By Joe Figueroa
We all know that there are many great salsa dancers in the world. But there are few who can do what Mario Harazika can. Known around the world as Super Mario the Million Moves Man, Super Mario is considered to be one of the best salsa instructors in the world. In my opinion he IS one of the greatest instructors and THE greatest social dancers in salsa. While others shine only when dancing with someone familiar, Super Mario can grab any woman and make them fly. A wonder to watch every time he is on the floor and a pleasure for every woman who get him for a dance., I have the privilege of speaking with Super Mario in depth about salsa…Super Mario style……..
How long have you been dancing salsa?
SM: 7 Years, 4 months, 22 days and counting.....;)
Did you have any other form of dance training before that?
SM: Nope. I come from India, where dancing is just for girls.
How would you describe your style of dance?
SM: It's a mix of LA Style (breaking on 1), NY Style (types of moves), a little bit of Cuban style movements, all mixed together.
Describe what is most important to you about the skill of leading?
SM: Lead the lady like a flower and not a truck, no matter how complicated the move is. (that's my secret)
JF: When you teach a class do you have material prepared or do you judge the crowds skill level and go from there?
SM: You ask good questions. I never prepare for a class, unless it's a Master Class. I usually ask people to dance to a song (saying that it's for warm up purposes) and then judge their level and give them a good class.
What do you do to prepare for a Master Class?
SM: If it is a Master Class, then I just show them my latest move or combination, all broken down and structured, so it makes sense when they practice it. I even work out the ladies steps, in case questions arise.
Do you find yourself focusing on certain components of the dance
to promote the practice of it?
SM: Leading lightly but firmly, non extension of hands so the lady stays close, awareness of people dancing around you etc etc.
A Swedish friend of mine, Kristina, recently moved into the area
from London and mentioned something you do called the "airbag".
What is that?
SM: hehehehehe......That is something between us. Once I was dancing with her, and I have this particular move I use, when I feel women are nervous, just to make them smile. It's a move where they BOUNCE off me. She said that felt like an airbag. ;) And that's where that term comes from. A Joke....
JF: SO that would be YOUR Secret Weapon!!!
Aside from workshops, what is the average class size that you teach?
SM: In London, our classes average from about 40-50 couples in the advanced level, and about 50-60 couples in the intermediate level. I say, the more the merrier.
JF: Do you always teach with Susana Montero?
SM: Whilst in London, yes, we always teach together. I think she is a fabulous instructor, and a pleasure for me to teach with.
I always tell my students that one hour a week is not enough, taking
one lesson a week won't do it. You have to get out there and dance.
What's your opinion on that?
SM: I say a few things to my students. First, always take classes with as many instructors as possible, fuse your styles together and then you have your own style....not to just stick with one instructor always, as you become their clone. Second, social dancing makes you a better dancer......and finally, dance with as many good advanced dancers as beginners, so that way you learn how to lead all types of followers.
How often do you go out dancing socially?
SM: Every weekend and Monday nights in London. The other days are SHUT DOWN days from salsa.
Do you do anything in particular to get in the mood for salsa?
SM: Not really. If my enthusiasm is low before I go out, when I hear the music, it all just comes back. That's the magic of salsa dancing.
I understand that you also DJ at your own salsa socials during the
SM: Yup. Love it too. I think good dancers make good DJs.
That must give you a certain understanding of the music and truly
let the song tell you what to do. Do you find that having knowledge
of the music helps your dancing?
SM: Definitely. Music is everything when you are dancing. I don't speak Spanish, so all I have is the music to dance to.
What salsa cd is in your player right now?
SM: Spanish Harlem Orquestra, Across 110th Street. Great album
My friend Patty danced with you in LA a couple of years ago. She
said she was amazed at not only your control, but to how comfortable
you made her feel. That seems to be the sentiment from most women
that I have talked to after they dance with you, how do you do it?
SM: I dance salsa for fun, and believe me, after all these years, it's still my favorite hobby. So when I dance with someone, I want to have fun. And making the lady comfortable is fun for me and yet it's challenging when trying out all my new moves on her. I love it. Thank you Patty, I am sure it was a joy for me too.
You have a website and an instructional DVD series. Is that right?
SM: Yes. My website is WWW.MILLIONMOVESMAN.COM started solely for the purpose of showing people who I am. A lot of people have heard of me, but didn't know what I looked like. So now they know, as I have a section with free video clips for everyone to watch and see my latest moves. I have 5 DVDs now, all with Moves and Combinations for all levels.
I own the first 3 and I know that you recently released more.
SM: Yes, I have 2 more with lots of brand-new moves.
JF: What I find most interesting about the series is that aside from many fantastic patterns, there is also a segment of social dancing footage. I like that I can see all of the Super Moves applied in a social setting. It just proves that this stuff can be done. Is that the intention?
SM: Yup. I love feedback, positive or negative. After my first DVD, the major feedback was people were asking me to see how moves were done socially. So adding that social dancing at the end was a great move. It is liked by all. And, I give away another 1000 moves....;)
In a recent editorial I spoke about how unbelievable European salsa
has become and the heights to which Europe has taken it. Where do
you see this dance going in the future?
SM: Better and Better. Now that so many more people are taking to it. People are getting hungrier and I can see this lasting for a while. I just ask people, not to get politics involved in this dance. It will kill it. Just enjoy the dance, with a smile.....
SM: Yup. Keep it real. Dance because you want to and not because you have to. Some people get confused. They go out dancing because it's Monday or Tuesday night, and not because they want to dance that night. Dance with everyone, good or bad, it only makes you a better leader. And please keep politics away from the dance floor. This is Super Mario waving goodbye to everyone, and hoping to see you all on the dance floor soon.