Chris "Moose" Garcia & Yelena Jurney started on their journey as dance partners two years ago. In that time they have taught Urban Kiz, Bachata, Cumbia and Merengue as a mixture of weekly classes and workshops locally as well as out of town. They have both taken the time to travel and learn from some of the best instructors in the world.
Yelena has been dancing for 3 years. She started in ballroom and after 6 months transitioned into the social dance scene where she began learning Kizomba, Bachata, Cumbia, Merengue and Salsa. Yelena is best known for being a light follow which makes her a favorite at any social. Her natural ability to follow instills a confidence in any level lead which allows them to fully express themselves on the dance floor.
Moose has almost 2 decades of social dance experience in Salsa, Bachata, Cumbia, Merengue, Cha-Cha and Kizomba. He has been dancing all styles of Kizomba since 2013. He is best known for being an easy and clear lead to follow. Dancing with Moose is guaranteed to be fun from a beginner to an advanced level dancer.
Christina Piedra is the artistic director for New Jersey’s Cultural Explosion Dance Company as well as director of the New Jersey Island Touch team, New Jersey Touch. She has been performing, teaching, choreographing and directing Salsa and Bachata teams for over 10 years. Her background is in Ballet, Jazz, Tap and Lyrical, Hip Hop and competitive dance team.
She trained in Salsa/Mambo & Latin Dance, and after many years of teaching and performing nationally and internationally, she is considered a Master Instructor in Salsa, Mambo, Bachata and Cha Cha and is a world-renowned Latin dance performer.
Christina has graced stages in the United States, the Caribbean and Europe, performing with Juan Calderon and the Cultural Explosion Dance Company, where she is the Artistic Director and head choreographer.
A magnetic performer, Christina is recognized for her charisma and incredible stage presence. She is also known for her ability to adapt to any lead and brings an effortless elegant beauty to her dance. Her graceful feminine and fluid styling combined with the strength of her classic dance background creates a signature style that is widely admired and emulated by many.
Ariel Perez began his career in dance with extensive training at Onda Latina at the University of Pennsylvania in Salsa. He then went on to train with several world-renowned instructors, including master instructor Juan Calderon. He perfected his craft through continued training, social dancing, and performing.
He then became partners with Christina Piedra, and alongside her Ariel is the Co-Director of the Cultural Explosion Pro Team. He coaches dancers in Salsa, Mambo, Bachata, Cha-Cha-Cha, Afro-Cuban, and all Shines. Under his and Christina's direction Cultural Explosion continues to be one of the most prominent, respected, and sought-after dance teams internationally.
Ariel had been been performing with CX as the principal dancer for about 10 years prior to becoming Co-director, in that time has performed all over the East Coast and in every major nightclub and studio in NJ and NYC, as well in Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, and on several cruise ships.
As an instructor, he has taught Salsa for several studios in NYC, as well as taught workshops at Congresses all over the world. His strengths include partner connection, masterful leading, and musicality. He is a patient and thorough instructor that has trained countless dancers, and a passionate performer who truly knows how to make every move look effortless!
Currently a professor in the theater/dance department at Gustavus Adolphus College, Giselle Mejía acquired an MFA in Dance from Peck School of the Arts at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and her Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from SUNY Purchase College in New York.
She has danced around the world; including Spain, South America, China, Indonesia, Russia, South Africa, Egypt, and across the United States to perform at principal theaters and study with national dance companies including Luna Negra Dance Theater of Chicago and world-renown technology-driven dance company iLuminate who were finalists on America’s Got Talent. She was an adjunct professor at Minnesota State University-Mankato and has artistically directed, choreographed and danced in her production entitled Drop the Mic since 2010 at the Guthrie Theater and the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts.
She was recently Associate Choreographer for In The Heights, an Ordway Original, and an Actor/Dancer in the Ordway’s West Side Story. Giselle is an Artistic Director of Curio Dance and a teaching artist with The Cowles Center. She has co-directed Curio Dance & School since the opening in 2015, a place to train aspiring artists in Stillwater, Minnesota.
Leo da Paixao started dance, theater and music at an early age in Salvador, Brazil. Although he started to dance as a child just for fun, by the age of 14 years, he was dancing and performing in his community. Leo has had the opportunity to study a wide range of dances with many master teachers including Jonathas Firmato and Ilmar Santos for Brazilian ballroom dances, samba da gafieira with Sandro Guedes, student of Jimmy de Oliveira one of the best known samba de gafieira instructors in Brazil, forró with Edj Braga, and salsa with Alexei Ramos, who was taught by Shaka Brown. In 2005, Leo also learned zouk with Adilio Porto.
In the U.S., Leo has taught workshops and performed at the O'Shaughnessy theater, U of MN, Concordia College (Moorhead, MN), and Northwestern College (Orange City, IO).
One of Leo’s favorite activities is to teach and share his passion with people who want to learn how to dance and currently teaches in Minneapolis at Four Seasons Dance Studio and Jawaahir Dance Studio.