When Billy Fajardo learned his first mambo steps in Puerto Rico at age 7, he didn't imagine dance would become his career. Since then, Fajardo has explored every salsa scene he could. Besides dancing across the United States, he has danced salsa in the Philippines, India and Korea.
"Every culture interprets the music and dances it differently. It's all emotions," says Fajardo, who has also been trained in ballet, jazz and ballroom.
He will bring some of that artistic diversity to South Florida during the second World Salsa Summit, a dance competition he founded and running Thursday through Sunday at the Deauville Beach Resort in Miami Beach.
"I wanted to do something that would give more credibility to the salsa scene," Fajardo says.
Dancers from Chile, Argentina, Canada, Korea, New Zealand, Colombia and, of course, the United States, will compete. The summit has divisions for amateurs, semi-professionals, professionals and professional-amateurs — one professional dancing with an amateur — with subcategories for children, juniors, under 21, adults and dancers older than 45. Dancers can compete at salsa, bachata and cha-cha as couples, teams or same-sex duo.
Summit attendees who have never stepped on a dance floor can participate in workshops, or simply watch the shows. Every day of the event will feature an open dance floor until 4 in the morning.
"When you do an event, what you really want to do is make sure everybody walks away saying the judging was fair, they had fun, the workshops were educational and the experience was great," Fajardo says.
The World Salsa Summit will take place at Deauville Beach Resort, 6701 Collins Ave., in Miami Beach. Tickets cost $50 for a single day; $85 for Saturday, which includes a gala dinner; $175 for the weekend; and $250 for VIP, which includes all four days. Visit WorldSalsaSummit.com.