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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Vassili

Vassili is not a superstar in the world of entertainment - but don’t tell his students.

• Seattle
• Native of Greece
• Birthday?
• Website?
• Facebook?
• MySpace?

Though he didn’t start studying salsa - the dance he’s most closely associated with - until he was an adult, Vassili has been a performer for over twenty years.

Vassili learned music while growing up on the Greek island of Paros. He began performing as a teen, moving to Los Angeles when he was eighteen. There, Vassili experimented with acting, appearing in such movies as Hook and Falling Down, as well as numerous spots in the TV series The Wonder Years, among others.

Later, Vassili moved to Seattle, where he founded the “world music ensemble” Children of the Revolution in 1999. A unique blend of Spanish guitar - Vassili can play flamenco - Latin rhythms and multilingual songs contributed to the band’s popularity. Children of the Revolution has performed all over the world and even recorded a duet with Ann Wilson, of Heart. (In 2003, one reported speculated that ‘Revolution’ -- a tight band with members from all over the map -- was on the verge of a national breakthrough and could become “the next world-beat craze [to] come out of Seattle.”)

For Vassili, dance was a natural progression, and he tackled it with the flair he’s known for. He took his first salsa lesson in 2000 and quickly rose to the top ranks, winning the “Reno Dance Sensation” Salsa competition two years in a row. As one bio states, “His dancing combines the powerful and rhythmic body movement of Cuban and New York salsa, with textures of flamenco and hip hop.” Vassili has also taught and performed around the world, though his local dance school, Salsa Con Todo, is currently a big part of his life.

Vassili has traveled to Colombia and Cuba to study salsa and Afro-Cuban rumba. And his studies range from footwork to libraries, as he has a keen interest in the entire Latin dance culture. (Did I mention that Vassili speaks Spanish?)

A close look at Vassili’s artistic forays reveals a possible interest in politics. Children of the Revolution recorded a song titled “Guantanamo,” and Salsa Con Todo’s website features a quote that I had to steal for my own - “A revolution without dance is a revolution not worth having.”

In fact, I believe Latin music is living proof that politics doesn’t have to be boring and sleazy - but that’s another story...

His talents as an actor, singer, flamenco guitarist and dancer contribute to Vassili’s stature as an instructor. However, one has to wonder if being spread out so thin also holds him back. If so, that may be fortunate for the salsa community, for it would be a shame to lose such an artistic firebrand to the big screen.

P.S. No, I do not know Vassili’s last name.

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   5:00  
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 Vassili will be giving private lessons during the congress. However, my best guess is he will be - unless he’s already booked up. Of course, you can take private lessons from Vassili long after the Seattle Salsa Congress, since he lives and teaches in Seattle!

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

Remember, this is not an official schedule, and Vassili’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 or otherwise engaged. If you use this information to help you schedule a private appointment, please let Vassili know. If this project is successful, I may do it again during the next Seattle Salsa Congress.

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

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