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Francisco's biography

  Francisco was born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico. He is the second of five brothers, children of a bio-chemist father and a pediatrician mother; he grew in a scientific, rather than artistic environment even though music and dancing were part of the family’s everyday life.

 He was only fourteen years old when his family emigrated to Canada, choosing the Montreal area as their new home, attracted by the city’s bilingual culture and cosmopolitan allure. There he took his first dance lessons at the age of fifteen and was fortunate to quickly be taken under the wing of one of Montreal’s best dance teachers of that time: Antonieta Cortés Bareño.  He was so impressed by the teaching abilities of his instructor and by the impact the benefits of dancing had in his personal life that only a few months later he made the commitment not just to work as an instructor, but to a lifelong quest to become the best dance teacher he could be.

Francisco De La Calleja (third from right, last row) with students at amatyeur show 2012Francisco De La Calleja (third from right, last row) with students at amatyeur show 2012 Today Francisco is a dance teacher and instructor trainer of multiple talents, a veritable walking encyclopedia and one of the most experienced Salsa instructors in the Montreal area. His dance experience ranges from Mexican and international folklore, classical ballet, ballet-jazz, tap, lambada, American and International Style Ballroom, old style swing, different styles of Salsa and other Latino dances as well as aerobics and rhythmic gymnastics.

 In a teaching career spanning thirty-three years, Francisco taught more than twenty-one thousand students in six different dance schools before becoming an independent teacher. He has also danced in, coached or choreographed for nine dance troupes: Ballet Mexicano Aztlán, Les Sortilèges, Poetry in motion, Lambadança, Lucimar, San Tropez (professional and amateur), Rainbow Salsa, Etnia Rueda Troupe and Salsa Team Canada.

He has performed and choreographed in films, TV shows, music videos and almost a thousand live performances across the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario. He has also performed at Salsa Congresses and Conventions in Montreal, Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Puerto Rico. He was a member of Salsa Team Canada from 2002 to 2005 at the World Salsa Congress in Puerto Rico and the team’s Quebec choreographer in 2005. Francisco De La Calleja (extreme right) at the World Salsa Congress in Puerto Rico, 1999Francisco De La Calleja (extreme right) at the World Salsa Congress in Puerto Rico, 1999

 Francisco was co-founder of the fabled San Tropez Dance School in Montreal in the 1990’s. Besides teaching, his other functions included developing curricula, teaching systems and training the teaching staff. Francisco was the school’s top teacher for the first fifteen years of its existence, establishing records for the number of lessons taught and the number of students who took their lessons with him. He was soon recognized by his students as being one of the most resourceful dance teachers in eastern Canada, as well as a Rueda de Casino Master teacher.

 Some of the most renowned salsa and latino dancers in Quebec got their first training with him, including the current directors and teachers of several dance troupes or schools such as Victor Alexis Contreras, Moris Walter Alvarenga, Rick Hamalian, Maude Chenier, Linda Butt, Laurence Schultz Maiga, Cornell Mannings, Rania Greiche, Manuel Medina, Vanessa Quilez-Nalda, Rodolfo Molina, America Rabanal, Adriano Ieropoli, América Rabanal-Ayansen, Libertad Rabanal-Ayansen, Ricardo Yañez, Kassandra Rekatsinas and Robert Chamberlain.

Francisco De La Calleja (fourth from the right, last row) with Salsa Team Canada, Puerto Rico Salsa Congress, 2005Francisco De La Calleja (fourth from the right, last row) with Salsa Team Canada, Puerto Rico Salsa Congress, 2005Since his earliest days in the field, Francisco was committed to perfecting not just the art of dancing but also the science of teaching dancing. He has studied the biomechanical, psychological, sociological and even genetic aspects of human motion and learning. In 1997 he was the first proponent of “Visual Dancing”, a teaching philosophy that regards dancing as a natural activity made of elements that any human being can see and execute.  

Even though that method was successful, his endless study of teaching customs and habits led him to question a lot of the techniques and language used by dance instructors and to reject a lot of the popular “wisdom” that has shaped the thinking of no few of them. Early in the new millennium he began developing the “She Dances… With Him!” theory and teaching system, finally implementing it in 2009. It has been a resounding success with a whole new generation of dance students.

 Starting in 2015 Francisco began a parallel career as a writer with the purpose of documenting the knowledge acquired over so many years of teaching experience. His hope is that the next generations of dance teachers have the tools to build a better teacher environment for their students. His first book, Words We Can Dance, a collection of inspirational, motivational soundbites is now available. Soon to be released, She Dances Salsa... With Him! brings to light the untold facts of learning, teaching and dancing salsa. A teaching manual for salsa and other latin dances is in the works, as well as a collection of teaching anecdotes.