Artists

Talent

Artists

ISLAND TOUCH

Island Touch

Tanja “La Alemana” Kensinger began her dancing career in April of 2005, and has since made a name for herself in the Salsa & Bachata dance communities. With her partner, Jorge Burgos (ATACA Jorgie), they have become one of the most recognizable couples in the Bachata scene; and they have traveled to over 25 different countries teaching and performing Bachata. Their world famous routine to “Te Extrano” by Xtreme, has taken the Bachata world by storm. Tanja’s dance background includes training in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, and Ballroom; she commands the dance floor on and off stage with her high energy and infectious smile.

Jorge “Ataca” Burgos is from Puerto Rican decent and naturally, dance has been a huge part in his life. He began his professional dance career in 2006, and has since won over the hearts of thousands of dancers with his charismatic smile and wonderful dancing ability and style. Along with Tanja “La Alemana”, he has traveled all over the world performing at various Bachata and Salsa festivals. They even have performed or choreographed for Bachata artists such as Toby Love, Prince Royce, Xtreme, Dominic Marte, and Carlos y Alejandra.  Jorge is not only known for his unbelievable dancing ability, style, and charismatic smile, but also for his incredible teaching ability. His classes are always filled with not only great instruction that is easy to follow, but with high energy and lots of laughter. Some are great dancers, and others great instructors – Jorge is both.

Although known for their Bachata Ataca & La Alemana have performed with the top Salsa artists in the world. La Alemana did a solo routine with Eddie Torres, Ataca has done a solo with Griselle Ponce as well as was featured in a cameo show with Grupo Alafia, Italy. They have both performed as a couple at various congresses and events with the world famous Yamulee and one of the top couples in the world Victor and Burju (Hacha y Machete)

Rudi El Tiguere Del Mambo” Lopez — Born in Rochester, NY to a Dominican father and Puerto Rican mother. El Tiguere’s father being a self taught musician imparted a feel and love for music that would permeate all that El Tiguere does. A passionate dancer and DJ, El Tiguere’s style is full of swag, seximiento and energy. El Tiguere has successfully fused his training in Bachata at Island Touch Dance with his Dominican background and created a whole new style called Dominican Touch. El Tiguere dances for the Island Touch Salsa and Bachata teams.DJ Tiguere is internationally known for his Bachata Mixes and is a rising star in the Salsa DJ community.

ZEKE “FABULOSA” RUVALCABA

Zeke "Fabulosa" Ruvalcaba

Zeke Ruvalcaba is a Mexican/Chicago native who has maintained the spirit of Bachata alive in Chicago for the past 9 years.

One of his strongest assets, apart from his energetic and humorous personality, is his ability to follow as well as he leads. On the dance floor, Zeke captivates audiences with his unique flamboyant style no matter what role he takes on the dance floor.  Zeke prides himself in his unique ability to teach and train his students and dancers. His creative approach in teaching has much to do with his B.F.A in Dance and Secondary Education. Zeke is trained in Ballet, Modern, and Jazz and has extensive preparation in choreography/instruction.  In addition, Zeke specializes in spinning, styling, and body movement.

Zeke has traveled all over the world teaching, performing, and judging at different Salsa/Bachata Events.  Currently, Zeke is the Artistic Director of the Chicago Bachata All Stars, Bachata Rising Stars, Cumbia Allstars and Proyecto Allstars.   If teaching and directing all three groups isn’t enough, Zeke is also an aspiring Costume and Evening Wear designer, having created many costumes for local and national dance teams and couples. Although Zeke has come close to being part of the reality show “Project Runway” he has not given up and hopes to launch his “Phy-Zeke” line very soon.

