Stevie Insua is one of the most popular instructors at Alvin Ailey, where he teaches Afro-Cuban dance on Friday nights to the general public. It doesn’t matter that the 40-year-old barely speaks English — as he whips his long braids and demonstrates the proper way to do a cha-cha step, you can feel the room shed its collective inhibition.
“My father was a dance teacher, so it’s in my blood,” the Havana-born Insua tells The Post in Spanish. “He had me do my first performance when I was 4 years old. I danced the rumba onstage while holding these two lit candles — without getting burned!”
His father was the legendary Felix “Pupy” Insua, who performed all over the world and who was brought to New York City by “Mambo King” Eddie Torres to teach his troupe how to dance authentic Cuban salsa. Insua now has his father’s old job, teaching traditional Afro-Cuban dance at Ailey Extension, which provides classes to the entire New York City community.
Insua was born in 1976 in the artist and worker community Cayo Hueso in Havana. His mother was a flamenco dancer and singer, and for a while she performed with Insua’s father, before Stevie came along.