An Interview with Karen Aguilar (DC) by Johnny Johnson

Karen AguilarJJ: First and foremost, thank you for taking time out to do this interview with La Voz del Mambo. I would like to apologize for misplacing the first interview we did and thank you for agreeing to redo it.

KA: Thank you for considering me and asking me for the interview. It’s an honor. My most humble thanks!

JJ: You are a fabulous dancer! The first few times I came to DC, I just watched you from the side in admiration. However, the last time, we actually got to dance a few times and dancing with you was as good as it looked :)

KA: Thank you Johnny I had a great time dancing with you, you are very smooth. I loved it!

JJ: How did you get into salsa dancing? Who were some of your most influential instructors?

KA: I got into salsa dancing about 6 years ago. I wanted to pursue my most admirable dream & that is to dance. Honestly I really did not care what type of dance, I just wanted to dance. Salsa became my number one choice because I love the music and I grew up with it.

My knowledge of dancing was at that time very natural I just basically moved to what I felt thru my body and that was the salsa music not knowing exactly what I was dancing on 1 or 2. I didn’t even know that they existed :-). I just basically followed and enjoyed the music and till this day I still follow but I enjoy the music more than ever!

I really did not focus on any instructor in the beginning. I just wanted to develop dancing for what it meant to me. I grew up with salsa music thru my childhood. From the beginning salsa was natural, not knowing the technical side. But once I started dancing with a dance group I wanted to become more than just any dancer.

Then I saw the dancers in NY for example one of my most admirable dancers is, Yesenia Peralta. I think she is a very natural dancer that shows how she feels the music within her thru her body movements and style. I can say I feel the music in a very similar way. So I got more motivated to become a more skillful dancer. That’s when I started really getting to open my mind and explore what dancing on 2 really felt.

My first trainers were males Psyon Mauricio (also known as Dee) & Shaka Brown. They basically trained me on the basics, but like the female that I am I needed to explore the female side. I started dancing with anyone that knew how to dance on 2 for example two of my great friends Tracy Smith, Bernardo and Abdul.

That was about 4 years back. Then I started developing it on my own by videotapes and observing other great dancers like Yesenia Peralta. I also trained with a great director and dancer Rosy Diaz with the Yambu dance company. I loved the way she directed The Yambu Dance Company and for that reason I decided to start my own dance company. Practice does play an important part of my experience. But there is so much out there to learn and I still want to learn more.

JJ: You are the director of Son Mulato. How would you describe this experience? How would you describe the difference between being a director of a company vs. dancing with a company? Who are some of your dancers? What advice would you offer to anyone, ladies in particular, aspiring to direct their own company?

KA: Yes I am the director, choreographer of Son Mulato Dance Company that I am very proud of. A very new dance group in the DC, VA & MD areas. I began Son Mulato the beginning of last year. It’s been a great experience because I love what I am doing.

Being creative and being part of people’s lives in two very special ways as creator and as an entertainer. I love the fact that my dance members dedicate their time and hard work to my creativity and the dance company. I love the fact that my creativity entertains different audiences.

Everything I do I do it with passion and as long as I can transfer the same feeling to my dance members and we both feel the same passion. I know that my audience will feel the same, and great performances will always shine thru.

The difference between directing and being part of a dance company is huge. When I was part of a dance company I was not involved with anything else but being a dance member, making it to practice, and giving my best at performances in other words a piece of cake compared to directing.

Now directing is very different. It’s a big responsibility if you take it seriously like I do. Not for the ambition of making any profit, but for the ambition of showing the world the passion you have thru your creativity in dance. It’s very challengeable in a way that is easy because I love to dance and I love challenges. I just hope that I can always show the creativity thru every choreography that I create and it meets my audience’s attention.

I have such wonderful dedicated dance members that I am so humbly thankful for. Liz Pilatuna, Janice Woodward, Elizabeth Deza, Manny Andrade, Ivan Rothstein and our newest members Jennifer Loveland, Ernest, Claudio Roman. They show their passion of dancing every time at practice and they are really fantastic human beings and my good friends.

One thing I have learned thru my experience is that the friendships that I have encountered are overwhelming and I thank god for them. It’s very impressive that the people that you practice for 2 hours 3 times a week become your second family.

The advice I would humbly give to anyone that would want a wonderful experience that I have encountered and am living as a director. If you love to dance and love to teach others how to dance and you find yourself thinking of ideas that pop in your brain about choreographies and dance moves, than go for it.

You only have one chance to make your dreams come true so no matter what, take the chance and don’t give up. Everything and anything is possible on the dance floor with good timing on your side. Being creative can be easy but being able to express your creativity thru your choreography and dancers is the best feeling there is. Your passion can be worth a thousand moves on the dance floor.

JJ: In addition to salsa, you are a tremendous writer. Some of your work has even been published. Is their any correlation between dancing and writing, from a creative standpoint? Do you have any writing projects in the works? In addition to writing and dancing, what is another interesting thing about you?

KA: Thank you for your kind words. My writing is very valuable to me. All of my writing pieces are pieces of a lifetime and life to me is valuable. There is definitely a correlation between dancing and writing.

I believe you have to feel what you write just like you have to feel the music when you dance. My writing just like my dancing becomes a reality. I always find myself with a pen and my writing book just expressing my realities just like you will always find me on the dance floor expressing myself thru dance.

I am always writing so projects are really not planned but I am working on something on the side with my writing and music. One time or another it will derive again. Writing and dancing will always be a part of my everyday life’s _expression.

Another interesting thing about me is I am a proud mother of a beautiful little boy that I love dearly. I love to do graphics I also want to get into acting, so I will probably find myself acting in a play one day. You never know ;-) so far I have accomplished everything that I have set my mind and soul to do

JJ: Who are some of your favorite dancers in DC and beyond?

KA: My favorite dancers in DC are Psyon Mauricio (also know as Dee), Orlando, Bernado, Ricardo Loiza, Avram, Shaka, Manny, Ivan, Liz, Janice, Elizabeth and everyone in DC, MD & VA. I love to dance with everyone.

Outside of the area Frankie Martinez (even though I have not had the pleasure of dancing with him yet!) Ismael, Yesenia Peralta, Joel etc….there are so many great dancers out in the salsa/mambo world :-) If I get the opportunity of dancing with every single one of them it will definitely be an honor. If you have been to a congress you know what I am talking about.

JJ: Any additional comments:

KA: Thank you so much Johnny for your consideration and time. Your dedication to La Voz Del Mambo is definitely appreciated. I humbly wish you the best and I look forward to sharing the dance floor with you again. Many humble thanks for your time and consideration.

Karen Aguilar