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Stepping out: Salsa Queenstown dancers getting ready for the resort's first Latin dance festival next month are, from left, Tori Keating, Jose Figuera, Natacha Hoarau, Shane Buckham, Belen Chandler, Matias Berardi, Suzy Diamond, Cristian Riffo, Gonzalo Fernandez, organiser Maria Niklison and Zoe Tipper

By TRACEY ROXBURGH

It’s time to give it a twirl.

Next month Salsa Queenstown’s hosting the resort’s inaugural salsa and Latin dance festival, which’ll include some of New Zealand’s top teachers offering workshops and bootcamps to dancers — and would-be dancers.

Running from April 8 to 11, organiser Maria Niklison says instructors Diego Troncoso, of Bailando Rueda, Sebastian Vera (Aotearoa Latin Dance Auckland), Emily Gubb (E Dance Productions) and Kate Le Brun (Pasion Salsa) will hold 14 hours of group workshops on April 10 and 11, including bachata, salsa, reggaeton, musicality, salsa rueda, body movement and cha cha cha.

Niklison says the salsa festival’s been a dream for a ‘‘long, long time’’ and Covid had provided the perfect opportunity.

‘‘A lot of the salsa dance schools around NZ usually travel overseas for congresses … and because the borders are closed we decided this was the best time to do it in Queenstown, because of the destination.

‘‘We have a lot of salsa schools around NZ and a lot of them haven’t actually visited Queenstown before.

‘‘So we thought this was the perfect time to do it because people can’t go [overseas].

‘‘It’s been a vision for a long time and it comes at a good time for us, as a destination and as a school.’’

Niklison says they’re already about half-way to their goal of selling 200 passes, which  allows holders to attend every workshop on offer — or just those of interest — over three full days, run by the different instructors.

While for the experienced it’s ‘‘like a marathon’’, attending all-day workshops before a break and then five to six hours of social dancing at night, there’ll also be beginner workshops for those who just want to dip their toes in.

There’ll also be a massive salsa party at the Queenstown Memorial Centre on the Saturday
night, open to everyone, regardless of whether they want to participate, or just watch the  dance teams from across the country perform.

‘‘It’s a show for families and people in the community.

‘‘You have a seat, you have shows and an incredible level of dancing and then social dance, but you can just sit and watch.

‘‘Salsa is a community — it’s not a Latin night that’s crazy and with drunk people, this is more like social.

‘‘It’s a bit like ballroom dance meets Latin — it’s a very cool experience.’’

Passes for workshops are available through Salsa Queenstown’s Facebook page, while tickets for the Saturday night celebration cost $25.

tracey.roxburgh@scene.co.nz