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SalsaNewYork Reviewed Instructor:

Instructor Stats:




Compiled by Manny Siverio
Thomas Guererro -

Santo Rico Dance Studio


(Originally posted on Salsaweb NY by Many Siverio in 2000)

Thomas Guererro is another Big Apple next generation Mambo instructor who teaches in Washington Heights. He is one of New York’s three leading Dominican dance teachers and a founding member of The Santo Rico Dance Company. As a dancer he has traveled around the country from coast-to-coast, up north to Canada and to Puerto Rico. He has performed at many of New York’s and New Jersey’s top Salsa/Mambo dance spots, not to mention at Congreso Mundial de la Salsa. He currently is the Director of the Santo Rico Dance Company, taking over the reigns from his mentor Wilton Beltre.

Thomas teaches his unique brand of mambo dancing at his own studio; The Santo Rico Dance School is located at 2403 2nd Avenue (between 123rd & 124th Streets), 2nd floor, in Manhattan's Harlem. Upon visiting his Saturday class, I could tell that he is a no non-sense, direct, firm, shoot straight-from-the-hip type of guy. He is an instructor who communicates well and speaks his mind. He doesn’t beat around the bush and gets straight to the point. His classes are taught in a bi-lingual format (English-Spanish). Counting is done in English while instructions are offered in both English and Spanish. He is assisted by two other instructors who help him divide the class into three different learning levels (beginner, intermediate and advance).

Thomas usually begins his class with open floor shines (solo dancing). Each shine is reviewed one at a time. If a student is not familiar with a shine, he will pull the student to one side and break it down to them personally while the rest of the group continues to practice the same step to music. Many of Santo Rico’s intermediate shines are complex and long. That’s why Thomas breaks these down into segments (much like some instructors do with complex turn patterns). He’ll move onto a new segment only when his group has been able to comprehend the previous one. These shines are tackled by thoroughly breaking them down to the count of the clave first, then performed to a slow tune and finally to a faster song. The number of shines covered in class depend on how quickly students are absorbing material on that day. Thomas usually doesn’t like to move on until everyone in his group understands every step covered by him so far.

Whenever possible pointers are provided to help enhance a student’s styling or corrections are made to help avoid accidents when dancing. Concepts are reviewed and drilled into students like Thomas’s 4 rules of dancing (1.Head up; 2. Shoulders move to music & tempo; 3. Knees bent & 4. Weight on Ball of foot). The four items together result in balance when dancing

The second half of the class focuses on partner dancing. Thomas, like his two other Dominican counterparts, is known for his innovative turn patterns. I’ve nicknamed him the "Spin-miester" because of the routine he choreographed for Santo Rico during the 1999 Congreso Mundial de la Salsa in Puerto Rico (which was a non-stop performance of complex turn patterns and spins). His partnering style consists of multiple turns, spins & counter-turns for both men and women. Thomas usually leads by counting out loud. He drills the hell out of a turn pattern to make sure that students get it. Each pattern is demonstrated, verbally broken down and then practiced to music. He’ll offer valuable partnering tips on styling, balance and footwork with emphasis on safety (i.e. elbow placement so not to hit the girl during a turn pattern). After a pattern has been absorbed, Thomas will ask couples to execute the sequence one at a time. This is when he’ll catch individual mistakes and make additional corrections. At the end, the group is left to practice to music on their own, while Thomas supervises.

Thomas's Style in a nutshell:
If I were to describe Thomas Guerrero’s style of dancing mambo to other instructors, I would say he has a very energetic Dominican Street Style of dancing. He is a human metaphor of multiple turns, spins, turn combos, counter turns and sudden stops with change of directions. He has a very strong and aggressive lead. Many women become multiple spinning experts under his style of mambo dancing out of sheer necessity and practice. So if your looking for interesting turn patterns and got energy to burn on the dance floor then Thomas Guerrero may be the instructor for you.

