Comp Prep & Lesson 14: Run-Through

Happy first day of Manhattan Dancesport, ballroom dancers!!!

As I’ve always planned…I will introduce myself soon!

So, comp prep. I’ve somehow gotten myself hair and makeup appointments with Boyko and Co! I’ve decided for future competitions, I’ll most likely do both myself, but at least for my first one, I want to see what the professionals do/use differently.

I’ve also taken care of my costume. I’ve rented a beautiful DorΓ© dress from Classic Ballroom Elegance. I will definitely write more about that soon and will also probably try different dress rental companies and tell you my experiences with each one.

That being said, for tanning, I decided to just lay out on my roof and I’ll be going to a tanning bed at Future Tan tomorrow. I’d have preferred to not have the UV exposure, but as I’m renting my costume, I’m too afraid of ruining the dress. Plus, my rental contract says no temporary tanning is allowed (which is reasonable).

For accessories, I’m having a set of bangle bracelets made by Ballroom Glitz by Nikki K! I would love to have a hair accessory as well, but maybe I’ll stop by the venue in the next day or two and check out the vendors and see if they’ve got anything like the aesthetic in my mind.

My dress arrived on Friday – gotta love two-day shipping! I’ll admit. I definitely was kind of afraid to touch it. I tried almost the same exact the dress at Manhattan Dancesport in 2012. The one I tried back then has an identical cut, it just has different appliques and decorations on it.

I tried it on and couldn’t stop smiling. I felt like a goddess in it! Then I decided to put my shoes on and practice a little bit, but kind of panicked when I saw a glass fringe on my floor. I’d heard of people not performing well because their costume didn’t feel good, but until I put the dress on, I couldn’t understand why that would happen to anybody. I also couldn’t get my mind off the cost of this dress – this particular one (and I know, like I said, because I’ve tried these dresses before) costs four thousand dollars.

The thought of that kind of paralyzes me.

So, Matt and I had a lesson (i.e. runthough) on Monday at Rogers Dance Center, so I brought the costume with me. I was happy to see his student there, Nanette, whose warmth I was quickly smitten with. She was so excited to hear I was going to be dancing this weekend and fawned over the dress when I unwrapped it, saying that it was gorgeous and I’d look beautiful in it and that she thinks I’ll do great.

Oddly, when I got to the studio, I was too shy to actually put the dress on, but Matt made me. “You need to get a feel for it and so do I,” he said.

I hid behind the garment bag when I put it on and came out of the bathroom. Obviously no one else was wearing a costume, so I felt like such a showoff! But Matt loved the dress and so did…well, basically everyone else. I got a lot of compliments.

Then it came time to dance in it. I immediately was so grateful Matt made me put it on, because if the first time I danced in it was at the comp, I would have been screwed. The dress is completely open on the left side and cut almost down to my ankle on my right – and it has a LOT of glass fringe on the skirt, so that adds a bit of weight. So I’m thanking my lucky stars (AKA my teacher) that I already know how the dress tends to slap around my leg. It’s a very strange sensation.

I made Matt stop dancing when I did a turn and the way I wrapped my arms pulled a fringe off. I started to panic and then he just was like, “It’s okay! It happens!”

Which is true – how many times has every one of us seen the floor clear after a competition round, leaving a boatload of rhinestones and feathers everywhere?

Something interesting that my teacher said: “The dress is long, so you need to dance long.” I didn’t know what he was talking about until he demonstrated. It meant I am going to have to really dance outΒ and stretch in all directions.

We danced our round, it felt like, at least ten times. Matt made small corrections here and there, but it was mostly “your posture and your feet”.

Like always. One of the times we were dancing our samba, he goes “Watch your shoulders” and I hollered, “You’ve been telling me that the past seven years!!!” He said bashfully, “It’s my job.” And then I almost felt bad for yelling at him.


Well, Matt and I are going to practice again on Friday!

And then we dance.

In honor, I leave you with two pieces of media.

