January 25, 2021

Sonia with Junior and Emily
Dance Saved Their Lives!

Raised by their father, Junior and Emily Alabi didn’t always have an easy time. As young children growing up in the USA, there were some bad influences that could have taken them down the wrong path. Their father quickly pushed them into dancing as a healthy form of recreation. At the time, they were not convinced but eventually pursued it and became world champions! They have performed, taught, and competed all over the world. They have worked with several celebrity artists such as Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, Justin Timberlake, Jamie King, and Selena Gomez, just to name a few. They now use dance to give back to their community! Dancing saved their lives!

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Guest Info

Junior and Emily are a brother and sister dance duo who are 8-time World Renowned Salsa Champions. They have graced the cover of various Latin magazines and been the face of many International Salsa Congresses worldwide. They have coached celebrities, been in commercials, and featured on TV.

Through the years, Junior and Emily have created their own unique style of dancing called ‘Electro Salsa.’ They have performed, taught, judged, and competed all over the world. They are one of the hottest Pro-couples on the International circuit and recognized as one of the best in the world. Their electrifying routines blow the roof off of Congresses, Festivals, and corporate shows worldwide. Through their dancing they have traveled and toured to over 75 countries worldwide. Currently, they are one of the most sought out latin dance couples in the World.

Junior and Emily live in LA where they teach and coach.

Show Notes
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Sonia Kyriacou owns the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of the Choreograph Your Life podcasts, with all rights reserved, including right of publicity. WHAT’S OK: You are welcome to share an excerpt from the episode transcript (up to 500 words but not more) in media articles, in a non-commercial article or blog post, and/or on a personal social media account for non-commercial purposes, provided that you include proper attribution and link back to the podcast URL. For the sake of clarity, media outlets with advertising models are permitted to use excerpts from the transcript per the above. WHAT’S NOT OK: No one is authorized to copy any portion of the podcast content or use Sonia Kyriacou’s name, image or likeness for any commercial purpose or use, including without limitation inclusion in any books, e-books, book summaries or synopses, or on a commercial website or social media site (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) that offers or promotes your or another’s products or services. For the sake of clarity, media outlets are permitted to use photos of Sonia Kyriacou from her Media Kit page. Episode Attribution Sonia Kyriacou. (Host). (2021, January 25). Sonia with Junior and Emily – Dance Saved Their Lives [Audio podcast episode]. In Choreograph Your Life with Sonia Kyriacou. Parcast. http://soniakyriacou.com/junior-and-emily-dance-saved-their-lives/ TRANSCRIPT Voiceover 0:06 Welcome to the “choreograph your life” podcast where we dig deep into the journey of people’s pursuit of their passion for dance. Join us as our host and guests discuss their dance journeys, the business of dance obstacles they face, and even lessons learned along the way. Now, here’s your host, Sonia Kyriacou. Sonia Kyriacou 0:30 So today’s guests are eight time world renowned salsa dance champions. They have collaborated and danced next to celebrities such as Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Timberlake, Selena Gomez, just to name a few. They’ve been on shows such as America’s Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars, and they’re known for a style called Electro Salsa, please welcome to the podcast Junior and Emily Alabi. Junior and Emily 0:57 Hey guys, hi everyone! Thank you so much for having us Sonia! Sonia Kyriacou 1:02 Oh, it’s such a pleasure. I was, you know, going down my roster. I’m like, I know so many people. And I want to have like, amazing talent on my podcast. Boom, you were one of the first couples that showed up. Junior and Emily 1:15 We love you Sonia Kyriacou 1:16 I love you. So I want to start off by talking about, obviously your dance career. But there’s so much it’s so vast, you’ve been dancing together and performing competing over how many years now? How many years has it been? Junior and Emily 1:31 Since 2000? I believe? Yeah, it’s about 20 years. Sonia Kyriacou 1:36 So so far, so you started at age two? Is that it? Junior and Emily 1:40 Exactly. Sonia Kyriacou 1:43 Okay, so you were very young, Junior and Emily 1:44 because the Junior name see that’s where it started. Yeah, Sonia Kyriacou 1:49 that is so smart. Like Junior. Junior, right? This is amazing. It’s such a smart thing. So over over like 20 years already, as a dance career. And you guys show no signs of slowing down. If anything, it feels like it’s almost the beginning again. So it’s fascinating how you guys started off as kid performers. And you ended up you are where you are today. And you’re just getting started. There’s so much more to come. So my question to you is when you guys started? Did you ever think it would be like this? Did you think it was gonna be your life? Your life story? Junior and Emily 2:29 Definitely not. Yeah, definitely not everything kind of happened by accident, you know, we got thrown into Salsa without us wanting to do it by our father. And then then we got thrown into a dance company. We didn’t want to do it at first, either, hey, and then we kind of started going to classes and kind of working with the dance company. And then we started to see events and how things are ran. And we’re like, wow, this is kind of cool. So