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  • The Short Italian

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    "Dear Edie, I'll try to write you at my best, but please excuse me for my bad english (I'm not American). I need some advice from you.

    I've recently discovered the "Salsa World" and I have immediately fell in love with it. I started going in the nightclubs and dancing. I'm also taking a group class, but I'm not satisfied. I know that I need some private lessons, but in Italy teachers do only group classes. I think Salsa is getting in fashion here but, up to now, I haven't found a very good dancing school in my city (Rome).

    I've planned to come to New York in July and stay there for two months. I know there is big dancing business and I'd like to take lessons: could you suggest me some good teacher?. Finally I have some question to ask you. Please be HONEST with me, just TELL ME THE TRUTH !. I'm a student, I'll take a degree in June, but I'm troubled because I've understood that what I really love is DANCE, DANCE, DANCE !!. All the teachers I have had told me I'm very good, I have a natural bent for dance. Yesterday I took an Argentine Tango stage and the teacher told me I'm a prodigy. I know this is true and I'd like to became a professional dancer, but I'm 26 years old: am I late, am I too old?. Another problem is I'm short: does exist tallness limits? I'm afraid I won't find a partner as short as me!
    Thank you very much, A TROUBLED, but HOPEFUL WOMAN"

    Dear Troubled but Hopeful,
    First of all, there are many great dancers in Rome. When I was there with Team Salsaweb on our Euro-Tour ’98, we ran across many instructors. One stood out in particular. His name is Pedro Gomez. Try taking a private class with him. He’s an excellent lead, and incredible instructor. However, the majority of the time, taking a private class from a man does not help your female styling techniques. Very few male instructors teach good women’s styling. When you’re in New York, there are many very talented female instructors. Lookup our New York Instructors section. There, Manny, our New York Cityguide World Correspondent has written incredibly detailed descriptions of each instructor’s teaching style and methods. Read each one and choose for yourself. I highly recommend going to several female instructors for privates.

    "When in Rome…" I suggest you seek out a woman at a club whom you admire dancing. Take her aside, and ask her if she’ll give you a private lesson or two. It’s free to ask. You don’t need to be afraid to ask these people these types of questions at clubs. They feel honored, and even flattered – even if they don’t teach, they will still smile, and thank you. If they don’t teach, watch them carefully. Study what they do, and mimic it in the bathroom. I do this all the time! I learn by watching, and then by doing. If someone tries to explain something to me verbally, I get frustrated, give them my "deer in headlights" look, and completely forget everything they’ve just said. Most dancers are "visuals". See, then do. Plain and simple.

    Taking other dances like Ballroom, Jazz, Ballet, Tango, and Flamenco would also help you as well. The best dancers have a natural ability to pick up many different types of dances relatively quickly because of the way their minds work. Their minds are very open. Many have had dance backgrounds in ballet and jazz. However there are many incredible dancers who are untrained but have an insatiable desire to learn, which is, I believe where you are right now.

    If you believe in your heart that you will be a professional dancer some day, you will. Remember, when you get paid to dance, you are considered a Pro.

    Regarding your size, I don’t believe it matters. In fact, as a woman, being short is actually BETTER! When you get into lifts and tricks, the guys LOVE short women! They’re much easier to throw around!

    I don’t believe age matters either. I took my very first Salsa class when I was 30 years old. I never had any previous dance training – ever. Take dance as far as you physically can. Just do it. Compete, perform, practice, practice, and then practice some more! Set goals for yourself. Be disciplined. Work hard, and you’ll see the fruits of your labor flourish.

    Do what you love.

    Remember, what you love to do, is probably what you’re gift is.

    Go for it, and never, ever look back. Don't become an old woman regretting a suffocated gift you held back because others told you you were "too old". These types of mental regrets CAUSE CANCER.

    FORGET THAT.

    Live life to its fullest. Take advantage of EVERYTHING life has to offer you. If you've got two feet, two arms, a functioning body, and a burning desire,

    …then DO IT.

    Not only will you baffle everyone, but you just may surprise yourself.

    Happy Dancing!
    - Edie, The Salsa FREAK!!
    www.SalsaFreak.com
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