The Best Cuban Salsa Dancers

Do you know the best Cuban salsa dancers in the world? Let me introduce them.

Why is it good knowing the best Cuban dancers out there? Well, have you ever searched for the term “salsa” on Youtube? Then you know. A search like that will return various salsa videos, on1, on2, Cuban, Columbian, Puerto Rican. Some are good, some are bad, some are horrible, but you will find very few excaptionally good videos that you were originally looking for.

Knowing the best Cuban salsa dancers you can easily find the best videos out there. Instead of searching for “salsa”, you can search for “Maykel Fonts salsa”. Instead of searching for “reggaeton”, you can search for “Yoandy reggaeton”. “Timba”? Use “Yoannis timba” instead. The quality of results will automatically be hundred times better. Whatever video, genre or style you are looking for (salsa, timba, afro, rumba, reggaeton, son, cha cha cha), just by adding a proper name to the search will give you the best results you could ever get, not to mention an endless stream of great ‘related videos’ that Youtube will offer.

So who are the best Cuban salsa dancers in the world? I have made a list about them. Of course this list is by no means complete and there is no particular order. All these people are magnificent dancers and teachers and it has been an honour meeting them and participating in their classes on various workshops.

Maykel Fonts

Born in Cuba in 1976 probably he is one of the most well known Cuban dancers out there. Graduated at the Tropicana in Cuba where he has mastered afro, ballet, rumba, modern and contemporary dances. He is invited to the largest salsa festivals around the world, his classes are always full with students, even people dancing on1 or on2 are interested in taking a class from the Cuban master.

He won the first prize in 2006 on Salsa World Congress both as dancer and choreographer. In 2011 he was chosen as Cuban salsa expert and teacher for the movie Streetdance 2 in which he also appears in some short scenes. As we have discussed, his expertise made this one of the best salsa related movies out there. You may meet him and learn from him on most of the big salsa festivals these days.

Alberto Valdes

Born in Cuba, Havana in 1966 he is already a legend of Cuban salsa. He has started dancing early, danced in groups like Tercer Mundo, Conjunto Folclorico, Cabaret Continental and later founded his own group, Clave Negra.

After moving to Europe he has spent most if his time dancing and teaching in Italy, now living in Malta. Though he has passed 50 he is still one of the most wanted Cuban teachers in all salsa festivals, a master teacher who can still fill any room of any size with students eager to learn.

Diana Rodriguez

Born in Santiago de Cuba, she is nowadays the shiniest star on the sky of Cuban salsa. In spite of being still in her twenties she is one of the most dedicated teachers and an amazing talent, an exceptional dancer.

She studied modern and contemporary dances at the School of Dance Arts in Cuba, graduated as a teacher and dancer of Cuban folk dances. In the Ballet Folclórico she reached the level of first soloist. She won the national competition of Casino on Cuba, as well as the Festival of Son.

After moving to Europe she has spent years dancing and teaching in Russia, and now you can meet her on all major Cuban salsa festivals in Europe. If you ever see a class with Diana, make sure you don’t miss it.

Yoandy Villaurrutia

Born in Cuba he is also one of the shiniest young stars of Cuban salsa. He is an exceptional dancer with an extreme amount of energy, creating salsa “new style” that he has been promoting in the last couple of years. Until recently he has been teaching together many times with Diana Rodriguez.

You can find tons of his videos about his classes on Youtube (also he lived for many years in Russia) which are all worth more than gold. If you take Cuban salsa seriously, you really must check out his videos and take at least one of his classes once.

Yoannis Tamayo

The master of rumba and musicality. He has been the official dancer of “Casa de la Trova” in Santiago de Cuba.

He blends traditional dances with Afro-Cuban culture in a perfect way, which he calls “afrofusion”, his style is unique both as a dancer and as a teacher.

He has spent years dancing and teaching in France, you can meet him on most of the major salsa festivals around Europe.

Ismaray Chacon Aspirina

Dancing and teaching together with Yoannis for many years she is one exceptional dancer and teacher you should not miss if you can ever participate in any of her classes.

As a master of rumba and afro-cuban dances she can really explain all complicated moves in a light style and easy-to-follow manner, if you want to learn, don’t miss her classes.

Yanet Fuentes

She is one true Cuban goddess of the salsa world. Graduated with honours as a qualified teacher in Modern, Contemporary, Ballet and Folkloric dances at the world famous National School of Contemporary and Folkloric Dance in Havana. She also gained qualifications in dancing styles like Afro-Cuban dances, Cuban Popular dances, Jazz and Hip Hop. Dancer of La Maison Casa de la Moda in Havana, many times winner of salsa couple category on Salsa Championships.

