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Salsa dance is self-expression

Date Posted: 2001-09-07

Erik Rodriguez is one of the best-known Salsa dance instructors on Okinawa. Born and raised in New York City, Erik started dancing at an early age but says that the dance has become more of a focal point in his life since moving to Okinawa. Salsa is in his blood. His father is a dance teacher and his family has been dancing his whole life. Although raised in New York City, around some of the world's greatest dancers, Erik claims that he was most influenced by his family. However, he has dreams of grandeur and hopes to see his name up with the top dancers in the world someday. As a dancer, Erik is fluid. He is an accomplished dancer, and he makes many complicated steps look simple and natural. By watching him and his girlfriend Rieko Tsuchihashi dance, you can tell he feels the music.

As an instructor, Erik is one of the most sought after in all of Okinawa. He currently teaches at Latin Soul from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Schilling Recreation Center on Kadena Air Base, and at the Ginowan Community Center on Fridays from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Since coming to Okinawa about a year and a half ago, Erik has fallen in love with the island. "I love the people and I love the island," he says, adding, "I felt a sense of warmth ever since I landed, and it's gotten better since then." Along with his best friend Chris Harris, the two have been doing whatever they can to help push the Salsa scene on Okinawa. Erik considers Chris to be his right hand man. "We do everything together," he says.

Erik considers Salsa dance to be different from many other forms of Modern dance in that there are less rules or set standards. He says that the dance is mostly about self-expression. "When I teach, I might give you advice on how to do something easier," says Erik. "I mostly just give you the basic tools and you express yourself. I only give advice."

Erik was born to teach. He has taught about many of his other interests during his life and enjoys teaching very much. He says he still studies instructional videos, but he takes the instruction as his own and looks for more comfortable steps while watching. Then, he uses what he learns in the videos to help others learn some of the steps and styles of Salsa.

In the future, Erik Rodriguez hopes to visit widely acclaimed dancer Eddie Torez and take his class in New York. Torez has been dancing close to 30 years. "I like his style a lot," says Erik. "I want to go learn as much as possible from him, bring it back to Okinawa, and teach it."

If you're looking for a good instructor for Salsa dance, you can't go wrong with giving Eric Rodriguez a chance. He is one of the best on island and will have you learning and improving in no time. For more information on his dance classes, see the table below.

Salsa Dance Lessons
Tue. & Thu. 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Schilling Recreation Center
Free

Fri. 7:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Ginowan Community Center
500 for one-day class, 2,000 for five classes

Sun. 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Latin Soul
1,000 w/ 1 drink

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