is maintaining personal relationships with friends, family, and significant others.   Edie stated that keeping a steady relationship was “impossible”.  She said, “I would have the hots for a guy in one country and be 10,000 miles away from him literally the next day.” She realized early on that her life as a world travelling instructor would cause her to be alone.  And, like most other businesses, it is not uncommon for an instructor to have the occasional one-night stand.  Being homesick, missing loved ones, and feeling lonely are common emotions for those who are constantly on the road.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a travelling dance instructor?

Meeting new people and visiting foreign lands are definitely high on the list. Charles said, “Inspiring new people in different places almost every week is amazing. It’s humbling to have people look up to you and invest their time and energy in you.” Travelling (as we outlined above) has it’s demands, but it also can foster incredibly rewarding experiences.  Ruby understands the trade-off and commented, “It makes all the b.s. of logistics management and the exhaustion of travel worth it.”  Carlos mentioned becoming more culturally aware and getting outside of you own “little bubble” makes some of the inconveniences worth while.  Edie agreed, “I consider myself to be the luckiest woman alive, because I have these amazing opportunities to see the world, dance, and meet the most fabulous people on planet earth!”

Do you feel there is competition between instructors?

EdieSalsaFreak3There is competition, but it seems to be healthy and friendly competition…for the most part.  Ruby said the vibe is more, “Hey! You’re teaching at that event too! I can’t wait to see you!”  However, she has heard dancers talk negatively about each other on occasion.  Edie commented that she never felt any competition whatsoever. Charles said, “There is no competition if you’re offering something that no one else can do.”  Carlos felt that most of the competition is negative, and it is rooted in pay and the desire to one-up each other.  Competition can inspire dancers to do better at their jobs, but it also adds a “watch your back” mentality that divides the community.

What advice would you give someone who wants to be a travelling dance instructors?

The panel offered some vital advice.  Be prepared to experience both the positive AND negative aspects of the career because its a long haul.  No matter who you are, not everyone will love you and you will be judged because you’re making yourself a public figure. Make sure that you’re passionate, committed, and that your product is unique.  Set goals, have integrity, stick to your principles, and understand what you want to achieve.

CalosCinta08It is important to manage your money correctly and learn how to negotiate contracts so you’re not taken advantage of.  Ideally you should have multiple sources of reliable income.

Edie felt that the career isn’t for those who are dating or married due to the guilty feelings you may experience leaving someone behind.  She said its better to fly solo so you can be free to go wherever you need to further your career.

What is the biggest business you’ve learned since you started your career?

Business is business! Be hands on with your negotiations and make sure you get what you want. Be firm, but respectful in your dealings.  Edie commented that it’s important to be honest, sincere, and transparent.  Ruby feels that respect is key, and that a lack of respect typically leads to bad business deals.   She said that the business is rewarding in that it can lead to friendships between organizers and dancers, but, “…if I feel like I’m being tossed a tiny check and a pittance for my efforts, it’s hard to put out energetically.  I don’t think I’m alone in this regard.”

Charles-Ogar2Charles stated to avoid doing business on Facebook and social media.  He said, “…get everything in writing up front to make sure everyone is on the same page.” Carlos said he got a great piece of advice from one of the most popular Bachata instructors/performers in the world, Jorge “Ataca” Burgos.  Burgos said if you agree to a flat rate for your pay, make sure you don’t settle and get what you’re worth.  As a note, instructors sometimes agree to take a percentage of the money earned from a festival as their pay instead of a flat rate. This is usually done at smaller and newer festivals where the profits have a high variability.

Respect should also translate to how you treat your students and fellow dancers no matter who they are.  Edie said, “Be pleasant with everyone at all times, even if you feel like crap.”  Ruby echoed this sentiment, “Someone who seems totally unassuming on the dance-floor, or like a total newbie might be an organizer for a local scene looking to hire you.”

