PORTLAND – Students at a Portland school are learning salsa dancing from a teacher who could soon be a world champion.
Kara Shuster, 26, qualified for the international competition with her partner Javier Solis after just a year of training.
“Salsa is very fast paced and very detail oriented,” commented Shuster who teaches dance classes at St. Mary’s Academy.
Shuster’s been dancing since she was 3 and had a strong background in ballet when she took up salsa.
“It’s like having a basic set of skills but applying them in a different way,” Shuster said. “It’s a good challenge which is why I like it.”
“Over the years I realize it’s not so much the talent, it’s the hard work,” explained her dance partner.
The pair practices 2 to 3 hours, 5 or 6 days a week.
At St. Mary’s Shuster teaches several styles of dance but salsa emerged as a favorite.
“It’s intuitive and it’s spicy,” she said with a wink.
But is spicy allowed at the all girls Catholic School?
“Well . . . maybe not as spicy as it usually is,” laughed student Hannah Holler. “But we do get to use some Latin American flair.”
Shuster and Solis will head to Miami to compete at the World Latin Dance Cup in December.
They qualified at a regional competition in Boise.
“You have two minutes to dance,” explained Solis. “You bring it for the audience and the judges and hopefully they see your hard work.”
No matter what happens in Miami Shuster will be back at St. Mary’s sharing her salsa moves.
“What I love most about dance is sharing it and I especially enjoy finding a connection with teens,” she concluded.