Company Members

To learn more, click on the plus icon on each member’s photo.

Amanda Gill, Director
Founding Artistic Director

Founder and President of DC Casineros, Amanda has been choreographing, teaching, and performing Casino infused with Afro-Cuban dance for the past seven years. Her experiences of sensuality, vitality, and community health in Rueda de Casino led her to study its connections to dance/movement therapy in graduate school.

Born in northern VA, she trained professionally in Ballet and Modern dance as a young adult; this versatile foundation of Ballet and African dance has led her to perform with companies like Ashe Moyubba, George Mason University Dance Company, Carla & Company. While studying modern and folkloric dance in 2004 at el Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Havana, she
also danced Rueda de Casino daily with a neighborhood team, and performed on the TV program Para Bailar. Not only is Amanda an aficionada for Cuban dance, but an admirer of Cuba’s free dance education and expansive dance therapy movement.

Her casino style highlights the body isolations and dynamism of son and rumba, subtleties of orisha dances, and lyrical free styling of modern dance. After completing her MA in Dance/Movement Therapy at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA she worked as a family therapist in Boston and taught Rueda de Casino at the Masacote School. In 2012 she returned to DC to offer Rueda dance therapy programs and to co-direct and perform with DC Casineros.

Adrian Valdivia, Co-Director
Acting Director

Co-founder and co-director of DC Casineros, Adrian has been dancing and performing Son, Casino, and other popular Cuban dances for 10 years. He has also been teaching classes infused with Afro-Cuban dance for the past four years. He won first place in the couple’s competition in Miami Rueda congress of 2009. Adrian has traveled nationally and internationally to participate and to teach in the major Rueda de Casino and Afro-Cuban dance conferences. Along with DC Casineros, he has performed and taught locally, nationally, and internationally at prestigious and popular venues, conferences, and congresses including: the Kennedy Center, Smithsonian, DC Salsa Congress, San Francisco, New York, Miami and Atlanta Rueda Congresses, and the Nicaragua Salsa Congress.

MTV 3 Latino recently featured Adrian and his partner and Director Amanda Gill to talk about Casino as a Cuban Popular dance in the DC area.

Adrian and DC Casineros also brought the critically acclaimed All Stars Dance Company from Santiago de Cuba, and collaborated on a 1 and a half hour production in DC.

Born in Venezuela, Adrian grew up in a family of dancers and musicians, which heavily influenced his love for the arts. Adrian currently trains under the guidance of Afro-Cuban dance Masters Duane Wrenn, Kati Hernandez, Yudisleidy Valdes, Jorge Luna Roque, Yoel Marrero, Oscar Rousseaux and Aramis Pazos. He teaches Son, Casino and Rueda de Casino, rumba at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. His casino style emphasizes the power and intricacies of Son, Rumba, and at times Orisha dances.

Kelsey Schaefer
Rehearsal Co-Director

Kelsey Schaefer is a dancer originally from Chesterfield, Virginia. Her dance journey began at the age of 2 at Jessica Morgan School of Dance. She has studied multiple styles of dance including: ballet, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary, Irish, salsa, Afro-Cuban, and hip-hop, along with others. She graduated from high school in 2011 and was accepted into the dance program at George Mason University, where she studied modern dance. In 2015, she graduated magna cum laude with her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance. While at GMU, she was able to study abroad in Cuba for 2 weeks in January of 2013 and December of 2014. In Cuba, she studied Afro-Cuban and Casino dance, a life-changing experience for her. After falling in love with Cuban dance, she decided to join the DC Casineros in the summer of 2015. She loves dancing with this company and cannot wait to see where this company takes her in the future!

Bex Hernandez
Rehearsal Co-Director

Instructor and Principal Dancer, Bex Hernández, was born as a first-generation American in West New York, NJ to her father of Cuban decent and mother of Puerto Rican decent. Bex has been dancing casino since 2012 and teaching since 2015. Bex currently focuses on leading the collaboration of choreography with other DC Casineros Dance Company members. Bex took an interest in the art form of dance at the age of 6 where she began to dance jazz in Stafford, Virginia. Bex’s dance repertoire expanded as she took part in ballet and jazz for a couple of years throughout her adolescence.

In 2001, Bex was accepted into the performing arts program at Woodbridge High School, where she studied ballet and modern for a year. During this year, Bex was required to collaborate with other disciplines within the performing arts in efforts to provide artistic show cases. While attending Woodbridge High School, Bex was an active member on the school dance team, the Vikettes. This opportunity exposed Bex to intense trainings to perform in school/community functions and compete in jazz and kick competitions. Throughout the remainder of her high school years, Bex attended local private dance studios throughout the Northern Virginia area to study hip hop and had the opportunity to teach hip hip to a young age group. Bex is currently studying Afro-Cuban dance with Yudisliedy Valdes.

Bex’s mother and father would dance salsa at their house parties, while Bex watched with a great admiration. Bex’s mother introduced her to salsa, bachata, and merengue at a very young age, which in turn became part of her everyday life. Bex’s true passion is to connect with the community and provide a safe space where any interpretation of music is accepted.

