The world’s at her feet as Bermuda dancer comes second in global championships
The nerves of dancer Kristina Amaro didn't show as she notched up an impressive second place as the only Bermudian to compete in the World Pro-Am Championships.
The 20-year-old Bermuda College student admits she was “completely freaking out” as she took to the dance floor with a professional partner she'd met just two days earlier.
But her expertise paid off as she wowed the panel of judges and won second place in the 18 to 35 age category at the final of the two-day competition at the Poinciana Ballroom at the Fairmont Southampton Resort on Sunday.
Miss Amaro had a huge following in the crowd as her family, friends and fellow dancers from Sabor Dance School cheered her on. Her supporters waved posters and chanted ‘We love Kristina' and ‘Go Kristina.'
Miss Amaro glided through her rumba, swing, bolero, mambo and cha cha routines and won herself bragging rights as one of the world's best dancers. But she admitted she just focused on one move at a time as she concentrated on making sure her feet were doing the right thing.
She said: “It was scary, I was shaking so much. I honestly don't even remember the music playing, I was so nervous and it was so overwhelming.
“It was so exciting to be there, but I just wanted to go out there and get it over with. I was so relieved when I'd finished. It was like ‘phew, now I can breath.'”
Miss Amaro from Smith's said it was “all very last minute” as she was only nominated for the competition about five weeks ago by Sabor Dance School directors Angela and Travis Gilbert.
She was taught her five dance routines just a month ago and had been practicing her moves on her own. She practised for a couple of hours a day in her bedroom and even walking down the road. She said she found the routines particularly hard as she'd never done ballroom dancing before.
Miss Amaro didn't get to meet dance partner Michael Dressler from the Fred Astaire Dance School in Florida until Friday and only got to practice with him for about an hour over the weekend as he also had other dancers to practice with. She said they squeezed in 20 minutess on Friday, 20 minutes on Saturday and another 20 minutes on Sunday just before the finals.
The global event kicked off with a flag ceremony by pupils from Mount St Agnes, with Miss Amaro receiving a standing ovation as she walked around the dance floor behind the Bermuda flag.
It was the first time the glitzy competition had been held in Bermuda and more than 300 amateur dancers from 25 countries teamed up with professional instructors. Countries taking part included the UK, US, Canada, France, Italy, Germany and South Africa. The fifth annual competition included two styles of ballroom dancing; ‘standard' which included the waltz, foxtrot and quickstep and Latin, which included rumba and samba.
Wearing a turquoise glittery dress, Miss Amaro went head-to-head with dancers her age from South Africa, US and France. It was the first time any of the dancers had heard the music that had been selected.
The panel of judges included Brian Fortuna from Dancing With The Stars and Miss Amaro was beaten by a dancer from France.
Miss Amaro learned ballet, tap and modern at In Motion School of Dance and has been doing salsa at Sabor Dance School since she was 14. She is currently an assistant teacher at Sabor.
She said: “I was so honoured to represent Bermuda, it was a dream come true for me. The other dancers, the costumes, the atmosphere, it was all so beautiful.”
Miss Amaro said winning second place in a worldwide competition was still sinking in, but she's hoping it will “open up new doors of opportunities.”
Guests of honour at the World Pro-Am Championships included Premier Paula Cox, Attorney General Michael Scott, Transport Minister Terry Lister and director of tourism William Griffith.