Q & A with: Salsa dancers, instructors & performers, Tito Ortos and Tamara Livolsi

Salsa dancers, instructors and performers Tito Ortos and Tamara Livolsi have been dancing professionally for years and their advice to others is to, “never stop learning.” Both agree that any discipline you receive in life will enrich your knowledge and help you become a better dancer or in anything you do. “We’ve taught and helped many people with dancing but we still learn from others. There are many new things we learn ourselves.” Tito:Tamara perform 3.jpg

Who are some of the Spanish musicians/bands you’ve danced for and taught? El Gran Combo, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Victor Manuelle and Tito Nieves to name a few.

What was it like dancing for them and teaching Salsa? “First it’s always an honor to dance for musicians. The group El Gran Combo, they are very laid back, simple and mischievous. They like to have fun but are also very hard workers. Tito Nieves is also very easy to work with.”

The duo had danced and choreographed for other artists prior but one day their lives were changed when an opportunity began to open more doors.

How did you get the opportunity to choreograph for well-known artists? “Both Gilberto Santa Rosa and Victor Manuelle were doing a concert together named “Dos Soneros Una Historia” and we performed and did the choreography. Then it opened new opportunities because that is when “El Gran Combo” became our next group to work with and so on.”Tito:Tamara perform 6.jpg

The couple first initially met in New York but didn’t really get to associate with one another until 3 years after when they realized they had friends in common. In 2000, Tamara began a salsa dance group and Tito joined. At that time, Tito and Tamara began dating and began their journey together as dancers.

“The television show ‘Sabado Gigante’ held a competition for dancing one year and the network Univision paid for everything for us to show and perform. Tito won but I was just really there because for me it was for fun,” said Tamara.

Tamara was born in Argentina but at the age of 5-6 months old, her family moved to Puerto Rico where she was raised. Although she began a group in 2000, she has been professionally dancing since the age of 15. “My mother was a professional dancer and I never thought I would be one too because I was going to study and become a Veterinarian,” said Tamara.

Tito was born and raised in Puerto Rico and growing up his father was a musician. “In 1992, my dad created a band and wanted me to be involved with music. I then took a class with a teacher in Puerto Rico who was also a director and then I began rehearsing and became a part of my dad’s group.” Tito’s first teacher was Papito Jala Jala. Although Tito majored in Biology, another route was in the works for him when dancing took his time and he went with it. When I asked if they had world titles the two noted that they don’t dance to compete but do it for fun, to perform and most importantly, to teach.

Who are some people you both looked up to growing up? “Vivian Alaya and for reference Griselle Ponce.” said Tamara

“I would say my teacher, Anibal Vaszquez, Mike Ramos but today the list goes on.” said Tito.

“Tito likes to study music and dancers from before and is well rounded in that,” said Tamara.Titio:Tamara perform 11.jpg

After learning about Tito and Tamara’s story and becoming professional dancers, I was inspired because it didn’t happen overnight. Both, took chances and opportunities in their lives and it led to new journeys and amazing adventures. Here’s to their advice, “NEVER STOP LEARNING.”

http://chicagosalsacongress.com/

Chicago International Salsa Congress 2018 – Recap

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This year marked the 17th annual Chicago International Salsa Congress and this exciting 4-day event was filled with musicians, performances and dance workshops. The feeling once you step into the salsa congress is like no other. There’s a joy that comes over you and it doesn’t matter if you’re not a dancer because the overall experience is breathtaking. Many come for its sole purpose and that is to enjoy themselves, experience and witness what the event is all about.

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As always it never ceases to amaze me on how performers from different states, cities and around the world come together under one roof to showcase their best performances. Passion, creativity, love for music and dance is shared with the crowed. This year in particular there was more of a focus on the youth program and dance. I was stunned to see such young kids go on stage and dance their hearts off. After learning what Rosita Ragin-Alamin, co-founder and producer shared with me, she noted that it is important because these kids go on stage in front of many people and learn to become confident. I could not agree more because if there is something where kids can learn how to feel that poise within them they can conquer anything.

