J Smooth Salsa's success is partly due to all of the talented dancers and instructors that volunteered their time over the course of its years of service to the community. The time they gave to the community and to J Smooth Salsa deserves recognition. This page serves to preserve their time with us and to thank them when we did not thank them enough.
Achuith has trained, competed and performed with world class Salsamania dance company for 3 years, including a year on their professional team, representing the Bay Area at top congresses. He's won first place with Sondemania in the Roccapulco amateur teams competition in 2006, and second place with Salsamania in the professional category in 2007. He's been dancing salsa for 5 years, and has over 10 years experience in west coast swing, ballroom, lindy, vintage and ballet.
Achuith assisted in teaching our Tuesday intermediate salsa lessons.
Ali helped teach the Thursday classes with Jimmy and eventually became a regular instructor on Friday nights with Umesh. She added to the classes by providing lessons in women's styling.
Driven by her passion for salsa dancing, Alice has grown from a student to a teacher at J Smooth Salsa. Her multicultural background brings a unique style to her dancing with a touch of exoticism mixed with a soupçon of French flair.
Alice was a regular teaching assistant on Thursdays with Jimmy and with Guillermo Pier on Fridays.
Amy was one of our teaching assistants on Thursdays with Jimmy. Not much is known of her other than she joined us with dancing experience and an eagerness to help the community.
Anthony Littlebear was born in San Jose Ca, to a Native American Father, and an Italian Mother. Through his Native American culture, he learned indigenous dance, and ceremonies. This pulls him in the direction of Afro Cuban dance. The Bay Area's salsa influence has formed him into a salsero/rumbero. He draws his dance influences from Italian dancers, such as Fernando Sosa, Maykel Fonts, Johnny Vasquez, Aguanile, Alien Ramirez, Wilmer, and Frankie Martinez. His classes are designed to be on the technical side, to give you the best chance of getting the most information possible. His time is spent dancing with most of our local salsa dance companies, gives him an understanding of how to compliment our culture, with more traditional afro flavor, which the bay area is lacking in at this time. Salsa dancing, has been a great source of happiness for him, and he hopes to give you as many of my secrets as possible, so that you too can be uplifted into this Latin/Afro culture with much success. For those of you who have been taking his classes for the past 6 years, look forward to an ever evolving, ever improving curriculum.<
Anthony came to help during a difficult time when we were struggling to keep the Tuesday classes open. With his years of experience he helped add different style of teaching to the classes.
Dennis Gearon is a long time dancer who has lived in Bay Area for 7 years. He first decided to start dancing while living in Oregon after finishing two years back to back as National Figure Skating champion on Roller Skates, (1998, 1999). He came upon a flyer advertising Salsa group classes in a nearby town, (85 miles). After only 10 weeks of lessons, he went on a Salsa Cruise to the 'Mexican Riviera'. The cruise involved 4 group lessons a day, and privates with the world's best Salsa dancers at the time. When he came back, he continued to drive the 85 miles one way across a mountain pass twice a week to get dancing lessons and dance. One dead engine, gaining a deer sized dent in the front of the car, spinning out in the snow in front of an oncoming snow plow, parking overnight with truckers on the side of the road in a snow storm, many nights of sleeping in his car behind the dance studio after a long Saturday night, and not having enough time to dance because of the travel, made Dennis decide to move to the bay area. Previously, he had traveled down there for family and dancing events, in particular, one called 'North versus South Salsa' at the Veterans center in Oakland. It was probably could be seen as an early version of the present day Salsa Congresses. He met one of his most admired dancers there, Ava Apple, as well as reuniting with some of the great Salsa dancers he'd met on the Salsa Cruz.
While in Oregon, Dennis studied most club and studio dances: Salsa, West and East Coast Swing, the American Standard Curriculum, Argentine Tango, and some International. His teacher there was actually a former Starlight ballroom teacher! Since moving to the Bay Area, Dennis continued taking several years of private lessons in many dances from teachers at Starlite, as well as private lessons from independent teachers such as: Isidro Corona and Sheila Zepeda, Glenn Weiss, Liz Lira, Joby Vasquez, Enrique(Ki Que), Ricardo Teller, a former co champion with Steve Vasco, Pantea Madjoub, and Edie the Salsa Freak. Dennis decided to focus on Salsa about 2007, as some of the private instructor names show. He has started in the dance teams of Isidro Corona, Engique (Ki Que), and Ricardo Tellez, but having a 7Am in the morning job always got in the way. Since changing his focus to social he has danced at almost every Salsa dance veneu in the Bay area, taken group lessons from almost everybody in the bay area, produced a 'Triple Threat' (Salsa, WC Swing, and Hustle) dance technique workshop, and spent a LOT more time dancing than anything else.
