Following Your Heart- An Interview with Madan Kumar


Where do you live and what styles of dance do you dance?

I live in Mumbai and I dance Salsa, Bachata & Kizomba

What got you into dance?

Dancing was my hobby since childhood, but I never knew I would end up as a full time dancer, teacher and performer.

I remember being asked why, if I’m Indian, I dance Latin dances instead of Indian dance. I I love Indian dance, but it just wasn’t what I gravitated to. And I thought it was a bit of an ignorant question at the time. Haha. But now, here I am, asking you the same question (laughs). Since you are in India and Indian, what made you choose Latin dances instead of Indian dances? 

IMG_20180125_004918_178Haha. It’s like someone asking, if you are Indian, why do you eat burgers instead of Vada Pav? (laughs). Well, it’s a personal choice. I used to dance Bharatanatyam when I was a young kid.

I have been a trained classical dancer since childhood, but as I grew up, I found my interest towards western dance, and then to Latin dances and now African dances. Human interests won’t remain the same forever. As an artist, you will always fall in love with every culture that is new to you. Continue reading


Reminisce on VIS- Interview #5- DJ Ricky Campanelli


It was such a pleasure to find out first hand from Ricky Campanelli what makes a good DJ. He was so down to earth and approachable, and I loved his enthusiasm towards sharing his thoughts.  Find out in this interview what this grammy nominated producer and DJ is working on next, and why Vancouver is one of Rickys favorite cities!

[Note: This is the 5th and final part to a series of 5 brief interviews under the title Reminisce on VIS (Vancouver International Salsafestival). To start at the beginning, at interview #1, and to learn why and where these interviews were conducted, click here: Reminisce on VIS- a series of five brief interviews)]

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Reminisce on VIS- Interview #4- Juan Matos

Juan1-208x300I was thrilled when I heard that Juan Matos was going to be part of the VIS line up!  I still remember repeatedly watching one of his videos years ago, when I was first introduced to salsa.  And even back then, I was just completely blown away by the fluidity and smoothness of his moves and his unique style. How does he do that? I kept asking myself.  In fact, it was legendary dancers like him who got me so intrigued by salsa and inspired me to want to dance. So you can only imagine the excitement I felt when Mr. Matos enthusiastically agreed to give me ten minutes of his time at VIS, even though he was just about to head out to the airport to catch his flight back home. Instead of rushing out, the hotel doors, he backtracked and followed me to the nearest couch in the hotel lobby. He put his suitcase down next to him and was so attentive and interested in my questions. To think, I almost missed him!  I was so grateful for the amazing conversation we had as well as his very down to earth and approachable nature.

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Reminisce on VIS- Interview #3- DJ Montuno

montuno8I’ve heard so much about DJ Montuno and his music, and have often been tempted to travel to Montreal to experience his art first hand. Well, thankfully, he has been travelling quite a bit, even outside of his home city, and we were lucky enough to have him join us at VIS!  It was a pleasure to find out a little about how he got into DJing and what he loves about it.

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Reminisce on VIS- Interview #2

James and Alex8James and Alex

(Interview #2 of 5.  To read interview #1- Giana and Nery- click here)

I walked into James’ and Alex’s cha cha workshop a little low in energy. I was tired and wasn’t sure I would make it through the class.  But it turned out to be one of my favourite workshops because Alex and James were so fun. In fact, the combination of the music they chose, the playful choreography they put together for us, and their own charisma, made me forget about my sluggishness earlier.  Instead, I found myself laughing and enjoying myself all the way through, and I also left reenergized!

I really enjoyed your cha cha workshop today.  Is it one of your favorite dances? You seem to have a lot of fun with it.

James: More and more now, it almost seems like we prefer cha cha over salsa (smiles).  And it helps that because of our cha cha performance, we are getting asked to do more and more cha cha workshops.  You can play with the timing a little more. You can put your own routines together for it in a way that can be a bit more interesting and more unique than the regular old patterns. But really, we like both.

Alex: But the energy does often seem to be much higher in cha cha workshops. It’s fun. You can have a laugh with it. Cha cha is very loose. As long as you feel it, you can do whatever you want in it, really.

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Reminisce on VIS! – A series of 5 brief artist interviews from the Vancouver International Salsafestival 2013.

VISIt’s been four months since The Vancouver International Salsafestival (VIS) 2013.  And I still smile an extra big smile whenever I run into one of the team members or even just think about the great time I had over that weekend in March.  Keeping in touch with some of the out of town guests and instructors that I met over the course of the festival weekend also brings back good feelings of the time we shared.  I know I made some amazing new friends and connections through VIS, and also gathered memories that I will carry with me for a long time.

In particular, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to speak to some of the artists personally, asking them questions about what inspired them, and what drives them to continue in their various art forms.

I am excited to share with you some of their words, in a series of short interviews that were conducted over during the VIS 2013 festivities.  Each interview will be presented under the larger title ‘Reminisce on VIS.’  Thank you so much to each of the interviewees for the time and thoughtfulness you put into your responses.

It is with great pleasure that I introduce the first of the series of five interviews: 

INTERVIEW 1: Giana Montoya (of Shiva Latina), and Nery Garcia (of Elegant Rumba)- from Fort Myers, Florida.

