ON THE COVER
MICAH & KATHY
IS MAMBO FOR THAT ASS!
GIFTED SOULS Latin Rhythms Dance Instructor
Fantastic Four Event Promoter
MAMBO PROFILES THE SALSA CALENDAR CONGRESS REVIEWS AND MORE! THE CHICAGO EDITION
Cover Story: Micah & Kathy LaVoz sits down with Chicago’s dynamic Salsa duo to talk about those Crazy Turn Patterns and that Crazy Name
Featured Dance Team: Gifted Souls The Chicago Salsa Scene’s “Breath of Fresh Air”
Fantastic and The Windy City Chicago Promoter, Angelo Prieto, remains a staple in the Salsa Community
Instructor Spotlight: Sol Solis Meet the Business Backbone of Latin Rhythms Dance Studio
On The Come Up Checkout the Scene’s Rising Stars
The Party Scene Pics of Chicago Salsa Celebs
Mambo Profiles Jose Valdes of Latin Rhythms & Kathleen Neubauer of Urban Vibe!
Featured Artwork A Portrait of Joe Arroyo
Salsero’s Perspective Inside the Mind of a Salsero!
ON TO THE NEXT LaVoz Magazine (Chicago) marks the release of our second issue since relaunching this project last year.
WINTER 2012 Publisher Johnny Johnson Graphic Designer Fang Liao Senior Writer Ursula Fitzpatrick Assistant Editor Beverly Johnson Contributing Artists Travis Duggins Content Advisors Victor Monroy Kathy Cabrera
Publishing this project in Atlanta proved to be quite an experience. Although there was a noticeable “silent” protest against this project by some of the notable members of the ATL Salsa Scene (and several individuals featured in LaVoz ATL), the opportunity to feature ATL’s most talented duo, Allen Germaine and Niya Patel, was well worth it! During my time as an Independent Publisher of Salsa Magazines and Web Projects, I have come to learn that if people are not talking about you or criticizing your efforts, you should be concerned. Whenever you are trying to do something, you immediately position yourself to be publicly criticized. However, if you are not doing anything, people generally don’t have a reason to criticize you. As the Publisher of this project, I realize that the Salsa Community may not always agree with my decision to spotlight various individuals in LaVoz Magazine. However, I try to select individuals that possess a level of
talent for this dance that cannot be denied. In this issue of LaVoz, regardless of how you feel about Micah and Kathy on a personal level, their talent as amazing Salsa Dancers is hard to question. Kathy Cabera is undoubtedly one of the top Salsa Follows in Midwest and Micah Boon is arguably one of the most creative Salsa Dancer’s in the world. Nevertheless, selecting Micah and Kathy for the cover of LaVoz Chicago was an obvious choice, not because of their tremendous dance talent and contributions to the Chicago Salsa Dance Industry, but because I like them :-) With that said, I hope you enjoy Issue two of LaVoz Magazine (Chicago). Sincerely,
Johnny R. Johnson LaVoz Mag - Publisher email@example.com
If people are not talking about you or criticizing your efforts, you should be concerned....
Johnny Johnson salsa dancing with Vijaya Sarat Tupurani in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India.
CHICAGO DANCE CREW
GIFTED SOULS article written by Ursula Fitzpatrick
With the premiere of television shows like MTV’s ‘America’s Best Dance Crew,’ the spotlight has finally shined on the B-Boys, Pop Lockers, and Break Dancers that come together and through blood, sweat and tears become a bonafide dance crew.
ial bond that GS has. They essentially learned from each other.
Most affiliate dance crews with the Hip Hop genre; however, Rocky Quinones, director of Gifted Souls Dance Crew has thrown his hat in the ring with a different style of dance. That dance being the marriage of Salsa and Hip Hop.
LaVoz Magazine caught up with Rocky to discuss the group’s conception, their membership selection and influential dancers in their world. Dance Fever Gifted Souls (GS) was created after high school student, Samantha Montes, asked for choreography assistance from Rocky Quinones for a talent show for her high school. Forever remembering the fire in the eyes of his new pupils, Rocky agreed to start his own dance team at the behest of some of the graduating dance members…...the rest, as it goes, is history. Being a salsa/hip hop dance crew did not come without ridicule. They were often treated as a gimmick and had difficulty fitting in. Because of this, they found themselves navigating the dance scene together, with no direction from the ‘inside.’ This further cemented the famil4 LAVOZ CHICAGO WINTER 2012
‘We needed a way to stand out with so many teams in Chicago. We had to make a statement.’
