Monthly Archives: March 2008

Super Mario’s Advice!

As stated last week Super Mario, one of the most well-known salsa instructors in the world, has shared with me some advice so that I can, in turn, inspire and motivate our students.

I started off by asking Super Mario what is the most important piece of advice he can offer a person learning how to dance? Here is his response…

SM – “The most important piece of advice that I could give anyone learning how to dance, well…..HAVE FUN. Learn stuff, but have fun while learning. I have been dancing for almost 10 years now, only salsa with no prior dance background. And for me, dancing with someone today is as much fun as it was the first day I took a salsa class. And knowing that when I am having fun my partner is also enjoying themselves and they walk away with smiles all around.”

The thing that I like and respect about Mario is that what he says is the truth – he really is having a blast every time he gets on the dance floor and he treats every person he dances with as if they are the best, most fun dancer he has danced with so you feel great walking off the dance floor.

I also asked Mario what are the most important actions that students can take to see improvement? Here is his response:

SM – “Hmmm…..I used to try and remember all my material when I was learning, and then one day someone showed me how I looked like when I was dancing. I didn’t like it at all. So I worked on fixing all the areas of my dancing that didn’t look good on tape. Try filming yourself dancing and you can be your biggest critic. So every now and then film yourself social dancing and then correct what you don’t like.

Dance with everyone, from beginners to advanced dancers. If you can lead something, you will be able to lead it on a beginner or advanced dancer. If your lead is weak, the beginner would not be able to follow it, so you might have to lead it differently. What you learn from this is how to lead everyone. The same move but with different tensions.

Listen to music and learn to dance all styles… only opens one’s mind.”

I will post more Super Mario tips over the next few weeks. In the meantime check out his website with online classes at:

Happy dancing!

Age Limit to Audition?

Yesterday I posted the details for the “So You Think You Can Dance Canada” auditions. One of the criteria listed was an age minimum and maximum – basically you have to be between the ages of 18-30 years of age.

What does everyone think of these limitations. I can understand the minimum age limit because they are looking for adult dancers but is 30 too young an age limit to set? Are there not amazing dancers over the age of 30 who are still young, flexible and talented enough to compete with the twenty somethings?

If I think of the best salsa dancers in Canada and even in North America, they are almost all over the age of 30. This is mainly because it takes years of experience to become smooth and versatile in this dance. The other reason is because most people learn salsa as adults so it is not like ballet where a 15 year old dancer already has 10 years of dance experience.

Most other dances including ballroom, ballet, tap, jazz have dancers starting at a young age so this age limit may make sense. But it seems a shame to limit the competition when the 30 somethings will bring with them finesse, confidence, experience and a maturity to the competition that could really add an interesting element.

Oh well such is life! Comments??

So You Think You Can Dance Canada Auditions…

Here is some more info regarding the auditions for “So You Think You Can Dance Canada” as listed in the website.

“Calling all Canadian dancers!

So You Think You Can Dance Canada is getting ready to launch it’s cross-country audition tour, set to waltz, jive and hip-hop across Canada beginning Monday, April 7!

So You Think You Can Dance Canada cross-country auditions are open to all Canadians who, as of April 1, 2008, are of the age of majority in the province/territory in which they reside, and are no older than 30 years of age. Registration begins at 9 a.m. in each city.

Auditions will be held at the locations and on the dates listed below (subject to change):

Vancouver, BC
Monday, April 7
The Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts
777 Homer Street

Halifax, NS
Saturday, May 3
Bella Rose Arts Centre,
283 Thomas Raddall Drive

Calgary, AB
Monday, May 12
MacEwan Conference & Event Centre,
2500 University Drive N.W.

Montreal, QC
Tuesday, May 27
Théâtre St-Denis
1594 St-Denis Street

Toronto, ON
Thursday, June 5
Winter Garden Theatre,
189 Yonge St.

So You Think You Can Dance Canada is designed to showcase and judge the talent of Canadian dancers who have roughly the same level of experience and maturity.

Among the rules and regulations that should be noted for the auditions:

- Competitors must be either a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.

- All competitors must be legally eligible to work in Canada.

- Competitors must be of the age of majority in the province/territory in which they reside and no older than 30 years of age as of April 1, 2008. The age of majority is as follows: 18 years of age in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan; and 19 years of age in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut and Yukon.

- All competitors must provide two pieces of identification, including a government-issued photo ID (e.g. driver’s licence or passport), at the audition.

- Competitors may bring a non-competing dance partner for purposes of the audition.

- All competitors must bring with them, along with the proper ID, the signed personal release, the completed preliminary questionnaire, and the music sheet. All will be available at the audition site and for download soon at

- All competitors are asked to bring with them the completed music sheet indicating the music they will use in their audition, along with the CD containing the indicated music.

- All songs must be “original” songs that are commercially available and cannot be a re-mix of a song, a song downloaded from the Internet, or a competitor-created mix.

- Competitors must not wear any article of clothing with visible designer, sports or any other name, logos and/or artwork subject to protection by copyright or trademark laws.

