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Cyber-Interview of the Month: 
Thomas Guerrero

-by Manny Siverio 
Originally published on SalsaNewYork on

This Month we interview NY Mambo Instructor Thomas Guerrero. Over the last ten years he has helped create  a style of ON2 dancing (along with Vittico Pacheco & Osmar Perrones) that is referred to by many as the "Dominican Style".  He has not only developed the reputation of being the "Spinmiester" of New York turn patterns, but also offers the best partner work class currently available in NYC. His accomplishments include director of the Santo Rico Dance Company, original cast member of the first off-Broadway Mambo play "LATIN MADNESS", the NY contact for the 1st Annual Dominican Republic Salsa Congress and one of the promoters to the 1st Annual Salsa Dancer Awards. 


Cyber-Interview: Thomas Guerrero
When someone thinks of a Dominican dancer they think Meregue? Why Mambo dancing? What got you into dancing Mambo?

Well, I've been listening and dancing my music (Merengue), which I still love very much, for all of my life practically, so through a friend who took me to Side Street in the early 90's in an attempt to try something different musically, I was introduced to Salsa music (Mambo dancing).  The rest, as they say, is history!  Don't get me wrong, I also grew up listening to Salsa as well, but never dreamed of developing the love, the seriousness and the passion to dance it as I have now.

SNY: How did you go from just dancing to teaching to performing to being a dance company director?
TG: Well, it all started as mere fun, just going out socially and enjoying the music.  As time went on the desire to dance this great music became an obsession, which then became a hobby.  Teaching wasn't something I ever thought of doing, but through Wilton (SR's founder) entrusting me with managing Santo Rico upon his absence, time kind of took it's own course and before long I realized how engaged and motivated I was about teaching.  Performing became the ultimate goal because you feel the need to have to promote what you teach and your name through doing exhibitions and presentations.  Therefore, the desire to entertain on a more serious level becomes a necessity sort of speak, which then leads to the craze of continuing to create and entertain.

SNY: How did the name of your dance company "Santo Rico" come about?
Initially the members of the group, were half from Santo Domingo (Dom. Rep.) and half from Puerto Rico, hence the name Santo Rico.

SNY:Where have you traveled to perform and teach and which was your most favorite of these journeys?
Santo Rico has been to England, Norway, Switzerland and Italy, in addition to other places throughout the United States.  I enjoyed every one of these experiences thoroughly because I'm proud to say that through hard work and patience our style of dancing and teaching has been accepted and greatly appreciated throughout.  Therefore, we have been treated exceptionally well in each of these places.  In addition, it also helped us gain more acclaim and has produced more work opportunities for us.  This coming Oct., Nov., and Dec. we have been invited to work in places like Germany, Spain, Sweden and returning to Italy.

SNY: Your attributed to being the originator of the "NY Dominican" Style on ON2 Mambo dancing. How did this style come about?
I guess we interpret music and dancing a bit different.  Perhaps because our music has a faster pace and has such different movements.  So I guess we have found a way to incorporate our view of music through our culture into Mambo dancing.

I would also like to make mention that my dear friend Vittico Pacheco, has also had a hand in epitomizing the Dominican way of dancing Mambo.  With his dynamism and innovativeness, he too has effectively helped to create a different, more "Dominicanized" style of dancing through our view of music and our culture.

SNY: How would you describe your style of "Mambo dancing?"
Fast, dynamic and unorthodox.

Thomas Guerrero being dragged into the beach by fellow DR Congress Dancers during 1st Annual Dominican Congress this past July 2002.

photos by Pablo Munoz, courtesy of Mambon2.com (the dancers photo website)

SNY: What was it like to be a part of the first "stage show" featuring Mambo dancing (a.k.a. Latin Madness)?
Simply put, it was truly one of the biggest honors of my dancing career.

SNY: Do you think that the NY style of mambo dancing is spreading around the world? Is On2 still just a NY thing in your opinion?
Since I have had the pleasure of traveling and familiarizing myself with what's accepted or preferred around the world, I have come to realize that On1 is still a preference and very big around the world.  However, I find that it's because of how much longer people have been dancing On1, so it's become more of a territorial thing for those people.  But when people are introduced and/or get comfortable with on2, I find that they prefer it more.

SNY: Why do you think that people seek you out when it comes to teaching?
I think that most people always want to learn something different or in a different way, or they want to learn about what they find themselves using most when they dance.  So since turn patterns (partnerwork) is what everyone predominantly uses when they dance and since throughout the years it's what has become our forte, I think they become more curious to learn new stuff from us.

SNY:  Which is your favorite class to teach and why?
I don't think it's about my or any instructor's favorite thing or class to teach.  We as instructors have to love teaching as a whole, period.  It's more about what people enjoy learning most from you as an instructor or what they identify with most.  I think people come to me more to learn the technical aspect of dancing, which is what I enjoy most - showing someone that my methods can work for them.

SNY: What was your involvement with the Salsa Dance Awards?
I was one of the proud co-producers of the 1st Annual Salsa Dance Awards.

SNY: You moved from dancer, teacher, performer, dance company director to promoter (i.e. The DR Congress). Was the transition easy? What made you decide to move into promotion?
The transition wasn't easy, but I always like to have a hand in different aspects of what I'm doing, so that if one doesn't work or becomes too tedious, I can work in another through acquiring the necessary experience and the savyiness to do a good job.  Also, to me the sky is the limit, and the more angles you have the more marketable you become.

I'm wetting my feet with promotion now because realistically I'm not going to dance for the next 20 years, given to how everyone's physical ability changes with the years.  So promotion may be something that I may want to exercise when dancing is no longer an option.

SNY:  Where do you see your career moving to over the next few years?
Well, that all depends on how the business progresses or regresses, for that matter.  I would love to continue to perform and teach and create more opportunities for myself and the art in order to help this business to continue to grow.  Unfortunately, I can't do it alone and it's becoming harder because we haven't built a strong enough support network for ourselves to carry this business into an even higher level - the kind of level that will enable us as Latinos to branch out and be recognized by those pivotal people who currently aren't or don't want to be involved with us.

SNY: Which is the thing you like to do most (teach, perform, choreograph, promote)? Which is your least favorite?
I like all of the above because they all provide a great challenge for me, with the exception of promoting because I'm very new at it.

SNY: What is the best way for someone interested in contacting you to track you down and get a hold of you?
(212) 543-9433 - studio, (917) 806-7452 - mobile, e-mail: santoricodance@aol.com

website: www.santorico.com 

Click here to confirm Thomas Guerrero's most current and up to date contact info.

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