One is this photo I took of Emmanuel and Liana the first time I ever went to Manhattan Dancesport, the first competition I ever attended, and the first dance couple I fell in love with!

Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine & Liana Churilova, Manhattan Dancesport 2012

And, because they are my biggest inspiration, here’s a video of them killing it in various competitions across the country!


Lesson 11: Run-Though, Lesson 12: BREAKTHROUGH, Lesson 13: Comp Burnout, and a visit to Miari

Hello, dancers!

Well, competition season is in full swing, huh? Yankee Classic and Colorado Star Ball last week, Millennium now week, Manhattan the week after! It’s exciting!

So let’s talk about these lessons. My teacher has been really persnickety with me lately. Not that I’m mad about it – I know that’s his job – but I feel like it’s worth noting because it’s important to learn the process. You know, road to competition and all that.

Lesson 11 was kind of a blur. I know I took down a ton of notes after it, mostly about the proper timing and styling of a Fan. He also made me practice jive kicks.

The juggernaut, however, was lesson twelve, which was this past Wednesday.

Oh, I feel like this is relevant. On my way to Port Authority, I got off my train at Penn Station and got myself a half dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts. In between there and arriving at Rogers Dance Center (a span of about an hour), I ate three of them.

I got to the studio right as my lesson was supposed to start, and ran in and saw Matt wrapping up a lesson with a student. I changed and did a quick few stretches, then as I was putting my beloved Aida Karinas on, Matt brought her over and introduced her to me.

“This is Nanette,” he said.

This lady’s face split into this huge smile that instantly gave me a warm feeling, like a hug from your favorite aunt. She shook my hand and said, “It’s nice to meet you, sweetie.”

I couldn’t deal. This goofy smile spread across my face and I said it was nice to meet her too. I loved her energy right away!

I went over to the barre to stretch for couple minutes while they wrapped up.Β Then Nanette sat down and Matt asked if I was ready. I peeled myself off the barre and went over to him.

Jumped right into the rumba routine and did a quick run-through of it.

“It’s good,” Matt said when we finished it. “Do it again.” So we danced the routine a second time.

I realized as she got up to leave and said goodbye to us both that Nanette had been watching us. “You’re just wonderful,” she said.

“Matt, she’s talking to you!” he was instructing me on something and didn’t hear her, so I hit him.

“I’m talking to you both!” she smiled. “Good night!”

My teacher was kind of delirious because he was getting really excited about all the upcoming events. He’d originally been stressed out until he realized everyone was ready for their respective upcoming events, so he was nearing the point of “giddy”.

We ran through all my routines a few times. He made small corrections here and there (FINICKY), and he said more than once “it’s good!”

This lesson was when I had my breakthrough – I had that “groundedness” again, that heaviness to my movements that’s such a huge part of Latin dance.

I’d started to get it before, back in April, but my teacher and I skipped a week, and I lost it completely. I’ve been afraid since then that I wouldn’t get it back before this competition, but miraculously, it’s reappeared!

Our most recent lesson was a couple days after the Yankee Classic. So, Teacher had danced with students all day Thursday and Friday, then danced Pro Rhythm with his new partner Nastia. They started in the quarter final, did the semis, made the final, and placed sixth!

Another thing is, I went to watch the Yankee Classic two years ago, so I know firsthand this competition runs very late.

So Teacher was acting funny. I very pointedly asked what was wrong with him and he told me “It’s the post-comp burnout.”

Me: “?”

He then explained to me that after a competition, it’s not unusual to be physically drained for a few days.


My competition is in nine days! I can’t wait. Matt and I are doing two lessons next week.

And then we dance.

I’m not even nervous at this point. I’m just excited! Of course, I’ll probably just end up freezing once I’m on deck…

Ah, I just wanted to give a quick shout out to Miari! They were having that two-day flash sale last week, and the dresses I was interested in were only in stock online in certain sizes. Even at just over $130, it’s still a lot of money! I just wanted to know the outfit would fit. So I found Miari’s Facebook and gave them a call. I got a call back pretty quickly and Susan, one of the owners, conferenced in Ariana, the owner we all know. We set up an appointment time for me to visit the showroom the next day.

