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Around the World in 80 Steps

Vito Ranieri and Stefania Errede,Latin-style dancers from Italy,on their signature pachanga moves

Written by Debjani Paul | Published: July 31, 2013 5:00 am

Vito Ranieri had stepped off an airplane in the US,only to discover that his luggage was missing. It had been a long journey from his home in Bari,southern Italy,and his travel outfit — shorts and T-shirt — was badly crumpled. He had to head to a casino and would have liked to change into cleaner and more formal wear,but he really didn’t have a choice. “There we were,in a luxurious casino with everyone dressed elegantly while I had nothing but what I was wearing,” Ranieri says. To complicate things further,Ranieri and his companion Stefania Errede had been invited especially to perform their signature “pachanga dance”,a style that needs dressy,formal outfits. “I had to borrow pants from one person,a shirt from another,and make an outfit,” he says.

Famous the world over as salsa pachanga exponents,the duo regularly travels to over 40 countries. On Sunday,they were on their third visit to India,to teach and perform at the Pune International Dance Congress (PIDC). “Every weekend,from Friday to Sunday,it’s a new adventure in a new country. After Pune,we will go to Germany,then rest for a week in Italy and fly out to the US again,” says Ranieri,adding that they are always packed and ready to leave.

Going by the name Vito and Stefania in the dancing circles,the two are well-known for their style that combines the elegance of Latin ballroom and the quick footwork of salsa. Raniere,a salsa dancer,met Errede about five years ago at a salsa party,while he was on the hunt for a new dance partner. It was the first time they met,but they already had a bit of shared history. “Stefania was my ex-girlfriend’s teacher. By the time I met her,I had tried everyone and everything,but nothing was working. My ex-girlfriend said,‘why don’t you try my teacher?’ At first,I refused but she insisted. Stefania and I have been dancing together since then,” he recalls.

Errede was a Latin ballroom dancer when they met,but the two of them combined their knowledge to form a new style. “Our style of salsa mambo and pachanga is very fast and a lot of fun. It combines the popular and fun salsa style with the more academic Latin ballroom style,” says Vito. Errede continues,“Latin ballroom has just one technique but in salsa,each dancer can have his or her own style. If people like your style,it becomes popular. We focus on lines and elegance like in Latin ballroom,and have the same sense of speed and fun as salsa.”

Pachanga,which originated in New York,has begun to catch up in dance circles across the world. “In India,even three years ago,we didn’t meet anyone who knew about pachanga. But this year,I can see many have learnt pachanga and it’s nice to see the change,” says Raniere.

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