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RESTORATION THROUGH GRATITUDE

One morning I awakened to the sound of rain, which was comforting and helped to cleanse my soul. This was a tough week for me emotionally, it was a week where life made no sense and I felt completely helpless. Though my natural inclination was to be by myself I knew I needed to be around people who care about me, and I needed the hugs and smiles of my dancing community; to just be in the presence of positivity.

The energy at the studio is overflowing as it is choreography time again! Even when I don’t have a class I love to watch the creative process as I practice, and am always amazed at how the dances take shape. I am intrigued how Antonio creates pieces that are all unique and highlight each of the dancer’s strengths. For the 10th Anniversary we will be pulling out all the stops, and while we have several of our past artists returning, there are some phenomenal new acts making their debut in our ballroom.

Today I have a great warm up with Antonio doing an East Coast Swing to “Applause” by #LadyGaga. I have an extra burst of energy and feel like this is my best swing ever.  Besides almost cutting the circulation from Antonio’s hands a couple of times, I was quite pleased!  I am doing better on the throw out all the time and it doesn’t seem so difficult anymore. Another fun part of the warm-up was the Salsa we dance to “Wild Thoughts” with Rihanna and DJ Khaled. I really had to focus on technique and form as this is a slow song. After Salsa Antonio says “that was the one!” meaning that I had done a good job. Every compliment makes me feel good because I work so hard and Antonio is not one to give a compliment freely.

After a fun warmup, we picked up where we left off with Tango technique. I am thinking of a diagram Antonio made for me with geometrical precision explaining the Reverse Turn With Outside Swivel when I first learned the step.  “Did you do your Tango homework”? He said. I hesitated for a moment and said “no...” I’ve been working on my Rumba and neglecting all other dances, however, I need to be simultaneously preparing for my smooth test.  Antonio looks like he is about to fuss at me and then he bursts into laughter and we both start laughing. We start to go over positions again, the line of dance, backing the line of dance, etc. and things are clicking better than they were last week. I ask him what I need to know for my upcoming Medal test and to my surprise, it isn’t new steps, it is technique. He begins to explain what I need to know down to the smallest detail; it seems my inclination to make technique my focus this year is right on point! As I come to practice this week I am filled with excitement as I know each small step I make is building to something even greater than I could have imagined.

As I think about life lessons this week through moments of sheer joy and accomplishment I could escape my thoughts. I was filled with gratitude for being alive and for being able to come to a place where I can completely and totally be myself. As I focused on being grateful I saw how my hope began to be restored and caused me to see things in a different light. I was able to challenge myself to persevere and not be controlled by circumstances.


By: Kamaria George (02/04/2018)


2018 - THE YEAR OF THE DIAMOND!

January has gone by quickly and almost feels like a dream, I am calling this the Year of the Diamond! Dance and faith are tools that have helped me to take all of the pressure and pain I have received throughout my life to create something beautiful, and this is a year I will let my light shine brighter than ever before.  On January 2, I started my transformation by moving into a new apartment with a beautiful view of the Buckhead Skyline. After moving in and spending quiet moments alone in my apartment part of the verse from Revelations 4:1 came to mind “come up here and I will show you what will take place after this”  immediately I knew that I would be of changing perspective and this will also be a season of letting go, of becoming stronger. I have been in continual perpetual metamorphosis since the beginning of the year I already feel myself speaking with a new boldness and clarity.

I’ve often talked about how at every new level of dance it feels like I am beginning again, today I am doing the very first thing I did in my very first private lesson- walking back and forth. The difference is that now that my understanding of concepts is greater and more details are added. Antonio and I spend time differentiating between smooth walks and Rhythm walks and how to place my feet when to rotate my hips etc. there is so much to remember I start gasping for air because I realize I forgot to breathe!! Antonio says to me “We had our fun last week but the honeymoon is over! I say “the honeymoon has been over”, then I think for a moment and say “what honeymoon”! When I began my journey at Daza Dance After only 3 private lessons I decided to do my first showcase, and ever since then, I have continued to take on bigger and better challenges. Though there are moments of laughter and we have a lot of fun there is a lot of discipline, hard work, and practice. This year I am focusing on technique, I want my skill to match my emotion, and technique begins with me perfecting my walks.

