Meet the incredible instructors for the Queenstown Salsa Festival 2023
Almendra y Richie
VLS Dance Melbourne - Australia
With almost two decades of experience in dancing salsa and Latin rhythms, Almendra Navarrete and Richie Torres from Chile and Argentina, respectively, have achieved great professional success. They have won multiple awards in various competitions and have also conducted workshops and shows in different countries.
There's something truly magical about watching Almendra and Richie take the dance floor with precision and grace. Their energy and chemistry is a sight to behold. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment to achieve the level of skill and artistry that great salsa couples like Almendra and Richie possessed, and it's a true testament to their love for the dance and for themselves. Seeing them perform is not just a treat for the eyes, but for the soul as well, as they remind us of the beauty and joy that dance can bring to our lives.
Emily Dance Productions - Christchurch
Emily is one of the leading instructors in New Zealand with over 12 years’ experience teaching across New Zealand, Australia and Asia. She has performed, competed and trained in Miami, Italy, Paris, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Singapore. Director of E Dance Productions with multiple national titles and the current World Salsa Solo Bachata Champion in the Professional Division.
Emily mentors and trains dancers across New Zealand, specialising in confidence and ladies styling.
Sydney - Australia
Winner of numerous salsa championships and founder of the “Shine brothers” and “Salsa unit” professional dance teams, Artia was born in the capital city of Tehran/Iran. He is one of the most regarded upcoming professionals in the Australian scene and is sought after for his style, energy, teaching and social dancing all around the world.
He has studied Latin dancing and been mentored by some of Australia and worlds best including Oliver Pineda, Adolfo Indacochea, Fernando Sosa etc. He also trained in ballet, lyrical, hip-hop, and jazz with Robert Sturrock and the Industry Dance Academy, and was a member of the elite “Modus Vivendi” salsa team competing in world level competitions.
Diego and Camila
Bailando Rueda - Auckland
Originally from Chile, Diego is a popular face on the New Zealand Salsa scene. His focus is on Cuban (Miami Style). With his exceptional teaching style and his attention to technical detail, Diego has quickly developed a following on the Auckland Rueda circuit. He began his own Rueda Group “Bailando Rueda” in 2016. Originally from Uruguay, Camila has a strong background in the performing arts. She brings over 10 years of dance teaching experience as well as a Bachelors degree in Musical Theatre from the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Arts.
Initially collaborating on a kids salsa project, they quickly realised they were a great team and continued working together. Since 2020, they have had the opportunity to train 1:1 with Rueda de Casino World Champion Cristian Mauricio Vera and have taught and performed at various NZ festivals. With a true passion for Cuban culture, they are excited to be returning to the festival alongside their team this year!
Ricardo & Yan
RYDE - Auckland
Ricardo and Yan are the directors of RYDE based in Auckland. They have a combined Latin dance experience of over 20 years specialising in On2 Salsa and Bachata. They started their partnership in 2018 and have trained, performed, and competed in the US, Europe, South America, and Asia, as well as teaching across Australasia. They have won several titles across Australia and New Zealand as a couple and soloist, and their teams are the current national champions.
Ricky is known for his complex turn patterns and cheeky fun style on the social dance floor. Yan is known for her footwork and musical choreographies.
They are excited to teach at the Queenstown Salsa Festival and share their love of dance.
Kate Le Brun
Pasión Salsa - Wanaka
Kate discovered Salsa dancing in 2009, and quickly immersed herself in Latin music and culture.
She has had the privilege of learning from one of New Zealand’s musicality masters for many years, and has studied in Cuba and Peru with world champions and street dancers alike.
Now living in Central Otago, Kate is the driving force behind Pasión Salsa Wanaka, and DJs around New Zealand at Latin events.
Reuben and Milena
Salsa Latina - Christchurch
Reuben, the esteemed director/owner of 'Salsa Latina' in Christchurch is renowned as a New Zealand Professional Multiple Champion and Choreographer with an impressive collection of over a hundred 1st place titles in both New Zealand and Australia.
His dance journey began in 1999, and since then, he has immersed himself in the art form, focusing mostly on Salsa & Bachata and constantly refining his skills through teaching and performing. Along his path, Reuben has had the privilege of learning from a diverse range of local and international teachers, including his travels to the Caribbean, France, Spain, Italy, Denmark, and Australia.
Milena was born in the French West Indies' island of Martinique in the Caribbean. She started dancing Ballet from the young age of 3 and she learnt for 12 years under Nicole Orcel who studied at Paris Opera Ballet. Since then she has many many years dance experience across a huge variety of dance styles including Ballet, Contemporary, Capoeira, French Zouk, Zouk Love, Kompas, Kizomba, Salsa, Bachata, Merengue and Dance-hall.
Dance is part of day-to-day life in the Caribbean and she was brought up listening and moving to the rhythm of various music genres.
Pasión Salsa - Queenstown
From Montevideo to Queenstown, Matias love for salsa has no frontier.
From Pasion Salsa Queenstown, and leader of the Queenstown Salsa Festival, he is planning on lighting up the dancefloor this year!
He is grateful to be part of this community as him and his team have been working hard behind the scenes to bring music, movement and dance in this incredible place in the world: Queenstown.
He can't wait to welcome you all on the Queenstown Salsa Festival dancefloor! Let's dance!
"Sin salsa no hay paraiso"
Salsa Magic - Wellington
Born in Colombia Rafa grew up with Salsa as a big influence in life and after spending a good part of it in London and other main cities in Europe, he witnessed the salsa wave expanding.
Apart from being a Salsa instructor and performer at Salsa Magic in Wellington, stage winner and mentor, Rafa also brings us the Salsa joy and flavour as a DJ.
Join us this year at the Queenstown Festival and dance to the best classic and fresh salsa and bachata tunes from DJ Rafa.
Walker is originally from Peru and started dancing salsa 8 years ago. He moved to New Zealand 7 years ago and lived in Wellington, Queenstown and most currently Invercargill where he started teaching some basic salsa and bachata steps and created latin dance venues.
He loves Latin music, specifically Salsa and Bachata. He started playing music in Queenstown at Pasíon Salsa events 5 years ago and for Latin Soul Dance more recently.
He does live DJ in Otago (Queenstown, Cromwell & Dunedin) and Southland (Invercargill). He also created an online radio channel on ZenoFM called Sbradioinnz.
He is looking forward to sharing his tunes with everyone at the 2023 Queenstown Salsa Festival this year!