Salsa has no age limits. Some committed dancers-turned-parents have been known to dance away with their little one swaddled to them. There are dancers who have breached the 100-year mark and keep right on with their cumbia. Just like any competitive sport, the younger a person starts the better their chances of success. Plus, starting young children in social dances encourages self-esteem, balance, flexibility, and a healthy and active lifestyle. Partner dancing, such as salsa, also teaches children social graces and teamwork.
Some of the most impressive salsa dancers are also some of the youngest. They’re inspiring and of course adorable, but once they start dancing they’ll give you something to aspire to as a dancer! Check out some of the youngest, best salsa dancers and earmark their moves to try out yourself in your next class or night out:
1. Beberly Debers: She was just eight when she was featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, dancing with a partner, Johnathan Meza, whom she’d only been paired with for a few months. The young champion showcased what determination and passion can achieve—even before you get into middle school! Beberly began dancing at five, and says she wants to be a professional dancer as well as an actress when she grows up. Clearly, she’s already well on her way.
2. Johnathan Meza: His performance at the World Latin Dance Cup is mind blowing, and partnering with the likes of Debers will ensure that he only gets better as his dance practice continues. He was 12 when he teamed up with his latest partner, but this solo salsa act is evidence that Meza doesn’t need a follower with the moves he has. He took top rankings in the children’s division for soloist acts, although he equally enjoys solo and partner dancing.
3. Kevin Tellez: Before she danced with Johnathan, Beberly was tearing up the dance floor with Kevin. Another young salsa master, he took home gold during the Latino Del Mundo Israeli Salsa Congress in 2014. Kevin has also partnered with another salsa star, Gaby, where they took home the World Champ title at the same congress. Specializing in Colombian salsa, Kevin was also a pre-teen when he began collecting these accolades and currently is cast in Broadway’s On Your Feet.
These three are by far the most renowned young dancers racking up trophies at congresses, championships and competitions around the world, but thanks to the advent of social media, we’re also able to keep an eye on the underdogs of the salsa world. Here are a few budding YouTube stars who might just make an appearance at an upcoming competition—and you can say you discovered them first.
4. Yasha and Daniela: Many will remember this pair from America’s Got Talent, where Daniela stole the show at just nine years old. Although they didn’t win the season, such performances by children rarely do. Instead, it was fantastic practice on a massive stage in front of millions of fans watching from around the world. The stage presence is on point, there’s sass to spare, and being able to snag a coveted spot on such a big talent show at this young of an age is a precursor to championships and careers as pro dancers.
5. Shakira (no, not that Shakira): On the other side of the pond, Shakira wows the judges on The X Factor at just four years old performing a solo Latin dance. One of the youngest dancers to exhibit real skills and mastery of foundational moves, her love of the dance is matched equally by her adorableness factor. Again, such talent platforms aren’t the place where young children are crowned winners. However, Shakira is already dabbling in the life of a professional dancer even while she’s in preschool.
Worried your children are too big to get started on a professional salsa career—or that you are? Don’t be. Dance has no age limits (well, outside of ballet in most cases!). Latin dancing is open to all and it’s never too late, or too early, to embrace your love of the dance.