Super Mario – The European “Million Moves Man”.
By Edie, The Salsa FREAK
Mario's Website: www.MillionMovesMan.com
I’ve known Super Mario for years. He is known throughout the world for his amazing lead and incredible moves. His techniques are priceless to Salseros learning this dance. It is rare to find an amazing lead that can also teach well, but for Super Mario, this isn’t a problem. His classes are jam-packed every event with students laughing and learning at the same time. It is for this reason he is booked literally the entire year at virtually every major Congress in every country throughout the world.
Although his height is VERY above average, Super Mario can make any woman feel as though she is dancing with a man of her same height. When I dance with Super Mario, it is nothing short of exciting and breathtaking. Every single one of his turn patterns is easy to follow, and comfortable for just about any woman, at any level.
Super Mario didn’t always used to be this way.
Edie, The Salsa FREAK knows virtually every famous Salsa dancer’s history like a book. I’ll never forget, one Congress in Los Angeles back in the year 2000. Super Mario started getting noticed for his unique moves and style. We danced, and he started putting me into moves and patterns that were confusing and unleadable (that alarming trend hit a lot of good leads at about the same time). Now I could follow just about anything, but a few of these guys were going over the edge. They literally had to talk or coach me to get through the dance. “Right turn… now give me your left hand… copa, double…step back … NOW..”
There was a point in time, where a lot of guys were coming up with these strange patterns that only their dedicated practice partners and rehearsed dance team members could follow.
That year, I got frustrated and upset during each and every song. I thought is was me! “Why am I not getting this?” I thought to myself. “What is up with me?” I found myself apologizing over and over again. I thought I just had to get better somehow… maybe fly to Europe or New York… go join a dance team someplace out there to learn all this stuff!
After about a day of this nonsense, I started hearing complaints from other women at the event . "Ah HAH!! I’m not the only one!" I KNEW I had to finally say something.
I got so frustrated that I made it my mission to individually pull Super Mario, (and several others throughout the night) aside and give them each a piece of my mind - privately. “Look.” I whispered with absolute frustration, “I can’t follow anything you’re putting me into, and if I can’t follow what you guys are putting me into, who else can? No one outside of your own circle of friends will be able to dance with you if this continues. No one at any world event will want to dance with you, much less enjoy the dance. You’re going to ISOLATE yourselves if this continues, and it will cause a rift in the Salsa scene. Nobody likes clicks! Right now, I feel completely ‘left out’ because I don’t understand your moves. I’m not enjoying the dance with you any more… I’m constantly apologizing the entire time!”
I guess he took it to heart. Most of them did. Now, over time, Super Mario has earned the reputation of being one of the top leads the world has ever known.
Last year, I took a small private lesson with Mario because I wanted to understand his techniques. I wanted to pass them on to my taller students. His lead was all a mystery to me, until he broke it down, and demonstrated his technique in easy-to-understand, simplistic terms.
When he dances with a taller woman, he’ll use his “tall woman” techniques.
When he dances with a shorter woman, he’ll use his “short woman” moves.
When he dances with a spinner, he’ll spin her… A LOT – with great technique!
(I know this from personal experience!)
Guys, I’m here to tell you. A solid technique is second to none.
ANYONE can learn moves, but moves without technique are CRAP.
Super Mario is ALL ABOUT lead-able technique.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very proud to introduce to you, “Super Mario… The European Million Moves Man!!”
What is your heritage?
Thank you for those sweet words Edie. I appreciate it.
I was born and raised in India. My parents are Indian, but my Granddad is British, so that makes me an Anglo-Indian.
Where were you born, and where do you live now?
I was born in Punjab, India. And after finishing my high school there, my whole family moved to London, UK. And that’s where I currently reside.
Where and when did you get started dancing Salsa?
I started dancing Salsa on July 7th, 98. That’s the day I broke up with my girl-friend and my friend dragged me to a salsa club for the first time in my life. And that was in Bar Cuba in London. Loved it from the first day and never looked back.
What type of job did you have before you started teaching Salsa full time?
I was a full time student in London, having finished 2 bachelors’ degrees. Mathematics and Accounting. I never really got a chance to work in that field, as Salsa attracted me for work.
Do you know any other dances?
Unfortunately No. I wish I had though.
What attracted you to Salsa?
I have a small story here, after being dragged to the club for the first time. I was talking to my friend about my relationship, when this lady walked up to us and said, “ Ah, you guys are new, and she looked at me and said, you've got women problems, don’t worry Salsa would change all that”. I was shocked.
She turned out to be the instructor for my beginner class.
In the class, I wasn’t getting the steps at all (remember, I didn’t do any form of dance before then), but she kept encouraging me saying it was right and that all the guys in the class should do what I am doing. I was embarrassed, but I liked it.
After the class, she came to me and said, Never to pay again, but to teach for her one day in the future. She saw something in me, and that was so touching and positive, that I started going there regularly. Eventually, I realized, in a salsa club/class there is no Ageism, Racism, Sexism etc etc etc. I loved the atmosphere and made so many friends so quickly. It was a major attraction that kept me going for more.
Why the name Super Mario?
When I was in high school, I was in the same class with 4 other guys called Mario. And then Nintendo’s Game came into the market. So, they used to call us the Mario Brothers (from the game) and since I was the biggest one, I got the main character’s name, Super Mario. That’s it, the name stuck with me for life.
What’s the story behind your nickname ‘Million Moves Man’? There are a lot of confused people who think Ismael Otero is the Million Moves Man - yes I did name him that .
The million dollar question.