 

MARC BREWER (KIZOMBA DETROIT)

Marc BrewerFullSizeRender

As featured on America’s Got Talent, internationally renowned artist Marc Brewer, based in MI, is one of North America’s most sought after Afro-Latin Dance instructors, performers, and choreographers. Certified in 9 American competitive ballroom dances and proficient in Ballet, Modern, Jazz, and Hip-hop, dances in the Afro-Latin genre are his specialty and main focus with extensive training and experience in Kizomba, Salsa, Bachata, Theater Arts (Lifts, Dips, and Tricks), and Brazilian-Zouk. He is rapidly leaving his mark on the competitive Afro-Latin dance world with recent finalist placements at the American Kizomba Open Championship (1st) and International Kizomba Open (3rd) in 2013 and the 2014 Toronto Bachata Congress Kings of Bachata Competition (2nd). Marc also had the pleasure of starring alongside Sara Lopez in Daniel Santa Cruz’s critically acclaimed Kizomba music video “Lento”. With performances and workshops taught this past year in Bucharest, Paris, Mexico, Madrid, Luanda, Bucharest, Los Angeles, Prague, Toronto, New York, Montreal, Miami, Chicago, Houston, New Jersey, Washington D.C, and more….2015 is looking to be an even bigger breakout year for this rising star!

SARAH ZUCCARO

Sarah Zuccaro

Sarah Zuccaro has been dancing for 24 years.  Starting off in the more traditional forms of dance, she is proficient in Ballet, Contemporary, Jazz, Hip Hop, American-style social Ballroom, and the Latin dances.  She graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelors of Science in Dance Performance and Choreography.  In addition to her degree, Sarah also has her Bronze American style teacher certification by Diane Jarmalow through Fred Astaire, levels 1-4 Zouk instructor certifications through Kim Rottier of Zouk NY, and her intermediate/advanced musicality certification by Carlos da Silva of Rio Dance Studio in Prague.

Sarah’s professional dance career started when she was 17 with freelance jazz and hip hop work.  Major performance credits include appearances on “Showtime at the Apollo” and “Good Morning America,” a featured performer in “Witness the Magic”- a local professional magic/dance show, and Encore Musical Theatre’s “Club Morocco”.  In college, she switched gears with the opportunity to perform in several modern pieces created by well-known, professional choreographers such as Daniel Gwirtzman, Shauna Steele, and Amy Cova.  When taking on a position as a Ballroom instructor after graduation, her work and dance focus shifted to the partner dances, bringing about opportunities like being a featured performer in deaf rapper Sean Forbes’ music video “Lets Mambo” and “Dancing with the All Stars” – a celebrity charity event for autism. Sarah has also recently worked with the Luna Dancers, which is a commercial entertainment dance company that performs full-length shows in the genres of Hip Hop, Jazz, and go-go exclusively for Luna Nightclub, a well-known and award winning dance club in Metro-Detroit

As her career developed and evolved, Sarah became highly trained and experienced in Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, and Brazilian Zouk, which is now where her focus lies long term.  She has collected many finalist placements and has had the opportunity to headline as a performer and instructor at many festivals and congresses in all of these genres.  She just recently relocated to Chicago where she is now currently employed at Latin Street Dance Academy teaching privates, group lessons, and choreographing and performing with her newly formed team, ZouKizombAlliance. Sarah is very excited to also be heading Alma Chicago Bachata teams starting in March.  In addition to her work at home, she also travels freelance on the weekends Solo, sometimes with various partners, performing and teaching Zouk and Kizomba.

Sarah is gaining recognition for her dynamic choreographies and her ability to apply her classical training to the social dances.  She is in high demand nationwide for teaching, coaching, performing and choreographing because of her level of training, education, and success in practically all forms of dance and is really looking forward to all of the exciting adventures booked for the rest of 2015!

