Dancers learn a different style of salsa with Lionel Araya at L.Y.T.E. Dance Academy


L.Y.T.E. Dance Academy gave some dance enthusiasts a little flavor to their repertoire with a Salsa Rueda de Casino workshop, instructed by Lionel Araya, Saturday night.

Araya, an instructor and co-founder of L.A. Dance Connection, taught this particular style of salsa dancing for 30 students. He compared this particular dance style, originally from Cuba, to square dancing, with each dancer exchanging partners while in a circle, only with salsa music playing in the background.

He said what makes this dance work well is that everyone dances with each other and that no one dancer is stuck with the same person. The class was intended for beginners and dancers of all ages laughed, twirled and strut as Araya instructed step-by-step before playing music and orchestrating lesson after lesson leading up to Salsa Rueda de Casino, where everyone gathered in a circle spanning across the dance studio.

“My methodology is purely based on connecting people,” Araya said. “The whole idea is we want to get people together, have fun without any pressures. The whole idea is to get people to come in and destress. People go to work, they have children, the life stressors that are completely disconnected from dance, or at least that’s what we feel.”

Erin Ross, L.Y.T.E.’s receptionist and one of Araya’s students for the evening, said she thought the class was amazing. Unsure what to expect, she thought the class was informational and appreciated how Araya broke down each step leading up to Salsa Rueda de Casino. Ross hoped he could instruct at L.Y.T.E regularly.

“I was talking to the other people in the class and they were like, ‘Man, you guys should have it (as) a part of your schedule,’” she said. “If we could have them come out every so often, that would be amazing. That’s what I hope for.”

Araya will return to L.Y.T.E. for his L.A. style salsa class on Dec. 16. He will be accompanied by fellow L.A. Dance Connection co-founder Yenny Widjaja.

L.Y.T.E. Dance Academy is located on 20655 Soledad Canyon Road, across the street from Home Depot. For more information about L.Y.T.E., go to For more information about L.A. Dance Connection, check out

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