then we started performing. And we started to fall in love more and more. And then we started and then we started competing. And at first in the amateur competitions. We were getting like third, second. And then in 2003, we did our first pro competition. And we were so scared. We were We were going against like some of the top international dancers in the world at the time. Yeah, people that we looked up to. And so and we come so we ended up competing, and we ended up winning. And it was it was one of the best experiences ever for sure. That definitely was like a confidence boost. Right? So sure, once we won the competition, we were so grateful. We were so happy. And that is what launched us into being like, Oh, we could actually we can, we can do this. So we created a five year like, you know, game plan. These are the competitions, we need to, you know, win. This is where we need to compete, all this stuff. And we worked our booties off. And you know, on a daily basis! Kids working their booties off on a daily basis. Just picture that. Yeah. We were like the only kids at that time. So a lot of the adults like at the studio or in the company would help us like very supportive. Yeah, super supportive. It was awesome. So, so, so grateful to be here. Yeah. Sonia Kyriacou 4:18 So you literally were mentored in so many ways. Junior and Emily 4:23 That’s why we’re all about community because it’s the community that can get you to where you want to go that can ultimately help you get to where you want to go and really make your dreams come true. Community right, all of these people that help out in their different ways, and and all of a sudden, you’re able to get there so yeah, and that’s what we want to do. We want to continue to find ways to contribute to our community, right? And how do we empower uplift? How do we how do we share ourselves in a way that’s going to inspire, you know, our community to do more to do better, just like we’re trying to do on a daily basis and especially the younger generation, right? We started as kids and for us, it’s like, there’s so many talented children. And we want to be able to find ways to like really mentor and help them. And I mean, we’ve been on the other end, right doing, you know, stuff that we shouldn’t be doing and kind of going nowhere kind of having no dreams at all, not knowing where we’re gonna go in life. And then dance was definitely our light that saved us and really put us in a totally direction. And now we’re so thankful. We hated our dad in the beginning, but now we’re like THANK YOU DAD! Sonia Kyriacou 5:33 Absolutely Junior and Emily 5:35 We don’t even know where we would be right now so Sonia Kyriacou 5:37 if it wasn’t for dancing, so do you think that it’s the fact that you had the support the fact that you guys won that competition that inspired you to keep going because it could have also gone another direction? It could have been? You didn’t when you didn’t have support? And it could have just fizzled? Do you think it’s a combination of everything? Or did you, you know, suddenly say, wow, I really love dancing. It’s something I didn’t know I had in me. What would you say? Is that is that like the trigger? Junior and Emily 6:05 I think it’s really us loving dancing. You know, us, we went to an event, we went to, well, the first event that we were able to see, like, a crazy amount of people cheering was the Tito Puente that it did a tribute to him. And man, that event was so mind blowing, that from then on… Sonia Kyriacou 6:31 Where was that? Where was that? Junior and Emily 6:33 It was at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco in San Francisco, you know, seeing that event. And then we got to travel to New York for our first one of our first events. And also we went to what was the Hamburg for one of our first international events? Yeah. So we started to see that stuff. We were like…we want to do this! Sonia Kyriacou 6:53 How old? How old? Were you right then? And there? What age was that? Junior and Emily 6:58 maybe 13 , 13, 13 I believe? I think we went to Hamburg. Yeah, no, yeah. 13…13 or 14, something like that. 13 we were babies were a babies but I definitely do believe that the the community support got us there faster, oh, way faster. Because if we wouldn’t have the emotional, the mental that that support, you know, it’s hard. And especially as kids, it’s like, it’s so easy to get side tracked. It’s mental this, this game is mental, right. So if you have a strong mind, you’re able to overcome a lot of the things that get in your way, all the obstacles, I mean, there’s a lot of criticism that comes along, and you’re starting to kind of make some noise, everybody wants to say everything about you and has their own opinion. So it really takes focus and a strong mind and a strong community around you strong circle around you to help you overcome and really push that belief and keep pushing, I believe. Sonia Kyriacou 7:57 So I want to go back to that subject. You said something about when you start becoming apparent, people start noticing you and people start talking. It’s not always positive, it’s not always supportive. Sometimes you’ve got you know, people that will be like, oh, Who do they think they are? You know, and, and that’s, that’s not Salsa what they’re doing and, you know, like, you start getting the, the hate, unfortunately. And I feel that that that is something that really kind of poisons our our craft or art form. In dance, I do believe that there is a lot of that, like, you know, coming down on you criticizing you like you don’t really have that feeling of like people coming up to and saying, Oh my God, you’re so inspiring. It’s fresh. I you know, I appreciate what you’re doing good luck, you know, you know, give it give it your best. It’s really worth it. I feel I had the same situation. When Moris and I started you know, dancing and really dedicating our time