Voor Nederlandse versie klik Jorge Elizondo Interview
Jorge Elizondo. Possibly you haven’t heard of this man yet. If this is the case, shame on you! Because this teddy bear is one of the founders of Bachata! For his 2007 World Bachata Tour, he was on the road for 280 days, travelled the world and taught ten thousands of students in 190 cities. Moreover, he also invented his own dance style, Bachata Fusion. All the more reason to send this man a message!
It appeared that Jorge Elizondo is as friendly as he looks, he reacted full of enthusiasm! We gave him a whole bunch of questions to answer. But first, we’ll share with you some interesting facts!
Jorge was raised in the Rio Grande Valley Jorge of south Texas, near the Mexican border. He is a classically trained musician. From age eleven he played the saxophone and he continued to do so until he was 25. His inspiration was Kenny G, whose music appealed to him because of its simplicity and the fact that he was still able to touch the hearts of millions.
Like many other Bachata dancers, Jorge started with Salsa. His Salsa instructor had him doing the only the basic step for four months. And this without a partner too! This was incredible frustrating to Jorge. Luckily, a video from the company Salsa Lovers changed his life. He learned every single step on the video and then taught them to someone else. Mostly just to understand it better himself. And this is exactly Jorge’s philosophy when it comes to teaching: you only master something if you can teach it to someone else.
Jorge was featured in a DVD by world-renowned dancer Edie the Salsa Freak, called ‘World’s Best Leads’. Jorge says that leading is a difficult thing. He was lucky to come across a dance partner, a woman called Rosie, who knew exactly how to teach him to lead: she didn’t do anything unless he led her to do so. She was not afraid to give him feedback and their countless repetitions bore fruit.
Enough facts, off to the interview!
When did your love for dance start? Was it something you were born with or something you came across later in your life? How did you learn your first moves?
My love of the dance started in November 2004, when I went to a local Latin Club in my hometown. I was watching this man dancing the night away with various girls. I did not know at the time that I was watching Salsa dancing, but I knew I wanted to learn this dance. So I asked him what he was dancing and he said Salsa. He invited me to his dance classes at a local bar and this how my Passion for Latin dancing began.
I’m very curious to how you come up with your Bachata figures. Is it mostly you or did you create the moves together with your dance partners? Where do you get your inspiration from?
My style of Bachata is very much influenced by my style of Salsa. I traveled around the USA for three years to various Salsa congresses learning from the most influential Salsa instructors and performers. I developed a very strong foundation, which helped me start to develop various movement and patterns. I took this background and started to blend my favorite parts of Salsa into my very little knowledge of Bachata. I started to create BachataFusion. I figured out that some Salsa movements, footworks and figures fit very well in Bachata timing. I must say this creation of BachataFusion would have not been possible without the help of my dance partner Marisa, which is featured in numerous of my Instructional Learning to Dance Bachata DVD series. She was my inspiration and the backbone of my creation. Together we developed numerous moves such as Pop Corn, Sexy Mexi and the Angel which many of my students would easily recognize from my workshops.
You created a whole new style, Bachata Fusion! You are one of the pioneers in this field, making Bachata more appealing to dancers who wanted ‘something more’ than the existing Bachata at the time. Tell us a little bit about your Bachata fusion and what it exactly fuses together.
My BachataFusion opens your mind to have creative freedom that allows you to express yourself on the dance floor. I like to say “No more boundaries” . Express your creative soul with a sexy and exciting fusion of latin moves from traditional Bachata with some of the most exciting elements of Argentine Tango, Salsa, Cha Cha & Kizomba. I have traveled all over the world and I have had the opportunity to explore various dances and dance communities which opened my eyes to new movements. I am fortunate to collect these great concepts and creatively integrate them into my BachataFusion Style.
Are there any other Bachateros or Bachateras you admire and why?
Yes, I admire the talents of many Bachata Artist from the USA and abroad. I see how the Bachata World continues to grow and styles continue to develop. I see how one style could never dominate this dance, because it is the amount of variety in styles that makes it such a wonderful experience. I travel the world with my World Bachata Bootcamp Tour, but I also produced numerous Bachata Festival & Bachata Weekenders in the USA. This is my opportunity to bring all the amazing talent that I admire together to put on a great educational and fun dance experience. I cannot say I admire just one dancer, because I have a whole team of Bachateros that I admire. I enjoy working with them and showcasing them to the world in my various events that I produce around the USA.
