An Interview with Veronica Roura (New York) by Johnny Johnson

Veronica RouraJohnny: First and foremost, thank you for granting La Voz Del Mambo an opportunity to interview you. You are quickly becoming a very recognized dancer in the mambo community. You use to dance with Piel Canela, now you are dancing with Yamulee. I was extremely impressed with your dancing abilities when we met at the NYC congress. In addition, your name has been mentioned as a favorite following on LVM. For those who may not know you, can you tell us a little bit about your background as a mambo dancer?

Veronica: First, I would love to thank you for having me on LVM. It is truly an amazing opportunity to be interviewed, and I am extremely honored.

My first experience dancing mambo began when I was dragged off the couch by my mother when I was sixteen. I was not forced, let’s just say, I thought I had better things to do. She constantly retells the story of how I told her “Mom, WE don’t dance that.” I equated my age with the hip hop culture, something I thought she would not understand. She made me step into the dance studio to open my eyes to my ethnicity and culture as a young Hispanic woman.

We both joined the Piel Canela Dance Company, where I met my “sister”, Lisette (currently a member of Xibicion Santo Rico), and the rest of my “extended family.” Approximately three years later, I decided to part ways with PCD and am now, at twenty, a member of the Yamulee Dance Company.

Johnny: How would you describe your experience as a dancer in Yamulee?

Veronica: My experience with Yamulee has been eye opening. I have been on the team for about five months now, and each rehearsal is a challenge. I can feel myself becoming a stronger dancer each day that passes. The team itself is comprised of amazing dancers, and I am truly blessed to learn from them. It is a learning experience; one which I take with an open heart and mind. It has given me an insight into what my strengths and weaknesses are, as a dancer, and a person, as well.

Johnny: You have excellent spinning technique. For those aspiring to be great at spinning what suggestions would you recommend?

Veronica: Thank you very much for the compliment! Honestly, I had a difficult time when I began. I would find myself frustrated, to the point of tears. I thought I would never get it, but I overcame that obstacle. One of the most important things is to practice, at home, at the dance studio, at the clubs and socials.

I feel that going out is key in order to watch others and practice with a partner. In terms of technicality, bending your knees and sitting into the spin is of utmost importance. This is not to say that you must be very low when preparing for a turn, it is different for each person. You can feel it when it clicks; it is just a matter of getting used to.

Also, keeping your thighs together while spinning, and preparing with your arms up and above you navel helps with balance. The lead foot for your preparation should be close to and in front of the other. Your hips locked and body turned in order to keep the leg you are spinning on strong and maintain balance. The strength should come from your lower body, meaning your hips and legs, and not from your arms. This is what works for me, and may not work for everyone, but it is important to play with it and make it your own.

Johnny: Who has been some of your most influential salsa instructors?

Veronica: First on my list, would have to be, Joe Burgos, director of Piel Canela. He taught me my basic and pushed me when I wanted to give up, both personally and dance wise. For that, I thank him from the bottom of my heart.

Also, Osmar Perrones, director of Yamulee, who has helped me with my footwork, spinning and helping me come out of my “shell”, and Massiel Guerra and Kimberli Flores, in terms of styling and technique. I haven’t taken many classes elsewhere, with the exception of Santo Rico and Karisma, which were also amazing experiences.

Johnny: What is the most interested thing about you outside of salsa dancing?

Veronica: I am not sure this is very interesting, but I am a full time college student, studying English Literature. I aspire to be a high school English teacher, and would love to write a book one day.

Johnny: Excluding NY, where do you enjoying dancing most?

Veronica: I have not traveled much yet, but I would have to say Italy and Australia. Not only are Italy and Australia rich in culture, they have a love for dance and romance. I was surprised to see so many On2 dancers with such passion and respect for the art of dancing.

Johnny: Who are some of your favorite dancers?

Veronica: Some of my favorite male dancers are: Mario B, his lead is smooth and sensual, Will Pagan (N.C) his turn patterns are unique and has an impeccable lead, Hector Lopez (former director of Revelation Dance Company),there is an amazing connection on the dance floor between us, and Mario Silva (former dancer of Piel Canela), one of my best friends and the only one I am able to “bug out” with while dancing.

Some of my favorite female dancers are: Janet Trotto (Karisma), Griselle Ponce (Taima), Candy Mena, Massiel Guerra (Yamulee), Kimberli Flores, and Danielle Tubb (Piel Canela). If you see all these ladies in action, you’ll know why!! Wow, I know there are so many more I can’t think of right now.

Johnny: Where do you see yourself as a salsa dancer, 5 years from now?

Veronica: I hope to teach salsa one day and continue spreading my love of dance via after school programs and cultural activities to the younger generation. I want to continue performing on the salsa scene in a dance company and perhaps venture out on my own with a partner! (Will, you have my number…lol.)

Johnny: Any additional comments:

Veronica: I just wish to thank you once again for this opportunity. First and foremost, I would like to thank God that He has brought dancing and all of the amazing people I have met into my life Thank you to “my second family,” Joe, Maria, Liz, Steve, Mario, Dani, Cynthia, Will, Yvette, and countless others who have a special place in my heart, for all of your love and support.

Thank you to all of the members of the Yamulee Dance Company: Ahmed, Osmar, Rasove, Massiel, Juan Carlos, Karel, Ellie, Candy, Dan and Gladys for your time and patience in and out of rehearsals and for making me feel a part of the team.

Last but not least, I would like to thank my family, especially my loving mother, Nancy Vazquez, for helping me spiritually and financially in all aspects of my life. I admire my mother for her strength and will to succeed. She is also an amazing dancer and person, not to mention one of my best friends. I love you all! To everyone out there… keep dancing. It is a part of you that no one can take away!

Veronica Roura