Apart from being a great dancer and a patient teacher, Darnell is probably the nicest person you’ve ever met. He is currently teaching Intro to Salsa and Salsa: Novice classes with Ali on Wednesdays. He’s also a gadget-whisperer, forever fixing electronics that mysteriously fall apart in everyone else’s hands, and keeping our studio well-equipped and acoustically sound.
How long have you been involved in Latin dance?
Back in 2003, I was introduced to one of the local salsa schools by a friend, which led me to try a block of their “Intro to Salsa” class. It was a lot of fun, but for various reasons I did not pursue it further. Then in late 2008, my sister started taking Salsa lessons in preparation for a trip to Cuba. I remembered how much fun the classes were, so I decided to try it again. I didn’t get a chance to dance in Cuba, but I’ve been dancing ever since!
Why do you teach and how did you decide to become a teacher?
I decided to become a teacher because some little birdies wouldn’t stop harassing me until I agreed to become one. Plus my teaching partner would be completely heartbroken if I abandoned her. 😉
But seriously, I feel that teaching is a good way for me to give back to the Ottawa salsa community and hopefully help it grow. In a way, it was almost a natural progression for me to become a teacher, since I have already had roles as a teaching assistant in various schools.
What are you a stickler for, in your classes?
I’m a stickler for being on beat, and having a proper lead. I find that followers have much more fun and appreciate a leader who stays on beat and has a clear, smooth lead, regardless of whether the leader is just starting out or has been dancing for years.
What advice would you give to your students?
Go out and dance! Social dancing can be quite intimidating, especially for leaders. However, the salsa community is pretty friendly, so don’t be afraid to dance with people who are at a higher level. After all, we all start as beginners! In fact, dancing with more advanced dancers is one of the best ways to improve your own technique. And make sure you’re having fun! Even if you have only a few moves, if you’re having fun your partner will have fun too!
What do you do when you’re not dancing?
Between teaching, classes, and social events, dancing does take up most of my spare time. However, it is nice to sometimes get the mind off dancing, so I do try to find some time to play the piano, work on my car, and watch the occasional movie.
One other thing students should know about you?
I fix stuff.