When I moved to Sydney a year and a half later I decided I only wanted to learn from the best. I had read on the Latin Motion Academy page on their website their slogan ‘Your Dream, Our Goal’. I knew there were so many fundamentals missing from my dancing and after reading about the structure of the public classes and Academy I knew Latin Motion was just what I needed. I was absolutely terrified of auditioning for the Academy, in fact I sat outside for 30 minutes before hand freaking out but knowing I wanted to learn from the best so I pushed myself (with the wobbliest legs in the world) up the stairs.
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 grew up playing all different types of sports particularly rugby as well as playing music in various groups as a saxophonist. I found that dancing was a good compromise in between these two areas.
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.
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!
My parents love dancing. Memories of childhood are full of moments of pure joy, dancing with my parents and siblings. Mum was always the one starting the party. She would put the radio on after dinner and we would just spend a good part of the night dancing in the living room. One of those nights would not be complete without a couple of salsa songs. Besides listening to a local salsa band (Orchestra Baobab), my parents would also listen to a lot of songs by Orquesta Aragon. That is probably the reason why I like Charanga and why Pachanga is one of my favourite dance styles.
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.
The UNSW Latin Dance Society brought us this enthusiastic instructor – Graeme Haney – who had so many sweet moves and knowledge. But the weekly hour was too little! I needed more!
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!
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 🙂
Our first competition was as a Pro-Am couple at the Australian Bachata Championships in 2012 where we were fortunate enough to place 2nd in Australia. Aimee, having been an ice skating dancer since the age of 5, has naturally made the transition to street Latin competitions & now managing to conquer the dance floor as well!
Combined, we have more than 15 years of teaching and performing experience & together, we are proud to have achieved; 2 times NSW ASO Champions (Bachata division), 2nd Place in Australia as a professional couple in the ASO National Bachata Finals & 7th in the World at the Hong Kong World Championships! We can be found performing and teaching workshops at different events during the year including the Sydney International Bachata Festival, Douloule Latin Dance Camp, Cuban Salsa Congress & Byron Latin Fiesta.
We are really enjoying teaching for the Latin Motion Academy. It allows to extend our love for Bachata to all our fellow friends and we have a great time doing it. Working at Latin Motion has given us the opportunity to teach workshops and compete at World Championships however what really satisfies us the most, is to see that students feel inspired by us to take their dancing to the next level. We encourage them to continue doing so and we can see their progress on a weekly basis. We love what we do at Latin Motion & believe strongly in Latin Motion’s Academy slogan, “Your Dream’s Our Goal”. This couldn’t be more true with Aimee & myself.
The second Semester of 2014 is very special to us. We are preparing a team of 6 couples called Bachata Blood to compete in the next Australian Bachata Championships which as our baby, we are already very proud of them. In addition, we have 2 Amateur couples pushing themselves forward to succeed. If you see Arnold and Andrea, Joe & Kay & Kahu which will be competing with Aimee in the Pro/Am division, don’t forget to encourage them!
Good luck to every one and as we now say from our favorite book “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyways!”
Johnny & Aimee
This love of salsa, as well as his endless hours of practice and understanding of the dance has seen him grow into an amazing social dancer, performer and instructor.
This journey has also allowed him to travel to compete and perform around the world, the highlight being competing and winning 2 years in a row at the Australian salsa classic and then competing at the World Latin Dance Cup with the famed Mambo Masters, the spiritual predecessors to the Motion Couture project.
A keen salsa social dancer and experimentalist, his specialty is in the technicalities of the dance and the subtleties of the lead and follow, as well as his boundless enthusiasm and emphasis of fun and pushing boundaries in teaching the next generation of dancers. He loves Latin Motion as it has provided him the platform to develop this love if dance and has instilled in him the fundamentals and the technique to be the dance he is now.
Wanting to give back to the school that taught him so much, Bobby currently teaches the Devotion to Motion team at the Academy.
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.
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!
Damian & Paola