Arassay Reyes: Dance Instructor

Arassay grew up in the heart of Havana, Cuba’s capital city. Music and dance are second nature to Cubans, where the rich histories of the Spaniards, Africans and Caribbean aboriginals have combined over hundreds of years to create a powerful and unique culture. From her earliest years, she was surrounded by passionate, rhythmic music, and dancing was a natural and expressive part of every gathering of family and friends. But for Arassay, dancing meant much more, and her family and teachers noticed and nurtured the special gift they saw in this little girl.

When she was twelve years old, she auditioned and was accepted into the prestigious Escuela Nacional de Arte. Over the next six years, she not only worked to complete her regular high school education, but she trained rigorously with the best teachers in the country in modern, contemporary, Latin and folk dance, as well as gymnastics, artistic movement and choreography. Few dancers in America would be able to imagine the kind of whole-life commitment and dedication that is required of a student at ENA; for Arassay, the intense schedule and sacrifices were well worth it, as her whole life was moving her towards her one goal and dream: to be a dancer.

She was an outstanding student, and immediately upon graduation she won a place with the Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, a major company, founded by Ramiro Guerra, internationally renowned for its visionary blend of American Modern and Contemporary, classical ballet and Afro-Cuban folkloric dance. She continued training and performing with this company for four years before her life path took another very exciting turn.

Her father had moved to Canada when she was a young teen, but when she turned twenty, he and his wife invited her to come and live with them in British Columbia.

Her first focus upon arriving in January 2008 was learning English and adjusting to the cold weather, but it wasn’t long before Arassay got a great chance to share her gift and her passion with Canadians. The attended the Vancouver auditions for the first season of “So You Think You Can Dance Canada” in April 2008, progressing to the finals in Toronto that summer, and finally to a position in the Top 20, with filming for the show starting that very autumn. Arassay had the time of her life on SYTYCDC, and the judges, fellow dancers and fans across Canada fell in love with her sweet, genuine smile and her passionate, sexy, beautifully expressive dancing. Arassay made it to the Top 8 (one of the top 4 girls) and also participated in the national tour with the Top 10. Her many amazing performances made her a household name in her new country before she had even been here for a full year.

Arassay hasn’t slowed down one bit since this experience. She’s worked with choreographer Paul Becker on the movies “Mordecai,” “Sorority Wars” and “Sucker Punch,” directed by Zack Snyder.

She’s also given numerous performances as a soloist and with her trio, AfroLamba, at a variety of special events and festivals, such as the 2010 International Salsa Festival in Vancouver, BC. Arassay always choreographs her own shows, highlighting her emotionally expressive fusion style. In addition, she has taught many workshops and courses at dance schools all over, and shared her talent at a variety of dance conventions.

Arassay is an intuitive and dedicated dance coach and teacher; she is a creative and unique choreographer; and as a performer, there is simply no one else like her. For Arassay, dance is her life: the physical, emotional, and spiritual expression of her body and soul.

Okokan logo

Okokan, official site of the Afro-Cuban contemporary dance company co-founded by Arassay and Kenny-Davis Ntolla in 2013.