 What’s one thing about the job that you feel would surprise someone if you told them?CalosCinta03

The panel were mixed on what they thought readers would find surprising.  Ruby said, “Teaching dance is kind of like a form of therapy for a lot of people.  Having insight into more than just dance moves really matters.”  Edie reiterated that instructors have to adapt to getting rest in foreign environments and that she can sleep like a baby anywhere.  Charles said he still gets nervous before teaching, but is ready to roll after the mood lightens up.  Carlos admitted that he is much more of a jock, than a dancer, and that he actually doesn’t have a passion for dancing. He said he is much more comfortable watching people dance and/or simply listening to the music he loves.

 

The amount of Latin dance congresses has grown exponentially over the last decade.  The Puerto Rico Salsa Congress (in 1997) is often credited with being the first salsa dance congress, and ushering in the modern era of congregating mass amounts of dancers for instruction, performances, and socials in one event.  Latin dancers in all genres have benefited from the birth of the ‘congress’ format as it has given structure and formality to what otherwise in the past could be called a ‘workshop’.

The format continues to morph and is still a relatively new phenomenon. The congress market seems to fluctuate wildly from year to year due to fickle consumers, and new promoters competing with established events for market share.  New festivals pop up every weekend, while others disappear quietly into the night and are gone with little to no fanfare.

A good latin dance festival can be tremendously fun, educational, and expand your dance horizons. As much potential fun we all can have at a festival, it is still a business, and little is known about what it takes to organize these events.  We interviewed four organizers who gave us insight into what actually goes on behind the scenes; Rodney Aquino (Bachata/Kizomba), Jorge Elizondo (Bachata), Rhonda Alvina (Salsa), and Juan Ruiz (Salsa/Bachata).  Rodney, Jorge and Juan have all organized congresses for many years, while Rhonda is in her first year of organizing a large festival.

We asked a series of questions in hopes of getting a complete picture of, “The Business of Latin Dance Congresses”.

Rhonda AlvinaHow far in advance do you being planning a festival?

The consensus is that the high level planning begins at least one year prior to the festival, and the nuts and bolts get completed about 6 months prior to the event.  Rhonda (pictured left, and organizer of the St. Louis International Dance Festival) said, “There is never enough time to plan and nothing is ever going to turn out exactly how you want it to be.”

Is organizing a congress challenging? 

Answers were mixed.  Rhonda and Rodney believe it is very challenging, especially if the event is over 1000 attendees.  On average Rodney organizes eight events per year, including the Afro-Latin & Bachata Internationals and San Francisco Bachata Festival. Rodney commented that big events need a large stuff plus a healthy amount of volunteers to get everything done.  The hotel needs a certain amount of rooms booked, and facility and rental fees paid at least a month prior to the event.  He said, “Failure to do so would mean the event will be cancelled.”  Rhonda agreed that organization and planning challenges are stressful and that there is also added pressure from “…overly demanding people.”jorgeelizondo2

Jorge (pictured right) organizes 3-5 festivals each year including the Dallas Bachata Festival and Shanghai Bachata Festival.  He commented that he finds it less difficult to organize his festivals, and attributes this to his organizational skills and relationships with the bachata talent he recruits.  He said, “It normally takes me one or two weeks to recruit artists, buy flights, create a website, create flyers, organize Facebook marketing, and create a workshop schedule.”  He also serves as an instructor at his festivals.

Are there challenges in finding a venue?

Everyone agreed that securing a venue is difficult due to the financial challenges.  Juan organizes several events a year including the Sydney International Bachata Festival and Byron Latin Fiesta. He said, “Finding a venue is a challenge for every event. Conversations need to start early, and I like to make sure I have a good relationship with the venue manager.”  Availability, festival hours, and additional hotel fees are difficult arrangements to agree upon.  Jorge commented that negotiations and deals vary by location, and that hotels usually have no reason to offer you the best prices to do events at their venue.  Jorge said, “As a promoter, the most important thing is securing a deal that is beneficial for you and for the hotel.” Rodney echoed the sentiment that is a challenge to find a venue in bigger cities like San Francisco, Las Vegas, and New York City.  Rodney said, “The hotel negotiations are brutal and if you don’t know what you’re doing when you sign a contract then you’re practically screwed.”RodneyAquino

Do you (on average) have good working relationships with instructors you hire?

