Monthly Archives: June 2008

So You Think You Can Dance Update

Did anyone catch last nights elimination round of So You Think You Can Dance? No surprises there, I believe.

Velina and I, who both share the SYTYCD addiction, did a sushi and SYTYCD night. Nothing beats sushi and dancing! What was great about it was the Velina had the previous night’s 2hr show taped and we were able to see all the performances again before the elimination round which was brilliant. You do tend to forget and I find the second time watching you see completely different things.

I have a tendency to always look at the female dancers the first time. But with the second viewing I was able to watch the men, the dancers as a unit, their facial expressions and all the other small details that really make the dance. I guess I shouldn’t have thrown out my VCR because taping the show really makes a difference.

We probably watched the Work-A-Holic Hip Hop routine 4 times – it is such a great routine that gets better and better for me. The samba and the rumba were super hot also and the jailbird hip hop routine was a lot of fun.

So it was no surprise when the bottom three turned out to be the quickstep (which was by far the worst routine), the modern African piece (which had potential to be awesome but they couldn’t get enough power in their movements) and the contemporary routine with Kourtni and Matt.

I thought Kourtni and Matt’s solos were excellent. They were saved and that was great news. Comfort and Thayne were also saved although I think they may be going home very soon. But it was Chelsea and Chris who went home and I think this was the best decision.

Let me know your thoughts…I am still cheering for Will but he needs to get a new partner!

Roy Thompson Hall Latin Stars!

I just received word of two interesting concerts coming up at the end of June at Roy Thompson Hall. If you love Latin music, you may want to check out these two artists!

“Roy Thomson Hall presents

The Buena Vista Social Club, an assemblage of many of Cuba’s most renowned musical forces, has presented live performances around the world since 1996 when Ry Cooder’s documentary and resulting Grammy-winning album gained critical and popular success.

Omara Portuondo, one of the featured vocalists on the album and documentary, brings to the stage smoky and quietly tragic vocals, charismatic stage presence, and a taste of Havana nightlife. She is joined by Roberto Fonseca, one of Cuba’s most promising young pianists.

Gilberto Gil

A pioneer of the revolutionary fusion of bossa nova, samba, salsa, rock and folk music, Brazilian icon Gilberto Gil and his “Banda Larga” (Broadband Band) present a musical interactive experience.

Enthusiastically embracing the realm of digital communication, Gil invites the audience to participate in his tour by taking photos, recording the show and posting them on his website to be re-experienced by fans and music lovers worldwide.”

My Addiction to So You Think You Can Dance

There is no better show on TV in my opinion! So You Think You Can Dance satisfies every TV craving I have – a great reality show with amazing dancing of every kind. And this season proves to be just as good. The episodes leading up to the top 20 had a little too much of the “bad dancers” and not enough of the talented dancers, in my opinion, but otherwise a great start to the season.

Last week was the first round of the top 20 and the first elimination of one man and woman. I still don’t know everyone’s names very well but Evan and I are cheering for Will at this point in the game and were very surprised, as were the judges, to see him in the bottom 3. Of course he danced for his life and was immediately saved – great news as I think we will see some amazing dances from him. I also love Twitch and Carrington and last night I adored their Vienese Waltz.

It is always difficult to compare the seasons. The judges always say the current group is the best they have had but it is hard to tell if this batch of dancers will be better than th likes of Travis, Danny, Sabre and many of the other favourites from the past seasons.

Let me know who you are all cheering for and happy watching!

The Air is On!

Well I haven’t been able to fully enjoy the opening of our studio. As beautiful as it is, as large and spacious, the location and all the reasons why I fell in love with the space wasn’t as significant when the air conditioning doesn’t work properly :) To see all the students get so sweaty and hot takes a little of the satisfaction out.

But 2 weeks later and 5 days of full time work by 3 air conditioning specialists and we are in action! The men finished the work at 5pm yesterday and all the Monday students and helpers were able to enjoy a nice cool studio. What a difference and what a relief!

Thank you to everyone who attended classes and did so with great spirit. I definitely have the best students in the world – not one complain! So now you can all look forward to coming to classes and staying as cool as one can possibly be dancing salsa ;)

So now I can start raving about how much I love the new studio. The location – wow! I searched for over 1 year for a great space for us and it was rough sailing for a while. You wouldn’t believe how many places turned us down because they believed dance studios are noisy. Funny enough 7 years ago I taught at Empress Walk at “Lifesport Fitness Club” which went bankrupt. So now it is a full circle and it felt great to see our signs come up. Check out our Yonge Street sign which will be up next week!