to dancing. We felt zero support, there was no one that would come up to us and say, Oh, you guys are doing great, like, keep going. Or it was more of the opposite, you know, and in our case, our families were like, what are you doing, you’re wasting your time. That’s not a real job, you know, so we had a lot of oppression like, No, don’t do it. And what you guys are saying is, you know, you had the community help. So do you think the fact that you you guys were kids, technically you were kids that helped, right? Because you seemed less threatening? Because they felt you needed guidance. What do you think it was? Junior and Emily 9:33 Yeah, I think so too. Because honestly, now there’s a lot of kids events, and there’s so many kids that are dancing, but in that time, we really like the only ones I don’t even we were like do so everybody was like, Oh, we got to help the little kids out. We got to help them guide them and as well we did deal with a lot of you know, quote unquote hate from people saying you know exactly what you said, which is like, Oh, that’s not Salsa what are they doing? And, and and it was like it was almost, were all about creativity, right? We don’t see. We, we see, we hear music. And we and we and we produce movements to the music, right? That’s where that’s what we really go by when when we’re creating. And so we don’t we try not to limit ourselves and put everything into a box and, like we should do this, you know. And I feel like, we want to also encourage people to pursue their own self creativity, because we all have our own expression. And it’s like, Who are we to say, hey, that’s not right. This is right, do it like this and so we heard a lot of that. And I feel like, you know what, that was a time. Yeah, where we, like you said, when we started to get noticed, and stuff like that. Everybody wants to say, two cents and have their say, so it took us because, you know, these are people, some of them that, you know, told us, well, that’s not Salsa. So this is how you got to do it. You know, there was a lot of people that were high level saying that to us. So it took us some strength and be like, no, this is how we express, feel the music, and we love high energy, cool things that excite people. So we’re like, no, we’re gonna stick to this. And then that’s it. Because this is what we love to do, we’re gonna stick to it, and we stick to our guns. And because we stuck to our guns, we look so much different than everybody else. And I feel like that was definitely something that helped us within our career. And especially now that everybody’s looking for something different. If you know television, movie, like all of that, that’s what they’re looking for something different, fresh, fresh, new, and because we stuck to our guns, where we were able to stand out. So Sonia Kyriacou 11:43 that’s, that’s really a fascinating point, because you just, you just said something that is really important, I find that when it comes to breaking into a world or a certain genre of dance, you’re going to have the traditionalists that tell them, well, Salsa comes from this country, and this is how you do it, if you want to be true to this style, and show respect to the people you know, to the roots, then you should do it this way. But on this at the same time, if you don’t break out of you know, the the regular thing, then it’s all gonna look the same, then there’ll be no creativity, then there will be no advancement. And I find that that’s exactly what you guys did is you came up, you know, under these very well known influential, you know, artists and and the the probably felt very comfortable telling you what to do because you were your kids, right? So they’re like, hey, they need guidance, let’s let’s share our knowledge, which is it’s nice, it’s great. At the same time, there’s a difference between sharing knowledge and then kind of saying, well, this is what you should do. That’s two different things. And you’re right, you guys stuck to your guns. And I do remember a specific, I can’t remember what city it was in. But I remember you guys coming on stage. And Emily, you had this beautiful coral costume, it was really like and have a lot of like, you know, bling on it. And I remember that specific day and time where you guys were just shining. You guys were in your element. You were owning it. And I saw it. I’m like, Oh my god, it happened. This is it. They’re in their zone. And you guys won that competition and people went nuts. You guys got a standing ovation. Like it was, it was crazy. And I was like, Wow, that is amazing to watch. You know, seeing like you guys literally like shy and quiet and just kind of like starry eyed like, Oh, I want to do this right. And then suddenly you’re on the stage. And you’re judges are pretty much the people that were telling you not to do the new way. And now you’re winning and influencing people. So it’s crazy how that works, right? It’s it’s really a lesson learned because you stuck to your guns and when you believe in it and you feel in it’s authentic, then you can’t lose, you can’t lose, you know. So, that brings me to my next question. I find that you are one of the couples in the world that was that it was very easy for you guys to cross over into, let’s say the Hollywood of Salsa so you know getting into the TV and the commercials and you know, ad campaigns. Not just because you dance but you guys are also very unique in your look. So tell us tell our listeners where your your origins are from first of all. Junior and Emily 14:30 So our mother is from Korea, and her father’s from El Salvador. So you know the military brought them together. Sonia Kyriacou 14:39 That is crazy. That’s awesome. Junior and Emily 14:41 So Junior has more the Asian Sonia Kyriacou 14:43 right Oh, it’s beautiful. Junior and Emily 14:46 I stole his color. That’s our mom and dad. Sonia Kyriacou 14:52 And and and so when you were