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).

 
magna_gopal

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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5th Salsa Power Festival

October 16, 2008 § 2 Comments

Well, what’s there to say… With a few-days delay I can slowly start gathering my impressions. It was simply superb! From parties, to classes, to socializing … Thanx to all that came and made my weekend! 🙂
To start with, I guess it’s most appropriate to say Dulce Locura premiered their new show. We worked our asses and will of course keep improving it ;)… but this time we finally came out with salsa… or salsa musicality… whichever you want. Here’s the clip:

Now, let’s sum up the best classes, shows etc.:
– Supermario and Susana Montero were sold out of course (meaning their classes were full) … and completely justified, cause they have the best teaching methods, great ideas and most of all amazing energy!
– Orville and Sabrina did some crazy tricks, the master class was too challenging even to the best social dancers on the scene!!
– Loved Nemanja’s classes,… I mostly respect people who know a lot of dance theory, present it in an entertaining way and make you understand the dance. And I did the son!! Yeeey… (thank you, thank you) 🙂
– Israel was in his own element, giving fun workout classes 😉
– The most spectacular shows of course were form Salsation group. That is showmaking… Entertaining, synchronized,.. simply WOW!
– We saw some premiers as well, from Dado and Conny (putting a show together in two weeks – hat down), Talal and Maria (Talal doing a partnerwork show,… nice, nice.. :))… The belly dancers were hot and sexy of course..
– We also had the two World championship qualifiers: Evgeni&Lili and Gil&Anke… You can see they train and work hard. Both are very explosive, tight, musical, have the attitude, really great. We’ll be crossing fingers for you guys… and congratulations for the qualifications. Many may not know, but that is really hard to win!
– Oh, let’s not forget: the DJs were great! Good music selection… the Indian people even got some bachata 😉

 

4 on 4… instructors vs. organizers.. poor Gil! 😉


Side-effects of the festival:

– … besides being burned out, blistered and heavenly happy 🙂 …
– The myth is confirmed: Sunday night parties ARE the best!! Why? Hm,.. maybe cause instructors totally relax, act like kids and all,… cause everybody is warmed up, has improved its dancing and cause we all just want to catch the last moments of the weekend.
– We missed salseros and fans on Friday night party, … Saturday was packed though!
– Apparently the food in Slovenia is shitty and the safest food is McDonald’s… right….
– I wasn’t able to attend the afterparty (everyone has his limits I guess), but I heard it was good .. lasted till 7am! Crazy people.

For everything else, the aftermovie shall be made. Don’t miss it. Cause I have a feeling it might be fun! 😉 And if you missed the festival this year, don’t do the same mistake next year. October 2009, here we come!

Dulce Locura is working hard…

October 6, 2008 § Leave a comment

Oh, we are working hard… very hard… Dulce Locura girls are getting ready for Salsa Power Festival, which starts this Friday! You’ll see them at the Welcome party in the show program that starts at 22h (this year with the seating arrangement)! 😉

Let’s see how our hard work looks like:

We have to think.

 

We have some fun.

We get tired, once in a while.

 

 

And we always try to reach quality. 🙂 🙂

 See ya on Friday!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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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Exclusive interview with Talal!!!

December 29, 2007 § 3 Comments

This may be the last post of this year, so it should be something special. 🙂 As you can see in the category section, I created a special new one called “Salsa stars”. There you’ll be able to read about our famous instructors and performers. You’ll get to know all their little secrets, from their childhood, how they first started dancing etc. It should be an interesting reading 😉

As a delight for last days of 2007 I had a privilege to interview the funky Moroccan/Belgian instructor Talal Benlahsen. He belongs to those people, with which you never get bored. At about 80% percent of the time you can either laugh with them or at them. As each moment with Talal can be special, so was this interview – we made it via MSN. 🙂 “It will be fun,” said Talal. And it was. Read about this hyperactive, ambitious and extra-talented salsa instructor, who you’ve already had a chance to meet on this year’s Salsa Adriatica and Salsa Power Festival.

Q: Talal, first let me wish you a very happy birthday, cause I know you’ve recently celebrated another year on this planet. 🙂 But we’re mostly gonna talk about salsa. Tell us, what’s the main reason you dance salsa or why you started dancing it?
A: The main reason was meeting people in a period of my life when I started a new life. I had no friends, so I had to meet people. This was an easy way to touch them.

Q: What do you mean by new period in your life?
A: That was the first year I arrived to Belgium and Europe in general. I was 19 years old and it was the first time I left my country.

Q: Where you scared?
A: Scared no, insecure yes. I arrived to Belgium in October 1999 and I had to start from nothing. The first year was horrible: I discovered a different country, different people and culture, something I wasn’t used to, but I had to resist and I couldn’t give up. I had to find a job to be able to pay my rent and food.

