Salsa spices up campus



Students don’t have to leave campus to learn a few dance moves and improve their health.

“Salsa Your Way to Better Health” will take place Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Student Center Grand Ballroom.

The program is a collaboration between event sponsor Student Wellness Ambassadors, UK Dance Ensemble and the Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Center Salsa Club.

Jermey Taylor, a Student Wellness ambassador and member of UK Dance Ensemble, said he planned the event to showcase Salsa Club members’ dancing skills and to encourage healthy activity on campus.

“As a wellness ambassador, I decided to use dance as a means of promoting physical and mental wellness,” Taylor said.

The Student Wellness Ambassadors program began this fall. Previously called “The CAUSE” (College Alcohol Use Student Educators), the group decided to expand its focus beyond alcohol.

Nicole Hayes, a broadcast journalism junior and president of Student Wellness Ambassadors, said ambassadors now act as peer educators and focus on broader subjects relative to student health and wellness. She said “Salsa Your Way to Better Health” will help students “gain helpful information and an awareness of Student Wellness Ambassadors.”

“It will be a fun event,” Hayes said. “Students can learn how to dance or improve skills. We will also be playing popular music and we will hold a dance off. Best of all, there will be free food and giveaways.”

In addition to learning salsa moves, Taylor said attendees can expect to see presentations from on-campus and area dance groups.

“We have invited UK Dance Ensemble, the MLK Cultural Center dance group, as well as The Dance Place to provide guest performances,” Taylor said. “The dance routines will vary from salsa, to Afro-Latin, to belly dancing.”

The Dance Place co-director Reena Tobo said Taylor contacted her about having participants from The Dance Place at “Salsa Your Way to Better Health” after he saw some of the studio’s performers at this year’s downtown Festival Latino.

Tobo said The Dance Place focuses on teaching culturally diverse dances, some of which will be showcased at the campus event.

“Six people will be doing a short salsa and chacha,” Tobo said. “It’s by Celia Cruz, so really familiar music to a lot of people.”

Tobo said she hopes the UK community will appreciate the benefits of various dances.

“I hope that they will take away culture,” Tobo said. “It’s good for health, body and mind. With dance, it ignites all of those things.”

Students and the rest of the Lexington community are welcome to attend the interactive event to enhance dancing skills and to learn about the healthy opportunities that the UK campus offers, Taylor said.

“The audience will be actively participating throughout the program,” Taylor said. “A salsa dance lesson will be given at the beginning of the program…Throughout the program, different campus organizations pertaining to health and wellness will briefly present on what their organization is about and the resources they offer. They will also have booths set up in the back to hand out information or to answer questions students may have.”

Attendees don’t need to have any salsa experience. Taylor recommended participants bring dancing shoes, though, as they will be dancing for the majority of the event.

Taylor said he hopes students will develop interest and appreciation for the healthy initiatives available on campus.

“I hope students will not only have fun at this event, but understand that staying physically and mentally healthy is important for success in college and in their future careers,” Taylor said.