growing up do you feel you had more the the Salvadorian influence or the more Korean influence or half and half Junior and Emily 15:02 Our parents divorced when I was one Junior was like five with our father so yeah, but it’s great because you know my mom’s our our mom has always been in LA. And so when we moved out to LA in like 2007, 2006 we really we’re able to like get close to her and spend a lot of time with her. So Sonia Kyriacou 15:26 did you start to discover your your Korean roots? Junior and Emily 15:36 Well, we tried I mean, we we love Korean food. But when we go see our mom, she cooks Korean food. Yeah, we were able to go to Korea for an event and meet some of our relatives that we had never had, which was the craziest thing because they didn’t speak English. Oh, we do speak Korean. So we had a translator, basically, like, you know, help us communicate. So. But yeah, I mean, we definitely want to get to know more about our Korean you know, background but uh, but yeah, over time, over time, Sonia Kyriacou 16:03 but right now you’re you’re you’re happily going along your path of dance and, and being like, essentially, you guys are, would you call yourself you know, artists like what would what do you call yourself now? Do you call yourself a dancer? Would you call yourself? Junior and Emily 16:18 Oh, artist. I think artists you know, I we artists who love creating. That’s it Yeah, definitely crossed over into you know, to doing it all, you know, thankfully. Sonia Kyriacou 16:31 Tell us tell us what else you dove into besides dance Junior and Emily 16:35 so I’m currently pursuing acting. So I’ve done a couple TV shows. I just did a series for Marvel. Wow, a couple a couple months ago. So I’m definitely getting into that world I’m also you know choreographing so I’m well because of due to COVID they had to stop production but I was working on the new Netflix series that’s going to come out Selena, Selena the series, which is covers the life of Selena Quintania. So I was able to choreograph and work with the cast, Jr. is a genius. He does a lot of like, writing and he’s like working on a script right now. And so he’s more like, the creative behind the scenes guy who just is just brilliant at his ideas and putting it on paper. And yeah, yeah, super excited. Because one of my dreams is to produce to write produce an act in a film that I create. So right now we’re about halfway done with the script. So super excited about that! it’s so awesome. And yeah, I mean, it’s just a little like rocky kind of, like, did the dance Rocky kind of, you know, I don’t know about and then also the future of what we see, you know, dance, we just want to share our story, basically, our story and our vision of the future of dance, you know, so Sonia Kyriacou 17:56 yes, you said something. You guys mentioned you started a program or it’s called my Dance Mentor, can you? Junior and Emily 18:06 Yeah, my dance mentor will where it’s basically online dance classes, salsa classes, to help, you know, beginners to advanced, learn what they want to learn. Yeah, some people want to just learn Salsa, right? So we have stuff for them. And then we also have stuff to help dancers realize their dream in Salsa, you know, we give them talk about how to create choreography, we give them music, about music, you know, we actually give them high level, how to do high level moves for your choreography. And then we kind of talk about the mindset and all that stuff. So we have a little bit of working under performing under pressure. Just we want to we wanted to create this like online school to really share as much as we know, to help people get there faster, if that makes sense. Sonia Kyriacou 18:59 Absolutely. Junior and Emily 18:59 Not just the dance aspect of it. It’s It’s everything we can mentor aspect, Sonia Kyriacou 19:05 right… Because I find that that’s something that is definitely missing or there’s there’s definitely room for growth, because you have what I’ve noticed, at least in in, in my city is the dancers that go all in, you know, dedicate their life, their time they study, they go abroad to take classes, they work hard to compete or find a partner. And then like four or five years later, they just disappear their gone. Like what happened like why are they not doing this anymore? And I feel that that’s where you notice how there’s this lack of of information or support, where they would know like, Okay, well, what’s next? Maybe you want to stop competing and dancing for different reasons. You lost your partner and you have an injury, and you want to do something else, or maybe you had enough or maybe you want to keep on going and be the Eddie Torres of the world where you know, you just don’t stop. Either way. It’s very really tough to keep going, especially since what we do is very physical. And without information without support without people paving the way. It’s easy to give up. And that’s something that I’ve noticed a lot of dancers that let’s say, even in the Salsa Convention, you know, we did our 15 year and there are some people I was, during quarantine, I had the time to, to go back to the DVDs and look at them and say, like, oh, what happened to that person? What happened to that group? What happened to that studio? And a lot of them are just not around anymore. And I find that to be sad, that we don’t maintain it. We don’t grow it. We don’t keep going. Junior and Emily 20:38 It’s very hard. Sonia Kyriacou 20:40 Yeah, like, it’s it’s two things, I feel you’re right. Like, there’s no mentorship, there’s no path that’s kind of, oh, look what they’ve done. And this is how they did it, and I can get their support. And also, there’s the fact that, you know, we’re not really focused on kids. At least not in Montreal, I don’t notice too many kids learning this style of dance. So without kids, there’s no future. Right? So you guys are a perfect example, had you not