Hispanic Heritage Month: Professional Salsa instructor bringing the rhythm to the Queen City
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A place where a mixture of different rhythms can be felt, is right in the heart of the Queen City.
Salsa is one of the most popular Latin dances practiced worldwide.
When visiting the Agustín “Pucho” Olivencia Community Center, in Buffalo, guests will notice different backgrounds, speaking the same language through dance.
“It’s a big part of our culture. Dancing, for us, means gathering with your loved ones, family, identity and joy,” professional Salsa instructor, Fanny Olaya said. “The roots of Salsa are African and Cuban. They were combined in New York City with other rhythms; Caribbean rhythms, and also jazz and pop.”
Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Olaya grew up having a keen ear for music.
“I grew up dancing a little bit of Salsa but listening to the music because I was shy when I was younger. I always knew that I wanted to dance,” she shared with Pheben Kassahun.
Now a professional salsa instructor, she eventually got rid of her nerves when moving to the City of Good Neighbors, about 18 years ago.
At the time, Olaya did not know the full ingredients to the Latin dance but with the help of YouTube and professional training, she was able to master it.
“After that, I was out dancing and people started asking me to teach, but I was not a teacher. I was just an amateur. I was just having fun like everybody else,” she explained.
Thus, her salsa company was born, in 2008, with her then-partner and she began sharing her knowledge to anyone who wanted to learn.
“When I started teaching and hosted social dances, it was very small,” Olaya recalled.
Though, the Western New York community fully embraced her classes. Her salsa performances have spread beyond Buffalo to cities like Rochester, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Canada.
“I met some of the best people from dancing. Most of my best friends were my students and now, it’s my second family,” she added.
Olaya’s classes are weekly all year long. They range from beginner to advanced, and even hosts social dances during the week.
She has had students attend her class for as long as eight years!
If you plan to attend one of her Salsa classes for the first time, you must know one thing:
“There is no failure in my class. You come and you get something from it. You are going to have fun. You’re going to learn something new. You’re going to find new friends. You’re going to exercise,” Olaya shared. “One of the highlights of my job. This is my job and my hobby, so let’s say, ‘my job’. It’s when people come and say, ‘Thank you. My life is better now since I started dancing.’ So then, I can go home happy and relax because it means they’re feeling what I’m feeling.”
To learn more about Fanny Olaya’s Salsa classes, when Salsa Night takes place and other events visit, BuffaloSalsaDance.com.
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