The 4th Annual World Latin Dance Cup held in Miami this past weekend has come to a close, and the results are in. The competition was the largest one to date, drawing 800 competitors from 50 countries to compete in 32 different divisions spanning salsa, bachata, cha cha cha, and rueda.
Here are the highlights from this year's competition:
The cabaret division (which allows tricks & lifts) was the most competitive division this year, which is unsurprising given how many couples from Colombia were in attendance this year. Whereas in every other division there were 5 couples in the Finals, 10 couples moved to the Finals in the cabaret division.
At the conclusion of the semi-finals, Jefferson Benjumea & Adriana Ávila, the favorites from Cali, Colombia were in the lead, with Ricardo Vega & Karen Forcano (the defending champions from Chile & Argentina) close behind. However, a number of errors pushed Jefferson & Adriana to 3rd in the finals, with Ricardo & Karen reclaiming their title. 2nd place went to Nicolas Carreño Cruz & Caterin Estrada from Bogota, Colombia, who made their debut at the World Latin Dance Cup this year.
Salsa On 2
Salsa on 2 is one of the most competitive divisions in the competition, and this year was no exception. Simone Sanfilippo & Serena Maso from Italy and Dimitris Psychogyios & Stella Koutsoulidou from Greece made it to the podium in the on 2 division for the first time this year, but the champions were David Zepeda & Paulina Posadas Dagio from Mexico, who secured a three-peat by winning the competition 3 years in a row.
Another twist to the division was that one of the top 5 couples was disqualified in the semi-finals due to use of unapproved music, allowing Derek Marrero & Keesha Roberts from the SF Bay Area to move into the Finals. The two were the winners of the Amateur division at last year's World Latin Dance Cup, and made their professional debut this year.
Salsa On 1
As usual, the competition in the salsa on 1 division was less fierce on 2, and the 1st place winners Rafael Barros & Carine Moraes were able to win the division easily with a lead of more than 10 points over the 2nd and 3rd place winners (Diego Echenique & Lorena Bargalló and Javier Campines & Erica Reyna).
Rafael and Carine are members of the "Dream Team", an exclusive dance team comprised of world champions, which includes David & Paulina and Ricardo & Karen. The Dream Team lived up to their name by all winning their respective divisions in this year's competition.
Salsa Teams is another hotly contested division, but this year the reigning champions Alma Latina of Mexico did not compete, giving 2011 winners, Salsamania Dance Company from the SF Bay Area, a clear path to victory. Omambo Dance Company from LA would have posed a formidable challenge, but made major errors in the semi-finals which disqualified them from making it to the finals entirely. The 2nd and 3rd place teams were Estudio Nacional De Baile of Ecuador and Stilo Dance Company from the USA, respectively.
The cabaret teams division was another competitive one, with dozens of teams from Colombia and around the world competing with some of the most acrobatic and creative routines seen at the World Latin Dance Cup. At the end of the evening, it was Balcon De La Artistas who came out on top in the division. In 2nd place was Baila Conmigo from New Jersey, one of the few teams outside of Colombia to dance Cali Style salsa. The team did well at this year's Latin Dance Cup, winning both the Mens Teams and Womens Teams divisions in addition to their 2nd place cabaret finish. Imperio Juvenil, directed by Jefferson and Adriana, came in 3rd in the division.
The Same Gender Male division was dominated this year by John Narvaez & Andrew Cervantes from the SF Bay Area, earning them a three-peat victory in the division. In the cha cha cha division, Jeremy Laracha & Daniela Leon from Colombia won the division with one of the best old-school cha cha routines seen at the competition. In the Men's Soloist division, Rodrigo Jimenez of Argentina won the division for a second year in a row.
After the competition was over, Albert Torres, the organizer of the event, announced that the Salsa Rueda and Cuban Style Salsa divisions, both of which only had a single entrant this year, would be eliminated. Both styles of salsa are often incorporated into routines in the other divisions, so one wonders why they were separate to begin with. Another division with only one entrant this year was the Collegiate Team division, which debuted at the World Latin Dance Cup for the first time. The division was won by Spartan Mambo from San Jose State University, and may continue for one more year to gauge interest in the category.
New divisions will be introduced next year, including Kizomba/Zouk, Merrengue Couples, and Soloist over 50.
For full competition results, see the WLDC coverage at Salsa By The Bay.