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THE CHAIR

Today I danced with a chair. I couldn’t help but think about the Luther Vandross Version of the song A House is not A Home as the opening lyric is “A chair is still a chair”. Today however, the chair represented Antonio, and I am doing this exercise to help me with my spacing during turns. I had to extend my stride to make sure I got around the entire chair in three steps. Throughout this exercise I began to visualize how to judge my alignment. When I started dancing again with Antonio (the real Antonio, not the chair) I was able to make my steps cleaner.

For the next class I learned the two way under arm turn and focused on the Difference between forward step and promenade step which are both used in this figure. When you step forward the head and body move forward while in Promenade the Head moves forward and the body moves sideways. The more precise I am with these movements the clearer the steps become.

For this week’s life lesson Antonio told me that everything in my life life would change the moment I decided to go the extra mile. He talked about being focused on giving beyond 100 percent and to not be afraid to let my feelings out; I should be truthful about my feelings whether positive or negative. In other words I should avoid living my life in monotone, and should embrace the many colors of life. I started to think about what in my life I could make changes to, whether spiritually, in my relationships with other people, financially, at my job, and everywhere else in life. How can I be totally truthful about how I feel and not just cover up my feelings and continue the process to be freed from anxiety and fear? In that moment the seeds of change were planted in my heart and the person I most want to be became a little clearer.

After this pep talk I did a Foxtrot that was so on point Antonio said it was perfect. I was so stunned!!! He gave me a high five and I just left my arm dangling in the air- I was in a daze. Antonio has extremely high standards and expectations which I love because I can never get too comfortable, and I always have something challenging to reach for.  I don’t always get new steps right away, and many times I have to come for rehearsal in the studio practicing exercises and going over what I learned in class. I have to be careful about practicing a step if I don’t know it perfectly because if I practice it wrong I have to unlearn everything I have practiced in the next class. Even if all I can remember is the basic step, it is better to practice what I know perfectly and correctly. No matter how demanding the learning process is, the finished result of every project Antonio and I have done goes well beyond what I thought I could do, and opens my mind to what is possible. To have Antonio say something I did was perfect made me extremely happy and I was savoring the moment of perfection. We went through the remaining smooth dances and there was marked improvement in my dancing with only minor adjustments. Throughout this process the more I become the confident person I was meant to be the better my dancing becomes.
In closing, this week we observe the life of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dream for everyone to not just tolerate each other but to live together in love. I can't help but think about Daza Dance and how when Antonio and Mario decided to provide a place where everyone feels welcome, the studio became a place where that type of love expressed in Dr. King’s dream is created. We are a community built on understanding, encouragement, and acceptance. I am so proud to have Daza Dance be a part of my life and to see the positive impact of the studio in the lives of others.

By: Kamaria George (01/16/2017)


THE SIDE STEP

My first classes of the year were with Antonio, and set the tone for the next phase of my dance journey.  We are working on perfecting everything down to the smallest detail. This year I am being encouraged to be more independent, bold, and confident about taking moments, a process that was started earlier last year with my Salsa performance.

During both classes this week we focused on the side step but in different ways.  We practiced a Rumba turn over and over, and one of the things I took away was to shift my weight during the side step. When I shifted my weight it was easier to complete the step because the next step became crystal clear in my mind. In Salsa we were practicing one of my favorite steps, the Rueda step, and my focus was to open my legs during the side step. This simple adjustment made the step cleaner and was another tool to help me know which step to take next. I have never been able to do the Rueda step by myself, but as I focused on my side steps I could clearly see how to practice. I am getting excited seeing how just paying attention to the smallest movements makes a drastic changes in the overall appearance of the dance and increases my confidence. I can also take these adjustments and apply them to other dances.

As my steps are becoming clearer on the dance floor for 2017, I need to clarify the direction of my life through goal setting. Antonio and I have had several discussions on this topic throughout our classes to make sure I am not just dreaming, but creating plans to make my dreams a reality. I am an abstract thinker, so when he first asked me what my goals were I said I wanted the moon, the stars, and beyond! Well our conversations have evolved several times since then, and his advice has helped me to define in tangible ways want I want, and then be persistent in my pursuit of a life fully lived. This year he is encouraging me to keep my dreams and plans in focus every day. I am smiling so brightly from the inside out as these coaching sessions were just what I needed to help me stay alert and focused for the year ahead; I will have fully defined goals for every area of my life.

