SOS: Where are you from originally?
I was born in Washington DC, at Howard University Hospital, just a few
blocks from my curent home in Ledroit Park. My family comes from Cuba
(Santiago de Cuba), The Bahamas and South Carolina. I grew up between
Tampa Florida and DC.
SOS: How long have you been dancing in general and salsa?
Shaka:I have always appreciated body movement, my older brother used to dance in
clubs (Hip Hop Circles) and I would go to clubs with him and watch. I
never danced at the club, but I would go back home and play the songs and
practice dancing in a locked room alone. When I tried out for the Marching
100 Flag Corp at FAMU, that was the first time that I was ever told to
dance in public. After a couple false starts something clicked and I felt
like dancing was what I was supopsed to do. I began to learn to dance
Salsa in my final year of college (1998).
SOS:You are one of
the few people who dance equally well on1 and on2. Do you have a
preference? If so why?
Shaka:As for dancing on 1 and 2, I first
learned to dance on 1 and then learned to dance on2. Learning to dance on2
significantly increased my understanding of the music, such so that I can
dance on1 and still respond to what the music is doing. I feel that there
is much more to dance than what beat you break on, and it's my goal to
connect with my partner and share what both of us are feeling.
SOS:It's been said that you and Dee(Yosi)Scott were very influential in
exposing the modern day Dc salsa scene to New York Style mambo,How does
that make you feel now that the style is becomimg more popular in the
Shaka:Well, there have been much greater things than my influence that have
helped the scene to flourish here in DC. I'm excited to have so many
dancers here in DC because it means that I dont have to travel to New York
so often to get good dances in, and it's always a pleasure when people
come from other cities to DC and have a great time going out.
SOS:You have been selected to teach at all the major salsa Congresses
recently,was that ever a goal or dream of yours?
Shaka:I've been honored to teach at the major congresses this year, and it's
always a pleasure when people come up and say that they really enjoyed the
class and that they learned something. It's my goal to travel and teach, I
love to do it and it's something that I'm constantly working on improving,
connecting to people quickly and helping them to bring out the dancer in
SOS:Your group ClaveKazi has performed at all the major salsa
Congresses.At first it was just you and Dee,what did you look for in
the other dancers that since have been added to your group?
Well, many people that dont know us think that CK is an exclusive club
that requires a blood sacrifice to join. To tell you the truth when
Dee and I started out it was just us because we didn't know if anyone else
would want to dance with us! The most important thing that we look for in
a person is the right attitude. I believe that anyone can learn to dance,
it just takes some folks longer than others, but a bad attitude can bring
a group down quickly. So I dont look for the best dancers, rather I look
for people that exhibit a good attitude, are reliable and eager to work
with a team. When things get down to the late night practices, the
frustrations, the last minute changes, then the attitude is what brings
everyone together. Despite popular belief, a motorcycle is not a
requirement for the male members. A love for motorcycles is however.
SOS:Clavekazi represented the DC area at the 7th annual Puerto Rico
Congress, the performance ended with a standing ovation from the crowd.
What was going through your head as this was happening?
Shaka:Well, the lights on stage are so bright, I honestly couldn't see anyone
out there, it wasn't until the next day that I heard we had a Standing "O"
and I felt a sense of relief and I was really happy to hear that all of
our hard work was appreciated.
SOS: What do think about one day having a dream team, the best from all
the dance groups representing the city at a Congress?
Shaka:That would be a great thing, it takes a lot to bring people together,
somemthing like representing your city at a Congress could do just that.
I'd be honored to take part in something of that magnitude
Finally the ladies want to know is salsa your only girlfriend or is
there also someone very special in your life right now?
Well, I lead a pretty packed schedule, it makes it hard to be in a
relationship when I'm in a different city every weekend. But all in due
time I figure, when the right person comes along then I'll make that move.
Just like dancing, the timing is important.
SOS: thank you Shaka Brown for being on the Stuckonsalsa hotseat