Interview with Daniela Grosso and Edwin Ferreras

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If you’re a fan of Bachata dance then you’ve probably heard of Troy Anthony and Jorjet Alcocer, Jorge “Ataca” Burgos and Tanja “La Alemana” Kensinger, and Jorge Escalona “Korke” Vazquez & Judith Pereiro, among others. They are examples of dance duos that have been leaders and trend setters in the global Bachata community for many years.

Well there are two new kids on the Bachata block: Daniela Grosso and Edwin Ferreras. Together they form one of the most talented professional Bachata duos on the scene today. Edwin is from the Dominican Republic and Bachata was born in “The D.R.”, so it makes sense that they are helping lead the way in schooling the world on Bachata. Daniela was born in Argentina and moved to Miami at a young age. In addition to latin dance she has also trained in ballet, jazz, modern, and African dance so she brings an impressive set of skills and knowledge to the table as well.

They met at a New York club in 2011 and Edwin knew their partnership would be fruitful because of their common approach to dance.

Edwin  – “We both came from a fusion mentality. She learned a lot of different dance styles before latin. I did the same thing. I did a lot of different dances before latin, so that was how the puzzle connected. We had variety before we met.”

Ferreras’ love for dance came via hip-hop and dancing in the parks and subways of New York. His journey into latin dance began by chance when he attended a showcase featuring mambo dancers. At the performance he was invited to take a class and he has been dancing Salsa and Bachata ever since.

Franklin DiazEdwin learned quickly. He began taking Salsa classes in 2007 and by 2008 he went from serving as a substitute teacher to having his own classes. His first mentor was Violeta Galagarza from New York. She is the director of the KR3Ts dance company. He then went on to train with “the Mambo King” himself, Eddie Torres. He also credits Ismael Otero, Tomas Guerrero, and Franklin Diaz (pictured left) for his development, among others.

Edwin – “I love going to classes by Franklin Diaz. The way he teaches is the way I’d want to become as an instructor. He teaches you to love the music and to love dancing more than loving the patterns and the figures.”

They’ve taught and performed at many of the popular Bachata festivals in the USA including the Dallas Bachata Festival and the DC Bachata Festival. They also worked with influential bachateros Carlos Cinta and Adam Taub on the event Bachata 101 held in New York. The success of Bachata 101 led to a partnership with Caryl Cuizon of iFreestyle Latin Dance Studios to present Bachata Education About Traditional Style (or “B.E.A.T.S.”) held in Toronto. Both Bachata 101 and B.E.A.T.S presented a deeper dive in the history, tradition, and culture of Bachata music and dance.

Daniela talked about the events, and how each brought something unique and valuable to the table.

Adam does the history of Bachata, so everyone understands where the dance and music comes from. Carlos teaches the musicality of Bachata so everyone understands how to listen to the music. Edwin and I teach the dancing so the students understand how Bachata should look and feel. We don’t just give them music and turn patterns and say, ‘Go!’. It becomes more alive for them if they understand the different components of Bachata.

Group-Bachata-BEATS

Edwin continued.

“I do wish more instructors would learn more about the dances they’re teaching because they’re leaders. I’m not saying they don’t, but I wish they continue to do it and learn more about what they’re teaching. We keep discovering more information from artists, musicians, other dancers, and our families. Once an instructor stops searching I feel like their growth stops.”

Edwin and Daniela’s popularity has steadily grown not only due to their classes and dance skills, but also their work featured on social media outlets like Facebook and YouTube. If you search “how to dance bachata” on YouTube the first result is a video that Edwin and Daniela did for Howcast.com. Howcast features instructional videos for a wide variety of topics including dance.

They recently took a trip to Daniela’s native country of Argentina to perform and they were surprised at the reception.

Daniela – “It was shocking because people knew us. Bachata is growing in Argentina. We went to a random store and one of the guys working there came up and asked if a video he was playing was of us. We said yes! There were so many people who told us they watch our videos. It felt really nice. They were really proud because I’m Argentinian.”

They were even recognized at a local dance club and were asked by the DJ (who was also a dance instructor) to perform. They connected with a local Salsa congress promoter at the club and will potentially be heading back to teach.

Edwin – “Being in the club felt like being back home. The people are so genuine.”

