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The online student news site of Redondo Union High School

High Tide

The online student news site of Redondo Union High School

High Tide

From Salsa to the Stage

Sabor de Salsa competes at the Sabor Latino Dance competition, placing third.
Photo by Mia Cielak

With Shakira playing in the background and partners in hand, the salsa club, Sabor de Salsa, competed in the Sabor Latino Dance Competition on March 17. Going up against professional dance studios filled with experienced dancers, Sabor de Salsa placed third overall in the large group category with their original choreography. According to junior Sadie Simmons, vice president of the club, “[the experience] was rewarding” despite the pressure they were under.

“Everyone’s always a little nervous, because we are going up against people who do this professionally, but we performed here at school and we have a lot of practice. It’s always nerve-wracking, especially for the people who have never competed before. Our president gives us a little pep talk, and once we get out there, everyone’s nerves calm down as they’re dancing,” Simmons said.

Senior Elizabeth Baranowski, stylist and dancer of Sabor de Salsa, battled her own nerves before stepping on the stage.

“I saw people performing from the wings, and I thought, ‘Wow. Everyone is so synchronized. I hope that we’re all synchronized.’ They had their big slicked back buns and this huge eye makeup and bright red lips. They had costumes that looked like they were hundreds of dollars, versus ours that we got on Amazon. I was hoping we would look like we were on their level,” Baranowski said. 

Sabor de Salsa met twice a week for two hours practices to prepare for the competition. According to Simmons, “the team feels a different struggle” because the competing studios have “more experience and time,” making it “impressive” for their club to place among them when there is an apparent difference in preparation. 

“[Winning third place] even though we practice less hours than [the people we competed against] shows how much growth our dancers have. A lot of people come into the club and they don’t even dance. All of us have a reason to be proud,” Baranowski said.

The group’s win was a celebration not only for them, but also for the other members of Sabor de Salsa. Freshman Amaya Canico, a member of Sabor de Salsa who did not participate in the large group dance, watched her friends work towards their win and shared the happiness of their placement.

“I’m so proud of them for making third place because it’s very difficult. There’s a lot of other people competing and it means a lot for them to stand out. People attend the event who dedicate their lives to the dance of salsa, and [the large group] still placed third,” Canico said.

As Sabor de Salsa was the only student-led club in the competition, it set them apart from the dance studios. Baranowski thinks that Sabor de Salsa’s originality was part of what helped them win third place.

“I saw a lot of all-girl dances. I think that we stood out because we performed partner dancing. We also had girl partners dancing with girls, too. I feel like our salsa club reflects what our school looks like. Just like our school, our salsa club is diverse. We have Latino dancers, white dancers, and Black dancers,” Baranowski said.

The large group’s placement marked a huge accomplishment for the dancers of Sabor de Salsa. Canico hopes that this will help the team improve, and she plans to dance harder at the next competition she attends with them.

“Since [the large group] placed third, I think we have it in us to place even higher next time. I know we can dance and this year’s competition will motivate us for next year’s so that we can do even better,” Canico said.

Sabor de Salsa attends Sabor Latino each year to showcase the art of salsa dancing. According to Simmons, the competition serves as another place for the club to dance than only at rallies and she’d rather “go [to the competition] and show what [they] can do, than to work so hard and not go.”

“[Attending this competition each year] is a way to show the judges and the other dancers how we’ve progressed under new leadership. It’s a way to show ourselves how much we’ve learned and to be proud of our choreography and our abilities,” Baranowski said. “When we compete, it all comes together. It’s amazing.”

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About the Contributor
Payton Rothluebbers
Payton Rothluebbers, Staff Writer
Artificial banana flavoring is not bad, and I'll take that to my grave.

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