started when you did, I don’t believe you may have matured into this stage of your artist life had you not started young, you know, maybe you’d still be just getting out there. But now you’ve clocked 20 years of experience in dance, and now you’re able to move on to other areas of you know, the entertainment world or the artists world and offer mentorship to younger people. So this is the part that I find is a gap. And it really needs to be, you know, something that becomes more developed, you know, teaching children giving them opportunities, allowing people to see that it is possible to take Latin dance and do it your whole life, or or allow it to open doors into other areas, you know, so Junior and Emily 21:51 Yeah, and I think it’s important to, to really bring awareness to the fact that like, it doesn’t just stop at like dance congresses or festivals, like, I feel like we all really have things that we want to achieve, and that we want to do. But but we feel like sometimes, like it’s so out of reach, right? And so we limit ourselves, and it’s like, it’s kind of like, Okay, well, I’m going to take this step. And then I really want to do that. But I it’s just impossible. And so I’m just going to kind of settle for this. And then the inspiration dies away, right? They’re not inspired anymore. And that’s what kind of like you said, like, people start to kind of like, stop doing it fizzle out. And so dreams are not achieved. And so it’s like, how do we bring into discussion that, like, let’s create our own possibilities? How do we create, you know, opportunities for ourselves to be able to reach those dreams? Sonia Kyriacou 22:49 Right Junior and Emily 22:50 possible? Yeah. All everything that we all want to do what you want to do what we want to do, you know, it’s all possible. It’s just a matter of sitting down, and trying to really analyze ways to get there, and then just make it happen. And then with the support team around you that saying, Yeah, you can do it. Let’s go, let’s do this. Man. It’s like, we let’s all win. Yeah, you know, and I think that’s what what drives us is really being a stand for dreams come true. Like we want to show be able to show people that you can do it, you can all of the dreams that you have to either be on TV, movies, commercials, or if you just want to travel the world and and share your love for dance, whatever that is you can accomplish it, accomplish it. And for us, that’s why we don’t stop like we feel like we have not an obligation. But we we made me we’re committed to continually continually pursuing the things that are important to us, and really inspiring those that are coming through in the new new generation because we know how it’s changed our life. And we want to be that support for other people to accomplishing their dreams. And be relatable, right? Because it’s like, shoot we’re still fighting to make our dreams become a reality. Like we’re still working Sonia Kyriacou 24:08 You’re so relatable What do you mean you’re on TikToc now! I watched you spinning in the kitchen. And I pray and I’m like please don’t knock her head on the edge of that counter. I love it. I’m like look at these guys. They’re just like on the edge. You’re constantly right there in front is this what’s happening now we’re gonna get on TikTok. Junior and Emily 24:31 That’s it. Anything we do, whether it’s dance career, creating or it’s Juniors mind is just, um, like for both of us. He’s always like, let’s do this. And I’m like, Nah, I don’t know if that’s possible and everything is possible. And now it’s come to the point where I’m like, aIright let’s do it. Before we had to fight a little bit, but now she’s like, okay, let’s just do it. Sonia Kyriacou 24:53 I love it. What is your, what is your relationship with failure? Junior and Emily 24:57 Oh, okay. My relationship with failure is the only failure you have is, is if you literally stop doing that, what is what it is you’re pursuing? You know, I’ve gone through a lot of failure through my life to get to where I’m at. Like, a lot, you know, I feel like a lot more than she has, you know…cause I learn from him Sonia Kyriacou 25:22 I’m gonna ride on your coattails. Junior and Emily 25:24 I produced a pilot, you know, in 2005, or 6, right before World of Dance came out, not five or six, bro, like, hella recent yeah, 2000 well that was another pilot, gotcha. There’s 2007, that was 2007. Right before World of Dance came out, I produced a pilot, that was pretty much exactly the show. And it was took a huge hit, you know, I don’t want to go into it. But anyway, it was exact same show. And it ended up getting ahead of my show when I was pitching it. And so that was a huge hit. Because literally seeing everything that you work for, I don’t know, 5, 6, 7 years since 2012. You know, the concept, building everything up getting all the dancers, every single thing to judge it, like everything. So that was a huge hit. That happened. But then, you know, America’s Got Talent happened, right? And so like, all of these little things, you know, as long as you continue to pursue right and continue to overcome, God is going to put things in your path. I mean, there was six months, or seven months where I had injured my leg. