dance

Put some bounce in your Salsa with PACHANGA!

I have been getting a lot of requests for Pachanga videos, so here is one to start with. In this video I go over how to prep the pachanga step from your basic salsa step. The KEY is to not skip the preparation with your hips on the 8 beat so that you can hit the first pachanga step on 1. If you can remember that you are well on your way to pachanga success!

The most important thing to remember when you are learning pachanga is to NOT let yourself get frustrated. Pachanga is a hard thing to learn, but I promise one day it will just CLICK and you will say to yourself, OH MY GOSH I GET IT! So, just keep practicing, because it just takes time. 

Feel free to ask me any questions or any requests! 

Until next time dancers!

Enjoy!

Remembering SYTYCD

 It has been a year since I auditioned for the television dance competition called So You Think You Can Dance, and although I did not even come close to making it on the show, I hold the experience very dear to me. I decided to challenge myself in a way that I never had before, and looking back I would say that it marked a turning point in my dancing and even in my personal life.  So, here is my story...

Stealing pictures in the theater to remember the feeling. We weren't supposed to take any pictures or video.

 I remember poking around the internet when all of the sudden I stumbled across an announcement of the dates and locations of the upcoming auditions for my favorite dance show on TV. And that was that. I had decided that this was the year for me to audition. It was something I had been thinking about for years, each year discovering a different excuse for why I couldn't do it. But not this time. Everything was in place, I felt ready and the time was right. I was in the process of planning my move to New York and transitioning my career from dancing for the Cobo Brothers Dance company to venturing to a solo career in New York. I really had no excuses anymore. If there ever was a time to audition, this was it. So, I did. I made up my mind and nothing was going to get in my way of making it happen. 

So, first things first, I had to find out if I would have a partner or if I would be doing the audition solo. I asked my dance partner, James Cobo, if he was up for it and after thinking it over, he agreed to help me out. That was when the first round of nerves set in. Was I really going to do this? Gulp. I brushed off the nerves and got to work. What's next? Find a song that can be approved for TV, can't be edited, so it had to be exciting from the start. Done. Next, I had to choreograph a routine to wow the judges. So, with James' help I put together a small piece that I felt showed off my strengths. We rehearsed it while keeping up with our other dance commitments until it was time for the audition. This is when round 2 of nerves began to take hold...

On the road. Driving through my beautiful NC mountains towards Memphis, TN.

I packed up my costumes, healthy snacks, music, dance shoes, hairspray and makeup. Packed up the car and set on the road with my boyfriend Rezza, my mom and my sister Adriana. Next stop, Memphis Tennessee! We had two rooms booked in a hotel and we were set to arrive the night before the big audition. James was flying there, so we would meet him at the hotel. The drive was beautiful, passing through my beautiful North Carolina landscape, until finally we made it to Memphis. We got a bite to eat, then straight to bed. I had an early morning and a long day ahead. 

So, we woke up before the sunrise. I put on my make up, did my hair and tried my best to keep the nerves in check. James and I got some breakfast, then we got in line outside the Orpheum theater where the auditions would be taking place. It was cold and there was an excited, nervous and slightly competitive energy in the air. This was it.

Cold,nervous, and excited waiting in line outside the Orpheum Theater in Memphis, TN. 

Sun is up and still waiting in line.

As the sun started to rise we began making friends with the dancers around us. Pretty soon some of the production crew came out and started encouraging us to dance for the camera as we waited in line. We were making our own beats, dancing in the street and repeating stunts over and over so that the crew could be sure they got just the right two second shot they needed. It was exciting and exhausting. We were out there for hours. Still, it was so inspiring to be around so many talented dancers, all there to pursue the same dream. I will never forget it.

Met some incredibly inspiring dancers there.

Met some incredibly inspiring dancers there.

So happy to have the support of my loved ones.

So happy to have the support of my loved ones.

Finally, they let us inside, handed out numbers, told us the rules and got the competition started. The first day was a group, freestyle round where we had to dance to music that we did not choose. We made it through that round and the sent us on to the next day of auditions.

Day 2 and we got to meet the on air judges. It started to feel very real. We had to go through another round of freestyle before we could even perform our prepared piece. Luckily we made it through and James and I got to perform our routine. I felt really honored to be able to share this style of salsa to an audience that, honestly has very little exposure to the beautiful dance and culture of salsa. Salsa is still not a very commercially represented dance, and I will always remember the incredible feeling of being able to share just a little bit of that with the world. They asked me to continue on to the choreography round where we had less than an hour to learn a routine that exhibited multiple styles of dance with a partner we didn't know. Unfortunately, after performing the piece I was asked to go home, and that was the end of my audition. Yet, I was fortunate enough to have my audition featured on the show later that summer. It was incredible to think that there was something there that they felt was worth putting on national television even if I did not make it past that audition.

My audition for the show So You Think You Can Dance, featured on air.

I don't know if I will audition again in the future. I know I won't this year because I have other goals that I am pursuing. But I am so grateful to have had this opportunity and experience. It showed me that I am strong and willing to grow. It showed me that I am brave enough to put myself into difficult and challenging situations. I came away with a confidence that even though I am not a classically trained dancer, I have worked hard to get to where I am and that is something to be proud of. It also taught me humility and a drive to continue training, learning and growing as a dancer. I learned that I truly love dance and it inspired me to really chase after my dreams. Every success comes from the many failures and setbacks that come before it and I was inspired to take my next leap in my dance and personal life, move to New York City and chase after my dreams with a hunger and passion I hadn't quite known until then.

I know this was a long post, so I want to thank you for reading it. It is an experience that I will never forget and that taught me so much, so I wanted to share that with you all.

Stay brave, humble and passionate. Go after your dreams and when you fall down or get knocked around by the process, stay strong and keep on fighting. Because that is what it is all about, the fight. Without it, the wins wouldn't mean quite as much.

With love, 

Isabel

World Salsa Summit 2014

A few weeks ago I competed in the 2014 World Salsa Summit Global Salsa Championship. This was only my second dance competition, and it is an experience I will never forget. 

Competitive Salsa has been a goal of mine for quite some time and I still can't quite believe that it is finally happening!  After less than a year of training with my new competitive dance partner, Fausto Felix, I am quite proud of the progress we are making. I think if we continue to work hard, train, create and push ourselves, we will accomplish the goals we have in sight. 

My partner and I went home with two titles. We won first place in the Professional Just Salsa division, which means social dancing. So we went out there and danced our hearts out to a song the DJ chose and took home the title! Most importantly, it was so much fun! We also took home the second place trophy for the Professional Cabaret division, which means tricks and lifts. This is the division we have been working out butts off to compete in so I am so happy that we took second place on our first try!! This is just the beginnning and I can't wait to go out there again!

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Aside from that I am so grateful to have had an amazing support system all along the way. My incredible boyfriend, Rezza was there the whole time and I know it wouldnt have been the same without him. Also, my amazing family was just a text away the whole time wishing me luck and sending encouraging words. So thank you to those that mean the most to me in the world! I wouldn't be here without you!

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