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Spirit of salsa shimmies to the beat of its popularity

Dancers from the four Canberra dance schools will compete at this year’s Sydney Latin Festival. Shiromi Morris, above, gets her costume ready.

Dancers from the four Canberra dance schools will compete at this year’s Sydney Latin Festival. Shiromi Morris, above, gets her costume ready. Photo: Melissa Adams

During the day, Tamina Koehne-Drube is a graduate lawyer at King & Wood Mallesons. After hours, though, she swaps the business attire for something a little more colourful as a Latin dance teacher and performer.

The 24-year-old is one of dozens of Canberrans from four ACT dance schools - K'motion Dance Studio, Subsdance Dance Studio/Glamourosas Brazilian Entertainment, Kokoloco Dance Studio and Salsabor Dance Company - who will be performing at the annual Sydney Latin Festival 2013 from Thursday to February 3.

The festival attracts Latin dancers and teachers from around the world and features workshops, demonstrations and showcases.

Four Canberra dance schools will perform this year at the annual Sydney Latin Festival. Centre R-L Tamina Koehne-Drube, 24 of Dickson and Ian Dominic, 30 of Civic give a sneak preview at the Salsabor Dance Studio.

Four Canberra dance schools will perform this year at the annual Sydney Latin Festival. Centre R-L Tamina Koehne-Drube, 24 of Dickson and Ian Dominic, 30 of Civic give a sneak preview at the Salsabor Dance Studio. Photo: Melissa Adams

Koehne-Drube teaches at K'motion Dance Studio but will be performing a bachata routine with Ian Dominic with Salsabor Dance Studio.

''It's my first time performing with Salsabor,'' Koehne-Drube said, adding that the close-knit nature of the Canberra Latin dance community meant there was plenty of co-operation and supportiveness among different groups.

She said the bachata was ''very sensual. It comes from the Dominican Republic and has less of the energy of salsa … you're much closer to your partner, dancing closer than in salsa. It's a very beautiful and sensual dance.''

Both her parents were ballet dancers and she studied ballet from the age of four but when she came to Canberra in 2008 she wanted to try something different.

''I came to a salsa class and fell in love with it.''

And she's one of many Canberrans who have succumbed to the allure of Latin dances - salsa, zouk lambada, and many more.

Raquel Paez, who has run Salsabor for the past eight years, said ''hundreds of people - maybe up to 2000'' were students or teachers or simply enjoyed doing it.

She thought the music was the main reason for its popularity.

''It's upbeat and fun and different to regular popular music.''

Last year, Paez organised the first Canberra Latin Dance Festival and its success has meant there will be another, in October.

But there will be plenty of dance in the meantime in the nation's capital, with everything from evening classes to lunchtime lessons in Civic.

While most Latin dancers are in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, there are exceptions. Koehne-Drube said: ''One lady came into K'Motion who wanted to tango and salsa for her 70th birthday''. With the dance studio's help, she did.

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