“If you don’t have your own voice, then you’re not really an artist.” - Ron “Renaissance” Prokopez
By Natalie Maniscalco & photos by Chasi Annexy Click here to view more photos
Dressed in a black and gold zip up with the words New Era stitched on the front, Ron sits on the stoop of his apartment building in Washington Heights. With his distinctive 1950’s glasses glazed in white trim and razor sharp hair style often shaved with fresh design work, he certainly stands out, not just in height but emanates the air of young talent. An artist by nature and a musician by heart, Ron sets the stage for the official commencement of “The Renaissance.”
Born and raised in Washington Heights, Ron “Renaissance” Prokopez, who will be performing his first single at SOB’s in New York City on Friday night, January 6th, hit the salsa scene at the early age of 14 years old. He first learned to play the trombone while at school where he was encouraged to participate in the public music program. “I didn’t actually choose the trombone,” he says. “I had to put my name in a hat and I happened to get assigned to it.” Inspired by musicians like Willie Colon and Jimmy Bosch, Ron quickly picked up the tricks of the trade and started playing with different bands at various clubs and venues around the city including Gloria Estefan, Kool & The Gang, Tito Rojas, Don Omar and Beanie Sigel to name a few.
At 16 years old, long-time childhood friend Willie Rodriguez, the musical director of La Excelencia, a popular New York City based Salsa dura band brought Ron on as the lead trombonist of the band and has been with them ever since, traveling around the world, performing and working as a full-time musician and artist. “I’m really blessed to be able to travel so much and to have grown up in the mecca of it all,” says Ron. “I’ve learned a lot from all of my experiences and the people I have met along the way.”
It’s clear that Ron was instilled with a unique talent not only as a musician, but as a writer and a dancer. He learned the basic on2 step with Joe Burgos from Piel Canela, a Manhattan-based dance school, but perfected his authentic style by just dancing at clubs, socials and parties. Later on, while teaching Salsa at a school in Yonkers, Ron met Dister Rondon, a hip hop dancer who introduced him to the underground hip hop dance scene in New York City. Fascinated by the intricate movements and robotic turns of the neck and torso, Ron soaked up as much as possible while incorporating Salsa into his footwork. “I would go to salsa socials and practice my hip hop moves and from there started to develop my own style.”
In 2010, Ron founded Renaissance Collective, an infusion of hip hop with a twist of Latin soul. Although some die-hard salseros might criticize the mixing of other genres, like hip hop into salsa dance and music, others have embraced this new-found sound with his first single Kickin’ It, which was featured on Azteca TV throughout Latin America. “I think people need to get out of their comfort zone and experience different things. I think I have a lot to offer that’s different and that could be refreshing to both the music and the dance scene. I’m always thinking out of the box and willing to try something different. Whether it works or not at least I’ve tried.” He’s currently working on his first solo album, expected to be released in March 2012, a solo dance routine and a collaborative dance team.
It’s a New Year and with that, perhaps time for a new renaissance….
Join us on Friday, January 6th at SOB’s as we support Ron Renaissance in the debut of his new song “Kickin It” featuring LIVE music by Renaissance Collective.