Outside of the studio every spare moment I have I am walking. I practice walking at home and run into the wall. I am thankful for not being in the studio because I know Antonio, Maxi, and Mario would laugh at me and then they would have to face my alter ego, Sheneyney Beyoncé Laquisha Brown!! I come to rehearse Friday and my friend Angeles is back from Argentina and will be the very first Daza Dance Intern, eventually becoming an instructor here! She already has the beautiful, caring, heart That Antonio, Maxi, Mario, and Callie have, it’s just a matter of her learning the skills and she will be a phenomenal instructor!  Angeles and I are so excited to see each other and hug periodically asking for help from Maxi to communicate.  I had become complacent with learning Spanish, but now I have a reason to accelerate my pace because I so want to talk to my friend.

When I come back for a class the next week with Maxi they have already put Angeles to work at the front desk. She has also begun training and is working hard with all of the instructors perfecting her technique. Maxi and I practice- what else walking!  For my upcoming Rumba Showcase, I may have to fake it until I make it with every other step but I am going to be walking like a pro, it’s like walking has become my full-time job. Hahaha! It is extremely humbling to know how many notes I have to walk. Today Maxi tells me for Rhythm walks to break each step into 3 parts as I shift my weight to the standing leg. Later when I am practicing on my own in the studio as I am trying to piece together all of my notes. I forget to straighten the standing leg accordingly, but I am quickly reminded by Antonio who corrects me and says “it is better to do it one time right than 100 times wrong”. If I continue to practice wrong and learn bad habits it will be harder to undo and more time will be spent to unlearn bad habits and then reteach me correctly. This is why I am taught technique very slowly so that when I do practice the right way is committed to muscle memory. As I practice I am reflecting on of my earlier posts talks about how Michael Jordan was cut from his Jr. High basketball team but he decided to do 300 jump shots a day in practice. We know the rest of the story because of that commitment we all know his name as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. I draw on examples of commitment like that as I continue to strengthen what I learn through repetition.

This Friday is one of my favorite Daza Events, the party! Maxi starts teaching East Coast Swing, and Angeles is formally introduced to the school as she flows seamlessly, helping Maxi teach the group. As with every class before the party, we are going through the basics but I find something new to focus on each time. Today I am focusing on keeping my feet on the floor, probably to the amazement of every coach there.  It’s no secret that this has definitely been one of my challenges! Tonight there are several new faces so I am getting to know more students during the break.  As usual, I get to dance with all of the instructors, Maxi and I dance a Salsa and he continues to spin me around until I am dizzy. Both Mario and Antonio challenge me with the East Coast Swing, Mario changes up the sequence on me keeping me on my toes, and Antonio keeps having me do my hardest step in Swing, the Throw Out over, and over, and over! This step is finally starting to get easier. I got to dance a lot with Angeles as well, even though this is her first party she already has the eye of an instructor and catches me leading with the toe during the Tango.

Monday I have a class with Antonio and we work on the reverse turn in Tango. We work on along the line of dance to the wall the center, backing line of dance. Antonio calls out the positions and I have to think before moving to each one.  We put these into practice and I am trying to connect the positions with each part of the Reverse turn. After class Antonio tells me he is proud of me for what I have achieved I am happy, my head is spinning trying to remember everything.

In my next class With Maxi we have a fun warm up, and then we practice more walking!! I am moving backward in Tango, I practice staying on the same level with my knees slightly bent. When I come back to practice Angeles and I spend some time helping each other and she helps me with my form in Rumba and I begin to reinforce what I learned all week. We have a great time working together and her experience is invaluable as I learn different levels of grace to add to my movements.

At the end of the week, there is Rumba workshop with Antonio, I am so excited to learn some more technique to apply to my upcoming choreography. We practice Cuban hip motion, moving the hips in a circular motion like a washing machine. The feet are 45 degrees apart but the knees move forward giving the circular motion.  We practice walking again breaking it down into three parts, by now I am getting pretty good! As we continue to walk Antonio shows us how to breathe as we are moving forward. For me knowing how to place the breath helps with balance. Next, we practice the open break underarm turn. Antonio breaks apart the turn which includes both a chase and a pivot turn. By the end of class, I am feeling more confident and ready to take on choreography!

As I think about life lessons as I work and rework steps and figures from different points of view I am reminded to look beneath the surface and search for a deeper meaning, to constantly refine my truth as I gain new insights and perfected knowledge. As I keep my mind open to deeper wells of thought, it will resonate through my dancing as I share my heart with the world.