By: Kamaria George (01/07/2017)


A YEAR IN THE LIFE!!!

I recently received a jolt of inspiration by going to see the animated movie Sing, a Movie about perseverance and never giving up on your dreams.  A fire has been reignited in my soul as I think about how a year ago Antonio challenged me to write a blog post every weekday leading up to my time in Argentina. As someone who by nature is painfully shy this became a great tool for me to record my laughter, my tears, and how I overcame many soul-gripping fears to begin to become the person I was meant to be. Through my classes with Antonio and Maxi, my Showcase Performances, and my in-depth discussions with Antonio about faith and life I was able to unfold the dreams that were in my heart and start to truly live. During my trip to Argentina I began to fully realize who I was when I stepped on the ballroom floor and began to flourish; instantaneously everything that was built inside of me came forth and I surprised myself with the boldness, joy, and freedom that came from my heart. Nestor Scirocco, a brilliant photographer in Argentina, was able to capture how I felt perfectly with his photographs. My favorite one is now the cover photo on my Facebook page where I just let myself enjoy the moment and was completely Kamaria. What an awe inspiring journey 2016 was, and I am looking forward to this new adventure in 2017!! I wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year, and the ability to seize every moment of opportunity that presents itself.

By: Kamaria George (01/01/2017)


THE QUEST FOR BRONZE

Before class I looked out of my window at a grey day that was so cold, the mist hung like icicles in the sky. Suddenly the sun burst through the clouds, its forceful rays flooding my room with such warmth I couldn’t help but smile.  It reminded me of how things can change in an instant and encouraged me to go back to being myself again. As I walked to class the sun was setting and I could see the amber and orange lighting welcoming me from Daza Dance. I was almost skipping as I quickened my steps to the studio where Mario and Maxi greeted me with the warmest hugs as I prepared for class.

My quest to become a bronze level dancer begins today, I am no longer a beginner, and I have committed in my heart to working harder than I ever have. Maxi comes out with a sheet of paper that looks like a report card that Antonio has shown me once before. I could see how many steps I’ve learned, but within each step there were so many elements I needed to perfect, and there were dances I haven’t even been exposed to yet. The sheer volume was intimidating and I can see that it is imperative for me to start taking notes now, I usually can remember mental notes and make corrections but now things will accelerate. My first goal for the year will be to complete a smooth dance exam to test my aptitude for the smooth dances which will take place in the spring, and as we begin warm-ups I can feel the intensity of my classes has changed. As we start to dance I am confident and letting my joy unfold on the dance floor. We start doing Tango and Maxi tells me we will be learning two new steps today. I immediately break character and start smiling brightly – then I remember my Tango face but it’s no use I am too excited and I can’t make myself look angry or frustrated.

The first step I learn is the single Corte in Tango which is a lunge where Maxi is drawing me forward, and I’m supposed to press against him and turn my head to the side.  I have a flair for the dramatic, and at one point I jerk my head so hard I feel like I have whiplash! I keep smiling and don’t let on how I feel but my neck is stiff for the rest of class.

The next step was a step is the Outside Partner in Rumba.  This move is a lot more fluid for me and is a variation on the cross body lead. I am able to discern when to do the cross body lead and when to move into the Outside Partner, and this is fast becoming one of my favorite steps. At the end of class while we are playing around I realize I know two other steps, a variation of the Tuck in Step from East Coast Swing and the Under the Bridges step in Salsa.  I am feeling so accomplished today, and looking forward to this next phase of my dance journey.

By: Kamaria George (12/20/2016)


DAZA DANCE HOLIDAY PARTY RECAP!!!

On Wednesday when I entered the studio there was calming silence. As I sat still I could hear cars rushing through the collected rain that remained on the street from showers earlier in the day. The stillness and time of peace was needed for me to shake off my day and prepare for class. Maxi was busy posting stars for the next showcase and I was getting excited seeing who would be performing. There are a few folks that I only see during the day of the showcase because of different dance schedules, so it will be like a family reunion as we will have several hours to catch up with each other. I can’t wait to start my choreography, and knowing how my focus will be for the upcoming year I am a little nervous about what it will take to master everything, but I am up for the challenge.

