An Interview with Lisa “La Boriqua” – Chicago, IL

Lisa La BoriquaJJ: First and Foremost thank you for granting LaVoz de Mambo this opportunity to interview you. My very first salsa class took place at your dance studio, Latin Street Dancing. It seems like it was just yesterday, now three years later I am a full-blown salsaholic, I have performed in several major congresses, and I am attempting to put out a salsa magazine. How does it feel to know that your studio is responsible for introducing so many individuals like myself to salsa dancing?

LL: And we thank you! It’s always a compliment to be thought of for an interview. We wish you the best of success in your work and in your passion for what you do! It’s a wonderful feeling! I really began dancing and teaching for me, because I just enjoyed it so much. I had no plan or goal in mind. I just wanted to take it one day at a time. I really wasn’t paying too much attention to anything more.

One day I thought, “wouldn’t life be so much fun if I could dance it away?” Well, while I was having fun dancing, sharing and enjoying myself, it didn’t hit me right away that so many other wonderful people would be touched or that they would touch my life through dance. Everyone’s laughter just motivated me to keep on sharing.

When my dance partner and best friend for 11 years, Andres, became my husband and shared the same feelings that I did, then life couldn’t have been better! Together we make all this happen.

Everyday we start our day so inspired to continue because of all the thank you cards that cover our office wall. We have the entire office covered with cards and notes. Some of the cards and notes are barely visible because they are now faded by the daily sunlight! Those cards keep us going!

JJ: My good friend, Abdullah Ambeyah, and I were recently talking about the great environment at your dance studio. How do you manage to keep the environment so fun and exciting?

LL: That’s easy. As long as we’re having a good time, it just seems to trickle down! We are privelleged to work and play with a great team. They are outstanding, warm-hearted and kind people that have the highest respect for the dance, the culture and the people that come here. They get to be themselves and just do the best that they can.

It’s definitely a team effort! We all know we could be doing something else, but we choose to spend our time together, dancing!

JJ: Many people try to manage and direct dance studios around the world, but few are successful. From your experience as a very successful director and owner of a Latin Dance Studio, what is the key to suceeding?

LL: Success is doing anything you love. We just want to dance and be involved with dance and music. We are blessed to be able to do what we love and do it full-time. Our days fly by and we never look at our watches “to see how much longer until we can get out of here?” Similar to a 9-5 that you don’t enjoy. We look at our watches to see “How much more time can we spend on XYZ…”

I can’t tell you why other studios aren’t successful. Dancing, teaching and business are 3 completely different games. The art is to do all 3 well enough to do what you want to do and still financially support it. We just step up to the challenge to learn all we can, to do the best by all 3. We do whatever it takes, work hard, never cut corners and keep it positive. If that doesn’t work, we still succeed because we gave it our best shot. So we can’t thank everyone enough for their support in our efforts to keep salsa alive!

JJ: Besides performing around the world and teaching salsa to most of the city of Chicago, your dance company is involved in various charity projects, namely “The Latin Dance Revue 2004 for Charity.” Would you care to tell us a little bit about this project and how it came about?

LL: The Latin Dance Revue 2004 was an idea that started 6 years ago as a way to share our culture and dance. Latin Dancing is not just salsa. It’s very rich, diverse and beautiful. We just thought it would be great idea if we could share it. The charity idea was a natural one. Why not? Everyone needs a helping hand at some point.

This year our show will take place on Saturday November 13, 2004 at the Chicago Theatre at 8pm. One show only. For tickets go to or call 312-902-1500

The Chicago Latin Street Dance Company will be joined by nine other professional dance companies representing Mexico, Spain, Chile, Puerto Rico, The Dominican Republic, Cuba, New York, and Argentina. For more information on this event please click the following link: The Latin Dance Revue

JJ: Any additional comments:

LL: I am very happy to be the first introduction to the dance and culture to so many people in Chicago. Once the Salsa bug bites…. the dancing just explodes. Sharing my culture in a positive environment and in a positive way is all we are looking for. Dancing is for everyone and everyone should be able to enjoy it.

Lisa “La Boriqua”