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Everybody was salsa dancing

2012-07-10 16:57 Global Times     Web Editor: Xu Rui comment
Dancers strike a pose at last year's Summer Latin Festival in Beijing.

Dancers strike a pose at last year's Summer Latin Festival in Beijing.

Sexy spins and grooves with a pinch of kung fu is set to takeover Beijing as dancers from home and abroad whirl into town to celebrate Latin music and dance at the third annual International Summer Latin Festival from July 12 to 15. The program includes four days of shows, dance competitions, workshops by top dancers and salsa parties with DJs.

Martial arts moves

With word spreading that salsa shares techniques with martial arts, more Chinese than ever before could be lured to the dance floor this week.

"Martial arts and salsa are both based on the mind, body and soul, which allows students to focus on themselves and realize their maximum potential," said Latin dance instructor Jerome Ramos, 28, who is one of the international salsa stars at the festival.

Born in the US and of Puerto Rican descent, Ramos grew up watching kung fu movies and learning martial arts with his father. "Once you understand the nature of your potential, you can express yourself in martial arts or dancing. Both are arts of self discipline," said Ramos, who practiced Wing Chun kung fu for 22 years and has an MBA with concentrations in finance and Chinese.

Based in Denmark, he teaches everything from Cuban rumba and mambo to jazz and hip-hop. Ramos first visited China in May last year, and firmly believes the spiritual home of kung fu is growing increasingly fond of salsa.

"China's salsa scene is like China itself - always growing and pushing towards perfection," gushed Ramos, stressing more professional instructors are needed to spread the Latin dance's popularity.

"Chinese people tend to understand the techniques well, but musicality and movement can be more difficult to take on if not explained properly. In time and with the dedication and perfection that Chinese devote to art, amazing dancers will emerge."

Olympian-turned-salsa diva

Former Olympic gymnast Wang Xiaoyan, 43, is a full-time dancer and active participant in Beijing's salsa community. "I was about 26 when I first danced salsa while studying in Germany," recalled Wang. "My boyfriend used to take salsa lessons and I fell in love with it, too."

Wang met with Jack Dunn, the American pioneer of the local salsa scene, when she returned to Beijing eight years ago. "We mostly learn salsa informally, so opportunities of exchange like the summer festival are needed to raise the bar higher in Beijing," noted Wang.

Boom in Beijing

"Dance has always been a part of Chinese culture. Salsa is very social and unlike other dance styles. Anyone can learn no matter their age, body type or background," explained Dunn, founder of Phoenix Dance in the CBD, the first official salsa studio in town.

Dunn and his dance partner Zhen Zhen, a native Beijinger, organize many of the salsa events in town, including an annual salsa convention.

"Beijing is the only city in China where you can go to dance salsa seven days a week. This produces a lot more performers and competitors, along with social dancers," Dunn said.

When: July 12-15

Where: The One, Salsa Caribe, Westside Café & Bar, Season's Park Wine & Dance Club

Contact: 1391-0975-179

Online: www.summerlatinfestival.com/en/

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