Category Archives: Uncategorized

We just listened to Pupy’s new album

We just received a demo of Pupy’s new album via a friend who came from Havana. I am not an expert reviewer but it is excellent >many great songs for the Timberos – Salseros- Soneros and an instrumental piano piece whcih would satisfy many jazz and classical fans There is of course the already released ” La Italiana” ; La Machucadera ; There is song recorded with Omara Portuondo- It sounds like the title is Vecina prestame el Cuvo ( neighbour lend me the bucket !) – Of note to Cuban music fans Omara Portuondo will be at ROY THOMSON HALL June 28 2008 for an exclusive concert . For all information about the concert website : Roy Thomson Hall

Felix “Pupy” Insua – invited dancer to perform and teach

There is a second PUPY coming to Toronto to perform and teach the week-end of May 24th in Toronto. Felix ” Pupy Insua originally from Cuba and one of the founding members of Yoruba Andabo now lives and teaches in New York . He was here last year participating in Luminato events and has had sold out workshops every time.Sharing some great photos by Roger Humbert of the livemusicreportFelixinsua_may07b

Learn to Dance Cuban Style in Toronto

Why dance salsa in the Cuban style?   

Why not "regular salsa"? 

One look should show you… more flavour… more natural… more fun!

     Couples dancing Casino style

     Cuban dance lesson 

     TV Rueda competition

     Rueda de Casino in Cuba

You might spot differences… "Don't they even know how to dip and spin??"  

But… on the other hand…  there's this sensuousness, playfulness, spontaneity. 

Understanding the differences is more than listing moves… you need to understand Cuba a bit.


Casino dance began In the 60's and 70's while a new exciting music was evolving in Cuba… later in the 70's, it began to be called "salsa" by New York marketers.  

Within a few years, young dancers at social clubs called "Casinos" worked up the first versions of "Casino" dancing, perfect for the new music.

They used all the ideas at hand: mambo, cha-cha-cha, rumba, son dances of Cuba, as well as a touch of afro dancing.  And yes, some of those turns and the trademark hand-push come from U.S. rock-and-rollers visiting Cuba.

But it was a simpler Casino in those days. 

Each generation needs to have something of their own. They respond in new ways to the new music that inspires them.


Since the mid-late 1990's, Casino in Cuba is danced with a new passion, a new edge, a new liveliness.  All because of a new kind of music … "Timba"

The country was desperate in the 1990's… with the loss of support of the USSR.  Music and dance became more important than ever… "luxuries" that could be enjoyed without wealth.  And a way to forget the problems.

Fabulous musicians were graduating from the state music schools by the hundreds… when bread was scarce, there was still good free education.  They began watching each other like hawks to see who would come up with a new sound first. 

Jose Luis Cortez formed his group NG La Banda and showed some ideas. The dancers went nuts, the rest is history …

He combined Cuban salsa and Cuban rumba, harmonic progression from the Russian classical composers, with Cuban son and mambo, American jazz and funk, .. into a new craze… A sophisticated, complex, varied, flexible format.  A music that very likely, no other public in the world could have understood and embraced the way Cuba did.  


Timba was born for one purpose… and one purpose only: to inspire and excite dancers.

Everything else is secondary: the singers, the musicians, the chorus, must all serve this need.  

The new bands were valued not only for their music, but how inventive they were at dancing.  In effect, the audiences and bands showed each other how to dance to it. 

The bands looked into the crowd and saw people from poor areas, many of them black, doing rumba variations to the music.  They adapted them and fed them back to the audience and they spread quickly to all the fans.  Couples started to let go of each other, break apart, come together, break apart… doing "despelote" and other solo moves.  To match this energy, the old casino moves were danced with new variations and new intensity.

In the new century, the influence of North America comes full circle again.  Hip Hop, never a major style, morphs to Reggaeton in Latin America where it becomes the most popular music.  In Cuba, it is even more integrated with mainstream.  In the Cuban style "Cubatón" lyrics talk about young people's realities instead of the asocial "I'll be dead before I'm 22" themes of Hip-Hop.  And of course, the timba bands include the reggaeton section now… and the dancers respond.

Each timba song is broken into sections, that build excitement level after level, and challenge the dancer to respond. Dancers tune in to this… the best can always surprise and delight their partner as they work with the changes. 

Today's Casino dancing and Timba music are joined at the hip.

So when you pick a place to learn Cuban dance… make sure you get the full package. 

Trying to dance modern, energetic Casino, to bland salsa music… that's like buying the car without the engine.  If Timba seems demanding after a bland diet of night-club salsa… don't worry, it passes!  Learn to love the music by dancing to it… just the way they do in Cuba. 


