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The 2007 World Salsa Championships

Location: Coronado Springs Resort, Orlando Florida

By Grace Badillo, President
Dancing With Grace Productions, Inc.

The week leading up to the finals was a smooth ride from relaxing to on the edge of your seats for each performance.

What is interesting is how people pay to perform. Most people see the videos and think “I can dance better than them, how did they get up there?” But here is the story, people fly from all over the world, paying their own way, spending thousands on costumes for the chance to have people see their translation of what they have learned on the dance floor.

Back-biting gibberish was spoken by many putting one style up against another. “Dancing on 2 is better than 1”, “if you know the music, you have to dance on 2”. These comments are even being made by some of the largest promoters in the world even though they make most of their money off the “on 1-LA Style dancers”. But never fear, on-1 remains the most popular style of salsa in the entire world and it will remain that way for many years to come.

There were many competitions, “on-1, on-2, Cabaret, & Team” competitions. Amazingly, in the team division the Columbians took 1st, 2nd & third place with their incredibly fast footwork, beautifully unique choreographies and attention to detail. Each Columbian Team win should have sent a message straight home to every person in the convention center that evening. What message you wonder? The message that one style is no better than the other, and that the heart that dances to the beats all have something in common-we like to dance!

I found myself looking onto the floor studying the dance and the dancers. As a writer myself I asked myself this question: “what do I see the most of?” I was saddened by my own answer: “EGO”. It was everywhere. Gorgeous dancers dancing incredibly but it was tainted by ego trying to prove to everyone watching that they dance better than the couple next to them. Yes, I know that this is, afterall, a World Competition so there was going to be a competitive streak, but it was a bit shocking to say the least. I found myself dancing with Emmanuel and other partners taking it easy, dancing to the music for the sake of dancing and not trying to impress the world. I have never wanted to try to out dance anyone-it then becomes about vanity instead of just enjoying the dance.

While at the World Championships I interviewed many people, from the champions of the on-1 Division, other competitors and even some of the judges. While interviewing a judge whose name I will keep anonymous, a statement was made that was shocking! “Salsa is going to die-out in a few years, you will see”. Shocked and in dismay I asked “why do you think this?” When I heard the answer to the question I could see it from this person’s point of view. This person stated that other dances that were big in the past died out when competitors of the dance did their choreographed moves in the social night club setting and people (beginners-intermediate) began feeling like they would never be able to attain this type of skill so they gave up. This person also stated that when this happens clicks tend to form where the better dancers only hang out with the better dancers and only dance with the better dancers. After this was stated I realized that it was definitely possible that these kind of people could contribute to killing salsa as a dance as we know it. As an instructor myself I have had more than 20 students come to me in 2007 stating they were snubbed by dance groups in other cities and/or on a salsa cruise they attended that wasn’t hosted by our company. I was shocked and apologized for these people who obviously care nothing for students just beginning or non-performers. I do feel, after giving it much thought, that the only way salsa will stay alive is if instructors everywhere let their students know the difference between social moves that can be led on the dance floor and choreographed moves. It is also our responsibility to teach our students salsa etiquette and how to treat others that are learning regardless of the level they have reached. It is our responsibility to plant these seeds and see what happens next.

For those of you interested the broadcast of the championships will happen on ESPN in 2008

The Results For Our Favorite! LA Style:


Abel Pena & Zulmara Torres Representing Mexico and Los Angeles, CA
You Tube Performance Listed under: SalsaDancing ESPN 2007 world championship1 first place final

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