ERIKA OCCHIPINTI

Erika Occhipinti
Erika Occhipinti (aka “Erika Caliente”) is the founder and owner of Salsa Caliente Dance Studio in Tampa, FL. Since opening the studio in July of 2000, she has taught thousands of students and trained some incredible instructors, most notably Jorge “Ataca” Burgos and Juan “TaTo” Paredes. Her salsa and bachata instructional videos on eHow.com and YouTube have collectively received millions of views and given her international recognition. She has taught workshops at salsa congresses all over the US, including New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, Atlanta, Miami, and Orlando, and was a judge at the Texas Salsa Classic. She was a regular dancer on the TV show Caliente (Univision) for 4 years, and in 2007, she received the Miami Salsa Congress’s “Alex Award” for her instrumental role in the creation and development of the Tampa salsa scene. In addition to salsa and bachata, her dance background includes extensive training in ballet and jazz.As an instructor, Erika places a heavy emphasis on technique, rather than just teaching steps and patterns. She masterfully executes and explains both the lead and follow and is equally skilled at teaching and dancing either “on 1” or “on 2.” Her specialties include lead/follow technique, timing, body movement, turning/spinning technique, shines, styling, and musicality.

BLANCA AVILES

Blanca Aviles

Every time you move in a different way you gain a new perspective and enhance your awareness-

Blanca has always had a passion for movement and dance. She grew up with natural desire to move. As a teen she was drawn to the art of Egyptian style Belly-Dance. She trained and performed for several years. At age 16 she began dancing through Gallery 37 and gained a scholarship to Homer Bryant Multi-Cultural Pre Professional Program. There she intensively studied ballet, Horton style modern, hip-hop, jazz, Latin dance and flamenco. In 2003, she enrolled in Columbia College, Chicago, and pursued her BA in Dance, graduating in 2006. During her college years she performed in works by Choreographers; Lisa Gonzalez, Julia Rhoads (Lucky Plush), and Bebe Miller, as well as performing at the 2005 American College Dance Festival.

In college Blanca began a six-year journey to intensively train in the Brazilian Martial Art Fight Dance: Capoeira. She traveled around the nation to study with the best Master teachers in both Capoeira and Samba. Her passion for Capoeira has greatly influenced her performance and teaching style.

After college, Blanca grew as a choreographer putting on various shows throughout the city. Her self-produced work was shown at Links Hall: “Breaking Ground”. She directed A Latin Dance Production at Indiana University. Blanca also performed with Clinard Dance Theater in the contemporary flamenco work: “Jondo Portraits”

Her passion for Latin Dance led her perform with dance companies: Latin Rhythms, and Urban Vibe; traveling and performing in various cities including: Miami, Orlando, New York, Puerto Rico, Bermuda.

KIZOMBA CHICAGO

KizChiLogo2015Kizomba Chicago

Kizomba Chicago is a group of kizomba dancers and music-lovers, established in 2011 to support the spread of kizomba, semba and zouk.  Our group works to share the joy of these afro-carribean rhythms with the dance communities in Chicago and surrounding areas. We host weekly parties at various Chicago clubs and restaurants. Kizomba Chicago also sponsors the annual “Taste of Kizomba” festival, bringing instructors from Europe, Africa and the US to share their experience with the community. We also maintain a website at www.kizombachicago.org to share information about local kizomba classes, parties and upcoming events. Our focus on growing a diverse and welcoming community has helped Kizomba Chicago bring people together from all backgrounds, dance levels and schools.

PASCAL

Pascal

Pascal is a native of Dakar, Senegal. “I like to describe myself as a world citizen. Growing up I was fortunate to travel and experience several cultures and take the best from each.” This cultural diversity came with an absolute love for multiple musical styles from Hip Hop, R&B to Salsa,  Zouk ,and even at times…Heavy Metal. “Zouk Music always had a special place in his life growing up in Senegal with the influence of the Cape Verdi community. This love for Zouk music naturally evolved to a passion for Kizomba. “The hotness and technique of this dance amazed me the very first time I saw it. Most people instantly fall in love with the dance and that is quite amazing.” Now in Chicago, after sharing his passion in France, he is helping the dance grow in the city. “It’s a pleasure and hobby for me to transmit all I know about the dance, spirit, and culture of Kizomba and Zouk music.” Pascal teaches with Sandra at Latin Street Dance on Mondays, Dance Center Chicago on Wednesdays, and Cubby Bear on Sundays.

