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20 Questions with Joby Vazquez

Joby and Luis Vazquez are the founders and directors of Salsa Brava Productions and the Salsa Brava Dance Company in Los Angeles and are known throughout the salsa world for their unique choreography, skillful teaching and amazing performances.  Recently, they have launched a local branch of their dance company called Son Bravisimo.  While they were here for the auditions and for a workshop they taught at Cocomo, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Joby to ask her some questions. 

 

Stephanie:  What is your first memory as a dancer?

Joby:  I took a modern dance class in college.  I didn’t take any dance classes as a child.

 

S:  When was your first salsa performance?

J:  In 1994 Luis and I improvised a performance with a live band at Cal State Fullerton.

 

S:  Of all of the routines you have choreographed and/or performed, which has been your favorite?

J:  The Devils and Angels routine.

 

S:  Do you have any pre-performance rituals or superstitions?

J:  We try to pray together as a group.

 

S:  What is the worst thing that has happened to you while performing?

J:  There have been a few…  Once I had a costume that was a bodysuit and snapped at the crotch and it snapped open when I did the splits during a performance.  I had the DJ stop the music and I went off, fixed it, came out and started all over again.

 

S:  I often get embarrassed watching old videos of my dancing.  What embarrasses you most now about how you danced when you first starting salsa dancing? 

J:  When I see a video of myself, I see that I used to hunch my shoulders when I danced.

 

S:  What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

J:  Having a successful dance career and a successful family.

 

S:  To who and what do you attribute your success?

J:  To my husband, Luis, my own determination and to pure luck.  Also, having my daughter, Pacion, really made me want to work harder to succeed.

 

S:  What is it like working with your husband?

J:  Sometimes it’s awesome and sometimes it’s awful, but I wouldn’t want to do it any other way.  It takes time to learn to work together, but I think we’ve got it down.

 

S:  What’s the hardest thing about combining motherhood and your dancing career?

J:  Having to go away so much and wondering whether to stop dancing and just become a full time mom.

 

S:  What is your greatest strength?

J:  My determination.

 

S:  Describe a minute of paradise.

J:  In dance, in 1998 it was the first time our dance company performed as a team in Puerto Rico and it was the most unforgettable moment.  We all walked off stage crying and we had a standing ovation.  It was the best feeling ever.  And not in dance, it would be being alone with Luis on a beautiful deserted beach.

 

S:  Where do you see yourself in five years?

J:  Still dancing, maybe with my own studio with a specialization in traditional dances like folklórico, Middle Eastern dance and Tango.

 

S:  Whom do you most admire?

J:  In the salsa world, Laura Canelias, because she was one of the first female dance teachers I saw in LA, she’s successful, down to earth and has always supported us.

 

S:  What is something that not many people know about you?

J:  I was studying to be a doctor of oriental medicine before I quit college to dance salsa full time.

 

S:  If you weren’t a professional dancer, what would you be?

J:  I would pursue whatever inspires me at that moment.  It would probably be something artistic though.  Liking Martial Arts and medicine inspired me to study Chinese medicine.

 

S:  If you could be anyone else for a day, who would you be?

J:  A millionaire, so I wouldn’t have to worry about money.

 

S:  If you could have a superpower, what would you want it to be?

J:  To never be tired.

 

S:  What celebrity would you most like to give private salsa lessons to?

J:  Cheyenne or Lenny Kravitz.

 

S:  What is your favorite place to go social dancing?

J:  Steven’s Steak House or The Sportsmen’s Lounge in LA.

 

If you want to learn more about Joby and Luis Vazquez and Salsa Brava, check out their website at www.salsabrava.org.

About the author:  Stephanie Palmeri is the assistant co-director of Son Bravisimo.  She and her dance partner, Danny Zepeda, have been performing, competing and choreographing together for over two years.  They currently teach all levels of salsa dancing at the Mexican Heritage Plaza and Club Miami, both in San Jose.  This is the second article that Stephanie has written for the Salsacrazy website.  You can contact her at (408) 806-0787 or salsa_queen_25@yahoo.com.

 

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