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Rumba y Timbal Dance Company Spreads Happiness With Salsa Dancing

By Pamela Sosnowski

According to Roberto Figueroa, dance instructor and founder of Rumba y Timbal Dance Company, a lot of people are intimidated by learning Latin dance. Maybe it's because these dance genres tend to be sexy and uninhibited, or students are worried they'll mess up the steps in front of an audience. But whatever the reason, Figueroa assures them that they have nothing to fear.

"A lot of people are nervous before taking their first class," he says. "We tell them that our beginner classes are designed for people who have never dance before, and that everyone in the class will be in the same situation. We tell them to just have fun, enjoy the class and connect with their classmates, and that they'll become salsa dancers before they know it."

For Figueroa, dancing has always been a part of his life while growing up in El Salvador. After moving to Boston, he soon became acclimated with the salsa dance scene and fell in love with it. "I decided to teach and create my own company to share my passion for salsa with the community, and to show them the many ways dance can impact your life," he recalls.

He launched his dance studio in 2007, with the vision of growing it into one of the best places to take salsa dancing in the Boston area, and introduce the style to students of all levels and ages. He and his team of dance professionals (many of who have competed professionally) teach dozens of classes per week in salsa, bachata, kizomba, and more. Some focus on technical form such as styling and body movement, while others teach by partnering up. Occasionally the studio will invite instructors for non-Latin dances classes such as hip-hop or belly dance.

Learning Latin dance is not only great exercise, but a way to meet other people with a shared interest. Figueroa says his dance company attracts students from all over the world and from various backgrounds. It's a welcoming atmosphere where the more advanced dancers teach the newbies some tips on how to improve, and Rumba y Timbal has become a big, happy family. The studio occasionally hosts special events and dance workshops to help introduce the Cambridge community to the world of salsa dancing.

And those nervous new students? That apprehension wears off quickly and is soon replaced by a newfound confidence that people carry with them when they leave the dance floor, according to Figueroa.

"Dancing is not only learning steps; it is speaking the same language as hundreds of people," he explains. "It helps you become more confident and empowered. I like to see someone smile once they understand how to do a move. I like to hear my beginner students say that they went social dancing for the first time, that they used the moves they learned in class and had so much fun. Dance makes people happy, and this is why I teach."

Photos courtesy of Sharon Peavey Photography.

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