Jennifer Aucoin — Founder, Executive Director, Instructor
Jennifer Aucoin is a full-time salsa instructor, choreographer and event organizer. She is co-artistic director for Steps Dance Company & co-founder of the Women’s Salsa Retreat.
As a trained adjudicator, Jennifer has judged competitions in Puerto Rico, Ecuador, New York, Las Vegas, Orlando, Miami, Detroit, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto. She has also represented Canada on the judging panel for the World Salsa Championships televised on ESPN. She is on the judging panel for the prestigious Global Salsa Championships at the World Salsa Summit.
Jennifer was also the first instructor in Canada to be certified to teach Latin Hustle by the IHDA.
Jennifer is the founder and organizer of the annual Canada Salsa & Bachata Congress, an international salsa festival that takes place in Toronto every October. This 4-day extravaganza, now in its thirteenth year, is the largest salsa event in Canada and features nightly performances by over 60 dance companies from all over the world and daily salsa workshops given by world-renowned instructors. The Canadian Salsa Championships, part of the Canada Salsa & Bachata Congress weekend, is the largest and most widely recognized Salsa & Bachata competition in Canada.
Jennifer is also co-founder of Discover Dance Canada, an organization which teaches Latin Dance to elementary and high school students. This program was born with the mission to build confidence, self-esteem and cultural awareness in children and teens through Latin Dance in the school curriculum.
Jennifer has been involved in dance and the performing arts her entire life and has extensive training in gymnastics, ballet, flamenco, Argentine tango and, of course, salsa. To keep progressive, she continues to travel extensively to learn from the world’s best dancers and instructors, and has attended close to 100 salsa congresses in Puerto Rico, Los Angeles, New York, Colombia, Ecuador, Miami, Zurich, Amsterdam, Washington, Boston, Detroit, Orlando, Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal. Jennifer has also taught at salsa workshops in Puerto Rico, Holland, Ecuador, Washington, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Detroit, Montreal and Ottawa.
Angelo De Torres — Artistic Director, Instructor & Performer
Angelo was introduced to the Latin culture in high school, where he was captivated by the diverse forms of expression inherent in Salsa and Latin music.
Angelo has trained with Clifton Stennett, Jennifer Aucoin and international instructors such as Billy Fajardo, Katie Marlow and Nelson Flores. Elements of each coach are seen through his dancing and teaching style.
As an instructor at Steps, Angelo has co-choreographed various pieces including the Steps Bachata Performance classes and the Steps Latin Hustle Performance classes. He also co-directs Steps Dance Company and choreographs Salsa, Bachata and Hustle for the team. He has performed with the Steps Professional team in various Salsa Congresses and events including Mambo Nights in Bermuda, New York Salsa Congress, Hustle & Salsa Festival in Puerto Rico, The Montreal Salsa Convention, the Canada Salsa Congress and the International Hustle & Salsa Competition in Orlando.
Amanda Roberts — Instructor
Amanda finds power and inspiration in the freedom to express herself through music and in the universality of dance. In 1997, while living in Australia, Amanda discovered the rhythm of Salsa. Shortly thereafter she began her journey of extensive training, studying Salsa at Toronto’s dance schools as well as with world-renowned instructors at international congresses. Eventually Amanda expanded her repertoire to include Casino Rueda, Bachata, Cha Cha Cha, Merengue, Cumbia and Latin Hustle.
Amanda comes from a long line of people who love the stage; her grandmother was an opera singer and both her mother and sister are actresses.
Amanda has performed at numerous events. Some of her favourites include: representing Salsa Team Canada at the Puerto Rico Salsa Congress (2003), dancing in Sarah Slean’s music video Lucky Me with City Dance Corps (2004), and performing at the Montreal Salsa Convention (2009) and the Canada Salsa Congress (2004, 2008, 2009 & 2011).
Jennifer Foster — Instructor & Performer
Jennifer Foster has been with Steps for 8 years, dancing Salsa, Cha Cha, Bachata and Latin Hustle. She is a member of Steps Dance Company and has performed at several Canada Salsa Congresses, the Montreal Salsa Congress, and many of Toronto's top Latin Dance events. A lifelong dance and performing arts enthusiast, Jennifer studied ballet for twelve years, as well as jazz and modern dance before discovering her love of Salsa. She now works as a professional actor, musician and teacher and is very excited to be a part of the Steps Dance Studio family.
Ivan Wanis Ruiz — Instructor & MC
Ivan has been dancing for over 10 years. Originally as a B-boy and hip hop dancer, he later fell in love with salsa dancing. Since then he has danced and learned from some of the best salsa dancers in the world on 3 continents. Ivan combines his background in urban dance with his salsa to create a unique and natural flavour. "Fun is always first for me, I believe the only way you will really learn is if you are enjoying yourself, so if you want to be a kickass salsa dancer and have lots of laughs along the way, look no further!"
Rebecca Pollard — Instructor & Performer
Aussie born and bred, Rebecca carries her charismatic smile and beach-town vibe wherever she teaches and performs. Having danced since she was 6, Rebecca has been involved in all sorts of genres from Jazz to Classical, Bollywood to Hip Hop, Salsa to Samba.
Her passion for dance led to an intense love for choreography. She was recruited to teach choreography to the Cheerleaders of the Newcastle Jets, a member of Australia’s top professional soccer/football league, in addition to teaching across various schools across Australia and Canada.