She has appeared in several dance videos, including Los Van Van’s Me mantengo, which is probably one of the most well known Cuban salsa music videos that you can find. She has also appeared in the movie Cuban fury and BBC’s “So you think you can dance” competition.

For all the ladies out there, make sure you at least once in your life participate in one of her classes. Men, you also can’t miss Yanet performing on stage 😉

Alfredo Garcia

Soloist of the Conjunto Folclorico Nacional de Cuba and several other dance companies that would be too long to list, Alfredo was the teacher of the very first salsa workshop I have ever taken. Master of afro-cuban dances and Orishas, his classes are filled with energy and passion.

You can be sure that you will leave his classes with an inspired mind and a dead tired body. Once another Cuban teacher (also on this list) told me: “if you want to learn afro, go to Alfredo”. You can also take this advice and make sure you don’t miss his classes if you ever have the chance.

Osbanis Tejeda

Born in Cuba and being a musician from his early ages he is one of the most loved Cuban teachers all around Europe. His classes are filled with passion and people. He makes a great couple with Anneta Kepka, they have phenomenal style both as dancers and teachers.

Instead of bringing complex choraographies to the classes that would only train your short term memory they are passionate about teaching you the basics, but in a way that only Cuban masters can do. As Osbanis always says “My best move is basic step” and he and Anneta do everything they can to convey the joy and fun that Cuban salsa means.

They are also masters of musicality, their show in 2015 on the stage of Rovinj Salsa Festival gained the biggest ovation from the crowd and will long be remembered by anyone who was lucky enough to see it live. I truly believe that no European people should be allowed to teach Cuban salsa till they take at least one class from Osbanis and Anneta.

Yeni Molinet

Dancing since the age of 5 she is one true master of Cuban salsa and afro-cuban dances. Graduated as “Professional Dancer and Teacher of Folk Dances”, also danced in the main ballet of Conjunto Folclorico Nacional de Cuba.

Her professionalism and methodology makes all of her classes stand out and you should make sure you won’t miss any of her classes if you have the luck to participate in a festival where she teaches.

She has an exceptional ability to break down complex body movements of rumba and afro for people who don’t have these naturally, so, for the most of us. Her classes have great structure and every minute you spend there is worth gold.

Wilmer Najarro

If you google him you will mostly find entries as “Wilmer y Maria”. They are one of the few iconical couples who dance together for many years. Both graduated in 2000, Wilmer as Dance Professor specializing in Cuban folklore, rumba, afro, ballet, modern and contemporary dances, Maria as a ballet, modern, contemporary and Cuban folklore dancer.

Both danced in the ballet of the Macumba Show de la Habana. They are the only ones on this list whom I have not met in person yet, but their videos on Youtube are simply amazing and were among the first ones that I have bookmarked when I started to take salsa seriously.

Yoyo Danger

He studied modern and folklore dances at Cuba’s National Art School and graduated as a teacher from University of Arts of Cuba in Havana.

He was part of several dance companies and shows as dancer, teacher and choreographer.

He is an enthusiastic and charismatic teacher and can be found on most of Europe’s salsa festivals.

Osmani Segura

Born in Cuba he is a professional dancer, instructor and choreographer. He started his teaching career in Cuba before arriving to Europe and settling in Germany.

He is cool, calm and collected that also comes through his classes, having great methodology and a deep love for the dance and his students.

After teaching in several local  festivals now he is entering the big stages like Rovinj CSSF, one of the biggest festivals in Europe.

Barbara Jimenez

Born in Santa Clara, Cuba, she is a true femme fatale, one charismatic and strong dancer, teacher and singer. She studied music at Escuela Vocacional de Arte in Cuba and dance to compliment her artistic career.

She has been on stage for many years and participated in most of the biggest salsa festivals around Europe, living in Italy for several years now.

She is a true phenomenon, a great dancer and teacher who combines Cuban salsa with contemporary dances. If you ever have the chance, don’t miss her classes.

Seo Fernandez

Born in Havana, Cuba he started dancing as a kid and went on till he received the title of professional dancer in 1989.

His style incorporates a huge variety of dances from hip hop to folklore, being also a well known singer of the genre.

He has been invited to several festivals, also organizing his own one in Italy for the last couple of years.

As I mentioned in the foreword, this list is by no means complete. These great dancers I have listed are the ones I know, I met in person and took their classes (except for Wilmer & Maria).

But I’m sure that there are several more exceptional Cuban salsa dancers and teachers around the world, so feel free to let me know about them in the comment section or by mail.

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