Talal Benlahsen

Q: What was your first plan of what you will do in Belgium? I know it wasn’t salsa …
A: The plan was to study. I went to the university in Brussels to study computer science. After that I went to an engineering high school but I couldn’t afford the expenses so I stopped. I finished studies this year.

Q: Congratulations! What did you finish?
Commerce.

Q: Which will it be in the future: salsa or commerce? Or to put it in more traditional, boring and typical job-seeking sentence: where do you see yourself in 5 years?
A: I still don’t know that. Right now, I’m experiencing this big salsa adventure, but I have to make my future a little bit sure and secure … by having diploma for example. I can use that in case I stop dancing.

Q: I know there’s a funny story connected with your first salsa steps. Can you share with us that rude-security-guy story?
A: I discovered salsa with my first job in the restaurant: I was on my way home from work and I passed by a Salsa Club in Brussels, which I didn’t know of course. While I was passing it, the security guard opened the door of the club to let somebody go in or out and I heard the Music. I always liked that music but never knew that the name was Salsa or that people could dance it. I went closer to watch what’s going on, but the security guard stopped me, he started looking at me in a very humiliating way because I had very cheap clothes and my pants were a bit dirty due to my work in the restaurant. I didn’t ask anything I even had no intention to go in, but he told me with an ugly voice: “IT’S NOT POSSIBLE TO GO IN!!” I answered: “I was just watching from outside sir!”
I don’t know why or how the guy told me: “Well!! I’ll let you go in this time, but next time try to put some correct clothes and shoes.” I was so happy, and when I was inside and I saw people dancing I was like: waaaaaaaaaaw!! How beautiful were the people!! And how beautiful they were dancing!! So I stood in my place and watched till the end.

Q: And then followed your first salsa steps? 🙂
A: The day after and every weekend, going to a salsa club was my place to be. I had no money to take classes, so I was watching people and I started dancing alone in the beginning. Then I started inviting girls, but I had to go easy … watching, copying and trying to do the same. After 6 weeks I was already making my first normal basic steps and some modest figures. A teacher saw me dancing and invited me to dance in his show group. During 2 years in that group, I improved, and I started performing in many national and international events with that group.

Q: And now you own a school?
A: I had a lot of ambitions, enough to quit my group and to start working on my own. In 2004 I established my own dance company “Salsa Sunrise”. Since then I’ve been working as a professional instructor, performer and choreographer.

Talal at age 3.Q: What was your dream job, when you were a little boy?
A: First I wanted to be a chief cook like my father, then a pilot, and then engineer. 🙂

Q: You were born in Morocco, How do you like it in the north, with bad weather in such a business oriented city?
A: Well in the beginning my dream was to finish my studies and turn back home to build my career over there. Yet year after year, this idea started leaving my mind. I’m so much influenced by the business orientation over here and my place is in Europe right now. I still have a dream to turn back to my country one day, I just can’t say when.

Q: What did you remember most from visiting, teaching and partying in Slovenia?
A: Most of all the hospitality. But the whole weekend was amazing for me. I liked teaching, performing, social dancing, meeting new people … everything.

Q: I noticed all instructors got along very good. How important is that for a salsa festival?
A: Yes we all know each other, because we see each other several times during the year. That way we build friendship you saw and felt on the festival.

Q: We went to Brussels and got a few impressions about salsa there. How would you describe salsa scene in Brussels – the people that dance it, the styles they dance, the parties and events you have there?
A: Well the salsa level started getting better these last days, thanks to all those local teachers and those invited teachers who came to show our dancers, what salsa is actually.

Q: But this wasn’t your first event with foreign teachers?
A: Of course not, it’s the 11th and thanks to my good relation with a lot of people all over Europe, I could bring people from more that 10 European countries to Brussels and that showed to Belgians, how people are dancing salsa abroad.

Talal performing.

Q: Which is the hottest place to party in Brussels right now?
A: The Montecristo on Wednesdays and the YOU on Sundays.

Q: Yes, the YOU place. That was something special – salsa party in the afternoon (from 15.00 till 20.00). Were you surprised it got so popular?
A: It’s already popular in the world, like in in the US, a couple of years ago came to Paris and now Brussels.

Q: Do you have any idea why salsa is sooo popular?
A: Believe me, when I say, I don’t know. I always thought it’s going to die one day, like all fashion things do … but it’ s still growing!

Q: Yes… and people who swore they would never dance, now dance it. Maybe guys like the fact they get so many different girls in their arms? 😉 Because a loooot of man dance salsa.
A: Not as much as girls … believe me.

Q: Thanks Talal for all your answers. Do you perhaps have any special message for our salseros?
A: I expect Slovenian salsa dancers to surprise me each time I pass by Slovenia – in improving their dancing I mean.

Q: In the name of all Slovenian salseros let me we wish you all the best in the year 2008! Hope to see and surprise you a lot 😉
A: Happy New Year to you too and to all the people I know in Slovenia … and … well, to all the rest that I still don’t know 😉 😉 😉

 

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