Salsa Footprints will celebrate their 10th anniversary with a party at Abundance Lifestyle and Garden, and you are invited! Chrissy Jones spoke with organiser Galina about her love of Salsa.
Galina, tell us about your passion and profession … Salsa dancing.
Salsa is originally from Cuba and is now danced all over the world from Europe to Indonesia and in every city in Australia. I travelled around Australia in 2009 and danced at Salsa venues in Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Kununurra, Adelaide, Fremantle, Perth and Melbourne.
Now, Port Macquarie, Forster and Taree have Salsa because a teacher came all the way from London, UK in 2003 to start the Salsa scene here… and 10 years later, I’m still teaching.
Do you have a dance background?
Yes, I started dancing in London when I was 4 years old. My mother has always been a dancer and taught me Russian Folk Dancing in my very early years and then put me into competitions. When I was 7 years old, I started Ballet, Contemporary and Tap at the Islington Arts Factory, London, and continued until 11 years old, when I moved to Wales to live with my grandparents for a year.
When I moved back to London, I started East European Folk Dancing, including Hungarian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Romanian, Greek, Albanian and Armenian. I performed within dance demonstration teams regularly, including on popular TV programmes like the Larry Grayson Show. At 23, I was awarded a scholarship to Bulgaria for 3 months, based in Plovdiv, where I danced at a teachers training school from 8.30am to 1.30pm every day.
At 24 I started Belly Dancing at a prestigious school in London, called the Suraya Hilal School of Dance. I trained to become a teacher and taught and performed Belly Dance aka Egyptian Raqs Sharqi, in London. Then at 30, I discovered couple’s social dancing … CeRoc (like Rock ‘n’ Roll) which I danced for a year, and then finally Salsa.
I loved Salsa so much, I never stopped. I performed with Salsa Fusion in London and taught and performed in Spain, El Salvador, and Bulgaria. When I came to Australia in 2003, I specialised in teaching Salsa and Belly Dancing, starting my business: Salsa Footprints.
This April I will be celebrating 10 years of teaching and performing on the Mid North Coast with my first student and now business colleague, Lyndal Holdsworth.
To celebrate, I have organised a party on Saturday 13 April at Abundance Lifestyle and Garden commencing at 7pm. We’ll have dance performances, prizes, games and Latin Dancing all night. Money raised will go to the October Hurricane Sandy victims in Cuba, where 11 people died, and 1,000s lost their homes completely, or suffered major damage.
The very exuberant and talented Sandro Trunz from Switzerland will be at the party. He’ll also be teaching 4 workshop days on 6 April in Forster and in Port Macquarie on the 13 and 14, and he’ll be helping me at my regular classes.
What is Salsa?
Well, apart from a tasty tomato/onion sauce … it’s a couple dance originating from Cuba and is danced all over Latin America, but principally in Cuba, Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Cuba has always had a strong culture of dance and music, which started with the Spanish Conquistadors and the black slaves they brought with them from Africa. It’s also danced in a large circle of partners known as Rueda Casino, in which the ladies are passed around the circle.
What kind of people dance Salsa – any particular age group?
There is no age limit or physical requirements. It attracts doctors, dentists, solicitors, builders, shoemakers, counsellors, masseurs, real estate agents, students – an eclectic range of people. I teach children, teenagers, adults, retirees, and it’s great to see this complete range of ages and cultures, socialising and having fun together.
You’ve been to Cuba recently, furthering your dance experience. Tell us about your visit.
It’s a fantastic country to visit for music and dance. I started my professional development month’s visit in Havana, then travelled to the very tip of the island, Santiago de Cuba, through the hills to Baracoa, then overland to Trinidad, south then to Sancti Spiritus and Cienfuegos, and eventually back to Havana.
We stayed in private accommodation, people’s homes with home cooked meals, and had dance lessons at the Casa de la Musica, Casa de la Trova, and in people’s homes.
We danced in clubs, parks, on the streets, always to live music, with bands varying from 3 musicians playing bongo drums, double bass and guitar, to full bands of 14 musicians or more, playing keyboard, congas and bongos, drum kit with timbales, cowbell, and clave, which plays the base rhythm on which Salsa music rests, guiro, maracas, base guitar, trumpets and trombones.
Do you cater for new people at your classes, and what level do you take your dancers to?
Yes, Salsa Footprints runs 6 week discovery courses, taking people through the basics of Cuban Salsa. These classes are held on Mondays and Wednesdays at the Rotary Community Centre. Then they can join the Improver level classes at the same venue. If they wish to continue, they can join Intermediate classes held at our own studio, Casa de la Salsa.
I also teach privately, wedding couples, corporate functions and regularly invite guest teachers to Port Macquarie and Forster.
How can people contact you for information about classes and parties?
Apart from our regular classes, we have parties on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month at Zebu Bar & Grill, Rydges, and every LAST Sunday of the month at QuayLime Café on the marina. We also organise themed parties e.g. Salsa Cruises on the River Princess (next one is Friday 10 May 5.30pm), Christmas and Easter parties. For info, you can call me on 0422 751 021 or www.salsafootprints.com.au or join our Facebook site: Salsa Footprints Cuban Dancing.
This article can be found in issue 89 of Greater Port Macquarie Focus