One important aspect of the culture is dance. Children are taught from a young age the dance steps for many of the common and traditional dances. Modern options are available in the discos, but traditional dances play a big part in Costa Rican life, our favorite was the “swing criollo,” which we saw people do everywhere and when it came to the Costa Rican Open Dance Fest it was great to see the true joy that dancing brings to everyone engaged, here it was not about the trophy we truly saw people just dance and enjoy.
We arrived in the city and after a couple days of sightseeing including the volcano “Irazu” where a perfect lake covers the mouth of the volcano and where you can get great views of the city, we began our two days of competition. The competition started with some Rhythm and Latin competitions with quite a few countries being represented such as Guatemala, Mexico, Bolivia, Chile and the USA. And on the second day it featured Smooth and Ballroom and some fantastic hip hop and group events.
The Amateur Latin was the first night and perhaps the best “dancesport” competition of the weekend of dance. This Latin event started with a quarter final round of competition. Fabian Alvarez & Camila Escala from Chile won both this Latin event and the Ballroom competition the next day. We found them to be extremely talented. Unfortunately, for us their actions lacked the impact it needed to fill the room, a simple stand up from Favian could have done the job, we are sure with work this will be an easy job to accomplish in future outings. But apparently it was totally good enough for the panel of judges they won the competition overall. In their defense we still think they had tremendous skill and that is perhaps what the majority of the panel saw in this young couple.
A well deserved second place in this Latin heat was awarded to another Chilean couple, this time Esteban Cuadra & Isidora Alfaro, for some reason we found it easier to find this couple and like their fellow Chileans they too had tremendous talent with great potential to development. Kevin Vera & Dalia Lopez from Mexico took third and we have to say that although we did not think they would place this high we totally like the lady in this partnership.
Our favorite of the night placed fourth overall and they were Riccardo Escobedo & Sidney Hernandez from Mexico, they were dancing like most of the couples in this final a little small for the room considering the room was a fantastic arena fit for the “Miami Heat” or “Riccardo & Yulia” (WDC World professional Latin Champions). This is a fully modern facility, it is perhaps the best Ballroom set up we have been to in central, and South America today and possibly around the world. What we liked about this couple is that most of their moves were very correct with great lines and little to offend anyone, possibly this was their plus for some and not so good for others. We could have seen a little more impact ourselves but we felt them to be very balanced in their partnership and this possibly won us over.
Fifth went to Bruno Coman & Sarah Lage from Brazil. Our team was divided on this couple one half of our team was totally for this couple and were truly surprised they did not place in the top three or won, the other half felt they lack fluidity and at times they looked a little stiff. Last but not least in seventh position were Issac Barron & Ana Garcia from Mexico.
The Open Ballroom was run the next day and here the couples were not as proficient as in the Latin the day before. The winners Fabian Alvarez & Camila Escala from Chile from our perspective had quite an easy task. Esteban Cuadra & Isidora Alfaro who also placed second in the Latin continued in this position in the Ballroom and moving up to third place in this style was Brazil with Bruno Coman & Sarah Lage. Jorg Pierling & Claudia Pierling from Bolivia were fourth. Thoams Schultz & Sherlley Reeves from Costa Rica took fifth, and speaking to them after the event because we knew the couple and they used to compete in the USA, they said they retired in Costa Rica and now compete all over South America. And finishing sixth was Patrick Wilcox & Karen Wabley from the USA.
The Ballroom competitions were interesting to see here in Costa Rica, but our hearts were left with the hip hop competitions where the teams were fantastic and you can see they put lots of work on the choreography, theme and technique, and that was exactly as we judged it by giving them a score for their different aspects of their performance. There were too many to mention but a few really brought the house down. One was Alonzo Perez from the group La Zona, who as you can see was just a little tiny junior who was way too accomplished for his tender age. The way Alonzo interpreted every move and the way he played with the audience as well as with the musical timing was amazing for his age. He won this category but best he won the love and hearts of everyone in the convention center.
Another two groups who were the last to go and who many on the judging panel found it very difficult to judge due to the fact that they were so equally good, with great choreography, musicality and interpretation. In the end the honor went to group La Zona and in second place and we are sure by just a few less points was Liceo Experimental.
The rest of our trip was spent on the beach in the town of Tamarindo enjoying the beach and zip lining, horseback riding and plenty of pool time. And you can guess all that went on by the pictures shared here. Our congratulations to Sabrina Fuchs and her co-organizer, Kateryna Strelnikova, for all she did to make our stay in Costa Rica a very personal and enjoyable and for making sure we were always taken care of until we got on the plane. We also want to take our hats off for putting such a terrific event in the heart of San Jose in such a special venue and for trying to bring all Latin American countries into the spotlight of the Ballroom dance world with the Probaile Latam group.
We look forward to seeing more events of this caliber and that with each year the Ballroom dancing will get better and better in all Central and South America in unification with North America. Congratulations!