SalsaNewYork Magazine’s Best Partnering Class Pick
The art of teaching mambo dancing has grown significantly within the last couple of years. If you have any doubts just look at our instructor directory homepage. From a mere few instructors teaching the art in the mid-1990’s the list has grown to over 50 names in 2002. Yet from this list, several of these instructors have managed to surpassed the rest of the pack because they’ become known for something. Well it just so happens that Thomas Guerrero (Head Instructor of the Santo Rico Dance Studio & Director of the Santo Rico Dance Company) is one of those instructors. Since taking over the Santo Rico Dance Studio in the late 90’s, Thomas has developed a well deserved reputation for partnerwork. With this in mind, I’ll say that Thomas’s Saturday Partnerwork Class is NY’s least known resource. Take it from me, as someone who’s been to a good number of classes and none of them compare to a typical Thomas partnerwork class. Pound for pound, I would say that he offers the most challenging; exciting, innovative and creative turn pattern class currently available in NYC. With the assistance of two other qualified instructors, he breaks up his class into beginner, intermediate and advance. Students can expect to go through a whirlwind of mini-turns, spins, stops, counter-stops hand-checks, and whips, which eventually evolve into one heck of a monster marathon, turn pattern. It’s for this reason that I’ve nicknamed Thomas as the “Spinmiester” of NY Mambo. In just a few years his dance studio has cranked out many top level NY dancers. The Santo Rico men are known for being effectively strong leaders, while the women have developed a reputation for being dance floor “Spinning Queens”. It’s for this reason that SalsaNewYork Magazine has given Thomas Guerrero’s Saturday Partnerwork Class the title of BEST PARTNERWORK CLASS IN NYC.

PLEASE NOTE:  Thomas Guerrero is now living & teaching in Orlando, Florida, and has moved the Santo Rico Dance Studio there.

Contact Info:   His FaceBook page - https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001619370190&fref=ts

Phone - 917-806-7452

Email - SantoRicoDance@SantoRico.com


Social Dance:

Check our calendar for a list of all current local Social Dances



Instructional Videos

    Salsa/Mambo Basics Level One.
    Ladies Spinning & Styling.

  • These videos are available in both VHS and DVD format.  Click on our Description & Ordering Info.

Dance Company

Contact Info:


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


  • Thomas & Santo Rico cater to both children and adult mambo students.

Class Schedule:

Thomas Guerrero

For his class schedule, contact him directly.

Most classes are usually running on a 8 week cycle.
For further info please contact Thomas Guerrero.  Since schedules are subject to change, click on the Santo Rico web site's CLASS SCHEDULE SECTION for most recent and accurate schedule.

Class Fees/Tuition:

Since class fees change from time to time, please click on the Santo Rico Web Site for up to date prices.

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




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Below is a history of the Santo Rico Dance Company written by its director Thomas Guerrero
reprinted from the SalsaStories web site of the world famous Edie "The Salsa Freak".



by Thomas Guerrero

Santo Rico is a dance company performing primarily Mambo dancing, which has
become a way of life in Latin communities like Washington Heights, the Bronx
and other communities throughout the City of New York.  The history of Santo
Rico dates back to 1995.  The name of the dance company is derived from the
initial members of the group being half from Santo Domingo
[(Santo) and half from Puerto Rico (Rico), hence the
name "Santo Rico.

The primary purpose in forming Santo Rico was to make a difference in the
community by promoting a pro-life attitude in helping kids to stay off drugs
and off the streets by instilling discipline within them and pointing them
in the right direction while teaching them the art of dancing Mambo.  Santo
Rico's current purpose continues to be to serve the community, and through
the years has become stronger because of a well-kept, respectable reputation
that has helped establish a stronger following from within the younger and
older generations.

Santo Rico was initially formed by Wilton Beltre, a 32 year old Dominican
native, who expressed his love for dancing by displaying his street style of
dancing Mambo/Salsa in local nightclubs in New York City.  Prior to forming
Santo Rico, Wilton received dancing instruction from the well renowned Eddie
Torres.  This gave him professionalism and grace and ultimately led to the
development of a unique style.  During his stint with Mr. Torres Wilton
excelled and brought his dancing ability to such a high level that he became
one of the most outstanding members of The Eddie Torres Dance Company, which
led to his traveling abroad with Eddie Torres' dance company and performing
in England.