JULIO PABON

Julio Pabon

Dancing has been embedded deeply in the life of Julio Capoeira. Born in Puerto Rico, Julio Capoeira (Julio Pabon, born April, 17th 1984, capoeira name Tarugo) has always loved dance and has many experience with different styles. At the age of 13, Julio Capoeira began his journey of dance with Dancehall, Hip Hop, Step, and Breakdancing. He performed in Middle school with after school programs to help cope with social and economic issues that plagued his community in the urban area of Rochester, NY.

In 1998, Julio Capoeira saw the movie “Only the strong”, a movie based on the Dance/Martial art Capoeira, and was determined to learn this discipline. Later that year, he began training capoeira with Stephan Collins at Afena Akuma. After a year of sporadic training, the instructor moved away and Julio Capoeira was forced to stop training. For many years after, Julio Capoeira was determined to once again pursue the art form.

Almost ten years later, while pursuing his Music Degree at University of Miami, he encountered a group of people practicing Capoeira in the university center. He began training with them and re sparked his love for the art that he had as a child. He wasn’t able to train regularly but continued to pursue Capoeira. After graduating from UMiami, he moved to New York city to pursue and focus solely on his music career. After spending a year in NYC, he moved back to Rochester, NY to rebuild his foundation in his music and try to create a career in his hometown. Shortly after returning in late 2009, Julio Capoeira once again restarted his training but this time, he didn’t stop.

Julio Capoeira has now been consistently training for 6 years and has attended many workshops and conferences (called Batizados/Troca de cordoes in the capoeira world). Julio Capoeira is currently teaching capoeira and music at the Capoeira studio C​om Expressao​in Rochester, NY under the guidance of C​ontra Mestre​ Carcara, lineage of C​apoeira Mandinga and Cordao de Ouro.  Julio Capoeira has traveled around the United States and internationally for many events and has had the opportunity to learn and “play” with many world class Capoeira teachers and masters. Julio capoeira currently holds the title of M​onitor​at C​om Expressao.​

Within recent years, Julio Capoeira was introduce to social dancing and has seen the similarities between social dance and Capoeira. Since Capoeira is a Martial art and has Dance elements, it also can be seen to many as a “social dance”. Julio Capoeira has also been part of dance companies such as Essence of Rhythm Co’s Bachata Performance Team directed by Darin “Sal Sero” Price from November 2013 until August 2014 where they performed at the Upstate Spring Dance Festival and Niagara Falls Salsa Congress, C​him Pum Callao.​Julio Capoeira is currently a fill in performer with RocKizomba organized by Elyse Inzinga.

STACEY LEE

Stacey Lee

Stacey has been dancing for over 15 years. As a kid, she developed a strong foundation in jazz technique and was head majorette of her high school twirling team. She began partner dancing in high school in the Lindy Hop scene in Knoxville, TN, and was later introduced to salsa in college. After moving to Nashville, TN for graduate school, she caught latin fever and began dancing salsa, bachata, and cha cha regularly. She now teaches pole dance, chair dance, burlesque, and more at Miss Fit Academy in Nashville. She is also a founding member of Music City Dance Alliance where she teaches salsa and bachata. In her free time she loves dancing ballet and zouk, and playing with her three cats.

KENNETH “BLACK DIAMOND” AMORIO

Ken Amorio

Ken has been teaching Steppin’ in Chicago for the past nine years and teaching Kizomba for the past two years. He is best known for his unique style which has earned him a place as a true artist of the craft among Chicago’s underground network of dancers and instructors. Ken holds many First Place Titles including: All That Dance (2002), Soul 106 Steppers Contest (2005), & Holiday Inn Steppers Contest (2002), as well as many 2nd place titles. He is in demand nationwide as he has taught at many various festivals including Taste of Kizomba & Michigan Kizomba Immersion as well as many others. Ken is one of the founding members of Kizomba Chicago and actively promoting Kizomba classes and events and currently teaches weekly in the Chicago area. In addition, he has appeared on WGN, MTV, and various commercials. Learn the art of “Chicago style Steppin’” or Kizomba from one of Chicago’s finest urban ballroom dancers.

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