Hong Kong, PRC
After a disappointing 4th place at the World Salsa Summit earlier this year in February. Giancarlo & Masha were determined even more so to dance to their full potential in a competition environment. The annual World Salsa Championships in Hong Kong was in their sight.
It had been long in the plans to go to New Zealand after the World Salsa Summit, and since the Hong Kong Salsa Festival and World Salsa Championships are held at the same time in March, it just made sense to make a stop over in Hong Kong on their way to New Zealand.
This was the 15th edition of the Hong Kong Salsa Festival and the 5th edition of the World Salsa Championships being hosted in the vibrant city. 2012 was the first edition and Latinissimo dancers represented New Zealand in 3 categories, Amateur (Enrique Johns & Tania Mason), Teams (Latinissimo A-Team) and Professional (Giancarlo & Masha). Back then Enrique & Tania took out the top prize in the Amateur category and became World Amateur Salsa Champions. Latinissimo A-Team took out 2nd place and Giancarlo & Masha also took 2nd place in professional category.
Competition Day 1 took place on Friday 11th March with salsa solo professional and amateur, bachata pro and amateur couples and salsa amateur couples. Competitors from Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, Peru, Malaysia, Colombia, Singapore and more.
Competition Day 2 was on Sunday 13 March and it was time for the teams and professional couples to take the stage. Representing Italy, Poland, Australia, Colombia, Hong Kong, Japan and of course New Zealand and Slovenia.
1st Giancarlo & Masha take 1st place
World Salsa Championships (Hong Kong) | Professional category
World Salsa Championships Hong Kong edition
Competing at different competition is a learning curve for all dancers. Currently, there are 4 world competitions being organized by different organizations. However, the Hong Kong edition is the only one being held outside of the US. The World Salsa Summit is held in Miami, World Latin Dance Cup also held in Miami and World Salsa Open held in Puerto Rico. The Hong Kong and Puerto Rico competitions are what is called "open" OR "anything goes" competitions. There are no restrictions on partner supported moves such as lifts or tricks and all couples dance in a single category.
While the World Salsa Summit and World Latin Dance Cup have many categories where you are restricted with these kind of moves. The World Salsa Summit being the most restricted competition of them all. This is not a bad thing at all, no, no. In fact it just forces you to be much more creative with your choreographing skills and also forces you to demonstrate more recognizable Salsa rather than resorting to "tricks". But what is recognizable salsa? How do you get the perfect balance of salsa, innovative choreography and and a few tricks to give it a "wow" factor? Well that only comes with competition experience, each competition is different. You might get a great result at one competition and a disapointing one at another. You have to prepare accordingly.
Giancarlo & Masha take the stage
Actually, in March 2006 they competed at the Hong Kong Salsa Open, also hosted by the Hong Kong Salsa Festival. This is the same competition that eventually became the Asia-Pacific Salsa Championships and eventually a World competition as it kept growing over the years. Therefor the competition in Hong Kong meant something special to them. It was a 10 year anniversary/celebration of competing together, and everything worked out as planned when it mattered the most. Very few professional salsa dance couples have been competing together for this long.
Scoring and judging panel
As this competition has a different format to other world salsa competitions, the scoring is also different. You get your scores immediately after you finish performing your routine for the judges righ on stage. Each judge shows to the entire auditorium their marks for each team. All the scores are so close that it is impossible to anticipate what the outcome will be. There could also be deductions that nobody is aware of at the time. The judging panel for the finals consisted of 5 judges from around the world, Karen Lacey (UK), Alex Bryan (AU), Alien Ramirez (CUBA/USA), Gupson Pierre (CAN/SIN), Renata Damasceno (BRA).
JUST IN AT THE TIME OF WRITING THIS ARTICLE
From the organizer (World Dance Group, LLC); "This competition is a brand new format where only the best of best salsa dancers will be performing. Due to the fact that this is not an open competition, only the best of best can only participate through a strict selection criteria by the WSC organization committee. The committee will extend exclusive worldwide invitations for those elite couples and teams that won or were finalists in world salsa competitions as well as other recognized International dance sport and/or ballroom competitions."
As a Professional Salsa couple, Giancarlo & Masha have now represented New Zealand at 6 World championships; 2011 World Salsa Open in Puerto Rico (rank 14th), 2012 World Salsa Championships in Hong Kong (rank 2nd), 2013 World DanceSport Games in Taiwan (rank 4th), 2014 World Salsa Summit in Miami (rank 3rd), 2016 World Salsa Summit in Miami (rank 4th), 2016 World Salsa Championships in Hong Kong (rank 1st).