Stay tuned for downloadable Personal Release Forms, Preliminary Questionnaire and Music Sheets.”

Super Mario is Our Guest Blogger!

All the way from the U.K. the fun and versatile “Million Moves Man” Super Mario has shared with me some great information that will be of benefit to any salsa student or dancer.

I always say that one of the most fun dancers to get down on a salsa congress dance floor with is Super Mario. He has one of the longest line ups at congresses and women wait all night for a spin on the dance floor with him.

Recently Mario shared with me some great tips and advice for our students that I will share over the course of a few blog articles. But first, here’s his bio for you all to get to know Mario a little better…

Super Mario’s Bio from his new website called

“For many years now, ‘Super Mario’ has been a household name on the international Salsa scene, recognised and respected by students and fellow professionals for his amazing lead, unlimited database of fantastic moves/combinations and his teaching ability. His classes and workshops have always been extremely popular both in the UK and in countries as far as Australia, Japan and the USA, specialising on technique but always maintaining an element of fun.

Mario was born in India but moved to the UK as a teenager. He settled in London, where he continued his education, taking a degree in mathematics and also qualifying as an accountant. In 1998, a friend took him to a salsa club where the teacher immediately saw his potential. Mario was hooked straight away and has never looked back since. Still based in London and travelling to teach nearly every weekend of the year, Mario specialises in cross body style, dancing on the ‘1’ or the ‘2’ and focusing mainly on moves and combinations, with special emphasis on leading techniques.

Despite no previous dancing or teaching background, he was able to observe the unnecessary power used to lead turn patterns, and began focusing on breaking down routines to understand the techniques and signals that are essential to good leading. His natural talent for both producing and executing so many imaginative moves led to an invitation to teach at the first congress that he ever attended. His big break came soon after, when asked to give workshops at the biggest salsa congress in the world in Toronto, Canada.

Mario has earned himself the title; ‘Million Moves Man’ through his ability to create any number of unique combinations, that are lead with expertise and are always comfortable to follow. His dancing style is smooth but fast, giving him and his dance partner extra freedom to improvise. His amazing presence on the dance floor sets him apart as a social dancer and his outgoing, energetic personality has also been instrumental in getting him known in the Salsa World.”

Sunday at El Rancho

Thanks to everyone who came out to El Rancho last Sunday – another great turnout with about 200 students out. I was so happy to see lots of people attending the classes. They were challenging as always but as usual everyone tends to get it by the end of the hour. Kimberly and Sara taught upstairs the beginners and really challenged them with a cross body lead with turn combination. Evan and I were downstairs with a tricky combo. It was about a level 4 combo so congrats to all the level 2s and 3s who got it! Just remember when you go to a club class to repeat the combination 20 times that evening so that it becomes natural and muscle memory will kick in to ensure you don’t forget it. Otherwise the next day you won’t be able to remember the whole combo.

We had lots of variety of students last night. Absolute beginners were in attendance have a ball and dancing side by side with helpers and instructors. I love seeing this as the beginners have a chance to see what they can look like with some practice an be inspired. And of course the more seasoned dancers get to show off their moves!

If you are unsure as to whether you want to attend an outing, then please don’t hesitate. It is a comfortable environment – you can come on your own, with a friend or with a partner – doesn’t matter. You will meet lots of people if you are on your own, learn a lot and improve your dancing all while having fun and working out.

Our next outing is Friday March 28th at 9:15pm at Plaza Flamingo – hope to see you all there! Hope everyone has a wonderful Easter and long weekend!

The Amazing Helper Outing!

Wow what an amazing night we had last Saturday at Horseshoe Resort! As usual I always treat the helpers once a semester to a fun adventurous evening to thank them for all their hard work, dedication and passion. A lot of people don’t know just how much time and energy our helpers put forth in classes – they really do make the TDS experience!

So about 40 helpers headed to snowy Horseshoe Resort just past Barrie on Saturday. We met at 6pm at the Fireside Lounge for some hot chocolate and catching up. It was great to see teams of helpers arriving together – some that didn’t know each other but by the end of the night were instant friends.

Once everyone arrived we headed to the snow tubing hill. It is always a little scary the first time and there were some nervous helpers looking a little green on the first run but very soon everyone was an expert and the instead of telling the attendant to be gentle we were begging for fast, mega-spinning rides. Because the hill was so icy we were going faster then last time and at times we thought we may go through the final barrier but we always stopped just in time.

At 9pm everyone changed and met at Silks Dining Room which was their fine dining restaurant for a 3 course meal. It was a great meal with lots of conversation and laughter.

At the end of the meal the best part of the evening began. We moved to the lounge where last year’s entertainer was there singing some great oldies. He remembered our group and stuck around for an extra hour playing songs for us. We danced salsa, merengue and cha cha to his oldies which was a lot of fun and ad libbed the other songs with lots of cheesy fun dance moves and even the electric slide!

John Radke, one of our very talented helpers, even joined the entertainer for a song and he was amazing!

