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Icons of Dance


Over the decades there have been many inspirational icons of the dance world, all of whom have made a massive impact in their field and often penetrated the mainstream world of music and television. We celebrate our Top Ten.

1. Eddie Torres (Salsa)
Eddie, AKA "The Mambo King" has been dancing and teaching salsa for over four decades, training thousands of dancers, including some of the most important dancers and instructors in his native New York as well as worldwide. His former students include Delille Thomas (Mambo D), Wilton Beltre (the founder of Santo Rico Dance Company), Adolfo Indacochea, Franklin Diaz, Frankie Martinez and Seaon Brystol.
2. Johnny Vazquez (Salsa)
Born in 1979 in Mexico, Johnny is known as a pioneer of LA style. In 2002 he moved to Valencia, Spain and formed his dance group "Johnny Vazquez y su imperia azteca". Johnny is considered the greatest L.A. style dancer today, winning first place at many national and international competitions.
3. El Cachafaz (Tango)
El Cachafaz's story is part of Tango mythology. He first appeared on film in 1933 in the movie "Tango" and became an iconic figure. He was admired for his elegance and a unique timing. He was a great step creator, but also showed flair via his “cortes” (figures). Journalist Irene Amuchástegui said about him: "He was not good looking, he was ugly as a dark night and with that pock-marked face, but his way of behaving was suave and pleasant".
4. Fred Astaire (Ballroom)
Needing no introduction, the iconic Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer, musician and actor's career spanned a total of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films. He was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute and is particularly associated with Ginger Rogers, with whom he made ten films.
5. Pierre Dulaine (Ballroom)
Born in Palestine in 1944, Pierre Dulaine invented the Dulaine method of teaching dance. He also developed Dancing Classrooms, a programme that uses ballroom dancing as a vehicle to change the lives of the children and their families. Antonio Banderas starred as Dulaine in a film about his life, "Take the Lead".
6. Bryan Watson (Modern and Latin)
Born in Durban, Bryan was Professional World Latin Dance Champion nine times as well as International Latin American Championship five times. With his partner, Carmen Vincelj, he proceeded to win every major International Latin Professional Championship entered until the couple's retirement from competition in 2007. The couple continue to run a dance teaching studio in Wimbledon, London.
7. Beto Perez (Zumba)
Beto is credited as being the creator of Zumba and legend has it that, In the 1990's, he forgot his tape of aerobics music for a class he was teaching. He took the tapes he had in his backpack – consisting of traditional salsa and merengue music – and improvised a class using this non-traditional aerobics music. Zumba was born!
8. Joaquin Cortes (Flamenco)
A native of Córdoba, Cortés showed interest in dancing from an early age and in 1984 he was accepted as a member of Spain's prestigious national ballet company. He formed the Joaquín Cortés Flamenco Ballet company which allowed him to diverge from purist ballet and create his own fusion of flamenco, ballet and modern dance. Joaquin has gained notoriety for his close relationships with high profile celebrities such as Naomi Campbell, Giorgio Armani and Mira Sorvino.
9. John Compton (Belly Dance)
John Compton is cited as being America's first "Khawal" dancer, "Khawal" being the male version of belly dance in Egypt during the Ottoman Empire, when it was taboo for women to dance in public. Thanks to his example, more male belly dancers are teaching and performing. Tray balancing became John's specialty, being influenced by Moroccan men who danced with trays on their heads. He later joined the Baba Ganooj folk dance ensemble. John passed away in October 2012.
10. Dean Collins (Swing)
Dean grew up in Newark, New Jersey where, at the age of thirteen he learned Swing from his two older sisters. He went on to win numerous awards and was very active in the Swing community right up until his death in 1984. He was credited as "The Dancer Who Taught Hollywood How to Swing".