I want to share a funny experience that happened to me at the 3rd Hong Kong World Championship 2014. Hope you have a fun read :)
I come from the era where we all wanted to look and dance differently than just looking like an image of someone else. I always tried to look for something new and different and made a lot of pioneering efforts in the community since I started to do full time! I try to avoid doing these trending Tik Tok videos or challenges because everyone does it and it doesn’t need me to do it! That’s how I feel about things.
I had always been like this even from a kid. For example, I was the playing chess professionally as a kid starting from 6, as its not something everyone like to do at that age. Later, in school and early years of my Bachelor’s degree, I played field hockey because everyone want to play Cricket. I took Biotechnology for my Bachelor’s degree as everyone at that time wanted to do engineering or medicine. The list is quite long but you get the point!
When it came to dancing there are so many things in the same lines too. I didn’t want to look or dance like someone else. That was a time, everyone related to this idea too. Unfortunately, now we find 1000s of replicas of popular dancers across the world.
Let’s get back to the story!
It was 2014. I was training for a new solo routine that planned to compete that year! I watched a lot of championships and tried to choose song that is different from the other choices. I ended up selecting a song called Descarga 73. Let me know what do you think of the song.
The song is quite a catch in search for the songs that inspired to work on! It was also a time when my shows are half choreographed and half improvised. Although I wouldn't recommend this method to anyone who wants to compete! The song has got wonderful musicality elements and I had many ideas running in my mind!
The debut of the show happened at the 2nd Global World Salsa Championship, World Salsa Summit, Miami in 2014. This was my first trip to US and also my first time performing this routine. I didn't get pass the semi-finals. Any show needs a few warm-up performances before you hit the championship stage. It taught a lot of things in my dancing career and I returned home!
The Summit is hosted by Billy Fajardo and he was invited to Chennai in Dec 2013 for an event that I hosted on behalf of my previous Dance company that I worked for - LVDS. That was also the first year for Chennai, to have an International Artist at the Chennai Salsa Festival
2 weeks later, I left to the 3rd Hong Kong World Championship! The qualifiers were on Thursday and if one could manage to Quarterfinals and Semis, you could compete at the Finals on Saturday! Competing Hong Kong was also very special for me, as I am in the same category as Oliver Pineda who was one of my biggest inspirations for Solo (among a few others) and I wanted to compete against him!
It was Thursday and start of the championships, I was warming up for my turn as our category kick started and suddenly I heard my song playing and I was still in the backstage. It was well organised but how did this happen? Then I realised it was someone else dancing for the same song. Guess what? This happened like 3-4 times even before I stepped on to the stage!
WHAT A BUMMER!
After all the research and trying to choose a unique song, I ended up choosing the song that was chosen by 4 others. It was a funny coincidence that year! After barely getting pass the Quarters and Semi-s, I chose to change my song for the finals to at least feel better about the choice of the song! I was placed world #6 that year and guess who the winner is! Oliver, of course!
This the video I could find of him competing that year! He was so flawless, powerful and sharp. He is still in my opinion one of the best in the History of Salsa Soloists that ever existed!
I wanted to compete against the best, I tried and lost but I have no regrets and I realised I wasn't anywhere closer to the quality of his dancing in terms of experience, knowledge, quality of movement, musicality, etc. More than being the #6, the lessons and experience learnt were priceless. I am still no where closer but I have taken a lot of inspiration and definitely gotten better since. Isn't that more important?
My routine went on to win me the Asia Salsa Championship in Bangalore, India that year (2014) and Also my second time in a row that I won the Salsa Solo Championship at this Championship and also the last time I competed professionally.
Lesson learnt: Being best in your city or country doesn't really set your real standard. There are 100s of others better than you outside your comfort zone!
Reminder: You are not the only one thinking differently!