Instructor and Principal Dancer

Like many of his D.C. Casineros family, Paul Cassens was introduced to Cuban music, dance, and culture through Jim Lepore at George Mason University.
He has performed and instructed with both the D.C. Casineros and Azucar, the GMU Salsa Club – where he was introduced to Rueda de Casino by Digna Rodriguez. Paul has performed throughout the Washington D.C. metropolitan region, Virginia, and many cities throughout the country. In 2016 he had the privilege of performing with the D.C. Casineros in Santiago de Cuba.
With a background in music, Paul enjoys playing and studying Afro-Cuban and Western Art music. He lives, drums, and dances in northern Virginia.

Diana Ortiz Sosa
Instructor and Principal Dancer

Diana was born and raised in Lima, Peru. Her passion for dancing started in her childhood and developed quickly. She started dancing in her high school’s dance group of Peruvian folk music. When she was 14 years old, she became a member of a professional folkloric dance group called “Jallmay Alto Folclor.” As a member of this group, she was part of international tours, including US, France, Italy, Spain and Taiwan.

After several years of professional folkloric dancing, she left the group in order to pursue an economics bachelor degree. However, her passion for dancing did not disappear. Right after she graduated, in 2008, she started practicing casino and became part of Peru Latin Dance.

After her arrival to the US, she became a member of the Boston based Metamovements Dance Company. Later in 2013, she moved to Washington DC and became a member of DC Casineros.

Alex Ritter
Instructor and Principal Dancer

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Alex’s passion for Cuban dance began when he moved to the District. After discovering Rueda de Casino in 2012 Alex quickly threw himself into the genre and began performing with the DC Casineros in 2013. He has been an instructor with the group since 2014. In 2015, Alex became one of only four people in the country to be awarded a silver certification in the Método del Cuadro del Casino (MCC) from the Fundación Casino Para Todos.

In addition, Alex is the creator and host of AGUA Night – a popular Cuban dance party held every two weeks on Wednesday nights at Cafe Citron in Washington, DC. The event caters to the growing Cuban dance community and seeks to support and promote Cuban dance and cultural events around the area.

William Sanchez
Instructor and Principal Dancer

A native of El Salvador, William has been dancing baile folklórico from a young age in school and community events. William has traveled nationally and internationally performing Cuban dance with DC Casineros since 2009. He has taught Rueda de Casino classes since 2010. He truly believes and trusts that learning how to dance is just as easy and simple as counting 1 through 8 as long as you put your heart into it.

In addition to performing Cuban dance, he specializes in choreographing Quinceañeras and other special events. With more than 18 years of dance experience, he performs and teaches a variety of dance styles including Bachata, Timba, Rumba, Cha Cha Chá, Cubatón, Salsa, Reagaetón, Samba, Merengue and more. William is the Chief Creative Officer at DanzaTone™ Fitness where the mission is “Transforming Bodies! Changing Lives.” He is also the creator of Dame un Chin de Bachata where he teaches private Dominican style Bachata classes. He resides in Washington, DC and teaches Rueda de Casino with DC Casineros every Tuesday at Dance Place 3225 8th Street NE Washington, DC 20782 & cardio dance fitness classes at DanzaTone™ Fitness at 11308 Grandview Avenue Wheaton, MD 20902.

Naomi Washington-Roque
Instructor and Principal Dancer

Born and raised in Washington DC, Naomi Washington-Roque celebrates a multi ethnic; Puerto Rican, Cruzan and African American Background. Her passion for dance started in 2008 after living in the Dominican Republic and continued when she started taking Casino Classes with DC Casineros in 2009.

Naomi’s professional dance background includes being President and Choreographer for Rutgers University Salsa team from 2011-2013 and instructor for DC Casineros since 2014. Within Cuban dance, Naomi has a passion for Afro-Cuban and Orisha dances and rhythms and body movement.

Naomi’s other passions include education and youthwork, community building, West African dance, soccer and travel.

Laura Dalemarre
Principal Dancer

Laura was born in Brooklyn, NY and raised in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Born to Haitian parents, she always had a passion for dancing and grew up dancing Compa. Laura has been dancing salsa for the last four years has quickly turned this into a passion of hers.

Her passions also include traveling, spending time with family and friends and working on environmental issues.

Patricia Rivera
Principal Dancer & Honorary Instructor

Patricia Elisa Rivera began dancing salsa during her youth in Santo Domingo. She has been dancing Casino and Afro Cuban folkloric dance for the past 10 years and has been teaching classes infused with Afro elements for the past 5 years. She was a gymnast for fifteen years and also trained in ballet and modern dance.

Patty began her training in Afro Cuban folkloric dance during her undergraduate studies at George Mason University. Since then she has trained in Afro Cuban folkloric and Cuban Popular dance in the USA, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Argentina, and Spain with various Master instructors, and was a principal disciple of the world renowned Afro Cuban dance instructor, Oscar Rousseux Pons, as a member of Ashe Moyuba. She also trained extensively under master of Afro Cuban folklore, Danys “La Mora” Perez, who was a member of Cuba’s national folklore ballet company, Cutumba, and who is the director of Oyu Oro. Patty is also a top flight dancer at Urban Artistry, DC’s premier organization for the preservation of urban dance forms, and is a trainer and instructor for the DC Casineros, DC’s top school for Cuban style popular dancing.

Patty is a Fulbright alumni, currently completing her PhD in Sociology in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. As such, she can only be found teaching in DC for a few months out of the year.