The first part of my class begins with Maxi and we have fun with Rhythm dances covering the entire dance floor. Maxi gives me some advice to help me polish my movements, and he continues to make me laugh. Class is very relaxed as I don’t have anything I am not immediately preparing for anything so I let my hair down. For the smooth dances Antonio and I share the ballroom and he wants me to have proper placement so he moves where I am supposed to be and pretends to dance by himself. I am taking extra steps to rejoin him, and he smiles as I make the corrections. The rest of the class is just pure fun and filled with delight, and since there are a few extra minutes at the end of class we go through some more of the Rhythm dances. I am feeling the fearlessness I felt in Argentina as I am becoming bolder with my dancing. I know firsthand why Antonio loves this country so much, for me personally a divine intoxication filled my spirit; being able to fully realize my dream I helped me develop a confidence that is continuing to build. Antonio will return to Argentina in a couple of days, expanding International presence through dance with people who share his vision for a better world, the vision of community and acceptance that is the true heart of Daza Dance.

I arrive the night of the party and Maxi greets me with the biggest hug, and Mario waves to me as he is finishing up a class. I greet people as they arrive and people think I work at the studio because I want to help make sure everyone, especially newcomers, feel welcome.

Maxi begins class and I am bursting with joy for him. I met him on his first day at the studio and he was already a fantastic dancer, but to see this polished, sophisticated, confident man in front of me is a true representation of what Daza Dance does in the lives of everyone who comes here, and how important our community is to build and encourage each other. I was hearing compliments from one of the new students who thought he was a wonderful instructor, and he truly shone this evening like never before.  Maxi even utilized a basketball analogy which truly impressed me as I know nothing about basketball. During the class I focused on the pause in Salsa and perfecting my arms- no matter how much I learn it’s always good to reinforce the basics.

When we got to the break before the party I looked around all the ladies were dazzling in their Holiday attire with red, gold and lots of shimmer and bling. There were smiles and laughter everywhere, and the decorations and table lights made the ballroom warm and inviting.  Bonnie made some delicious meatballs that I nibbled on throughout the night.  

Mario is the MC of the evening, his elegant welcoming demeanor adds so much to the atmosphere. I am so excited to see Carly and Caleb, the leaders of the Ballroom club at the College of North Georgia.  Carly and I started the popular social 8 class, a class that teaches the basic step in 8 ballroom dances, two summers ago at Daza Dance. Now I am seeing her dazzle with Caleb beautiful and confident on the dance floor!

With Mario I danced the Foxtrot and as usual he threw in a few new steps to keep me on my toes! I can feel Mario smiling from within which helps me to capture the spirit Foxtrot as we glide around the floor. When I first started at Daza Dance I was intimidated by all of the dances, and now even though I know quite a bit more there is still a vast array of knowledge to grasp, and I drink from this fountain every chance that I get.

I danced the Cha- Cha with Maxi and he did not take it easy on me, he pulled every ounce of energy out of me as we danced and we went through those Chase Turns! As the evening drew to the line dances and the Merengue circle, Maxi truly emerged as a leader and spread so much laughter and joy, it was hard for anyone to remain seated! You wanted to be part of these special dances and his spirit made you feel that you were completely welcome and invited to join.  

We closed the night with a special request for the Hustle, people who knew the dance took the floor while everyone seated watched in admiration. The evening ended, and everyone was comfortable and lingering, no one wanted to leave. As I departed I was filled with the Holiday Spirit and had a renewed energy to face the world and dare to dream.


By: Kamaria George (12/11/2016)


AFTER THE STORM

Today there was a tornado close to where I was. I probably should have sought shelter but I was numb from an internal storm and lulled by a false sense of security. In a few minutes the storm cleared taking with it the darkness and the rain. The fact that I had a lesson at the studio in a few hours gave me joy, and sure enough when I ascended the stairs to Daza Dance I started breathing differently -it’s like I found a window in time where I could release pain. When you enter the studio you are not just a student, you are someone who is loved and appreciated and everyone is genuinely excited to see you. Mario, Maxi, and Antonio always greet me in a way that humbles me. It’s wonderful to know that I am not just someone who dances in the studio, but that they like me and are happy to have me there.

There is tape on the wall as stars are about to be placed for the next showcase. I am always thrilled to see my name up on the wall! For this Showcase I will be doing a Foxtrot to the song “One” from A Chorus Line. When I start my class with Antonio my only goal is to throw myself into every movement and have fun! In no time as we go through the rhythm dances I am feeling like myself again. When we get to the Foxtrot Antonio is trying to draw more energy out of me. He is continuing to raise the bar to make me the best dancer I can be. I can’t wait to get started on the showcase routine and further master the dance that makes me work the hardest .Antonio said “The Holy Spirit will not make you get in position- you have to do the work!” Truer words were never spoken- in dance as in life when you put in the hard work you are able to embrace the miracles that propel you forward.

