The Spin

Who’s who and what’s what in dance this month

Salseros Dance Company

Summer’s waning, but the party’s not over yet. You still have a few more chances to get your groove on. 

Fiesta Cultural kicks off in Kesey Square during First Friday, Sept. 1. This free event starts at 5 pm and features a salsa lesson with Salseros Dance Company’s Jose Cruz, a fandango demo — no, not the movie website, the lively couple’s dance from Spain — and performances by local Cuban salsa faves Azúcar, capped off with a salsa dance party featuring Dina y Los Rumberos

“Salsa  started in the mid-1960s from a variety of Latin influences,” Salseros founder Jose Cruz says. “Salsa is a growing international phenomenon, and salseros — salsa dancers — can be found all around the world.” 

Cruz says Eugene’s salsa community represents a range of people from diverse cultures, ages and backgrounds. 

“Salsa is fun because the music just makes you want to dance,” Cruz says. “Anyone can do salsa — you don’t have to have a dance background. When we teach people, we remind them that it’s not about getting all the steps perfect, it’s just about dancing to the music.” 

Say you find yourself downtown on Friday night and the music’s bouncing. What should a first-timer expect?

“For the beginning class, we start from the very basics, so it’s fine if you have never danced before,” Cruz says. “We’ll go over the basic steps and patterns that you can use on the dance floor. If dancing is not your thing, it’s also fun just to watch everyone dancing.” 

Also on First Friday, #instaballet will create a new ballet with audience input from 5:30 to 8 pm Sept. 1 at Capitello Wines, 540 Charnelton Street. (That’s the last show of the #instaballet season before dancers clock in for work at Eugene Ballet Company.) 

Everybody do-si-do! Emerald Square Dance offers a free community square dancing class 7:30 pm Sept. 29 at the Emerald Square Dance Center, 2095 Yolanda Avenue, Springfield. Wear your casual duds. And no partner is needed at this family-friendly event. 

Young dancers are welcome to audition for Eugene Ballet Company’s Nutcracker Sept. 23, with party children (ages 12 to 15) from 1:15 to 2 pm and bonbons and lions (ages 9 to 11) from 2:15 to 3 pm at the Eugene Ballet Academy at Midtown Arts Center, 1815 Willamette Street. (No fee to audition, but there is a charge to participate if a dancer is cast.) For more information, call Eugene Ballet Academy at 541-686-9342.

Finally, kudos to the West African Cultural Arts Institute for receiving support from the Oregon Community Foundation and the Lane County Cultural Coalition for its upcoming African Drum & Dance afterschool program at Prairie Mountain School.