From his roots in South America to a champion in Salsa and Tango
Fernando Zapata was born in Colombia. Inspired by the music and the dances of his homeland, he learned at the age of eight his first dance skills in Cali and Medellín and in jazz dance and salsa with Claudia Cadena. He was enthusiastic about dancing, and so he continued and finally made the decision to make dancing his profession. One of the first peaks of his career in Colombia was the collaboration with the famous Ballet Folklorico Nacional de Colombia. With this group he made numerous performances at various dance festivals across the country.
As his interest in the Latin American dance forms continued to grow, he decided in 1991 to study intensive Tango studies under renowned tango teachers Osvaldo Soto, Gustavo Naveira, Pablo Verón, Ana Milena Plebs and Rodolfo and Gloria Dinzel.
Over the following 6 years, Fernando participated in various dance competitions in Colombia. He won many awards across South America, in different categories and always finished among the top 3 places. Fernando won a total of 37 trophies and was the 1996 Colombian champion in Salsa.
Work as the choreographer of the film "Evita"
International tours: United States - Latin America - Europe
In 1997 he went to New York, where he worked as a dance instructor and started a new stage in his life, there and in New Jersey and Belmont he developed his experience as a dance teacher and choreographer. One of his most interesting projects in the US was when he was employed as a choreographer for the movie "Evita" with world star Madonna. By working in the United States, his contacts widened rapidly both there and also in Europe, whereby his work continued to gain him international notoriety.
In France, Holland, Spain, Denmark, Switzerland, Greece, Poland, Italy and other European countries as well as in South America and the Caribbean, he worked as a performer and choreographer, working on commercials, documentaries and realized many other interesting dance projects. Other examples of some of the activities Fernando has taken part in are for example, dancing on a cruise liner bound for Tallinn, Riga and Stockholm, whose "cool" trip for the first time led him to his numerous stays abroad and tours there. Internationally active Fernando has received invitations to the most diverse salsa festivals, alongside artists such as Super Mario, Luis Vázquez, Melisa Fernández and other stars of Latin American dance, he continues to perform around the world:
- Salsa Camp Italy (May 2011)
- Salsa Festival Fürth (June 2011)
- Bachata Festival Berlin (November 2011)
- World Salsa Festival, Feria de Cali (Colombia - Dec. 2011)
- Latino Festival Corsica (September 2010, 2011, 2012)
- Salsa Festival Petersburg (November 2011, 2012)
- Copenhagen Salsa Festival (May 2012)
- Opening of the Long Night of Museums in Berlin (Klaus Wowereit Cultural Forum Berlin 2012)
- Swering Schloßgarten night. Aug. 2013
- Long Night of Museums Aug. 31 2013 (South American Institute Berlin)
Dance projects in Germany
Best tango show dancers along with Tango Passion and Dance World Champion
When Fernando came to Germany in 1998, he was immediately noticed by his professionalism and from sharing his knowledge in dance classes, creating choreographies and by the quality of his dance shows. As early as December of the same year he designed an idea together with the Latin world champions Ralph Müller and Olga Omeltchenko in Bonn. From 2000-2003 he worked at the dance school basement and the CreaDance dance school as a Salsa and Argentine Tango teacher. Furthermore, he performed at Salsa festivals alongside world famous salsa stars such as Louis Vaskes, Jobby Vaskes, Susanna Montero, Leon Rose and Tropical Gem.
In 2005 Fernando worked as a principal dancer and coach of the famous Modern Dance Companies "Toula Limaios" and "rubato" and with the Latin American Opera (Astor Piazola - María de Buenos Aires) together with the Humboldt University in Berlin. In the same year he participated in the Tango Project Berlin Academy of Arts as a show dancer and choreographic assistant. Furthermore Fernando was also a dancer and choreographer on the program of the summer variety shows in the Ufa-Fabrik Berlin "Are not we all a little tango?" (2006), the Berlin Philharmonic, the Volksbühne (Green Salon), in Tippi tent and ADAC (2009), in the Adlon Hotel and Maritim, and at various fairs and fashion shows.
In 2006 he was chosen from many competitors from around the world as the best tango dancer for a show together with the singer Ute Lemper and other stars of the successful musical "Cabaret". He also performed in front of the Bureau and international delegates from FIFA at the German Historical Museum.
Current Project: South America Institute: Long Night of Museum at 31.08.2013 (Potsdamer Str.)
Kunsthaus Berlin at 02.16.2014
(Jandamer market Berlin - Mitte)
Mentor of Colombian salsa and tango champion / Argentine Tango World Cup in Buenos Aires
One of the main pillars of his activities to date is the training of professional dancers and dance instructors.
In 2006, Fernando organized several workshops in Colombia, whilst there he was also a guest teacher for the six-time salsa world champions group "Swing Latino" and for the World Champions in Stage Tango, Carlos Paredes and Diana Giraldo.
