I’m not going to lie…Terry Tauliaut is my Salsa role model.

He’s suave and stylish.  He has a cool French accent.  He has a mini-afro that my slightly receding hairline no longer can support. And, most importantly, he’s an amazing Salsa dancer.

Terry was born in France (near Paris), but his family moved back to Guadeloupe (their Island of origin) when he was young.  He developed a passion for Salsa at age 19 and soon was winning dance contests in Guadeloupe.  He was invited to join as a teacher in the prestigious Isis Figaro school in Paris.  At Isis Figaro he met his dance partner Cecile Ovide.

Terry was kind enough to spend a few minutes speaking with us at the BIG Salsa Festival in San Antonio, Texas.

This is your first trip to Texas and it’s one of the hottest times of the year. This weather isn’t anything like Paris. Are you enjoying the heat?

I definitely enjoy the heat. This is summer so I’m searching for places where I can find heat like this. I really love the weather, and the people are really welcoming and very nice.  Everyone is really taking care of us and its great.

Terry Tauliaut 1When did you and Cecile Ovide meet and how long have you been dancing together?

We met in January 2006. I was living in Guadeloupe and thinking about going to Paris to teach (Salsa).  I went for a one week vacation in Paris to see how the education would be there, and I met Cecile in the school where I was going to teach.  She was a teacher there. In April 2006 I moved to Paris and became friends with her. We started dancing together and we felt we really had a good connection.

Why do you think you have such a good dance connection?

I think because we are really different.  It’s funny because our dance styles are really different. Cecile is receptive to every kind of dance and meter. I saw her dancing with a Colombian dancer, and she didn’t know how to dance Colombian style Salsa, but she looked like she could do it.  She is really a pro. She really understands my way of dance and she tries to give me a lot of her style too. This allows me to get better with my own dancing.

Terry Tauliaut 2Now you actually started with hip-hop dancing correct?

Yes.  I danced hip-hop for two years before I started Salsa, and it really affected my dancing.

Really? How did it affect your Salsa dancing?

The energy that we use in hip-hop and the energy in Salsa are very similar.  When you hear the percussion in Salsa it’s very easy to mark the beats and hit them when dancing.  It is the same with hip-hop.  It’s very natural and I never thought about it.  It just comes natural.

Do you still dance hip-hop a lot?

Not really, but I love watching hip-hop dance. I really have a good time watching a lot of hip-hop dance, but at the moment I’m only dancing Salsa.  When I can learn other dance styles it’s a pleasure because I really love to do it.  We have something to learn in every kind of dance.

You all gave an incredible performance here at the BIG Salsa Festival.  You also thrive in social dancing as well. Which do you prefer…social dancing or performing?

My favorite part is social dancing, and I know that for Cecile her favorite part is performing.

I’m glad to hear that because I really love watching you dance socially.  How would you define your own style of Salsa dancing?

My style is a mix of styles that already exist in Salsa.  I pattern myself after people like Juan Matos, Adolfo (Indacochea), Maykel Fonts, and Oscar (Perrones) from Yamulee…There are a lot of people that I like to see dance and I watch different parts of their dance to put in mine. Those are the origins of my Salsa.

We saw you in the elevator earlier today and you commented that you were very tired. What’s the most challenging aspect of being a traveling dance instructor? 

The flights. Being in the air for hours and you have a tiny seat (laughs).  It’s really the hardest part of my job.  I’m still waiting for the invention of teleportation!

You could incorporate teleportation into your shows! You could teleport from one part of the stage to another!

Thats it! (laughs).

Tell us a little bit about your dance school called Salsalianza.

Cecile and I created the school in 2007. We are growing little by little in Paris.  We just moved to the center of Paris because we were a little bit out of the city. This will be our first year in the center of the city and it will be good for us. We currently have ten teachers in the school. Cecile and I are traveling a lot so we need people to teach while we aren’t there. We have a good team and working with us and it feels like family for us.

Terry Tauliaut 3What’s the most important lesson that you try to communicate to your students? 

There is a lot. If they could take everything I know about dancing it would be great. When I teach at my school there are times when I spend ten minutes talking about my own life. I want them to get a little bit of my experience so that it doesn’t feel like a routine factory.

I want them to get that it’s more than a dance but a lifestyle.

Do you have a favorite dance moment? One that sticks out in your mind?

I remember at the Marseille Salsa Congress and Jimmy Bosch told me to dance onstage during his live concert.  He is a really good friend of mine.  That was my first time dancing in a live concert on stage. I went to find Cecile while Jimmy was playing with the Orchestra del Solar. That’s a group that is from Spain.  They started singing “Terry and Cecile” during the song! For me that was my favorite moment because it was like I was on a cloud.  That was great.

What dance goals do you have that you’d like to accomplish in the next couple years?

When I moved to Paris I had goals of becoming an international artist, having my own school, and things like that.  Actually my goals aren’t really for dancing.  I want to keep going and improving myself. My goals are more in my personal life right now.

Here is a fun question for you.  If a movie was being made about Terry Tauliaut, what actor would you want to play you in a movie?

(laughs!) Sam L. Jackson! Because I look like him! (laughs).  Sam Terry

Perfect! I would’ve said the exact same thing! Especially from his character in Pulp Fiction.  Who would you pick to provide the music for the movie soundtrack?

There are a lot. I’m a fan of all the Fania music.  Larry Harlow performed (at the BIG Salsa Festival) yesterday. My two first big performances on stage at congresses was with him.  For me they were the best of Salsa.  I’m a big fan of Victor Manuelle and Marc Anthony. I don’t have a lot of favorite artists, but I have a lot of favorite songs.  Every time I hear a song, I could say ‘Oh, that’s my favorite song’ (laughs). If all the greatest Salsa artists could do the music for my movie that would be my dream.

LTerry Tauliaut 4ast question.  You have a really cool hair style and I wish I could grow it like yours, but I’m receding way to much.  What’s your secret for having the cool hair that you do?

(laughs). Basically, it’s luck. I was getting my hair cut regularly, but I got a really bad hair cut once in Paris.  I don’t think they really cared about what I was asking for.  So I said I’m not cutting my hair anymore!  It’s not a natural style and I’m going to do waves.  So, basically that’s why my hair looks like it does because I didn’t want any barber shop to cut my hair anymore.

For more information about Cecile and Terry (and his awesome hair) take a look at their Dance Planet Daily profile: Terry and Cecile.

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