Dressed in pink, tiny 9 year old Jenalyn Pacheco adorably evaded her brother Raymond during the semi finals at the annual Montreal Salsa Convention last weekend before removing her perfectly poised tail to join the bungling inspector Clouseau in a whirlwind salsa dance.
The pre-teen brother and sister team quickly won over the crowd of near 1000 spectators with their Pink Panther routine, and two nights later, the judges panel, which included Jean Marc Genereux from “So You Think You Can Dance,” placed them first in the finals, making Jenalyn and Raymond of Toronto the youngest couple by far to win the amateur division of the competition. They win passes to the next L.A. Salsa congress and other prizes from the Convention sponsors.
The annual Montreal Salas Convention is a weekend-long event consisting of shows by Canadian and renowned international dance troupes, all-day workshops, and an “Extreme Salsa Competition,” a qualifier for the next World Salsa Championships. This year entries included over 20 Pro-Am, Amateur, and Professional couples.
Watch Raymond and Jenalyn’s winning Amateur routine here (video from a previous competition in Toronto):
Placing second in the Amateur division after Jenalyn and Raymond was another team from Toronto: Briia and Sergio. The winners of the Professional Division were Montreal’s Victor Contreras and Katia Morales, who also recently won the 6 Degrees Salsa Competition in Toronto. Victor and Katia will represent Canada in the upcoming World Salsa Championships in Florida.
About Raymond and Jenalyn
Jenalyn and Raymond started dancing at ages three and four, respectively, and have been training with Latin Energy of Toronto since 2005. The brother and sister team are now the youngest dance couple in the Latin Energy performance team, Jenalyn being nine years old and Raymond being 12. Their performances display marked showmanship and confidence for such young dancers.
Jenalyn discovered her love for Salsa when watching her grandparents and parents dance at family parties, and has also taken classes in ballet, tap, hip-hop and jazz. She also sings and plays the violin. Raymond discovered his love for the stage by performing in various local festivals on the violin and piano, and has also taken classes in Jazz, Acro, Hip-Hop and Break dancing.
How did they Feel about Winning?
Raymond and Jenalyn felt very excited about the whole experience and learned how working hard and thinking positively can add to success. Their proud parents say “We are lucky that our kids have found something they love to do, are talented in, and are passionate about. Vanesa Stay, their teacher, has also been a great coach, teacher and role model for the kids.” Vanesa, who is also very proud of the kids, adds, “It is moments like this that make the sacrifices and long hours of rehearsals all worth it.”
The next Montreal Salsa Convention will take place May 11-15th, 2011.