The journey has been phenomenal!!!
On Friday I competed in the Pro/Am division at the World Salsa Summit in Miami with the now 8 times World Salsa Champion Oliver Pineda. A year and a half ago I told Oliver I wanted to push myself as far as possible. I didn’t quite realize how literally he would take me and that he would actually make my dream his goal!
With Latin Motion there is no limit to what you can achieve with your dancing. I’ve realised the only limits are what you put on yourself and the more you put in the more you get back.
I’m feeling incredibly lucky and often quite spoilt to be have been adopted into the Latin Motion extended family. To be mentored by someone of Oliver’s caliber who others around the world are so desperate to be able to have just one lesson with, inspired by Latin Motion dancers like Ellie Haas, Paola Calderon and Kristy Hall who competed at the Worlds in December and surrounded by the fantastic Instructor team who each bring not only great technique but something so special to the team, rocks my world!!!
They say you can choose your friends but not your family…. I beg to differ!
Feeling blessed by dance and cant wait to help others on their dance journey at Latin Motion!
I travelled to New Zealand in 2012 and 2013 and competed at the Kiwi Dance Classic in the pro am division gaining 1st and 2nd places. In 2014 I made the decision to move to Sydney from the coast to focus on my salsa dancing. I trained with the Motion Couture Protegé team (now known as TOP Team) under the instruction of Oliver which led us to winning the open teams title and also taking out first place in the semi pro salsa couples division with partner Brandon Nunez at the Australian Salsa Open 2014.
This year I have started training zouk and continue to learn different styles to add to my repertoire. I love Latin Motion as it has been my second home, meeting and dancing with new people who have become close friends throughout the warm, welcoming and fun atmosphere the school has.
I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to do what I love and share it with amazing talented people. There really is no better place to learn and enjoy yourself so come join the Latin Motion Family, New term starts 22nd June! You’re never too old to start dancing 🙂
My first salsa lesson happened by accident. It turned out that my maths tutor was also an avid Cuban salsa dancer and teacher so after my we finished my maths classes with her she would show me and my family how to dance salsa.
After finishing high school I went to Melbourne to study music and improvisation at the Victorian College of the Arts and stoped dancing salsa as much. Instead I would be playing and practising music from morning till late trying to emulate my favourite artists, Cannonball Adderley and Bernie Mcgann. Down in Victoria I learnt ballroom and Latin American styles and competed in Dancesport competitions for two years.
It was in 2012 when I came to Latin Motion to learn more about salsa. I remember on my very first day at shark hotel I saw Oliver and Luda perform one of their amazing routines. Struck by their more than exceptional skill and razor sharp technique, I left feeling quite inspired. I was also surprised at how tiny they both were in comparison to my own stature. Thinking perhaps going back to ballroom would be a better use of my height I stuck with salsa and learnt from these world class dancers.
Since starting at LM I have had the opportunity to learn all of the dance styles LM offers including Salsa, Cuban, Mambo and Bachata with more on my list to learn, for example Zouk and Kizomba. I have also had the chance to perform with the amazing dancers at LM including Oliver himself in these styles.
What LM is for me is a community where everyone involved is working towards a goal, walking along a common path. The past three and a half years has been an incredible journey and I am glad that I am fortunate enough to be able to share what I have learnt with others in a meaningful way.
I look forward to see all the familiar faces and some fresh new ones at Shark hotel and on the social dance floor soon.
I wanted more. In January 2014, I joined the Latin Motion Academy Program and that was one of the best things that ever happened to me. The intensive dance and teacher’s training taught by Oliver Pineda prepared me not only to perform and compete but also to teach salsa for the first time a few months later. That was just the beginning of a great journey.
The most important thing that I learnt during my dance journey with Latin Motion is that everything is possible, you just need to work hard and to never give up. Let me tell a story that I am sure many students will relate to. I decided to learn salsa so that I can be like one of those amazing dancers who inspire me that first night I discovered Salsa. Unfortunately it was not straight forward.