After several years with Eddie, Wilton proceeded to go solo and form his own
group, Santo Rico Dance Co.  Wilton incorporated his clean, swift, technical
style of dancing into that of an already very talented group of dancers who
also began with a street oriented style of dancing.  He then added another
core of professional dancers to add more diversity to the group.  This
endeavor was met with negativity because no one thought it was going to be
possible to manage and/or handle this new core of talented and experienced
dancers, who held their own so well.  However, Wilton took this core of
"dream teamers" and successfully blended them in with the already
disciplined and talented members of Santo Rico and also succeeded in further
improving their abilities.  He managed to instill his technical style into
their respective styles of dancing and added more moves (e.g., steps and
turns) to their respective repertoires.  Wilton promoted Santo Rico by
performing in many high profile events including Gozamba ‘96 - a Latin
festival which was alternately held that year in Riverbank State Park in
Washington Heights and one year at Randall's Island.

Wilton was an intimidating figure, hard to figure out; his disposition
dictated a demand for respect and discipline - no more, no less!  However,
his strict demeanor helped the members of the group become, not only better
dancers, but also better people.  It gave them a sense of direction and
determination in attempting to get to his level at some point of their
dancing careers.  He challenged them with his best and never let them forget
that:  (1) "almost isn't good enough," (2) "always practice as if you're
performing" and (3) "You only have one chance to impress and do it right at
a performance."

When Wilton started the dance company he taught and held the group's
rehearsals on the second floor of a restaurant called "La Pequeña España" -
[Ital]"Pequeña"[Ital] meaning very small in Spanish and indeed the space was
[Ital]pequeña[Ital].  There were many difficulties he had to surmount, for
obvious reasons: (1) The dance company didn't have a place of its own and
therefore its members had to submit to the schedules and rules and
regulations of people who didn't understand its purpose and its art; (2) the
business environment was unstable, making it difficult to establish a strong
and sturdy foundation at the time; (3) the attempt to maintain a consistency
with the students in the new dance company, but Wilton was not discouraged. 
At times, he would take most of his students on some Sundays to Jones Beach
and give them classes out there perhaps either because his Sunday class
schedule conflicted with that of the person he was subletting from, or it
was probably too hot due to the lack of air conditioning in some of the
places in which he taught.  By this time, Wilton's classes were growing at a
rapid rate as his clientele grew stronger.  Once people found out about
Wilton's dance school and how others were already getting so good at the art
via his teaching methods they would flock into Wilton's classes wanting to
know how to dance, and right before our eyes Wilton's school established
itself as one of the best Salsa schools among the Dominican community.

One of the turning points for Santo Rico came when Wilton acquired rehearsal
space through a friend (and now one of the instructors of the Santo Rico
Dance School) by the name of Victor "Moreno" Mayovanex.  Moreno had been
helping Wilton shop around for a bigger place until one day he approached
Wilton and rushed him to go see a place down the block from La Pequeña
España that wasn't doing too well financially, which the owners were
intending to get rid of.  This was Wilton's big break because they sold the
place to him at an incredibly low price and in pretty good condition. 
Wilton immediately took advantage of this opportunity and in his short time
teaching he had his own school, with his own schedule and the chance to
build an even stronger foundation from his aspirations.  Santo Rico Dance
School was up and running.  There was more rehearsal time and more rehearsal
space thanks to Moreno's determination and his vision in helping Wilton
search for a new place.

Another turning point for Santo Rico was the first time it performed on
Channel 41, the Latin community's most popular channel.  It performed on a
program called "Sabado al Medio Dia."  This performance signaled the
beginning of something special because it drew an even larger following of
students and increased Santo Rico's popularity among other communities. 
Several promoters and organizations, including Channel 41, grew interested
in the group.  This is when Santo Rico really established itself as a solid
dance troop.  For example, Channel 41 put them in some of their commercials,
and from this a lot of other performances and opportunities arose.  Their
visions grew and their dreams were becoming reality before their very eyes. 
In fact, thereafter they were invited to audition for a fundraiser at a club
located in downtown Manhattan called "Roxy" that was to be hosted by Michael
DeLorenzo and Lauren Velez of Fox 5's "New York Undercover," which was one
of the hottest shows on TV at the time.  Santo Rico was also invited to
perform in Madison Square Garden.  At the first annual World Salsa Congress
in Puerto Rico they were also invited to perform one of the hottest routines
out at the time, a number called "Soneros de Bailadores," choreographed by
Wilton Beltre.  It was this routine that actually put Santo Rico on the
dancing map. At this point and because of this routine, Wilton Beltre and
Santo Rico Dance Co. were rolling and only getting better with every