When probed about his most memorable moments with the dance crew, Rocky cites the Chicago Salsa Congress Saturday night performance of ‘Glam’ to which they received a standing ovation, crowd approval and the respect of their peers. A not so distant second favorable moment was taking first place in the popular Hip Hop dance competition, ‘Hype.’ Winning that competition instilled great confidence in the crew as they out-danced some of the crews they looked up to! You Want Fame, It Starts Here….. The selection process, according to Quinones, is based primarily on who wants it most. He looks for that familiar ‘fire in their eyes.’ He equates that fire to a confidence level. ‘I remember taking in a member at an audition just because she kept a smile and stared me straight in the eyes the entire time, she had no dance experience and now she’s my team captain!’ Along with that desire, another step in the
process to being in GS is to prepare a 45 second solo to their musical choice and genre. This is the proverbial calling card and last impression to leave on the group. Make it count. May I Have This Dance? Quinones touts some pretty big names as their influential guides. Dancers such as: Parris Goebel (New Zealand director of Request dance crew), Jawn Ha (dancer choreographer for GRV and Mos Wanted from California), Tony Czar (choreographer dancer New York), Chereo Cookies (amazing dance team from California), Matt Cady (director of Fanny Pak California), and Mia Micheals (contemporary choreographer from ‘So You Think You Can Dance’) have all shaped their style.
Being the new kids on the block, it was hard to blend in. A lot of people did not take us seriously. -Rocky Quinones
Chicago Salsa Promoter Angelo Prieto FANTASTIC AND THE WINDY CITY by Ursula Fitzpatrick
Angelo Prieto has been a fixture on the Chicago music scene since the days of the widely popular ‘Hot Mix 5’ era. Having worked in everything from House Music to Spanish Rock to Reggaeton, this Promoter knows how to keep the crowd moving and grooving! Angelo is the CEO of Fantastic Four Events (or 4 Fantasticos, as they are known in the Latin communities), a Chicago based multi-level marketing company that has been in existence since 1998. They are currently responsible for the legendary Tuesday night Salsa set at Alhambra Palace, where they offer a live Salsa Band and free Salsa Lessons While being hired around town as the ‘Tropical DJ,’ Prieto saw something missing. “When I went to the parties, my set would be great but I always noticed that the vibe of the party was not right. So I decided to do my own parties and it worked out great and my following just got bigger.” Their attention to detail has garnered a loyal fan base that has grown and matured with them over the years. Their following appreciates the philosophy of quality over quantity that he and his team exude. His team is a mixed bag of music executives from several major distribution companies (SONY/BMG, UNIVERSAL MUSIC, EMI and more), a plethora of diverse DJ’s, a highly visible street team of approximately 37 and of course…..the Internet! To stay in the loop of what’s next, check them out online: http://4fantasticevents.com/ 6 LAVOZ CHICAGO WINTER 2012
INSTRUCTOR SPOTLIGHT FEATURING SOL SOLIS Latin Rhythms Dance Instructor Sol Solis, chats with LaVoz Magazine about her journey into Salsa, the launch of LR Studios and why she prefers being on the business side of things! Interview by Johnny Johnson LaVoz: So how did you get into salsa? Sol: I swam competitively for 14 years, culminating with four years of collegiate varsity water polo. Upon graduating college, I could not wait to get the chlorine smell out of my hair and try something different. Enter Salsa dancing. Aside from the cheesy moves I picked up in the clubs, (moves very similar to those in cliché Latin dance movies like Chayanne and Vanessa Williams’, “Dance With Me,”) I had very limited dance experience. I found the challenge of ‘ungraceful athlete meets (Salsa) dancing’ to be so humbling and so addictive. LaVoz: You are one of the original founders of LR. What prompted the launch of LR dance studio and company? Sol: I auditioned for a small, unknown dance company immediately after college in January of 2000. There were only five dancers in this newly formed company so I like to think of myself as the Twelfth Knight, in that my acceptance into the company completed the third couple. Ooh, this meant the company could finally choreograph complex triangle-like formations, and even a pyramid, should we want to get crazy with things. The name
of this little dance company was Latin Rhythms Limited (LRL), and its Artistic Director was a little someone by the name of Maricza Valentin. Long story short, Maricza taught me to (really) dance. It wasn’t long before we realized there was such a high demand for teaching Salsa, that just about all of the original LR members put our pennies and hopes together and opened Latin Rhythms Dance Studio in the summer of 2000. We were quite the naïve business entrepreneurs in that we opened this business with no capital, no business plan, and no website. If it weren’t for the kind family members and co-workers we practically coerced to take lessons from us, our classes would have been nearly empty. However, we must have done something right. We celebrated our 11th anniversary this past summer; our studio space has quadrupled in size, and our business has grown exponentially as one of Chicago’s premiere Latin dance schools. LaVoz: Do you prefer to be on the business side of LR? Sol: No one outside of Chicago’s Salsa community knows me, (and I don’t mind!) I have an all star Latin Rhythms cast, (i.e.
