Chris Michael Rios
Born in Chicago, music and dance has always been a part of my life. My mother is of Irish-American descent and my father is from Puerto Rico. I was raised in Humboldt Park/Ukrainian Village area of the city.
My earliest beginnings of dance were in grammar school at an after-school Bomba class through the ASPIRA program. I then followed dance in high school through the Lane Tech’s ASPIRA Club were it became primarily mambo. From the second I showed up at auditions I knew it was something I was going to spend a lot of time doing.
I got the opportunity to dance with Los Jovenes Del Swing, Lane Tech’s Orchesis, and Estilo Dance Company, throughout my high school career. It was with all these different experiences, teaching styles, and types of movement that fed my hunger for dancing.
After my senior year of high school, my director decided to start his own team Gifted Souls, where I got my first opportunity to choreograph and teach abroad. Instantly I was bitten by the choreographer bug. I wanted to do everything I could to improve my teaching ability and verbalize my way of thinking about dance.
At the age of 19, I started teaching beginner level classes at the Dance Academy of Salsa in Humboldt Park. Shortly after I went back to Lane to become the Artistic Director of the ASPIRA Club. The dance started to become a way of giving back and fostering the next generation for me. I also added Ritmo Dembow from DePaul University to my schedule and was their Director from 2012-2016.
In Gifted Souls/Aspira, I met my dance accomplice Micaela and we started co-directing a team named SixSeven in March of 2015. For years, I had been teaching how to follow and to lead, but it wasn’t until last December that I actually went onstage as a follow with my partner Joe Spencer and got second at the salsa open at Cubby Bear.