NEW! Brazilian Zouk Jack’n’Jill – Official BZDC registered event

The best of New Zealand's Latin Dancers


Registrations for the 10th annual competition will open soon to dance soloists, couples and teams from New Zealand and abroad covering street latin dance genres popular around the world, namely Salsa, Bachata, Zouk, Kizomba, Chacha, Reggaeton, Samba, Tango and Dancehall.


Competitor Registrations

Spectator tickets



2023 National & International Judges Panel

AlmendraInternational Head Judge - Salsa & Bachata
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Almendra Navarrete (Chile) Professional ballerina, World Champion of the World Latin Dance Cup 2017, Feminine Soloist category and Salsa On2 category, in addition to being Ultimate Champion with her partner Richie Torres. Since 2014, she has been a podium player in the Female Soloist category at the WLDC.
Richie Torres
Richie TorresInternational Judge - Salsa & Bachata
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Richie Torres (Argentina) Professional dancer. In 2016, he won Second Place in the WLDC Salsa On2 category with Almendra Navarrete. In the year 2017 he obtained the first place in the Salsa on2 category in addition to being the Ultimate Champion of the same event. Subchampions World Salsa Summit 2018 and 2019 Category Salsa On2.
Mitch Bilic
Mitch BilicInternational Judge -Salsa & Bachata
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Mitch took his first dance steps at the age of 8 having trained in jazz, tap, hip hop, drama and singing at Keane Kids Studios. However, it was in 2005 Mitch discovered Latin dancing and immediately fell in love with not only the dance but the culture. In 2008 Mitch won the very first Australian Bachata Championship and from this point decided to pursue a career in dance. In 2009 Mitch met his dance partner Ellicia McDonald and shortly after took the Australian and World Latin dance scene by storm. Mitch along with his partner Ellicia McDonald are the pioneers of Bachata Sensual and Bachatango in Australia and are responsible for putting Australian Bachata on the World radar. They have dazzled Latin Congresses and Commercial Events in over 35 countries as instructors, performers, competitors and choreographers. They have achieved impressive credentials in their time as a partnership including: 2013 World Bachata Champions 2014 World Bachata Masters (4th Place ) 2012 New Zealand Latin Dancesport Champions. 2013 World Dance Sport Games WDSF ( 5th Place ) 2x Australian Salsa Champions (2012/13) Multiple Australian Bachata Champions His impressive resume includes being the organiser of the Bailando Sensual Festival as well as working for well-known companies such as Di Heaton Dancers, Princess Cruise Lines, WB Productions, G’day Hollywood Productions, Dance Dance Dance, Sydney Dance Company, Opera Australia, Rapid Loss, and Boombox. Mitch is known for his charisma, incredible showmanship, lifts and tricks, technique, and passion for teaching his students.
Annie Giles
Annie GilesYouth Judge - Salsa & Bachata
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Annie is one of the pioneers of Salsa in New Zealand. Her continuous involvement in the Latin Dance scene as well as support of various dance schools and events has proven to be invaluable. Her generosity has helped so many grow and develop, including our youngest Salseros and Salseras all over the country. Annie has been on all sides of competitions: as an MC, organiser, judge and a competitor. With years of experience she brings knowledge and skill to our judging panel.
 Rebecca Connaughton
Rebecca ConnaughtonSalsa & Bachata
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Rebecca discovered Salsa while living in Tokyo, initially learning from Cuban instructors and by immersing herself in the social dance scene. She became involved in the competitive salsa scene since 2007, initially as a competitor and then as a coach, choreographer, competitor and judge. She has coached and choreographed a successful NZ salsa shines team since 2012, with this team placing at numerous competitions in NZ, as well as placing at competitions within Australia and the USA. Rebecca attended a judges’ certification course with Billy Fajardo from the USA, and has been a regular judge at the World Salsa Solo in Brisbane and the South Island Salsa Championships. Rebecca’s true passion is mentoring dancers in order to provide them with skills to move in a way that suits their specific body type, and to encourage confidence and self-expression on the dance floor.
Irina Kapeli
Irina KapeliSalsa & Bachata
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Irina has been dancing Salsa since 1998. Prior to that she trained in gymnastics, ballet and jazz. She has completed a year and a half of University studies of Dance technique and Teaching, Chorography, Anatomy, physiology and Biomechanics. Irina is also an IDO certified judge.
Ricardo Grecco
Ricardo GreccoSalsa & Bachata
