As the entire spectacle unfolded - from the professionals thrilling the crowd to the beginners taking their first steps - Wendy Jimenez found herself flooded with joy and appreciation. For the fifth year in a row, the Charlotte Salsa Invitational was a total success.
Wendy, and her husband Rodrigo Jimenez (founders of Charlotte Salsa Dance), brought this festival to Charlotte in 2009 with the intent to introduce more citizens of the Queen City to the rich culture wrapped up in Latin Dance. The benefits of such an event, in her words, are obvious: "You get to train with world-class instructors, see world-class performances, and have a getaway weekend in your own hometown."
Almost every dance in the Latin diaspora was represented: Salsa, Bachata, Mambo, Tango, and even some Kizomba for good measure. Dancers descended on Charlotte from all across the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia and even Alabama. They got to show off their social dancing skills during the Friday and Saturday night dance parties, while also taking advantage of the opportunity to learn from great teachers. The event featured a mix of well-known instructors: from Lee and Kat, the Washington DC based Bachata masters, to Eddie Torres, the Mambo King of New York style, and even Francisco Vazquez, the creator of LA "On1" style salsa. These dance champions also paired with local dancers to put on nightly dance exhibitions.
While some dancers may shy away from the performance arena, Kathie Moyer, a fourth-year dancer, believes that it's a great way to build belief in one's dance ability. "The fact that my instructors asked me to perform was such a boost to my confidence," she said after her group performance with Baila Con Pasion on Friday night. "It's not about trying to be as good as the dancers you look up to, just trust in yourself and have fun. The process will bring you so much joy and new friends."
As far as Wendy's biggest take on the weekend, it comes down to one word: support. "To see the support for the parties and workshops is wonderful, and it shows the strong support from our own community."
With the magnitude of talent on display, the quality of the instruction, and the sheer amount of fun that the participants had, turnout for next year's invitational should only heighten that support.