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How sweet it is

With less than five months of practice, the young dancers of the Bahamas Salsa Social Network shimmied into a strong showing at the recently held Ballroom Blitz in Orlando.

Instructors Indira Francis and Chris Mortimer took a team of 16 dancers to Florida in November for the dance sport event hosted by World Promotions, the World Dance Arts Foundation and the World Salsa Federation.

The team competed with over 500 salsa dancers of all ages from around the world. A diverse group with members that ranged in age from six to 25, the Bahamian contingent danced in the Newcomer, Bronze and Silver levels.

“I was hopeful that maybe we might make it to the U.S.,”said Francis, who established the BSSN in January 2010 with Mortimer. The duo held a summer salsa camp in which they began teaching students from the competition’s syllabus for the first time. They had planned to enter the competition in October but got a surprise.

“When I went to put myself and Chris in they invited[us]and all the children,”said Francis, who had sent a video of the students’performance.

“They were impressed.”

Francis and Mortimer teach the students international salsa with an emphasis on L.A. style.

“We did extremely well,”said Mortimer of the Orlando showing.”We had a number of first place finishes in the categories in which we performed and I thought it went extremely well. It speaks well to what the BSSN is trying to create for young people in our country and their ability to compete abroad.”

The team is grateful to the sponsors who made their three-day trip to the competition possible.

Students participated in the Youth Ballroom Blitz on the Saturday, Nov. 6 and were showcased during special features on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 7. Mortimer and Francis competed in the Silver category on Sunday, and Francis joined two of her daughters in performing in the Pro-Am(professional/amateur)segment that same day.

“When you do things that you love it’s that love for it that takes you to places that you thought you’d never go, and we have a cadre of young people who love the art form,”said Mortimer.

The instructors have planned an awards ceremony for the students for January 15.

The dance sport exposure has led to more opportunities for a group that wants to grow while helping others. The Bahamas Salsa Social Network, in conjunction with World Promotions, will host the Bahamas Dance Festival here in Nassau in April 2011.

The festival doubles as a fundraiser with the theme”Dance for a Life.”Part proceeds from the event will go to the medical fund of a five-year-old Bahamian boy living with cancer.

“We want children to dance for a cause,”said Francis, who first read about young boy’s plight in the Guardian.

Since their return, BSSN team members have attracted more young people to the sport. The lessons, which are held on Wednesdays during”Havana Night”at the Hilton, are filled with new faces.

Francis hopes to see dance sport, with its potential for confidence-building and meaningful socialization, gain exposure and popularity locally.

“There are many types of salsa you can have social dance or dance sport,”said Francis.”We’re a dance sport.”

The BSSN meets each Wednesday from 6:30 11:30 p.m. at the Hilton for”Havana Night.”

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