Summer Heats Up with New Key West World Culture Dance Series hosted by Key West Art & Historical Society
Tango your mango and add some salsa to your sweet summer groove with an international dance workshop experience presented by Key West Art & Historical Society in partnership with Brazouka Dance Key West. The six-week Key West World Culture Dance Series, produced by Dr Pamela Connolly, which happens every second Monday, kicks off on July 24, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm at the Key West Theater, 512 Eaton Street with a focus on Salsa. Following weeks will include Ceilidh Scottish Dancing, Argentine Tango, Bachata, Brazilian Zouk, and East Coast Swing.
With its mix of cultures, dance in Key West represents a melting pot of many forms— Cuban Salsa, Cha-cha-cha, African Yoruba’s sacred Orixa dances, the sensual Bachata, the rowdy Meringue, the rhythmic Cumbia, the lambada-based Brazilian Zouk, the vibrant Bahamian Junkanoo dances, and American country rhythms from the deep South. Step back in time and you’ll see that even Argentine Tango arrived on the island during its golden era, as did many of the other forms of international ballroom.
“Salsa originated in the Caribbean, with strong Afro-Cuban roots,” says KWAHS Director of Education Adele Williams. “It spread to the United States during the 1940s and became popular at first among members of Latino communities, especially in New York’s Spanish Harlem. It is a spicy and highly popular dance, in which a few basic beginner steps are embellished by advanced dancers with thrilling spins, shoulder shimmies and arm choreography.”
The series is the brainchild of Dr Pamela Connolly, a professional dance promoter, teacher, and dance competition judge, who has formed and developed international dance companies in the UK and Brazil. A world circumnavigation on her sailboat led Connolly to study indigenous dances of remote communities such as the Marquesas Islands, Samoa, Bali and Kiribati. Connolly calls Key West Art & Historical Society “a perfect fit for (her) dance passion” and recently established Brazouka Dance Key West with a mission to teach excellence in partner dancing.
“I guess I’m a closet dance historian/anthropologist,” says Connolly, who is also a psychologist and best-selling author. “I am fascinated by the way communities throughout the world create their own fabulous, idiosyncratic dance styles. Human societies throughout their history have danced for so many interesting reasons – to celebrate, to bond, to prepare for war, to ward off disease, to show allegiance to a leader, as courtship or seduction.”
“I particularly love the flavors, music and movements of the dances I’ve chosen for this series,” she says.
Featured Monday classes will be: Salsa (July 24), Ceilidh (KAY_LEE) Scottish dancing (August 7), Argentine Tango (August 21), Bachata ( September 4), Brazilan Zouk ( September 18), and East Coast Swing (October 2). Classes will begin with a brief lecture on the history and special features of the dance followed by lessons. Beginners and all ages are welcome, partners are not necessary, and watchers are welcome provided they have registered. Students should wear comfortable clothing, and either socks or bare feet if they do not have dance shoes.
“When people come to these workshops they will experience a world circumnavigation in thrilling dance styles, plus the excitement of moving their bodies in joyful and interesting ways,” says Connolly. ‘It’s the ultimate way to globe-trot!’
In addition to Connolly, faculty for the series includes Venezuela native Henry Velandia, a New York-based Salsa champion hailed as one of New York’s most popular teachers in his field, Ronny Dutra, an established professional dance instructor and choreographer from one of the most prestigious dance studios in New York (Dance With Me USA), and Master Braz, an original member of the famous Kaoma Company. Private instruction is also available.
Classes are $20 for members, $25 for non members. Register now at kwahs.org or for more information contact Adele Williams, Director ofEducation, at 305-295-6616, x115. Your Museums. Your Community. It takes an Island.
The six-week long Key West World Culture Dance Series, presented by Key West Art & Historical Society and produced by Dr Pamela Connolly, kicks off on July 24 and happens every second Monday at the Key West Theater, with individual workshops devoted to Salsa, Ceilidh Scottish Dancing, Argentine Tango, Bachata, Brazilian Zouk, and East Coast Swing. (Photo by Andy Scaysbrook)