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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Alex Lee

Watching his sensational, sometimes nearly unbelievable lifts, one might think Alex Lee has salsa confused with martial arts. Is this guy related to the late Bruce Lee?

• San Francisco
• Native of USA
• Born: April 9, 1969
• Facebook?
• MySpace?

In fact, Lee is a Krav Maga instructor. For the uninitiated, Krav Maga is a martial art. After watching an Alex Lee video (try this or this), you’ll understand what the words “Zero Gravity Salsa” on his website mean.

The athletic Lee is also a fan of hip hop, break dancing and, of course, salsa, which he has been dancing since 1999. He began performing tricks in 2000, and his high energy repertoire catapulted Lee and his partner, Chi Le, to stardom. (Salsa Trivia: Alex Lee and Chi Le were both born on April 9, 1969.)

What does it take to partner with a force like Lee? Born in Vietnam, Chi boasted a background in gymnastics, along with springboard and platform diving. She also began studying the Chinese martial art Wushu.

Lee and Chi won the Professional On1 Salsa Competition at the San Francisco International Salsa Congress, along with numerous other awards and honors listed on Lee’s website. When Chi retired in 2006, he continued exploring the stratosphere with Kimberly Nodora.

Described by one author as the “Bay Area’s Salsa Superhero,” Lee, an Aries, can’t even slow down out of the spotlight; he’s served as a firefighter and paramedic for the San Jose Fire Department since 1997. (Lee admits he isn’t fearless when it comes to fire, knowing each one could be his last.)

But Lee wasn’t born superhuman. He began weight training in high school because he was sensitive about his scrawny appearance.

More trivia: It took Lee and Chi twelve months to get one of their most complex tricks “from floor to stage.” And if you’re wondering how many times he dropped his partner on the floor while practicing, the answer is zero...though Lee admits he’s come close.

If you’re confused by Krav Maga and Wushu, there’s a more user-friendly term for the lifts and tricks showcased by Lee: cabaret-style salsa. You can learn more about it by taking classes or private lessons from Lee, or by purchasing his Lifts and Tricks DVD.

Please don’t try it without competent supervision, preferably by a professional salsero or a paramedic.

Private Lessons

Friday   Saturday   Sunday  
8:00   8:00   8:00  
9:00   9:00   9:00  
10:00   10:00   10:00  
11:00   11:00   11:00  
12:00   12:00   12:00  
1:00   1:00   1:00  
2:00   2:00   2:00  
3:00   3:00   3:00  
4:00   4:00   4:00  
5:00   5:00 W 5:00 W
6:00   6:00   6:00  
7:00   7:00   7:00  
8:00   8:00   8:00  
W = Teaching a Workshop
P = Performance
E = Evening Dance
L = Booked for Private Lesson
O = Other Commitments

Did you know that many visiting salsa stars offer private lessons? Naturally, you're going to have to contact each salsero to arrange a private lesson. They will also be able to give you all the details.

However, I’ve begun your homework by contacting all the salsa stars who will be offering workshops and performances at the 2009 Seattle Salsa Congress and gathering as much information as they’re willing to share.

I haven’t yet learned if Alex Lee will be giving private lessons. All I know is that he’s teaching a couple workshops at 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

I’ll update this post if I learn any details. In addition, Mr. Lee has been invited to post on this blog occasionally, keeping the community up to date on his availability and any changes to her schedule.

Remember, this is not an official schedule, and Mr. Lee’s schedule could change. Please contact him if you’re interested in taking a private lesson from him. I don’t have permission to post his phone number or e-mail address, but you can find contact information on his Website.

Please try to schedule lessons as far in advance as possible, and please don’t call him while he’s teaching a workshop or otherwise engaged.

You can see a Master Schedule indicating which visiting salsa stars are offering private lessons and their general availability here.

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