So I hopped an L train and walked to the Green Desk building, where the showroom is located. Ariana came down to get me, introduced me to Klaudia, who works with her, and apologized for the state of the place, as they were getting ready to travel to Yankee the next day. It was adorable though; it was so nice to see racks upon racks filled with beautiful practicewear in different colors and finishes. Also, the Miari puppy was the cutest thing! I forgot her name.

Ariana was super helpful! She asked what I was interested in, pulled pieces for me, and then pulled the curtain so I could try it on right in there.

I tried on the black Carmen dress! I will say this. It was my first experience with “real” ballroom practicewear, and I was not prepared for how absolutely luxurious the fabric felt. The dress fit beautifully and I loved how snug it all was.

The only thing was, the dress I tried on wasn’t the dress I originally wanted to get, and I did mention to Ariana that I didn’t think the one I wanted was in stock. She actually sat at the computer and checked the inventory for me, just to make sure. What I really appreciated was that she gave me a few options, but there was zero pressure from her. That in itself made me want to come back and do business with her again!

I’ll end this with my biggest Latin inspiration…Anna Kovalova! Her performance with Justinas at the Emerald Ball last month was just outstanding. And I’m liking her new styling!

Blackpool, Lesson 10, and the Rediscovery of Breathing

Happy Tuesday, ballroom dancers! Did everyone have a beautiful Blackpool weekend?

How amazing were those finals?! We’ll talk about those in a second.

So, last week I had lesson ten with Matt. He’s mean and said he was going to do the following, but I was hoping he’d forgotten: we’d dance our round backwards. What that means is we’d start with jive, then dance rumba, then samba, then cha cha.

The only thing is, he perused our jive routine and marked it twice, adding some things along the way. THEN we danced it full-out three times.

My teacher has way too much energy. By the third time through the jive, I was pretty winded and my feet were killing me, which was only exacerbated by the rumba and the samba after.

The sad thing is, I’d always thought I was pretty decent in cha cha, but I’ve learned it’s my weakest dance; I kind of blur all the counts together so you can’t really tell what dance it is -_-

On the up hand, I’ve started running and although I hate it, I’ve learned something already: I’ve forgotten to breathe when I dance. I went through the DanceComp Review archives and happened to find this article: BREATHING in Ballroom Dance. It actually was really helpful – when I run, I find I actually have significantly better endurance when I breathe through my nose the whole time. I know when you’re out of breath, you tend to begin to pant and it definitely sounds counterintuitive to breathe through your nose, but it works.

So, Blackpool!

Riccardo and Yulia won Pro Latin!

Riccardo & Yulia, Blackpool 2017 Pro Latin Champions

Stefano and Dasha were runners-up. Dorin Frecautanu & Marina Sergeeva, in their debut as pros, came in third.

OOOOH, also, Riccardo and Yulia got married in Italy yesterday!

They look so happy! I hope they have a lifetime full of bliss together.

Pro Ballroom was one of my favorite moments ever. Victor Fung and Anastasia Muravyeva, my favorite ballroom couple, won it!

Victor & Anastasia, Blackpool 2017 Pro Ballroom Champions

It was a really beautiful moment to behold. Victor shot out onto the floor and then collapsed, and Anastasia ran out to him. He and Anastasia had a very private moment in front of all these people, and I feel kind of honored to have been able to see it.

Amateur Latin was also won by an American couple, Fernando Iannaccone & Yulia Musikhina, won this. What made this final even better, and I feel like I’m not alone in thinking this because there’s been a huge outpouring of love over this all around the internet, is that Austin Joson and Nino Dzneladze made this final – and not only that, they placed fifth! It’s amazing and well deserved – they are both incredibly talented and work very hard.

Okay, okay. I have a lesson tonight and have a couple things I need to get done before that. I leave you with this video of Justinas and Anna’s incredible rumba show at Blackpool: