Strengthening the Social-Emotional Well Being of Students by Promoting Health, Exercise and Cultural Unity Through Latin Dance Education.
Ricardo arrived in Washington, DC in 1991. His artistic experience at a young age, growing up in Colombia and Suriname, led him to express interest in exploring how best to contribute to the fast growing Hispanic/Latino community’s social integration in Washington, DC.
His passion for the arts in folkloric and modern Latin dance helped him start his career as a Salsa instructor. He started teaching in Washington, DC at various venues including: The first Havana Village Club, Lucky Bar known formerly as Planet Fred, Lulu’s, VIP, Relish, Yuca, Fellinis, Bravo Bravo, Café Citron, South Beach, Coco Loco, Republic Gardens and others. He also served at the prestigious Joy of Motion Dance Center as part of the Latin dance faculty from 1998 to 2002. His work has been featured in many major media and publication outlets, including The Washington Post, The Washingtonian Magazine, Bethesda Magazine, Takoma Voice, Dance Studio Life, El Tiempo Latino, The Gazette, Washington Hispanic, ABC, NBC4, MCPSTV, C-SPAN, TELEMUNDO, UNIVISION, FOX 5 news, and La Voz de America.
Together with his wife, Elba Garcia, they have taught, choreographed and performed more than 500 events in the DC area and in over 20 cities nationally and internationally. In 1996, they co-founded DC’s first Latin Dance Company, DC Salseros/Latin Vibez. They are pioneers in Latin dance instruction in the DC metro area and have facilitated many firsts throughout their dance careers, including being the creators of DC’s first area after school Latin dance programs for high school students, and founders of DC’s first Latino-owned dance studio. In October 2010, they co-founded the After School Latin Dance Fund (ASDF), a 501c3 nonprofit organization that provides artistic, technical and financial support for the establishment of after school Latin dance programs in public schools. These dance programs work to strengthen family values, heritage and unity, and help students develop confidence, promote excellence in academics, and pave their way into higher education.
In the fall of 2012 they worked with the Kennedy Center’s Education Department to develop an instructional online Latin Dance series, “The Five(ish) Minute Latin Dance Lessons”. The first chapter of the series was seen with over 3 million downloads ; the second chapter of the series was released in the fall of 2013. There are six remaining chapters in their instructional series which will also become part of their school based published instructional curriculum.
In September 2019 he was recognized by the Montgomery County Council’s President, Mrs. Nancy Navarro, during the Hispanic Heritage month’s celebration. The theme was “Latin Americans: A History of Serving Our Nation, State and County.”
In October of 2014 Ricardo also received the prestigious recognition of “The Montgomery County’s Community Award for the Excellence in the Arts & Humanities” from County Executive, Mr. Ike Leggett and in 2016 he received the “Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award” from the Capital Congress in Washington, DC.
Ricardo’s mission is to consistently work to continue providing a meaningful after school dance experience to all Maryland, DC and Virginia area elementary, middle and high schools. Through the After School Dance Fund he has developed a program that empowers students and enables them to strengthen their personal social-emotional and educational growth.
Ricardo’s passion reflects his desire to share the power of dance because it gives students an opportunity to mature and become healthy and positive members of our community and our global society.