Salsa Colada: growth through dance

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Salsa dancers lined up in front of a sign that says “DIOSA”.
Empowerment, growth, and self-love; oh my! Piper Sports Photography (PSP)

How can dancing improve your life? 

Salsa Colada is a locally run dance studio and class run by Juliany Qureshi. Born in El Salvador, Qureshi has brought in her culture to create a family-like community.  

Qureshi started dancing from a young age, practicing contemporary dance, gymnastics, and ballet. The hobby quickly became a passion and she was hired as a professional dancer, while her skills continued to grow and expand.  

She started to teach dancing after she moved to Canada, but the move left her missing her home and thinking about the person she wanted to be. From that, Salsa Colada was born. According to Qureshi, Salsa Colada is driven by, “Empowerment for women.”  

“What I want is for every woman to know that we are capable,” she said. “We do so much but we don’t always have the confidence to realize that we can do even more! We are more than homemakers, moms, wives, and people. As people, we need to keep growing. Keep growing for ourselves and keep doing things that make us happy!” 

 Qureshi’s classes are just one way to feel fulfilled. She said, “The one thing I want people to get from this class is that not only are they beautiful and capable, but we are also sexy within our energy. We are sexy within ourselves and not like somebody else. We are sexy within our skin, and we feel that.”  

“All of my classes are women only except for the couples. The couples’ classes are different than other ones in the city. In my couples’ class, you do not switch partners because I am looking for a connection. I want my environment to create a connection,” Qureshi continued. 

Qureshi brings her Latin culture into her classes and does her best to create a connection with her class. “I find that Canadians are very curious,” she said. “They want to know people and cultures. So, people want to learn and absorb. They want to travel; they want to learn.” Qureshi believes that this curiosity and desire to learn is what helps her and her classes to create that connection.  

“This allows me to grow. This allows me to not only share my culture but share my language and share bits of me throughout the class, and I feel people appreciate that because, for us, a class has become a family. We become friends. We have this relationship, connection, and empowerment and I want to be able to share who I am. This is a way to do that.”  

Salsa Colada has been offering lessons since 2003. Over the years, Salsa Colada has taught various classes at different levels.  

Their website, salsacolada.ca, lists classes like the ladies’ high-intensity workout, ladies burn and learn for beginners, Feugo or Salsations team for kids, and a couples’ beginners’ class. Salsa Colada is even expanding to some jazz and hip-hop classes.  

With all of these different options in mind, I attended a class to give you a review of the structure, instructions, and feeling of what it is like to be in a Salsa Colada class. I attended the Ladies Burn and Learn for Beginners class, which is currently on Wednesday at 7 p.m..  

First of all, Qureshi has a very unique style that is unique to teaching her class. It starts with you choosing your spot and a quick warm-up. The warm-up was nice and simple, just moving side to side for 4 counts and 4 counts the other way.  

Then, as you are watching the dance instructor, your warm-up takes it up a notch, and you start to dance a little spicier! Once you are all warmed up, you start the class by learning a sequence of moves that will be used throughout the duration of the class.  

The best thing about this style of class is no class is the same. Since these classes are just for a weekly fun time, not for a performance, the class can choose if they would like to do a salsa, bachata, regatone, or cha-cha-cha. Once the class chooses which style they want to do for the day, that is when the class starts to get fun! 

The class I attended started with a basic four-step count one way, then the other way. We would do that, then pivot on one leg with a little of a hop and go the other way for four counts.  

Qureshi would introduce you to a different step, you would add it to the combination, and do it for the duration of a song. Add another step to the combination; do it for the duration of the song.  

Before you know it, you can dance various combinations and movements to the new song and start to feel like a true salsa dancer!  

How Qureshi designs the class and teaches you makes you super comfortable with the movements. She emphasizes the meaning of muscle memory and connecting with movement.  

I think this is true because, at the beginning of the class, I was like, “Okay! I got this!” As we added moves, I thought, “Okay, what? How?” I was confused about how I would remember this all! However, before I knew it, I felt like I did remember!  

Was it perfect? No, but I was moving my body, dancing away, doing the moves, and having fun. And I assure you the more you come back, the better you get, and I could see that by watching other dancers in the room. They were feeling the movement and loving the class!  

Qureshi has lots of classes to choose from and they are lots of fun to attend. Salsa dancing is a great way to staying active and feeling empowered all through the year, it’s so much fun! 

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