In August 2008, he represented Germany in the Argentine Tango World Cup in Buenos Aires. Together with his dance partner Erica Rist, he has achieved huge success. After they competed against 600 other professional couples from around the world in a competition, they reached the semifinals. Fernando and Erica have also participated in major television shows such as the "Show de Susana" in Buenos Aires.
See the video for Zapatissimo Dance School
Activities in film and television as well as scientific and cultural events
His experience as a dancer in the series “Baila de Rumba” shown by the biggest Columbian channel “Caracol Televisión” enabled Fernando Zapata to work also in German TV (ARD, RTL RBB, MRD) and cinema. He is in charge of training other dancers and actors and he even taught different dance and choreographies to international Superstars from the Pop music world. Fernando is an expert on training techniques for actors, for men and women’s techniques, social dancing and stage dance. An example is the film “Tango im Schnee” with Ursula Moon, where Fernando worked as a dance teacher by creating the choreography and training the actress.
In the Premiere of a film-documentary about the Cuban dancer Caridad Rodrígue Riverón “Caruca-Leben ist Tanz” (Cuba-Germany, Directors: Kerstin Störl and Cornelius Griep), which is a cultural event. Prof. Dr. Kerstin Störl (Technical University Berlin) in the framework of the Latin-American Forum events such as the „Berühmte Frauen in Lateinamerika“ worked, together with the Ibero-American Institute, Fernando created the choreography for the dance show, and even took part as a dancer and got involved in the panel discussion (26.11.2010).
Another panel discussion was planned, organized by the Latin-American forum “Latin Music Talk”, in which Fernando Zapata talked about the development of the music style Salsa and about the actual evolution of the Berlin scene considering the arrival of both local and global influences.Traditional dances in Berlin
Clärchens Ballhaus, Green Salon, Beach Berlin Mitte, Marina Barlounge
Many Berliners, but also foreign and international salsa dancers know Fernando Zapata from the night he leads "Dance and Move: Latin Rhitm", which takes place every Monday in the famous traditional dance house "Clärchens Ballhaus" in Berlin-Mitte.
Fernando was working as the choreographer at the Latino Event "Salsalón", which is well known and popular, and also dancing every Tuesday at "Salon Green" which takes place at the Volksbühne, one of the oldest Latin dance venues in Berlin.
For those who prefer to dance outside in the summer, Fernando Zapata instructs at the event "Salsa Open Air" at the beach in Monbijoupark, Mitte, it is located opposite the Berlin Bode Museum, beside the River Spree and with a historical flair of the capital there Thursday evening group choreography takes place.
Establishing the professional show group "Latino Dance" and the Tanz Atelier "Zapatissimo"
In 2007, Fernando Zapata founded his own professional show group Latino Dance Company, with which he appeared at big events and galas, did choreographies for fashion shows and performances with dances like Tango, Salsa, Samba, Bachata, Reggae and Hip Hop.
The highlight of his career is the founding of a new dance style named "Zapatissimo" in 2010. The dancers and artists in the capital of Berlin have benefitted from having such a renowned choreographer and excellent show dancer performing and teaching locally, also with impressive international experience. Fernandos shows and dance classes are extremely popular because one can learn how to dance particularly fast, at a high level and also having a lot of fun.
The dance studio "Zapatissimo" offers an extensive program for practicing different dances like Salsa in different styles (Cuban, Los Angeles Style, Cali style, etc.) and at all levels, as well as Argentine Tango, Milonga, Vals, but also Salsango and Tango Rueda, displaying Fernando's creativity. He created them in line with other dance forms that are danced in a circle such as rueda de casino.
In “Zapatissimo” the dancing is mostly done with a partner, but there are also group choreographies and also Lady Styling takes place. Numerous Art-dance Seminars are offered and in addition programs are offered on specific topics. For those who want to learn other Latin American dances such as Cumbia, Mambo, Reggaeton, etc., or individual dance coaching Fernando Zapata also offers private lessons in art, choreography and dance.
A new focus of the dance studios "Zapatissimo" is the Bachata. Contact with the Dominican Republic and experiences with the South American and Caribbean dances in general, have helped Fernando to become one of the most important choreographers in the field of Bachata. He was invited not only to the first Bachata Festival in Berlin in November 2010 but also to the even bigger one in Hamburg, the First Hamburg Bachata Festival in April 2011.
Dance - body communication - social integration
projects with children and youth and with the deaf
Currently Fernando Zapata is leading a project with young people and children from the English Language "Cosmopolitan School" in Berlin. He teaches there as a Latin dance choreographer, to enable children to learn tolerance and social integration, but also so that they can project their youthful freshness to appropriate social behavior and enjoy the musicality and the movement in the style of salsa and the Argentine tango.
A new project that Fernando Zapata is involved in is in cooperation with the Technical University of Berlin (Director: Dr. Prof. Kerstin Stöhrl) and their project "diversity and hybridity in the context of culture, language and communication" which relates to communication problems physically impaired people, in particular those who are deaf have. The aim is that Fernando through dance and body language can provide a new perspective for social communication.