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Calvin Rice and Fanny Olaya: Salsa Dance Instructors

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Calvin Rice and Fanny Olaya: Salsa Dance Instructors

Dance has been stepping out into the spotlight in recent years, thanks to the popular Dancing with the Stars TV show. One of the more dramatic and head-turning styles is salsa. But where can one learn the exotic Latin body motion that characterizes this spicy boogie? For the past three years, Calvin and Fanny have been sharing their knowledge built on years of travel to salsa congresses and festivals. Fanny grew up with it in Lima, Peru, while Calvin, a Buffalo native, approached the style from a musician’s standpoint, earning a BA in music performance and education from Ithaca College. You can learn from them yourselves every Wednesday, with a 7pm lesson followed by open dancing until 10pm, at Chow Chocolat (731 Main Street); every Sunday at noon at the Latin American Institute (115 Elmwood Ave.); and every Saturday at 2pm at Free Soul Dance Studio (4271 Lake Rd., Blasdell). No partner required. Visit them at

Is salsa a good entry-level dance for the rhythmically challenged (i.e. bad dancers)? How easy is it to learn?

Salsa is a great dance for people of all ability levels. The basic step is very easy to learn, which allows people to confidently step onto the dance floor after only one or two lessons.

How is salsa different from other Latin American styles of dance?

Salsa is probably the most popular of all the Latin American dance styles. It is a very energetic dance that is danced in cities all over the world. Salsa can also be quite elegant and sensual. This versatility sets salsa apart from other Latin dance styles and adds to its mass appeal.

How much of the dance is improvised and how much follows choreographed movements?

Our lessons are geared towards social dancing. We emphasize leading and following techniques so that students will have the ability to dance with anyone in a social setting.

How did you each first discover salsa and how long have you been dancing? How does your personal relationship effect the way you dance together?

Calvin: I discovered dancing through playing trumpet with local salsa and merengue bands. The music is so rhythmic and full of life that I can’t help but move when I hear it. I have been dancing and playing salsa for about four years.

Fanny: I was born in Peru where I grew up listening to salsa all the time. I have been dancing salsa for as long as I can remember. We met on the dance floor and have been dancing together ever since. Our close personal relationship gives us great chemistry when we dance together.

Is sexual chemistry an important element in couples dance?

Although salsa can be a very sensual dance, sexual chemistry is not necessary.

BONUS: Is it safe to say that learning a sensual dance is a good way to meet people? Maybe pick up a date?

Learning salsa is definitely a great way to meet new and interesting people. It is an incredibly social activity that attracts people from all walks of life.

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