Soneros de Bailadores was a dynamic, well-choreographed routine
that included all aspects of dancing Mambo.  It included an array of complex
footwork for both the men and the women, beautiful styling, intricate turn
patterns and a jamboree.  The song was eight minutes and fifteen seconds
long and the gracefulness and energy with which it was performed was
exciting to watch.  At the time, most people who saw this routine loved it
and wanted to learn it because of its complexity and beauty.  Some have gone
as far as saying that Soneros de Bailadores is a classic because it has been
performed so many times by so many different people, even after Wilton's

After all the short-term success and after beginning to get all the exposure
that helped sky- rocket the professional dancing careers of the members of
Santo Rico, things started to roll downhill for the company.  In 1997 Wilton
was forced to relinquish the group due to personal matters he had to attend
to.  At that point, the group had no direction without Wilton's leadership
and experience.  Due to the lack of supervision and to this misfortune, the
group began to experience things like identity problems, power struggles,
mistrust, lack of enthusiasm and motivation and an overall array of general
problems that plagues a team when their coach or leader isn't available to
maintain usual control and/or restore order.  However, upon Wilton's
departure they all felt inclined to try and pick up the slack from his
absence, which they did for a while, but then it got to be too much for most
of them and it became harder and harder and even frustrating to manage at
times.  The reality of Wilton's unexpected leave of absence basically left
the group unprepared to deal with the daily grind of managing and directing
the group's affairs on a full-time basis.  It became very difficult due to
the fact that none of them had the time nor could elicit the effort required
to maintain the necessary consistency in order to keep the company running
at the level that it was.  Ultimately, the members of the company went their
separate ways, some did their own thing on a part-time basis with their
dancing like teaching and/or starting their own groups.

During his time with the group Wilton had become very close with one of the
group's original members by the name of Thomas Guerrero and throughout their
time together established a very close knit relationship filled with trust
and a friendship beyond dancing.  Upon his departure Wilton entrusted Thomas
with the company's responsibilities.  At the time, this was an incredibly
challenging feat for Thomas because of his lack of experience and know-how
as far as handling a business or maintaining a professional dance school. 
However, Thomas felt determined to persevere because of his commitment to
their friendship and therefore didn't want to desert Wilton at such a time
of need.  Wilton pleaded with him to not let all get lost in the crossfire
of everything that had hit their company; the break-up of the team, his
departure, the expenses of the school and most importantly the reputation of
the name.  Wilton also pleaded with Thomas to not let the Santo Rico name
vanish or be taken away, and vowed to someday return, which led Thomas to
proceed with devoting himself to Santo Rico and its endeavors.  He began to
formally give classes at Wilton's school alongside others who helped out for
Wilton's sake.  At first, Thomas figured that teaching wouldn't be that big
of a deal and that he wouldn't have a hard time getting the hang of it
because he already knew how to dance.  However, as time progressed it became
incredibly difficult as he realized that he had to do a lot of learning of
his own in order to acclimate himself to the teaching environment.  Thomas
felt obligated to further educate himself in dancing, so he did some
research and studied the techniques and fundamentals of Mambo, which helped
a great deal because it helped him understand the art and its history a lot
better.  It made Thomas realize many things he didn't know that perhaps
would have helped him with his dancing in the past.

Upon educating himself, he also began to really enjoy teaching and decided
to take it a step further, so he contacted two of Wilton's closest friends,
Elvin Santos and Moreno to help him teach and maintain the school.  Elvin
and Moreno concurred with Thomas' plan to solidify the school's reputation,
and to begin with, worked very hard toward trying to establish themselves as
good instructors and toward reclaiming Wilton's renown.  After approximately
a year they established a good clientele and the people in the community
began to familiarize and associate themselves with the name Santo Rico
again, also due in part to the exceptional reputation that Wilton had

It was like starting all over again; the guys proceeded to amend the initial
registration papers of the company because Wilton could no longer be the
primary contact for the organization and they became the proprietors of
Santo Rico; Thomas became President and Moreno and Elvin became Vice
Presidents.  The process of becoming fully responsible for the school and
associating themselves with the business aspect of the company was a
challenge in itself because it taught them more about the business, thanks
to their representative Francisco Rosario, who with his hard work and
knowledge, helped make this process smoother.

