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North Van dancers crowned salsa champs
Four North Vancouver salsa dancers proved Canadians have what it takes to master Latin dance.
Grupo America from the World Dance Company, their Vancouver-based troupe, took home first place in Casino Rueda-Cuban Salsa and second place in the Bachata team category during the World Latin Dance Cup in December in Florida.
The only group from Canada to ever win the competition, they beat out hundreds of competitors from Latin America and around the world.
“You don’t need a Hispanic last name to dance good salsa,” says the group’s manager Erika Sanchez.
“No one at these kinds of competitions ever believes our multi-ethnic Canadian team can dance at as high a level as the teams from Latin America.”
Grupo America represents Honduras, Colombia, Mexico, Lithuania, Indonesia, Iran, Germany, the United Kingdom and Venezuela.
This is the first time the team has entered this competition in four years, after winning first place in Casino Rueda-Cuban salsa back in 2007 and 2008.
The group was put straight through to the finals for Casina Rueda and danced its way up from the semi-finals to the finals for Bachata.
With three members having just joined recently, the team trained all summer for competition.
“It was a bit overwhelming. There were a lot of dancers from all over the world, but we pulled through and came out great,” says Daniela Ugarte, who went to Sutherland secondary school in North Van. “It was tough competition with teams from about 30 countries there.”
The 13-dancer group was a mix of old and new members. One dancer, Manuel Aguilera of Venezuela, was a YouTube fan of the team who travelled to Vancouver to train with the group.