1. When did you first fall in love with Salsa?
I always had a hidden love for salsa, but a strong interest began in 1994. A college roommate introduced me to the history and culture of Latin music and popular artists, such as Hector Lavoe. However, it wasn’t until 2000 when I took my first Salsa step at the 8th floor (Delaware Avenue). I took the lessons in hopes to improve a current relationship, but instead it became a turning point in my life.
2. What made you get into Salsa as a profession?
I was encouraged by my first teacher, Barbara Capaldi, and first manager Lisa Jennings. I was reluctant to start teaching because I didn’t want to take the fun out of dancing by it becoming a “job”. Yet after seeing the affect it has had on people on the dance floor, it gave me a greater perspective and that I could pursue both of my passions at once— teaching AND dancing.
3. Do you think you will get burned out with dancing, teaching?
No, but there are ups and down. And at the end of the day my love and passion for the music remains the same.
4. Can you tell us of some Mike Andino firsts that really stand out; Social dance? Congress? Performance?
Before Art In Motion and Kids Con Estilo, there was Salseros Clave and Cache Dancers. This was my first job as a choreographer. Working so closely within this group over an extended amount of time allowed me to see my own influence in others.
5. Who have been your mentors in the Salsa world?
My first mentor was Barbara Capaldi, who showed me that you share your studio like you share your living room, like family. My second mentor was Eddie Torres. Eddie showed me the importance of the history of Latin music and how to interpret it into dance. My business mentor is Sonya Elmore. She knows the difference between business and pleasure and how to keep them balanced. For me, she is an example of the ultimate professional.
6. How would you describe your style of Salsa?
Smooth, elegant, classy, with a high regard for chivalry.
7. What do you think helped you improve the most as a dancer?
As a dancer, I focus on staying conscious and considerate of the needs of my dance partner.
8. What inflection point in dance broke you from the fear of being star struck?
Learning from the peers around me, staying grounded, and understanding where I came from. I remember my first days in basic and how I struggled as a beginner. We’ve all been there once.
9. You are known as one of the better leads on the Philly scene. What do like to teach your male students as a lead?
Less is more. Dance smarter, not harder.
10. What do you recommend to your women as follows?
Trust your basic. Dance WITH your partner, not AT your partner. Don’t anticipate the next move, wait for it… “wait for the answer”.
11. What would you consider to be the Mike Andino Secret weapon on the dance floor?
1. Protect your partner on the dance floor, from the people around you as well as yourself
2. Stay with the count, whether you dance on 1, 2 or 75… and stay consistent.
3. Remember rules #1 and #2, you don’t need #3!
12. What has been your greatest challenge so far on this Salsa road?
The more success you have, the bigger target you are. Some people genuinely want to help you on the road to success and others may want to knock you off. The challenge is how to remain professional and calm in every situation.
13. You have taught the first kids salsa group in Philly, kids con estillo. What is next on the plate for Mike?
(Actually, the first kids Salsa group was Grupo Fuego)
I would like to continue to concentrate on our Semi-Anunal Showcases. I feel a responsibility to educate others on the history of Salsa, but also for others to understand the time, effort, sacrifice and courage for dancers to get on stage and perform.
14. What is your hope for the future of Salsa in Philadelphia?
My hope is to “unite the scene”. I would like to unite the salsa community in Philadelphia, whether it be the studios, promoters, nightclubs, DJs, etc. I feel we can make Philadelphia stronger as a whole. There is strength in numbers.
You can find Mike at one of his many locations for a Class by clicking here.