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Ricardo Grecco is a Brazilian who has a passion for dancing and has learnt many different styles. Just 7 months after he took up salsa, he placed as 1st runner up in the NZ Salsa Nationals, which led to more national and world titles. “Salsa is a great way to have fun, socialize and interact with ohers, and the best is that dance is a world-wide language, you can do it anywhere you go!” With his infectious personality and great leading technique, Ricky has taught classes to all levels from beginners to advanced dancers
Yannick Assoba
Yannick AssobaInternational Head Judge - Kizomba
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Yannick was born and raised in Ivory Coast. Growing up surrounded by African music and dance, he started is Kizomba/Semba journey 10 years ago. Moving to Europe, Yannick expanded his knowledge by organizing festivals and traveling across the continent. Today Yannick lives in Sydney and keeps on sharing his love for the dance and he is the Semba specialist.
Becky Wilde
Becky WildeKizomba
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Since the age of 4 years old Becky has had a love for dance enjoying a range of styles from rhythmic gymnastics, jazz ballet, pole fitness, contemporary and hip hop, though later discovered a real passion for partner dancing. This led to her love affair with Kizomba. Becky's passion for learning more about Kizomba grew even stronger and she immersed herself into this beautiful African dance style by attending workshops and festivals around New Zealand, Australia, France and Portugal. At these events she made the most of the true kizomba experiences in social dancing along with private lessons with amazing artists from around the globe. Beckys focus is on developing the love of dance within the community in Tauranga with her team at The House of Dance, Te Whare kanikani.
Emily Armstrong
Emily ArmstrongKizomba
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Emily started dancing at a very young age, training and competing in Ballet and Jazz for many years. She started dancing Salsa and Bachata about 13 years ago, and over time trained in a wide variety of other styles including zouk and kizomba. For 8 years, Emily taught many of these styles at her dance school, Salsa Club Dunedin. She also ran a dance school for children. Emily is now dance partners with Augusto and their favorite dance styles are Zouk and Kizomba. They have taught both these styles all around New Zealand and in Australia. They also have competed together in many styles and have had great success.
Alex Lee
Alex LeeKizomba
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Introducing Alex Lee, one of our judges for the Kizomba Division. As an instructor at Dança Wellington, Alex has enriched New Zealand's dance scene with his kizomba workshops. Internationally recognized as DJ Switch, he's a sought-after live performer in the Asia-Pacific and has garnered global attention with his online DJ streams, gaining over a million views on social media. Grounded in kizomba and semba, Alex has also expanded his expertise in Europe, embracing fusion and urbankiz styles. With his depth of experience and genuine passion, Alex is a welcome addition to our judging panel.
Jason Stubbs
Jason StubbsKizomba
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Jason caught the dance bug in the early 2000s after attending his first Modern Jive class. This led to more classes and a hunger for places to practice. Sky City was a popular venue for bands and dancers back then and Jason soon discovered the latin dance scene. Salsa lessons ensued, followed by various other dance styles such as Bachata, Tango, West Coast Swing, Zouk and Kizomba, which eventually became his main passion. Jason has placed in and won numerous dance competitions (couples & teams) and was the inaugural NZ Kizomba champion back in 2018 with dance partner Clare. He has also performed & competed with various dance groups such as DancExtreme & AVEO Ep. Jason has been an instrumental figure in the Auckland Kizomba community, having been there right from the beginning, helping to organise and run free socials, and being one of it’s leading instructors. He’s excited to be part of the Kizomba judging panel for this year’s competition & looks forward to seeing how far the community has progressed.
Rachel & Wesley
Rachel & WesleyInternational Judges - Zouk
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Wesley, originally from Betim - Brazil, had his first contact with dance through hip hop & Brazilian street dancing classes. In 2011 he became a Bolsista (scholarship student) at Dance Days Betim Academy where he studied Zouk and other Brazilian dance styles. Rachel started classical ballet at the age of 5 and danced in the South Australian Children's Ballet Company until she was 18. Then in 2014 she began to study Brazilian Zouk. After Wesley moved to Adelaide in 2017, they began training & teaching together under Arthur and Layssa. In 2020, they co-founded Brasilatino Studios and since then have created South Australia’s first Zouk festival - One Zouk Congress. They have a passion for sharing Brazilian dance, constantly developing their own skill set and passing on their knowledge to build Brazilian Zouk in Australia and the wider community. Simply, they love what they do
