Dakhota Romero is featured in this edition of Dance Spotlight! Dakhota lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico but is originally from Los Angeles. She is co-founder of Areito Arts, an educational music and dance company, focusing on Afro-Caribbean rhythms and roots. She was nominated by her fellow Areito Arts co-founder and dance partner, Edwin Ferreras.
Check out some fun facts and information on Dakhota including her thoughts on the importance of giving follows their proper due and her aspirations as a musician. Yes, in addition to being a great dancer, she is a talented singer as well!
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What are your first memories of latin dancing? (A class? Watching friends or relatives dance? etc.)
My first memories of latin dancing are of my Grandmother. She was an MGM dancer (back in those days you were signed to a movie studio) and she danced in many Elvis Presley films. I remember when I was little we would dance around her house together. Among the many things she taught me, Cha-cha-chá and Salsa were two of them. She was my best friend.
You recently shared a Facebook post that discussed the importance of follows being viewed as equals to their leads/partners. It struck a chord with many dancers and it went viral. What steps needs to be taken so follows are given the proper credit they deserve in the latin dance community?
I think the first step is becoming aware of how we as a dance community look at artists. Dance couples are partnerships, NOT solos with a prop. We need to stop assuming that the lead is the only one behind the work. So many things happen behind the scenes, and so much goes in to the final product. The second step is recognition. We need to make it a point to recognize both people in the partnership, not just one. I know so many follows who are incredibly creative, talented, and hard working, who deserve way more recognition and credit within their shared work, and it’s my hope that they begin to receive it more and more.
You’re an amazing singer! What aspirations do you have as a musician?
Thank you so much! Singing is my first love and music has always been such a huge part of my life. My father, Robby Romero, is a musician/singer-songwriter who coined the genre Native Rock in the 90s with his band Red Thunder. Growing up I spent a lot of time with him on his tour buses, backstage, on stage, and in recording studios. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have had some incredible music experiences of my own, such as singing with Carlos Santana, recording in the infamous studio A at Capitol Studios, earning my degree in music, and touring stadiums.
Currently, I’m getting ready to release a Bachata record and couldn’t be more thrilled! I am also so grateful for the incredible talent that has been a part of the project, including; Ricky Manuel (guitarist of Frank Reyes and Grupo Extra), Billy Jaquez (bassist of Joe Veras and Romeo Santos), and Abelito Martinez (percussionist of Monchy y Alexandra and Romeo Santos). It’s an aspiration I couldn’t have dreamed up more perfectly! I just debuted a teaser performance at Los Angeles Bachata Festival and the response was everything I could have hoped for. I can’t wait for you all to hear it!
You have a hectic travel schedule. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who wants to be a traveling dance instructor?
It’s all about balance. I’m an introverted person, so as much as I love being around and interacting with people, I need alone time in order to recharge. With the nature of my work and then the chaos of traveling, it can get pretty challenging. Creating time for myself and learning how and what to say ‘no’ to has been crucial. It can be hard with an extroverted partner, because the FOMO (fear of missing out) is real, but I can only give my best when I am my best.
Describe a moment in your dance life that has made you proud.
My proudest dance moments happen during my trips to the Motherland of Bachata (Dominican Republic), when I surprise locals while dancing with them. My company, Areíto Arts (along with my partner Edwin Ferreras) is centered around culture and the Dominican experience, so my goal as a dancer is always authenticity and dancing “como eh” as they say. There is a big difference between the dancing we see outside of the Island and the dancing on the Island, so to receive that sort of feedback and recognition from street dancers and the people who grew up dancing it, is #goals for me. I feel very fortunate to be able to spend almost two months per year there, dancing in cultural settings and doing what I love (managing BailaMar Bachata Camp and teaching at Bachata Paradise).
What makes a social dance fun for you?
Movement, fluidity, and connection. I don’t care if we do the “basic” the entire song, if our connection is good (adapting to each other), there is flow (smoothness in the way we move around the dance floor), and individual body movement that we can feel from each other — that’s the perfect dance. In other words you can “BASIC THE S**T OUT OF ME” any day!
Social Dance Pet Peeve(s)? (Hygiene, no connection, people who teach while dancing, etc.)
My social dance pet peeve is when someone is so disconnected and unaware it’s like they are dancing by themselves. Maybe they are trying to show off, maybe they are trying to remember a choreography that may not necessarily work in a social dance setting, or maybe they let go of me to do a very lengthy footwork solo — any of these scenarios don’t make for a fun social dance in my book. However, if it’s a lead-able choreography that works (and is sprinkled) on top of the basic, or if they make space to have our own friendly footwork conversation together — that is fun! And, if they’re going to show off, show off to me (not people watching) and show me how well our bodies are connected in our frame and body movement.
Favorite dance video(s) you’d like to share?