Frankie Martinez is one of the salsa world’s most well know names as a dancer, choreographer, teacher, and founder of the ABAKUA Afro-Latin Dance Company. Martinez was born in Forest Hills, New York and is of Puerto Rican descent.
In 1996 Frankie Martinez, discovered Latin dance at a nightclub while on leave from the US Navy in Miami. Martinez then started his life in dance by attending a New York ballroom dance school called The Dance Club, but soon found himself gravitating toward the mambo he found in nightclubs.
He would go on to run and teach for the school’s salsa and mambo department. His new love would lead to a mentorship by legendary salsa instructor Eddie Torres and a position in the Eddie Torres Dancers.
Martinez would eventually go on to a solo dance tour of Europe, become a dancer at New York City’s Manhattan Center stage, and win Nutriments’ Latin Dance Competition.
Martinez has danced at many salsa congresses, 2006’s Olympus Fashion Week, and has appeared in the Tito Puente music video “Mambo Birdland”. His current duties include teaching at New York’s Empire Dance School.
In 2000, Frankie Martinez started the ABAKUA Afro-Latin Dance Company. The New York City based group displays an interesting style, which Martinez calls “Afro Latin-Funk”.
It is further described as being founded on mambo with a mixture of popular styles from Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean.
The company’s name comes from Afro-Cuban Abakúa societies and their motto is “One Body, One Soul”. They have performed at the World Salsa Conference in Puerto Rico as well as having toured in Japan and Europe.
They have put on the shows “Latin Madness” in 2000, “Raices in 2005, “After Hours Funk” in 2006, and their latest “Stills” in 2007. Martinez has created an instructional DVD of his company’s style titled “Exploring the Afro-Latin Funk (Isolations and Body Movement)”.
In addition to his dancing talents, Martinez has studied Shotokan Karate from an early age and holds a fourth degree black belt, a discipline that he credits for his skills on the dance floor.
A documentary on Frankie M. and his ABAKUA Afro-Latin Dance Company titled “Frankie's Mambo: "El Ritmo Diablo" premiered at the 2005 New York Independent Film and Video Festival.