New Jersey’s Best Kept Secret for Salsa Dancers & Enthusiasts
4th place World Latin Dance Cup Winner Marcus Nieves talks about his experience competing, his dedication to teaching and his new project Mambo-Land
By Enid Moyeno
When I was looking for a salsa “On 2” connection in New Jersey – I got a rave – excited referral to MDN Studio from a friend of mine. Once I arrived I met Marcus Nieves, Instructor, Performer and CEO of MDN Latin Dance Studio located in Belleville, New Jersey. Marcus, a former Eddie Torres protégé, has been dancing for more than 15 years. Most recently, alongside partner Diana Osorio, while competing in the 2011 World Latin Dance Cup in Las Vegas and ranking 4th place for the On2 Division, a well sought after title and a very intense competition.
Hundreds of competitors from around the world competed in salsa, bachata, cumbia, and cha cha, with the winners being crowned the best in the world! New Jersey’s best kept secret, Marcus Nieves and Diana Osorio, have been crowned one of the best in the world.
In a one on one interview with Marcus Nieves, I had the opportunity to ask him about his dance experiences and success during the World Latin Cup.
SALSEEK:What was your experience like in the 2011 World Latin Cup 2011? MARCUS: The experience was awesome! Two years ago we qualified by placing first in the New York competition and this lead to our first appearance in the Latin World Cup. It was an eye opening experience and we learned a lot. At that point, participation was more of an exploration of the competitive environment – which is a different aspect of the dancing experience. We were used to performing at socials and doing it just for fun. We realized that performing and competing was a totally different ball game. Competing in front of a panel of judges, who are looking for certain techniques, understanding the rules and regulations that you don’t see in a social scene, it’s a totally different world. I wasn’t prepared for that type of dancing. We came back and began training, working hard and it paid off because after competing in the qualifying rounds in New York and winning again, we went to the World Cup and placed fourth. It was amazing!
SALSEEK: The On2 division is a favorite among the spectators attracting 20 competitors from the overall division. How intense was this year’s competition? MARCUS: It was fierce! There were a lot of big names in the back, in the dressing rooms, everybody was nice to each other, but at the end of the day you’re rooting for yourself. You know you’re focused. There were a lot of great dancers, people who knew me from my years of dancing and also made a lot of new friends.
SALSEEK: How was the welcome back from your students and friends? MARCUS: The welcome back home was the best thing. It was actually perfect timing because I celebrated my birthday three days after my return and my students supported me more than I could ever expect. The turnout was tremendous with over 300 people showing up at Euro Lounge Cafe. I really felt the love and support from the Salsa Community of New York and New Jersey. My students were really happy and proud, which has always been my main goal – to come back with something for my students, so they can feel proud of being part of the MDN family.
SALSEEK: Why did you start competing? MARCUS: I started competing to give my partner Diana Osorio more exposure. She is a young talent and just starting out in the Mambo/Salsa world. I’ve been in the game for quite a while and a lot of people already know me in the Mambo world, even though I haven’t been in the competition circuit. I wanted to give myself a new challenge. I’m a perfectionist, and I’ve been dancing for a long time and wasn’t afraid to compete. I think a lot of people are afraid to compete because they don’t want to be judged on that level. As for me I didn’t really care whether I lost, came in third, or first place. It was more important that I tried and I proudly represented New Jersey/ New York and my studio.
SALSEEK:Will you be competing in the 2012 Latin World Cup? MARCUS: I still want to compete and work hard to win first place over the next couple of years but my main goal right now is concentrating on my studio. I am a business man and I have a couple of projects that I am working on including our new dance party Mambo-Land Tuesdays at Euro Lounge!
MDN Latin Studio located in Belleville, NJ offers on2 Mambo classes taught by Marcus Nieves for beginner, advanced beginner and intermediate levels. Marcus has created a very well structured class with enough intensity to get everyone dancing and enjoying themselves, while learning proper technique, partner work, timing and shines. His passion for teaching and dedication to his students supersedes all expectations.
SALSEEK: What keeps you motivated to teach? MARCUS: I love teaching! People ask me why I don’t go out to social dance. I’m concentrating more on teaching and building the studio. I teach so many hours, it’s my full time job so it’s tough to get out there and dance on a social scale after doing it for so many years. What keeps me motivated is to see the smiles on everyone’s faces and see them happy when they first come here. That’s what keeps me motivated. Like when you do a little step and it amazes you, that just does it for me! (Smiling).
SALSEEK: Do you think you take your students to the next level? MARCUS: Yeah definitely! I’m here to teach them as much as possible but it’s also up to the student to want to put the time and energy to improve. You know, it’s like going to the gym. If you go to the gym once a week, then you get once a week results. There are students that take classes for social purposes or they might take it as a workout and that’s cool; but the students that want to take it to a performance level require total different level of dedication on their part. For those students who have an interest in performing and have the dedication, I teach them my choreography and get them ready to perform.
Marcus’ passion is to share his talents with new students and audiences throughout New Jersey. He has a gift for teaching with a high level of precision and technical ability along with an incredible ability to perform. He holds the only Eddie Torres On2 Certification in New Jersey and is an expert in promoting his business. His latest venture is Mambo-Land Tuesday’s at Euro Lounge Café.
SALSEEK: Tell us about your new Salsa dance party Mambo-Land Tuesdays! MARCUS: Mambo-Land is my most recent project. You can find out more information at www.mambo-land.com. It’s a weekly on2 dance party and has been successfully running in its fourth week. A lot of great people and from friends from both New Jersey and New York have come out to support and just have a great time! Mambo-Land is now the hot spot on a Tuesday night in New Jersey, located in North Arlington, only 25 minutes from NYC, and 16 minutes from Newark. Euro Lounge is a large classy club with a lot of dancing space, a 2500 square foot wooden dance floor, reasonably priced food and drinks. It starts early enough on Tuesdays so that you can enjoy salsa dancing during the week and still get up for work the next morning! DJ Ray Colon & Lenny Giaco spin all night while our Mambo-Land Diva’s (MLD) Candy Mena & Kimberly Charles showcase the best of the best including some of NY’s & NJ’s top dance performers such as Vitico La Magia, Piel Canela, MDN Student Team, Hernan Carbajal, Las Damas, Shani's Girls, Elvis & Melanie Castillo, YAMULEE PRO Team, Sophie & Manny, Los Divos, and many more to come. Euro Lounge has become the new “it” place on Tuesday nights, and has attracted dancers from all over to check out New Jersey’s mambo/salsa scene! For more info check out www.mambo-land.com
For more information about Marcus Nieves and MDN Latin Dance Studio visit: www.marcus nieves.com located at 289 Main Street in the State Fair Mall, Belleville, NJ 07109. Phone: 201-388-7832. Email