Francisco helped them to finally fully register and incorporate the name
"Santo Rico", and to move further along with the company's future plans.   He
also advised them on trademarking the name as well and handled most of the
legal work for them.  Francisco's contributions were also a result of the
fact that he had developed a very good working relationship with Wilton and
fortunately for Thomas, Elvin and Moreno, they had someone as hard working
as he that was willing to diligently work toward handling most of the
school's business affairs, despite some of the school's downfalls.

After Moreno, Elvin and Thomas took full responsibility of the company they
began doing small performances of old routines that Wilton had choreographed
because of their lack of experience in choreographing in order to start
promoting the name Santo Rico.  They performed at small clubs in New Jersey
and New York and tried to make a name of themselves now that they were
starting anew.  They performed for a short time only because the school
suddenly needed their attention more than ever because their clientele was
diminishing.  Thereafter, most of their time was consumed with trying to
restore the school's clientele by promoting and maintaining the school.  The
class schedules changed due to the decline in students so Moreno and Elvin
would teach most of the time while Thomas would try to handle other aspects
of the school, like paperwork and the coordination of student activities and
groups.  After a short while and because the school was sort of back on its
feet, Thomas decided to take a rest from the dancing world, so he took a few
months off.

During his time off Thomas occasionally visited with the guys at the school
and once in a while went social dancing to not lose his step entirely. 
After a few months of relaxation Thomas realized how much he missed the
dancing world and decided to go back to teaching, so he decided to open his
own dance school to later name it Santo Rico II.  Upon inaugurating Santo
Rico II Thomas established a strong clientele and a decent reputation as an
instructor.  After a few months of teaching he proceeded to put together a
student group from both Santo Rico I (Wilton's original school) and II and
named it "Xibicion" Santo Rico - [Ital]"Xibicion"[Ital] meaning "Exhibition"
in Spanish.  Xibicion Santo Rico was Thomas' personal project and his pride
and joy.  This group of students had exceptional talent and the utmost
dedication and love for dancing.  Most of them lived outside the city:
Queens, New Jersey and even Yonkers, which made it hard for them to attend
Thomas' rehearsals in Manhattan, but because of their dedication,
determination and the will to learn and succeed, distance was never a factor
for them.  Xibicion excelled at an extremely rapid rate not only because of
their talent but because they enjoyed the challenge that Thomas presented
them with.  Their first routine was a routine that he thought would never be
finished due to its level of difficulty, but through his faith and the love
he developed for them Thomas relentlessly worked toward helping them finish
this particular routine.  This officially marked the beginning of Thomas'
career as a choreographer and a director of a group.  Thereafter, due to
Xibicion's success and talent, he proceeded to promote Xibicion by including
them in performances at different clubs and even on TV to help further raise
Santo Rico's stock... and raise it they did!   People couldn't believe that
this group was actually a student group because of how poised and graceful
they were on stage.  Their first TV stint was in the Diamante Show on Public
Access Television, thanks to Roberto and Rosa Valentin, the coordinators of
the show.  Roberto took one look at them and was so impressed with their
performance that he personally invited them on the show for a second time to
perform their second routine.  This promotion helped because it further
greatly increased Santo Rico's stock and its clientele.  Upon watching
Xibicion perform on the Diamante Show, the people were ringing the phones
off the hook for information about their dance school.

