The body rolls, hops, twists and lifts of Latin American dancing done with an Indian twist to the beat of Bollywood songs seem to be attracting enthusiasts from across the country to take up Salsa.
The recently-concluded Latin Dance and Music Festival the ‘Indian Fiesta Latina’ (IFL) witnessed several known international performers and trainers joining hands with salsa enthusiasts from cities like Bangalore and Delhi.
"Because it is a ‘touchy’ dance, salsa teaches men to give space to women… it’s a fine line," says Shalu Chopra, who together with husband Sunil Chopra founded ‘Mundo Latino’, which has partnered in organising the IFL.
The annual festival in its fourth edition this year saw big international performers and trainers like Adolfo and Tania, Supermario, Terry and Cecile and "rising participation" for the dance form.
Multiple dance forms, including Salsa, Bachata, Cha-Cha, Zouk and Tango have got a platform, says Sunil adding there is a huge surge in the number of enthusiasts.
"The quality of performances over the years have gone up several notches above, he says.
"There is a lot of Indian spirit to it, and that’s why we have named it as such and not something like ‘International Salsa Fiesta’ or so on," says Sunil.
"Anyone who loves to dance, watching, doing, learning, performing is very welcome. There is something for everyone," he says.
The dance, he says attracts people in the age group 14 and above and even those in their 60s have been signing up for reasons that range from passion to even as a stress buster.
At the recent IFL a number of dance groups, including Delhi’s Moving Souls, Kolkata’s Mambo City and Bengaluru’s Latin Dance, regaled the audience with performances.
Ravi Rastogi of the ‘Moving Souls’, who hails from Bareilly, says salsa is "always on his mind".
"I didn’t give myself any other option. Salsa is always on my mind and it is good to see the kind of competition we are seeing today through events like these," he says.
"Top trainers and performers from over 30 countries around the world are now coming to India for the event that is showcasing the Indian talent to international artistes. It shows how far we have come," says Sunil, who has been curating the event along with his partner Neeraj Maskara.
"We saw the growth of salsa in India around four years ago when the idea of organising such a show cropped up. Around 2009-10, we didn’t see that kind of dancing in India.
"My wife Shalu and I were holidaying in Miami when we saw some artistes perform and were awestruck. We realised there is a technique to it," says Sunil.
Elaborating on the format of the event, Sunil says typically a day comprises workshops for different genres and levels of dance, followed by performances each evening coupled with production elements to conjure the imagery of world class awards nights.
The shows are followed by a ‘Salsa social’ for participants to try the fancy moves on the dance floor while some of the world’s top Latin DJs play live.
Organisers say the event has been growing bigger with every year.
An IIM Lucknow alumnus, Sunil who has been in the corporate industry for long says salsa is "more of a passion".
"Our organizing team went to Delhi University’s college festivals. A whole day of the three-day IFL was dedicated to groups coming from all corners of India, including the likes of IIT-Delhi," he says.
This year’s IFL was an approximately 2.5-crore production, making it one of the biggest Latin productions in all of Asia, according to organisers.
Shalu adds that ‘Mundo Latino’, which means ‘Latin world’, affiliated to the Embassy of Peru in India has also seen a significant rise in numbers of people who evince interest in the classes.