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SalsaNewYork Reviewed Instructor:

Instructor Stats:




Compiled by Manny Siverio
Nydia Ocasio

(Originally posted on Salsaweb NY)
Nydia Ocasio is another old school NY Mambo instructor that has been a part of the local dance scene since the early 70's. At the time of when this review was written she has been dancing over 20 years and has been teaching a little over 15 years. Nydia has a background in Mambo, Puerto Rican Folklore, Afro-Cuban Folklore and Carnival Samba from Brazil; she has danced on stage with such Latin celebrities as The Fania All Stars, the late great Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Jose Alberto, Tito Nieves, Marc Anthony, Jerry Rivera, Cachao, Johnny Pacheco and also the late Mario Bauza & Orchestra. Nydia has performed at the Galavision’s Gala Event on Tavern on the Green, The Tito Puente’s 50th Anniversary at the Heckscher Theater (Boys Harbor, School of Performing Arts), The Puerto Rican Day Parade and the National Puerto Rican Forum 40th Anniversary Gala Event. She has also graced such stages as Madison Square Garden, The Beacon Theater, Symphony Space, Avery Hall, Aaron Davis Hall, The Meadowlands, The Public Theater, Lincoln Center and The Apollo Theater. As a performer she has traveled to such countries like Japan, Mexico and Rome. She has previously taught at such places like the Midsummer Night Swing event at Lincoln Center, The Sandra Cameron Dance Center and at The Boys Harbor Performing Art School. She has also been the director and choreographer of her own dance companies: Latin Sensations and the Fiesta Brava Dance Revue.

Nydia teaches her class with the assistance of her long time Cuban friend, Pedro Domech (professional Afro-Cuban dancer/performer) with a strong focus on music. To Nydia, the true leader in mambo dancing is not the man or the woman, but the music. To her dancing is the physical expression of what the music is making you feel. Nydia happens to be the 1st instructor that I’ve met who deliberately chooses the music (song) to set the dance mood of her students. She has a whole collection of tapes to select from and loves to play "sabroso" old music to get people moving. She would like her students to spread out their turn patterns, let go of their partners and feel the music.

Nydia’s classes are evenly populated by both male and female students who come to learn her Rumba-like style of dancing. Each session is divided into two segments (open floor shines & partner work). The open floor shine segment begins with a warm up of Afro-Cuban style steps done to old African-like percussion music. The choice of music helps to get students in the general swing of things. Then a timing music tape is placed so that beginners can step to the percussion of the tumbao of the conga (illustrating when to break on the 2nd beat & the 6th beat of the clave). The timing tape is immediately followed by a series of basic shines that have an Afro-Cuban feel to them. Personally, I think that Nydia’s forte happens to be the open floor shine segment of the class. It is where she derives the most pleasure teaching. Nydia is known in NY for her Latin/Caribbean/Afro-Cuban style of mambo dancing; and it is here (during the shine portion of the class) that she can instill the basic understanding of her trademark styling to her students. Pointers are periodically given to steps which involve specific arm, eye & shoulder placement. That is why she carefully decides which shines are taught and what music is progressively used in during class. It is here where Nydia wants her students to get to "feel" for the "sabor" of mambo dancing.

Students are paired off during Nydia’s partner work segment of class. A basic turn pattern is illustrated for them to practice. Skills like the cross body lead & right turn are usually covered first. Nydia has her students execute the moves of the pattern with no count to get them familiar with the sequence of moves. Then the pattern is broken down to the count of the clave and finally its practice to music. When it comes time to practice with music, Nydia becomes very picky. She usually looks for a song that can help her students get into the right mood for dancing. Partners are rotated periodically every couple cycles so that everyone has a chance to learn what it feels like to dance with different people. Even in this segment, the focus is on "feeling" & "expression". As mentioned earlier in this review, Nydia’s ultimate goal is to get her students to "dance" with each other and not to use the females as a "spinning prop". Solo dancing (shines) is just important to her as turn patterns.

Nydia's Style in a nutshell:
If I were to describe Nydia’s style of mambo dancing, I would say that she has a very simple old school Rumba/Afro-Cuban style of moving. But don’t confuse simple with easy. Nydia’s style focuses less on spins and turn patterns and more on traditional Afro-Cuban dance techniques and body styling. With Nydia its not about how many different things you can do in a measure of music or how many fancy moves you can execute; but rather how much flavor ("sabor") you can add to the most basic steps. So if you’re interested in adding some Afro-Cuban styling to your dancing, then perhaps Nydia Ocasio is the instructor for you.

Social Dance:



Instructional Videos

  • Nydia has 2 instructional videos:  "Body Movements To Salsa Dancing" and "Dancing With Rhythm, Not Numbers".  Click on Her Web Site for more information.

Dance Company

Contact Info:


  • Nydia currently available to teach private classes. Those interested should contact her directly to discuss fees and scheduling.


  • Nydia mainly caters to an adult student mambo crowd but has been accepting children 9 years and up.

Class Schedule:

Nydia Ocasio

See Nydia's web site for latest class and workshop schedule - www.NydiaOcasio.com

Call instructor for class/workshop fees.

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

  • Nydia is associated with DreamDance Studio in Brooklyn where she teaches.  They are having their grand opening party on August 5, 2007, 2:00 - 5:00 PM.  Click on Her Web Site for more information.












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