Kara Shuster photo
St. Mary's Academy dance instructor Kara Shuster and her salsa partner, Javier Solis.
Kara Shuster photo
St. Mary's Academy dance instructor Kara Shuster and her salsa partner, Javier Solis.

St. Mary's Academy dance instructor Kara Shuster and her salsa partner, Javier Solis, have qualified to compete in the World Latin Dance Cup held in Miami, Fla., in December.

Shuster took up salsa only a year ago, quickly mastering the discipline. She has competed in Seattle, California, New York City and Vancouver, B.C. She and Solis placed at the Boise, Idaho, congress and therefore have been invited to compete in Miami next month.

This will be Schuster’s first time competing at an international level.

"It's very exciting and it's an honor," she said.

To raise funds for travel, lodging, registration and elaborate dance costumes, Shuster and Solis will host an introductory salsa class at St. Mary's Academy at 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 25. The lesson will take place in the auditorium and be followed by a question-and-answer session. Class size will be capped at 30, on a first-come, first-served basis, so organizers recommend that attendees RSVP. 

Schuster picked up salsa quickly because of her background in other dance forms. She started tap as a child, then moved on to ballet in her adolescence, studying dance in Michigan and New York at the Joffrey Ballet School. She received a degree in dance from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and now practices and teaches contemporary movement, improvisation and modern dance styles.

Shuster teaches three dance classes at St. Mary's Academy, along with providing instruction at the Portland Youth Ballet and Northwest Dance Project and holding a stake in the Anahata Co-op, a dance and yoga space in Southeast Portland.

The suggested donation for the Nov. 25 salsa lesson is $15-$25. No partner is required, and everyone is welcome. Registration in advance is preferred. 

"I'm really excited to share my love of salsa with St. Mary's and the broader Portland community. It will be wonderful to show everyone how fun and great dancing is," Shuster said.

For more information, or to donate in lieu of attending the fundraising event, please contact Kara Shuster at [email protected].