They emphasized that they only want to hire instructors who they can trust and give a quality product to consumers.  Jorge feels it is important to help create a sense of instructor unity and mutual respect.  He said, “I have numerous activities that I have my artists do as a team to help build a sense of teamwork.  We eat, fly, teach, and share rooms together.”  Good relationships are important, but at the end of the day it is still a business.  Rodney (pictured right) said, “Most of the time I have a good relationship as long as they get paid and are getting what they want.”

Do you typically lose money, make money, or break even?

Generally, the panel felt that breaking even should be considered success, and that making huge profits on an event shouldn’t be the goal.  Jorge said, “My goal is to put on an event that is affordable for everyone to attend yet be able to balance the expenses I need to pay.”  Rodney added that you typically lose money if you’re planning a big event at a hotel, and have a long list of instructors.  Instructor flights, meals, hotel accommodations, and unfilled rooms that were blocked specifically for festival attendees quickly eat into profits.

How do you judge if an event has been successful?

JorgeElizondo5Feedback, attendance, financial outcome, social media sharing, and dancer engagement were all mentioned as measures of success.  Social media feedback is particularly important due to the variety of locations that dancers come from to attend.  Both positive and negative reviews spread quickly these days thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and congress review sites like SalsaTravelAdvisor.com.

Do you feel the community who attend your events appreciate your efforts?

A unanimous “Yes” was answered by our panel.  Rodney commented that while some appreciate it, the dance scene isn’t the place for an organizer to seek loyalty or friendship, and that appreciation comes with a price.  He said, “In general, when people don’t get what they want, they go somewhere else…no difference in the dance community.”

Do you feel there is competition between festival promoters? If so, it is positive or negative competition?

Juan RuizAnother unanimous “Yes” from our panel.  Without question there is a high amount of competition between festival promoters, and much of it is negative.  They do, however, feel that the competition can contribute to them working harder to improve their events.  Juan (pictured left) said, “For me, competition is good as it forces me to make sure my events are organized properly…and that my events stand out from the rest.”  He also indicated that many promoters get angry when someone new steps into the arena and impedes on their territory.

As a new organizer, Rhonda certainly agrees with Juan’s sentiment.  She said, “Since announcing the St. Louis International Dance Festival I have had my share of negativity thrown at me from territorial promoters that believe they own performers.” She said its sad that most of the promoters don’t bother to interact with each other, and that only a few have offered her advice.  Rodney added, “Most competitors are friendly to each other, but never friends.  It’s nothing personal, just business.” Rodney remembered trying to plan a festival in another city and an organizer in that city attempted to sabotage it.  He said partnering with someone to organize a festival usually isn’t a good idea because you probably won’t share the same vision.

What is the biggest business lesson you’ve learned since you started organizing congresses?

RodneyAquino5Organizing dance congresses will definitely leave you with battle scars.  Rodney stated his opinion bluntly, “You don’t have any real friends.”  Rhonda expressed similar feelings in that she won’t be making the same mistakes twice when dealing with certain people and performers.  She said, “Don’t rely on people…budget!”  Juan and Jorge said their lessons revolve around reporting and business deals.  Juan commented, “My biggest lesson learned is to have everything in writing with the artists.” Having something in writing sets expectations and there are no misunderstandings.  Jorge learned to manage funds and create detailed business reports using Excel.

What (if anything) needs to be changed about latin dance congresses overall?