The group dance, Rueda de Casino, is of course synchronized to the calls of a leader.  It might even be thoroughly rehearsed, if there's a competition. 

Casino dancing was never "taught" by teachers in Cuba.  It was developed by the kids at "casino" social clubs, and it spread directly between young people everywhere in the country. Since Casino dancing is propagated among dancers and not via dance schools, you see a great deal more individuality and spontaneity in dance in Cuba. 

Probably the biggest factor in Casino's rapid spread was the boarding schools. 

Young students from the city are all sent to country boarding schools (and vice-versa)… as educational policy, to broaden their social opinions. 

In the evenings, a favorite activity was of course self-organized dancing.  At many schools, students danced in ruedas every night of the week.  They invented new steps, difficult steps, funny steps, with good imaginations; and visitors between schools spread the best ideas.  It wasn't TAUGHT BY the schools; but it was tolerated ;-)… it was better than a lot of other things the kids could have been doing!

Typically it was, "el que pierde sale": if you screw up a move, you are out of the circle.  That encourages better dancing, and careful watching … steps are sometimes a little different in different schools.  But also, it allows rotation of the dancers.

After getting back from boarding school, it became of course a favorite party activity, dancing casino de rueda, just like it was done back at school.


Afrolatinologo150The biggest Cuban-style school in Toronto area is AfroLatino Dance Company. Why is it so popular? Could have something to do with the relaxed no-pressure style of teaching.

AfroLatino also has an open practice for anyone interested in Cuban style dance, Saturday evenings: see the website.

Juan Carlos Bulnes was one of those kids dancing and honing new casino style steps, to Orqesta Reve, Los Van Van, and others on the Para Bailar TV show on Cuban TV in the late 70's and early 80's. 

Now he's here in Toronto, and is available for private lessons in Cuban casino, orisha, and rumba dancing.  He teaches group lessons in assocation with some schools, for example, sometimes with Albena de Assis of Afro-Latino Dance Co (see above).

You can contact Juan Carlos at 647 818 6602 or 416 836 2600.

IreomoSarita Leyva is a professionally trained dancer from Holguin, Cuba.  She runs the Iré Omó dance school.  Currently onBabaluuCubanNights-web Sunday evenings, she teaches a Rueda de Casino lesson, while Billy Bryans spins the Cuban-approved dance music at BabalúuShe also teaches cuban styles to groups on occasion, notably Afro-Cuban rumba and orisha on Wednesday evenings.  Sarita is also on the teaching staff at York University teaching cuba n dance and music.  See the Iré Omó site for contact information.


Vlad (no web) at Cafe Lurin, 1032 St Clair W 2nd floor, at Oakwood, Toronto. Lessons 5 PM Sundays, then timba music til late.  Call 416 666-2441.

The Toronto Casino Rueda Practice is held most Saturdays from Noon to 3 PM near downtown Toronto. It's a self-organized dancing session dedicated to Cuban music and Cuban Casino-style dancing, but also conversation and sharing tips. The session is intended for dancers who know Casino, and want to practice and transmit the feeling better… not really a school for beginners. It's independent of any dance school… and it's free of charge… so long as the venue is free ;-). For information contact And if you are on Facebook, look for "Toronto Casino Rueda Practice".



Whitby Ontario, east of Toronto: MONDAY group lessons in Cuban style Casino dancing… with el pianista rumbero, Orlando Cardoso, phone Claudia at LA Hair (905) 556-9967.


 AnaAndOscar1And the first person to show many of us we didn't have to dance "Toronto-style salsa" just because we live here… Ana Machado still gives lessons.  You can meet her teaching the group lesson at Lula Lounge most Saturday nights.  You can also contact her at her cell number 416-205-9986.




And now a new opportunity to study Afrocuban dance, the dances of the Orishas, Congo and Rumba with Consuelo Herrera.

Consuelo Herrera is a professional dancer from Havana ,Cuba, who began her studies in La casa de Cultura, and went on to work with the folkloric dance troupe "Liberacion 75", perform in the grand cabarets "La Cecilia" in Miramar, and eventually join Grupo Raices Profundas as a lead dancer and soloist. She has worked with some of the best choreographers and musicians in Cuba. She has appeared in several documentaries about dance in Cuba and has performed in Mexico, Nicaragua, Spain, the United States, Japan and Canada. Consuelo originally came to Canada to perform with Jane Bunnett in a North American tour. She has gone on to perform with Ballet Creole and Joaquin Hidalgo's Rumberos. Consuelo has been teaching Afro-Cuban Dance in Toronto in with Ballet Creole and other local companies since 1997.

