Reinier Valdes (Director)
Reinier Valdes was born in Habana, Cuba. He first started dancing to the Afro Cuban rhythms at a young age of 13. Reinier was immediately discovered by a professional Afro Cuban dance team who recruited his talent and showcased him all over Cuba. At age 18, he graduated from the Cuban School of Dance as a dance instructor specializing in Latin rhythms, such as Salsa, Salsa in a Circle (rueda de casino), Bachata, Merengue, and Rumba. In February of 2009, Reinier relocated to Brazil where he continued his work as a dancer, performer, and choreographer. He started his own performance group touring and performing in Brazil.
Reinier now lives in Seattle, WA where he continues to dance and share his talent and passion for the Salsa, and Afro Cuban rhythms through dance classes, workshops, and performances.
Daniela Gallardo (Co-director)
Daniela Gallardo, a native of Mexico, is the Co-Director of “La Clave Cubana” and teaches alongside with Reinier Valdes at their dance academy as well as in the Salsa congresses all over the USA. Her love for music and dancing started at a young age leading her to be one of the principal dancers at the music festivals in her school. She created her first choreography at age 15 and in her early 20's she joined a dance team in Mexico. Daniela’s has been dancing Salsa for 10 years, including LA style (linear salsa) and Latin Salsa and Salsa in a Circle.
Anna-Bernice trained and performed with World Salsa Champion Liz Lira. In 2008 she participated in her first amateur salsa competition at the Mayan in Los Angeles, CA. In 2009, she participated in her first professional salsa dance competition at the Granada in Alhambra, CA, where she placed 4th overall. Shortly after, from 2009-2011, she enrolled as a full-time student to train under some of the most prestigious dance instructors of Long Beach City College, such as Sheree King and Stephanie Powell in ballet, jazz, modern, choreography and there she also earned the privilege to be featured as selected dancer for several ensembles. By 2012 she became the Artistic Dance Director of the Youth Activity League for the Compton Sherrif’s Station, where she put together a number of performances and taught the youth the craft of dance. That same year, 2012, she succeeded as a Zumba Fitness instructor, filling up rooms with over 100 participants. Anna began teaching Salsa at various locations, such as Loyola Marymount University, community and private events, and was even featured on a Hollywood music video.
Boaz has trained as a Salsa dancer and instructor throughout many countries, including Cuba. He began his dance career in 1996 joining an Israeli Folklore Dance Troupe, quickly becoming one of the lead dancers, traveling worldwide to represent Israel in various international folklore dance festivals, and advocating for peace, compassion and acceptance of the other. In 2006 Boaz opened his own Salsa school in Tokyo, Japan. This was a successful endeavor for the 1.5 years Boaz lived in Tokyo, spreading the word about Latin Salsa, collaborating with other dance schools and driving the growth of the Salsa community in Tokyo.
Raquel trained as a Salsa dancer and instructor in Spain, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. She was also part of a Bachata dance team at the local dance studio before joining La Clave Cubana as an instructor.
Since becoming part of the team she has also continued to travel from San Francisco, San Diego, Atlanta, Portland and even Cuba to perform and take lessons from world class master instructors; she is able to include her own style which is a fusion of hip-hop, Latin flavor and her own sass for a style that is truly her own.
Israel West’s journey into salsa dancing began with his love for Latin Jazz in his teens. Merely listening wasn’t enough and becoming a musician was too much. So in the year 2000 he got into salsa dancing to express and share his love of the music socially. By 2008 he wanted to spice up his dancing by incorporating the rotational movements of Cuban style. He fell in love with the warm, friendly Seattle Rueda de Casino community and continues loving it more every year. He was known for hosting a number of rooftop dance parties Downtown and eventually began taking on greater responsibilities in organizing the Alki Beach Casino on Cardboard Summer dance series.
When Reinier Valdes launched La Clave Cubana in 2013, he was thrilled to be one of the first to join Seattle’s first full-time performance team! He has traveled with the team to perform in Cancún Mexico, Atlanta, San Diego, San Francisco, Portland, The Tri-Cities, in Dance This at Seattle’s vaunted Moore Theater, in Soy Cuba at the Triple Door, and performed at a number of corporate and private parties. In 2017 he was recruited to teach for the dance company as a fresh new way to spread the love of the dance form with a new generation. His excitement continues with plans to visit Cuba in the near future and experience the music, dancing and culture right at the source!