Just six months after Logan Volkers made his first salsa dancing steps he is training to dance in the World Latin Cup.
Volkers took up salsa dancing through Victoria’s Salsa Caliente in January and his dance partner, Olga Mosca, started in September.
Last week Mosca and Volkers took first place in the Northwest Amateur Salsa Championship qualifier in Portland, and will now train for the Miami-hosted World Latin Cup semifinals, in December.
“They’re doing ridiculously well, but we work them pretty hard, too,” said Christina Morrison, who’s instructed salsa dancers for 15 years, mostly in Victoria.
Both attended classes taught by Morrison at Café Casablanca and showed promise. They were soon made partners and trained under Morrison.
“They put in the time to dance with all kinds of people in lots of classes, four to five times a week, and that’s how you improve,” Morrison said.
The results have been trophy yielding, winning the B.C. and Northwest competitions.
Volkers is ready to admit it’s been a quick learning curve. There’s no way he imagined he’d have come this far in six months.
“Guess I’m a fast learner. I previously did a little dancing all over the place, but I think it’s just in my blood,” he joked. “My parents met on the dance floor, country dancing in Alberta.”
In all seriousness, it took three years for a friend to draw the reluctant Volkers to Café Casablanca. He moved to Victoria to do his undergrad and masters in engineering at UVic and now works in a startup software company. With his nights free, he finally obliged.
“My first night I did horribly but better than I should have and (Morrison) decided to let me understudy for some of the touring teams. I worked my butt off and when the competition came up, I partnered with (Mosca) to put a routine together,” he said.
Mosca had a different path with some previous dance experience.
Born in Singapore to Italian parents, Mosca was raised in Rome, Italy, where she figure skated until she moved to Oak Bay as a 14 year old. There, she continued to figure skate and also danced tap for a year.
“It’s incredibly exciting to have started in September and already done this well. It’s great to have the people around me who support me so much.”
The dancers have some intangible qualities that Morrison looks for in competitive dancers.
“When we hold auditions each year we look for attitude, personality and work ethic, and they’ve got all of those things,” she said.
The goal for competition is never to try to go into it to win, Morrison said, but to do better than last time by as much as possible.
Mosca and Volkers will travel with Morrison this summer to see the pro World Salsa Championships in Puerto RIco, where there will be a chance to train under some of the top dancers in the world.
But Volkers already has an understanding of what’s made him and Mosca a successful duo.
“The biggest trick to doing well is to dance like you’re having fun, and as long as you do that, you’re more relaxed and going to seem natural and relaxed, which is a big part of doing well.”
Another team of Salsa Caliente dancers, Jess Ruskin and Keith Myler, placed second in Portland.
Visit calientedance.com for more information.