Dennis's teaching style reflects his own approach to learning to dance. He wants students to feel like a dancer in their muscles and bones, to understand how to interact with their partner at all levels, to relax, and most of all to play! One of the prominent Hustle teachers of the bay area shared a concept that mirrored Dennis's thinking: "Beginners try to learn Intermediate steps, Intermediate dancers try to learn advanced moves, and Advanced dancers try to learn better basics and having fun." Dennis combines advanced basics and improvisation. Some of the best compliments Dennis has ever received were: from Richard Kear, former World WC Swing campaion, "You move like a dancer," and from Gustavo Hornos the 2011 Argentine Tango co Stage Champion, "Wow, that's pretty good following!", and from many of the dancers he meets on the floor, "Wow, you sure are fun to dance with!" Dennis credits the patience of his mentors and their love of dance for getting him to the point he is. Dennis believes all teachers should be students, and continues to take group lessons, and is arranging with Josie Neglia to meet her in Los Angeles for private lessons in the near future.
Dennis was a co-instructor with Jessica on Tuesdays during the brief time when JSmoothSalsa was going through a difficult time keeping the Tuesday classes open.
As a dance teacher and a fitness instructor, Dina has performed in various shows and won numerous awards in Ballroom and Latin dancing competitions. She teaches salsa and other Latin dances as well as belly dancing. Dina also offers dance workouts in many styles - Latin, line dancing, hip hop, striptease, ballet and more.
Dina was a long time co-instructor on Thursdays with Jimmy. In addition, she would teach the classes with Mike Avila and other instructors as a substitute. Jimmy and Dina performed once together.
Services ended on August 9, 2007
Dinora was one of two cashiers at our studio. She was with us on the last day we were open in San Jose on March 16, 2012.
Elena Shao is a talented salsa dancer and instructor that has performed with two famous Bay Area salsa dance groups: Ricardo Sanchez & Michelle Castro's "PB & G's - Rising Stars" & Isidro Corona & Sheila Zepeda's "Son Montuno Dance Company". She has also performed & competed in dance contests at the 2007 San Francisco Salsa Congress.
Elena was a great instructor on Tuesdays with Big Bad Mike. She offered to the classes women's styling, which became quite a popular class.
Guillermo began East Coast Swing at an early age and later moved on to Salsa dancing by the age of 16. He placed third in the Cha-Cha division at the SJSU BDS anniversary competition and has choreographed routines for groups and couples at San Jose State University.
He attributes his salsa dancing style from his East Coast Swing experience and believes teaching is a conduit to which to improve his dancing skills.
Guillermo's career as a dance instructor is quite notable. Guillermo was J Smooth Salsa's very first student, along with his parents and brother. Over the years he quickly found a passion with Salsa, and eventually volunteered his services to teach the Friday classes when Jimmy became less available on Fridays. Guillermo taught his Friday classes for years and is recognized as the second J Smooth Salsa instructor to have taught the longest.
Guillermo eventually left due to work and school but is still remembered as the instructor that pioneered the Friday lessons.
Jessica is a freestyle dancer with an incurable addiction to salsa and desire to spread it to as many people as possible. Her passion for dance is life-long. She started formal lessons at the age of 3 with ballet and continued with gymnastics, twirling and jazz. Her social dance background encompasses multiple genres of dance and music, including merengue, bachata, cumbia, cha cha, reggaeton, hip hop, cheerleading, stepping, line dancing, reggae, techno/house, country, swing, zydeco and many world/cultural styles. She draws inspiration from all of these backgrounds to contribute to what has been described as a unique style of salsa, and uses similarly unorthodox techniques to teach it. She believes that developing the connection between dancers and the ability to dance freestyle is a powerful tool for personal expression that can help others become happier and more creative in their daily life, relieve stress, and draw people closer together. She also hopes to encourage more interaction between ballroom and street dance styles. She is a very active part of the salsa community, and you can often find her dancing in venues all over the Bay area.
Jessica was one of our Tuesday Salsa lesson instructors for quite awhile. She provided great lessons on Tuesdays sometimes with Dennis Gearon.