Going to classes and learning new moves every week did not directly equate to being amazing on the dance floor. Many times I would go home after a social night, frustrated and had tears in my eyes. I just couldn’t understand why I couldn’t put those moves I learnt into practice,
I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t pick the beat ‘1’ in the song. Many times I wanted to give up as I thought that this is not for me, maybe I’m not talented enough, maybe I have two left feet and maybe that I have some hearing problems!!! But I never gave up, through Oliver’s advice I listened to salsa music every day in the car and I started to feel the music and tapped on the steering wheel on the down beats (1-3-5-7) and grooving at the same time. I looked silly but who cares!
I kept working hard in class, I stayed back to polish my moves and I kept attending social dancing nights. Then one day, everything just clicked! I still have a long way to go to be amazing on the dance floor, but at least now I’m having fun every time I go social dancing.
Remember, work hard and never give up. I would like to say a big thank you to Oliver Pineda for sharing his talents, love and passion of dancing with us all. Even if he’s younger than me, I consider him as a big brother. A big thank you goes to all the amazing Academy dancers as well with whom I danced, performed, laughed, competed and taught with. But the biggest thank you goes to my amazing students – you are all the reason why I am still teaching today!!!
In 2005, I joined a small team formed by Habana Caracas’ students for performing and shortly after I joined the professional company and the instructor’s team. For 4 years, I took classes from different genres such as jazz, break dance and hip-hop and travelled to Cuba to take Yoruba (Orishas) and Rumba lessons; Also, I had the joy of participating in various competitions and Salsa Congresses around the world. In 2006, I wanted to try something new, so I started taking classes of Linear style Salsa On2 with Marlene y su Salsabor Academy.
In the same year, I had my first presentation and shortly after I joined the professional group. In 2009, my good friend Lenin Lopez decided to open his academy called Latin Mambo, at which I joined and kept improving as a dancer always focused on my Mambo On2 social dance. In 2014, I decided to move to Sydney (Home city of Oliver Pineda and Luda Kroitor; 5 times World Salsa Champions whom I’ve always looked up to).
In October of 2014, I decided to audition with Oliver to continue my instruction as a salsa dancer and shortly after we won the first place in the Pro-Am male Salsa Solo duet division in Brisbane! Then, Oliver provided me with the opportunity to accomplish one of my dreams & compete in the World Salsa Summit in Miami-Florida. Unfortunately, there was no Pro-Am duet division, so we had to compete in the same gender Professional Salsa division where we came 4th in the world!
I really like being part of the Latin Motion family as I am always looking forward to meeting new people and making new friends. Also, being a dancer that always wants to improve his dancing skills, I am definitely in the right place. In addition, I must say that I love living in Australia because people here are amazing! I have a lot of opportunities to enjoy what I really like such as music, dancing and work in my field which is IT.
I hope to be able to one day meet you & see you dancing at Latin Motion!
My first class was at La Cita with Bertrand who showed us every detail of the steps and also made the classes a lot of fun. I ended up staying for the 2nd class, and then the social dancing afterwards. I was hooked from the first day! My voucher gave me unlimited access to all Latin Motion classes, so I decided to check out Shark Bar and give that a go too. Soon I was dancing every night – I’d attend all classes from6:30 to 9:30 then go out social dancing afterwards to practice what I learnt. I’d get home at 3am, sleep for a couple of hours, go to work, go dancing.
Sleep. Work. Dance. Repeat.
One of my 2012 and 2013 New Year’s resolutions was to say yes to opportunities that came my way – even if I was sceptical or scared, that I should give everything a go. When I was asked to audition for the Latin Motion Academy (I knew nothing about it), I was apprehensive – I wasn’t THAT good a dancer! – but decided to give the auditions a go anyway. I did so badly! Thought “Oh well, at least I gave it my best”. I was shocked that I actually got in!
