Originally published on SalsaNewYork on 9/01
month we interview NY Mambo Instructor & Performer Louis
Tirado. Louis has been part of the New York dance scene for several
years now. He is a very low key and down-to-earth instructor who is
always smiling and laughing when he dances. He loves to dance and it
shows on his face. Like many other of
the mambo instructors I've been fortunate enough to meet, Louis truly cares
about the quality of his teaching. This will be his second exposure to the internet mambo
scene (his SalsaNewYork
instructor listing was the first). I'm happy to be the person to re-introduce
him to the internet viewing public.
How long have you been dancing mambo and what got you into it.
LT: Ive been dancing
for 5 years now. I got into
it because I saw that my friends were having such a great time at the
clubs and so I figured why couldnt I.
I use to love to watch the dancers at the Copa or at parties and
how people use to crowd around them to get a glimpse of the chemistry.
I found it very exciting and made it my business to learn how to
Where did you originally learn how to dance mambo and who was (were)
LT: I had a cousin teach me the
old street style, very basic stuff.
Just enough to get me out on the dance floor.
That was all I needed. I
went to DanceSport and took up Salsa for three months before I notice Jimmy
Anton dancing at the Copa. I
asked for his card and became his student for about a year.
After that I met Carlos
Koenig. I studied with
Carlos for about 2 ½ years. I definitely hail Carlos as one of my mentors.
He took me under his wing, and gave me the confidence to dance
the way I want to dance. Ive
never studied under Eddie
Torres but, would love to do so once I get the chance.
Name your favorite on stage performance.
LT: I dont have a favorite
on stage performance. Though
I cant wait for everyone to see the new,
innovative and exciting numbers that Ill be performing with the Addie-Tude
dance company and I feel that when the smoke clears, Addies
name is going to on everyones lips.
What is it like to learn a choreographed routine?
LT: Its a lot of fun as well as a lot of hard work.
Sometimes its an opportunity to learn new moves as well as the
various stylings that choreographers bring to a routine.
But its all well worth it in the end.
That is it like to travel as a performer?
What do you like best about it?
LT: To travel as a performer is
what its all about. To
take your act on the road and show everyone what mambo is all about is
one of my primary motivations as a performer.
I love seeing new places and meeting people is a great experience
as a performer.
Where have you gone to perform?
LT: Ive performed in Berlin,
Frankfurt, Miami as well as various venues in New York.
Name some of your performances?
LT: The Jimmy Anton social of
course. the Sandra Cameron
Dance Social, Columbia University Latino showcase, 3rd Annual West Coast
Salsa Congress, 1st Annual East Coast Salsa Congress and the Sabado
Gigante Show to name a few.
What got you into performing and what was your first time on stage?
LT: I graduated out of the
school of the performing arts so I am no stranger to the arts or the
stage. But as a mambo
dancer I would say that Carlos
Koenig got me into performing and was primarily responsible for
allowing the opportunity to perform on stage.
What groups have you performed with?
LT: The Carlos
Koenig dancers and now with the Addie-Tude
What did you feel when you first performed live on stage?
LT: Nervous of course, but
exhilaration afterwards. When
youve done a good job on stage and the audience recognizes it.
Theres no feeling that comes close.
The applause and the feeling that you get from the audience is a
What do you like about being a dance choreographer?
LT: I would love to choreograph
a routine, but have not yet done so.
As a member of the Addie-Tude
dance company, Addie encourages
us to provide input to our routines.
So I feel Im in the perfect place to start practicing that
skill, because choreography is definitely an art.
SNY: That do you look for in a song
when you are putting choreography together for it?
LT: If I were to put together
choreography, I would start by looking at the contrasts in the song.
The different colors in a song.
The ups and downs. Everything in a song that makes you feel something, and from
there I would start. Sometimes
I start from the middle of the song, sometimes at the very end.