Juan Ruiz2A mix of answers were given.  Rhonda feels that promoters themselves need to change, or just not be in the business.  Jorge stated that sometimes promoters take advantage of artists and that instructor/promoter relations need to improve.  He said, “Some artists are working for free.  Many organizers accept amateur talent over professionals because they are willing to work for free, so there is no cost to them.”

Jorge feels that artists should be compensated for expenses occurred at the event. Rodney listed too many performances, the DJ playing similar songs all night, and professional instructors not dancing at socials as items that need to change. He also said, “I personally don’t like congresses that have several locations. For example, if a workshop is to far from a hotel or the social event at night requires transportation to get there.”

What is the most rewarding aspect of organizing a congress?

Seeing festival attendees enjoy themselves and grow as dancers is definitely rewarding for all of the organizers, and, as Juan said, “Creating memories that will last forever.”

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Many people know that the first Salsa festival was the Puerto Rico Salsa Congress organized by Eli Irizarry in 1997.

But many don’t know when the first Bachata-centric Congress took place.  Do you know? If not, a spoiler is soon to follow.

Answer.  It was the Sydney International Bachata Festival in April 2008. It was co-organized by Juan Ruiz, Nestor Manuelian, and Sky Blue.

The festival instructors (in the featured picture above) were Juan Ruiz, Rodney “Rodchata” Aquino, Nestor Manuelian, Anup Thomas, Sky Blue, Nikal Kleinstreuer, Nirico Mambo, and Lydia (last name unknown).

The below video created by Juan Ruiz features pics from the first festival.  Check it out!

A performance from the first Bachata festival in 2008.

The first Bachata-centric Congress in the USA was the Reno Bachata Festival in January 2009.  It took place at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino.

Bachata Congress History 2

It featured many instructors who have become staples in Bachata festivals across the world.   They are pictured above.  From left to right: Jorge Elizondo, Leslie Ferreira, Jorge Contreras, Seemore Johnson (back left), Cristina Pujol (back), Billy Bob (back), Giedre Sarunas Souls and Sarunas, Alejandro Rey( orange t-shirt), Summer Sando, Camille Yannatuono, Lee “El Gringuito” Smith, Nohelia, Rodney Aquino (front left), Juan Ruiz (front right).

The 2009 Reno Bachata Festival was organized by Rodney.  His original vision was to organize the event in San Francisco, but through a series of rapidly transpiring circumstances the event wound up in Reno. He quickly convinced Jorge Elizondo, Camille Yannatuono, and Billy Bob to come on board as instructors and, with Juan Ruiz visiting from Australia, Rodney had the foundation from which the rest of the congress would be built.

You can find Rodney’s written account of putting the festival together HERE.

Below are several performances from the Reno Congress.  Many of “today’s” most influential Bachata instructors and organizers performed.  Is 2009 to early to be considered ‘old-school’?

Enjoy.

Alejandro Rey and Paso De Oro

Jorge Contreras & Leslie Ferreiras

Juan Ruiz

Lee “El Gringuito” Smith

Just a little peak into the ‘history’ of Bachata congresses.  It has only been six years since the first Sydney International Bachata Festival, but the growth and explosion of Bachata music in that time has taken the dance in many different directions.   “Traditional” Bachata is beginning to be taught as more instructors learn about the roots and culture of the Dominican Republic.  “Dominican Fusion” Bachata is already danced at most festivals and is often mistaken as “Traditional” Bachata.  “Bachata Moderna” is perhaps the style of Bachata that most dancers are familiar with.  “Bachatango” is a fusion style that many dancers are aware of, but few have mastered.

Want to know more about current Bachata dance history? Check out our Most Influential Figures In Bachata article.

Who knows where Bachata will be taken next…but the journey is just beginning.

