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.”

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Help Puerto Rico by signing  to wave the Jones Act & donate 

Click here to sign & waive the Jones Act Let’s make this happen y’all! The Jones Act is 100 years old and is screwing the people on the island who are Citizens!  

“What is the Jones Act…”On March 2, 1917, Wilson signed the Jones-Shafroth Act, under which Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory and Puerto Ricans were granted statutory citizenship, meaning that citizenship was granted by an act of Congress and not by the Constitution (thus it was NOT guaranteed by the constitution”

You can also donate at The Puerto Rico House in Chicago, 1237 N. California. Today until 9p.m. Due to over capacity the police station on 2150 N. California will also accept donations 

Things they need

  • Water 
  • Canned foods 
  • Diapers 
  • Powder formula
  • Flashlight 
  • Batteries 
  • Clothes….Etc… 

Before & after pictures below 

Puerto Rico/Wedding/Vacation

With Puerto Rico being just a few days away I can’t wait to share all the great things there is to do on the island. I hear many great stories but this time I get to experience P.R. for myself. My beautiful sister is getting married at Casa De España in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico and it is known to be a historic place on the island.
Casa de España is the headquarters of a private social organization whose members are those of Spanish descent in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Avenida de La Constitución in Old San Juan. The building was designed in a Moorish Revival style by architect Pedro Adolfo de Castro. The building dates from 1934. Although it is named “Casa”, it has never been a dwelling place for a family; rather it is a “house” whose members claim common ancestry. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.[1] It is not open to the public, but private affairs may be arranged. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casa_de_Espa%C3%B1a

Sharing some of my fave throwback beach photos in the meantime…

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Sun if life…Beach is life
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Into the clouds

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Level of excitement….1000
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Splish-splash

Recap of the 16th Annual Chicago International Salsa Congress

This year marked the 16th annual Chicago International Salsa Congress, (CISC). The four-day event took place on Thursday February 9 to Sunday February 12 at the O’Hare Regecy Hyatt. The Salsa Congress is an event where different dancers from all around the world meet to share the same love and passion of dance. The event was full of non-stop excitement and features dance workshops, performances, competitions, vendors and social dancing to the live band and DJ.

Due to the many workshops available during the day I was able to go to a few even though I wish to have done them ALL! My first workshop was Vogue with Instructor Carlos 007 of Latin Rage Dance Company in Los Angeles. The class taught me how to incorporate voguing with salsa moves. Just like Salsa, Carlos explained the importance of moving your body and telling a story through vouging.  

“Using pain to create the creativity and to create masterpieces,” said Carlos 007. 

Another workshop that I took was Ladies Styling with Blanca Aviles of Latin Rhythms in Chicago. She taught the class how to style your hands, arms, and legs while dancing Salsa. The fluidity of each body gesture is what makes any dance unique. Another important tip I took away from the class is that each movement should come natural when dancing.

“Take the stuff that feels organic to your body,” said Blanca. 

A few other workshops that I did was Partner-work on 2 intermediate/advanced with Tamara Livolsi and Tito Ortos and Salsa Turn Patterns on 2 beginner/intermediate with Ernesto and Maritza. Both classes involved practicing with a partner and most importantly having the patience to get the steps right. 

“Keep training and discipline whatever you can grab your hands onto,” said Tamara.

Each workshop was tailored to what the instructor teaches and a great way to learn the many different dance styles. Although, some classes were more challenging than others it still gave people an opportuity to step out their comfort zone and learn.

“Never stop learning and have fun,” said Maritza. 

And that is exactly what each performance exuded from the afternoon and evening showcases. From the costumes to their facial expression each dance group and or solo dancers gave their all and showed. This year in particular was extra special and emotional for some of the performers because it was their last debut. Ericka Crespo who dances with Urban Vibe Dance Company in Chicago performed her last mambo routine. The group danced to Celia Cruz’s “Caramelo,” and you felt the love and passion that was put into the choreography. 

“This was an emotional and bittersweet performance overall. I’m grateful to have been part of the dance world in general and to have a oppportunity to show others the art of dance,” said Ericka.

Another dance company who closed the 16th annual CISC on Sunday night was Gifted Souls who also came to an end as they debuted their “Last Roar,” a Lion King inspired choreography. Director Rocky Quinones of Gifted Souls moves on to become a new father and at the end of their performance a machine exploded with pink and white confetti to reveal the gender of his baby to be, a girl. There was a total of 56 dancers who performed the “Last Roar” the majority being from Gifted Souls and some from other dance companies who auditioned. Overall, the performance was breathtaking and unforgettable. 

At the end of every performance each night the Grand Ballroom was cleared in order to have an open space to dance, hence the term “Social Dancing.” Some of the live bands/artists who closed the night were Jimmy Bosh and the All Star Orchestra featuring Yoko, Herman Olivera and Nelson Gonzalez on Tres, La Japonesa Salsera and all the way from Spain Tromboranga Salsa Orchestra.  

This year’s Salsa Congress was another success! And I hope to see you at next year’s CISC, until then DANCE!

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Video Credit to Media Team and Edited by Mabbo

 

Chicago Salsa Congress – Press Party

 

What better way to bring in the 16th annual Chicago International Salsa Congress then by hosting a press party just 9 days before with a few sneak peek performances.

On Tuesday January 30 I had the pleasure to attend the press party held at Chicago’s Block 37 inside of the restaurant Latinicity. The evening consisted of music, performances, socializing, appetizers and drinks.

So what exactly is the Chicago International Salsa Congress (CICS)?

The founders Rosita and Saladeen Alamin of Cultural Expressions Productions and the Chicago Intercultural Alliance created a multicultural community through Afro-Latin music and dance. In 2002, both Rosita and Saladeen formed the first CISC.

The goal was not just about having music or dancing but to empower personal awareness, creativity, passion, leadership and inspire. The CISC gives an opportunity for up and coming artists to perform alongside some of the most elite and well-known artists. The event also showcases dance companies from Chicago, other states/city’s and even different countries.

As stated in the Chicago Salsa Congress website their mission is to:

“unite cultures and generation, engender leadership through empowerment opportunities in its showcase and to keep alive the history of the many cultures collaboration in the creation and evolution of Latin and Afro-Caribbean music and dance.”

On February 9 – 12, 2017 the CISC will take place at the O’Hare Hyatt Regency. The non-stop entertainment event will have dance workshops throughout the day and it will include different levels of dancing from Salsa, Bachata, Jazz, Hip-Hop and more. The night performances begin at 7:00p.m. inside of the main ballroom where the different dance companies and solo performers will showcase their finest choreographies followed by a live band for social dancing until 3:00a.m.  Outside of the main ballroom there will be a DJ playing music and vendors.

This is definitely an event you don’t want to miss!

For more information you can visit their website at Chicagosalsacongress.com and purchase your tickets today!

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