Then I work at piecing together the various pieces, till the
whole song is done. I know
a lot of people who start at the beginning of the song and work their
way to the end. But I feel
that my method works best for me because I work on the pieces that I
feel the most.
What advice would you give those just getting into mambo?
How can they work at getting better at dancing?
LT: For those just getting into
mambo I say have a great time. I
remember when I first started and everything was so new. It was a lot of fun. Remember
to always have fun. Dont
make it more than what it is. Find
a good teacher, and remember to practice, practice, practice.
Sometimes learning about how to hear the clave or learning the
count can make some want to stop going to classes because theyre
unfamiliar concepts. You
may have social danced all your life and you may feel that counting may
make you mechanical as a dancer. But
soon youll learn to internalize all those things so that so that they
become second nature. There
are no shortcuts to becoming a great mambo dancer.
Some people learn faster than others, but learn with your heart
and youll enjoy it forever.
How best could you describe your way of dancing? of teaching? And of
LT: Ive been described as having
a Bronx style, or uptown style.
Ive studied with only a few people but Ive tried to put a
lot of myself into my dancing. Its
only natural after dancing under someone for a long time that you
develop some of their style, so I understand where my style comes from.
I appreciate it, and Im thankful for it. I only hope that eventually someone will say that they
derived their style from me. That
has to be one of the best compliments you can give a fellow dancer. My
teaching style is one of extreme patience.
I like to drill my students on a move over and over, till its
second nature. Then perhaps
reintroduce the step or turn pattern at a later date or time, just to
make sure the student hasnt forgotten it.
I love to see them use what they learn every chance they get,
because practice is so very important.
My ultimate goal is to see them have fun with it.
Thats what its all about. The
same goes for performing. No
one is going to believe youre having fun with a routine if youre
not enjoying yourself. When
I perform I have the biggest smile on my face because Im getting the
chance to do what I love to do
Do you still like to go to clubs and dance socially?
LT: Yes, I do.
I dont get to go as much as I would like because of my dance
commitments as a member of the Addie-Tude
dance company and as a teacher.
But when I do get the chance to dance socially I love it.
Its such a release. Its
so strange because I cant stand for more than 10 minutes without my
legs getting tired, but I can dance in a club for hours. Plus
when you dance socially you get the chance to dance with so many people
with so many different styles. Its
really a great playground for learning and honing your mambo skills.
How is New York Mambo Dancing different from mambo dancing in other
parts of the country?
LT: New York mambo is so
different than in other places. I
truly believe that we have the biggest majority of the best mambo
dancers in the world. Not
to say we have the best dancer in mambo here in New York but we
definitely have the majority of the best dancers. Ive
danced socially in various parts of the country and overseas.
I have to say without a doubt with the exception of California,
that New York has the most exciting dancers as well, and thats just
my opinion. California has
some great and exciting dancers as well.
Theyre very flashy and have lots of pizzazz.
Very theatrical. I think that everyone overseas is just trying to
catch up. But its all
good. We grew up with it so
its understandable. Im
sure if I were learning to Riverdance Id be trying to catch-up
Do you think that dancers get treated with respect?
If not why?
LT: Ive been very fortunate
in that Ive never been in a position where I was treated unfairly or
disrespectful. As far as
other dancers are concerned, well, I hope that if they do run into such
a position that they handle it with good judgment and integrity.
What would you like to see happen to mambo within the next few
years? Next decade? Within your lifetime.
LT: In the next few years
I would like to see maybe a more structured curriculum for beginner and
intermediate dancers taking classes.
I believe after youve master the basics and the foundation
then you should be more than prepared to take advanced classes.
A lot of students take advanced classes that shouldnt even be
there. And the instructors
are allowing it because its more money in there pockets.
But all it does is slow down the progress of other students. In
the next ten years probably a more publicized and recognized Salsa
Championship. A nationally recognized school and competition.
More public awareness. In
who knows. I
just want everybody to get along, Two
dancers, One dancers, Rueda dancers
thats all I want.
Is that too much to ask?