St. Louis’ finest stylist, Carmen R. Guynn has been known for the past twenty-two years for her unique, distinctive styling. A St. Louis native herself, she is considered one of the most solid and articulated instructors the city has to offer. Her dance background includes not only Afro-Latin styles of dance but also tap, jazz, modern, and hip-hop. She was the winner of Miss Salsa St. Louis in 2002 and has performed in several cultural awareness festivals and fundraisers in St. Louis, Chicago, New York, and New Jersey. Carmen has also been a certified ZIN ZUMBA® fitness instructor since March 2010 and enjoys implementing her dance skills and technique into the fitness training program ZUMBA offers. She is also certified in Zumba Toning and Zumba Kids.
She has performed and taught in several Salsa Congresses including the Northwest Salsa Congress, Chicago International Salsa Congress, Memphis Salsa Festival, Cincinnati Salsa Festival, New York Salsa Congress, New Jersey Salsa Congress, St. Louis International Salsa/Bachata Congress--which she founded--and many others. She was the choreographer of Las Damas Con Ritmo (performed at the Texas Salsa Congress in 2013), Salsa Sabor (performed at Fair St. Louis in 2013), and Conexion Divina (first performed at the Chicago International Salsa Congress in 2012).
As the Artistic Director and owner of Almas Del Ritmo Dance Company LLC, in St. Louis, Carmen specializes in training footwork technique, partnering, ladies styling, leading, and following. She also started the first St. Louis Touch Franchise for both co-ed and ladies styling teams from the world-renown Island Touch Dance Academy. Carmen coached these teams to perform for the St. Louis’ Thanksgiving Day Parade, Fair St. Louis, Festival of Nations, Dancing in the Streets, local corporate companies, and many salsa and bachata Congresses across the country. Her team Conexion Divina performed on Season 1, Episode 2 of OWN's Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s in 2011.
Twenty years ago, Carmen had the desire to bring the first Salsa Congress to St. Louis. With hard work, dedication, and love of Afro-Latin culture, music, and dance, her dream came to fruition in October 2010, with her as the Executive Producer of the St. Louis International Salsa/Bachata Congress. In its fourth year, the production landed itself on the hit TV show MTV’s MADE (2013). The Congress celebrated 10 years of Latin dance production in October 2019.
In June of 2013, Carmen choreographed the salsa scenes in the epic play SOY YO! (I AM ME!), an Afro-Latina suite which confronted the silent struggle of mixed identity in the Midwest. The play was well received and remounted by the Hazelwood School District in January 2014.
After 14 years in the field of engineering, Carmen walked away and began the work of full-time advocacy against human trafficking. As the leader of Coalition Against Trafficking and Exploitation (CATE), she works with community members, service providers, and the Missouri Attorney General to build resources, create best practices, and implement laws to fight this crime. Her goal is to always be a voice to the voiceless.
Carmen is a Christian and not afraid to share the good news of Christ to anyone who will listen. Family means more to her than anything, and when she is not teaching, dancing, or producing events, she is with those she loves. Carmen is a motivational speaker and a life and business coach. She is also a member of the Tapestry Network, a Christian Women Business organization. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Webster University, a Masters in Business Administration from Fontbonne University, and a certificate in Evidence-Based Coaching (EBC) from Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, CA.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!
Mike Sippo graduated from Saint Louis University with a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science. Currently residing in St. Louis, Mike works as a computer programmer and attends Washington University while earning a Masters Degree in Computer Science. During his free time, he enjoys dancing, participating in Belegarth Medieval Combat Society battles with the St. Louis-realm Arnor in Forest park, spending time with friends and family, and writing. He has published two books of poetry and is working on the third and possibly fourth books.
Mike came to Almas del Ritmo Dance Company over 12 years ago. In those years, he has taken lessons with several of the St. Louis salsa instructors and greatly improved his skills as both a lead dancer and an instructor. He has been part of the St. Louis Salsa/Bachata Congress staff since its inception and his debut as a performer was at the inaugural Congress. He has since danced on several Almas del Ritmo teams and continues to work on the St. Louis Congress staff. You can even catch him on stage every now and then.
