We would like to introduce you one of our favourite dance instructors and performers of all times: Ana and Joel Masacote come from Boston, USA, where they teach, choreograph, perform and organize salsa events with their own company Masacote Entertainment. Joel is also a composer and jazz pianist. He is a founder of Ritmo Masacote, a band who’s music is often used in Masacote shows and has been successful on the dancefloors worldwide. The most musical couple on the salsa scene has been travelling many countries arround the world during the last years and in 2009 they were teaching and performing at the 3rd International Vilnius Salsa Festival, as well.
SalsaSisters are delighted to have had a chance to work with them both and asked them to answer some questions – Ladies and gentlemen, we are happy to present you our short inteview with the world famous Ana Masacote!
SS: What is your dance background?
Ana: I started dancing Folklorico, a Mexican cultural dance, when I was 5, and haven’t stopped dancing since. I danced that through 6th grade, started Tejano and Cumbia through middle school, and began dancing Salsa at age 15 during my sophomore year of high school.
SS: When did you start dancing salsa. How did it happen?
Ana: My sister took me to a club on a borrowed id when I was 15. I couldn’t believe they let me in the club (it was for 21+). But that was it. I got hooked during that first night.
SS: Do you remeber your first social dance. How did it feel?
Ana: I honestly don’t. I started salsa in Dallas, and I was already dancing Cumbia then. Salsa in the area was danced very much like Cumbia, so I just don’t remember it feeling like anything different except just a different crowd and type of music. What I do remember was my first time at a congress — the LA Congress 2000. I was awestruck by all the great dancers, and I just watched all night, afraid to get on the dance floor. I remember watching people’s feet all night, until a friend pushed me to dance with a guy (Beto from LA). I was mortified when I elbowed him. After that, I watched videos and practiced nonstop literally every day for 3 months so I would never feel that way again.
SS: Lithuanian salsa scene is in it‘s early stages… What tips could you give to girls and guys who want to become good dancers?
Ana: Watch and Listen. Watch videos of yourself, watch videos of others, listen to music nonstop, and practice to music. But above all, don’t forget that you are doing this because you enjoy it. If you ever feel frustrated, just stop and pick up again tomorrow. It will come. Enjoy the process more than the destination.
SS: You are famous for your outstanding choregraphies. What do you like about choreographing shows? What inspires you?
Ana: I like art, and I like telling a story through the art of dance. I’ve had some crazy dance works, some of which I’m sure you’ve never seen, and I’ve had straight ahead dance works. They are all art in their own way. The emotion I can evoke in the audience is what I like about choreographing it. If I can get a member to hear something different in the music just by watching me dance, and if I can make someone think, then the work has fulfilled it’s purpose.
I get inspiration by the way I feel when I hear the music playing. If a song takes my breath away, then that inspires me to use it. The art around me through movies, paintings, the way people live, the music inspires me artistically.
SS: How different is performing and social dancing?
Ana: When you’re performing, all eyes are on you. It is a thrill like none other. I still get nervous, but I believe that is a good thing. I get nervous because I want to put on a good show, and I want people to walk away inspired the way others have inspired me.
In social dancing, I can just let loose and be me. I like the art of improvising on the spot, and when I can get a partner who really hears the music right along with me, then it’s just a roller coaster ride all the way — you never know what’s coming up.
SS: How is music important in dancing?
Ana: As Joel, my husband and partner puts it — Music is always first. There would be no dance without music. And more importantly, you are NOT dancing, if you are not listening to the music — you are just putting on a show. When you can really and truly connect to what the music is asking for, then you are dancing for yourself, for your partner, within the music, and that is a nirvana of its own.
SS: Why do you think salsa is so popular?
Ana: It is one of those few dances you can dance in a nightclub around the world and just let loose. It is a tough dance, which is what makes people want to study it more and more, and the better you get, the more you want to learn because there is just so much you can do with it. On the dancefloor, we can step into an alter-ego hidden inside us and be anyone we want to be. That alter-ego is just the little part of us we never let out, but when we do, it’s just orgasmic
SS: We admire you as great teachers, please tell us, where your Secret lies?
Ana: How flattering! But in all honesty, I’d have to say my secret is in not keeping secrets. If I have information to share, I want everyone to know about it. I believe that the more we all know, the more we can appreciate this dance, and the more we can continue to grow what we all love and keep it alive for decades to come.
SS: What would you suggest people who hesitate to attend Vilnius salsa festival or any other festival?
Ana: Open up your mind! There are many different ways to partake in a festival. You don’t have to be an advanced dancer. Just come out to be inspired by watching, or try out the dancefloor. And for those of you who think you’re too advanced for others, remember where you started, and remember that by helping beginners grow, you will help your scene grow, which invariably means more and greater dances for you in the future. There is no reason not to attend a festival if you love music plain and simply.
SS: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Ana: I don’t believe I live to dance. I believe I dance to live. Dance is life for me, and I hope that some of you may feel that same passion I have for this dance in your lifetime, whether it be through dance or something else. But when you find that thing that takes your breath away, throw yourself into it — just leap. You may be surprised to find yourself soaring.
This year, Joel and I will begin online salsa classes. Visit us at www.masacote.tv starting in March 2012. I hope to see you online!