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Mambo No. 10!: Latin dance festival celebrates 10 years

Split decision: Ballroom dancers Jonathan Pitre and Arelis Beato show off their salsa moves at the Tropical Image Dance Company’s Sunset Park studio.
Brooklyn Paper
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It’s a fiesta!

The soulful rhythms of Latin American ballroom dance will slide into Clinton Hill and step-step-kick-off the 10th annual Brooklyn Salsa Congress and Dance Festival on Nov. 11.

The event, which takes place at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple, welcomes even those who cannot tell salsa — the king of Latin dance — from the slow and sensual bachata or the fast and flashy cha-cha, said the event’s director.

“It’s open to everyone. We want to introduce people to Latin dance and for people to come and have fun learning and trying the different styles,” said Arelis Beato, who founded the Tropical Image Dance Company in Sunset Park.

The Friday-night event will showcase fancy footwork from dance companies from across the city, including Tropical Image Dance Company, Bronx salsa team Descarga Latina, and the city-wide Mambo All-Star Jam, among others.

The performances will be followed by a chance for the audience to mingle with the professional dancers, get some one-on-one lessons, and show off their own moves. While DJs spin, revelers taking a break from dancing will be able to visit food stands and local vendors.

Those entranced by Friday night’s dancers can hit a Saturday afternoon boot camp to learn salsa and bachata choreography at Tropical Image’s Sunset Park studio, followed by a chance to try out the moves at an after-party. A party on Sunday night in Manhattan will conclude the festival.

Beato, known as “Magic Feet” in the mambo community because of her rapid steps and technical mastery, began the Salsa Congress 10 years ago as a fund raiser for Tropical Image, which offers free or discounted dance classes to kids in Sunset Park. The project of getting kids off the street and into the studio was a reaction to the neighborhood’s lack of after-school programming, she said.

“As the years went by and I saw the different needs of the kids, [the dance company] started to develop as a fun, safe place for kids to come,” said Beato, who grew up in Park Slope and Sunset Park. “It’ll be a fun festival, but it’s also for a good cause.”

Brooklyn Salsa Congress and Dance Festival at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple [317 Clermont Ave. at Lafayette Avenue, (718) 638–1256, www.brooklynmasonictempleny.com]. Nov. 11, 8 pm–2 am. $30–$40. Weekend pass $65–$75.

Dance Performance Boot Camp and After Party at Tropical Image Dance Company [475 41st St. at Fifth Avenue in Sunset Park, (646) 481–1818, www.brooklynsalsa.com]. Nov. 12. Boot camp at 2 pm, party 9 pm–2 am. $40 ($10 for party only).

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2517. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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