My career as a salsa dancer began in July of 2010. What started off as a fun hobby, very quickly turned into a passion, which eventually took over my life. Being in an environment where everybody feels free to express themselves through dance, constantly meeting new people who are smiling and laughing, while building a positive community, gets very addicting. So, in May of 2015, I started my first 6-week salsa class in Framingham, MA. From the first day, my goal was to not only create an environment for people to learn both the techniques and style involved in becoming an expressive salsa dancer, but also to relieve stress, forget about all their problems and most of all be a part of a family that embraces everyone. Black Mamba Dance Company is not only a place for people to come and learn how to dance salsa, but it is also a place that people call home. The most rewarding feeling is seeing dancers progress and to have so many people express how much Black Mamba Dance Company has changed their lives.
Speaking in front of a crowd of 200 people at the Black Mamba Salsa Social honoring women in Latin Dancing.
Gissi Cruz was born in Puerto Rico, where her mother says she moved and danced in her belly each time there was music playing in church.
Gissi's family moved from Puerto Rico to Massachusetts when she was almost one years old. She learned how to dance before she could even walk. Every time she heard music, there she was moving to the beat of any instrument.
As she grew older, she would make sure to get the party started on any dance floor that had Latin music playing. Any time there was a competition for bachata, there she was entering it.
As Gissi grew up, her older sister would take her to different clubs where Gissi noticed how different and classy the salsa world was, and how it truly was like a "salsa family". She then decided to take lessons with Rumba y Timbal in 2008. After her first session, she fell in love with the atmosphere of the Salsa world, and decided to continue her lessons anywhere and everywhere there were classes being held. Gissi has performed in bachata, ladies styling and will soon be doing a performance in salsa. Although she says her first passion is dancing sensual bachata, she is also known to rock that dance floor to salsa.
Gissi started taking lessons with John before he started the Black Mamba Dance Company. She then made sure to join his school in 2015. After taking a break for about a year, she decided to get back into taking classes, but this time it would be different in the sense that she would not just do it for fun, but, apply and push herself to learn more than she had in 9 years. Gissi says that Dancing with John has pushed her to limits that she never knew She could go to in both teaching and dancing. Because of John's talented dancing skills and patient and thorough teaching ways, Gissi has been able to assist John in teaching for almost one year, and counting.
Gissi is full of energy and thinks of each student as if they were child, family member or a long lost friend. She is genuinely happy to see everyone each time. She comes into class making jokes, handing out an endless amount of hi fives and sometimes even booty bumps, if you're lucky.
Her energy is contagious, and she brings a smile to so many of the student's faces throughout the class sessions. We constantly hear how she makes everyone feel welcomed and part of the Black Mamba Family.
Sean was first exposed to dance in college at Clark University in Worcester, MA. He joined the Ballroom Dance Team & Club on a whim and quickly took to partner dancing. He began competing in collegiate competitions with several partners and regularly placed in the finals. He learned from experienced competitors as well as professional dance instructors. This experience was supplemented with tastes of other partner and cultural dances sponsored by the school and local dance companies.
Friends pulled Sean into the salsa/club dancing scene early on. While definitely interested in developing his salsa skills, he took the next few years and committed to ballroom dancing. Within two years he assumed the role of President of the dance team and club and finished his ballroom career as a Gold Level competitor. During this time he taught classes, gave private instruction, and helped to train and choreograph for performances including one at the Hanover Theatre.
After a short respite, Sean caught the dancing bug again and decided to invest in salsa. He found John and the Black Mamba Dance Company and just kept showing up. It wasn't long before he was considered part of the "family" and started to help with classes and socials.
He found meaning in dance and that brought joy along with it. Teaching is a way for him to help others find and appreciate that same joy.
Dance practice and the dance lifestyle also fit nicely with his dedication to constant self-improvement. This is part of the reason he has found success in partner dancing and believes he can guide others down the same path.