By Kenli Schoolland
In early June, attendees flocked from across Chile, Argentina, Peru, and Ecuador to the biggest event in the region.
The sixth installment of the International Chile Salsa Congress in Rancagua, Chile, on June 8-11 offered a chance to meet and learn from some of the biggest names in the business as well as to compete for a chance to go to the World Latin Dance Cup this December in Orlando, Florida.
The competition featured a number of first-time attendees, including mambo stars Adolfo Indacochea and Tania Cannarsa (Italy) and "Mr. Candela" Charlie Garcia (New York) as well as Cuban legend Alberto Valdes (Cuba).
Also in attendance were Chile's beloved nine-time world champions, Karen Forcano and Ricardo Vega (Chile/Argentina), and sub-champions of Salsa On 2 Almendra Navarrete and Richie Torres (Chile/Argentina).
Of all the categories, the competition was fiercest for the Pro Male and Female Soloist categories, with competitors from all across the country.
Hearts stopped as Bastian Leandro (Chile) slipped and fell during the first night of competition but made an incredible comeback to finish in second during the second night of competitions.
But in the end, he was still bested by Favio Vasquez (Chile), who placed second at the World Latin Dance Cup last year in Salsa On 2 with Renata Castillo. Vasquez won the Pro Male Soloist category with his pure elegance and style.
Jazmin Pizarro Cruz (Chile), a crowd favorite from Valparaiso, narrowly won the Pro Female Soloist category due to her strong but elegant style.
Surprisingly, the competition within the Latin Junior Soloist category was also fierce. Constanza Vera, a remarkable 14-year-old girl from Valdivia, Chile, competed at the World Latin Dance Cup last year in Bachata Couple Pro but this year is working to break out on her own.
While Vera appeared to be an early favorite, she was faced with tremendous competition from newcomer Britany Quintero, who went on to win the category. Quintero is originally from Colombia and now lives in Rancagua. At such young ages, both have truly mastered stage presence and sabor.
Dancers Dani and Tati came from the end of the world Punta Arenas, Chile, to compete at the International Chile Salsa Congress, which is the last stop before Antarctica. Despite how cold it is there, they brought plenty of heat to the dance floor to win the category of Bachata Cabaret.
Two of the most stunning performances of the entire competition, however, came from outside of Chile.
The first was that of Antoni and Josymar (Venezuela) who went on to win the category of Salsa Cabaret. And that of Manuel & Juan Daniel (Ecuador) in the Salsa Same Gender category. Both pairs executed their tricks with such precision and ferocity that the crowd could hardly contain itself.
Recap: 6th Annual International Chile Salsa Congress
By Kenli Schoolland