“What does cuban music make me feel? I think I found myself through cuban music; my African roots, culture, religious practices and so much more. It all started 10 years ago. A co-worker invited me to try Miami style casino. But at Bailatlanta‘15 (BAILAtlanta – 20 Years of Cuban dance), I first experienced true cuban dancing. By then, I was already on a transformational journey: from dancing and teaching Miami style to Cuban casino.
Yes there is a difference. And when no one around me could break down what Timba is, I started doing my own research and discovered Son, Rumba and folkloric Afro-cuban dances. I spent 2014 learning MCC and following Adrian and Amanda of DC Casineros Dance Company and later, Piotr Agassi Chajkowski (The CubanWay) from Poland. In 2015, I landed in DC for a DC Casinero dance event and began a relationship with the group along with personal training. It has been amazing to learn with Adrian and Amanda.This journey continued into 2016 with an invite to Cuba to perform with the DC Casineros and also Jorge Luna Roque and his whole team, Compañía All Stars Santiago de Cuba! I learned two different choreographies between the two groups.
Since then, there has been no looking back. Only forward and defending Cuban dance and music. When students walk into my class, I point out that they are listening to mostly self-taught or classically-trained MASTER musicians. I still remember finding my very first Timba playlist and listening to it over and over. I would pick an artist and listen to whatever was available on iTunes.
I had not come across anything like this at any club or dance class! I then researched about the transformation Cuban music has gone through since the 30s and again in the 70s that essentially led to the genesis of the tunes and rhythms we hear today. Cuban music is not just for Casineros to dance to. The diversity of Cuban music, the character and history is so beautiful and hard to pull oneself out of, once you experience it.
I draw inspiration from many Cuban dance mentors, but Amanda Gill is my favorite. She’s a very talented instructor, choreographer and dancer. I would also love to travel to Italy and learn from Yoandy Villaurrutia. I love his unique style and choreographies. I want to go back to Cuba and learn drumming with Los Munequitos de matanzas. A teacher is always on a learning path, in any realm.
There are many folkloric cuban dances I want to learn. So, there is no way this journey is coming to an end anytime soon. Rather, only getting richer and more fulfilling.”