Salsa dancing is lots of fun and is a hobby that very quickly became a passion for me. I started taking classes with Toronto Dance Salsa back in February, 2004. It was fun, challenging, and also how I met my boyfriend Nenad (an added bonus!). Since then, the two of us have been dancing up a storm together just for fun…that is, until we came across an ad for an amateur salsa competition. Since Nenad and I have both only been dancing for about 2 ½ years and have no major performance training, we figured that we would easily fall into the ‘amateur’ rank for this competition, and maybe even have a shot at the big prize…a travel voucher for a trip for 2 to Cuba…boy were we wrong!!! Long story short, after making it through the preliminary rounds just by freestyling, we made it to the finals where we ended up tying for 4th place and won a $50 Gift Certificate. Not a bad prize, but there was a LOT of preparation to get to that point.

First of all, we were advised that we had to perform a choreographed number for the finals. We really didn’t have enough time to choreograph and memorize a new routine, so we ended up borrowing choreography from an instructor (with their permission, of course) and integrating some of our own moves and styling into it to give it our own flair.

Salsa Performance – Erika Sicard

I must say, it turned out pretty well! We practiced our routine till the wee hours almost every night that week trying to make sure that we got it right (good thing we live together!). At that point, we kept trying to remind ourselves that we were just doing this competition for fun…Fun?…what fun? Stressing over learning a routine and staying up till the wee hours every night to practice was NOT fun!

The night of the competition was probably the most stressed I’ve ever felt in my life! We walked in with our costumes on (Nenad wore black pants and bought a blue dress shirt to match the color of the dress that I was wearing). Once we got inside, some of the other performers were wearing some serious performance gear…I mean, leopard prints, sequins, men in formal Latin ballroom attire…the whole nine yards. Nenad and I were clearly way out of our league! It was very intimidating, and also quite discouraging. Some of those competitors were dancing at an advanced/professional level and should not have been involved in an amateur competition. There were lots of multiple spins, flips, dips and tricks. Those are not what I consider to be amateur dance moves!!!

So is it really worth all of the time and effort? Overall, even though I feel like the competition was much more advanced than advertised, it was a good learning experience. We learned about what key elements the judges were looking for in the routines: smiles, technique, musicality and rhythm, footwork and audience interaction.

If you have mastered all of those elements, you’ve already conquered half of the battle. The other half is battling your nerves. If you are the type who is comfortable being in the spotlight, perhaps competing might be something for you to try out. If you can’t handle bruises to you ego, maybe better sit this one out until you are confident that you are a sure winner. Personally, I think that it is good to try new things and to challenge yourself to improve. Although we didn’t win that trip to Cuba, we both felt like winners for making it through all 3 rounds to the finals and giving it our best shot. Will we ever consider competing again? That is a good question. We’ll discuss that one over the dinner we’re going to buy with our $50 Gift Certificate!

Eriks Sicard is a long standing Toronto Dance Salsa student and helper. She recently completed the “Toronto Dance Salsa Performance Choreography Class for Helpers Only” and has performed during student salsa outings. Erika tied for 4th place with her partner Nenad during a recent Amateur Salsa Competition in Toronto. Congratulations, Erika!