October 13, 2016

BLU at CSU debuts Latin dance classes

Doctoral student and local dance instructor Brittany Carbaugh formed Baile Latino Urbano (BLU at CSU) on Cleveland State’s campus after many students told her they wanted to dance and become part of an organization that allowed them to do so.

Carbaugh said dancing is something she’s done for the majority of her life and has studied many forms of it. When she was introduced to partner dance, specifically in salsa about six years ago, she wanted to bring her love for the dance to Cleveland State for its first year.

After going through the process of creating the student organization and promoting it over the summer, dance classes began in the beginning of September.

Carbaugh is the president of BLU. Other officers of the organization are Vice President Marisha Daniels, Treasurer David Rodriguez, Secretary Carlina Dirusso, Advisor Mr. Roberto Chavez and instructor Heriberto “Eddie” Perez. The classes are taught by Perez, and sometimes by Carbaugh as well when she has time away from her studies.

Students, faculty and alumni of all ages, background and ethnicity can take the classes in a variety of Latin dances — specializing in salsa. Other dances taught in the class are merengue, cha-cha-cha, and bachata, which are taught on the third floor of Mather Mansion, unless noted otherwise.

“Many may think that this is a very formal type of dance class, but it isn’t,” Carbaugh said. “We honor the “street dance” of Latin dances, but do add counts to them so it is more structured and easier to understand the meaning of the movements.”

As the website on Orgsync indicates., no one needs dance experience to be apart of the classes. BLU encourages that beginners join to get a better hands-on learning experience of the dance and its culture.

“I’ve known Eddie [Perez], our instructor of BLU, for years now, and he’s just so amazing and such a talented dancer,” added Carbaugh. “His fun personality and knowledge of dance make the classes a great time for everyone. Eddie encourages everyone the same no matter what level you are, and helps you find things in dance that you never knew were possible.”

 Other than the main campus, Perez and Carbaugh have been and are still dance instructors at Viva Dance in downtown off of East 38th Street and Superior Avenue where Perez is the studio’s co-owner.In their years of collaborating and after the creation of BLU, the most important aspect of the Latin dancing they want students and the community to understand is culture, according to Carbaugh.

“We want people to develop and understand the culture as well as the dancing,” Carbaugh said. “You don’t have to be from the Hispanic culture to be a part of the class. When you grasp the meaning of it, it should influence your dancing.”

According to Carbaugh, the number of dancers are still growing, but the students participating form a diverse group.

For example, engineering student Viswanath Kesavan came to CSU from India and joined the organization after seeing a flyer around campus.

“In India I do many traditional Indian dances as well as salsa dancing,” Kesavan said. “Salsa music and dancing (are) actually incorporated in a lot of Indian music, so when I noticed the flier at on campus, I immediately wanted to join because I knew it would be more like an actual class.”

Because the classes are on campus and during a common hour, it’s very convenient to walk to a dance class and relieve the stress that you may get from classes and school, Kesavan adds.

BLU at CSU dance classes fall on select Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., during the two, five week programs offered each semester. To join, students pay $7 per lesson or $25 per cycle.

The organization will present its style of dance alongside Cleveland State’s Multicultural Engagement institution during a Hispanic Heritage Month event on Oct. 13, which is open to the public and all are welcome.

For more information about BLU at CSU, follow it on Instagram and Facebook at bluatcsu or visit its website http://csuohio.orgsync.com/org/bluatcsu/home to learn more.


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