A Charleston music and dance show with influences from Latin America and classical music is moving inland for a night.
“Strings and Salsa,” which combines orchestral string arrangements with salsa dancing and Latin music, is coming to Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College on Friday, Jan. 22.
Charleston-based professional violinist Robbi Kenney is the mastermind behind Strings and Salsa.
Kenney started playing classical violin at age 4 and turned it into a lifelong passion and profession, having played recently with Trans Siberian Orchestra and Michael Buble.
“It’s definitely an honor to be selected to be on stage with these artists,” Kenney said.
The idea for “Strings and Salsa” heated up about three years ago, when Kenney said she wanted to write arrangements for classical string instruments combined with Cuban jazz music. She teamed up with friend Gino Castillo, who is the leader of a Cuban band in Charleston, and did just that.
Kenney said the performers handpicked songs that audiences love, including “Oye Como Va,” “Dile Catalina” and a Cubanized version of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.”
The musical show expanded and added salsa dancers about two years ago.
For the dancers, their love of salsa dancing started organically.
Geogria Schrubbe, lead choreographer and dancer, said she was trained in ballet for about 16 years, identifying herself as a “ballerina gone wild.” She started dabbling in salsa about five years ago at a dance club in Charleston and found herself infatuated.
“I got totally addicted, which is pretty normal to happen,” she said. “So I just kept learning more and dancing more.”
Her obsession morphed into a business about a year and a half ago, when she started her Latin dance company Baila ConmiGA in Charleston.
Schrubbe’s dance partner, La Quinn Mims, said he had been dancing his whole life, including “spinning on his head” and imitating the likes of Michael Jackson and MC Hammer. Mims started salsa dancing about eight years ago while serving overseas in the military.
“We didn’t have formal classes,” said Mims, who was deployed to Iraq. “It was just like, ‘This is salsa, this is bachata, this is meringue, go do stuff.’ So I kind of figured it out.”
He started taking formal classes soon after and eventually joined “Strings and Salsa.”
Kenney said the dancers fuse their varied backgrounds into their performance, with moves from salsa, ballet, hip-hop and contemporary dance.
The show also features interaction with the audience, including a line dance.
“This is really an experience that you’re not going to have anywhere else,” Schrubbe said. “I have never ever seen anything like this or been a part of anything like this before. … This is totally different from anything you’ve ever experienced and probably will.”
Kenney, who also performs in the show, said “Strings and Salsa” is the most rewarding project she has ever produced.
“To get to come up with an idea and see it actually happen and see the joy in the audience’s faces … just to do something that’s a little bit original, it’s so much of a rush,” she said. “It’s so much fun. It’ll be even more fun to perform that and bring that experience to a different city, to Columbia.”
If you go
“Strings and Salsa”
WHERE: Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College, 7300 College St., Irmo
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22
PRICE: $20; $18 for Midlands Tech alumni
INFO: Tickets and information at www.harbisontheatre.org, (803) 407-5011 or at the theater box office