2014 Festival HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Organization. The festival is organized by one of the most influential bachateros in the world, Jorge Elizondo.  The shows were outstanding and the festival emcees, Jay Stylz, Jorge Contreras, and Rodrigo and Wendy Jimenez, kept things entertaining and moving.
  • Performances highlighted by Tamara Valle from France (solo Jazz/Hip-hop),  Edwin Ferraras & Daniela Grosso and the Latin FX Dance Company from New York (Salsa),  Calirumba Dance Company from Dallas,  Jorge Contreras & Aubrey Ares from Los Angeles (Bachata), and the Neo Kizomba Team from Dallas/Houston.

  • AdamTaubA unique multi-media workshop by Adam Taub detailing the history of Bachata dance and its roots in the Dominican culture.  THIS WORKSHOP IS A MUST for any Bachatero who wishes to gain a deeper appreciation of the music and its origins.  Adam always does a great job and is widely considered the most knowledgeable instructor on Bachata history.

 

  • A FREE choreography dance challenge (most are not free) featuring students who participated in the workshops. The students performed bachata and kizomba choreography they had learned in a two-hour workshop given by Edwin Ferreras/Daniela Grosso and Mike Zuniga/Kristal Fajardo, respectively.  It served as a reminder that in a short time even the most novice dancer can perform when given quality instruction.Edwin Ferreras

ARTICLE:

Jorge Elizondo and the staff of the Dallas Bachata Festival have done it again.  Since 2010 Jorge has raised the level of the festival every year and the 2014 edition was no different.

Dallas Bachata Festival

The Dallas Bachata Festival is the premiere Bachata event in Texas.  In fact, the Dallas Bachata Festival is the only annual bachata-centric latin dance congress in the Lone Star State, and it continues to grow each year! This year the festival attendance reached over 500 night passes on Friday and 750 on Saturday. There were over 420 “Full Pass” tickets sold this year (300 were sold last year) and over 1200 “Night Passes” were sold for the entire weekend.  These figures are evidence that the event is continuing grow.  The DBF is held every year at The Park Inn Radisson Hotel in downtown Dallas.  Founded in 2009 by Jorge Elizondo, the festival draws dancers from across the U.S.A. to attend.  “Bachata Jorge”, as he is affectionately known, is the organizer of the event and is one of the founding fathers of the bachata festival in the United States.  He helped organize the first bachata festival in the USA  (The Reno Bachata Festival in Jan. 2009) along with Rodney “Rodchata” Aquino.

Jorge planned a variety of new activities including a pool party, couples massage, a Kizomba/Bachata choreography challenge, and the opening of an additional bachata room for the night parties. He is always looking to keep things fresh so he contracted a few new instructors for the 2014 edition including Tango instructor Amanda Archuleta from New York, Charles Ogar from Houston, and Jose and Rosy from Spain.

jorgeelizondo2

The festival is a four day event jam packed with events, and features a mix of Texas talent along with national and international instructors.  Several quality instructors attended the festival this year included Carlos CintaEdwin Ferreras & Daniela Grosso, Alejandro Rey & Jessica Trujillo, Roberto Lay & Tamara Valle,  Jay Stylz, and Jorge Contreras & Aubrey Ares to name just a few.  The bachata workshops cater to all skill levels in a variety of bachata styles including modern, Dominican, and fusion.  Classes on musicality, sensuality and any other kind of ‘-ality’  pertaining to dance are offered.

David Campos and Guida Rey are two of the most influential Kizomba instructors in the United States. They were two of the first dancers to begin teaching Kizomba in the USA and have earned a large following in New York (where they are based) and abroad. David talked about what a pleasure it is to come to the Dallas Bachata Festival.

DavidCamposGuidaRui“We love this place and the spirit of the people here. When we come here it is like family.  The last time we came here was in 2012 for the festival.  It was a year when there was a storm. We stayed here for a week, and we didn’t want to go back.  Jorge has a heart bigger than himself. We feel like we’re home here.”