I was lucky to start my dance training with Bobby Yeoh and Devotion to Motion – never did I expect to work with such a dedicated and committed team and teacher. None of us had ever performed before, let alone competed, so we were all green and very nervous! We all helped each other, not just in dance, but outside dance as well: the late night pastizzi pow-wows, the panic-spirals, the possum drops, the pancakes. Bobby was, and is, a great teacher to us – he takes pride in nurturing his students and wants you to be the best you can possibly be. Even if that means making you do spin drills when you rock up to training late! We took our choreo to ASO and came 2nd in Nationals – what a testament to everyone’s hard work and determination! I think to start with the Academy in this positive way was a great thing, as it made me want to stay and do more.
From there everything kind of snowballed – I competed with John Salsa at the Australian Bachata Championship (the toughest competition we’ve ever done, and we were fortunate enough to place 3rd at Finals!), represented Latin Motion at Byron Bay Fiesta, Palladium, Black Tie Ball, and Mambo G’s on Monday night at Bar 100. We trained hard, but danced harder, and always had fun.
In the end though, the main purpose of all this was to improve my dancing so I could social dance more. I always try and go to Bar 100 on Monday nights and, if I have time, Cruise Bar on Thursday nights. Anything new I learnt in class and training, I’d bring straight to the floor! It’s daunting when you’re a beginner and you first start social dancing – you apologise a lot! But nothing makes you learn faster than throwing yourself in the deep end! I had (still have!) this list in my head of all the people I want to dance with – kinda like a Kill Bill list! I’d slowly work my way up that list – get all warmed up on the dance floor, then summon the courage and ask one of them to dance. It was terrifying! But afterwards when they say they enjoyed it, and then come up to you the next week and ask for a dance, you know you must have done something right! It’s also interesting to discover one day that you’ve been on someone else’s list too! – That’s also very exciting and flattering.
To be named Student of the Year was such a complete shock, but I am very honoured. I have a long way to go in my dancing, and so much more I want to do, but none of this would be possible without the support of everyone at Latin Motion. Everyone truly became my family away from home, and were there when I needed them. I can’t imagine just stopping dancing and being without that connection to them. We may dance together, but I’ve formed many friendships. I’m looking forward to another exciting year in dance.
To the LM crew who have had the biggest influence on my dancing year, perhaps even my life! – Oliver, Vali, Bobby, Domenica, Paola, Johnny, Aimee, John, Adrian (big plans for us next year buddy!), Vanessa, Ben, Ellie, Frank, Michael, Bertrand – Thank you for everything! With you I have not only grown confident as a dancer, but as a person, and I couldn’t imagine doing this all again without you. I am so blessed to know, and to have known you xxx
There are so many people I want to thank, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough words to express it. Perhaps “Los Amo!” is a start – and that I hope to see you all dancing in the New Year. Please come and ask me for a dance! 🙂
The prospect of working with Oliver Pineda on a new and innovative solo routine is what brought me to Latin Motion, and already, I’ve felt so incredibly accepted into the Latin Motion family here, by all of the wonderful students and fantastic staff.
Teaching on a Wednesday night at Shark Bar has been so rewarding even after only one week, and even after 10 years of teaching, it’s always a joy to see the smiles on everyones faces as they work towards their own goals and refine their own dance skills, and to see the particular enthusiasm for dance that Latin Motion students exude.
I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings for me and what it brings for Latin Motion – I’m looking forward to seeing the result of all the long hours of training, to my first overseas trip to the home of Mambo: Puerto Rico, and to sharing this chapter of my dance journey with the whole family at Latin Motion!
I joined Latin Motion during the last term of 2013, after purchasing a voucher on the internet. I remember feeling overjoyed after my first salsa class at Shark Hotel. I quickly became addicted and spent two to three nights a week at Shark learning from a group of passionate and skilled instructors. The teaching technique at LM enabled to improve at speed that I could not have imagined. I had so much fun going to class, dancing, meeting new people.
