Beginners and professionals mix during four days of intense performances, classes and after-parties

The Calgary International Salsa Congress involves salsa showcases from around the world.

The congress will feature many types of Latin dances at the Hyatt Regency from April 4 to 7, such as salsa, bachata, cha cha cha, zouk, and reggaetton.

“We really find when international events come to Calgary, Calgarians get to enjoy watching them,” said Kelly Lannan, one of the congress’s directors.

Local dancing schools play an important role in the Calgary International Salsa Congress. From left to right, Janet and Paul Moon, Maria Saparova, Max Posadas, Alysa Kolesnikova and Dennis Pinzon from More Salsa Canada performed at the 2012 congress.

Photo courtesy of Brandon MacMullinFor the last six years, the congress has maintained the number of attendees. One thousand people has been a steady number for organizers, but they expect to break that record this year.

Lannan also said that these types of events enrich the community for years ahead and keep the public asking for more.

“People that come for the first time will have the opportunity to take beginner classes,” said Lannan. “Also, the local professionals get to benefit from taking the professional level classes.”

The congress will be divided into evening shows, workshops and after-parties, where people can mingle and dance with the professionals.

“One of the things special about salsa, unlike the ballet and other theatre events, is the celebrities from the show actually come out and mix with the public after the performance,” said Lannan.

Some of the feature guests for this year’s congress are:

Local dance academies will be taking part of the stage as well.

“We bring an organized and professional structure to the congress while still keeping the fun and the partying atmosphere that comes with every congress in the world,” said Eric Cathy, another director with the congress.

Lannan and Cathy have had the chance to travel and learn from others around the world on how to make this event an unforgettable one.

“We have chosen to do an event that is going to rival the other artistic events in Calgary,” said Lannan.

“We don’t see salsa as a different class of dance form or discipline. We want the shows to be compared with the Alberta Ballet [and] the touring productions that come in,” Lannan said.

Lannan and Cathy also said events like the congress are especially important for professionals like them, since it’s all about what they do for a living: dance.

“When we perform on stage of the congress, [it] is our most important performance of the year,” Lannan said.

Cathy described the congress experience as four days of intense dancing, learning and joyful experiences.

“There is no sleep at all,” he joked.

“I have seen the city grow. I have seen the appetite for the arts grow. I have seen that we have lots of people interested in these kind of events and also supporting them,” Lannan said.

Lannan and Cathy hope to keep growing the event by bringing in more international artists and adding live bands.

Tickets are being sold online at the International Calgary Salsa Congress. The price starts at $48.

Everyone is welcome to attend, even those with no previous dance experience.

mthomas@cjournal.ca