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During the day, DJ’s and guest DJ’s play music continuously throughout 3 ballrooms and the main hallway area to keep the energy going. The evening weekend line up featured, JR and his bachata band from New York, Orquesta Guayacan direct from Colombia, La Sonora Ponceña of Puerto Rico and Sunday night closed with the best of the best from the Midwest with an incredible jam session under the direction of Chicago’s own Edwin Sanchez and Angel Rodriguez.

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Each year I always look forward to the different workshops held during the day such as, SalsaArobics, Bachata Footwork, Ladies Styling, Mambo Shines, Cuban Salsa, Cha Cha, Brazilan Samba, Afro Mambo, Kizomba, Vogue and the list goes on! The classes are an hour long and usually there is one or two instructors leading the class in each ballroom for different classes. At the end of each workshop session the instructor allows the class to record him/her as they demonstrate the routine one last time. Instructors also offer a one-on-one private dance session.

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If you’re interested, then you definitely do not want to miss out on next year’s Chicago International Salsa Congress! February 7 -10, 2019. For more info, click on the link below and visit them!

www.chicagosalsacongress.com

Ericka Dip and Antonio

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Rosita Ragin-Alamin & Saladeen Alamin (Co-Founders and Producers)
"I Am Not My Hair Series" "Afro-Latina" by, Artbysimplyjess
“I Am Not My Hair Series” “Afro-Latina” by: www.SimplyJessArt.com

Singer/artist Amara La Negra has been making a statement since the first season of Love & Hip Hop Miami aired on January 1, 2018. The viewers are able to know more about her and how she is empowering women like her to not give up, never change who you are and most importantly your appearance. She is shining a light on how difficult it is for women who are dark skinned to make it in the entertainment/music industry without being told that they need to change their appearance.

Born Dana Danelys De Los Santos in Miami, Florida, the 27-year-old was raised by a single mother who moved from the Dominican Republic to the United States in hopes to give her daughter a better future. Amara has shared some of her deepest moments on the show on how her mother worked five jobs to make ends meet. She also shared that as a young girl she attended dance classes, took acting classes, modeling and in 1991 she won her first award in a beauty pageant.

Amara is a Latin musician who has made music in the Latin industry and has worked with well-known artists along the way. However, from what we’ve learned from her debut on Love & Hip Hop, Amara is looking into breaking in the American music industry but not without facing hardships from being told that she needs to change her appearance. In a recent interview on the radio station the Breakfast Club, Amara discusses these particular issues.

“We come in so many different shades that it’s like, why is it so hard for people to understand that or accept me? I feel like there’s this standard of beauty that you have to look a certain type of way in order to be pretty, your hair needs to be straight and silky or if you’re Latina you have to look like J. LO…” She also noted, “there isn’t a Latin country that doesn’t look like me.”

On the show Amara seeks guidance from a well-known producer named Young Hollywood. She wanted some insight on how she can make a crossover from the Latin music industry to the American music industry. However, things took a turn when he asked her why her hair is the way it is. He then proceeded to tell her to be less Macy Gray and be more Beyoncé and called her a Nutella Queen.

As you can imagine the internet has been all over this issue and the majority are taking a stand with Amara. Although, she discussed how she was angry, instead she explains how important it is to educate people like Young Hollywood.

Since the show Amara has been on several interviews and continues to bring awareness to the public. She also landed a multi-album record deal with BMG and is the CEO and founder of ALN Clothing line. This goes to show that even after being criticized Amara does not let it stop her and get in the way of her dreams. She explains how she embraces her appearance, sets her self apart and is her own person. The Afro-Latina is empowering women and young ladies to love the skin they’re in and their hair. She notes everyone is different and that’s what makes them unique.

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Photo by: www.clearlyfocusedmediaworks.com

Although, this topic is about breaking in the American music industry this is something that many Latinos and African-American’s encounter. The stereotype continues because people are not properly educated or are single-minded.

amara-la-negra-singer-640x560To learn more about Amara La Negra you can watch the show Love and Hip Hop Miami every Monday 9/8C on VH1 and or follow her on social media.

Instagram @amaralanegraaln

Twitter @AmaraLaNegraALN

www.ALNclothingline.com  amara-la-negra

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Photo cred: www.simplyjessart.com

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