By: Kamaria George (01/30/2018) 


CHANDELIER

I brought in the New Year quietly, but deeply reflective. I know in my heart 2018 will be like no other year I have ever experienced; I feel a restlessness like never before. 2018 is beginning to unfold for me just as in the song Chandelier by Sia which happens to be my song for my next showcase. My Life at Daza Dance has been like swinging from the chandeliers so to speak as I have found the freedom to be myself. To me just learning to be comfortable in my own skin has been wild and radical, and I have the desire to sever all of my fears as I continue this journey to become an all-around better person.

What a beautiful year 2017 has been. Being able to go to Argentina a second time exceeded my wildest expectations, it was so rewarding to be an even better dancer than I was the year before. This time I not only had my friends from Argentina, I made new friends from Chile and Uruguay. My favorite heat hands down was an East Coast Swing to the AC/DC Song “You Shook Me All Night Long” as Antonio and I just broke free and got wild and crazy!  Just like last year I never wanted the dancing to end.  In my other performances, I continued to improve with my showcases, having the opportunity to even teach Antonio during my Foxtrot showcase for A Chorus Line! Even though during those moments I actually learned more than I taught the experience helped to build my confidence. Then, of course, there was my final performance of the year “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid where I not only had to learn an entire routine without counts choreographed to the words of the song, I also had to act while dancing. To date not only was that my most challenging performance, it was my most rewarding. Both of my coaches, Antonio and Maxi, have continued to mold and refine me, pushing me beyond my perceived limits and helping me rise to new challenges throughout the year. I am looking forward to sharing the stage with both of them for the 10th Anniversary of Daza Dance!!!!!! Wooohooo!!!!!!

My last two classes of the year were with Antonio. He has been instilling in me the variations of character for my different dances from the sweetness of Waltz to the intensity of Tango and he calls out different characters for me to create. “Show me your inner Madonna! Dance like a pro.” Today is just a fun class filled with dancing. Antonio tells me how proud he is of me for having significant breakthroughs as a dancer and in my personal life. 

The life lessons I gain from my dancing experience are continuing to shape me into the person I most want to be, on and off the dance floor. The conversation continues the next night during class. We have our usual motivation moments to solidify dreams and encourage me to plan for my path. For the past two years, these talks at the end of the year have helped me to remain focused on clear objectives. Antonio is also very good about keeping me accountable to my visions and goals, and if there are obstacles helping me figure out how to overcome them and move forward. Antonio tells me that with all that I have accomplished he sees that I can do more and I have greater potential.  I know he’s right, as these words connect with the restlessness I have been feeling. There’s more dance inside of me, and there’s a deeper spiritual grounding that wants to break forth!! I am ready to take on 2018!!

By: Kamaria George (01/02/2018)




POWER IN PERSISTENCE

Early Christmas Morning I am filled with gratitude as I watch a short video of a Holiday Celebration with the Pace Sisters, a popular African American Gospel Group. They become overjoyed and burst into song just because they have their family and friends around them, which are the true treasures of life. I am so grateful for the many blessings in my life, for my natural family, and of course my Daza Dance Family.

I am reflecting on how earlier this week I was working with Maxi, and during the warm up he is constantly complimenting me. I break character and smile during the Tango and am having a difficult time getting my Tango face back.  Today my technique is much better because I am more confident. We do some work on the first three steps of Promenade in Tango to make sure I am turning my head the correct way. When I make the promenade step I am only to turn my head to prepare the step, the body turns as I move in promenade.  I add this step when I come during the week to my practice sessions so now I alternate between Chase Turns and Promenade.

When I come early to class later that week on Thursday Antonio is practicing with Hanna Katz, a beautiful dancer who is as kind and genuine as she is talented. I have seen her training at the studio with Antonio and Mario and she lights up the ballroom with her elegant presence. Today she and Antonio are intensely working on a Viennese waltz looking smooth and flawless. Later I see her practicing Samba and truly enjoying every moment.

When Antonio and I begin our class we are having fun and I am overflowing with laughter, today my spirit feels completely renewed as we go through the dances without a specific agenda; we are just having fun. When we get to the East Coast Swing we continue to practice the throw out step over and over, it seems like every other step is the throw out! I am remembering Chantal’s notes from the test to lean back at the beginning of the step before moving forward.  I feel myself getting better and Antonio comments that he has seen me improve.  My other notable improvement was in Rumba today. As we practice Rumba I applied the note where Antonio tells me to pause in certain sections and wait for him to lead me before coming forward.

Today my life lesson was in the power of persistence. Through hard work, dedication and practice I am seeing my goals flourish and that my abilities go beyond what I even think is possible. I am learning how to apply these strategies in my life and how no matter how difficult circumstances are to not be afraid to continue reaching for my highest ideal. As I continue on this journey the life unfolding before me is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.


