While @ the LA Salsa Congress earlier on this year, I remember watching a particular Salsera at one of the pre-parties dancing with a Colombian performer and despite all the craziness going on, she held her own (Now if you have seen Colombian performers dance, you know that this is no easy task). So I made a mental note that I needed to dance with her at some point in the congress. We danced the next day and it was such a pleasant experience that we danced a couple of more times after that and she quickly became 1 of my top 2 favorite dancers at this congress.
I later on discovered that not only was she still a teeanger, she was one of those EXTREMELY rare people that learnt how to dance by going to socials without ever really taking classes and is actually damn good at it. (P.S. I do not advise this course of action for 99% of most people.)
So below is my interview with a remarkable LA Salsera –LEILANI DAVIS
Who is Leilani Davis?
I am 19 years old and my nationality is half Japanese and half White (mixed German, Irish and French). Before I started dancing, I learned and competed in martial arts. Currently, I am living with my sister and juggling work, going to school, and dancing!
When did you discover salsa dancing?
Back in 2007 I remember watching my sister dance ballroom, which included salsa. In 2009 my high school had a salsa dance team, which I eventually decided to join.
How long have you been dancing salsa for?
I took my first salsa basic in 2009 and have continued ever since. I discovered social dancing early last year and was addicted right away.
What do you love most about Salsa?
My favorite thing about salsa would be the energy It is a way I can express myself. The dance itself is captivating and you can feel the positive vibes.
So I understand you never went to class, any particular reason for this?
I honestly wish I could have, but I didn’t have any extra money or time to attend. My dance team coach in high school had taught me all I needed to know at the time.
How long did it take you to get good at Salsa? What helped the most?
I still feel that there is a lot to improve upon, but I do believe that I have grown significantly within the past year because I have been social dancing 3-6 nights a week. Through social dancing, I have been able to dance with many amazing people who have helped me refine my technique.
Is there anything that contributed towards you becoming such an amazing dancer in such a short period of time?
When I first started dancing, one of the main “rules” I remember was not to back-lead. Since I have danced with so many leads, I have developed a light follow which has allowed me to pick up on the subtleties of the dance. Besides that, I am open to feedback. I know that all criticism will help me improve.
Have you ever considered becoming a salsa teacher or performer or doing it full time?
My interest lies mainly in teaching. I would love to share my passion for the dance with others. But in order to be successful with this, I need to get my name out, which means performing and competitions.
What has been your most memorable Salsa experience?
This past year I attended the LA Salsa Congress which was my first Congress ever. I became re-inspired by dancing with so many amazing dancers from around the world. The fact that everyone comes together from all around to share their passion for dance is beautiful.
Who are your top 3 favorite Salseros?
I honestly have a lot of people that I love dancing with. I couldn’t narrow it down just to 3. I enjoy when my lead is having as much fun as I am.
Who are your 3 favorite Salseras and why?
Once again, there are tons of amazing women out there that are very talented. But 2 ladies that really inspire me would me Alien Ramirez and Jennifer Silvas. They are beautiful, confident, and very humble ladies. Their style and movement are exactly what I inspire to be like.
Where do you see your salsa dancing going five years from now?
I see myself teaching at different workshops around the world, performing at different congresses and having my own studio.
Any advice for new salsa dancers out there?
My advice is to go out social dancing as much as possible, be open to feedback and always be willing to learn from others. Above all else, HAVE FUN!
Any last words??
I feel very lucky to have met so many amazing people who are helping me achieve my dreams. They believe in me when sometimes I don’t even believe in myself; it has been amazing to be given so much support. This dance community has become a second family to me and I can’t imagine my life without dance.
P.S. If you enjoyed reading this interview, expect more profiles coming soon. Also feel free to post a comment and make sure you subscribe to follow my blog and receive a notification every time I post something. I would appreciate the support!