World Salsa Championships 2009: Analysis of the World Salsa Championships 2009 Semi-Finals

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By Dakin Ferris, sleepless in Florida, on deadline for www.SalsaCrazy.com!

For two days, the rain has been pounding us here in Dania Beach, Florida, enough so that the parking lots are flooded at the Sheraton and anyone who drives through them creates a wake. With some luck, the sun will be out later today, but rest assured, once this hotel wakes up, no one will be thinking about the weather.

It’s 4:30am in the hotel lobby right now and about 10 die-hard dancers just came in from tonight’s local venue for social dancing. And while much is not known about the most important matters which will be decided in less than 24 hours, there are some things we do know

 Overall, while smaller, more intimate, and more subdued than 2007, this event is for real. The lack of stage hurts the overall feeling as its hard for people to see, but make no mistake—maybe with the exception of the Cabaret Division, the Top 10 in every category are all world class dancers, and the Top 3 will undoubtably be worthy of their World Champion titles.

 With three-time champion and perennial favorites Abel and Zulmara ON1 and Oliver Pineda and Luda Kroiter ON2 not competing, and some of the powerhouse performers that were always on their heals like Isidro and Sheila and Junior and Emily not competing, for the first time since the inception of this event, we will have new world champions in the On1 and On2 divisions.

 China has its first competitors in the finals ever, and China, Canada and Japan are having their best years ever here, all with finalists in multiple categories.   More closely like every year since this event began however, the San Francisco Bay Area teams and couples are poised to dominate like no other geographic location except for Puerto Rico and Colombia.

 For the first time in the history of the worlds, a number of groups and couples which aren’t from Colombia are dancing Colombian-stle salsa. That tells me it is growing, as appears to be the conversations about them maybe having a separate division within a few years.

 The Cabaret division is the least contested division this year and so far lacks the intense excited it had in 2007. At the low end of the top 10, there were a lot of mistakes in the semi-finals as well as some falls. At the top end, there hasn’t been any new mind-blowing tricks that have always marked this category in years past. (I’m hoping that changes tonight!)

 While On1 and On2 will definitely be intense, the Teams division is going to be out of this world.

 Despite the standings, everyone starts with 0 points tonight….the standings for the semi-finals only being used to determine the order of the contestants tonight.

 HERE IS THE MAYBE THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR ABOUT TONIGHT: Because of the very late announcement last month that everyone had to dance to a new list of approved songs in the finals, almost no-one used their finals routines to either qualify or get past the semi-finals. That means almost everyone will be out there tonight without battle-tested routines. With only 7 points separating the the contestants in 2 divisions using their time-tested routines, the conclusion is inescapable: TONIGHT WILL BE THE MOST LEVEL PLAYING FIELD IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD SALSA CHAMPIONSHIPS! It will be the closest one can get to comparing apples to apples…..and that means its anyone’s ballgame.

The action all starts tonight at 7:30. Oliver Pineda will be joining the judges panel. I predict the following:

ON1 DIVISION – No prediction! With Ricardo Tellez and Tianne Frias, Christian Oviedo and Liz Lira, Eli and Yen, and Roberto and Marie in the hunt—all of these couples are champions of major international competitions many times over–there can be no prediction here. Absent a mistake – which I note is all the more possible with these new routines — I would be surprised if any of them were not in the top 5. I am especially glad to see Eli and Yen doing so well, as I thought they should have qualified for the Top 10 in 2007.

ON2 DIVISION – Ok, yes, I am biased because they are my teachers, but I predict Luis Aguilar and Anya Katsevman for the win. Even with a moderate mistake in the semi-finals, these two still dominated convincingly and ended up in first. I have no idea what to expect from John and Liz or Enrique and Elly, but am sending my love and great hope they can move up in the ranks. Victor and Katia were completely on their game in the semi’s as well and I expect will place in the Top 3.

CABARET DIVISION – Jonathan and Jenny seemed the most confident and dominant to date. I expect them to go crazy tonight and stay in first, but am very much looking forward to the China/Russia combination of Setgoy and Polina, as well as Colombia’s Hugo and Carolina.

TEAM DIVISION – Swing Latino was off the hook in the semi’s with a trick at the end that was completely unexpected and mind-blowing….and they still got beat by Mexico’s Ritmo y Sabor, who completely deserved their position with a brilliant routine. It will be hard for the Bay Area teams to break into their rarified air, but both have a lot of room to move up, and I think third place is open for any of the teams currently in 3rd through 8th. I can’t wait to see SalsaMania’s, RicaSalsa’s and Diamon2’s routines.
So that it’s. 5am now. Time for a little sleep and then off for some local sight-seeing before preparing for the moment for which we have all be waiting!!

Check out these videos of the results announcements!!


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  • Bryce Dechert

    Great analysis Dakin that's pretty much my views also. It is definitely a different competition in the on1 and on2 divisions as the previous year's champions and some runner ups are no longer present.

    Also very important point that you touched on is the fact that the competitors have been forced to create NEW choreographies to NEW music -as the allowed music changed very recently- the finals will be unlike any final rounds in the previous WSC's. Definitely tough on the competitors who spent months preparing an awesome show, then had to change everything in the last few weeks.

    Can't wait for the updates tomorrow!

  • M.J.P.

    Dakin thank you sooo much for taking the time to keep us inform about what is happening in Florida. It is really nice to read your comments and watch the videos… I am grateful that you take the time to not only do it English but in another language as well… Gracias, Thank you, Grazie ;-)
    I am REALLY hoping that one of the Bay Area teams makes it to the finals… Rica Salsa has a dynamic, creative and powerful choreography and I hope they get recognition for their work.
    Would it be possible to post videos from Swing Latino and Ritmo y Sabor? It would be nice to see more team videos so we get to see what other people are doing ;-)

    Hope you are your wife can enjoy the beach at some point :-)

  • http://. Peter

    Many Thanks for the update! Can't wait to hear the final results.

    I've always wondered though why the event is held one weekend before Christmas? Isin't this the worst weekend of the year to hold an event like this?

    Good luck to all :-) )

  • dakin

    You're very welcome. I do this for free and for fun for SalsaCrazy, because I like the way they promote salsa.

    As to your question, in the past it was actually 2 weeks before Christmas, but either way, its a hard time of year, especially since airplane tickets are high. I don't know the inside reasons for picking this date but presume there were a lot of factors….end of year, 6 months away from the other event Albert Torres puts on (the West Coast Salsa Congress), school vacation, and even maybe the cost of things like ballrooms to host the event are cheaper that time of year, since demand is usually low then. That said, I've never asked him, but if I can remember, will the next time I see him. It might actually make a lot more sense some other time of the year!

    Best, Dakin

  • dakin

    I have posted the semi-finals for the two you requested and posted here on SalsaCrazy, or you can search youtube by my name there Dakinbear. In any event, it was my pleasure to post these and serve the salsa community…..and for the record, I love Ricardo and Tianne and everything about their collaboration since they first started together. At that time, there were so many top 10 competitors in the Bay Area, I don't think anyone gave them a chance. To the contrary, when I saw their routine the were bringing to the 2007 worlds, I predicted great things for them. And RicaSalsa, well, that is just an extension of the genius collaboration of these two great dancers……RicaSalsa has some of the most interesting and theatrical routines out there. I love their stuff and the good news for all of us….they just keep getting better with age. I look forward to more of them! Dakin

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