Before I knew it, it was already the end of the last term. I attended the Christmas concert and I was absolutely mesmerized by the performers. I was truly inspired and deep inside, I hoped that one day I would be able to entertain and inspire people by doing something I love.
It only took me a day and a very persuasive friend (thank you Mali) to start my journey. I auditioned for the academy the day following the concert and was fortunate enough to be selected.
My year at the academy has been absolutely amazing. It is not only the quality of teaching but mostly the kind and dedicated members who make Latin Motion such a great place to be. The highlight of the year was definitely the incredible support I received when I embarked on the crazy journey of learning a routine choreographed by Latin Motion’s 8 x World Salsa Champion Oliver Pineda in limited amount of time to compete at the Australian Salsa Open in which I placed first place! It was so uplifting to receive messages and encouraging words from lovely people.
I hope 2015 will be full of great and unforgettable moments.
See you all at Shark or on the dancefloor.
Keep dancing. JC
It was only whilst at university in Sydney in 2012 that I felt there was a hole in my life where dancing used to be. Read more from Ellie
So after nights at Pump House (watching with deep deep admiration dancing from Oliver Pineda and Vali Damaskou and other Salsa scene greats) Graeme encouraged me to try classes at Latin Motion. My life hasn’t been the same since.
2012 was filled with weekly classes and social nights out. I then auditioned and was accepted into the Academy – Generation 2 at Latin Motion and started training more frequently.
2013 was a big year. I began instructing Salsa weekly at Shark hotel, which became an enormous learning opportunity for me – and continues to be. I love sharing the passion for dance with students who are new to Salsa. I think the energy builds and builds when we are all together and I hope that two years on, the students still feel my passion for dance whilst I teach.
In 2013 I also competed with the Latin Motion Dream Team in the Salsa Amateur Partnered teams at the Australian Salsa Open, in the Motion Couture Protégé Semi-Pro shines team at the Australian Salsa Solo Championship and in the Semi-Pro solo division at the ASSC. I had the good fortune to achieve first place with both the ASO teams and my Semi-Pro solo at the ASSC and third place at the ASSC with Motion Couture Protégé.
I also choreographed the 2013 advanced Salsa student team for the Christmas Concert with Johnny Campos – which was a wonderfully fun and challenging experience. I absolutely adored the students, many of whom I remain friends with and dance on a weekly basis with.
2014 has also taken off to a wonderful start with training for the ASO with my partner Steve in the Professional Couples Salsa division and with Motion Couture Protégé for the Open Salsa team division. I have also commenced working one day a week for Latin Motion behind the scenes under the guidance of Oliver and Anastasia. I am excited to be part of the team in this capacity and look forward to serving the dancing students of Latin Motion further. If you are reading this, please approach me at any time with any queries or feedback for this wonderful school!!
Lastly, I could not imagine my life without the dedication, talent and passion for dance that Latin Motion Dance Academy brings and the opportunities for instructing, performing and competing this school offers. Not to mention the friends I have made along the way and the community that is available.
While Oliver Pineda and Vali Damaskou remain dance idols to me, now I get to actually work alongside them!
Thank you Latin Motion Dance Academy for these past few years, here’s to more wonderful years dancing together!
I stopped watching TV (like ever!!) and would go to class and then social dancing 4 nights a week and my playlists evolved from some dull top-40 mix, into a rich collection of salsa and bachata that I’d listen to everywhere I went. When I’d have to work late (oh yeah, I’m a corporate lawyer by day) i’d pop into a salsa club for an hour or two of social dancing before hitting the hay, getting up the next day and doing it all again. There’s seriously no better way to wind down after a day at work!
Before long, I joined the Latin Motion Dance Academy, was in a salsa choreo choreographed by Oliver Pineda himself, training for Australian Salsa Open, shopping for diamontes and sequinned costumes at House of Priscilla, and all the while, surrounded by a wonderfully supportive group of senior salseras and salseros who’d often stay back after their own training, to watch my team practice and help us drill and perfect our routine! It’s an amazing community at Latin Motion, it really is!