 

 

 

Bachata is the main course of the event, but other dance styles such as Kizomba, Salsa, Tango, and jazz were also highlighted in workshops and performances.   For those who wanted to explore their adventurous side there once again there was also a lap dance class taught by Summer Sando and Alejandro Rey. With over 50 workshops to choose from there was a buffet of classes available for every taste.

DallasBachataFestivalHalloweenThe socials at night were top notch (including the Halloween party) and there were four separate rooms featuring traditional Dominican Bachata, modern Bachata, Salsa, and Kizomba.  There were 10 DJs who played at the socials including DJ Juanito Pachanga and DJ Jose.  The DJ’s did a great job of keeping musical variety. so the parties didn’t turn stale.   Party goers heard ‘popular’ bachata artists like Prince Royce and Aventura, but also got music with traditional roots in Bachata from legends such as Joan Soriano, Antony Santos, Kiko Rodriguez and Robin Carino.   This is vitally important in establishing the event as a true Bachata festival, and not any random event you attend every weekend at your local latin clubs.

Jay Stylz, a talented Dallas based dancer, served as one of the emcees for the event.  He is well known for his humor and ability to entertain the audience while keeping the performances flowing at a steady pace.  His “If it ain’t sexy, don’t do it” catch phrase and attitude were a big hit with festival goers. Jay Stylz

Instructors and patrons alike give Jorge major props not only for his event, but for his world wide influence on the bachata community.

Jay Stylz (DFWSalsa.com)

“The worldwide movement of Bachata is directly related to Jorge Elizondo.  No one has traveled more than him, and he has gone from city to city around the world teaching his style of bachata.  He’s had so many instructors buy his DVD’s and teach his style to their students.”

Jorge ContrerasJorge Contreras (Los Angeles), and Wendy and Rodrigo Jimenez also served as emcees for the parties on the weekend.

The 2014 Dallas Bachata Festival was another successful journey for an event that has become an annual “must attend” for bachateros of every level.   If you love Bachata, a well organized and friendly environment, top notch workshops, and fun socials then you should definitely put the Dallas Bachata Festival on your yearly dance calendar.

 

Dallas Bachata Festival2

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"Under The Same Moon" Los Angeles Special ScreeningLatin dance drama TOCA – Our Latin Thing will begin shooting on October 27th.

TOCA will be the full-length remake of a short film entitled Mano.  Mano was completed in 2007 and was directed by Anthony Nardolillo (pictured right).  It starred a few current Hollywood notables including Laz Alonso (Avatar), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), and the late Lee T. Young (Rizzoli & Isles, The Famous Jett Jackson).  It also featured many popular Salsa instructors/performers in dance scenes including Magna Gopal, Cristian Oviedo, Kimberly Flores, and Francisco Vazquez (of the famed Vazquez brothers).

Esai-MoralesTOCA will also be directed by Anthony Nardolillo, but will have a different cast.  Esai Morales (pictured left – La Bamba, NYPD Blue) and Jennifer Taylor (The Waterboy, Two and a Half Men) are slated to star in TOCA which will be released in 2015.

TOCA will not be a dance movie, perse, but Salsa is a very important backdrop and theme within the movie.

Below is a list of current credits and information for TOCA:

PRODUCER: Michael Mandaville (Take 1 and 2) & Rodway Entertainment
Exec Producer: Luchie Sailie
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Anthony Nardolillo

CAST SO FAR: Esai Morales, Jennifer Taylor (2 1/2 Men) & Gilbert Saldivar (Jlo’s Dance Captian) & pending offer on big name Latina actress.

CHOEROGRAPHER: Andy Lyrik Cruz
MUSIC PRODUCER: Bryant Siono (Current musical director for Jennifer Lopez) FANIA and ORIGINAL MUSIC

SHOOT DATES: October 27th – Nov 18th 2014 (LA), Nov 20-24 (NY)

LOGLINE (Plot): Two brothers, once the cities best Salsa dancers, are reunited years after the death of their father, and embark on regaining the essence of culture, pride, family, music and dance, all the while Spanish Harlem tries to hold on to the one thing that can’t be removed – “Our Latin Thing”.