Maricza, Zeke Ruvalcaba, Jose Valdes, & Victor Monroy) recognizable enough that I couldn’t care less if someone confused me for the dance company’s water girl, versus the co-owner of Latin Rhythms. I stopped performing with our dance company over six years ago so I could focus more on the business end, (also because I am a far better instructor than performer—and I’m also okay with this!). So yes, I absolutely much rather be involved on the business/teaching side of Latin Rhythms. My business partner, Maricza, is one of the most talented creative souls I have ever met. However, sometimes her gift becomes her curse as she crosses over into her ‘mad artist’ side. This is where our perfectly unique Yin Yang relationship comes into play. I’m more of the deal closer. I love developing new key relationships. I handle more of the day-to-day operations. Bottom line, if someone needs a prompt response from us, they know to come to me first. (Sorry, Maricza!) But our business relationship is perfect, so I wouldn’t have it any other way. LaVoz: LR dance company has been performing for quite some time. Do you have a favorite routine or performance moment that stands out?
“I found the challenge of ‘ungraceful athlete meets dancing’ to be so humbling and so addictive.” LAVOZMAG.COM 7
Sol: My favorite LR performance routine is “The Struggle” (Frankie Dante’s ‘Veceremos’). Most of us old school LR’ers would probably agree. The performance moment that stands out most to me was one we did at the House of Blues for a full house. I could tell you why, but then I’d have to kill you. LaVoz: Can you talk about other services and classes unrelated to salsa offered by LR? Sol: I love this question. Put simply, it’s more than just a dance lesson at Latin Rhythms… it’s an experience. It’s a feel good experience, to be exact. It’s about stimulating all your senses, hence all the beautiful color, art, food, music and dance that happen in our unique dance facility.
Though some may try to reproduce (that’s my diplomatic word for copy,) what we do at Latin Rhythms, it will never be the same. There will always be a key ingredient missing. We’re very unique and random in what we do at Latin Rhythms. We are the pioneers of “Student Performance” classes. Why the heck not? Students love to perform, too. Our niche is clearly our Latin dance classes, but this hasn’t stopped us from offering one-of-a-kind choreography classes that include Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation, MJ’s Thriller, and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” It was such a proud moment to see many students/women from all walks of life, young and old, black and white, all shed their inhibitions, (most of which had never performed before, much less
in a tight black leotard!) and perform their hearts out to All The Single Ladies. People learn a lot more than dancing when they come to Latin Rhythms… they learn a ton about themselves. I’m so proud to help foster such a strong and encouraging sense of community at our school. Learn more about Latin Rhythms at: http://latinrhythmsdance.com/
THE SALSA CALENDAR LATIN RHYTHMS SOCIALS 210 N. RACINE CHICAGO, IL FRIDAY & SATURDAY SOCIALS HTTP://LATINRHYTHMSDANCE.COM SALSA SUNDAYS @ CUBBY BEAR 1059 W. ADDISON CHICAGO, IL HTTP://LIVESALSASUNDAYS.COM SALSA TUESDAYS @ ALHAMBRA 1240 W. RANDOLPH CHICAGO, IL HTTP://4FANTASTICEVENTS.COM SALSA WEDNESDAY @ LALO’S 733 W. MAXWELL ST. CHICAGO IL HTTP://LALOS.COM 8 LAVOZ CHICAGO WINTER 2012
ON THE COME UP Salsa Performer
1 Salsa Performer
Salsa Instructor Salsa Performer
Full Name: Michael “Mabbo” Mabborang Age: 28 Favorite Teacher: Jose Valdez Jr. Favorite Social: Latin Rhythms
Full Name: Yoriel Marcano Age: 33 Favorite Teacher: Adrian Tenorio Favorite Social: Love ‘em all!
