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El Género de la Salsa, A Documentary
$4,430 raised
127% of $3.5k goal
52 contributors
50 Weeks running


This project is about Latin America. It is about dance. And it is about gender expression. 

We often associate progress with the Global North, but Colombian-American, director, Kamillah Aklaff, invites us to challenge this idea by turning the lens to Latin America. She asks, “How are women and LGBTQ dancers in Cali, Colombia using their salsa-centered culture to interrogate gender roles so that the performance of masculinity or femininity is open to anyone?"



Producer, Juan Carlos Zaldivar is a Cuban-born filmmaker living in the United States.

Zaldivar completed both his BFA and a Masters of Fine Arts at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. He is currently tenured as full-time faculty at Miami International University's Institute of Art and Design. Zaldivar's directing credits include "90 Miles" (PBS), "The Story of the Red Rose" (Showtime), "Palingenesis" and "Soldiers Pay" (IFC). Juan Carlos

Colombian-American director, Kamillah Aklaff, grew up in New York City and has a bachelor's in sociology. Such was the field of study that led her to deeply explore inequalities in both the United States and internationally. She attended LREI, DCTV, Tufts University, and the City College of New York, in that order. Aklaff is an educator by trade, but finds passion in the adventurous pursuit artistic projects.kamillah




After working as a high school teacher for several years, Aklaff returned to South America to live in Cali, Colombia. Upon arriving in Cali, Aklaff joined the dance company SalsaPura under the direction of Carlos Ceballos and continued her long-time hobby of salsa dancing in the city known as La Capital Mundial de la Salsa. She quickly fell in love with the salsa community in Cali and still believes that they have much to share.


 Pictured below:  Kamillah Aklaff and Carlos Ceballos at SalsaPura. Carlos is the artistic director of SalsaPura and was the first instructor that encouraged Aklaff to improve her skills. Carlos and his team at SalsaPura have shown their continued support and friendship.

carlos y Kamillah

After years of learning gymnastics, dance technique, and choreographies, Aklaff began slowly began to participate in competitions with the team. It was through this training that Aklaff learned to do acrobatics, move her feet in double time and maintain a sexy and feminine flare. As the professionals would say, "La mujer baila desde la cabeza hasta la punta de los pies." 


Pictured below:  Luigi Mera and Kamillah Aklaff before the ESBN competition in Cali, Colombia. SalsaPura placed first in the Pro-Am (Professional-Amateur) category. Luigi and Kamillah danced together for several months. He remains one of Kamillah's dear friends in Colombia and is an active participant in the Yo Me Entacono project, described below.

luigi y kamillah

After three years of dancing semi-professionally in Colombia, Aklaff returned to the United States. While in New York, Aklaff began to develop the concept of a documentary that would explore the dance technique that, in salsa, is described as masculine or feminine. It is noted that gender and sexuality are quite wrapped up social dancing (as it is a kind of cisgendered heterosexual foreplay), but the world of professional salsa-- and even social dancing-- in Cali was different. It appeared that the ability to dance the masculine role or the feminine role could be executed by anyone, regardless of the dancer's identity offstage. Although not exclusive to Cali's LGBTQ community, it was their leadership that demonstrated the empowering intensity with which these roles could be performed.


Pictured below:  Miguel Ferrerossa, the face and co-creator of  Yo Me Entacono, an organization that seeks to promote gender equality and LGBTQ inclusion in Cali, Colombia. He does this by uplifting femininity in classes that are taught exclusively in heels. Ferrerossa is Aklaff's friend and former instructor.


Pictured below:  Tifanny and Oscar were born as twin brothers and have been dancing together since childhood. Tifanny, a transgender salsa dancer, is a trailblazer in the Colombian salsa community. 

oscar y tifanny

Encouraged by both Zaldívar and her film teachers at Downtown Community Television, Kamillah has begun pre-production on this documentary that sits close to her heart.




* To pay a local crew, including a sound engineer, videographer, and security.

* To cover room, board and transportation for the crew in Cali and Bogotá.

* To cover the cost of equipment rentals on larger shoots.

* To pay a short term editor and translator to create a trailer for grant applications.


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