Today Antonio wants me to focus on is walking – just simple walking and I walk back and forth through the studio. By now I know this is connected to deeper purpose- to continue to build my confidence and as I continue to walk I can feel strength growing inside me. I leave the studio calming the storm in my spirit and fully realizing the power I have in creating my story – I know that I alone am the one who will decide what is written.

By: Kamaria George (12/03/2016)

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Today is a perfect day, the weather is calm and peaceful just like how I feel. I am picking up the pace as I am so excited to get to Daza Dance the place where I feel most inspired. Mario and Maxi are hard at work creating and studying dance moves, they greet me flow right back into an intense concentration. I feel so much inspiration as they continue to create. Hearing them talk through rhythms helps my thoughts flow, and I have some time before class so I begin to brainstorm about the future.

Antonio comes in and gives me a hug and then goes to collaborate with Mario and MaxiLater Antonio and I start class and we start with a Waltz. Antonio is continuing changing up on usual the sequence of moves on me breaking me of my habit of anticipating instead of staying in the moment. When we get to foxtrot I have to watch my arms as I have a tendency to press them down when in closed dance position, which makes me very heavy, kind of like a 600 lb. sack of potatoes. I take note and concentrate on keeping form with my arms.  As we do the Tango my face is so severe, but Antonio tells me to soften it. It is so hard to stay in character and I am laughing so hard it takes extra energy to try to remain composed. When we get to Rumba I am incorporating the notes my dance from two weeks ago Antonio is smiling.  

Finally we get to Cha- Cha and I incorporate my notes from last week. I get the Chase Turn, and as I am doing it correctly I realize it’s called a Chase Turn because we look like we are chasing each other. Antonio gives me a blank stare and laughs because we have been working on the step on and off for several months and I am just now figuring it out. It feels wonderful to finally get this step, I feel like I just won Ms. America, and I want to do a victory walk down Peachtree Street and wave at people! We continue to practice cha-cha to cement this in my mind. Antonio then talks about the correlation between Latin and African dance and he shows me a couple dance of steps using isolations which reminds me of doing Dunham technique from modern dance. 

At the end of class Antonio and Maxi meet with me to talk about my future in dance and we are on the same page. I will have a more structured program starting in January and will have an opportunity to become a type of dancer I have always wanted to be. I am so humbled as I look and see that they both truly want to work with me, and I am bursting with excitement as I know I will not only become a better dancer, but the life lessons I continue to learn during class will help me become the best version of myself. I leave the studio smiling from the inside out and so expectant about the year to come.

By: Kamaria George (11/28/2016)


GOOD BYE MASHA!

...It is with great sadness that we have to say good bye to Masha Chubenko from our #DazaDance family. Although I am feeling great emptiness and nostalgic in my heart, I feel happy that she is content, satisfied, and confident with her decision to leave. 

Masha was our very first female instructor when we decided to open our Buckhead location. We both needed to learn a lot... but we were always able to work things out because we understood and value each other. 

Masha is a young woman with amazing dreams that definitely need to be fulfilled because she deserves it. I know very well all the things that she has gone through in order to get to this point, so I can only wish her the best and the most because she truly deserves it. I am sure that once this times of pain, and discomfort pass, we will be able to connect again...

Relationships are never easy... especially when you are this close to someone. Sometimes you hurt, sometimes you cry, sometimes you forgive and sometimes you move on. The cycle is closed for now , but it does not mean it will be like that for ever. I appreciate all the hard-work, tears, blood, hours of training and studying, investments, meetings, conversations and experiences she put into our company.

Those who know us, are aware that Masha and I had a close relationship beyond a boss-employee relation... she was always like my little sister. I mentored her, protected her, and helped her out in every possible way I could throughout all these years. 

I hope that Masha can look back at Daza Dance as a place that provided her with many good memories that will stick in her mind and heart for a long time. At the end of the day learning from our experiences and be grateful for what we have been given is what makes us better people... Masha will always be remembered as a symbol of our studio.

Beyond the hardship and the pain, I know that she never meant do me wrong. I truly believe that we are created to do and to be GOOD and our mistakes do not define who we really are. 

I wish you the best Mashka and thank you for everything you did for us during this almost seven years!

