Ritmo Bello Interviews Salsa Pasion’s Jemadean Dobrosielski

Sunday, January 11, 2009

If you’ve ever been to Belly Up Tavern in North County San Diego you’ve probably met one of San Diego’s best female dance instructors, Jemadean Dobrosielski .  Along with her dance company, Salsa Pasion, she has been a stong force in bringing quality salsa dancing to not just the North County but to all of San Diego.  I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Jemadean to talk about her salsa dance experience and the impact she has had in San Diego.


Ritmo Bello: Jemadean, let’s begin.  Lot’s of people in the San Diego salsa scene know you from your work at Belly Up Tavern and rave about your dancing.  What do you and your dance company, Salsa Pasion, offer to the San Diego dance community that sets you apart from other groups?

Jemadean Dobrosielski:  Hi John, and thanks for the opportunity to speak to you and the Ritmo Bello audience.  Salsa Pasion focuses on teaching people how to social dance with confidence and passion, with an emphasis on connection with your partner.  Unlike most San Diego dance companies, performance is not my focus, though I do perform and train people in performance from time to time.  What I do focus on is giving people the tools and technique they need to get on the floor with anyone and feel confident in what they are doing.  My goal is get them to a place where they can dance and connect with their partner, enjoy their partner, and express what they hear in the music, and who they are, through their dance.

Ritmo Bello: Everyone has a story about how they started salsa dancing.  What prompted your entry into dancing salsa?

Jemadean Dobrosielski:  My first class was with Tony Caligagan in my senior year at UCSD, which got me going to the clubs initially, but I ended up returning to what I was previously doing, which was Swing dancing.  At my swing dance partner’s company Christmas party, I met the Alvarez brothers, who reminded me how much I enjoyed Salsa.  I ended up back at the Salsa clubs, and have loved Salsa ever since!

Ritmo Bello:  Why did you pick Salsa Pasion as the name of your dance company?  Is there a story behind that too?

Jemadean Dobrosielski:  I am really passionate about expressing who you are, not only for myself, but for everyone, and dance is such a great medium for expression.  Great dance pretty much requires one to be willing to put themselves out there, and when people have the courage to take that chance, it is a beautiful and liberating thing.  I love to encourage people to dance with passion and live with passion, and so when I was choosing the name, Salsa Pasion seemed just perfect for me.

Ritmo Bello: I understand that you are a former member of Salsa Y Fuego.  Can you describe what that experience was like and how it impacted the way you dance salsa today?

Jemadean Dobrosielski:  It was a great experience in almost every way.  The group we had together, especially for the 2001 Salsa Congress, was really a great team, and a supportive team.  Our director, Stephan Gallardo, was particular about technique, and doing things over and over until they were right, which fit me perfectly.  I am detail oriented, have always known the value of good technique, and realize that perfection takes time, hard work, and discipline, and I don’t mind that at all.  Salsa Y Fuego was the first company to dance On 2, and On 2 is still my personal preference today.  My dance background, experience with Salsa Y Fuego, and everything I have learned since I left Salsa Y Fuego have shaped the dancer I am today.

Ritmo Bello: How would you describe the way you dance and teach salsa?  What approach do you take with your students to help them learn salsa effectively?

Jemadean Dobrosielski:  Wow, that’s a big question.  I’ll try to be concise, yet clear….I dance and teach others to dance light.  Remember that the overall goal is dancing with confidence, passion, and connection.  To do this, you need to create space and time to actually listen to the music, express what you hear in the music, and enjoy your partner.  When you dance heavy, there is a lot of time and space required just to get through the pattern, which then makes the dance more chaotic because you always feel like you are in a hurry, which leaves little time to enjoy your partner.  Once you learn how to dance light with good technique, it actually seems like the music has slowed down, even though the music has not changed at all.  Regarding the 2nd question:  The first thing I do is assess what their goals are—everyone has different reasons why they want to learn to dance.  Their goal tells me if I need to just give them what they need to get out there and move a little bit, or if I need to make sure they are aware of all the little details that make the difference between a good dancer and a great dancer.  Once I understand their goal, I build them a foundational structure that they understand and can build upon in the future—this really helps to demystify Salsa for them, and soon they may find themselves looking like the dancers they were so inspired by.   And lastly, I’d like to add that as we go along in lessons, it becomes very apparent to me what strengths my student has, and the areas where they can improve—everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are different–so my feedback for them is as personalized as possible.

Ritmo Bello: At the outset of this interview I mentioned your work at Belly Up Tavern.  Why is Belly Up Tavern a good place to dance salsa?  What makes it different from other salsa dance venues in San Diego?

Jemadean Dobrosielski:  I love Belly Up!!!  The energy at Belly Up is always good!  Everyone is nice—there is really no ego or attitude.  Everyone is just there to dance and have a good time.  There are very few dance performances, if any at all, as we are all there to get our Salsa fix!  Why watch dance when you could be dancing yourself!  The floor is great, and the sound is the best in town– the Belly Up is a concert venue with professional sound staff.  Plus you get a great LIVE BAND:  Orquesta Primo, which I love.  I love to just watch them do their thing if I’m taking a dance break.  The Belly Up also has a restaurant right next door for food, a full bar, and lots of seating.  I do the lesson, which can be quite large, but the layout makes it easy to see, and the great sound makes sure you can also hear everything I’m saying.

Ritmo Bello:  Focusing back on yourself, I’ve heard many women comment that they enjoy learning salsa dance from a woman like yourself.  What do you do to specially cater to the needs of women dancers new to salsa?

Jemadean Dobrosielski:  Again, good foundations from the beginning.  Leads and follows have different jobs in the dance, and each one needs to learn what their job is to be a good dance partner, so I start by letting them know what their job is.  In addition, depending on what skills each woman already has, or does not have, when she comes to me, she may need to learn how to move gracefully, and carry herself with a particular attitude.  There are certain foundations that are important to have before adding things like arm styling, otherwise she may have a hard time achieving the look she desires, and so I give her my recommendation on the order in which she should proceed.

Ritmo Bello: Is there anything else that you’d like to share with the Ritmo Bello dance audience about yourself?

Jemadean Dobrosielski:  I love what I do, and I love helping people get to their goals in the most efficient and effective way possible, so if that is what you are looking for, I look forward to meeting you!

 Ritmo Bello: How can the Ritmo Bello audience reach you if they want to find out more information about Salsa Pasion?

Jemadean Dobrosielski:  My website is www.SalsaPasionDance.com, or you can reach me by phone at (619) 318-9272.

Ritmo Bello:  Jemadean, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to let the Ritmo Bello audience learn more about you.

Jemadean Dobrosielski:  Thank you John, for the invitiation!

John F. Bello

Meet John ;-)

Found useful information here? Please Donate to Ritmo Bello

SD Dance Venues
Live View from Pacific Beach CA in San Diego
Scan This Bar Code for Ritmo Bello Contact Info!
San Diego Salsa Bachata Festival
Advertise with Ritmo Bello
Catholic Answers
Advertise with Ritmo Bello
Jesus Christ God's son Savior