Mumbai-based dancers floor Miami with salsa moves

Feb 09, 2018, 15:40 IST | Gaurav Sarkar

Elvis Mascarenhas and Namrata Wittke make the country proud as they bag gold and second runner-up prize in respective categories

Elvis Hillary Mascarenhas and Namrata Wittke who represented India at the World Salsa Summit last month. Pic/ Syed Sameer Abedi
Elvis Hillary Mascarenhas and Namrata Wittke who represented India at the World Salsa Summit last month. Pic/ Syed Sameer Abedi

A Dancing duo from the city is giving Mumbaikars reason to groove like the Latinos, after striking gold during their maiden attempt at the World Salsa Summit – one of the biggest championships in the world – held in Miami last month. Elvis Hillary Mascarenhas, 27, and Namrata Wittke, 31, who represented India at the global dance competition, which saw participants from nearly 45 countries, managed to bag top prizes in their respective categories.

Elvis Hillary Mascarenhas and Namrata Wittke who represented India at the World Salsa Summit last month. Pic/ Syed Sameer Abedi

While Mascarenhas won gold in the solo-men's category called Rising Star, Wittke was declared second runners-up in the freestyle category.

The two are also long-time dance partners, and have been running a company called Rare Grooves Dance Company for the last three years, where they teach and train in various dance forms.

Mascarenhas, who has been professionally dancing for eight years now, said that he had been closely following the dance competition all these years. "We used to watch a lot of videos from the championship after they were uploaded on YouTube," he said, while talking about how they rehearsed for the competition, held between January 3 and 6. "Since 2014, we have also been training with a dance company in New York for three months each year. The instructors there really liked my routine during practice and told me straight up that I was going to win. This encouraged us," said Mascarenhas.

Elvis Hillary Mascarenhas
Elvis Hillary Mascarenhas

Standout performances
Mascarenhas recalls having the attention of the judges from the word go. The panel, comprised 12 judges, including Eddie Torres, who is known as the Mambo King, and Ahtoy WonPat-Borja, all renowned dancers in their own fields. "I had to prepare my own choreography in front of the judges," said Mascarenhas of the category in which he participated, where he was contesting with 30 others.

Wittke's freestyle category was also an interesting one. "You didn't know which song they were going to play for you to dance to," she said. "It could have been salsa or cha cha cha. They [judges] wanted to see how you play with the musicality and gave scores based on your technique and presentation," she added. "We never really thought that either of us could go ahead and win," said Mascarenhas.

Namrata Wittke
Namrata Wittke

'Will go back again'
The duo returned to Mumbai last week, along with their winning trophies and medals. "I didn't know how overwhelming an experience this would be," said Wittke. "Now, we want to go back and take part in other categories too. We have to work extra hard as this dance style is not originally ours. The Latin Americans created this style, and for another person from another country to go and beat them at their own dance is what makes it both, challenging and fun."

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