Sincerely... ANTONIO DAZA



EXPRESSIONS OF GRATITUDE

The Ocean is a place of serenity to me; I can spend hours there walking the beach; the waves are a constant reminder of the flow of breath that brings me peace. Today I am making a conscience effort to slow down as I reflect on the week. My spirit begins to calm, and I am filled with gratitude for this year. The many wonderful experiences I have had this year have been exponential; it has been a year of breaking through shyness and fear and reclaiming my destiny. I am so grateful to Antonio for helping me to grow in confidence and helping me to believe that nothing is impossible. If you have a dream and a vision you can accomplish anything with diligence, perseverance, and heart.

Today in class as we are going through all the dance styles. I am loving my waltz and though I have to work to stay on my side in Tango, I am happy with my smooth dances today. I need to increase the energy in my Foxtrot -now that I can do the steps without falling down its time to add energy.  (Ha-ha!) My journey through Foxtrot is one of my proudest because this is the dance I have to practice the hardest. When I first started to learn Foxtrot if I didn’t practice every day I would crash and burn. Now I have committed the rhythm to heart and I am continuing to perfect this dance.

We get to Salsa and I am giggling and wild. I am remembering how I felt when I danced as a child; how carefree and full of energy I was and I am all over the place. Since I am streamlining all of my movements for technical perfection, however, the challenge is to learn to control my explosive, boundless energy, which will make me unstoppable. Antonio is having to reel me back in as my turns are getting sloppy, but I am having fun. I do take his words to heart, however, and my Salsa improves drastically.

When we get to the Cha – Cha I realize there will be no more faking it till I make it with Chase Turns! I don't know what made me think I could get anything past Antonio, even with his back turned he had an almost supernatural ability to know exactly what I am doing at all times.  As I am attempting a chase turn he gives me “the look” that lets me know he saw everything -and goes to get my friend, the large green exercise ball. To perfect my form I was kicking underneath the ball. As he broke the step down into movable parts I am encouraged to slow down and take each fragment moment by moment. Antonio was impressed with the way I applied myself and says it was my best class in 3 months, and that he was proud that I was able to correct myself and he didn’t need to correct me. To hear those words meant a lot to me, especially knowing that if Antonio is giving me a complement, it is real. I love that I a continuing to improve, and I look forward to continuing my metamorphosis in body, soul, and spirit through my journey at Daza Dance.

By: Kamaria George (11/21/2016)


EXACTNESS!!!

Exactness! This word is ringing in my head from my rehearsals for showcase, and is one of the focus points of my instruction now. The more I perfect my steps and execute them with boldness the clearer my communication will be with Antonio. Communication has to be the single greatest thing to master in partner dancing. As you dance together you become familiar with the other person, the way they move, and how to complement their movements. You also learn to be fluid and flexible in the moment to be open to change when it happens. When your movements are clear even if you are wrong your partner can help you get back on track. When your movements are timid and indecisive it is difficult for your partner to read where you are. On Wednesday after warming up with all the dances we spent some time concentration on a turn in Rumba and how to shift my weight. The turn was broken down into several parts, and each section had to be correct to the smallest detail. The perfect opportunity to practice this step was on Friday with the social party. I always come a few minutes early, and today Antonio, Maxi, and I were having fun listening to music and dancing around. The song “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” from the movie. Dirty Dancing comes on and Maxi motions for me to run to him and we do a crazy lift over his head - then tries to run to me jokingly for me to lift him up  and I step out of the way and start laughing. My song from the Showcase “La Camisa Negra” starts to play and Maxi grabs me up and we go through the whole routine. The steps are still fresh in my mind and Maxi and I just chill and have fun going through my routine together.

Finally people start arriving, there are old and new students and a group from the Ballroom Dance Club at The College of North Georgia. I love when the students come as they bring such an infusion of energy!! I remember first meeting Carly, one of the Leaders of the Club When we took Popular Social 8 together at Daza Dance and she was talking about starting the club, now it is vibrant and thriving. We have a great group tonight and I am really excited. I am so excited to see Paige and Bonnie, usually I don’t see them until the parties I also made a new friend with Azita and this was her first party!

Cha-cha is the dance of the night and even though we are practicing the basic step and turn I am using it as an opportunity to perfect my form, and tonight I have decided to focus on making sure I am communicating clearly.  After a short break and catching up with several of my fellow students, my first dance of the night was cha-cha with Mario. Mario threw some challenging moves my way, I just relaxed and followed. I always love to see how full of joy Mario is when he dances, and his joy makes me smile. Later we would do a happy bouncy foxtrot. Of all the dances the FoxTrot is my most improved dance. As I was gliding around the floor with Mario I was reflecting on how hard I had practiced these steps and now it was paying off.