What else do I love about the studio? The floors are so slippery I can wear non-dance shoes and still be able to do multiple turns. The stereo is crazy powerful. The students aren’t squished and I don’t have to ask for permission to hold classes – what could be better??

Now that the air conditioning is in we can have a big grand opening party and begin our Sunday salsa socials. We’ll announce the dates shortly!!

My Interview With Burju – Part 1

Well I have definitely been luck enough to get some great advice from some of the most popular international salsa dancers, performers, choreographers and instructors and Burju Hurtuk is no exception. Burju is from Hacha Y Machete Dance Co. (HYM Style) in Boston. Here is part 1 of the interview:

SG – “What is the most important piece of advice you can offer a person learning how to dance?”
BH – “I can’t be sure that this is the most important piece of advice but it is certainly top on my list when it comes to my practices. Always be a student first. Learn from as many instructors, styles and even different genres of dance as possible. The more you continue to learn the easier learning becomes and the more versatility you will have.”

SG – “What are the most important actions that students can take to see improvement?”
BH – “In dance in general to see improvement a student must continue learning and practicing as much on their own as possible in order to really apply the things they learn in classes. For Salsa specifically there is an element of reflex and spontaneity when social dancing that can only be acquired through experience. You become a better social dancer by social dancing as much as possible. It’s the same idea as driving. You become a better driver through experience driving.”

For more information on Burju and Hacha Y Machete Dance Co. (HYM Style) please click here. Part two coming soon!

My interview with Burju – Bio!

I am very excited to highlight another amazing international salsa dancer, performer, choreographer and instructor. Burju from Boston is one of the founders of h.acha y. m.achete (H.Y.M.) and has been around the salsa circuit for years. Over the next few weeks I will feature my interview with Burju. To get you started, here is her bio. Don’t forget to check out her website

Burju is one of the original 4 founders of H.Y.M. In 2001 she became the director along with her fiancé and dance partner, Victor. The two of them ran the company part time after their day jobs. In 2003 Burju made a life changing decision to pursue a career in Latin dance. This decision was prompted when her good friend and mentor Juan Matos offered her an opportunity to tour Italy for one month. She left her job at Putnam Investments and has since traveled to over 50 cities all over the world teaching and performing. She directs and choreographs for 3 teams consisting of over 40 dancers as well as choreographs and produces showcases for a national award-winning teen troop. She has helped develop the “Learn Through Dance” in-school program that affords inner city elementary students the opportunity to learn dance and experience the benefits of engaging in the arts.

Burju has worked very hard to develop her own style of Salsa that incorporates her background in different disciplines. She began as a Rhythmic Gymnast and trained in Ballet and Jazz at a fairly young age. She then became interested in Hip-Hop and Modern and danced in various dance troops and productions. In college she became a part of a dance troop that incorporated Latin dancing. Here’s where she began her journey.

Burju met her fiancé and best friend through dance, which is the main reason it remains such a major part of her life. Dance has given them the opportunity to be entrepreneurs together and to travel the world together.

Outing to Lula!

We are excited to finally be doing an outing to Lula Lounge on Friday June 20th. We will be teaching from 9-10pm and then at 10:15pm a great live band will be playing 3 sets. Lula Lounge is giving us a special $10 cover instead of $15 or a special dinner package for $49 as long as you tell them you or your friends are from our school.

Here is some info about Luis Mario Ochoa and Cimarron who will be performing that night – hope to see you all there!

“Well known for leading a wide variety of big bands and latin jazz ensembles, for the Cuban Friday series, arranger and composer Luis Mario Ochoa has gathered a killer line up of Toronto based Cuban musicians to perform a repertoire of old school salsa music dedicated to the dancer.

Featuring Alexis Baro on trumpet, Luis Eniz on alto sax, John Johnson on tenor sax, Chris Butcher on trombone, David Virelles on piano, Yoser Rodriguez on bass, Alberto Suarez on timable, Luis Orbegoso on congas bandleader Luis Mario Ochoa on lead vocals, Cimarron will combine the foundation rhythms of Cuban son, salsa and cha cha with the New Yorkino classic salsa sounds of the 70’s.

