The multi-talented salsa diva Choco Orta is the pride of Puerto Rico. An accomplished actress, dancer, percussionist and singer, Orta ignites the stage with a passionate and high-octane style that makes the most of her sensual and emotional contra-alto voice. Asa Puerto Rican cultural ambassador, she has toured the world, spreading the unique and joyful [Tavor of her salsa interpretations. The following is an interview with the Buddhist salsera conducted in Puerto Rico, as she completed her latest recording.
Rudy Mangual: Where did Choco Orta come from?
Choco Otra: I was born Virgen Milagros Orta Rodriguez in the city of Santurce, Puerto Rico. I graduated from La Central High School and then attended the University of Puerto Rico, graduating with honors and earning a Bachelor's Degree in theater education. As for the nickname "Choco," it was bestowed upon me for my beautiful chocolate-colored skin.
RM: When did music enter your life?
CO: Back in the sixth grade, I got the courage to sing one of Rafael Hernández's classic compositions, Campanitas de Cristal, and that sort of broke the ice, but I had no real illusions of being a singer or performer yet. I was too young and naive, with no political, social or historical conscience at the time. Those qualities finally came to me, just moments prior to this interview (Laughter).
RM: What sparked the love for theater and acting early in your life?
CO: I guess life itself prompted me to want to act as a way of expressing my femininity and the love and passion I have for this art form. It was a very important period in my life that was triggered by my audition for the play "La Verdadera Historia de Pedro Navaja" (The True Story of Pedro Navaja) in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, back in 1979. Getting the part catapulted my career in Puerto Rico. Prior to this, for 12 years I had been teaching dance in the studios of the late choreographer Jose "Junito" Betancourt. I taught everything from contemporary dance to ballet, Latin and jazz. I also studied dance with Sarita Ayala and Ita Medina, well-known Puerto Rican dance instructors. In the play I performed with Piola (an excellent actor, singer and amazing rumba dancer) who really opened my eyes to all three disciplines. I realized at that time that I enjoyed singing justas muchas dancing and acting. So, soon after the end of the play, I was called to be a part of "Las Bohemias," a play with a cast of seven women. We all had to act...