An experience which would send one back in time into the history of the ballroom world, introducing legends of this glamorous industry, their personal stories, their journeys to success and people they touched.
Friday started bright and early with all the Rhythm, followed by the Latin events. Out of habit, some of the attendees kept going to the Grand Ballroom for the competition. But surprisingly that wasn't where the events were held. A somewhat smaller, and a more modern looking room had become the venue for Friday events, a space which no one was even aware existed. The atmosphere though was fantastic the whole day with the room packed. Some would argue that for the evening events the floor was perhaps too small. But in my opinion, the lack of space allowed couples to actually showcase their abilities of navigating the traffic as well as separate those who actually danced with each other, creating a bubble which no one could affect. It is a great skill to dance to a maximum in a limited space, and those who can master it, are able to showcase their abilities and talents despite the limitations.
Rising Star Smooth was perhaps the tightest and it was split into two heats. The winners, however, took 1st in all dances and they were Stefan Badea & Whitney Myers.
Saturday morning was quite gloomy. But once everyone entered the DBDC's natural habitat, the beautiful Grand Ballroom with its crystal chandeliers and surrounding walls and balconies dressed in gold embroidery, mood and energy was instantly elevated. The Saturday matinee was dedicated to American Smooth events, with some fantastic semifinals.
But what a Fairy Tale without royalties and castles. As we were approaching the time of the Gala Celebration and the Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony of this year's honorary, the fabulous Wendy Johnson, we were guided, not to the usual Ballroom (The Georgian Room), but to the Castle across the street. Yes, a true castle, nesting confidently outside the Park Plaza Hotel, waiting for the Queen's arrival. Everyone was treated to an elegant dinner. Tears of joy and laughter were shared by all, while going through Ms. Johnson's journey in the Ballroom world. This award was even more special, as besides fellow professionals and friends, her family was present. Her son, daughter and one of the youngest family members, her grandson, presented her with the crystal award and one of her close friends and fellow world-class professionals, Ms. Hanna Kartunnen specially flew in for the Gala and presented a short speech.
At 9:15 by the Ballroom Clock, all were back in the Plaza ready for the night affair. In addition to the three Open Professional events, this was the Finale of the Under 21, Ballroom Spirit Foundation Tour. There is unbelievable talent in this field, that's dynamic and exuberant yet classic and elegant. The format of the finale is a 5-dance competition and a solo presentation. The solo is judged by 9 randomly selected judges and the audience in the ballroom and watching online also had a vote. Here was the final result:
2. Parley Ford & Natalie Jolley – 4th in 5-Dance, 2nd in Solo, 1st Audience
3. Nathan Zaytsev & Alisa Bankova – 3rd in 5-Dance, 3rd in Solo, 4th Audience
4. Roman Shchochka & Marta Tyutyunnyk – 2nd in 5-Dance, 4th in Solo, 6th Audience
5. Mykola Hudz & Stanislava Klishch – 5th in 5-Dance, 5th in Solo, 5th Audience
6. Matthew Holyoak & Olivia Cowan – 6th in 5-Dance, 6th in Solo, 3rd Audience
It's such an illusion that organizing a dance competition is easy and anyone can do it. Being an organizer myself, I know how much work it takes to put together a weekend event that comes alive as if instantly, without effort. Ah, wouldn't it be wonderful if we could just sprinkle some magic sparkle or tap a magic wand to make it all appear. Unfortunately, this only works in children's tales. There is only one secret ingredient - the right team that works for tireless hours to make the magic happen and everything run smoothly. So I would love to extend my sincere admiration and congratulations to this unbelievable team of organizers for yet another successful year and wish them much inspiration for the years to come as this Fairy Tale continues.