Full Name: Angel Luis Martinez Age: 22 Favorite Teacher: Rocky Quinones Favorite Social: Gifted Souls Socials
Full Name: Sasha Kaporovskaya Age: 29 Favorite Teacher: Jorge Alvarez Favorite Social: Latin Rhythms
Full Name: Sonya Marin Age: N/A Favorite Teacher: Cristina Zavala Favorite Social: Frenesi
10 LAVOZ CHICAGO WINTER 2012
THE PARTY SCENE
THE PARTY SCENE PHOTOGRAPHY PROVIDED BY MICHAEL MABBORANG
THE PARTY SCENE
Kathleen Neubauer AGE: 25 ETHNICITY: PHILIPPINES/ GERMANY HOMETOWN: CHICAGO, IL PERFORMING WITH: URBAN VIBE
MOST INFLUENTIAL: MY MOTHER
YEARS DANCING: 6 OCCUPATION: PRE-SCHOOL TEACHER
CLAIM TO FAME: OPENED SHOW WITH URBAN VIBE FOR MEGA FEST CHICAGO WITH VARIOUS ARTISTS FAVORITE QUOTE: “LIVE AS IF YOU WERE TO DIE TOMORROW, LEARN AS IF YOU WERE TO LIVE FOREVER.”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY RB DEL ROSARIO 12 LAVOZ CHICAGO WINTER 2012
Jose Valdes AGE: 28 ETHNICITY: CUBAN HOMETOWN: CHICAGO, IL PERFORMING WITH: LATIN RHYHTMS DANCE COMPANY MOST INFLUENTIAL: FRANKIE MARTINEZ & TITO ORTOS YEARS DANCING: 8 OCCUPATION: RISK ANALYST FOR CTA
CLAIM TO FAME: 3RD PLACE IN THE 2009 WORLD SALSA CHAMPIONSHIPS ON2 DIVISION FAVORITE QUOTE: “I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME.”
ON THE COVER MICAH BOON KATHY CABRERA
14 LaVoz Fall 2011
14 LaVoz Fall 2011
Photos courtesy of Marisela Guerra
MAMBOFODADAZ LaVoz: When I previewed the LaVoz cover, it surprised some people who have not seen you guys perform in a while. What have you’ll been up to the last few years? Micah: Well, the last few years we have been focusing on smaller events. We have not done that many big congresses. We have been asked to train students and performance teams from other dance studios on “crazy” turn patterns or dance technique on leading and following. We have also been focusing on our DVDs. We released two last year and we have some more coming out this year. So I am not really sure what people think but we have definitely enjoyed working the smaller events and venues. Kathy: We just came back from working in Curacao, so it’s good to know that promoters are still interested in us. However, one thing that prevents us from traveling as much is that we both have full time jobs. Micah works full-time at Northwest-
INTERVIEW BY JOHNNY JOHNSON
ern and he does web design on the side. I work full-time as a Health Educator at Cook County hospital which requires a lot of my time. Nevertheless, we try to go out as much as possible, especially to Latin Rhythms socials because we like their events. LaVoz: You guys have been performing as a couple for a long time. At some point are you looking to expand to the more traditional size of a salsa dance company? Micah: People ask us that a lot. Generally people want to know if we are ever going to have auditions. Right now we are just going to focus on me and Kathy for another year and expand after that. Kathy: In 2010 we performed our ChaCha routine in the Chicago Salsa Congress with Jose Valdez and Carla Jorge. However, our focus is still on us as a couple. I feel like Micah and I still have some things we want to do as a couple.
