Interview with Betto Herrera – Raleigh, North Carolina

Betto HerreraJJ: How long have you been dancing and what was your primary source of instruction?

BH: I started dancing since I was a kid in Guayaquil, Ecuador. When I got to the States in 1996, I was exposed to different styles of salsa. I started taking classes with a local instructor in NJ by the name of Manny Ramos (ex-Caribbean Soul Dancer) in 1998. A year later I met Mr. Ismael Otero and his sister Yesenia Peralta at a local club where they competed and won. I took classes with him for another year. It is Ismael who I consider my mentor.

JJ: What salsa dancers do you most admire?

BH: I admire a lot of dancers for different things. Ismael for his creativity, Juan Matos for his style, Seoku for his body movement, Frankie for his sharpness, Francisco for his charisma, Burju for her presence, Grissele for her sexiness, Candy for her playfulness and Joy ’cause she can follow everything.

JJ: I have been told that you have a very enjoyable class. How do you accomplish this? What recommendations would you offer to other instructors towards making classes more enjoyable?

BH: I had taken lots of classes with different instructors which help me as an instructor to see different points of view, and ways to control the class. I try to make my point by using things that everyone can relate to. I didn’t like it if I was in class and was not having any fun.

I always say “dancing is to have fun” then why not fun while you are learning to dance. My recommendation would be to have fun with your students. Create a friendly environment without cliques. Encourage your students when they are doing well and pay more attention to those who have more difficulty.

JJ: You are a well traveled Salsero. What city do you enjoy visiting the most?

BH: I love to visit NY cause I can go see my Mom and brothers, and encounter excellent dancers any day of the week at the clubs or socials. I also like Boston for the friendly environment they have created.

JJ: North Carolina has a great Salsa scene. How did this happen?

BH:When I got here 3 years ago (while in active duty in the US Marines), you could count On1 salsa dancers with 2 hands and On2 dancers with one. Me and Joy decided to take it upon ourselves and start something.

We started then teaching a weekly On2 class at Montas Lounge every Sunday. Nobody believed people would be interested in learning On2 because they had the idea it was too difficult. The rest is history. We continue w/ our teaching and created some new classes, soon everyone started to dance On2 and started teaching on their own, even those who did not believe it could be done.

JJ: Any additional comments you would like to share?

BH: First I would like to thank my partner Joy Manning for being on my side every step of the way. Second I would like to thank all those who believed in us and on what we stand for, and that constantly support us. I would also like to thank you for giving me this opportunity.

Norberto Herrera