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, remember, right? I could not move my leg like literally could not walk. Right. So imagine not being able to walk? Right? Yeah. Let alone dancing. Having to, you know, thank you, Sonia, for being so amazing. But having to pull out of an events, you know, that count on you, you know, like, like, you know, it’s just it was hard. It was very difficult. And then there was a time where it was like, Oh, my God, I’m not getting better. It’s like month and month is going back. I’m not getting better. But it really takes yourself to be like, Okay, you know what, I am going to overcome this and really having a strong mind. And just keep pushing. Yeah, I had to literally every day, I had to do ice baths. I had to do physical exercises. I had to do Epsom salt baths, roll out my leg every single day in order to get in order to get better, because it took me a while. And it was like, You know what, I’m not getting better. So if I don’t take it in my own hands, I am never going to get better. Yeah, you know, and because of that, we kept rolling. Then we started to perform again, and again, God stuff, put stuff in your path, then all of a sudden, I booked a TV show out of nowhere. I got sent to Miami for two months to choreograph. And it was just you just kind of keep going and God will put stuff in your path as long as you keep pursuing your ultimate goals and dreams for sure. Yeah, for me, that’s the same thing. It’s like, we all we all are gonna get knocked down. But what matters is like you get up, keep going. You keep going. Sonia Kyriacou 28:04 There’s never going to stop. That’s right. There’s a saying they say dancers don’t follow they bounce. Junior and Emily 28:09 Exactly. That’s funny. Albert Torres used to say that backstage right before you like everybody used to go on? Sonia Kyriacou 28:16 Do you remember that? Yeah. May he rest in peace. Yeah, that that was that was quite the era of I feel a lot of people discovered, I think what Albert Torres did for the salsa community was show people what is possible, you know, he was a dreamer. He was someone that took risks. He was someone that, you know, literally worked day and night around the clock to make things happen. And you know, he wasn’t always successful. He didn’t always have the greatest relationships with everyone. But the point is, is that he didn’t give up, you know, he was an example of when there was failure, he just picked up and kept going, you know, and I feel that that’s something that dance teaches us, you know, it’s, it’s, you know, you’re going to get on that stage, you’re going to perform something your choreography is probably not going to go as planned. You know, it’s it’s, it’s going to be just a little different because I don’t know the light was in your eye or the floor was slippery at that moment. And then you know, you the music stops. But what do you do, you can’t stop you keep going. You go to plan B and then you just keep moving and and before you know it, it’s over. And before you know it, you’re like wow, I can’t believe I did it. And you’ve gone to the next level of confidence and you’re like, man, I was able to overcome this, this this this and look at me now. And I feel that that’s one of the things that is so beautiful about what we do is that it builds character, it teaches you about failure teaches you about coming face to face with your, you know, sometimes your fears, you know, you’re afraid of something, but you know that music is on you got to go. It’s showtime, you know! Junior and Emily 29:57 Everything you’ve said. I mean, it’s happened to us. But you know, it just shows that you know, we’re live we’re human things happen. It’s never gonna be perfect. Exactly, but I see it as, or we see it as you know, we learn what works, what not to do next time. You know, we, I mean, there got to a point where it’s like, we’re like man that the studio floor that we’re training at is so perfect. And then we go to these events, and it’s not perfect. And so now we have a thing where it’s like we literally rehearse on different floors. Sonia Kyriacou 30:34 Oh my god, I love that you said that we have a club on top of my dance studio and it’s got one of the most challenging floors in the city. It’s like this plexiglass slippery floor with little cracks in it. And the entire city complains Oh, how can you dance on the floor like la la la la la you’re gonna fall is a slippery it’s sticky and a complaint after complaint after complaint. And I’d be like, Listen, guys, this floor if you can dance on this floor, if you can perform on this floor you can perform anywhere. Yeah, funny story. Funny story, we were asked to perform on a show a TV show that was equivalent to Dancing with the Stars, but like the French Quebecois version of it. It was called Match des Etoiles. And as soon as we got there, what do we see? the same exact floor as the club? I was. I was like, this is this is like a sign like, Okay, what did I tell you folks, you know, and we had no problem dancing on it. Because we’ve been training on the on the club floor for years. Junior and Emily 31:36 Part of the training that’s so Sonia Kyriacou 31:40 interesting surfaces. Junior and Emily 31:43 It’s always through trial and error, right? Because if we never dance on that floor we never thought of it. But so now when our students are we don’t like people. They’re like, Oh, my god the floor. I’m like, Listen that’s a great floor. Right. So it’s a great floor. Let’s make it happen. Sonia Kyriacou 32:00 Yeah, exactly. And, you know, that’s one of the things I think also coming out of, you know, slowly getting back to life after Coronavirus lock down, we’re starting to go back to the basics and realize, hey, we’re lucky to be able to circulate and see people and you know, have our health after everything that’s gone. That’s gone down, you know, forget complaining about a floor or the volume of the music or Junior and Emily 32:28 they seem so little right. Yeah, right. Sonia Kyriacou 32:31 Yeah. In it’s teaching us about, you know, being grateful and realizing that, you know, we should just not complain, man, any situation is good. I say, any day above ground is a good day. Junior and Emily 32:44 I like that. Sonia Kyriacou 32:44 That’s it, you know? Junior and Emily 32:47 Yeah, it’s, uh, it’s, it’s really, like, you know, the whole COVID thing has been, you know, obviously, you know, has like it, you know, it sucks. Like, you know, we’re, we’re all whatever. But my point is, is that I’m grateful for this time, because I feel like we have a chance to really be