You taught all over the world (190 cities in just one tour as I read!), and you have also given workshops in the Netherlands. How did you experience the Bachata scene in our country?
I’ve been teaching in the Netherlands since March 2007 with the help of Morry from SalsaVentura dance company. He created my first tour in Holland where I taught in Den Hague and Tilburg. He opened the doors for Holland for me. I have had the pleasure to teach Bachata every year in Holland in various cities and see the community. I was a bit sad to see that until two years ago, that Bachata was not picking up in Holland. I continue to see great interest in Bachata but various clubs, festival and studio would only focus on Salsa & Zouk. Bachata will not grow without the support of the promoters & DJ’s playing Bachata for the dancer. But I was excited to see how Bachata in the past few years has taken a big turn and is growing a lot now with the support such as your website, Bachata festivals and various Bachata schools. I always felt the people loved Bachata in Holland, but were never given the opportunity to dance it. I am happy to say that it looks like Holland has changed and will continue to grow the Bachata Scene.
When Jimmy Teunis from Bachata NL followed your workshop in Den Haag last year, you advised him to make sure his head remains at the same height when he does his footwork. Are there any other important tips you can give to the Dutch Bachateros and Bachateras?
I believe Bachata is a dance expressed by energy. It is a very grounded dance and much of your energy is given in multiple directions. When doing footwork, one should not just execute the actual sequence of the shine, but put a good expression of energy into each step so it looks animated. This can clearly be seen when a student executes a simple footwork alongside his professional instructor. The student is gentle with his footwork as if he trying not to step on glass, yet the instructor is full of energy when he is pushing and reacting to the ground as he bounces into the next footwork. Every moment you do, make sure to put in the right amount of energy and posture. Your energy and posture indicate your confidence and your appearance.
What is according to you the right way to ask a woman to dance? How do you like it if women ask you (or men in general) to dance?
I think the gentlemen should walk to the lady and simply ask “Would you like to dance?” while extending his hand inviting her to join him. I must say I enjoy when ladies ask me to dance. It is always a nice feeling.
Many dancers in the Netherlands have followed many Salsa courses, but feel that there’s no need to take Bachata lessons or workshops, since ‘everyone can dance Bachata’. How is your opinion on this statement?
Great question and I have a very important response to it that every Salsa Dancer should know! Salsa will help you become a great Bachata dancer, but it does not make you a great Bachata dancer. Salsa & Bachata have very specific leads and follows and core body movement. If you try to dance Bachata with your Salsa techniques, then you will not have the connection or frame to understand your partners lead or follow. Bachata for me is a constant flow of energy and communication from leader’s lead and frame to follower’s body. She must accept the energy through the body which causes her body to react to the leads, body movements and connection. A frame must be established from the very beginning and must maintain throughout the dance. When salsa dancers dance Bachata, it tends to be a very loose frame and it is impossible to lead when connection continues to break during dancing. I recommend that all Salsa dancers take proper Bachata workshops that focus on body movement, leading and following techniques.
On a very positive note: Having good technique in Salsa will help a Salsa dancer quickly advance their Bachata knowledge mainly because they have already developed a good foundation for turns and footwork. I believe both dances work great together to create a very well balanced dancer with good dancing foundation.
You incorporate many other dances in your Bachata Fusion. In the Netherlands, the Kizomba is getting more and more popular. Would that maybe be something you’d like to incorporate as well?
I do not dance Kizomba. I have observed numerous workshops and worked alongside many of the influential teachers. I have taken a few concepts I have seen and incorporated them into my Bachata. I can easily see how many of the body movements and tango figures of Kizomba could easily integrate into Bachata.
What is the weirdest thing you have ever experienced or seen on the dance floor?
The weirdest thing I have experienced is when you dance with someone on the dance floor and you have that instant connection. When everything feels perfect and the connection is magnetic. You wish the dance will never end. This connection does not happen every day, but when it does it is an amazing feeling.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us or the visitors of Bachata.NL?
I would like to let everyone know that I produce the Dallas Bachata Festival in Dallas, Texas on October 24-27,2013. I would like to invite the Bachata Dance community of Holland to come to Dallas and experience dancing Bachata in Texas! Check out my website at www.dallasbachatafestival.com or my personal website www.BachataFusion.com
Special thanks to Jason Haynes who interviewed Elizondo for danceplanetdaily.com in June of this year. Many of the facts we mentioned in this article were obtained from this interview.