CHARACTER BREAKDOWNS:
“RAUL”– age 26-32 Young Antonio Banderas, Young Esai Morales types with heavy Salsa dance background.
“CHACHI”– age 25-30 Young beauty that can project Nuyorican vibe with heavy Salsa dance background.
“GRISELLE”-age 23-28 Jaw-dropping Afro-Latina beauty with heavy Salsa dance background. (open to all ethnicities)

Below is a snippet from dancer auditions for TOCA – Our Latin Thing.

Stay tuned for more updates on the TOCA!

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The Salsa community has a wide range of personas that hit the dance floor at socials and events. Latin Dance Community writer Chilly Alisar gives his unique view and breaks down the four Salsa personality types! Which one are you?

Check out the Salsa Personality Test on our partner site LatinDanceCommunity.com!

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If you’re a Bachata dance fan then you need to know the name Adam Taub.

Adam (pictured below) is a dance instructor who has produced several educational videos and documentaries on Bachata dance, history, and culture. He currently travels across North America teaching his workshop so make sure and check out his classes in a town near you!

Adam Taub 2

Adam, Edwin Ferreras, Daniela Grosso, and Carlos Cinta are a few of the instructors leading the way in educating the latin dance masses about traditional style Bachata, and they often can be found at events together including the upcoming Bachata B.E.A.T.S. (Bachata Education About Traditional Style) in Toronto.

We love all styles of Bachata (Moderna, Dominican Fusion, Bachatango, etc…), but it’s also important to know how the citizens of the birthplace of the Bachata actually dance it!

The video above is a short video produced by Adam detailing different Dominican Bachata dance styles.  And before you ask…yes, this footage is from the Dominican Republic and captures how the dance is done in their country.

For more information on Adam check out the resources below!

Adam Taub Facebook Page

Dance Planet Daily interview with Adam Taub

Article on Bachata B.E.A.T.S. event coming up in Oct 2014! 

 

Los Anormales Del Mambo is (in our opinion) the best latin dance performance team in Dallas, TX…correction, all of Texas.  We’ve been to almost every Salsa, Bachata, Tango, etc congress in the Lone Star state these past couple years and no other Texas team can touch their precision, style, and skill.

Rodrigo Cortazar and Selene TovarLos Anormales is a California based dance company owned by Rodrigo Cortazar and Selene Tovar (pictured left).   Both Rodrigo and Selene are from Mexico and have performed and taught at various workshops, and festivals across the globe.  Johan Ibanez Vasquez is the director of the Dallas based affiliate of Los Anormales.

The Dallas team was born when Johan met Rodrigo for a private dance class at an event in Houston. There Cortazar mentioned the idea of a Dallas based Los Anormales team to Johan.  Ibanez was hesitant as he had prior commitments to other dance teams, but he later accepted the idea, and a partnership was arranged.  Rodrigo and Selene would provide choreography for the team and Johan would serve as the organizer and director.

Los Anormales Dallas is the consolidation of several Dallas based Salsa teams including Sabroso Tumbao and Rebelion.  The team is comprised of young, yet well-established dance instructors and performers: Johan & Alyssa Ibañez, Jessica Szota, Luis Collazo, Rieko Rivera, and Néstor J. Russell. Al Rivera (also a dance instructor and Rieko’s husband) periodically performs with the crew as well.  Luis and Nestor provide additional support such as helping secure gigs for the team.

Los Anormales Del Mambo 1

Los Anormales made their debut performance in 2013 at a Pura Salsa event in Dallas, and they’ve been killing it on stages across Texas ever since.   In addition to Texas, the team has performed in California, and Missouri.  They will continue to broaden their dance horizons with performances in Tucson, AZ and Denver, CO in the upcoming months.

Check out a few of their performances below!