New session starting this Saturday January 10th!
Location: Capoeira Angola Centre Ori
208 Christie St., #1 (Corner of Garnet , between Dupont and Bloor, north of Christie subway station).
Time: 1-3pm

Cuban Dance Festival in Toronto! Sat May 24- May 25

AfroLatino Dance Company and Okokan Productions are bringing to Toronto the most exciting event of the year: a full weekend of the best in Cuban dance and music! You will be enjoying the sounds of no other than the great Pupy y Los Que Son Son, and the classes of guest teachers such as Felix "Pupy" Insua, Ana Machado, and Duane Wrenn and Maribel Vasquez.
All the information for the workshop with full schedule is HERE  — More info about all the wonderful people coming to teach and share with us soon !


Duane and Maribel working on a Manolin y el medico de la salsa song.

Dancing ” Cuban Style”

The  highly anticipated concerts of top Cuban bands BAMBOLEO & PUPY Y LOS QUE SON SON in Canada have spurred us to find ways to completely satisfy our audiences and friends who have alot of Love for the dance. AfroLatino dance Company  with will be presenting a week-end of Cuban style dance workshops the week-end of SAT MAY 24 and Sunday May 25  : All info will be coming up in the next couple of posts !


PUPY Y LOS QUE SON SON TOUR DATES Change! Unfortunately due to a big moustache festival in Quebec Sherbrooke is not happening. The Quebec city show is being taken over by  DOSCONDOS dance school on the Sunday May 25th with teachers Francois Begin and Yamila!  Their website is .


FRIDAY MAY 23 2008 :  PUPY IN MONTREAL QUEBEC  -at the wonderful salle de spectacle " KOLA  NOTE " 

Note :We received reports after the Bamboleo ( almost sold out )concert that the sound and atmosphere is excellent. Montreal is definitely a party town with some amazing dancers.

SATURDAY MAY 24 2008  :  PUPY IN TORONTO ONTARIO  – THE OPERA HOUSE 735 Queen street East  info 416 836 2600  for directions to the Opera house and information about parking etc

Several other performers will be in Toronto and we are putting maximum love into this concert :

DJ Melao coming direct from Miami –  Diane and Maribel from energetic soul studios Clawson Michigan -Mambodreamteam dance performance- Felix "PUPY" Insua- & more surprises.

Dance workshops for the Toronto week-end schedule and info  – Please note earlybird price and very limited class size!

SUNDAY MAY 25 2008 :   PUPY IN QUEBEC CITY   info at      

Note :  Doscondos director Francois Begin told me that Quebec City dancers are major PUPY fans and have been waiting three years for him to come back.  PUPY Y Los Que Son SON were there in concert summer 2006 when they were in Canada for the Ottawa Blues festival  .  Capacity will be limited .

CALENDAR OF UPCOMING EVENTS!!! Toronto and close by !

SAT May 24 2008 : Pupy y los Que son son Toronto Opera house – 416 836 2600

Tuesday May 27 and Wednesday May 28  Gloria Estefan Casino Rama Ontario Canada

GLORIA ESTEFAN  at Casino Rama in Rama Ontario sit down concert . Tickets are available online at Tickets are between $50-$75 Do not be fooled by other sites who are already scalping tickets !

For instructions on how to get there Check out their website at







735 Queen street East (at Broadview)

infolines 416 836 2600-(English French Turkish Spanish) 416 707 3433- (English Italian Spanish)   647 818 6602 (Spanish)


Tickets on Sale now  ONLINE



and at SuperLatin Music 1088 St Clair Ave west 416 654-2217 for those living in Toronto 

$35 Advance regular- No VIP Everyone Together with access to balconies for all !
19+ Event

Venue website for directions and parking

Doors open 8pm  Showtime  9.30pm opening acts TBA
César "Pupy’ Pedroso, one of Cuba’s most distinguished composers/bandleaders and pianists,  brings his 16 piece orchestra to the Opera House 735 Queen street East  for the Cuban dance party concert of the year.
Considered ‘the soul of Cuban dance music", Pupy Pedroso is the composer of many of the most popular songs of  Los Van Van, of which he was one of the original founding members starting in 1969.
In 2002, Pupy shocked the Cuban music world by leaving Los Van Van to form his own group ‘Los Que Son Son’ , who instantly shot to the front line of Cuban dance groups  to rival the  popularity of even Los Van Van themselves.
Over the course of three solo albums  Pupy Pedroso has reaffirmed his place as one  of Cuba’s most gifted composers, while leading his 16 piece band of players half his age in a spectacular music show that has toured Europe and Latin America.

