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SalsaNewYork Reviewed Instructor:

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Compiled by Manny Siverio
Ismael Otero

(Originally posted on Salsaweb NY ( August 1998)

Whenever I hear about New Jersey the name of Ismael Otero would always come up. He is one of New Jersey’s popular mambo instructors. Ismael has been dancing mambo for the past 6 years and teaching on his own for the last four. He is the Choreographer of his dance company, Caribbean Soul, which has toured the world, as well as performed as part of the Fuerza Latina Dancers. Salsa personalities like Frankie Negron, Luis Damon and Jorge Luis are known to take classes with him.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ismael on various occasions and I could immediately see why people like going to his classes. The man is very easy going, likeable and confident. He is open, willing to share whatever he knows and has no ego. In class he is the master of his domain, but outside he rather be just one of the "guys". He likes to hang with his students and has become a regular at Bistro Latino’s Sabor de Mambo Thursday nites. As a matter of fact, Ismael is so well liked and respected in the Jersey mambo community, that I consider him to be the Jimmy Anton of New Jersey. In my opinion he is one New Jersey’s best kept secrets.

Ismael teaches several classes a week in New Jersey. at different locations. All classes provide instruction for all levels of dancers (beginner, intermediate and advance).

I visited Ismael at his old Union City location. The very moment I walked through the door, I was confronted with a buzz of activity. With the help of two assistants, Ismael had the class broken down into three groups. The raw beginners were working floor shines by the door, the more experienced beginners were drilling simple turn patterns in the middle, while Ismael was working with the most advanced students at the far end. I liked the fact that every group was working with material that suited their specific needs. Only when reaching a certain level of proficiency can a student move onto the next link of Ismael’s learning chain.

Each of Ismael’s classes begin with an open floor shine segment. He teaches shines one at a time and reviews them before going onto the next move. Once a couple of moves are taught, Ismael ties them together into a simple combination and drills the class with them. Its interesting to note that many of Ismael’s shines are of his own creation. The second segment of his class involves turn drills or spinning practice (spot turning). Many instructors neglect this element of mambo dancing, but not Ismael Otero. He makes sure that his students get their fair share of turn drills. What I love about Ismael’s approach to these drills is that they focus as much on the man as they do on the woman. He begins this segment by choosing a specific turn sequence for students to practice without a partner. Then Ismael creates a turn pattern that continues to drill the very same sequence. The third and last segment of his class focuses on turn patterns. Students are shown a couple of turn patterns and rotate partners in what Ismael calls TBT (turn by turn). This means that students practice the turn pattern one time before rotating onto the next partner. Ismael’s TBT method keeps students awake, on their toes and guarantees that everyone gets to practice with a partner. Not to mention that TBT is another method for students to learn how to deal with different partners who generate different "feel", "touch" or "energy" when dancing. Finally, at the end of the class, Ismael calls students out to social dance in front of everyone. He does this to help break students of their fear of dancing in public.

Ismael's Syle in a nutshell
If I were to describe Ismael Otero’s style of dancing, I would say its a very homeboy, loose & laid back (very much like the man himself), filled with interesting turn patterns and creative open floor shines. He is fun to watch and I’ve been told that he is just as fun to dance with. So if you live in New Jersey and want to learn how to dance salsa/mambo, Ismael Otero may be the instructor for you

The above review was written in 1998.  Since then, Ismael Otero has been one of the most known NY On 2 instructors for more than a decade and has taught and performed nationally and internationally. 

Social Dance:



Instructional Videos

Dance Company

Contact Info:  


  • Ismael is currently available to teach private classes. Those interested should contact him directly to discuss fees and scheduling.


  • Ismael caters mainly to an adult mambo student crowd.

Class Schedule:

Ismael Otero

Caribbean Soul Dance Studio
682 Summit Avenue
Jersey City, NJ  07306 
Click Here for map.

For complete information on classes and fees, click on http://www.ismaelotero.com/Classes.html .


Classes are subject to change without notice  
it is always a good idea to confirm classes or clubs before heading out




  • NYC Transit : NYC Public Transit Authority Website which supplies you info on train/bus routes, transportation, etc.

  • Mapquest.com : Map/direction providing website for those using their own vehicles to get to class location. 
    Yahoo.com: This is the link to the Yahoo maps starting page. According to Steve Shaw, it may be the better of the two Map websites.











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