Her career in dancing took a twist when she was exposed to Salsa and Bachata at a local pub. It was a world which would pull her in and send her travelling across the globe to the USA, Canada, Croatia, Belgium, Ireland, Holland and the UK to perform at congresses and refine her Latin styling. Fusing love for all dance styles, Rebeca’s classes focus on strength and fluidity, body appreciation and expression. Her teaching method is grounded around 3 core concepts: Control, Power and Connection.
Dreyser Garcia Soto — Instructor & Performer
Dreyser has been dancing since the age of 12 and has studied all of the Cuban rhythms, as well as Afro –Cuban dance. He began his professional dancing career in 2002 in Havana, Cuba. As part of a dance company called the American Theatre, Dreyser performed regularly in nightclubs, theatres, and on television. He traveled to Ecuador and Nicaragua to teach and perform and also taught and performed at the Salsa World Festival in Italy. In 2008, Dreyser worked for a hotel in Cayo Largo Del Sur, Cuba, performing 14 different shows each week and teaching Casino Rueda daily. He moved to Toronto in 2012 and now teaches Afro Cuban rhythms and Casino Rueda at Steps. Dreyser’s passion for dance shows when he teaches and when he is on stage. Dance is a part of his life, and always will be.
Kathy De Torres — Instructor & Performer
Jena Alma — Instructor & Performer
Jena, Admin by day, and Dancer by night - has always had a tangible love and passion for both performance and the creative process. She studied as a Theatre Major in the Claude Watson Arts Program. Jena has been performing and competing in dance for over 15 years and teaching for over 6 years. Over the last decade Jena has performed and competed all across Canada and abroad at events including; Canada Salsa Congress, Toronto Salsa Festival, Toronto Bachata Festival, Chim Pum Callao Congress in Niagara Falls, Vancouver International Salsa Festival, Montreal Salsa Congress, The Michael Jackson Experience Tribute Tour, and the Mambo Nights Festival in Bermuda. Her primary styles are Hip Hop & Latin though she has trained in various other styles including Ballet, Jazz, Modern, and Dancehall. Jena has been a back-up dancer and choreographer for many local artists and a principal dancer for several Dance & Entertainment companies in Toronto including Latin Energy, School of Mayhem Entertainment Inc, Phantom S.O.M.E, Dance to Live Pro, Dos Santos Dance, Korikoa Pro, New Skin, The Booking House, Hollywood Heaven Entertainment Inc, and The Watah School. Jena has also choreographed several student performance teams and coached competitors in Hop Hop, Salsa, Modern & Hip Hop Salsa Fusion. In 2011, Jena was a Top 70 finalist on Season 4 of "So You Think You Can Dance Canada." Her experience there has continued to motivate her to keep exploring other genres and push her limits as a dancer. Jena is also a spoken word artist, a vocalist and a visual artist - always eager to grow and explore new aspects of creative expression. Jena is thrilled to have found a new home at Steps!
Kylie Strickland — Instructor, Performer, Front Desk
Kylie is the 2nd Australian to join the Steps family. She believes if you're not having fun dancing, then you're not doing it right!
Kylie has several generations of ballroom dancers in her family, you could say dancing is in her blood! She began her dance training at the age of 4 and studied ballet, tap, jazz, cabaret, commercial jazz, and ballroom styles, and graduated with a degree in Musical Theatre and Commercial Dance. Following her passion for performing, at 19 she left home and travelled the world as a professional dancer onboard cruise ships for 10 years.
Kylie began teaching as an assistant to her ballet teacher at 13 years old. Over the years she has taught adults and children in jazz, tap, artistic gymnastics, fun and flirty bachelorette parties, and wedding couples' first dance. Her Salsa training started with Australian Champion Elli Torres in 2011, competing and travelling with Elli's Latin Divas. Now Kylie continues her Salsa journey under the brilliant direction of Steps Dance Studio's instructors.
As part of the Steps family Kylie is on the semi-pro performance team; has choreographed for the Ladies Sexy Jazz and the Ladies Pro Salsa team, and currently teaches Stretch Spin and Style, and Jazz classes for the salsa dancer. Whenever you take one of Kylie's classes, be sure to bring your smile and be ready to train hard and laugh lots!
Khalvin Herbert — Front Desk
Steps Dance Company — Formed in 2010
The team is currently under the direction of Angelo De Torres, Jennifer Aucoin and Rebecca Pollard. In addition to performing annually at the Canada Salsa Congress and locally at charity events, weddings, nightclubs and private functions, the team has also performed at the Montreal Salsa Convention, Salsa at Blue Mountain in Collingwood, Salsa on St. Clair, Toronto Bachata Festival, Toronto Salsa Festival and the Toronto Open Swing and Hustle Championships.
Steps Dance Company has performed routines in many genres such as Salsa on 1, Salsa on 2, Bachata, Cha Cha, and Latin Hustle. The team members have been honoured to have received training by some of the world's most respected dancers such as Billy Fajardo and Katie Marlow from Miami, Tito Ortos & Tamara Livolsi from Puerto Rico, Nelson Flores from New York and Grupo Alafia from Italy.
Steps Amateur Team — Formed in 2015
"We would like to thank you for the Choreography course and for the time you spent with us. These past 7 months were unforgettable... we really grew up under your supervision and training. We worked hard because we knew it was the only way we were going to improve but we always had fun and felt so much support from you."