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Dancing with the Salsa Stars

Sabor brings world champs to Boston


2009 World Salsa Champions Liz Lira and Cristian Oviedo. Photo courtesy of Liz Lira

Just minutes before stepping onto the dance floor at the 2009 World Salsa Championships in Orlando, Liz Lira ran through her routine backstage with her partner, Cristian Oviedo. It was then that a child racing through crashed into the dancer, spraining her fingers badly. “I was worried,” Lira says. “I hurt the hand I use to support my one-legged turns.”

Lira iced her hand, surreptitiously camping out in a stall in the women’s restroom so competitors wouldn’t gain the psychological advantage of seeing a weakened opponent.

After what seemed like an eternity, she heard her name called, and took the stage with Oviedo. “Nobody knew I was hurt,” she says. “But it didn’t matter. People just want to see a good competition.”

And they did. With 2,000 screaming fans and judges 10 feet away, Lira and Oviedo gave a world-class performance, clinching the 2009 World Salsa Championship.

On a high from Boston Salsa University’s first major event, Salsa Picante, held last semester and featuring International Latin Music Hall of Fame inductee Izzy “Mr. Salsa” Sanabria, Boston Salsa University, along with the Cambridge dance company Rumba y Timbal, recruited Lira and Oviedo to dance at tomorrow night’s Salsa Volume 2: Sabor Tropical.

Lira is a six-time World Salsa Champion; she has choreographed routines for the ABC show Dancing with the Stars, with season eight winners Mark Ballas and Shawn Johnson. Oviedo teaches private and group lessons and has choreographed dance scenes for films such as Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp, and Miami Vice, starring Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx.

Sabor Tropical will start with a free beginner’s salsa lesson and segue into a club with an open dance floor. The Boston University team Salsa Obsesion and Rumba y Timbal, which blends Cuban rumba body movements with fast footwork and acrobatics, will dance during the evening. All proceeds from Sabor Tropical will benefit the YWCA of Cambridge, where Rumba y Timbal holds its classes. Dancing with the champions will continue on Sunday, when Lira and Oviedo offer instructional classes in partnering, lady’s styling, and men’s footwork.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to dance at the same event as world champions, and perform for my BU peers and the greater Boston salsa community,” says Linnea Curtis (CAS’11), who will dance a group salsa routine to “Pavo con Salsa” (“Turkey with Salsa”) with her partner Carlos Emiliano Rojas Vivas (SMG’13) and another Salsa Obsesion couple.

Watch this video on YouTube

In the video above, watch Boston Salsa University’s first lesson of the fall. Free beginner’s lessons are offered on Mondays and intermediate lessons on Saturdays. For more information, visit Boston Salsa University on Facebook.

Sabor Tropical takes place tomorrow, Saturday, April 24, at the Hynes Convention Center, Hall D, 900 Boylston St., Boston. Doors open at 8 p.m., with a free beginner’s salsa lesson running from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. and social dancing and performances following. Tickets, $10 with a BU ID and $12 for non-BU students, can be purchased today, April 23, at the GSU Link. Tickets are $15 at the door for everyone. Lessons with Lira and Oviedo take place Sunday, April 25, at Rumba y Timbal, Cambridge YWCA, 7 Temple St., Cambridge. Lady styling and male footwork classes are from 3:30 to 5 p.m. The partnering workshop is from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Classes are $25 each, $40 for two.

Robin Berghaus can be reached at berghaus@bu.edu.


4 Comments on Dancing with the Salsa Stars

  • Anonymous on 04.23.2010 at 2:41 pm


    Sounds awesome!! I can’t wait!!!

  • Anonymous on 04.23.2010 at 4:09 pm

    oh holy cow what a great looking event! cant wait to learn and have fun, a group of friends and i are planning to attend!!!

  • Ellen Smith on 05.28.2010 at 9:25 am

    Sounds Awesome


    That sounds great and inviting..
    Share us the event and what happens…


  • Ellen Smith on 07.30.2010 at 10:01 am

    Dancing with the stars FANATIC

    Hey there,

    I love watching dancing with the stars and all other dancing reality shows like so you think you can dance..
    For me, dnacing is the best antidote in life, when you dance it makes you appreciate life and makes you feel happy..

    Thanks for sharing..

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