Cuban Salsa, Kizomba & Rueda de Casino
“I just needed to dance and now it’s what I love to do,” says Dr. Usukuma Ekuere, the founder and director of Salsaddiction Dance Company, about Salsa Dancing. Usukuma has come a long way since he first set eyes on the seductive dance as a graduate student in England working towards his PhD. His first encounter with Salsa was at a Latin event in England where he saw couples dancing and thought it was “absolutely beautiful”. Originally hailing from Nigeria, Usukuma claims even though he comes from a culture rich with music and dance, he never danced before this encounter. With no formal dance training, no jazz, no hip hop not even disco before this, he was amazed at how quickly he was drawn to La magia de tres dos (the magic of the tres dos) that shapes the essence of all salsa, son, cha cha and other Latin music. It unlocked his hips and infused passion to his resolve to learn to dance so signed up for lessons and soon became addicted to salsa. Since then, Usukuma has trained with master Cuban instructors in Cuba and around the world.
When he arrived in Edmonton, he founded Salsaddiction Dance Company and has spent most Sunday nights turning beginners into salsa pros. “The greatest joy is to see the difference from day one–where a lot of people don’t know much about the dance at all and they really struggle–to the next classes where they get better and more confident. By the sixth class, I’m just blown away by how great they look dancing.” Usukuma is also the Director and Choreographer for the Salsaddiction Rueda Dance Team which has performed at many local and international events, including every Salsa Rueda Festival in San Francisco since its inception in 2009. In the past Usukuma, as part of a team, represented Canada in the World Salsa Championships in Miami, Florida – where they took first place. And just what is it about salsa that Usukuma finds so appealing? “It’s very intimate, very sensual and it just looks so sexy when you watch it. I thought it was beautiful to watch, but when I got to dance it—the visual paled in comparison to the experience of dancing it. Just amazing.”
Margaret was raised by parents who danced the Irish & Ballroom genres so dancing came natural to her. She was inspired to take formal training in Salsa after spending time in Cuba and eventually joined a salsa performing group in Edmonton known as “Maria’s Girls”. She has also competed and placed in Jazz & Salsa competitions.
Early in 2003 she discovered “Salsa On Sundays” classes (now known as “Salsaddiction”) and began the tantalizing, addictive journey into appreciating Cuban music & dance. Under the mentorship of Dr. Usukuma Ekuere, Margaret has been teaching Casino de Rueda & Salsa since 2007 and is a member of his Rueda Performing Team since that group’s formation. Margaret currently leads a woman’s dance team out of Salsaddiction known as “Chicas Solamente”. These ladies have performed at various Canadian Festivals and in February of 2012, to a warm welcome, at the San Francisco Salsa Rueda Festival.
Little known fact about Margaret? She once produced a dance revue known as “Signs Unlimited” with Deaf & hearing dancers. This group then performed their Broadway music routines on a Western Canadian Tour with the support of the Canada Council for Performing Arts.
In terms of Latin dance, Margaret feels there is nothing quite as joyous as the rhythms of Casino salsa, Son, Timba, Cha cha cha, Mambo, Bachata & Kizomba. She also observes how therapeutic learning these dances are for people. Her few words of advice? When you start taking Salsa, relax, persevere with the training, stay open to feedback on technique, smile, and remember, once your love of the clave takes hold you’ll be brilliant! Una bulla!
Kelly Kaye’s dance career began at the age of 6 with tap dancing and she has continued to train in several dance styles since. She has performed in Edmonton (tap, jazz, modern), Calgary (salsa, bachata), San Francisco (cha cha) and Spain (belly dance). Kelly performed with Salsaddiction’s NYLA dance team for 2 years.
Kelly shares her love of dance through teaching salsa and rueda de casino. She inspires, motivates and encourages her students to feel good and have fun by expressing themselves through dance. One of Kelly’s strengths is to differentiate instruction according to each student’s ability with compassion, which encourages them to gain the confidence to develop a passion for dance. She continues to grow as a dancer and an instructor by attending classes, workshops, boot camps and congresses, with an interest in both leading and following.
Kelly also has a background in fitness. She was trained as an instructor through the City of Edmonton, managed a gym, and taught for 10 years through the Department of Parks and Recreation. In 2010, she earned her certification as a yoga instructor and currently enjoys teaching privately. When not dancing, Kelly is a special needs teacher in the public school system.
Kristiann is an energetic and passionate young lady who strongly believes everyone can and should dance! She is currently completing her Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Alberta with a major in management and organization. Kristiann started dancing when she was 5 but sadly, after 10 years, had to leave the competitive world of jazz, ballet and hip hop in order to focus on her studies. After a year off, Kristiann found Cuban salsa and has never looked back. Outside of dance, she enjoys traveling, being involved with the business faculty, and experiencing everything life has to offer.
Tyler Anderson originally got his first taste of salsa while going to
NAIT, but only for a short period time due to his heavy course load in
mechanical engineering. A couple years after graduating a close friend
of his recommended going to salsaddiction as his desire for dancing
was starting to grow. After taking his first class with salsaddiction
he has been enthusiastic about dancing with them for the last 4 1/2
years. Helping with the classes for over a year, he was asked to
become an instructor and has been having fun being apart of that ever
Tony is a friendly, energetic person who loves seeing people having a good time dancing and improving their skills. He has had no previous dancing experience before joining Salsaddiction, and has been dancing with them for 4 1/2 years. When not dancing, he works as a registered massage therapist and was a former Karate instructor. He is on the Rueda de Casino team and teaches the introductory class. Tony greatly enjoys Kizomba and is looking forward to it’s continued growth in the community.
Sean Donovan has grown up with Salsaddiction and for a time was on the NYLA dance team. Besides running the website, he also is proud of the Rueda Wiki (ruedawiki.org) where all the level I, II and III moves are documented for students including videos, translations and more. You can usually catch Sean at On The Rocks on Thursdays teaching the Level II Rueda class.