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Two-Time World Champion Dance Troupe Grupo America Aims to Reclaim Top Spot in Cuban Salsa

Grupo America, a Canadian Latin dance troupe from Vancouver, BC, aims to reclaim its spot as the World Champion for cuban salsa at the World Latin Dance Cup Championships today in Miami, Florida. The team won first place for the cuban salsa category in 2007 and 2008, and is competing for the first time since then, in the cuban salsa and bachata categories. The team has qualified for the finals in both categories, and will be competing for the top spot later today.

Vancouver, Canada, December 17, 2012 --( Grupo America, a Canadian Latin dance troupe from Vancouver, BC, aims to reclaim its spot as the World Champion for cuban salsa at the World Latin Dance Cup Championships today in Miami, Florida.

No one expected the Canadian team to rank, much less win, when it entered its first World Latin Dance Cup competition in 2007. With its 12-person team of Metro Vancouver residents, Grupo America proved that Canada can salsa with the world’s best, when it beat out teams from Mexico, Ecuador, Japan, China, and Korea – as well as a team of Cuban Americans – to take home the first place trophy for the Cuban Salsa category. The group successfully defended its title in 2008, when it won first place in Cuban Salsa again.

After a four year hiatus, the Burnaby team is setting its sights on a third World Championship title. The group will be travelling to Miami, Florida to compete in the Cuban Salsa and Bachata categories. Grupo America is the only Canadian team to have ever competed in this international competition, which, prior to recession cutbacks, was aired annually on ESPN.

The group aims to prove that, even with performers of many different ethnic backgrounds, it has the skills, talent, and dedication to compete on a world level.

“Until they see us perform, the other teams feel sorry for us,” says Erika Sanchez, the group’s manager. “And that’s why we do perform and put ourselves out there. The teams from Latin America don’t believe Canadians can dance on a world level. We want to show them that you don’t need a Hispanic last name to dance good salsa.”

The team’s roster this year is diverse: half with a Latin American background (Daniela Ugarte, Honduras; Elvira Moncayo, Maryllum Danae, and Marco Jiminez, Mexico; Diego Sanchez and Fabian Cerquera, Colombia; Manuel Aguilera, Venezuela) and half from other backgrounds (Ronny Mulja, Indonesia; Nima Rahmany, Iran; Sasha Cooke, Britain; Evelina Domei, Lithuania; Justin Reiser, Germany).

The team has spent the past six months working hard on their cuban salsa and bachata routines.

“Wouldn’t it be wild to have me, this salsa instructor in Burnaby, win the World Bachata Champion title?” laughs Diego, who was a judge for the competition last year. “Realistically, this is the group’s first time competing in four years, so I will be satisfied with third place. But we are definitely training to win. Canada is underrepresented in the world salsa scene, and we aim to represent it well!”

Born in BC, Colombian-Canadian Diego and his sister, Erika, spread awareness of Latin culture all over BC, sending the dance troupe on school tours and other performances showcasing traditional Latin folk dances and flashier salsa, bachata, and Michael Jackson routines. Over the last 15 years touring throughout BC and Alberta, visiting 100 to 200 schools a year, the group has performed for over 500,000 kids.

The group practices two times a week at World Dance Co. – a dance studio located just five minutes away from the Metrotown and Royal Oak SkyTrain stations. Owned and managed by Diego and Erika, the studio teaches hundreds of residents from Metro Vancouver and its suburbs how to dance salsa, bachata, Argentine tango, kizomba, and zouk, among other dances.

“Dancing is my life,” says Diego. “I’ve grown up dancing, I teach dance classes every day, and I’ve watched the salsa and Latin dance scene in Vancouver grow. I take pride in teaching my students how to dance salsa confidently with dancers from any part of the world.”
Contact Information
World Dance Co.
Erika Sanchez

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