present, and to reconnect with things that are important and to be grateful for the simplicity, right of life, and to be grateful for nothing just to be alive and to be breathing Sonia Kyriacou 33:20 to breathe. Junior and Emily 33:21 Yeah. And also, like, you know, it just when things happen, like something like this, where you’re stuck at home, now we’re finding new ways to create and do things that we have never done before. So it’s opened another door, and our, you know, dancing, and you know, now it’s given me more time to now focus on this ultimate dream that I have. So it’s opened a lot of different things. And that’s why we just see, like, like you said, every day above ground is a great day, because it gives you allows you to keep pursuing whatever you’re pursuing, no matter what, you know, perspective, it’s all perspective, you know, we can have the same food in front of us. And, for me, it’s the most amazing delicious meal. And for somebody else, it’s the worst. And it’s just what we make out of it and keep it positive, Sonia Kyriacou 34:09 positive. So So here’s a little question for you for for people out there listening, whether they’re dancers or artists or just everyday people. Once we go back to normal, and life gets busy and hectic and fast again, how are we going to maintain our new level of appreciation? How are we going to stay focused on the simplicity of life and not lose it again, in the rush and the madness? Junior and Emily 34:37 For me, I think it’s just constantly reminding ourselves and waking up and just, you know, finding new little ways to keep us always grateful. That’s, I think that’s, you know, and then also just be examples of that for other people. Sonia Kyriacou 34:55 I love that. Junior and Emily 34:56 I think that’s just like the best thing we could possibly do. Yeah. for ourselves and for the world, Sonia Kyriacou 35:02 you guys, you guys know you guys know Gary Vee? Junior and Emily 35:06 Oh, yeah. He says it straight Sonia Kyriacou 35:09 He says it straight. That’s right. And and the one thing that keeps you know, he keeps repeating and repeating and repeating is like kindness, gratefulness, kindness, gratefulness, like, you know, you should, you should just realize, like, being present, being alive, having your health, just be thankful, right. So, I believe that now, you know, this, this timing this the way things have kind of coordinated, you know, what the people that are out there, you know, leading or, you know, have an influence, as well as what’s happened around the world with with COVID. I believe there’s a shift and that shift is, is positive, I think that now, we can actually really get down to being real people and not having to mask ourselves. And that’s something that also in dance, I believe, has had a double edged sword. When you perform, and when you’re, when you’re out there, even just social dancing, you know, you can’t hide who you are the real you comes out, you know, it’s just, it’s inside, and it’s going to be visible, because you’re dancing. And it’s your energy, it’s your aura, it’s just the way it goes. And a lot of people would get trapped, kind of in the like, what are we supposed to look like? What are we supposed to dance like? What are we supposed to say? Or do or there’s this whole thing about, like, how you dress how you look, you know, you gotta drink, maybe you don’t like to drink, but there’s this pressure of congresses to like consume alcohol, there’s this pressure of, you know, people going to hook up and then you know, end up in a hotel room, like, there’s this whole kind of like silent expectation thing going on. And not everybody’s there for that reason. And not everybody likes that. And not everybody wants to like put on a pound of makeup and high heels, you know, and there’s been all these like, just like these things, we all kind of accepted, you know, they were just there and nobody questioned it, it was just like, went along with it. And I feel today with what’s happened and where we are as people, we’re going to just get rid of all that. It’s going to be like, Listen, you know, there is no obligation to do any of these things. You got to be sincere, authentic, you got to be you. And that’s how we’re all going to vibrate at the highest possible vibration and be good to each other. Junior and Emily 37:28 And love that way. Sonia Kyriacou 37:30 You know, so I feel like this is what the silver lining and what’s happened is, you know, I used to, like, constantly think, Oh, my God, I’m not Latin, you know? And people like would would be asking like, Oh, well, how can you do this? If you’re not Latin? I’m like, Well, why do I have to be Latin? So there was all this, like, stigma behind that. And then they’re like, oh, and your age, like you’re not? And how come you’re still doing this at your age? And there’s just so many things, you know, like, oh, does your husband let you do this? I’m like, why does he have to? Why do I have to ask his permission? So there’s all these pressures, social pressures and expectations? That really, I didn’t realize were actually affecting me. And they were making me think like, Wait a second, is there something maybe it’s right, maybe it’s true? Should I still be doing this at my age? And I started to question and then I, you know, what, what, while quarantine was happening, I was like, Wait a second, this is bullshit. You know, like, hold on a second, “f” that shit, you know, excuse my language. We can’t live in those boxes. We just can’t you know, so I think we need to be real. We need to be out there. I think that’s one of the amazing things I have to say about TikToc. I have seen people coming straight up and saying this is who I am. Take it or leave it. And I’ve never seen that on any other platform. Do you agree? Junior and Emily 38:50 Yeah. Yeah, I totally agree. And I think it’s a beautiful thing to like, we all should embrace who