Julie was regularly seen on Thursdays teaching with Jimmy. With her previous experience in performances she brought to the class women's styling.
Karuna was a teaching assistant on Thursdays with Jimmy back when he had the same partner for each Thursday of the week (to lighten the burden of volunteers having to come each week, this was changed to once a month for each assistant) years ago.
Kate was Parrish Danforth's partner in the Tuesday Casino de Rueda classes. She was commuting from Davis to teach with Parrish for quite some time and had a lot of experience to bring into the classes. She was also Jimmy's partner for numerous classes on Thursdays and Tuesdays.
Unfortunately when Parrish had to move back to Portland the classes ended.
Lesley has performance experience while she was at San Jose State University. Lesley taught on Thursdays with Jimmy.
G'day! I'm Lyndel, a Zumba Instructor from Down Under! I fell in love with Zumba the very first time I experienced it, and I want to share my passion with everyone! I did ballroom dancing growing up, and loved the latin dances. Come along to a class, where you can expect toning, cardio and (most importantly) fun. My classes are designed for anyone and everyone (that includes you!) - the point of my class isn't to look good, it's to feel good. So bring your self, your energy and your smile to my class and get ready to shake your booty!
Lyndel taught the Zumba classes immediately after Valeria moved to southern California. She brought a great energy with her experience. Unfortunately, due to a private matter she moved back to Australia. Sharine Sanders took over the class soon afterwards.
Maria was Jimmy's partner at his Tuesday Bachata lessons which had a huge following whenever it was available every three months.
Meri has been swing and salsa dancing since 1997. She also enjoys Tap, Merengue, Jive, Tango and Hustle. By far her favorate kind of dance is Cha-Cha on two, not the ballroom style.
Meri taught with Gullermo for years until Gullermo moved on due to school and work. She continued to offer her services to the community when Ryan came in to teach on Fridays.
After social dancing in various Salsa venues, Michael Avila took courses in Latin Dance at San Jose State University. Afterwards. he became a member of the Mexican Heritage Plaza Salsa dance troupe, "Salseros de la Plaza" lead by Stephanie Palmeri and Danny Zepeda, and performed routines of both Salsa and Rueda at Salsa events and clubs throughout the Bay Area for a couple of years. Since then he has covered classes for other instructors at several clubs and studios as well as teaching youth basic footwork to choreography as a method of building self esteem and promoting exercise.
Always eager to help, Mike was a very helpful substitute whenever one of the regular instructors needed a partner or when an instructor needed a substitute. Mike and Jimmy go way back as far as college where the two met each other in dance classes at San Jose State University. In addition, Mike and Jimmy would bump into each other at the dance clubs for years after.
Mike taught a lot of the classes on his own but also was a co-instructor for instructors such as Dina and Ricki.
Mike trained & performed in Stephanie Palmeri & Danny Zepeda's dance group, "Sol Y Fuego" between 2002 and 2006. Mike previously taught salsa classes for several years in two San Jose downtown nightclubs; Club Miami & Miami Beach.
Mike was one of our Tuesday Salsa instructors that taught with Elena Shao. Having a great following, Mike's classes taught a lot in styling for both men and women. Mike's classes were fairly large.
Parrish just moved to California from Portland in 2010 to attend graduate school. He is very excited to join the Jsmooth team and bring Casino de Rueda, Cuban style Salsa to South bay. Parrish started social dancing during high school, and learned salsa during university. He started teaching part time 7 years ago. Since then he's traveled a lot, and taught salsa classes in Tokyo, Seoul, Guadalajara, and Portland. In the last five years Parrish has focused on Rueda de Casino, a Cuban style of salsa danced in a circle.
His training includes two years with Rogue Element, and two years with Rumbanana, both in Oregon. He prefers dancing for fun over performance or competition, and hopes to have a lot of fun in South bay.
Parrish taught the Casino de Rueda classes with Kate on Tuesdays, which became a very popular class with one of the largest attendances on Tuesday nights. Unfortunately Parrish had to move back to Portland and it was impossible to replace his teaching style and his knowledge of Casino de Rueda. This resulted in an end to this classes.
Raul was one of two of our cashiers at the studio. He was also one of the 10 people that were the first students at J Smooth Salsa on August 16, 2002.
