CALI, Colombia – Fauren Andres Uribe is 20 years old, with a life full of difficulties and a passion for dancing, specifically salsa.
His devotion is obvious when the first notes fill the air of Los Cristales theater during the International Dance Biennial of Cali in Colombia.
Uribe was born in Villavicencio, capital of Meta Department, and when he was two months old, his parents decided to go to Cali, known as the world capital of salsa.
In the 1990s the city was plagued by drug trafficking and the move would make his childhood and youth a constant coming and going.
Born in an unstable family, his mother was a prostitute and father had an illegal job, he was welcomed by his grandmother to a better life.
“My grandmother made the decision not to belong to their world, to be in one place, then in another, if I lived with them (the parents) it was to study half a year, or not to study and she did not want that for me,” he told Efe.
He has not known anything about his father for years and his mother died three years ago.
Her partner threw her into a road during an argument, she was hit by a truck and died instantly.
The young dancer has four siblings, the eldest lives on the street due to drug abuse, and the youngest appears to be going in the same direction.
Their grandmother tries to fight against a future that she can hardly control.
Another of his brothers died at the age of 18 in Villavicencio in a vicious attack.
BETTER TIMES AHEAD
The dancer lives in the neighborhood of Brittany, near the center of Cali, and three years ago his life changed when a friend told him about the Sondeluz dance group.
“We went to a casting and they chose us, a week later I was already dancing with the professional group” he said.
Sondeluz is a school and academy founded by the dancer Luz Ayde Moncayo, who decided to open a space where innovative choreographies abound and to help children and young people from vulnerable sectors of the city.
Moncayo told Efe that they try to steer children away from violence and crime on the streets.
Last April the foundation presented itself to a contest in Cali and Uribe, together with 15 companions, managed to win first prize, which allowed them to show their dance skills at the fourth International Dance Biennial of Cali, which started this week.
They did it with a choreography with a caleño style that involves not only classic but modern and contemporary parts of Colombian salsa where the speed of the feet and the energy of the body stand out.
Under the motto “It will be charanga or will be pachanga” they performed before the Caleño public.
“It is a confusion that exists in our neighborhood since many do not know that the charanga is an orchestral format and the pachanga is the music that is danced,” Moncayo explained.
With a stage scene where black and yellow tones abounded along with brightness, the director of the foundation knows that it has been “hard work” since part of the costumes were made by relatives of the dancers and they rehearsed between four and five hours a day.
Sondeluz fills young people with a foundation of values of respect, commitment and teamwork, “among other things we form wonderful people, good people,” he added.
The 16 dancers who performed on stage managed to find a better future and escape a life of crime which many succumb to.
In Cali, hundreds of salsa academies help young people get involved in society.
“I see the future as a professional in dance, I want to be with my family, I wish I could have my mother alive,” Uribe concluded.