An Insider's Look at the Calgary International Salsa Congress

Professional salsa dancer Anya Katsevman talks about how she prepares for a performance, starting from picking the music to finally stepping on stage at the Calgary International Salsa Congress.

Photograph courtesy of the Calgary International Salsa Congress


Kelly Lannan and Eric Caty have travelled all over the world as professional dancers. After participating in numerous congresses, the dance partners realized they wanted to create their own event a little closer to home. Since then, the Calgary International Salsa Congress has become an event for serious dancers and seriously-into-dance spectators alike. “We had a huge turnout for our first year,” says Lannan. “It’s just gotten bigger and bigger every year. Last year we celebrated our 10th annual event.”

Now in its eleventh year, the event takes place over four days. There are classes, competitions (hundreds and hundreds of competitions," says Lannan), performances, and of course, a party each night. "When you go out to the ballet, when the ballet is over, you’re kind of done. But if you come out to a salsa congress, when the whole show is over, we turn around the ballroom and we open it up for social dancing and mingling with the performers. We’re open until 3 in the morning every day,” says Lannan. 

Two-time World Salsa Champion Anya Katsevman will be appearing at the Calgary International Salsa Congress. Katsevman will be a triple threat at the event – you'll find her teaching in the classroom, on the floor performing, and in the hot seat as a judge. Katsevman has high praise for what audiences can expect to see during the weekend. “[The Calgary International Salsa Congress] is one event where absolutely all kinds of spectacular different forms of dancing occur on one stage. For any preference or any taste, I think every single person can look forward to being absolutely inspired by the glamour and the energy and the sheer skill factor,” says Katsevman.

Katsevman shares how she prepares for a performance and what she’ll be doing before she takes the stage at the Calgary International Salsa Congress: 

“The preparation for shows or competitions begins way in advance in the studio. The first part is always finding music that inspires you. Once the song is in place, the next stage is choreography. Once the piece starts coming together, it's about what the vision is, how to finish the overall look with the costume’s hair and makeup. When all of that comes together and feels well-rehearsed, it’s finally ready for the stage. Then you give yourself an extra two, three weeks of actually rehearsing it in a more performance-like manner. Then, you pack your bags and you’re on your way. 

“As soon as we arrive at the Calgary Salsa Congress, typically we do a small rehearsal on Thursday. Once Friday kicks in, it’s full congress mode. For me personally, [that] usually entails a lot of social dancing, teaching workshops, taking workshops. Somewhere in the weekend I’ll be judging the competition. Then, Saturday night is the show. The show always has a technical rehearsal where you get to stage what you’ve practiced in their hall.

“Typically, we would warm-up sometime during the day. Once tech rehearsal hits, I want to feel as prepared as I can be and actually start reserving my energy. Once I start putting on my hair and makeup, that’s when I prepare myself emotionally for what kind of character I’m prepared to portray that day, making sure that everything that I need to be ready is ready way before I actually step on stage. This way once my hair and makeup is on, I already feel like the performer I need to be that night, so when I head backstage, it’s just a matter of staying loose, making sure my muscles are prepared, and actually not thinking about it as much as I can.”  

The Calgary International Salsa Congress takes place from April 5 to 8, 2018. For more information, visit

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