Mr. Mambo King – a legend

November 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

Having so much time to kill, while waiting for my baby to come out, I ran into some clips of recent Eddie Torres shows and remembered what a privilege it was to attend his classes a couple of years ago. You believe it when you see it. The name Mambo King does him justice and when you take his pachanga class, you know you’ve been inspired for good.
Even the shows are pure pleasure for the eyes. Though you know it’s not about the story, not about the lifts and tricks, not about the spins and styling… it’s about the groove, the feel, the soul… OK, and his TM costumes ;).
All I can say is “Thank you Mr. Eddie Torres!”

His bio tells us an interesting story on how and why he started dancing. Quoted from his website: “He was merely 12 years old when he caught the dancing bug. Just back in New York after a two year sojourn in Puerto Rico, he developed a puppy-love crush on a girl from the hood. Shyly, he asked her to the movies and she made a counter-offer: why didn’t he come to her house? That Saturday, when Renée opened the door, Eddie was surprised to see a tall, good-looking guy sitting on the couch. Renée whispered apologetically, “He’s my ex-boyfriend. He’s looking to make up with me.” Then, in an attempt to break the tension, she asked Eddie, “Do you know how to Latin?” She wanted to know if he knew how to dance Latin. Fresh from Puerto Rico, his confidence emboldened him. Renée leaned over the record player and dropped the needle on the groove of Eddie Palmieri’s Azucar Pa’ Ti. Not knowing a thing about leading position or about timing, the young suitor started jumping around, then glanced over to collect looks of approval. But his rival on the couch sat clamping his jaw closed, holding back a burst of laughter. Two minutes into the number, Renée retired her inexperienced partner, pulled her ex-boyfriend up and explained in a professorial manner, “Let me show you the way WE do the Latin.” It was plain to see that there was a lot of coordination, plenty of moving together and all sorts of turns. The more they danced, the worse Eddie felt. After the dance demonstration, his love interest pulled him to one side and explained, “He really wants to make up with me.” From that moment, Eddie made himself a promise, “This is never going to happen to me again. I’m going to learn how to dance.”

I’m sure someone can somehow relate to that :). Although his determination led him far. He learned and learned and learned, he worked with Tito Puente, competed, developed NY on2 style of dancing and also started teaching. He did all this in the era when Latin dance was not as popular. That is why I said the nickname Mr. Mambo King does him juste. One can read even more about him on his website.

Below, I am attaching some clips from this years Hamburg salsa festival, which took place in July.

With Melissa Rosado in Remember the time / and yes I do remember the time when I took those classes 🙂

His solo show:

Melissa’s solo show:

And many more…


Magna Gopal – the crazy little Indian girl

September 22, 2009 § 4 Comments

Probably one of the greatest international salsa instructors, Magna Gopal, will be visiting Slovenia in the month of October for the 6th Salsa Power Festival. Her graceful dancing and great methodology skills have so far enlightened so many people. It’s only fair to say I was one of those people, who felt a big break-through, while first seeing Magna dance, perform or even better – teach. She found a couple of free minutes to present herself to Slovenian audience, so enjoy these interview and get inspired by this magnificent Indian angel. 🙂


1. Magna, I know this is the most common question you get, but many people here might not know much about your background. Your origin seems to be Indian, yet you lived in Canada and now in the US of A? Is New York your final location or do you see yourself moving somewhere else – maybe back home?

Hi Irena. Yes it’s a common question. I was born in New Delhi, India and moved to Toronto, Canada with my family when I was 6 years old and finally moved to the USA 3 years ago. I actually live in NJ but close enough to NY to say NY…hehehe. NY is my current location but definitely not my final. I’m still exploring the world and you never know what part will steal my heart. As for moving back home to India (not likely) and back to Canada (it’s possible but really not in my plans).


2. You know, on previous festivals we already saw some instructors with Indian roots (like Neeraj, Mario etc.). I always thought Cubans are the ones who are born with the right feel for salsa, but you guys seem to master that even better. 🙂 How come?

