The day came: Manhattan Dancesport!

Happy Friday, ballroom dancers! If you’re happy that it’s Friday, put your hands up!

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Well, obviously, Manhattan Dancesport was two weeks ago, but I wanted to kind of soak everything in for a time.

Also, allow me to finally introduce myself!

My name is Annelis. That’s Anna-lees. This is what I look like.

So, let me tell you all about everything.

2017 Manhattan Dance Championships

I had my hair done Friday night with Boyko & Co. My appointment was for 7:40 originally, but they asked me to come back an hour later, because they were running a bit behind, and they had some dancers in the room who were going to be dancing right away. I wanted to do a half-up, half-down, since I’m really into my hair and like to throw it around when I dance. I also wanted to go for sort of an Amazon princess look (because I’ve had a Wonder Woman obsession for well over a decade) but forgot to get a hairpiece, so I wanted to have pieces of hair in kind of a crown on my face.

I went out for a bit and when I came back an hour later, I was sitting on the couch in the room and who walks in but LIANA CHURILOVA! I thought I would faint. I really wanted to say hello, but wasn’t sure if she recognized me without Matt next to me. Anyway, I had a young lady named Jenny doing my hair. Boyko was very sweet, he came over and asked what I was going for, and then gave Jenny some instructions on how to get the look I wanted. The upside of having my appointment pushed back was that I was now the last appointment of the night, so she took her time doing my hair.

I learned that having your hair sprayed THAT much from THAT close is a very strange sensation.

After that, Matt arrived and we practiced. It was so exciting. Pro Latin was going on that night and you could hear the music and all the audience members cheering. I hadn’t been to a competition in months (and before that, in years), let alone actively participated in one. I love walking in and seeing all the vendors with the jewelry and shoes and costumes and all the people!

Not that it matters, but Ina Jeliazkova was also in the room, giving a paso coaching to Andrey Voloshko and Kateryna Kyrylenko, a couple I really like. Ina’s an intense coach. More than that, the lines she creates are absolutely insane.

The downside here was that, starting the Monday the week of the competition, I’d been having crazy pains in my lower back. I couldn’t work out the whole week of the comp and sometimes, I could barely stand up, so I spent my entire week walking around hunched over, wearing icy hot patches and taking ibuprofen. So this practice session did aggravate it just an iota, but it wasn’t bad at all in comparison to other days.

I went home and barely slept at all, then got up super early to go to my 6:40 AM makeup appointment. Public transportation was absolutely not working in my favor, so I ended up having to take a cab from Union Square, which actually got me to the Marriott right in time. Only thing is, no one was even in the room except Boyko. His assistants arrived about fifteen minutes after I did, so I was upset at myself for rushing.

Well, Tessa did my makeup and did an absolutely beautiful job. I asked for a double wing and red lip, which she executed perfectly. I myself work as a makeup artist – I could have done it myself, but I wanted to see what people who specialize in ballroom makeup do differently. And I will say this – makeup artists, for the most part, make terrible clients, but I don’t! So it’s not like I was looking for anything to be upset about, but I most definitely did inspect my face after I left the room. The makeup job was really stunning.

The only thing I didn’t like was that the brushes weren’t clean and the makeup that wasn’t in powder form was applied directly to my face without being wiped or sanitized. I absolutely understand there is a time crunch and there may not be time to clean the brushes and makeup in between clients, but that is very risky. Someone can easily get a reaction. I later saw Natasha Barrera, who I went to makeup school with, and we talked about that. She said the biggest reason she went to school for it was because she saw this entirely too often in the ballroom world and wanted to learn kind of the protocol of hygiene.

But I didn’t have a reaction and everything looked beautiful, so it’s all good!

I went and put my dress on, threw my Wonder Woman sweater on, and went to warm up with Matt. We went through our routines in the practice room a few times, then went into the ballroom. We ran through our routines in the corner nonstop until I saw my friends arrive. Six of my friends schlepped out to Brooklyn Heights at 9AM to come see me dance 🙂 I introduced them to Matt, then he took me away again for more run-throughs.

Then it was time to dance. I was waiting on deck with Matt, telling him “I’m ready to do some DAMAGE!”

We also said hi to Nikita Malakhov, who was dancing in the same heat with a student. He used to work at the same studio Matt did back in the day (Dance With Me), but in the Long Island location, while Matt worked in Jersey. I’d first met Nik probably six years ago. He’s a really cool guy, so talented, and I’m thrilled with the direction his career has taken.

And then Matt grabbed my hand and led me onto the dance floor. And we just danced. I couldn’t stop smiling because a seven-year dream of mine finally came true.

Matt led me off the floor and I hung out with my friends for a bit. They all gushed over me. “You looked so good”, “you did amazing”, which was just weird. My friends are fantastic human beings and we all treat each other with the utmost respect, but I’m a New Yorker; people being nice to me is not something I’m used to. They told me I had two things going on that the other dancers didn’t: attack and I looked like I was having fun.

Here’s a picture during my first round by Charles Ryder:

2017 Manhattan Dance Championships, (c) Charles Ryder Photography

2017 Manhattan Dance Championships, (c) Charles Ryder Photography

That was actually something that a lot of people commented to me throughout the day. I told everyone the same thing: there’s nothing about my technique that I would be able to fix on the day of, so I will just dance and enjoy it!

I ran into John DePalma on the elevator. I smiled at him politely and he smiled wide and complimented me, saying I danced nicely and not at all like it was my first comp.

I sat around for a bit and when awards came, I got three third places (cha cha, samba, and rumba, 4th in jive). My friends cheered, which was, again, weird but appreciated. Then I changed and we went to go get lunch at Shake Shack. My friend Danny told me he was starving because he was so nervous on my behalf this morning that he got nauseous and couldn’t eat (LOL).

When I came back, I bought a robe from AIDA (I’d been wanting one for months!) and put my dress back on, the schedule went weird. They were running behind. Matt said it’d be at least another half hour before we danced, so I did a lap. I was gone for maybe 10 minutes, but when I came back, Matt tells me, “We’re up next”.


We went straight onto the floor for the scholarship round. Obviously there was no time for a warmup and I felt like I was not dancing as sharply. But what are you gonna do? Can’t take it back!

My friends said that my second round was better than my first, so I don’t know. I ended up getting sixth in the scholarship round. I was disappointed, but Matt told me several reasons I shouldn’t be, one of them being that I was dancing against a lot of seasoned competitors.

I guess.

I meant to go watch Matt dance in the night session with his new pro partner, but ended up not making it. Around 9 or 10 o’clock, I packed my stuff up and went home. I was definitely intending on going around to some vendors and checking their stuff out, but didn’t even do that. I was way too tired.

So that was my day at Manhattan Dancesport. I had a fantastic time.

I later checked out my scoresheets and saw that my highest scores were in Samba and, usually, Cha Cha. Matt already knows what we have to work on and, of course, I trust him and the journey. I’m ready to put the work in and turn those third and sixth places into firsts!

Thanks for being here, dancers! Nice to meet you and we’ll talk soon!


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