Edwin Ferreras (from the Dominican Republic) is one of the bright young stars in the latin dance scene.
His love for dance began with hip-hop/breakdancing as a young teen and he was later introduced to salsa/mambo. Edwin currently directs the Latin FX Dance Company along with his talented dance partner, Daniela Grosso. Oh – did we mention he is a musician and plays three instruments? Yes, he is a very talented young man indeed. He is one of the featured teachers and dancers at the Byron Latin Fiesta.
Tell me – I’m a novice – what is bachata?
Bachata is a beautiful music-and-dance genre originating in the Dominican Republic via a culmination of its Cuban predecessors Bolero and Son.
Does the music have to be dramatic? Do you think it helps reframe those intense life experiences?
Bachata music in nature is only as ‘dramatic’ as the artistic direction and the industry may dictate. The nature of the music itself is melancholy, which can be rooted within the feelings of, but not limited to, sadness and pain experienced by the artists. The nature of bachata music is almost opposite of the happy bright demeanour of its Dominican counterpart, the merengue. I think it is possible for some artist to use bachata as an outlet for their own emotional experience but often they are based on stories interpreted and passed down through generations. Songs are often covers of others’.
What do you love most about dancing? What is a regular work day like for you – is it even like work?!
What I love most about dancing is that it allows me to learn, teach and build a stronger connection to myself, the person I’m dancing with, and others.
A regular work day for me is like this. Morning: Teach inner-city youth in public schools about the history culture and movement of dance as well as the theory and history of music. Evenings: Private dance classes for those wishing to grow on a more personal level. Nights: Teach ongoing adult-cycle-based dance classes. Weekends: Practise with my dance team and/or travel to local and international events, doing what I do here at home – teaching music and dance.
By definition of occupation and what I do to pay bills, yes I can technically consider music and dance what I do for ‘work’, but I believe I stopped working the day I became a music-and-dance instructor. I like to think that I get paid to help people grow and have fun. So in that sense it’s not work, it’s pleasure.
What got your started? Did you start in other modes of dance to find yourself here?
Aside from my family experiences with dance early in life, I started as a very enthusiastic and energetic fan of Michael Jackson. Somehow this led me to find hip-hop and breakdancing and I became part of a hip-hop team. It was on this team that I was introduced to latin dance and immediately began my ongoing journey into performing and teaching it.
How important is it to have a great dance partner?
Having a great dance partner is very important in the line of work that I do because ultimately I’m teaching people how to dance socially, so my partner must be knowledgeable of my content and the culture of the genre I’m teaching. My partner must be able to seamlessly adapt and mould to my style and vice-versa to show the fluidity of a balanced partnered dance.
What happens when you dance? How do you maintain that connection? Is it important to keep boundaries on that relationship?
One of the most important things in a relationship in the dance world is boundaries. Everyone is different just like every relationship is unique, so it’s very important that, regardless of style and experience, there is an open line of communication. It’s important to be respectful, honest, and to develop trust. On a professional level, because my partner and I intend to grow together, and because we are highly connected when we dance, we are constantly exploring. On a personal level, and because we also share a romantic relationship, we have fewer boundaries and limitations with one another. It is my belief that close embraces, sensual and suggestive dancing, etc, are only done with one’s romantic partner. For these reasons, when I dance with others the spectrum and purpose of the dance holds a different context. With others I hope to create a fun and memorable social dance experience.
When I teach anyone of any level I’m looking first for purpose. Why are they there? When I find that out, I can provide the information in the way that suits the students. Yes of course I want passionate students, but I also want those who are not passionate. It’s the challenging ones who help me grow as an educator. I ignite their passion by relating my content to their own unique life experiences. This helps them reference and retain the information. Ultimately, I want my students to learn mostly through their own inquiries and curiosities. I want to empower them to find their own answers and develop their one styles. I want my students to pursue their individuality, as opposed to looking and/or dancing like me.
What will you be presenting at the Byron Latin Fiesta?
At the Byron Latin Fiesta, with the assistance of my partner, I will be sharing my expertise on my culture and its dances, merengue and bachata, as well as bolero. In addition, and along with our teammates, we will be showcasing modern interpretations of these styles.
Byron Latin Fiesta, 4–6 November. Tickets and program information on byronlatinfiesta.com.au