Liza Beaz Kemp
Liza has been an assistant instructor at ADR since mid-2014. She grew up learning to dance salsa and merengue from her parents in the family living room and at driveway and backyard parties and barbeques with her extended family and friends. In college, she often went to local salsa clubs with friends. In 2013, she started looking for opportunities to improve and clean up her skills and discovered ADR at the Festival of Nations. Since then, she has studied salsa, bachata, and kizomba at ADR, building on the base skills she had learned from her parents, family members, and friends.
Liza studied music in college and plays several woodwind instruments, her primary being the bass clarinet. She has a broad range of interests that include a profound love of reading, several craft hobbies including sewing, cross-stitch, knitting, and crochet, and she even dabbles in writing every now and again. Her main passion is and has always been music and dance. If there is music playing, she is probably singing or dancing along.
Instructor since January 2020
Giovanny Rincon was born in Bogota, Colombia, where he lived until he was 11, when he came to the United States and lived in Brooklyn, NY. Giovanny took his first salsa dance class at La Salsa De Hoy in Brooklyn after about a year of dancing on his own. He joined his first dance team, Latin Reflections, and performed with them throughout high school while starting another salsa club for the high school itself. Giovanny is a veteran of the United States Army where he served a tour in Iraq from January 2007 to March 2008. Once discharged from duty in 2010, he moved back to Brooklyn and earned an Associates in Fine Arts for dancing. He started teaching for Dance Atlantic, Inc., owned by Ms. Melody, from March 2010 until March 2013. Then, he started teaching at Jorday Rivera's dance school where he has taught kids and adults at all class levels. He joined Movimiento Dance company under the instruction of Mike Garcia. The team performed at international Congresses as well as numerous state Congresses. Giovanni moved to St. Louis in September 2019. He is excited to bring all the knowledge he’s gathered throughout his years of dancing and to expand the St. Louis dance community.
Instructor since May 2020
Hailey Shoemaker, born and raised in St. Louis, discovered a passion for dancing while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cameroon, Central Africa, as a performer for Phylarmonia Dance Academy (PDA). This well-known training club in northern Cameroon focused on footwork, rhythm, and steps in more than fifteen international dance styles from South America, Europe, and Africa. During 25+ hours per week of practice, Hailey worked her way up to the competition troupe, where she competed in three regional competitions and won first prize dancing tango and Viennese waltz in 2019. She presented four original choreographies in rock n'roll, salsa, lambada, and African rhumba at the Full Regional Competition in 2019, and performed at weddings and school events throughout the year. From January to May 2019, Hailey also trained with the Adamaoua Regional Competition Team in group choreography, including lifts and throws in African rhumba and lambada. In November 2019, she choreographed a student dance performance of the Charlie Daniels' Band's The Devil Went Down to Georgia, playing the violin accompaniment herself. Upon returning to the U.S., Hailey brought her love for fitness and dance together by training to be a Zumba and Strong Nation instructor. She holds active licenses to teach both since March 2020. Hailey loves to share the joy of dance and fitness with everyone she meets. She continues to hone her skills with the goal of competing in the U.S. and hopes to continue to bring classical dance to high school students.
Before joining the Peace Corps, Hailey spent a year teaching English in Japan through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme, and took a second year working and backpacking in France, Britain, and Morocco. Her passion for travel, education, and development brought her to the Peace Corps, where she worked as a high school chemistry, biology, and French teacher for three years. Hailey holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and French Certificate summa cum laude from Saint Louis University and a Master's degree in Public Health and Epidemiology from the University of South Florida. It is her dream to return to Cameroon as a physician and build partnerships in international medicine through collaborative education.
Administrative Assistant since February 2020
Ellen became an ADR student in 2019. She and her husband met in St. Louis while both attending Saint Louis University, and they married and moved back to the city in the fall of 2018. Looking to revive their college past-time and improve their skills, they take salsa and bachata classes with Carmen and Mike.
Though Ellen's time in the ADR family has been short so far, she is excited to be on board to support the company's expansion through website improvements and email communication streamlining.