Born, raised and educated in Havana, Cuba, Luis Mario Ochoa is a singer, composer, arranger and bandleader. In 1992 Luis Mario founded the group CIMARRÓN, named for its distinctive Afro-Cuban roots. Cimarrón, meaning wild and untamed, was the word used by the masters when referring to their runaway slaves in colonial Cuba.”

The Preliminaries

Well what an evening! Last night definitely did not disappoint in terms of attendance, performances and salsa heat!

Over 450 people came out to Six Degrees last night to enjoy the evening and cheer on the competitors and performers for our second annual Toronto Dance Salsa Amateur Competition.

The evening started at 7pm with three lessons. Velina and Lovelize taught the absolute beginners, Sara and Rob taught the level 1s and Emely and Emmett taught the intermediate lesson on stage with a very sexy dip. Everyone did a great job considering the massive amount of students that came out.

Social dancing began at 8pm and it was nice to see salseros of any level dancing together. The competitors and judges also arrived by this time and we were able to draw the order of the competitors. Alfred & Nina, last year’s competition winners, also gave a short pep talk to the group of competitors and it was awesome to see all the competitors excited and pumped about going on stage.

At 9pm sharp George a.k.a. Georgeous, the man who took sexy back, and our Host with the Most started the competition. As usual George was funny, engaging and kept the spirit of the crowd high.

George asked all the competitors to do a 2 minute warm up on stage and then introduced the judges: Teddy and Rene from United Salseros, Vanesa and Oscar from Latin Energy, Ana Machado and Salsa Steph from Go Dance Mambo.

Here were the order of the competitors:

David & Milded
Tyrone & Jennifer
John & Marsha
James & Therese
Joseph & Natasha
Manuel & Camela
Jonathan & Andrea
Barry & Kelly

Everyone did an amazing job and we got to see lots of fun body waves, dips and tricks.
The crowd was great at keeping the energy high. After everyone finished I quickly gathered the numbers from the judges and, with Sara’s assistance (thanks Sara!) we added the numbers while iFreestyle and Latin Energy dazzled the crowd with some awesome performances.

Finally we were done and George proceeded, with the help of Salsa Steph, to give away 4 tickets to the Salsa Chocolate Party happening next Friday, 4 DVDs from Salsa Steph regarding Timing & Rhythm and 4 TDS DVDs.

The George called out the 5 finalist who will be performing a choreographed routine for the finals. In no particular order, here they are:

Tyrone & Jennifer
John & Marsha
James & Therese
Manuel & Camela
Barry & Kelly

Congrats to everyone who competed – whether or not you go to the finals doesn’t take away from the big accomplishment of last night. Some competitors had only been salsa dancing for 7month to 1 year so that is a huge accomplishment.

More details of the finals to come!

The Competition is Coming!

Wow I can’t believe the competition is so close. The competitors are very excited and working hard to create a great freestyle round in the preliminaries and some are even starting to choreograph for the finals!

The competitors are as follows:
Tyrone Sterling & Jennifer Botelho
James Kalfin and Therese Maceda
Barry Ip & Kelly Elliott
John Radtke & Marsha Soefredie
Joseph Sackey & Natasha Gibson
Mildred Quinto and David Charing
Manuel Alvarez & Camela Adams
Jonathan William & Andrea Ferguson

So far the prize list is amazing! We have passes to the World Salsa Championship, the Miami Salsa Congress, the Calgary Salsa Congress, dance shoes from Addicted 2 Dance Shoes, Century Wide Shoes, Gabellini Shoes and much much more.

We also have some great judges participating including:
Teddy Olaso – United Salseros
Angus Dirnbeck – iFreestyle
Vanessa Stay – Latin Energy
Oscar Naranjo – Latin Energy
Ana Machado – Ana Machado Dance School
Salsa Steph – Go Dance Mambo

Hopefully can all join us for the prelimaries which are taking place this weekend. Here are the details:

Toronto Dance Salsa Amateur Competition
6 Degrees Nightclub – 2335 Yonge Street (North of Eglinton)
Sunday June 8th at 7pm
7-8pm lessons for beginners, level 1s and intermediates
8-9pm social dancing
9-10pm competition and performances by Latin Energy and iFreestyle
10 onwards social dancing
Cover: $12

For details on the competition click here for details.