As 25 people in the Salisbury community — from strangers to family members and couples alike — gathered in Holloway Hall Saturday evening, energy radiated off the walls, and people bonded over the shared language of dance. Like an episode of 'Dancing with the Stars," attendees of the Latin Dance Workshop were instructed by Pro-Am champion and Latin dancer Joey Corsica in the arts of salsa, cha cha and merengue.
Corsica was assisted by professional salsa dancer Stephanie Nuñez. Nuñez conveyed her passions for the act of dance and the art of teaching dance, highlighting that it is more than just movement — it is expression, and it is a way to speak beyond just words.
“I love to dance because I feel it is the way in which I express myself in the best way ... it’s where I feel the most free, where I feel at home,” Nuñez said. “And I like to teach people because I think expression is very important, and being able to find different modes of expression other than language is really important, and our bodies have a lot to say.” The event, hosted by Salisbury University’s Office of Cultural Affairs, was in part made possible by a grant from the Salisbury Wicomico Arts Council awarded by the Maryland State Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Inspired by Corsica after seeing him teach a Latin dance class this summer, SU’s Director of Cultural Affairs June Krell-Salgado said she “just knew [she] needed to bring him to SU.” Krell-Salgado felt the event was a success and hopes to have Corsica come back in the spring for another lesson, possibly outside in Red Square.
Krell-Salgado explained that the Latin Dance Workshop was the office’s kickoff event for a year-long celebration of Latin America, as well as the kickoff event for Hispanic Heritage Month.
“I think it’s a wonderful way to be participatory,” Krell-Salgado said. “You know, you can go and observe something, but this allows you to actually try it and learn something.” The event consisted of the teaching of various steps from a number of Latin dance styles along with some historical background on where the moves originated from. Some of the dances were individual and others required that attendees partner up — often with a complete stranger to learn as a team. In his teachings, Corsica emphasized a need for trust in your partner, but more importantly trust in yourself. “People tend to be freaked out by this move and think they are going to fall into a black hole if they fully let themselves fall,” Corsica said. “Just trust that the ground will be there when you step.” By an hour into the event, strangers became dance partners, and smiles radiated from members of the crowd as they swayed their hips to the rhythm of the vivacious Latin tunes.
Corsica was extremely patient in his teachings and revealed that in his advice to anyone wanting to learn dance.
“I would say if you can do it slow, you can do it fast,” Corsica said. “When you’re learning, just do it slow first and don’t try to rush those steps.” SU senior Samantha Koehler attended the event solely out of boredom, but left feeling confident, happy and informed with new knowledge of a culture she formerly knew little about. Koehler attended the event with her parents, Lisa and Keith Koehler, who also were looking to do something fun on a Saturday night. In regards to what Koehler felt she gained from attending this event, a toothy grin spread across her face as she said simply, “Self confidence.”
By CAROLINE STREETT
Gull Life editor
Featured photos and video by Caroline Streett images.