Leonardo Neves
Leonardo NevesInternational Head Judge - Zouk
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Leonardo Neves is one of the Directors & owners of Brazilian Beatz Dance Academy. He teaches Brazilian and Latin Dance Classes, specializing in Salsa, Bachata, Brazilian Zouk, Forró, Samba No Pé, Kizomba, Boléro, Soltinho, Samba De Gafieira, Merengue, Funk, Axé, Lambada and other dance styles. Leo has been the dance partner of Brazilian zouk creator Renata Pecanha, travelling, teaching regular classes, Workshops, and at Congresses and performing with her across Brazil at the age of 15. From 2009 to 2012 Leo traveled both Nationally (in Brazil) and Internationally teaching and performing from small events to some of the biggest Congresses in the World With His dance partner at the time; Layssa Liebscher. At the beginning of 2013 Leonardo started his new partnership with Becky Crystal. They traveled all around the world teaching in many countries. They also give teachers courses around the world.
Phoebe Denton
Phoebe DentonZouk Jack & Jill
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Phoebe has been dancing since she was 3 years old and has over 25 years of collective dance experience across Ballet, Gymnastics, Latin Ballroom, and Zouk. Her love for Zouk took over in 2011 and has been her primary focus ever since, leading her to study extensively all over the world. She has been teaching Zouk classes and performance teams for 7 years and will always continue to learn and develop so she can pass her knowledge onto students. She sees Zouk as a graceful conversation between two people and her love for the style has pushed her to be a skilled dancer and teacher.
Kat Maxwell
Kat MaxwellZouk Jack & Jill
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Kat has over 10 years experience dancing multiple Latin and Brazilian partnered and solo dances. Over 6 years teaching at Leo Neves dance academy Brazilian Beatz and also throughout NZ, Australia and Bali. She has competed across NZ, Australia and once in Brazil when her training took her there, and currently holds the NZ national title in Brazilian Zouk. Kat has extensive experience in teaching holistically, incorporating various learning styles into her pedagogy. As her training with Leo and Becky with their feedback and guidance throughout the last 8 years couples with the experience learnt through her degree in teaching and learning. She has been judging throughout NZ and Australia for the last few years and continues studying through teachers courses, intensives, and her mentorship with Leo Neves, teaching, attending classes, and training every day. As she believes that being a teacher means being a student for a lifetime.
Corwin Ruegg
Corwin RueggZouk Jack & Jill
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Corwin Ruegg delivers over 13 years of experience and knowledge in various Latin styles. His journey started with a Bachelor of Music, majoring in musicianship and music theory, before he discovered Latin dance. Corwin discovered Brazilian Zouk in 2011 and quickly fell in love with the style. He jumped at every opportunity to learn from both local and international instructors. In 2015 he became a student of Professional International Instructors Leo & Becky and joined their dance company Brazilian Beatz Dance Academy where he has continued to train as both student and instructor. He's taught at Leo and Becky’s events Brazilian Zouk intensive training event; Rio Beatz and Bachaotearoa and he continues to further his knowledge with highly regarded industry professionals in New Zealand and overseas. He is known on the stage as a talented choreographer and performer, successfully competing in many competitions both nationally and internationally and uses his connection, floor-craft, and passion for musicality to be a versatile lead on the social dance floor.
Emma Kehoe
Emma KehoeZouk Jack & Jill
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Emma started Salsa and Zouk over ten years ago, later adopted Samba de Gafieira into her life, and has loved dance ever since. She grew as a Zouk dancer performing in team choreographies, then developed her teaching skills at Zouk Art – celebrating a decade with ZoukArt in 2021. Emma further developed her performance skills with her dance partner Peter, wowing audiences with their connection, and debuted her first ladies team in 2022. She has a background in music, having played piano all her life, and now uses that expertise in her local DJing and helping students understand musicality.
Peter Wrightson
Peter WrightsonZouk Jack & Jill
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Peter has an extensive background in various forms of martial arts; including Muay Thai Kickboxing, MMA, Brazilian Capoeira (which is a form of fight training and dance combined) and also has experience teaching kickboxing classes. Beyond this, he has been dancing Zouk for over 8 years with Zouk Art (and later Samba de Gafieira) and developing his dance teaching alongside Emma as well as his performance skills – in teams and in duets.