I don’t think it always boils down to your ethnicity when it comes to “having the right feel for salsa.” There are many Latin Americans that have a feel for the music and moving but not necessarily for the dance itself. I think it’s part passion and understanding your body. I love the music and the dance and I was really determined to get it and luckily I have a good sense of rhythm so it all pieced together nicely.

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Benjamim Nande: “Music that cathes your ear and dance that cathes your soul”

January 13, 2009 § 10 Comments

Get in touch with kizomba and become “kizombeiro” says Benjamim Nande, Portugese kizomba dancer, teacher and choreographer, who has developed a very easy step-by-step method of learning basic steps and progressing quickly. You can easily check how this method works on a second Kizomba and Salsa LA festival in Belgrade, where Benjamim is returning next month. The event is on between 7th and 8th of February, and will present kizomba, salsa and bachata lessons. The best thing is, that this is a REALLY affordable seminar – full pass from only 20€ on. (ok a little publicity, but you don’t see such affordable thing every day, now do you) 🙂
I am very happy that Benjamim agreed to an interview and by that presented the magical kizomba to all of us, who have not tried this dance before.

1. Benjamim, I’m very happy you agreed to do this interview. Especially because where I live, kizomba is still far from being popular. We don’t do kizomba in Slovenia yet, so for starters, please explain the beauty of this style of dance!
Hello Irena! I am also very glad that you gave me this opportunity to bring a little bit of this world to Slovenia!
Kizomba is an African rhythm. It was born in Angola during the late 70s. Kizomba is in fact  the result of an evolution: young generations, listening to traditional rhythms, felt something was missing – a modern and sensual touch. Adding an electronic percussion with a slow and extremely sensual rhythm… kizomba was born. The description that suits kizomba the best in my opinion is the following: A music that catches your ear and a dance that catches your soul. 

2. When I watch kizomba it seems so smooth, reminds me a bit on foxtrot. Do you consider it as a very intimate dance (like some people classify bachata) or do you think it’s more social thing like salsa?
I believe that there is a misunderstanding in this concepts. An intimate dance can also be a social dance. Kizomba is a very intimate dance! But it is also a very social dance! That is the beauty of dancing – the intimacy starts with the music and ends with the music. You can dance kizomba with anybody in a intimate way – dancing is about enjoying the moment, the music and let it flow between you and your partner.

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A tribute to Lee Wright

November 16, 2008 § Leave a comment


It’s been a week since salsa dance world was shocked by a tragic news, that a salsa shining star, UK’s champion and Shelley’s partner, LEE WRIGHT, was killed in a car accident. He just reached Malaga, where he went with his friends to celebrate his birthday. His (only) 24th birthday!!
Lee was everybodies sweetheart. A warm personality. One of those people everyone likes to be around. He was a great person and a great dancer. He won UK’s title with Shelley, was a part of Leon Rose’s project and was teaching and performing around the world. Besides being a great leader, he was also a great follower. Many said he must be the best female dancer on the scene 🙂 It is very tragic to hear he was ripped out of this world, especially since he was still so young. Many festival organizers must delete Lee&Shelley from the artist list now, but noone can really erase him from memories. I think he touched a lot of people on this world… and he undid a lot of bras 😉 So his memory will live on. As Mario said: “I guess he is upthere now, teaching God how to spin”… cause he spinned pretty amazing yes 🙂

I have copied the accident report from Facebook group “In remembrance of Lee Wright“, where his cousin is publishing latest news. What happened on that night, round 2:20 was:
“Lee and his friend Mat was in the back of a friends car travelling to the hotel that they were going to stay in. The car infront of theirs went to take a left turn so Lee’s car slowed down as the car made the turn.
A car travelling at high speed from behind them did not break and hit the car Lee was in from behind.
Lee was killed instantly and Mat was badly injured.
The driver of the car that hit them survived but his wife who was a passenger was also killed.
Lee was asleep in the back of the car and would not have known anything when it happened. It was instant so he never suffered, is that comforting? Maybe in a way yes but we all know that we wished he would have woken up…”
My deepest condolances to all if his friends and family, may God give them strength to move on and charish all nice memories of Lee.


