Monday, August 30, 2010

Capital Dancesport Championship 2010 – Aug 26-28, Washington DC By David Easa

My third competition of the year was one that I had attended last year and enjoyed very much which spurred me to make a last minute decision to attend. Held in a lesser known Hilton in Virginia – medium in price, and medium in comfort, the hotel rolled out the red carpet and made it easy for the competitors and dance organizers to stay content. For example, the casual breakfast restaurant opened at 6AM, early enough to serve the needs of the morning’s 7:30AM competitors, and with breakfast buffet vouchers provided as part of the full package of competition, seemed to start the day by providing enough nourishment to sustain the day’s activities. The staff was friendly and courteous and provided boxes without question to take what you wished from the buffet, realizing that the competitors would not fill their tummy’s to the fullest level, but rather would want to prime to pump and then have more food to feed on to sustain a reasonably stable glucose level throughout the morning and early afternoon. I always judge a breakfast buffet by the quality of its fruit which in this case was excellent, although the scrambled eggs were quite good as well and didn’t resemble the plastic look and feel of eggs sitting lifeless, dried and crusted by intense warming lights from other hotel buffets that I have sampled from in the past.

The hotel lobby was decent, the restaurant clean and inviting, the ballroom on the lower level provided privacy from the general public, ample space for vendors, places to chat, and a large ballroom with a very high quality dance floor to serve the needs of the competition and evening show. Everything was decent, vendors were plentiful and the organizer provided very reasonably priced accoutrements such as garment bags ($10) for those of us who stuffed our clothes into one bag but found we couldn’t fit it all back with the added goodies accumulated during the competition. One of the items was a beautiful dance robe provided by the event organizer John DePalma which he included to all entrants who paid for the full package. Last year we received lightweight jackets adorned by his Capital Dancesport logo which to this day I find the most useful cover for the occasional cool days and nights in Honolulu or when I vegetate in the neighborhood movie theatre.

Divino Ritmo Dance Studio had a small group of students attend this event. In addition to me, Maria Handl danced pro-am with Lucas Jaime, and of course I danced my pro-am heats with Yanna Samkova. Nevertheless, we left the competition happy and with distinction. With this years entrants exceeding 6,500 heats (second hand information), both of the Divino Ritmo students received the distinction of being included in the top best 20 student category, and also won best male and female bronze student awards! I was a little tipsy at the time of the awards, so a day later, I’m just beginning to feel the pride of accomplishment. Clearly this unexpected achievement was not sought but was appreciated, sending a clear message that at the very least, I belonged and was not there as an embarrassment either to myself or to my teacher. While I am reluctant to divulge this kind of “bragging” in my blogs, I cannot help myself in this instance and promise to avoid any further self praise so often present in personal testimonies like these. Still it is quite amazing that with the many dance studios and students represented from around the country, that Divino Ritmo produced such a measure of success with just two.

A few observations and concluding remarks are in order. It was quite evident that Rhythm and Smooth which each occupied the better part of a day in the competition was more heavily contested than Standard and International Latin which were stuffed into half days time periods and seemed over in a flash. Indeed, it seems that American dance styles are taking high priority in events like these and the level of skill that is shown and the variety and creativity that is expressed is making them more and more popular. It was really hard to see a difference in level of effort and skill between American and International. Moreover, I believe that American style dancing inspires a degree of creativity not allowed by the more traditional European variety. I must say that ever since I have been attending these mainland competitions, I have developed an increasingly healthy respect and interest in American style ballroom. Moreover, some American dances like Viennese Waltz are much more fun than International.

Another observation was the large number of professional competitors that were present at the event resulting in the need for quarter final heats to get through all of them and whittle them down in number to the final contenders. The skill level was simply wonderful to witness – in all categories…Smooth, Rhythm, Latin and Standard. A tribute to Michael Jackson ended the event…which was extremely entertaining. Many of the professionals contributed to this tribute which included a rendition of the video “thriller” with man eating zombies ….male dancers dressed in shaggy torn shirts and faked blood on their bodies…..and the ladies also had torn clothes and some were dancing barefoot…it was really fun to watch and very well done.

Finally, we even had a little time to venture from the hotel after the competition was over….we went to Mt Vernon, to learn something about George Washington, what he did, where he lived, his wife of 40 plus years, the bed he died in, and the remarkable courage of conviction in his actions. He was arguably one of the few men in the history of civilization not carried away by power and authority, and put his country’s interest above all else, including any personal agenda.

In summary, the Capital Dancesport Championship is really a decent competition, organized by very popular and gracious hosts…John DePalma and his wife Marianne Nicole, and supported by the best of the best. Already thinking about returning next year for more fun and good competition. You might want to join me……

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