Mambo Dinamico dancers have GREAT hair

4 Apr

One of my favorite Southeastern Latin dance groups is Mambo Dinamico, under the direction of Norberto “Betto” Herrera, based in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

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Where a lot of Latin dance performance groups are technically brilliant, they tend to do the same type of routines with the same type of music and more or less identical costumes. Mambo Dinamico combines fantastic dancers with creative and interesting choreography for something that is, well, dynamic.

When I told him how much I loved his choreography, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Oh well, you know, we get bored.”

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I met Betto in 2010 at the Hotlanta Salsa Congress, my first Salsa congress EVER, and have subsequently run into him at other Southeastern congresses over the years. When I attended the Charlotte Salsa Invitational in February, I took a body movement workshop with him and his partner Adriana Dwyer, where they clearly and concisely broke down a series of body isolations. I found out that both of them were “actual” teachers outside of being dance teachers and was curious about how being a dance teacher and schoolteacher paralleled.

Betto has thirteen years of teaching dance under his belt, and is in his second year as a schoolteacher.

In the studio and in the classroom, it’s all about engagement.

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“Stick to the curriculum and keep [it] fun and entertaining. Give more attention to those who need it, and challenges to those that are more advanced,” says Betto.

He doesn’t crack dirty jokes with his first graders the way he does with his dance students, but otherwise, his teaching style is the same across both avenues.

“I try to explain things like they are first graders during my dance lessons. It helps people understand and feel the movement better, one piece at a time,” he says.

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Adriana, a lifelong dancer, is in her third year of teaching elementary Spanish and soon to be in her fifth year of teaching dance.

For her, the similarities between teaching dance and teaching school are how the lessons are structured.

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“Lessons [are structured] in a way that doesn’t make your student jump from one level of knowledge to another. For example, you couldn’t teach a back handspring without first teaching them how to do a “bridge,” she points out.

Whether she’s teaching a cha-cha or a conjugation, it’s all about teaching something that is relevant and targeted to the student’s age group in an effort to reach everyone.

Adriana and Betto both bring dance into their classrooms at every chance, whether it’s making them actually get up and move or exposing them to different styles of dance and cultures. Where were these two when I was in elementary school?!

ImageAll photos of Adrian and Betto courtesy of Betto Herrera.

 

 

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