Soon afterwards, I joined LM Academy’s teacher training program. For me, that’s when i started to notice a real improvement in social dancing and ability to follow. As a “detail person”, I relished the opportunity to learn and understand the intricacies of each lead and move, the common errors with each move and how to fix them. Oliver Pineda is renown around the world for his ability to break down and concisely explain the technique involved in every element of a move, and as teachers in his academy, we gain the benefit of that experience. Attending weekly teacher training sessions with Oliver and his amazing group of teachers at LM and then being able to watch his teacher training videos as an online resource afterwards has been one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had. I adore teaching! It’s the highlight of my week (and the one thing my boss regularly lets me leaves the office early for!!).
The students at LM are fantastic and i love creating an environment where the ladies, particularly, feel like that they can really go for it with their shines and styling!! When students ask me what they can do to improve, I always recommend regular social dancing for practice, going to class and joining the LM academy for technique, listening to as much salsa and bachata music as they can get their hands on for musicality and remembering that at its heart dancing salsa should always be about having some good gutsy fun!!
Some of my recent achievements include –
Awards: Australian Salsa Open – Amateur Salsa Team 1st place (2012); Australian Bachata Championships – Amateur Teams 3rd place (2012); Australian Salsa Open – Amateur Salsa Team Finalist (2013); Australian Salsa Solo – Amateur Team 1st place (2013) & LM’s Staff Female Staff member of the Year 2013!
But I’m not stopping there! I look forward to hopefully seeing YOU, in one of my classes soon 🙂
I was planning a trip to Mexico and after awkwardly dancing a night away at Sydney’s La Cita club, I decided I desperately needed to develop some skill in the 4 months before my holiday.Read more from Ben
I chose Latin Motion mostly by chance: they ticked the boxes of teaching salsa and bachata, were in convenient locations and offered valuable memberships. I have great memories of my first salsa classes with Bertand at St Peters, and later on spending summer nights learning and dancing at La Cita. By the time I went to Mexico, I didn’t feel extremely confident, but I had enough groundwork that I enjoyed grooving with the locals. Since then I’ve progressed through all the Latin Motion levels, joined the Academy and performed or competed in around 10 choreographies with the school!
Whilst I originally picked Latin Motion fairly randomly, I can honestly say that sticking around all this time has been a deliberate, informed choice. The teaching is top notch, and continues to inspire and challenge me to improve. Even more importantly, many of the students and teachers are really great, fun people, that stick together and make this hobby so interesting and entertaining.
I spend my days as a software engineer, and even though the workload can be heavy, I always make time for Latin dance. It’s a great way to meet such different people, have some fun and keep fit. I’m currently planning trips to USA, Cuba and even back to Mexico, where I’m hoping to enjoy the local dance scenes!
To be awarded student of the year for 2014 was a real surprise and privilege, after all it is mostly recognition that I love this hobby and the Latin Motion family. I look forward to seeing old and new faces around the classes and social dancing in 2015!
We developed greatly in our dancing in this period. The expectations and pressure that we placed on ourselves, along with the amount of time and energy invested, tested our friendship and led to us feeling strung out on too many occasions. When the event arrived, we placed first in the semi-pro couples division at State and second in the Nationals.
We also competed in the fantastic Motion Couture Protege pro Salsa team that won first place in the open division! It was only with hindsight that we could clearly see our hard work paying off, both in our dancing and our teaching. We’ve been teaching Bachata at Latin Motion for over a year and have developed a loyal group of enthusiastic bachateros.
It’s been such a pleasure to watch and participate in the development of these wonderful students. We look forward to doing more projects in the future but more importantly, sharing what we have learned and discovered with you guys… See you around the studio!!!
Damian & Paola