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One Step at a Time
of us, the dreams of our youth are often sidelined by the careers we choose as
adults. But for others, childhood aspirations can become a reality. That just
may be the case for 23-year-old Adriano Ieropoli and 24-year-old Samantha Scali.
Together, they are Montreal’s best salsa dancing couple, known for their
Both Ieropoli and Scali have achieved their collective goal of making a name for themselves on the world’s salsa dancing stage. And, in 2017, they won The World Salsa Summit championship in Miami. Competing in the event was something that Ieropoli and Scali had been striving towards for years. Countless hours of hard work made them the first Canadians to take home the championship.
They returned to Miami to defend their title in 2018 and 2019 and won both summits as the returning champs. But their story didn’t start there. The young Montreal couple has been dancing together since they were children. As Ieropoli puts it, “We are partners in dance, partners in business and partners in life.” The three-time world champs seem to bring a new definition to the term soulmates.
As a child, Ieropoli would obsessively mimic the dance moves of music icons like Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. By the time he was five years old, his parents were sharing videos of their talented little boy with friends.
Ieropoli’s father’s co-worker was a Latin dancer who further encouraged him to enroll his son into classes. There seemed to be no looking back and as the young dancer’s skills improved, he quickly became the class’s shining star. By the time he was 10 years old, he was the teacher’s assistant.
Samantha Scali also grew up in Rivières-des-Prairies. She describes her childhood as very active. Scali was always busy playing soccer, doing gymnastics and practicing figure skating, but she found her true calling when she fell in love with dance. While reminiscing, Scali traces the root of her dancing ambitions to watching Dancing with The Stars with her mom. “I was always an athletic kid, but once I discovered dancing at a young age, I knew that was what I wanted to do.”
Their story together began 14 years ago in a dance studio in Rivières-des-Prairies when both Ieropoli and Scali were 10 years old. They were partnered up and quickly became friends. The chemistry between the two was immediately apparent both on and off the dance floor. And so, Ieropoli and Scali’s childhood friendship eventually blossomed into a teenage romance. The couple has now been together for 10 years. Their bond is certainly strong, but working alongside your significant other is not always easy. “The dancing is often easier as a result of the chemistry we have, but it can be difficult when our personal and professional lives mix,” Ieropoli says when asked about the challenges of being a couple on and off the dance floor. “You have to be able to separate what’s going on at home and what we’re doing on the dance floor.” Finding a work-life balance is difficult for many people, but it is especially challenging when those worlds collide. “We always try to focus on dance when we are in studio, no matter what is going on in our private life,” Scali says.
Despite their age, the couple has already found success in teaching their craft. They opened Novaera Productions, their very own dance studio in 2015. Ieropoli and Scali were only 18 years old when they opened their dance studio, but they both felt it was the right time to begin their first business endeavour. “We opened our studio when we were 18, but we weren’t lacking experience. We had been working at this since we were kids. By the time we had opened our studio, we had already been doing gigs with bands and performing at festivals for many years. We were always involved in the scene, performing and teaching. So, we decided to open up a place of our own,” Ieropoli says.
Scali was still a student upon opening the studio. Her full course load and seven-day work week made for a difficult juggling act. “Balancing everything in the beginning was difficult but we’re finally seeing the light. It’s now our full-time job.”
Located in Saint-Leonard, Novaera Productions is a studio for all ages and skill levels. “We teach everyone. We teach a lot of amateurs as well as competitive couples,” Ieropoli says. As instructors, Ieropoli and Scali are confident in the potential of their students. “We feel that at a basic level, anyone can learn any dance through time and commitment. For those who are learning salsa, the speed is usually the most difficult part. The smoothness also takes a lot of time but can be achieved through practice.” The couple knows the benefits of hard work and their teaching philosophy is indicative of that.
The duo’s teaching skills and hands-on approach have also paved the way for more Montreal-based Salsa dancers. “Some couples we’ve taught have come to Miami with us. They compete in the summit’s amateur divisions. We have various teams who perform on behalf of the studio,” Ieropoli says. When he and Scali are not teaching, they are meticulously practicing and performing their own routines.
“When preparing for a competition, usually we rehearse every day. We also teach during that time. We’re dancing pretty much all day. For a competition like the World Salsa Summit, it’s about a year of rehearsal and brainstorming. We also review and get coaching on our choreography. Practicing gets more intense as the competition approaches,” Ieropoli explains.
The couple has certainly developed a long list of accomplishments by now, but when asked what their proudest moment is, they both refer back to their 2017 win in Miami. “That’s still the most special out of all the competitions we’ve done. We went in as underdogs and had been working at it for the last 10 years. When they crowned us champions, our childhood dreams came true in that moment.”
The couple’s first championship along with the back-to-back wins in the years that followed have positioned them into a league of their own. “Becoming the tournament’s first Canadian champions also really helped our career take off, as it elevated us to another level,” Ieropoli says.
So, what’s next for Ieropoli and Scali? Well, plenty as a matter of fact. “This year, we’re doing a lot of touring along with teaching. We’re also going to many countries to perform: New Zealand, Australia, India, Ecuador, Chile, to name a few.”
The young couple now embraces their busy schedule and there appears to be no slowing them down. The couple only has one goal for the future; “To continue living our dream, keep growing our studio and keep travelling the world,” Ieropoli says. Perhaps practice really does make perfect.
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