Upon Thomas' completion of the Xibicion project: completing their routines,
putting them on stage and giving them the necessary exposure to once again
make a name of Santo Rico's Dance Schools, he continued to get together with
the kids ("Xibicion") on a weekly basis and presented them with challenges
unparalleled with anything they ever experienced, especially from an
entertainment's perspective.  Working with Xibicion was a challenge in
itself for Thomas because, while on the one hand he had to deal with the
student's inexperience and teach them how to show respect for the art by
demonstrating discipline and poise on stage and off, on the other hand they
were excelling at such a rapid rate that he had to continually come up with
ideas to keep them interested and on their toes.  Through his experience and
creativity Thomas was successful in pulling this off, however, with the
result that the students' dancing abilities were enhanced and their level of
maturity soared.  Fortunately for Thomas, Xibicion was a loyal group who
always worked hard for him in spite of there being other opportunities
available, like dancing for other groups with more longevity who could
perhaps offer a little more than what Santo Rico could at the time.  The
members of Xibicion also meshed incredibly well not only with Thomas, but
with each other, which is sometimes difficult to do in this business because
of all the bickering and the negative energy that's generated among many
dancers.  For the most part, Xibicion's motivation came from the chemistry
that existed among them, which helped them support each other even when the
going got tough.  They got along extremely well and maintained harmony and
togetherness despite taking on new challenges that at times even frustrated
them.  This absolutely impressed Thomas, so he felt inclined to reward them
for their maturity as dancers and as people; therefore, due to Xibicion's
success and rapid progress Thomas decided that they were ready for the "big
dance," so he made the members of Xibicion Santo Rico a part of his actual
professional dance company "The New Santo Rico."

One day Thomas received a special visit from Moreno, who was still handling
Santo Rico I.  Moreno was very in touch with Thomas' accomplishments in
Santo Rico II.  He sympathized with Thomas' belief to persevere in taking
dancing in Santo Rico to another level; therefore he supported Thomas
throughout by helping him in such things as choreographing Xibicion's
routines and in handling the student's different characteristics and
personalities.  Moreno's presence contributed to helping the group cope
whenever the intensity became a bit much with his high-spirited, yet
composed attitude.  He helped them maintain composure and even get a laugh
out of them and even out of Thomas every now and again, despite his being
such a disciplinarian.  Moreno's visit was to inform Thomas of Elvin's
departure from Santo Rico I due to personal reasons and he asked for Thomas'
help to run Santo Rico I upon Elvin's departure, which now belonged to them
solely thanks to Wilton.  Thomas seized the opportunity because this would
alleviate the problem of the high rent he was paying for Santo Rico II, so
he obliged and returned to Santo Rico I.

Everything worked out wonderfully with Thomas' classes upon the merger of
the two schools.  Thomas was able to keep a very similar teaching schedule
to that of Santo Rico II; his students handled the change of address and the
change of ambience extremely well and the dance group were really supportive
and stood focused and motivated throughout this transition. On Thomas' first
day back to the original Santo Rico, a total of thirty-seven students turned
out for his first class.  This overwhelming turn out consisted of students
from both Santo Rico I and II who filled the studio to capacity.  This was
also a sign of something special because it illustrated the group's
popularity and recognition for Santo Rico.

Today, Santo Rico Dance Co. is a certified dance corporation registered with
the State of New York.  Santo Rico Dance School is currently well
established with a formidable clientele.  Santo Rico's curriculum entails
teaching on a daily basis and the recruitment of students with the potential
and the will to someday perform, the way Xibicion was recruited, for
example.  Santo Rico's professional dance troop, "The New Santo Rico,"
currently consists of eleven (11) dancers, six (6) males and five (5)
females, most of whom were members of Xibicion Santo Rico in addition to
Thomas, Moreno and Amaryllis Cintron, the most experienced dancers of their
professional company.  The New Santo Rico considers themselves the babies of
the industry because: (1) their new beginning due to their history has
basically led them to start from scratch; (2) Thomas and Moreno's handling
of the group's affairs (like performing and putting together different
marketing strategies to promote the group) is coming together now because of
their newfound stability; and (3) because they have such a young,
inexperienced group who still have a lot to learn about the industry, but
are confident Santo Rico will do well due to their desire and determination
to succeed.

With God's help, the New Santo Rico's goals are to prepare themselves well
for future endeavors.  Santo Rico also intends to travel to different places
to entertain where their style and their dance company has not yet been
introduced, and doing so in a fashionable and favorable manner; exhibiting
respect and professionalism in order to promote themselves as positive
contributors in different aspects of the art.




















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