we are, who we are, is is perfect. like God made us this way. And we shouldn’t be any other way. So I really like what you said. And I like how you said how if we all are just real and authentic. That’s the only way we were able to live in right there. Sonia Kyriacou 39:15 Yeah, yeah. And this is what I pray and maybe you know, in our in our, in your mentorship program and in whatever I can do as well when I influence my students and my you know, the dancers that I can influence or even at the Salsa Convention is to spread that message of you know, self acceptance, self love. The kinder you are to yourself, the more authentic you are, you know, and the more you talk about your issues, the more you can kind of get, you know, heal yourself, and then you become a better person. You can serve other people when you are when you’re full of love, you can give love, right? So I feel like this is an important thing that’s come you know, kind of come up you know, or slowly over the but now it’s become this like, almost like an urgent thing like, Okay, guys, we all need to just get rid of that stuff that baggage, let’s just move on, you know, let’s just live our best life you know? Junior and Emily 40:11 You actually inspired me right now to like when you said that it’s important for people to like talk about, you know what they’re feeling. I feel like there is there, there hasn’t been or maybe I’m mistaken, like a safe place in our dance community to have discussions like this or for people to call in or send us an anonymous email or, or something where we could provide or I don’t know, who you know, could provide like the support because you’re right. Sonia if people don’t have people that they can speak to, what do they do is they they they leave it inside? And it’s no bueno. Sonia Kyriacou 40:50 I like that. It’s no bueno Junior and Emily 40:52 No one else will talk, right? Yeah, that’d be that’d be, that’d be really awesome. If, you know, we can like put that together or something. I don’t know. I’m just like, Sonia Kyriacou 41:03 I love that. Yeah, let’s, yeah, let’s do something. I mean, it you know, like you said, you know, it takes a village right. So, you guys, you guys had all these wonderful people around you that supported you, while you were you know, growing up, so to speak in the dance world. And you guys are your your go getters, you’re healthy or, you know happy or you’re you’re you’re living your life and you’re pursuing your dreams. And that’s a sign of what it what it does. When you do have support when you do have people that are there to listen to you and to help you. It encourages you to to keep going and to be more creative and to feel like I can do this you know, I everybody has a different path. Everybody has a different, not everybody is going to be a top champion. Not everyone is going to be on So You Think You Can Dance. But maybe that’s not their purpose. Maybe that’s not what they desire. You know, everybody has a different take on how they’re going to express themselves as an artist. And so I love what’s happening in the world. I love what you guys are producing and you know all your accomplishments and the examples you’re giving people more life to you guys keep going. And you know, I just send you like the most amazing vibes and love and muah! Junior and Emily 42:24 You’re You’re So Amazing you are. Since the beginning you’ve never changed You’re so you’re so you’re amazing light, person heart of gold, always giving and looking how to give back to the community. And we love that. So you’re keep being you keep being you… So amazing. No, seriously, like, every time we see you, I’m just like, oh my god. Like a bundle of joy. Sonia Kyriacou 42:52 Thank you guys, that’s very kind. That’s very kind of, you know, dancing has really been something that also allowed me to to be myself and to be able to express I was very shy girl, I come from, you know, a broken family. My parents were not, unfortunately, not happily married. And there was a lot of difficult moments. And it was the same dancing kept saving me like I kept dancing, I kept listening to that music I kept moving and movement is magical. It’s so therapeutic to just like, get up and move and listen to music and have that connection between the sound and the vibration. And the the rhythm with your body is just something the whole world needs to experience. So I believe that this is something that is powerful. And it’s going to keep growing. And we’re going to make sure of that. So I really, really enjoyed my time with you guys today. Thank you so much for joining me on my podcast. Junior and Emily 43:52 Thanks for having us anytime. Sonia Kyriacou 43:54 And I wish you all the best of luck in your future projects. I look forward to seeing you in the movie theaters on a billboard somewhere in Los Angeles. And I know you’ll always be giving back to the community somehow. So if you guys ever do something like that, or you want to, you know, reach out or allow people to reach out to you and ask you questions about you know how to or just even tell you how they feel that would be great. I’m going to be posting your your information, your Instagram, your Facebook, in the in the credits when we put this up. And for now I just want to wish you guys an amazing journey. keep going keep smiling keep being Junior and Emily. I love you guys. Junior and Emily 44:39 We love you Sonia thank you so much. Thank you. Let’s see. Blessings to the family. Sonia Kyriacou 44:45 Hey. Thank you guys. It was wonderful. Thank you so much. It was great. I love your energy. Wow. I love it. I love it. Junior and Emily 44:58 I love it. Voiceover 45:08 Thanks for listening, find Sonia on Instagram at SONIKYRI and on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter at Sonia Kyriacou. Check back weekly for new episodes. Until next time, keep dancing.
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