With Callie I danced the East Coast Swing and Rumba. What can I say? I am always ready for East Coast Swing, I also danced the Rumba with Callie I love to watch how elegant she is when she dances and how she finishes each step with grace. 

With Maxi I danced Salsa- now that he knows I like to spin he had me spinning all over the ballroom!! We practiced the free turn so many times I was almost dizzy and I loved it. We also danced the Tango, my favorite part of Tango is the Tango Face! I love being intense and angry and executing steps to dramatic music. Maxi and Antonio kept teasing me about my Tango Face and making me laugh!  With Antonio I danced a dreamy Waltz, and I was remembering what a challenge it was to remember even small details like closing my feet when I first started. I am seeing myself continue to improve which makes me proud. We also danced a vibrant East Coast Swing he changed the order on me a couple of times keeping me on my toes, and he threw in an extra shoulder check just to see if I was paying attention – and I was! As the evening was drawing to a close my favorite dance of the night was absolutely the Rumba Antonio and danced together to the Song Hero by Mariah Carey. Being able to dance to that song was almost an out of body experience. It was so fitting because every lyric of song is what Antonio is helping to bring out in me; because of him I am beginning to live my life on the other side of fear. Taking the leap of Faith to come to Daza Dance was the best decision I ever made, and being able to give my all in pursuit of my passion has made me more complete.

The group and line dances are always a highlight of the evening, we had a group Merengue where everyone was dancing in a circle, The Bachata Line dance and of course the Samba Line dance that closes the evening. I have become so confident in these dances now they are almost like second nature. When The Samba Line Dance ends I have a second wind but, alas, it is time to say farewell. I am feeling very calm and peaceful and ready to take on any challenge life may throw at me.

By: Kamaria George (11/16/2016)


"COLORS OF THE KALEIDOSCOPE" SHOWCASE

The Daza Dance Family came together once again for Colors of the Kaleidoscope, a celebration of diversity and unity transcending race and culture. This theme truly reflected the spirit of our school as we all came together through the common ground of dance to create something beautiful.

Of all the showcases I have participated in this one had a profound significance for me. The first ballroom dance I ever learned was Salsa, so to be able to perform a Salsa routine was in itself a reward. Even the date of the showcase was significant to me. On November 5th of last year I had a Coaching session with Antonio that redirected the course of my life by encouraging me to be a person with tenacity and courage. I came to class feeling defeated and discouraged as I had just started my campaign for Argentina, and my funding goal seemed impossible. Antonio was determined to lift my spirits so he began to speak to me in a language very close to my heart, through the mysteries of faith. We also talked about my goals outside of dancing and I told him I wanted to be a writer. I had been posting a quote from a famous person every day on my Facebook page, and Antonio encouraged me to create and use my use my own quotes. I immediately went home and my first original quote was “let truth silence every lie of fear”. To date I have posted almost 365 original quotes, and my writing eventually developed into these blog posts. By focusing on writing every day I am conscious that I am writing my story which causes me to focus on creating a phenomenal one.

These thoughts were on my mind as I started rehearsals this week. Practice today was a bit more light hearted as Antonio was trying to convince me not to carry myself like Gollum from Lord of the Rings. (my precious hahaha) So I could feel what I looked like he brought out a huge exercise ball and I had to walk with it between my legs. I could barely move and was giggling uncontrollably and Antonio laughed as well. Considering I would be wearing the shortest dress I had ever worn in showcase it was worth taking this advice to heart so I didn’t wind up giving both he and Maxi a heart attack!

I decided to have just have fun in the next run through and not focus so much on the steps -Antonio told me this was the best I've ever done.   We ran through the routine one last time and Antonio said that my routine was perfect!!!- compliments like that do not flow freely him- so I was stunned. I've gotten good, I'm so proud of you but never perfect and I felt as if I was floating. He then told me how proud I was of me and that it didn’t matter what I did the night of the showcase that it was about the person I have become in the process. I felt completely validated! All of my hard work paid off, and I know now when I am focused and determined I can accomplish anything.

Dress rehearsal the next night went by in a blur. Before we started rehearsal Antonio shared with the collective group about how the showcase performance was not a reflection of the dancers we are – it was all about the journey. As always he spoke about the vision of the school and how we are all a family. We went through the evening and I felt numb as I was focusing so hard on my steps. It was beautiful to see all of the videos, especially the instructors video which set the tone and feeling for the evening.

