Life has lead her to a successful path full of Latin rhythms and sabor
In South America, when a girl turns 15 a big party is thrown. It is called a quinceañera.
A choreographed dance routine is one of the most important activities during that party and this is how Paulina Posadas Dagio started dancing.
But 10 years later, the Morelia Mexican is the world salsa champion – and a major influence on Calgary's salsa dancing scene.
"I started dancing all kind of Latin dances and some other styles after I practiced for my sweet 15 routine," she said.
"I trained in ballet, jazz, contemporary and even some gymnastics, whichdefinitely complemented my salsa dancing."
But, for Posadas Dagio, "Salsa is that moment to express what you feel."
She sees it as a dance form without rules and rigid movement.
"Salsa combines technique, expression, feeling and that's why I love it."
But, despite salsa's free form, Posadas Dagio had to work hard to master it while competing internationally and completing a degree in business administration.
"It was hard to compete, rehearse and study at the same time, but I made the decision because it is part of who I am."
That eventually led to Posadas Dagio and her dance partner David Zepeda winning the World Latin Dance Cup's Salsa On 2 competition in 2011.
Nevertheless, Posadas Dagio says she still has a hard time defining herself as a great dancer.
"People say that I have lots of style, there are others that say that I am fast, but I can't develop an opinion about myself," she said.
"What I try to express when I dance is that the steps or any movement that looks hard or difficult they can be done."
That's a message Posadas Dagio and Zepeda are now spreading, travelling around the world to share the knowledge they have acquired during their career.
One of her major stop-offs is Calgary – the home of Posadas Dagio's sister-in-law Melissa Posadas, the owner of the MoreSalsa Dance.
A Calgary influence
Posadas sees the world champion as great influence in the Calgary salsa scene.
"Paulina is well known and respected as a great instructor and dancer," Posadas said. "She is who the local instructors learn from."
In October, MoreSalsa Dance put together a ladies styling workshop where Posadas Dagio taught and also showcased some of her techniques for the Calgary salseras.
Janet Moon is a salsa performer and social dancer who had the opportunity of taking Posadas Dagio's workshop.
"I liked how clear Paulina was with what she taught in her movement and verbal explanation," Moon said.
Moon added that Paulina's teaching technique is "patient with everyone and in tune with a good pace in which to teach new things"
Moon said that, thanks to the lesson, she was able to upgrade her salsa skills and sharpen her basic salsa moves.
Posadas Dagio's plans to keep dancing in the next five years and in 10 years she wants to have a school.
That school would be a compilation of different rhythms and beats from around the world, but also be a place "where salsa can be taught as a career."
Posadas Dagio acknowledged that there are tons of schools for other dancing styles, but not for salsa.
"I want to take the salsa to the next level where anyone can study technique and methodology, and even to understand where the salsa comes from."
Posadas Dagio will be back in Canada for the Vancouver international salsa festival from March 7 to the 10, but looks forward to coming to Calgary more often and collaborate with MoreSalsa Dance.
"As long as people invite me to Calgary, I'll be here."
Correction: In the sixth paragraph and first photo caption, Posadas Diago was incorrectly spelled as Posada Dagio. The Calgary Journal regrets the error.
- By MICHELLE THOMAS