Maria resides in Atlanta, GA, since moving in January 2011. She founded Salseros 828 Latin Dance School in Asheville, N.C. in 1999, steadily building a Latin dance scene over the course of 11 years. She is a certified Ballroom Instructor, has 14 years experience teaching Salsa, and Afro Cuban, and has taught at universities including UNCA, Blue Ridge Community College, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Emory University, and countless Salsa Congresses and festivals around the country. Maria is the Organizer of the Stiletto Dance Retreat in Asheville focused on Latin Dance training in a Retreat setting. Maria currently teaches regular Salsa and Latin dance classes in Atlanta, directs Stiletto Dance Company – an all women’s Latin repertory group, and performs with ABDT, Academy Ballroom Pro team. Maria is a certified Power Pilates Instructor, completing an intensive 600 hour Certification to enrich her knowledge of the body and further techniques for healthy movement. She is also certified in Stretch Therapy.
Maria has been dancing Salsa since 1996, and grew up taking Ballet classes. She comes from a family of musicians, and her summers were spent as a youth in the Dominican Republic. She started formal studies with her first trip to Cuba in 1999 to study at the The National School of the Arts (ENA) in Havana. There she focused on the history of Salsa, studying the dances which contributed to the development of modern Salsa and the Rueda de Casino. She returns to Cuba frequently to continue her studies in Afro-Cuban folkloric dance and culture. In 1999, Maria started teaching Salsa in Asheville clubs and studios and formed Asheville’s first Salsa Dance troupe, “Estilo Cubano”. 2009 Maria travelled to Spain and took an intensive Flamenco immersion course. She continues her studies with world-renowned instructors every summer.
Maria was voted Asheville’s #1 Dance Teacher in the Mountain Xpress 2007 “Best of” Reader’s Poll. She has worked with non-profit organizations such as LEAF in Schools and Streets, Arts to People, and Asheville Parks and Recreation teaching the youth Salsa in Asheville. She has helped to bring Asheville’s growing Salsa community into the national spotlight, with write-ups in the New York Times, Southern Living, and Verve magazine. Maria has taught and performed at Congresses and events all over the country, most recently on the Aventura Salsa Cruise, Miss Georgia Latina Pageant, the Philly Salsa Fest and the Hotlanta Salsa Congress. She offers a unique approach to Afro-Cuban and ladies styling and spinning technique, and is known for her creative approaches to choreography and musicality. She is great at breaking down the material and creating community through dance.
Maria appeared in ‘La Epoca’, a film about the history of Mambo, by Josue Joseph. Maria was also featured in a documentary by Ursula Gullow in which she was chosen as one of five choreographers for Asheville’s 48 hour dance festival in January 2009. Maria teaches L.A.(on 1) Salsa, New York (on 2) Mambo, and her first love, Caribbean style Latin Dance, with an emphasis on Modern Cuban Rueda de Casino. She also leads workshops in Merengue, Bachata, Cha Cha Cha, Cuban Mambo, Son Cubano, Afro-Cuban folkloric dance, Danzon, Brazilian Samba, Ballroom Dance, and Flamenco-Salsa fusion, and is Zumba certified. Authenticity, creativity, respect for tradition, healthy lifestyle, having fun, and creating community are Maria’s guiding principles. Maria’s aim is to impart the social function and significance of Latin dance along with the steps. Realizing there is always more to learn keeps her humble and inspired. She hopes to make dance accessible and enduring as a way of life for her students.