Selene’s heart beats in the rhythm of salsa…

Selene, apart from being an excellent dancer,  is also the friend you wish to have. Sexy and funny at the same time, without being provocative. She doesn’t promote herself much and this was one more reason for us to get to know her.

And as we expected to talk to a dancer , we discovered a very sensitive artistic spirit…

Selene puts her heart in everything she does

and her heart beats in the rhythm of Salsa…

Our appointment was for Monday, following an intense weekend in Turkey… but she was too tired… “Why?” we asked. And her reply was “the music was so good, I couldn’t stop dancing”!

What makes you keep the joy of dancing and partying alive?

I don’t know {laughing}. I asked myself the same question in Ancara… I hadn’t slept much the day before, because I had to pack, and even though in the Congress, three days in a row  I had workshops, shows and parties, I couldn’t leave the parties. The music was so good…

Do you know Dj Mauri? He is amazing. I loved each song and that reminded me that I really love to dance. Sometimes when the music is not so great, the energy is not high. But when the music is good, I will be there dancing forever!

Are you a social dancer after all?

I love to dance social. People say that I am super nice… I was so happy and surprised, the leaders were very soft, they had a lot of body movement, and the music was great. It was a great congress…

I think that the European level is upgraded lately and Turkey is a big power in salsa… what is your impression?

This Congress had a small line-up comparatively, but there were a lot of attendants. People came to enjoy, they wanted to dance and this fact changed the mood of the congress.


What is your opinion about congresses with more social dancing than lessons?

I think it should be balanced and with quality. For me, it is important to see a good show, a workshop and of course at the end of the day, all of us want to dance… Everyone started as a social dancer once, some of us became professional dancers.

I personally love to dance, and even if the music is boring I find it difficult to say «no» when I am asked for a dance. But it is different when the music is good… I say to myself “Oh my God! I want to dance!!!”

The music set has the power to kill the energy of a party. But when the music is good, then the passion for dance is turned on. So in my opinion the festival promoters need to be careful when choosing the DJs.

…when the music is good, then the passion for dance is turned on.

So since we are talking about salsa and your love to dance, I tried to make a little research about you and it wasn’t easy to find a lot of information. How everything started for you?

When I was about 15 years old, my dad who loved salsa, took me to a club in Mexico City. There, I saw two social dancers dancing and I said to myself “Wow! I want someday to dance like this”. After that I never stopped thinking about it but at the same time I was curious on music. I love music in all different ways.

So what happened with the social dancers you saw back then?

I was 22 years old and working in Mexico City when I decided to make an on-line search for that guy. He was Miguel Angel Castillo who owned a dance school a few blocks away from my work…

I went there and he remembered me… he owned the first on2 school in Mexico City and  we arranged to exchange lessons. For me to learn salsa and for him to be taught a little percussion in order to be able to explain more about the sound on2.

But between my job and the percussions lessons there wasn’t enough time for me to be taught salsa…

selene 2

And how did you start eventually?

I got to the point to feel so frustrated and I decided to quit my job.

What? Did you quit your job before being a dancer?

My boss started laughing and told me “you are crazy, you haven’t got any ballet classes, dancers are starting when they are young enough. Go home and come back tomorrow!”. But I felt that if I didn’t do it, I would regret it later and I would be angry my whole life.

The international audience got to know you from your collaboration with Rodrigo Cortazar… when did that happened?

Some years later I met Rodrigo (i.e. Cortazar) and I we started dancing together. Not at first, I was an amateur, he was already a pro dancer and my level was very low compared to his. But I was so excited and he saw that passion. So this worked, from the first month we traveled to Montreal and to LA, and after that we went to Japan, NY and so many other countries.

(song: “Guajira con Tumbao” / artist: Amauri Gutierrez)

You said you always follow the adventure… doesn’t bother you the fact that you relocate a lot?

At first with Rodrigo we lived in Mexico City, then in Vera Cruz, (where Rodrigo comes from), and after that, we moved to Leon. We were given the offer to stay in the university facilities, with all our expenses covered and with good salaries while at the same time we were free to travel. Eventually we had to choose: either to stay, earn good money and live like normal people, or leave everything behind and try something different. So, we left to Los Angeles, stayed there for more than three years and travelled from there. Then I moved to NY and worked there for one more year. And now in Rome…

And will you stay in Italy or are you planning going back to New York?

I feel that I will stay in Italy for at least one year, now I am working with Angelo (i.e. Rito) and … we’ ll see… At the moment I am between festivals on weekends, but I will start soon teaching in Rome.

Is this relocation- thing something that excites you? Now you are in Italy a totally different mentality from NY and East Coast or Mexico?

I think the feeling of starting over again makes me disappointed for a moment but at the same time I am feeling very strong when I make a decision. It takes me some time to decide, and nothing is easy at the beginning. But I think that

if you want something to happen in your life you need to take strong decisions.

I have accepted myself, I am a little “weirdo” but I put my heart in whatever I do. I need to feel excited and motivated and I live with these emotions. Lately, I felt that I was starting to lose this excitement. And that was a reason for me to stop and think, that if I choose to travel,  I have to put myself in this. If I want to go to a social I want to be able to smile, to dance and to connect with people. Because for me, each time I go to a congress is another opportunity to mix with people and I really enjoy to connect.

Is talent enough for a talented woman to stand out?

I don’t think that talent is enough, we have to be consisted, to know what we are doing and to be full of passion.

But also we need to change our mentality, because I can understand that there are so many beautiful and talented people out there, and that may make us hesitate and think “am I special enough?” But everybody has opportunities and everybody can bring something new “on the table”. All of us are special and we need to believe that we can make it.

At the same time you have to be exposed, not lose the joy of dance and keep your personal life in a balance. How do you manage all of this?

I don’t promote a lot of myself, nor I am so much exposed, I am in my own world in a way. But I really love dancing, going to clubs, and taking classes. Otherwise I get bored.

What is your impression from the European scene?

Amazing!!! The level of dancing is growing so much and is unbelievable. There are so many  new talented kids who they train a lot. They are dancing reggaeton, contemporary, afro, salsa… They dance everything! The level of social dancing and the workshops and the congresses is very good.

Do you think that something should be done to renew the US scene?

I think that we need to learn more from afro because as I see in Europe, for example in Italy, people train a lot in afro and fundamental movement.

In Europe, Salseros are training to other kinds of dances too but in the US Salseros are not so trained in other kinds.

How was your experience in the Shine Movie?

It was so much fun, and all the cast (Ataca, Charlie, Kimberly, etc) it was so much fun to be all together.

Do you imagine yourself as an actor in the future?

No I don’t. I would laugh the whole time.

Where do you see you self in 5 years?

I would like to have a business in Mexico. But even if I stay here in Europe, I think I would like to have a business focused on art. I would love to have something to support art, dancers and musicians from different areas. Something that shocked me in NY was the fact that from Monday to Wednesday you could see artists with great careers form the Fania era. But people don’t appreciate art any more. They can pay more to see a DJ than to go and see Frankie Vasquez or the Music Sextet playing live. I think that we should support music more.

Do you continue playing music?

When I started dancing I didn’t have time to play music anymore. But I can imagine myself doing it when I get old.


  • Selene Tovar is originally from Guadalajara Mexico and she started having international impact since 2011 participating in various Salsa Congresses around the world as a partner of Rodrigo Cortazar.
  • She has worked closely with Salsa Instructors such as Eddie Torres, Tito and Tamara, Franklin Diaz, Juan Matos and the past year she collaborates with Angelo J. Rito.
  • Lately she is based in Rome but she travels around the world participating in congresses and festivals.

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