Edwin Ferreras (from the Dominican Republic) is one of the bright, young stars in the latin dance scene. His love for dance began with hip-hop/break dancing as a young teen and he was later introduced to Salsa/Mambo. Edwin currently directs the Latin FX Dance Company along with his talented dance partner, Daniela Grosso. Oh…did we mention he is a musician and plays three instruments? Yes, he is a very talented young man indeed. Dance Planet Daily caught up with Edwin at the Dallas Bachata Festival in Dallas, Texas.
I used to break dance and go to a lot of different events…in the parks or in the subways. One of the events we went to had a showcase of mambo dancers. It wasn’t like anything from the Palladium era, but for me I didn’t know what it was. All I saw was a bunch of sexy hip movements and the guys turning the girls. Somebody asked me, “Do you want to learn this? Come to our school.” I went there and took the class and since then I’ve been dancing.
When did you begin teaching and did you have any mentors?
Definitely. I was taking classes in the later part of 2006-2007. I started teaching in 2008-2009. My first class I was just a substitute…but then they started having me substitute regularly, and then it became my own class. I definitely had a lot of mentors. One of my first mentors was Violeta Galagarza from New York. She is the dance company director for KR3Ts. My second mentor was Eddie Torres who I went to train for salsa. Since then I’ve been learning from Caribbean Soul, Ismael Otero, Tomas Guerrero, and a lot of other New York instructors.
What qualities are important in order to be a good dance instructor?
The most important one is a real, genuine care for the students. That’s the biggest key.
What feelings or experiences do you want students to take away from your classes?
That’s changed throughout the years. It used to be just a good understanding of the material. But then it became more about getting a good understanding of themselves, and how they dance. Lately we’ve been promoting more individuality, so the students don’t look exactly like the instructors, and that instructors are teaching students to find themselves rather than dance like someone else. When we have our classes, one of the first things we tell them before we even start is, ‘Yes, you learned it this way, but when you go out dancing, find your own voice. Find a way to make it more comfortable for you.’
How would you describe your own dance style?
Fusion. One word, fusion (laughs). I started with break-dancing, then got into salsa…dabbled a little bit with middle eastern dance. A little bit of everything.
What style of dance do you enjoy dancing the most?
Wow. That’s really hard. My favorite thing to dance when, for me, when I’m not being watched by anyone is probably hip-hop because I can express myself more. When I’m performing, I love performing salsa. When I’m social dancing, I love bachata. (laughs). So there isn’t one answer for different aspects of what I like to do.
Do you have a favorite dance memory?
Definitely. Meeting my partner for the first time (Daniela Grosso). I knew that was going to turn into something big for me, and it has. We’ve been travelling the world teaching and performing ever since we met.
Let’s talk about Daniela…where did you meet and why do you think you dance so well together?
We met in New York City at a local club (2011). The reason we dance so well together is because we have similar experiences. We both came from a fusion mentality. She learned a lot of different dance styles before latin. I did the same thing. I did a lot of different dances before latin, so that was how the puzzle connected. We had variety before we met.
What specific goals for the next couple years are you wanting to accomplish?
Nothing concrete. I would say deviating a little bit from steps, moves and patterns into learning more historical aspects of each dance. Expanding ourselves to the other side of dance. So, not just movement, but into the culture of our dances.
I’ve read that you’re a really talented musician. What instruments do you play and how did you get into playing music?
That’s exactly why I went to college. I used to play piano when I was little. I started getting really good at it, but I really wanted to go to college first. I went to college and enrolled in to a music program for producing. It was called ‘Sonic Arts’. I dabbled in that for a while, then I moved into music composition. So I started writing and producing. My instruments are piano, saxophone and guitar…but my main instrument is piano.
Definitely. I’m working with someone who is in the dance industry as well, and together we’re creating an album that will be catered to performers to find variety…not just salsa. Salsa mixed with bachata, or salsa mixed with hip-hop…the whole thing is going to be fusion.
Are there any performers or instructors that you like watching dance?
Any of the New York teams like Yamulee, Santo Rico, and Caribbean Soul. Eddie Torres and his son (Eddie Torres, Jr.) who is so young, but really talented. Of course Juan “Pachanga” Matos, Adolfo Indacochea and Oliver Pineda. Those are the guys that I look up to.
Can you talk about your dance crew Latix FX Dancers? How did that get started?
It started as a little team performing small events here and there. Things like bachata and merengue. We started at a college campus and little by little we became bigger. We have completely transformed the company into one of the powerhouses, in terms of fusion dance, in New York city. We perform fusion of hip-hop, merengue, bachata, salsa, lyrical (jazz) and a lot of other things.
For more information on Edwin please visit EdwinFerreras.com!