Teen joins Kiwi salsa dance team
Blenheim teenager Kelsi Hale, 14, rarely stops dancing, but she's finding it even harder these days after being selected as part of the New Zealand Youth Salsa team for an international salsa dancing festival in Australia.
Kelsi will be one of 12 young Kiwis in coach Stayz Te Atamira Raukawa's team taking part in the 2013 Sydney Latin Festival in January.
Although her family knew about her selection Kelsi was still shocked when she found out after the New Zealand Pacific Youth Salsa Congress in Wellington at Queen's Birthday Weekend.
"He [Mr Raukawa] had already talked to the parents, but he didn't tell us who was going till after [the competition].
"My mum tricked me into thinking I wasn't going so when I found out I was pretty stoked."
Kelsi said she almost never stopped dancing at home and she loved being able to express herself on the dance floor.
"Ever since I was a little girl whenever music came on I'd be dancing.
"You don't have to hide away, you can be yourself and not be afraid of who you are. If I'm in a bad mood I can take it out on the dance floor, and you give permission to other people to be themselves."
She switched from gymnastics to dance three years ago, joining Mr Raukawa's Grovetown-based Star Dance academy and was fast tracked into the academy's salsa classes, for its top dancers, after just two months. She is hoping to study dance at the Excel School of performing arts in Auckland when she leaves school. For now though her focus is on practising and raising the $3000 she will need to get to Sydney, selling pine cones, organising sausage sizzles and talking to businesses about sponsorship.
Mr Raukawa said along with performing in Sydney the team would take part in workshops and evening salsa parties, visit some top Sydney dance schools, and fit in some sightseeing.
- The Mirror