Meet Rumbao

Ethnicity:
Dominican/Puerto Rican
Position:
Dancer

Brian Frias

What inspired you to start dancing salsa?
I have always liked to dance growing up, but somehow salsa dancing had never crossed my path, until it was casually introduced to me in 2007. I have been in love with salsa ever since. I love being able to create a fun and unique experience with a dance partner over the course of just a few minutes.

Describe a favorite experience in your dance career.
I love the feedback I get from both audiences just after a performance and from students after a class. It shows the immediate results of how effective I was at my craft. Those responses are where I learn if what I do does or does not work.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?
I absolutely thrive on witnessing the joy on students’ faces when they realize they are improving and are proud of themselves for it. Nothing gives me a greater yearning to teach than seeing the eagerness of people wanting to improve their dancing.

What do you like about performing?
I experience so many different highs that are involved with performing. There is nothing like getting on stage for 3 minutes, having lights and faces pointed in your direction, and showing the fans of the scene what you are made of and casual audiences how exciting the salsa world is. There are always pre-performance jitters that come in different forms for different performers, but once you are out there, the blood is pumping and the release just lets everything flow.

What is your best advice for a beginner salsa student?
Practice, practice, practice. Proper dedication will always yield results, no matter how frustrating a particular topic is that you are trying to learn. Always consult the advice of those that have the experience. And most importantly, do not be afraid to put yourself out there with confidence. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you get in return!


Ethnicity:
Puerto Rican/American
Position:
Art Director

Morgan Cruz

What inspired you to start dancing salsa?
I was looking to spice up my daily routine, wanting something more from life and something new. My muscles ached from sitting most of the day so, I decided to try a physical activity. After my first dance class I was hooked!

Describe a favorite experience in your dance career.
So far, my
favorite experience in my dance career was a performance at the Charlotte Salsa Invitational when I was a year into dancing. This was the first performance where I felt a connection with both the audience and my dance partner simultaneously. It was a “high on life” feeling that lasted for a at least a few days.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?
My favorite thing about teaching is spreading my passion for salsa to others. Salsa has enriched my life in so many ways. I hope it has the same impact for our students as well.

What do you like about performing?
Performing is a glamorous and elegant sport. I get to wear beautiful costumes, put on my heels and wow the crowd with crazy flips and spins. It is an amazing moment when we successfully transfer energy to the audience and they feel the musicality of our routine.

What is your best advice for a beginner salsa student?
Learn the music before you learn the dance. The music will guide you and make learning more enjoyable. Also, don’t be embarrassed by being less experienced. Everyone starts somewhere.


Ethnicity:
Mexican
Position:
Audio Specialist

 Chan Martinez

What inspired you to start dancing salsa?
I like salsa because it connects me with all kinds of people. Everybody is very generous and they really get along . I discovered more of my interest in salsa when I moved to the US. I saw a group of performers doing cool moves while dancing salsa. They were able to go to big events and perform beside some other really good dancers. I wanted to be part of that experience.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?
It makes me happy to know that I am helping someone. The word of thanks I receive from them is very rewarding.

What do you like about performing?
It makes me feel like I’m part of something big and fun and I feel active and valued.

What is your best advice for a beginner salsa dancer?
Be patient while you are learning and learn well.  Don’t be afraid to ask, listen to the music and find your rhythm. Never give up.

Ethnicity:
Cambodian/Chinese
Position:
Stage Manager

Connie Chen

What inspired you to start dancing salsa?
Honestly, one day after nursing class I was just hoping to get in some cardio in a group fitness class. The rhythm and music of salsa just moved me in a way that I never wanted to stop. It allowed complete and unobstructed self-expression and I became addicted.

Describe a favorite experience in your dance career.
So far my favorite experience was with Rumbao at Flava Invasion 2014 when the company was announced to open the Saturday night show for the amazing talent to follow. It was so exciting because to win that honor we performed for our idol judges and competed against some seriously talented teams for the title of the best upcoming team!

What is your favorite thing about teaching?
I like the “light bulb” moments. When you are working with students and you see them trying to work out the steps in their minds, translating their thoughts into body movements, and all is ticking away until “Ding! Light bulb!” They look at you all wide-eyed still unsure if they got it down and they did! I live for those moments!

What do you like about performing?
What’s not to like? Every moment leading up to the performance, the actual performance, the stage, the audience, and all the glorified moments afterwards! But the best feeling is right after a successful performance because the excitement and adrenaline rush completely takes over and you’re just on cloud 9! The heaviness and achy feeling in your feet settle in but you don’t care because months of training and hard-work were proven and left on the stage for everyone to enjoy.

What is your best advice for a beginner salsa student?
Have fun, relax, and never stop wanting to learn! Salsa is an enjoyable experience; make it a great one with Rumbao!


Ethnicity:
Venezuelan
Position:
Business Operations Manager

Jennifer Geyer

What inspired you to start dancing salsa?

I was inspired to dance salsa while at Davidson College, I joined a student organization called Dance Ensemble and there was always a salsa choreography.  I would always try out to be in the routine but I would never make it.  It looked like fun and it was something I always wanted to do.  I finally made it into a choreography my junior year with a professor and after that experience took classes in the Dominican Republic while studying abroad and got hooked!

Describe your favorite experience in your dance career.
My favorite experience thus far has been seeing hard work come to fruition in the form of our performance and in our first salsa social..  For performance, a highlight was performing at Flava Invasion and being selected to open for the professional showcase.  I’ve never experienced so many nerves and such a rush from the crowd.  It has also been exciting to see all the people that have supported Rumbao and this was shown through our first salsa social.  We had a great turnout with support not only from the Charlotte community but from all over North and South Carolina, that night was definitely one of my favorite experiences thus far.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?
I love seeing students having fun and leaving their worries from the day and whatever they may be stressed about at the door.  Dance has served as a great stress reliever and a blessing to balance my life and I am happy to be able to show others how they can use dance in their own lives as well.

What do you like about performing?
I am naturally an introvert, as most can tell, and performing is something that has always been hard for me but I love the challenge and the feeling I get from receiving energy from the crowd and conquering my fears.  I am always nervous before every performance but the feeling during and after the performance is like none other.

What is your best advice for a beginner salsa student?
I struggled learning salsa (and dance in general) at first because I had two left feet and it took a lot of time for me to really understand what I was doing.  I couldn’t hear the beat and I felt awkward doing a lot of the movements (it may look natural now, but that wasn’t always the case). For any beginner student, I would say to be patient with yourself and know that with time you will get there.  It takes a lot patience and understanding that we all have different learning curves but believe me, if I can do it, anyone can!