Back in the groove

Back in the groove

Enio Cordoba and Terryl Jones share their love of dance in South Pasadena

By Mabel P. Aragón 07/10/2013

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Home is where the heart is. That's what Enio Cordoba, an internationally known dancer, said about his hometown of South Pasadena. He's traveled the world competing as well as teaching for almost two decades, and he has treasured every moment. But while he decided to stop competing, Cordoba's passion for dance continues. Now he's returned to his roots, teaching at the War Memorial Building in South Pasadena, where he's sharing his love for dance with a community that has supported him throughout his career.

"You might say that my career as a dancer occurred accidentally back in the mid 70s," said Cordoba. "I had a girlfriend then who was taking a social dance class at the University of Southern California and she invited me to a dance party. When the end of the night came, they said something about an event next week. I thought it was another party. I went back and it turned out to be a ballroom class instead."

One social outing coupled with a competitive nature and a mental vow not to quit a class led to a stellar career and about 20 national and international dance titles that include: US Amateur Latin Champion in 1980, quarterfinalist in the British Open Latin Championship in 1982, Rising Star Champion in the US Ballroom Championship in 1987, semifinalist in the World Salsa Championship in 1990, winner of the Feather Award for Top Teacher in 1992, Winner of the Feather Award for Hottest Mambo Dancer in 1994, and second place in the World Swing Championship in 1995, among other competitions.

While Enio Cordoba shined in the salsa scene, his younger brother, Robert, made a name for himself as a competitive swing dancer. He currently teaches dance classes throughout Europe and is known for his accomplishments as a US and world champion. Robert Cordoba was inducted into the Swing Dance National Hall of Fame.

"At first, my kid brother would be dragged along with me to practice," said Enio Cordoba with a laugh. "Then, it turned out he enjoyed it. He was dancing salsa and swing. But, in an effort to keep peace in the family, I proceeded to focus on salsa and he continued with swing. It's become a family affair."

While the Cordoba brothers were making their mark in their respective dance scenes, a dancer named Terryl Jones was captivating her peers and judges worldwide, competing in both the International Standard and the American Smooth categories. Some of her dance titles include champion of the Fred Astaire National Rising Star Ballroom Competition in 1990, winner of the cabaret division in the World Swing Championship in 1994, and second place winner in the World Swing Championship in 1995, to name a few.

As consistent competitors on the dance circuit, it was inevitable that Cordoba and Jones would meet. And it was a love for dance that brought these two extraordinary dancers together as husband and wife. Jones recalls the first time she noticed Cordoba during a dance competition.
"You couldn't miss him. He had a little waist, broad shoulders, and was wearing all sequins. He and his partner dominated the competition," Jones said.
Jones has worked with some of the finest coaches, including Roy and June Mavor and Ron Montez, but she said that it was Cordoba who helped her hone her dancing and teaching skills.

Since retiring from competition, the two have focused their energies on teaching. They are the former owners of Let's Dance L.A. and now they are excited about their new venture at the War Memorial Building in South Pasadena, the city Cordoba's family has called home for a half-century.

"I'm teaching where it all started years ago." said Cordoba. "It's bringing together former students Ñ many of whom have become old friends. "

When they are not teaching, the two work on their other business, ExT Dance Consulting, in which they get the opportunity to use their skills and over 32 years of experience to help studios across the country build strong foundations and grow.

Simply, this is a husband and wife dance team that teaches for the love of dancing Ñ master instructors in all styles, including salsa, ballroom, swing and cha cha. In fact, their refined dance technique led to their involvement as choreographers and dancers in the movie "Dance With Me," featuring Vanessa Williams and Latin singer Chayanne.

Cordoba's understanding of the mechanics of body movement, motion, speed and control has also made him popular in the ice skating scene. He's worked with world-class ice skaters at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

"I am grateful to Enio and Terryl for showing me the very best that dance has to offer; for sharing their love of the music, their respect for the culture that created it, and the boundless enthusiasm they have for teaching others to dance," said Evan Bullock-Morales, a longtime dance student.

Along with dance, Cordoba and Jones are also deeply devoted to their family. Besides their commitment to their students, they are also in South Pasadena taking care of Cordoba's father, who is almost 90, and his aunt. Both are dealing with dementia.

"I am happy about what we've been able to do up to this point and ready for whatever comes next," said Cordoba.

For information on classes in salsa, cha cha, ballroom and West Coast swing at the War Memorial Building in South Pasadena, call (626) 817-2572 or write to


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