This was by far the best helper outing. I know I always say that but it gets better and better! Horseshoe may well be an annual event now. Visit the “events” page for the photos.

Thank you to all the helpers for an amazing night but, more importantly, all that you do to make Toronto Dance Salsa such a fun and successful organization. Lots of love and hugs to you all!!

How lucky am I?

Sometimes we all get overwhelmed by the day to day tasks and we can forget the big picture. I am so lucky to do what I love to do for a living and every once in a while I get hit with just how lucky I am while in class.

Wednesday evening was one of those nights. I have an awesome level 2 and level 3 class at Northridge and it was the last day of class on Wednesday. This is really when I feel most rewarded – at the end of the semester when I see how amazing the students look, how comfortable they are with each other and with dancing, and how much fun they are having.

At the end of the class no one wanted to leave. The students were exchanging phone numbers and making plans to go dancing together. They really bonded during the semester which is the best type of class to be able to teach…a class that is consistent with attendance, waits all day to go to class, hangs out together after and becomes friends.

I am so happy to be able to bring fun and friendships into people’s lives. It is very rewarding to see people grow socially right in front of your eyes.

Next semester’s classes have already started and the process begins again – hope to see lots of friendship formed and a fun salsa-filled spring!

Salsa Chemistry

You’ve worked really hard to be a good lead/follow and you have been eagerly anticipating a dance with someone. This person is a great dancer – you have seen it with your own eyes and have heard about their skills. You finally get them on the dance floor and…disappointment! You don’t gel with the dancer. Why??? They look great with everyone else. Is it you? Is it them?

Yes it could be you or them. Maybe this person is a great stylist but not a great leader/follower. They could look great because they have the body movement, flare and style to enhance any dance. However leading/following habits are separate skills and you can be great at one and not so great at the other. That is why sometimes you will dance with someone expecting them to be a beginner and end up being pleasantly surprised by their skills – because maybe the leading/following is a lot stronger then their styling skills.

So yes it could be you or them. But more likely it is just a simple case of chemistry (or lack thereof). Some people you just click with on the dance floor. They may not be at your level, you may not even personally like them, but on the dance floor it is magic. Others, you just can’t get it right, no matter that you are friends or that you look good together or any other qualifying aspects. I guess it is similar when it comes to choosing a partner off the dance floor. Chemistry is very personal and there is no rhyme or reason.

Will this change with enough practice with that person? Maybe. My experience is that those I don’t gel with I almost always will never be able to gel with in the future. The only exception is if I wasn’t matched skilled-wise with the person and then either he or I was able to catch up and then we could dance well together. However this scenario is not about chemistry – it is about being on the same playing field.

I am sure you have all had instances of chemistry failure – please share!

Should You Talk and Dance?

It is an interesting question – should you talk and dance at the same time? Is the dance floor a place for extensive conversation or a serious haven for silence?

I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer because salsa means different things to different people. For some it is purely for the creative release, for others it is about the exerciser’s high, for many it is a social outlet to meet new people and maybe develop a potential romance. So depending on why you are on the dance floor, you will have different expectations regarding conversations on the dance floor.

If both dancers are there for the social aspect then conversing while dancing is great as long as it isn’t dangerous or gets in the way of other dancers. My advice for the social dancer is not to expect that every partner you ask will want to converse. Start with simple small talk and feel out the situation. If the conversation is easy and two sided and you are aware of what is happening on the dance floor, then great! However if your partner seems to prefer to enjoy the silence then respect this. Also if you find yourself getting carried away with conversation and not paying attention on the dance floor then please concentrate on safely and effectively finishing the dance and continue the conversation off the dance floor.

From my experience most serious dancers prefer mild small talk and then to just enjoy the dance in silence. That way you can stay alert, reactive and in the moment. Don’t be offended if that is the situation. It is, after all, a dance floor, not a chat floor and that is usually why you have cozy corners in most clubs where you can hang out and chat!

To Partner or Not to Partner – Pt 2?

This post is continued from last week…the question is: Do you become a better dancer faster with a partner or without?

Part 2 – continued

So what is my point? Both scenarios made me the dancer I am now. I wouldn’t trade either experience and I value each for the individual strengths it provided me. I don’t believe a student that tells me they can’t progress or practice because they don’t have a partner. That is maybe an excuse for feeling uncomfortable about going out and putting yourself out on the dance floor. I also don’t think that couples taking classes should always dance with each other if their goal is to become better dancers. If you are just coming to salsa classes to bond with your partner, by all means you should stay together – that is the point of why you are there. But if you are moving up the levels and are realizing you really want to improve and hone your skills, rotate even occasionally so that you can experience all the other leads and follows and learn to really dance.

It doesn’t have to be one or the other. If you are partner-less, enjoy the freedom! It is an amazing experience to go out and dance with whoever you like. Trust me, when it is your time you will meet the right partner for you and have both experiences if that is what you want. If you are partnered, don’t feel you have to always dance together. Be flexible to dance with others and you will enjoy coming back to each other more.

Let me know your thoughts and experiences on this topic!