At Salsabor’s End of Year Fiesta this year awarding Amanda with Excellence in Teaching

Can you believe it’s been a whole year since JP & Carolina took over as directors at Salsabor? Because they can’t. It’s been a roller coaster ride as adrenaline-filled and sassy as the dances we all teach and love. And if the support given by the students and Salsabor community is anything to go by, then everyone else has enjoyed the trip just as much.

So what better way to commemorate these last 12 months than to get the lowdown on what JP & Carolina have really thought about their first year at the helm. As we head into 2019, discover what this charismatic brother sister team have learned about themselves, as well as their plans and vision for the next excitement filled year.

Salsabor instructors with their Most Outstanding Student Award recipients at Salsabor’s End of Year Fiesta

 

So, one year on, how do you feel about being studio directors?

JP: If I’m honest, it’s like my soul has been ripped into 20 billion pieces, with each one taking on a life and task of its own. For instance, one part had to take classes. Another was dealing with all the deskwork and administration. Then there were the financials. And of course, yet another part was taking care of and supporting the other instructors. I also needed to answer all the queries and questions from our students, as well as working on important planning for the evolution of our dance class schedule for the future.

But then, any time a student gave us positive feedback, or said something as simple as, “good job”, it was like all those split up pieces came rushing back together, and my soul was once again whole. It’s a fantastic feeling.

JP is no stranger to the mic and to talking in front of a big audience, always charismatic. 

Carolina: Well, it’s been a steep learning curve, that’s for sure. And intense – really intense. But undeniably rewarding in so many ways. Seeing the students progress, that’s something I really treasure. Along the way I’ve learnt so much, such as the importance of time management, how to cope with stress, and – one of the most fun parts – simply dealing with people. In a nutshell, it’s been demanding. But so worth the efforts as to what we’ve accomplished.

Carolina with the Belly Dance students at The End of Term Fiesta 2018

Was it harder than you thought?

Carolina: Gosh, yes. But also so much fun, and truly rewarding. For instance, I’ve come to realise that simply slogging until you’re exhausted doesn’t lead to good achievements. Sleep is vital, not only for good health, but because your brain literally stops working if you don’t get enough of it. I thought it would be easy to just stay behind at the end of the day and finish stuff that you might not have managed to get done. But actually, this is where time management comes into play. This has been one of the biggest lessons learned this year.

At Salsabor’s End of Year Fiesta clowning around with our Salsabor familia and friends

What’s your vision for Salsabor in the near future?

JP: We want our school to build on its reputation. We want to be known for instructors providing great technique, for performance opportunities, for social dancing. And of course, a wonderful community where everyone is welcome. In 2019 we’ll be upping the ante, with a revamped curriculum utilizing the extra training many of our instructors have undertaken. I envisage our classes to be so full that we have to extend our schedule and hire out more studios.

  

JP on the mic at the Canberra Multicultural Festival 2018

How important is it to have a strong team?

JP & Carolina: Super, super important. We’re so lucky to have an amazing team with diverse skills, each offering their own strengths.

For instance:

  • Deon: Our newest member of the team. Super sharp and so keen to further improve and evolve his teaching prowess. He teaches level 2 with Rhonda.
  • Rhonda: What a sense of humour. Her classes are such fun. She also helps out with the organsiation and deskwork, as well as teaching Salsa and Cha cha.
  • Adam: Teaches level 1, and has a wonderfully natural and articulate teaching style.
  • Sarah: Has an amazing ability to capture her audience, and teaches in a fun, entertaining manner.
  • Kat: So consistent and knowledgeable. She’s constantly taking on more education and increasing her repertoire of skills.
  • Jason: Wow, he’s a smooth operator! One of our principle instructors, he’s also responsible for much of our curriculum. A great Bachata teacher, and super committed.
  • Steph: She’s such a great communicator. We love the way she uses analogies in her teaching method. That really works!
  • Cynthia: Teaches Salsa, belly dancing and Merengue. Her students will well know that she teaches you to, “kill ’em with your hips”.
  • Miriam: Who has no end of talents, teaching both the Samba and being a top class fitness instructor.
  • Jack: Who’s a wonderful Burlesque instructor, and an awesome creator of routines.
  • Bill: One of those people who’s never content that they’ve finished learning. Bill is the person who made me fall in love with Zouk!
  • Maeve: Funny, with the most amazing linguistic skills. Her classes are so much fun.
  • Sherriden: Her students love the way she captures images with words. Her teaching methods are second to none.
  • Amy: She really is fountain of knowledge, and so versatile in her teaching. Loved by her Salsa and Bachuta students – she is truly a loving and caring instructor.
  • James: What can we say! When it comes to Salsa, if he doesn’t know it, then it’s probably not worth knowing…
  • Ary: She’s a communicator through and through, with her ‘other job’ being a year 12 teacher. Whether you’re learning or improving, she has an uncanny ability to draw the best from her students.
  • Amanda: Such a keen and enthusiastic instructor. She’s always the first to volunteer if something needs to be done. She also helps out with the deskwork, something we really do appreciate her for.

The team of Salsabor instructors after The Illusionists show at The Canberra Theatre this month

 

Now, a year down the line, how do you feel about Salsabor’s original studio owners?

JP: I have to say, they make me feel like Luke Skywalker to their Yoda. Or Danni Larusso to Mr Miyagi. I have so much respect for all the work they’ve put in over so many years, creating the templates that allowed us to carry on the journey of Salsabor.

Carolina:I have nothing but an intense respect for the amount of hard graft and effort they ploughed into Salsabor. It’s something that can only be fully appreciated once you work behind the scenes.

JP giving gratitude to Andrea and Raquel at this year’s End of Year Fiesta

At Andrea and Raquel’s farewell in February 2018

‘Luke Skywalker’ with his ladies

2019? Any changes in the pipeline?

JP: There’s nothing specific that we can talk about right now. But on a personal note, we’ll both focus on improving in all areas, ensuring that our style and quality of teaching remains at the high level we’re so proud of. We’re committed to moving forward, staying grounded, and constantly improving the service we provide to our students. We love what we do, and we love watching our students move along their Latin dance journey. So watch this space, there’s more great things to come!

 

A collage of JP in his element – social dancing, performing, on the mic and clowning around