Here is one very touching tribute, to get a feeling of what kind of a person Lee was:

The one and only – Tony Stone!!!

May 19, 2008 § 4 Comments

OK, this is just one of those must-read interviews. I loved Tony Stone’s classes in Slovenia (he was here twice already), but learning how such a great performer and choreographer started off is even more inspiring. Please meet one of the most exciting, top world hiphop, street, jazz etc. choreographers (and music producers) Tony Stone. I recommend reading till the end, cause we saved the best for last 🙂 🙂

A little bird told me you only started teaching when you were 35? How did that happen
Actually my sisters were already taking classes as a hobby to keep in shape. They had such a wonderful time at it they talked me into coming in and trying it out knowing that I loved dancing and did it as a solo competitor from time to time. I was able to catch onto and pick up choreography very well, I was noticed and then asked to start performances professionally. That happened when I was 35.

Do you still have fun on each convention you give?
I do. Of course, with the heavy touring schedule I have there are times when I’m very tired at a particular event or convention but that certainly doesn’t take away from my enjoyment. I have always promised myself that if I stopped having fun, it would to time to wrap it up and walk away. I don’t see that happening anytime in the near future. « Read the rest of this entry »

Married with salsa and each other

May 8, 2008 § 3 Comments

Dado & Conny are a fun couple, which we had a pleasure to see in Slovenia before. They always bring special energy to their classes, make people laugh, their shows are getting better and better and we will see them again on 24th of May on Salsa Flower Power event. “Gold rush is coming to Ljubljana,” says Dado, who is answering the questions in the name of both (hm,… I wonder why) 😉
Up in Gradz the couple owns the “Conny & Dado” dance school, so they belong in the category of people, who managed to join business and pleasure – in salsa. 🙂


Irena: Hey guys! I must say I’m really excited about you two returning to Slovenia. How do you feel about that?

Dado: Well, we are always glad to come back to Slovenia, ‘cause especially I feel almost like home there. I can teach on my mother language and nobody understands anything! Just great 🙂

Just kidding! I can release my Bosnian jokes, and people seem to like them… so I never stop to fool around 🙂 Poor Conny 🙂



Irena: I saw your new show in Zagreb and must say it’s really spectacular! As I see you try to work most with musicality? Why do you think musicality is so important in salsa?

Dado: Without music, there would be no dance probably. That says everything. The fact is, that the two of us can’t do it any other way but to the music, ‘cause the music tells you how you should move to it. You “just” need to listen…

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Star chat with Alex&Flo

February 27, 2008 § 1 Comment

As you may already know, a bunch of Slovenian salseros are coming to 3rd Bulgarian salsa weekend in Sofia, which will take place from 14th to 16th of March. The organizers of this congress are Alex & Flo, nice couple, which we had a chance already to see and meet in Slovenia. They were one of the instructors on October’s Salsa Power festival. We noticed they are good dancers, they know crazy tricks and they are very likeable. Those are all the reasons I decided to invite them to a short chat. Meet Alex & Flo – if you’re not sure who is who, you can figure it out from the answers 😉  

Alex and Flo

1.When was the first time you danced salsa and how was it?
Alex: About 8 years ago, incidentally I went to a salsa party and I was fascinated. I did my very first steps and couldn’t stop since then
Flo: I am not sure about when exactly… probably like 10 – 12 years ago. It was great, I did other kind of dances before that and I was really enthusiastic about this new feeling salsa gave me

2. Where and when did you meet?
Alex&Flo: We had common friends and we have met long time ago, but salsa was the reason we became close and then one thing led to another and we got married J

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