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Salsa dancing lessons to be offered at the Luckyday RC

Salsa dancing is HOT! With its fast-paced movements and intimate partner contact, salsa dancing is also a great way to stay in shape both physically and mentally. Now, every Wednesday, University of Mississippi students, faculty and Oxford community members will have the opportunity to learn exactly how to master this dance style. Daniel Peña, a teaching assistant and graduate student, will teach the class.
A graduate of Florida State University, Peña has been teaching salsa for four years and served as president of the Salsa Group at FSU.
“When I was searching for schools to go to for my master’s degree, I knew that I had something different to bring to the table with my dancing,” Peña said.
“We have already had four classes, each with a diverse population, from experienced dancers to students who have never had any past experience,” Peña said.
Individual expression is something Peña holds close to his heart, and he stresses it in all of his classes. Even though he is working toward becoming a college administrator, he sees salsa dancing as his particular form of individual expression.
“Individual expression is huge to me,” he said. “I believe that (students) come to college to find their way. If I can teach someone to find their individual expression, then I believe that I have done my job well.”
A native of Miami, Peña has been surrounded by salsa dancing his whole life. He sees salsa as a way to stay in touch with his culture and heritage.
Salsa dancing itself is also important to Peña as well as to his students. The particular form of salsa Peña teaches is known as Casino or “Miami” style dancing. Casino style salsa is known for its fast-paced movements, multiple-partner changes and intimate patterns. Salsa dancing has its origins in Cuba and usually requires a partner. However, according to Peña, a partner is not required in order to be a successful salsa dancer.
“You do not have to bring a partner; as long as you’re a member of the community with an open mind, come on out to experience something out of the ordinary,” Peña said as he explained the structure of salsa dancing.
With college comes a hectic lifestyle, which can be calmed through the “cleansing” act of dance. Salsa, with its exciting movements, has the power to exercise the body as well as the mind.
According to LatinDancePro.com, “per hour of salsa dancing, a 100 lb. dancer will burn 264 calories per hour, a 150 lb. person will burn 396 calories and a 175 lb. person will burn 462 calories.”
Aside from the physical benefits salsa gives, the mental benefits of the dance are numerous.
“I am the me who I want to be when I dance,” Peña said. “I love dance, and it is something I want to share with others.”
The salsa lessons will be held every Wednesday in the Luckyday Residential College courtyard. All skill levels are welcome, from beginners to accomplished dancers, and the lessons are free.
Classes will be held from 7-9 p.m. Beginner lessons run from 7-8 p.m. with an open dance floor and a question and answer session starting at 8 p.m. and ending at 9 p.m. The class will begin with a warm-up and will lead into Peña helping students break down the dance moves being taught. The last 30 minutes of class will give students the opportunity to dance with a partner. Peña’s class has experienced much success.