Ricki's dance experience began with her passion for social dancing in Cumbia, Salsa, and Merengue. She studied with various prominent teachers throughout the greater bay area and is continually learning. Her ability to understand both the leader and follower roles in the dance give her the tools needed to help those learning to dance. Ricki has participated in dance competitions and placed 1st in Merengue at the Metronome April Follies event 2006, and recently qualified for the finals for the Afinkao Dance Company Jill and Jill event as a leader.
Ricki was a strong believer in J Smooth Salsa and helped substitute most of the classes. She originally began as a teaching assistant for me on Thursdays. She also was teaching on Tuesdays with Big Bad Mike. In addition she was teaching the Friday classes.
Since 1999, Ruby has been in salsa dance troupes such as PB & G Productions, RicaSalsa Dance Company, Mantanceros, RumbaRumberos, and Mambo Elite.
In addition, Ruby's experience extends into Samba with additional experience from Samba de Carnaval.
She has competed and placed 1st in the Jack and Jill Professional Competition and has years of experience, teaching at the bay area's: Alberto's Nightclub, Agenda Nightclub, Miami's, Havana Nights, and Caribbean Gardens.
Ruby was a co-instructor on Thursdays with Jimmy, and also on Tuesdays.
Ryan is an avid salsa dancer. He grew up in San Francisco, absorbing the rich Latin culture of the Mission District from a young age. In his early 20’s he listened to salsa music in the car, never knowing the wonderful and passionate dance that would later come to capture his attention. By 25, salsa to a back seat to other forms of music. But 2 years ago, his best friend Andy suggested the two of them learn to dance as part of an ever continuing mission towards self improvement. Ryan was intrigued, especially now that a dance was applied to music he used to listen to. Andy was friends with Jsmooth’s own Jimmy Bui, and he graciously invited them to a salsa class. 2 hours later, Ryan and Andy knew their lives would never be the same. They became regulars at Miraido Studio on Thursdays, then later on Fridays and Tuesdays. Salsa had captured their hearts. Thanks to Jimmy and Andy, Ryan had found a place where he could truly enjoy himself and let the stresses of the work week fall by the wayside. With salsa, Ryan felt like he had come home.
Ryan took the helm of the Friday lessons when Guillermo Pier left for school and work. He taught classes with Meri and quickly rose to great achievements in his dancing career.
Sharine stepped in as a Zumba instructor soon after when Lyndel Abott moved back to Australia. She brought in a lot of excitement with her classes.
Sharine was with us during the last weeks we were in San Jose. Unfortunately when we closed her lessons had to end also.
Shirley was one of our teaching assistants on Thursdays with Jimmy. Not much is known of her other than she joined us with dancing experience and an eagerness to help the community. We know she likes to bowl, but not much else.
Prior to his Salsa Journey, Umesh has been dancing different styles from college years but has been a avid salsa dancer for the past few years. Umesh has assisted other instructors at various classes in the Bay. A prior regular at Miraido's and other local salsa hotspots, he currently dances semi-pro for the Montuno Dance Company under the tutelage of Isidro Corona and Ariel Lehaitre ( US Salsa open champions).
Umesh was teaching Fridays with Ali Monge soon after Meri and Ryan stopped teaching. Umesh and Ali brought a very unique and challenging style in their classes.
Umesh and Ali were with us during the final week that we were open in San Jose.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina to an American-Argentinean family, Valeria Soto liked dancing, singing, and moving her body to music from an early age. At eight, she was a student and performer at Maria Amuchastegui's Tap Dance Studio. Later, she studied Contemporary Dance for six years with ballerina Vanina Bagli. Valeria also studied with Ms. Luciana Glanc, and at "Casa del Angel" . Upon her recent arrival in San Jose, Valeria immediately pursued further dance and music studies and activities. She is presently studying Contemporary, Modern, Jazz, Dance Tech and Lyrical dancing at Studio 10 in Cupertino, Bellydancing at Halanda Studio, where she has performed with Karavansaray Dance Company, and Voice with Maestro Carl Franzen.
She is also getting trained as a ballroom instructor, at Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Certified Zumba Instructor by Beto Perez in: Zumba level I, Zumba level II, Zumba Toning, and ZumbaTomic.
She has been told many times her classes are different, because of her music, and the variety of rhythms she likes to dance to. From Waltz to Reggae-ton, and from Rumba to Bellydance, you'll never know what to expect!
Valeria emailed us originally about the possibility of offering Zumba classes at our studio. We opened the class on Tuesdays before our regular Salsa lessons.
Valeria eventually moved on and in her place Lyndel took over for a time.