Being a traveling dance instructor certainly has its rewards, but there are challenges that come with territory. For Edwin, his biggest challenge is diet.

Edwin – “I can literally go three days at a congress and eat only one or two snacks per day. Almonds and Tropicana juice! For me that’s a huge challenge because I understand that you need to be energetic. But because I get energy from other sources as well (teaching, students,etc…), I know I sometimes might be in danger of over doing it.”

Daniela listed sleep as her biggest challenge on the road.

Ferreras GrossoDaniela –  “If I don’t get my sleep then I don’t function. It’s not like I need 9 hours of sleep, but if I can get a nap here or there then I’m good.”

Another challenge derived from traveling is maintaining balance with their day jobs, and directing the LFX dance studio. Daniela teaches Zumba and Edwin works for the Department of Education. She stated that she went straight to work from the airport after they returned from the B.E.A.T.S. event. They are also careful that they aren’t neglecting their responsibilities to LFX.

Edwin – “Our students come first. We’ve never been to a congress where we don’t come back on Monday to teach our classes. LFX, Daniela’s Zumba, and my work at the Department of Education is what we live for. Traveling is just icing on the cake.”

An additional social media success for Ferreras is the popularization of the one on one “Bachata Battle”. Similar to the B-boy or break dance battles that were born from the streets of New York in the early 80s, the Bachata Battle is a fun footwork competition between bachateros. Usually Bachata battles are choreographed performances put together by instructors.  Edwin’s version is freestyle and one on one. He admits that the concept of the Bachata Battle video was born out of his attempts to improve and study his own shines as well as capture his friendly rivalry with bachatero Carlos Rufino.

He never purposely campaigned for the idea to gain a foothold amongst bachateros, but the battle videos received such positive buzz on Facebook that he has begun to push the idea to congress promoters.

Edwin – “I think it would be fun to do at congresses. The idea is not for everyone. You have to be very secure and confident with yourself, and you can’t be afraid to listen to criticism.”

The intent of the battles is to be light-hearted and Ferreras encourages others to have their own battles and push themselves to get better no matter what people say. He also understands that being a professional dancer and putting yourself in the spotlight will bring both praise and a fair share of criticism (the haters).

Ferreras Grosso 2Edwin – “If it wasn’t for those negative things that people said about me that hurt my feelings, I probably wouldn’t be here today. Those are the comments that made me want to grow and push myself. Like hey, maybe I do jump around sometimes like a monkey (laughs).”

Ferreras also loves the official dance of the Dominican Republic, merengue. He has taught merengue at recent congresses (including the Dallas Bachata Festival) and he is hoping it will gain a foothold in the congress scene.

Edwin – “This was our second merengue class in which we taught several different styles of merengue. We did a little tipico, pambiche, merengue cubano…we try to make the class as holistic as possible. We gave them some footwork movements and then we partnered up. We talked about different positions and figures. At the end we gave them a little meat with some turns and variations that they can do.”

They currently are Co-Directors of their New York based dance company, LFX Dancers. The dance company, like Edwin and Daniela, has both grown and evolved over the years.

Edwin – “It started as a little team performing small events here and there. Things like bachata and merengue. We started at a college campus and little by little we became bigger. We have completely transformed the company into one of the powerhouses, in terms of fusion dance, in New York city. We perform fusion of hip-hop, merengue, bachata, salsa, lyrical (jazz) and a lot of other things.

LFX Dancers

Edwin and Daniela definitely feel a sense of responsibility to Bachata as their influence broadens to a wider audience.

Edwin – “A legacy I would like to leave would be to travel the world and give everyone the idea that dancing is not just about the patterns, steps,…and the flashy stuff. It can be as simple as dancing an entire song in a basic way and still feel connected to the music, and to your partner. Dancing can be a language, and we don’t have to talk to each other to hear it. If we can formulate that into a class that we can teach I think that would be a great legacy. You can’t teach feeling, but we can try. If we can leave every place that we go with the idea that a connection to the music, culture, history and origin of what you’re dancing is important then that would be an amazing feeling.”

So keep your eyes peeled for Daniela Grosso and Edwin Ferreras at a festival or social media video near you!  The future of Bachata is here.

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