Tickets can also be purchased at several locations :

Toronto : SuperLatin Music 1088 St clair Ave west  – 416 654-2217

BOLIS _ now renovated and under new ownership SONIA and Vladimir 416 533-4020  609 Bloor street w

Soundscapes :  572 College street 416 537-1620

Brampton : La Favorita  18 Queen street W  905-272-9257

Hamilton : Hammocks Monimbo – 163 James street N  905-546-0330

Scarborough : Rincon Latino  1352 Kennedy Road 416 615 2675

Toronto Cuban Dance festival !!!  AFROLATINO dance Company and Cubaintoronto present :

FRI May 23- Sunday May 25 2008  – Visiting instructors for workshops and parties all week-end long in honor of PUPY -Full schedule and great earlybird package price to be announced soon. Limited space – 1.30mn classes- 7 .5 hours in total

Sat May 24th  afternoon workshops and the PUPY Y Los Que SON SON performance –  opening dance shows by participants : Duane Wrenn and Maribel Vasquez Felix Pupy Insua from NYC- Mambodream team from Toronto . Afrolatino dance company from Toronto

Sunday May 25th workshops  and good bye party at  Cafe  Lurin Tapas Cuban Matinee.

confirmed instructors   :

-Duane Wrenn and Maribel Vasquez from Energetic Soul Clawson Michigan

– FELIX " PUPY" INSUA from NYC master teacher

– Ana Machado from Toronto

-Vladimir Aranda – Toronto- Sunday after party at  Cafe Lurin Tapas

classes taught  :   Musicality and improvisation – Casino Rueda- Casino style salsa- Afro Cuban – Adaptability ( making your linear style circular) – Rumba   – 7.5 hours of classes and teachers will be performing the night of the event !


PUPY PEDROSO Y LOS QUE SON SON …. Toronto SATURDAY MAY 24 2008 The opera House 735 Queen street east
PUPY will also be in Montreal May 23-
Quebec city Sunday May 25th
Official page ; updates where to buy tickets coming soon- Also info about this fantastic festival weekend with local and visiting Cuban style dance teachers

He is one we love the most …Pupy will be coming with his entire 16 piece band direct from Havana .
Tickets will go on sale by Wed April 2 2008 at


  In conjunction with The PUPY PEDROSO Y Los Que SON SON ; There will be festival of Cuban style dance with some of our local and visiting teachers.  Full workshop schedule will be posted for Sat and Sunday classes ; included in full package will be a Friday night pre-party at the Lula lounge ; The PUPY Pedroso y Los que Son Son concert and a good bye party Sunday night .

Angel Santos as promised!

Before the big excitement begins here are some videos of Angel Santos we filmed him at Felix Baloy’s band rehearsal in Havana May 2002 . Hopefully one day he will come for some workshops . He is definitely one of our favorites . Known in dance history as Los Hermanos Santos (he used to dance with his sister) ; he is dancing here with his dance partner- also with Reyna (ex Tropicana dancer) and Caridad from Clave Y Guaguanco. He gave lessons to Sting (POLICE) and Sting’s wife Trudie.


MEMORIES of 2007

Posting some videos of OKOKAN presentations from 2007 ..more will be coming
Thank You Duane Wrenn and Maribel from energetic soul performing at the June 1 2007 Manolito Simonet Y su Trabuco show @ Six Degrees .


Felix " PUPY" Insua who was at the Luminato festival stopped by to open the night with a transcendent Elegua.

Yoruba Andabo night FRI OCT 12 2007 at the Phoenix concert theatre. Pupy flew in from New York and performed a Rumba with Yeniset . Two days before the show we were informed that 4 visas were denied ( 2 male dancers – 2 singers) . How could we now make our precious audience happy?  We decided to fly down Pupy …and add a week-end workshop for Toronto dancers . It turned out that the decision was reversed the morning of the flight. We had all 16 Yoruba Andabo members plus Felix "Pupy " Insua one of their founding members .

Yoruba Andabo : Abakua performance

NEW !!! TANIA from BAMBOLEO is invited on stage to perform with Charanga Habanera in Toronto NOv 9 2007 at the Docks/ sound Academy

Link your site to

If you have a blog or web site, you could help the cause of promoting Cuban music and dance in Toronto, by linking to this site.

Find where your ISP allows you to insert HTML code.  Then paste in this:

<a href=””><img src=”” width=”150″/></a>

That should do it…


Here are 2 image files that can be downloaded if you prefer to construct your own link.  Right-click, and chose “Save Target As… ” (… or similar command for your browser)

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