As usual on the day of the showcase I have one of the first hair and make-up calls so after two cups of strong coffee I am good!  It’s always fun to hang out with the ladies as we become bedazzled with glitter and stones- it is a true bonding moment! About midways through the day I started to feel anxious and intense, so I went to the stairwell close by and pulled out my ear buds to listen to my song. Mario came and sat beside me, encouraging me not to be stressed and telling me to forget about performing and enjoy being with everyone. I was trying to blend in but on the inside my anxiety was getting the best of me. Almost as if on cue Ferdinando, one of the performers gave me an uplifting talk about the power of the mind and told me to imagine the best possible outcome. Hearing those words helped me and I began to imagine myself doing things I had not yet done in Salsa. I thought about Callie, Masha, and one of my Favorite Ballroom Dancers who performed at the competition in Argentina Natalia Madiuik and how each of these ladies are regal, confident and have their own special flair.

As the show began Lynn Ragan and Susan Roberson set the standard by each performing two very different routines. First Lynn captivated our minds with thought provoking video and lively quick step routine to the song Mr. Blue Sky in a coral dress with Mario, Maxi and Antonio. She would later do a meditative, graceful Viennese Waltz in a dazzling blue gown to the song Caribbean Blue with Mario. Susan Roberson did a graceful foxtrot with Maxi in an orange dress to the song under an orange sky and a divine Bolero with Mario to the song White Flag in a pastel blue gown. Susan is always raising the bar by doing challenging lifts and splits.  Jaki Levi gave a moving performance to Betty Brown with Mario, Maxi and Antonio. Her joy for dance shone through her every movement, and she was truly divine in her black dress with green accents. She was the perfect person to communicate this message of the importance of living life beneath the surface and a life of truth.

It was interesting to see how people picked the same dances and colors and still had different choreography to reflect their strengths and interpreted each dance differently. Natalia Terekhova performed a lively, fun cha-cha routine to Michael Jackson’s Black or White in a sexy white fringe dress. Paige Williams also performed a Cha- Cha to the song Men in Black and looked like an otherworldly goddess in a black dress with chartreuse accents. There were also two Rumba’s that used the color gold, Newcomers Maria Lioce and Ferdinando Martino were simply Dazzling opposite Maxi and Masha to the Theme Golden Eye from the James Bond Movie. Maria and Masha were the epitome of Bond Girls, sophisticated in their Golden animal print dresses carrying out their movements with precision and ease. Cara and Alex Suarez also had the color Gold and performed an Ethereal Rumba to fields of Gold with Callie and Maxi. Callie and Cara sparkled in their soft metallic gowns looking angelic and peaceful. By the end of their dance you felt the beauty of love’s perfection. The Student performance group is in a class by themselves as they do their routines without an instructor. They performed a Cha-Cha to the song Bemba Colera. Colet Falvey, Patrick Falvey, Michaela Harris and Byron Starcher moved through beautiful patterns and variations with Colet and Michaela looking stunning in their black dresses. I could see they were mastering steps that took me several weeks to learn!

When it was finally time for me to take the stage for my Salsa routine the powerful confident performance I had visualized became a reality. Even though the song was La Camisa Negra I was wearing fuchsia. While I was in the moment I knew this was the best showcase performance I had ever done,  and even though it wasn’t as technically perfect as I wanted I had embraced the character and was able to apply some notes from the last rehearsal into my performance. I was so proud of myself! With the short time I was given to learn and execute this routine I had gone beyond my highest expectations and even threw in a couple of turns at the end of the routine on the spur of the moment.

Family representation was back with mother and daughter Regina and Corley Davis. Regina did a sultry tango performance to Blue Monday in a dazzling royal blue gown with Mario. You could tell they had established a beautiful connection.  Regina’s daughter Corley danced a captivating Waltz with Maxi in a beautiful red gown. She and Maxi were flawless together, moving as one throughout the dance floor.

We had a new family Eric Petit, Chelsea Petit  and Melissa Gibson did a sexy West Coast Swing with Maxi to the Hard Rock Song Black Betty. They brought their own personal style in costume from the suspenders and the purple bandannas on the ladies to the fedoras on the men and created something mesmerizing. They not only made this dance their own- they looked phenomenal doing it. The most amazing thing to me was that Eric had never danced before this performance but it looked like he had been dancing all his life. I thought this performance showed the tremendous versatility of ballroom dance and can’t wait to see these performers in future showcases.