When we are ready to give 100% to directing a group, then we will do it. LaVoz: From your perspective, what has been going on in the Chicago Salsa scene over the last few years? Micah: Well the Chicago scene is still active. In fact, 50% of the people I see out are new faces. I don’t know if the people who have been around a while have stopped coming out, but there are a lot of new talented dancers in the Chicago scene. I recently attended a local Bachata competition and I saw a lot of new dancers. I don’t know where they came from or who taught them, but they were really good. Also, some of the Salsa venues have changed but Alhambra on Tuesdays is still going strong and Latin Rhythms Socials are still well-attended. So the Chicago scene has changed but it’s still very active. LaVoz: I believe Micah was in College and Kathy was in High School LAVOZMAG.COM 15
when you began performing in the Salsa Industry. A lot of time has passed and you both have full-time careers now. Can you talk about how you manage your careers with dancing Salsa professionally? Kathy: We still put the same amount of effort and energy into Salsa when we perform, but we have learned through the experience of other dancers that you cannot always live Congress to Congress. Just because you get called to work a Salsa Congress one year does not mean you will get called back the following year. We like to have a steady income so that we can have our own homes and cars and things of that nature. Additionally, I still want to go back to school and get my Master’s in Public Health. So we want to keep our full-time careers and have the option to work Salsa events when we are contacted. Micah: I have a lot of respect for people that can dance fulltime and live off of it. That’s awesome. However, it’s also a big risk and we prefer to have a little more stability and a steady income. LaVoz: You both have experienced some recent success with the sale of your Salsa DVDs. Can you talk about that experience? Micah: Well the first DVD we did was the “Crazy Turn Patterns” DVD. We did this project because people can’t always show
up where we are to take our workshops or travel to Chicago to learn from us. We were getting a lot of requests from overseas and other states about a DVD from us because some of our online social dance footage. As a result, we decided to produce a DVD. Kathy: My DVD “How To Follow” came as a result of the questions I would constantly get from follows during our workshops. Micah recommended that I do this DVD since there are not a lot of DVDs dedicated to following. LaVoz: So where did the name “MamboFodadaz” come from? Micah: It really came from slang and talking smack. I used to hear people say stuff like “If you keep messing with me, I got something for your a**.” Then at a salsa club I was talking smack with some friends and I remember saying “I got some mambo for your a**” and that phrase really stuck for some reason. I knew that was going to be the name of our company. When I got home, I called Kathy and woke her up. When I told her the name, she just said, “Oh, ok” and hung up on me (lol). Kathy: Micah doesn’t really like to tell people what it means. He wants them to figure it out. But when they ask me, I just tell them (lol). Usually when they get it, they really like the name.
We still put the same amount of effort and energy into Salsa when we perform, but we have learned through the experience of other dancers that you cannot always live Congress to Congress -Kathy Cabrera
16 LAVOZ CHICAGO WINTER 2012
Featured Artwork by Travis Duggins
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Salsero’s Perspective Dance Companies If you are in the Salsa Scene long enough you will either be tempted or pressured into joining a dance company. If you are completely insane you’ll want to start a dance company. I’ve never started a dance company so I really can’t advise too much on that subject but I was part of a dance company for a little while. Dance companies are really dysfunctional families (at least good dance companies are) so you have crazy cousins, brothers that lie and over dramatic sisters. At any rate, here is some quick advice if you planning to join a dance company. 1.) Be honest Be honest with yourself and your director about what you want. Do you want to become a better dancer, be on stage or travel? Honestly understand what you want to accomplish by joining a dance company. Maybe you want to up your chances of getting laid. Whatever it is, you need to have an understanding of what makes giving up time and money worth it. Your director has to know what your intentions really are because they can tell you right off the bat if you’re wasting your time. There is nothing wrong with wanting something, you just need to honest about what you want. 2.) Trust You are going to have to trust your director. You are going to have to trust them with your dancing, money and time. They will have to judge your dancing and you may not like what they have to say. If you don’t trust their intentions, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. If you can’t trust them with money then don’t even bother. Most directors run dance companies at a loss (I told you they are crazy) or breaking even at best. There is a black hole when it comes to a dance company and if directors are not being efficient, the dance company won’t last long. Time is a two way street. You are giving it up like everyone else who shows up for practice. Not only does your director need to be efficient with time, you also need to be efficient as well. 3.) Practice My Achilles heel was that I hated going to practice. Very few people have the talent to get away with not practicing. I
