Yuko is originally from Tokyo Japan. One may think Japanese culture doesn’t associate with Latin music, but it has a big impact on Japanese popular culture. Orchestra De La Luz is from Japan and Latin Rhythm influenced Japanese popular music significantly.

 She was first fascinated by partner dancing in Tokyo. She enjoyed taking a few Ballroom dance lessons. At that time, studying in English had more priority, so she joined a debate team, instead. She never realized then she was going to be in a Salsa performing group in U.S.A. in the future.

 Born to be adventurous, naturally curious, a trip to the U.S. when she was a teenager inspired her tremendously. After the trip, she made a decision to come over to attend college in Kentucky.

 With a job assignment, she moved San Francisco Bay Area in 1989. She was very excited about the diversity of the cultures in California as opposed to that of the Midwest. People are more tolerant to different cultures and a number of people had international experience. Besides, it’s nice not to drive miles to the nearest Japanese restaurant!

 Besides working hard, she tried many things like Scuba diving, tennis, Ikebana flower arrangement. One day, something clicked and wanted to get back to dancing.

 She started taking ballroom dance lessons in 1996. After two years, she competed at San Francisco Open in Bolero and Merengue. One night, she went to a Salsa club and discovered different style of dancing.

 Fascinated by expressive Salsa dancing, she started taking lessons and workshops, but without a regular partner, it was very hard to retain skills. Being frustrated, she was invited to join a carnival Samba group and made a trip to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

 She still liked the partner dancing of Salsa and she was looking for a serious dance partner whom she can grow together with. She wanted more to bring herself to the next level. In May 2000, she met Jesus Rivera when he just came back from Salsa Congress.

 “ I feel very passionate and special when I dance, ” she enthusiastically talks about dancing. With Jesus, she performed for events, weddings and company parties to get experience to perform.

 “My dance partner Jesus and I were hoping to join RicaSalsa.”They had been keeping an eye on different performance groups. They like the personalities of Ricardo and Sarah, the friendliness, solidarity of the group and the presentations they exhibited. On June 9, 2001, RicaSalsa was starting a new routine and it was the right timing for them to join.

 “I often visualize myself performing in front of a large audience,” Yuko says. “It’s my fantasy, she adds with sparkles in her eyes.

“People need a zest of life other than work, go home, eat and sleep, ” she stresses. She has a double life: being software QA engineer and Salsa dancer.

 She is looking forward to performing with the rest of RicaSalsa Dance Company in the near future.




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