The Performance of the night by far was Maxi and Masha’s Samba. All I can say is from the time they stepped on the stage I forgot who I was and became lost in the performance. Masha our Queen of Bachata and Samba had this beautiful champagne colored dress with Swarovski crystals and huge turquoise ostrich feathers that gave her a regal quality as she walked. Maxi was truly in his element I call him the King of Samba and he truly lived up to it.  I don’t know how he had the energy after performing so many different routines but I call Maxi the King of Samba and he lived up to it.

At the end of the evening you could feel that everyone in the room had experienced the joy of dance that was in our hearts. I am truly grateful to have once again be a part of this life changing experience, and now that dance has completely saturated my heart I need to find more opportunities to express myself!

By: Kamaria George (11/05/2016)


COLORS OF THE KALEIDOSCOPE - PERFORMER'S TEAM

I present to you the #AmazingTeam of #Students and #Insturctors at #DazaDance that participated at our last "Colors of the Kaleidoscope" #Showcase on November 5, 2016. We are so proud of you guys... Thank you so much for your love and trust! #Daza#BecomingBetter#Ibelieveinmiracles#Equality#Diversity#BallroomDanceAtlanta#NoHateMario NicolasMaximiliano PanesiMasha ChubenkoCallie Harris Foley
Chelsea and Eric Pettit, Melissa Gibson, Regina Davis, Maria Lioce and Ferdiando Martino, Colet and Patrick Falvey, Corley Davis, Cara and Alex Suarez, Lynne Ragan, Kamaria George, Michaela Harris and, Byron Starcher, Jackie Levi, Natalia Terekhova, Paige Williams, Susan Roberson


COLORS OF THE KALEIDOSCOPE - INSTRUCTOR'S VIDEO

Congratulations to all of our #AmazingStudents and their #SuperTalentedInstructors at #DazaDance for bringing us such a fun, entertaining, diverse and professional "COLORS OF THE KALEIDOSCOPE" Showcase. We certainly hope everyone enjoyed their time in our studio, as well as this experience open their minds to the numerous #bennefits of #BallroomDance. We are looking forward to continue bring #Unity#Peace#Acceptance#Diversity#Love, and of course, #Dance to the #Atlanta community. Thank you so much to all of our families, friends, students, instructors, followers, etc etc, that support us and care for us at Daza Dance! Mario NicolasMaximiliano PanesiMasha ChubenkoCallie Harris Foley


RISE UP!

I started this week completely drained in many ways and I found it difficult not to be fatigued in rehearsal. The most challenging part of this routine right now applying the confidence and sassiness that Salsa requires. This dance utilizes a focus and energy that I was lacking. As I was rehearsing my routine, I felt like I was just going through the motions. Antonio told me he knew this was not my best work and helped me to reel my energy and refocus. The next and final run through was better, and I felt it.

Later that week was my interview for the production. I always enjoy every opportunity to talk about Daza Dance and what the studio means to me. Each interview gets easier and easier as I am able to communicate more freely. When the class part of the interview began I did East Coast Swing just fine, but for some reason I was making mistakes with the most basic rumba moves. In the Cha-Cha I was having an issue with my chase turns; I looked up and Antonio was on the other side of the room. The exercise was to show me how to make corrections on the spot when things go wrong; I followed him and jumped back into the dance. “There she is” Antonio teased. 

For the next class He had me to count out every movement phrase by phrase fine tuning each step. Today’s life lesson was to focus before moving forward, you can’t just move aimlessly you have to have a plan. As I applied this to my dancing I had more stability in my movement by focusing on which direction I was going before moving there.

Antonio had me to live the word “exactness” for the duration of class, meaning he wants technical excellence, and for me not to get so lost in the character that I lose my precision in movement. While we are practicing I feel like I am almost perfect- but when it comes time to put it with music before everyone in the studio I freeze. Antonio pulls me to the side and we have one of our growth producing moments that cause me to dig deep. As a result I am able pull out a more confident performance for my last run through. I have some work to do before our next rehearsal, but I feel so accomplished today. I am reminded of the Bible verse Luke 12:48 “to whom much is given, much is required”; as I continue meeting and surpassing goals more is being expected of me. I am learning in dance as in life you have to rise and meet the challenge.

By: Kamaria George (10/30/2016)