20 LAVOZ CHICAGO WINTER 2012
learned the hard way that if you expect to practice only with the dance company, you’ll perform very few times. Now if you love to practice it will make life very easy and no matter what your talent level is, it will show on the stage. 4.) Expect By-Products Like everything in life there are drawbacks. I won’t dwell on them too much because I feel the good usually outweighs the bad. You’ll be judged for better or worse. Sometimes it will be honest and constructive. Sometimes it will be haters just trying to take away your accomplishments. Expect it and try to learn to from it. There is no such thing as a perfect performance! There is always something you can improve upon. No matter how much you practice, everyone sees a dance company. You can put in 110% and someone else may only put in 50%. The crowd will only see 50%. It’s a harsh reality. 5.) Have fun Try to keep it in prospective, it’s just dancing. Don’t get overly dramatic. You should laugh more than you cry. If it’s worth anything, you will shed a few tears. Eventually you’ll laugh about those moments as well. So have as much fun as possible.
You are going to have to trust your director. You are going to have to trust them with your dancing, money and time. They will have to judge your dancing and you may not like what they have to say...
by Jason Pacheco Salsa Cliques I was having a late snack after dancing and I was trash talking with some people about life. Picking up the info on who was sleeping with who and who left which dance company. We had a few veteran dancers but there was a new child on the scene. She made a comment that a lot of young dancers make. “The Salsa Scene has too many cliques.” I had to laugh because it was such a naïve statement.
I grew up in a very strict evangelical home in the inner city of Chicago. Every social event from childhood through high school was surrounded by Church. I went to Church, bible study and bible camp during the summer. Then I went to college and was exposed to many different social circles. I wasn’t sheltered to the point that I never had exposure to other social circles, but I never really saw them in depth like I did in college. It was a fun experience because I enjoy watching people interact. When I started dancing, I realized that the Salsa Scene was by far the most entertaining social circle I have ever witnessed.
“People are people” I say this all the time. Sometimes we become so involved in our social world, we think it’s the exception. However, people tend to behave the same regardless of the scene. Growing up in Church you meet good people and you meet not so good people. There is a Church jargon and yes they have cliques. This goes for every social group where people gather together. The word clique has a lot of negative connotations. If you were to look it up in the thesaurus it’s synonyms are faction, gang and elite. Ouch… Who wants be described as elite faction or gang?
There isn’t anything wrong with cliques. Yes I agree that the dancing scene has many cliques. No one should apologize about wanting to hang out with his or her friends. That’s what humans do. People who complain about cliques are usually jealous that they are not part of a clique. Their complaints subside once they have their own niche. Newbies will always make this complaint until they gather the skills to hang with advanced dancers. Everyone goes through it and no one likes being humbled.
4 to 5 hrs straight everyday during the summer. Even within athletic circles, groups would form. These revolved around your skill level. There are three outdoor basketball courts in the park. On the south end all the kids and busters would run their games. In the middle was the high school and mid level players ran their games. On the north end was where the giants roamed. These were grown men and a few large teenagers. No one complained about cliques on the basketball court. You played at your level until it wasn’t challenging and then you attempted to make the jump. If you weren’t good enough you wouldn’t get picked to play. How much fun would a grown man have going over to the south end of the courts and totally dominating a bunch of kids? Not only would it be dangerous, it wouldn’t be fun.
It’s the same thing with dancing. You want to dance with people who are going to challenge you. Of course you should dance with beginners and make an effort to welcome new people. No one should expect that if they are just learning the fundamentals that you are going to be dancing every song. If you are not dancing it’s not because these cliques want to deny you a good time. Truth is, no one gives it that much thought (except for over analytical people like myself). So just keep dancing and practicing, soon enough people will complain about how left out YOU make THEM feel.
People who complain about cliques are usually jealous that they are not part of a clique. Their complaints subside once they have their own niche...
I played basketball in high school religiously. I would play for