Saskatoon salsa dancers take Latin dance championship
- Angela Hill | September 25, 2019
A group of young salsa dancers from Saskatoon left their mark in Las Vegas when they won the Ultimate Latin Dance Championship at the Salsa and Bachata Congress this summer.
“It was incredible. It was amazing. We were just so happy. We were crying we were so happy,” said Arri Alemida, 11.
There were eight on the team from Saskatoon Salsa, and many of them First Nations and Métis. The 11-to-13-year-olds from Salsa Saskatoon qualified, and then won, the salsa junior team category beating out the home team.
“That felt pretty cool because we beat the people from Las Vegas,” said Raha Rashidi, 11.
Their coach, and owner of Salsa Saskatoon, Kimberly Parent said the win makes all the hard work worthwhile.
“It feels almost unreal that we could take a team from Saskatoon and win in that competition. It feels amazing that we can even go there in the first place,” she said.
“To win was a happy surprise, at the same time I felt like my kids deserved it because of how hard they have worked.”
This is just a recent success for Parent, who made the decision to make her dance studio a full-time career four years ago.
In March this year, she was named Indigenous Entrepreneur of the year by at the Women Entrepreneur of Saskatchewan’s Celebration of Achievement and Entrepreneur Awards.
“I was completely shocked that I received that award because the people that I was up against, the women entrepreneur also in that category, are amazing people and have achieved a lot,” Parent said.
Things aren’t slowing down. Parent and Salsa Saskatoon are gearing up to be busy over the next year.
In February, Parent will lead a trip to Cuba for 24 adult students, who will take salsa lessons by day and practice what they have learned to live music by night. She is working to expand the annual Holy Guacamole dance event, rising the event profile and getting festival status. In April they will host dancers from across North America and Mexico in Saskatoon.
In June a team from Salsa Saskatoon is travelling to Winnipeg International Salsa Congress, and a second youth team will travel to Puerto Rico for the World Children’s Salsa Congress.
Parent also continues to train as a dancer herself, traveling to Cuba to learn.
For her students, her studio is the most important place they can be.
“With dancing I can really express my energy and how I feel about life. I can really express everything I have inside,” Alemida said.
It’s their community.
“They’re really close to me, I’ve known them for a pretty long time now. They just always make everything better for me, especially Kim, she is the best,” Rashidi said.
“She is always there for me, and if I ever need help with anything, she’ll make sure that I understand it before I do something else. She is just always pushing us to work our hardest.”