Meet Christien Olivera!

Christien Olivera is a freshman here at the University of New Haven, joining the Class of 2020 and majoring in National Security. Christien is in the process of starting a Salsa club/team at UNH. Let’s take a look at the reasons behind the creation of the salsa club and the process he took in doing so.

Her Campus: How long have you've been dancing?  

Christien Olivera: I've been dancing for three years.


HC: Why dance?

CO: At first, dance was just something to do during my free time. Now, it is a passion that grows each and every day. If it wasn't for the "Salsa Club" at my alma mater, Cardinal Hayes High School, I would not have even considered dancing in the first place. Within 6 months of training under my previous dance company, I was able to travel, perform, and compete. I want to be able to do that for my team, as well.


HC: What is your goal/mission for the Salsa club? What can the club bring to UNH?

CO: My goal is to create a dance team in a nonjudgmental environment. I want my students/team members to have fun, be themselves while learning more about themselves at the same time. My goal for "Incendio Dance Project" is to not only enhance campus diversity, but to create a dance team that will soon turn into a family. A family of talented individuals ready to showcase our inner "Incendio"


HC: What are your expectations for the Salsa Club?

CO: I want all of my team members to have fun, of course. However, if you want a dance team to flourish, you have to train hard. I, myself, was in the process of training before I left for college. Teaching is a part of my training since it will allow me to learn more about my strengths and weaknesses. Alongside, I have my dance partner/ best friend Tatyana Gonzalez, who will assist me in training all of our team members. The classes will indeed be challenging for most, but if we want to put on amazing shows, we have to train. So far, we have one performance team and we are currently choreographing our new routine.  


HC: What makes salsa “salsa” in your opinion?

CO: People in our generation tend to lose sight on what "Salsa" actually is and where it originated from. In short, Salsa is a dance that was made popular in New York City. The actual roots of the dance originated in many Hispanic countries. It will be wrong to say that a particular country can take credit for the existence of salsa. Dancing Salsa, to me, allows for, not only a good time on the dance floor, but an opportunity to make new connections.


HC: What accomplishments have you encountered in this field of dance?

CO: During my first year at my previous dance company, I was able to perform in the CT Salsa Festival, Washington DC Bachata Congress, and Orlando Salsa Festival. I have been able to perform at various places throughout New York City, as well. Along with performing, I was able to compete in the Starbound Regional Dance Competition, which my previous team took Top Overall, and First Place. 


 HC: Describe the process of starting a club here on campus?

CO: Starting a club is not an easy task, but if you want to make a difference in your school community, you have to take initiative. From writing out proposals, organizing meetings, creating a constitution, and from meeting with UNH Staff, it was not an easy road to take. 


HC: What support have you had during the process of starting the club?

CO: I have had an amazing support system throughout this journey. The student government was amazed to see this addition to the UNH Campus life. Different organizations wanted to work with us in creating a more diverse environment in the University. We were invited to teach salsa at the Lambda Pi Upsilon Sorority event and invited to teach Salsa and Bachata during the Hispanic Heritage month celebration. None of this would have happened, if it weren’t for my amazing team, Tatyana Gonzalez, Ian Leon, and Celece Laracuente. They will be assisting me, in teaching classes, creating choreography and managing the "Incendio Dance Project"


HC: What advice would you give students who wish to start their own club?

CO: If you see something you do not like, or you want to see something that isn't there, make it happen. Never give up. In my three, short years of dancing, I have been doubted and ridiculed along the way. Now, all that falls off the table, because now I can say, I'm starting my own team, alongside my dance partner Tatyana Gonzalez. Believe in yourself and take initiative.