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Latin Lead

School of Music senior Micah Boon’s moves have made him a Latin dance sensation.


by Raedell Cannie (J07)

He rarely stops or pauses. Spinning and stomping, his arms and legs flail. His body constantly twists, dips and bends. Not even his face sits still. His big eyes spin almost as fast as his body, and when not forming a smile, his mouth is twisted to make a funny face, entertaining himself, his partner and anyone watching.

This is Micah Boon dancing. In conversation he is playful and friendly, but there’s nothing like seeing him come to life on the dance floor. There he has a spirit that speaks more than any words he utters — and everyone watching him is transfixed.

At 21, Boon, a music technology major whose moves earned him the nickname “Twizzler,” has already made a name for himself in the world of Latin dancing. He has performed across the United States and internationally. He became a member of the well-known professional Chicago dance company Descarga Caribe when he caught the eye of the company manager at a Latin dance club, and last December he started his own company, Mambofodadáz, with his dance partner, Kathy Cabrera, a junior at Northeastern Illinois University.

Boon, whose favorite dances are the cha-cha and mambo because of “the soulfulness of the music and the way the dance corresponds to the music,” shares his talent through lessons, choreographed performances and informal dances. On campus he has been a member of B.L.A.S.T. (Ballroom, Latin and Swing Thing) dance company since his freshman year. He dances and choreographs approximately three pieces for the group’s annual spring quarter performance.

He also teaches group lessons in beginner and intermediate salsa at Northwestern through B.L.A.S.T. and gives occasional private lessons.

No matter whom he’s dancing with, Boon makes sure his partner is comfortable and having a good time, says Heather Morrison, a School of Communication junior from Seattle who takes salsa and mambo lessons from Boon.

He understands the frustration new dancers face and believes that anyone can learn to dance, just as he did. This School of Music senior who grew up in Akron, Ohio, got his dance start in Columbia, S.C., where his family now lives. He took his first dance steps in the 10th grade when he was peer pressured into joining his high school’s Latin dance group.

“So I went to practice and bam — I never really had heard Latin music before, so when they put it on and taught me the steps, I was hooked,” says Boon.

Boon taught himself salsa through a Cool Moves “Revealed” video and later learned how to dance mambo through a chart on the Internet and practicing with friends at parties. He has since learned and performed the waltz, swing, hustle, samba, tango, fox trot and lindy hop. He has also done choreography in mambo, salsa, bachata, samba, merengue and cha-cha.

Boon, who will graduate in December with an ad hoc degree, or individualized program of study, in music and web design, came to Northwestern as a clarinet major but realized early on that there is limited opportunity for a music major unless you’re “at the top of your game all the time. … I don’t miss the crazy hours of practicing,” he admits.

Boon hasn’t played the clarinet since changing his major to music technology after taking music studies associate professor Scott Lipscomb’s course in multimedia for the web. With help from Linda Garton, assistant dean for admission and student affairs in the School of Music, Boon developed a program that includes courses in radio/TV/film, image design and designing music for the web.

Boon developed the web site for his dance company and for B.L.A.S.T., and he redesigned the University’s information technology support center web site.

But Boon knows that if his web skills don’t pay the bills, he’d be happy pursuing a professional dance and teaching career.

Micah Boon and his dance partner, Kathy Cabrera, founded the dance company Mambofodadáz.
Micah Boon and his dance partner, Kathy Cabrera, founded the dance company Mambofodadáz. Photo by Andrew Campbell
Micah Boon in performance at the Chicago Salsa Congress in February.
Micah Boon in performance at the Chicago Salsa Congress in February. Photo by Andrew Campbell