Puerto Rico Salsa Congress 2009

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If you go to Puerto Rico in the summer, you will find numerous open air concerts and performances. In many cases, people are encouraged to dance in a variety of public spaces— beaches, parks, plazas, streets. A few years ago in July, I was taking an evening stroll along Paseo de la Princesa, a walkway that runs along the outside of Old San Juan’s centuries-old city walls. Suddenly, I ran across a very famous salsa group performing on an open air stage. Hundreds of people were either milling around or dancing. Since I love good dancing, I edged in closer to get a better view of this group of dancers of all ages. There were grandmothers dancing with their grandsons, couples who had obviously danced together through decades, and teenaged couples dancing on their first date— the usual scenario. But then I noticed that some (perhaps more skimpily clad than usual) couples were dancing differently, with much more flourish and confident self-consciousness. “There is no way in the world that I will join in the dance now,” I thought to myself. A few days later, my puzzlement was dissipated. These incredibly impressive and statuesque dancers were participants of the Puerto Rico Salsa Congress that had just decided to leave their hotels and go out on the town. Sigh of relief— no, traditional Puerto Rican salsa styles has not changed completely.

Every year, the best dancers, instructors, and schools meet to compete in the Puerto Rico Salsa Congress. They compete in two formats: groups or couples. Any dancer, 16 years or older, from any region in the world, is eligible to participate. Many of these participants are winners from national or regional competitions; however, when a city or country does not hold a competition, the competitors may register independently. The participants are evaluated on their stage presence, visual presentation, choreography, technical knowledge and execution of the movements, rhythm, creativity, and their interaction. Judges are selected from a group of the world’s most renowned instructors and dancers.

This year, the 13th Annual Puerto Rico Salsa Congress will be taking place at the Caribe Hilton Hotel in San Juan from July 25 through August 1, 2009.

For more information on the congress, see http://www.puertoricosalsacongress.com/

Photo of Anita Dosantos (Brazil) and Adrián Rodríguez (Uruguay), winners of the 2007 Puerto Rico Salsa Congress, from http://www.adn.es/ciudadanos/20070729/IMA-0237-Puerto-Rico-Mira-profesores-mundial

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