Yes, Ismael Otero is the Million Moves Man - you named him that I think. Back in 1999, one year after I started dancing Salsa, a local promoter organized an event here in London. He asked me to teach, and I said yes. On his promotional fliers, he had my name and the nickname MMM, next to mine. I read it and loved it, because I used to love doing combinations.
But then in 2001, I went to teach at an event in Rotterdam, Holland. I saw this guy doing all these crazy moves and on the promotional flier, they had the MMM next to his name too. So then, after I found out that the London Promoter saw Ismael’s name and used it for me, I was so embarrassed. I went upto Ismael, explained what happened and apologized. And Ismael, being such a great guy accepted my apologies. And that was that.
Then the following day, he saw me doing some moves, he came up to me, and believe me or not, for the next 4-5 hours, we spent standing next to each other showing all our moves. He stopped and said, “Damn, you have a lot of moves too, so from now on you are also a MMM, you from the East (Europe) and I’m from the West (USA)”.
We made that deal and stuck with it. He is one of my best friends in Salsa now. I have a lot of respect for who he is and what he does, and also for being such a great human being. I love you Ismael.
Hope that clears up a lot of confusion among people. No one stole anyone’s identity.
Every time I see you teach at a Congress, your classes are jam-packed. You have an extremely dedicated following. Why do you think that is?
Hehehehe, and so is yours. And I think it’s for the same reason, we keep it fun and relaxed. Plus I try and reach out to everyone and help them, making sure everyone has, everything that is being taught. And I guess people like that.
And also, I am very technical about what I am teaching too and a lot of guys like the fact that I break everything down for them. So yeah, there are lots of reasons, but for me, it’s the fun part.
...then I started seeing obvious signs of signaling instead of power...
Your lead is absolutely impeccable. How did you learn what worked, and what didn’t?
I have always focused on leading. Even from my early days of learning, I was always careful when I did things and then I started seeing obvious signs, of signaling instead of power. And whenever I spoke to ladies, they always seemed to complain on how much power the guys use when it is not necessary at all. I put all this in perspective and started focusing more on that side of leading.
Now about what works and what doesn’t…..
Whenever I make up a new turn pattern, I ALWAYS, try it out on 10 dancers before I certify it for teaching or dancing. If it works, that’s cool. If it doesn’t, then that goes under the choreograph section, never to be seen again, by me, as I don’t perform (chuckle).
...ladies always seemed to complain on how much power the guys use when [power] is not necessary at all...
Mario, you don't perform on stage, yet are world famous... how did you accomplish such notoriety if you never performed?
Edie, I feel some people are born to perform and be on stage. I am not. I accept that and so do my students. I tried to perform, but I didn’t like the feeling before the show and the negative energy I was feeling. So, I decided not to perform.
And plus, I do Salsa still as a hobby, because I love to Social Dance. But a lot of the times, performers are stuck back stage, preparing for the shows etc etc and I feel like valuable social dancing time is lost. Heheheh….so there is another reason.
Which is your favorite country to teach, and why?
I love teaching, no matter where it is. But if I was to pick my favorite, it would have to be Japan, only for their obedient nature and their punctuality and respect they show to their instructor. I was much honored to have taught there.
But I also like Israel and Brazil, for the fun factor they have during a class. It’s an electrifying atmosphere. No words……just wonderful.
Last year, you produced your first set of instructional videos. Can you describe them for us?
Yes, I have 3 DVD’s in the market right now, and I am planning on making 2-3 more. They are all Turn Patters and Combinations only, all the leading techniques explained by me and following techniques, explained by my partner/friend Susana Montero. It’s a progressive series of combinations for all levels. And at the end of the DVD’s, you get to see me social dancing some of those moves and more. So, if you have it, hope you enjoyed them and look out for the new ones.
Do you plan on making more in the future?
Yes Edie, I should have at least 2 more coming out real soon. So, look out guys….
Who were/are some of your mentors?
I have a lot of respect for all the Instructors out there. But I definitely have to say that, I have derived a lot of inspiration from Salsa Brava, Eddie Torres, Nelson Flores, Frankie Martinez, Edie and Al, Francisco Vasquez, Johnny Vasquez, Felipe Polanco, Seaon Bristol, Leon Rose, The Palladium Mambo Legends and Santo Rico.
But my biggest thank you would definitely, go out to, Susana Montero and Ismael Otero and his dancers, for being great friends to me and showing me how to be humble and enjoy this dance from the heart.
What are your goals for the future?
I really have none Edie, but to just enjoy what is given to me and take it as far as I can, with the same enthusiasm, as it was in the beginning. I have always wanted to travel the world, and thanks to God, I am doing that fairly regularly. I would still love to travel to a few more countries that I have not ventured into, like Africa and some parts of Asia.
Of all the people who ever existed on earth, whom do you admire most, and why?
I studied in a catholic school in India, and from a very young age, I have always admired Mother Teresa, who dedicated herself entirely to helping people who had nothing to give back in return.
I also admire Bill Gates, because he had a vision of a computer in every home in the developed world, by the year 2000. I respect him because it was a huge task and he achieved it, through his Motivation and Innovation.
If you had the opportunity to step outside of yourself and have a heart-to-heart advice session with “Super Mario”, what type of advice would you give him?
Right now, I know I enjoy dancing Salsa because I love the music and the people. I always want to stay true to that, and keep a good perspective despite my hectic schedule. And carry on being the same person that I was when I first started dancing. And carry on dancing because I love it.
Super Mario can be reached at +44 7771 636 056
His website address is www.MillionMovesMan.com
His email: Mario@millionmovesman.com