Students learn Salsa dancing during Latino Heritage Month
Sam Bohne, dennews.com, 9/18/09
Students shuffled into the basement of the Newman Center to partake in iSalsa2 lessons Thursday night.
This event is being held as part of Latino Heritage Month, which spans from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
"It's a beautiful way to celebrate Latino heritage," said Doris Nordin, a Newman Center campus minister.
The Newman Center has hosted iSalsa2 lessons for the past three years.
The iSalsa2 is an organization from Champaign-Urbana that is soon to become an official University of Illinois salsa team.
Instructors, Olivia Niziolek and "Mambo Italiano," organized students into a circle to begin the lesson. Students were then instructed to pick a partner and introduce themselves.
Throughout the lesson Italiano would demonstrate a dance step, tell the students to switch partners, and restart the music as the students repeated the steps that he had taught.
"You're not going to be married tonight, you're just going to be dancing for five to 10 minutes," Italiano said, trying to lighten the mood as students introduced themselves to new dance partners.
After the first move had been taught, Italiano and Niziolek danced around the circle, stopping to help students with their steps.
Partway through the lesson, Italiano pulled Jeff Kranz, a junior physics and engineering major, into the middle of the circle to show his dance moves to the class.
Kranz has only had experience dancing in high school and with his family and friends.
Along with Eastern students, students from a local high school also came to dance.
David Smith, a Spanish teacher from Lawrenceville High School, brought a group of his students to iSalsa2 to introduce them to the Spanish culture.
Smith has been bringing his Spanish students to iSalsa2 for the last three years.
After about an hour and a half of dancing, a handful of students remained in the church basement, learning a few more dance steps.
The lesson ended after Niziolek gave the girls a few pointers on what to work on for the next lesson of iSalsa.
Taylor McLain, a freshman kinesiology and sports studies major, plans on returning next week.
"I love to Salsa!" McLain said.
The iSalsa2 lessons will be held in the Newman Center basement at 7 p.m. Thursday, where students will learn more Merengue and Salsa dances.
Another lesson will be held Oct. 1, which will focus on Batchata and more advanced Salsa dances.
Sam Bohne can be reached at 581-7942 or