Shani Talmor: An Israeli Goddess
By Natalie J. Maniscalco & Photos by Chasi Annexy
“I really connect to Salsa in ways that I can’t explain. It does something inside of me,” says Shani Talmor, one of Israel’s most talented dancers and New York’s greatest additions to the Salsa scene. “That passion and fire has made me who I am today.”
Originally born and raised in Tel Aviv, Israel, Shani made her way to New York City only just a few years ago after living, working, and traveling throughout Europe. As a daughter of a dancer, Shani had studied ballet and jazz for most of her life before being introduced to Salsa in her late teens. “When I was 17 I would go to the beach in Israel where they had salsa dancing and say to my friends ‘Let’s go shake our booties!’” she laughs. “I caught on quickly and a friend recommended a school for me to take classes. In a few months I started teaching and I was all about Salsa Salsa!” Never realizing that from fun booty shakes on the sandy beaches of her hometown, her career as a Salsera would quickly take off.
In 2003, at a Congress in England, she met Johnny Vazquez, nicknamed the Prince of Salsa for his “Vazquez-style” of dance and considered to be one of the top dancers of today. He offered Shani a spot on the team if she moved to Spain, and with that, she jumped at the opportunity to learn from the best and travel as a professional dancer. She spent three years in Spain and within her first year became Johnny’s partner for the following two and half years. The entire team then relocated to Italy to form Academia Latin by Johnny Vazquez. She spent another year and half in Italy before deciding to move to New York only four years ago. “I love the lifestyle in Spain, but I wanted to experience that New York City dancer life and try to make it big here, while focusing on new projects and auditions, and even go back to my ballet and dance studies.”
As she takes on New York in her ever-so Diva-esque style, Shani approaches her next steps by storm with as much flavor and energy evidenced by her out-going and robust personality. “I’m working on new partnerships and projects that will really highlight my Latin career and very excited to be a part of them.” From teaching at Pearl Studios in Manhattan, dancing with Ismael Otero of Caribbean Soul, directing Shani’s Girls, an all girl dance team to being spokeswoman, model, dealer and designer for Burju Shoes, Shani is constantly on the move. Her diverse line-up of dance experiences including her performances as a feature dancer at Jennifer Lopez’s 40th birthday party at the Edison Ballroom, a music video for pop-singer Cat De Luna, and Ismael Miranda’s 40th year anniversary, in addition to her reoccurring circus show act at Webster Hall every Saturday night, bestows Shani with a certain edge and distinctive appeal. “Dancing in general is my true passion,” she says. “I don’t consider myself a 100% Salsera, ballerina or jazz dancer. If you are a true dancer you will find that passion in anything you do, anything…you just have to bring it from the inside.”