Giana and Nery5

How I made it to the 9am workshop on the Friday morning of VIS, I have no idea. But I’m so glad I did.   Acro- Yoga with Nery and Giana was not just a yoga or dance class, but a lesson in balance – physical and inner- and how to use this to make our connection with our surroundings more meaningful.  If only we could wake up to this kind of learning every morning!

How did the yoga become a part of your dancing?

Giana: I’ve been a yoga practitioner for eleven years now.  I started yoga when I was sixteen, which is about the same time that I started salsa.  But I danced many years before that.  My degree is in dance and theatre.  But yeah, my whole family is really into yoga.  My dad is also a yoga teacher. I got him into it.

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Celia Cruz’s Cure For Headaches…


celia c“My life is singing. I don’t plan on retiring. I plan to die on a stage. I can have a headache but when it’s time to sing and I step on that stage there is no more headache.”- Celia Cruz

Thank you VIS for connecting us even deeper to Celia Cruz and her music!

celia_cruz“You would give up your career if you lost your voice for good, or if the impresarios stopped calling, or the audiences stopped coming. But as long as those things are there, I don’t plan to stop. There is nothing that makes me feel better than to be with my public.”- Celia Cruz

Yesterday, I was running around trying to get too many things done, in what seemed like not enough time. And then I thought, what am thinking, heading downtown from North Vancouver during rush hour traffic to go see… a movie? Really?  The cars were at a standstill and my mind was telling me to turn back and just head home.  So I started slowing down but … I missed the first turn, and then couldn’t get myself to take the second for some reason.  It was as if something kept nudging me to keep going, even though I had no space to move forward to.  But somehow, I actually managed to get over to the Van City Theatre just in time to catch the screening of the Celia Cruz movie that the Vancouver International Salsafestival (VIS) were putting on. And boy, it was so worth the traffic I had to get through to get there.

What an inspiring way to start off the week of the festival.  Not only did the screening begin with an amazing promotional video for VIS- recapping some of the highlights of VIS over the past four years- but, I was blown away by the touching details about Cruz’s life and personality that I didn’t know before. Artists of many genres were commenting on the
legacy that Celia left behind.

Celia was described as “pure breath”, “born of rhythm,” and “possessing an energy that you couldn’t help but to be drawn to” by artists such as Quincy Jones, Eddie Torres, musicians connected to the Fania All Stars, and even modern artists such as Pitbull.  The way Celia captivated her audiences not just by her music, but also by her persona- her connection to people and her songs of happiness and positivity- shown in the movie, was a great reminder of how one person can have a huge influence on millions of people of all generations.


Thank you VIS for continuing to give Celia an audience long after her life and passing on her legacy not just as an artist but as an inspiring woman in history.  This legendary artist lives on in many hearts all over the world, and I know that after what I learned from the movie last night, her music will carry an even deeper meaning to me and all those who came out to watch it and to dance a little before and after the screening!

Looking forward to more fantastic dancing, learning, and unforgettable memories this weekend at VIS!

Check out the site for tickets and schedules and the amazing line up of instructors and performers from all over the globe!  You don’t want to miss this.  It’s the last one!

Vancouver International Salsafestival

VIS 2013- The Finale- The question is no longer WILL YOU BE THERE? It’s WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO BE ANYWHERE ELSE?

The Vancouver International Salsafestival (VIS) has easily been one of the most successful, fastest growing, and not to mention hottest dance events to hit Vancouver.  In the few years that it has been running, it has drawn many of the top Latin dance performers, artists, and instructors from around the world.  Moreover, the attendees of the festival come from a range of cities just to dance and learn and socialize with other fellow dance addicts.  The connections that are made between all the dancers just leaves everyone ‘wanting more’- as one of the first VIS slogans so appropriately described it.

So when I heard that next year was going to be the last of the VIS, I was completely surprised.  I couldn’t believe that such an incredible event was soon to be coming to an end.  But when the creator of the event- Cheyenne Kamran- began explaining the reasoning behind the decision, I definitely could appreciate and admire his conviction to maintain the quality of the event.  And I thought it important share his thoughts with others through this interview.  It was great to hear Cheyenne reminisce on the memories he holds of VIS but also to see the utter excitement he feels for the next and final year!  “Make no mistake,” says Cheyenne, “this year will be the craziest most epic event anyone has ever experienced. Because guess what? There is no next year!”

And that’s why it’s easy for me to say that you just all got to be there!

People have often told me they are shocked when they meet you because you’re so young.  It’s impressive that someone your age began what has turned into such a huge and successful event.  How DID the idea come about for you for VIS?

Cheyenne: Oh my God (laughs).  Okay. Well, to back up a bit, I was about twenty one when I tried out salsa at UBC.  But at the same time, I was playing a lot of soccer so I didn’t really have time to dance salsa.  And then, at one of the soccer games, I tore my ACL and I had to have surgery.  And the doctors told me not to play soccer anymore.  And for some reason, I thought that dancing would be easier on my knees (laughs). So I started taking classes, and I just fell in love with the dance.  By then, I was a twenty-two year old kid excited about the dance and I wanted to DO something more with it.   And for me, call it a weakness or a strength, I’m not sure, but when I get excited about something, I’ll take action on it, you know?

So the more I got into dancing, the more I wanted to put on salsa events.  So we started with smaller events first with about eighty people attending, and then it kind of grew from there.

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