By: Kamaria George (12/25/2017)


A SIP FROM THE OCEAN

The studio is beautifully decorated for the Holidays with gold, silver, and celadon ornaments with opaque tinsel. After seeing the video of the decorations being placed on Instagram I can’t wait to see them in person, so I grab a cup of hot spiced cider and go a couple of hours early to enjoy them and relax before my class. The atmosphere is warm and cheery and many hugs are going around the studio as I catch up with other students, some of whom I haven’t seen in a long time. As they start or continue with their respective classes I take some time to rest my mind and take in my surroundings.

 I have so many beautiful memories in this studio, and am reflecting on my very first class with Antonio and how he was telling me there was so much to learn, and he thought I should continue dancing as he saw my potential.  I remember how overwhelmed I felt after that class, I had just learned the basic step for 7 dances and my only immediate goal was to be able to keep up at the social party that Friday. Today I have achieved all of my goals I have set for myself through dancing, and am continuously moving to different levels. As 2017 is closing, once again the chalkboard of notes in my mind is erased and I feel like I am relearning everything. With each new level in ballroom dance there is a deeper understanding of technique and I am trying to absorb as much as I can before information overload sets in. I am thinking about last week with Antonio, which was pretty intense!! We had a fun warm-up filled with laughter, and then Antonio says two words that I have wrestled with throughout my ballroom existence; those words are “Chase Turns”!  Yes! That one step that took me forever to figure out has yet another level of technique. We break down each part; when I take the step forward I must shift my weight, when I turn I shift my weight again, and take a step forward. We then work on the chase turn figure in Cha-Cha which includes a lock step. After what seems like an eternity drilling that step over and over I am given Chase turns for homework. This attention to detail is what it will take to make me a champion, and Antonio tells me later that he is being specific and drilling me because he sees my potential. By now I have come to expect this focused, disciplined training, and I appreciate it because I see the results it has on my dancing.  I have been in the studio not only for classes but spending an hour here and there completely focused on Chase Turns. As a matter of fact even now I have some time left before class, so now that I feel completely relaxed I start practicing Chase Turns again.

 Finally class begins and today I am working with Maxi. During the warm-ups after Maxi spins me around maybe 20 times? I can’t remember, What I do remember is I  didn’t spot so when I stop spinning I fall down; literally tumble down on my back! When I get up off the floor my head is still spinning and I have to go sit down for a couple of minutes. I am laughing, and other students in the studio are laughing.  Once I am able to catch my breath, Maxi and I start to work on smooth dances. My next test will be a smooth test in the spring so it’s time to start getting ready, the more time and preparation I have, the better my chances for success. Today were are working on the open fan under arm turn. Maxi is reminding me to pass the feet under me with each step and lead with the heel. He shows me how I am making a quarter turn with each step, using the four walls in the studio as a guide. He catches a momentary lapse where I don’t close my feet and laughs because he knows I was trying to sneak the mistake past him, no such luck!  We end class on a good note and I realize at least as far as dancing is concerned, 2018 has started for me.

My life lesson today was that everything I have learned is like drinking a sip of water from the ocean. Even though my education is continually refreshed as a dancer, I have only scratched the surface in the area of technique, and then there are more dances to learn. As I apply this to my life it is always good to not remain complacent but to keep striving for a deeper levels of knowledge, love, and spiritual understanding.


By: Kamaria George (12/12/2017)


FAIRY TALES AND FANTASIES - ACT 2

After intermission there was an awards ceremony where several people, including myself were honored for the completing the Medal Test for Intermediate Bronze to move to the next level, while some completed the full Bronze Test. I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment standing with several of fellow students knowing everything I went to through to get to this point. Our Stage Manager Bill Bennett, who also happens to own the Best Ever Body training facilities in our studio was also honored, this was truly special because it was also Bill’s Birthday. For all of us who received our certificates this was a shining moment.

The first performance after intermission was Chloe Scot and Louis Perez who did a Salsa to “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid with Maxi and Callie. I had the pleasure of having some classes overlap with them and got to watch this piece evolve from the very beginning. There were days I would see them stay after to rehearse to make sure they got every detail right, and it was evident that all of their hard work paid off in spades. This piece showed the fun, playful, side of Ariel, Sebastian, and all of the lovable characters from the ocean. When Cloe was in full hair and make-up dressed in her aqua gown accented with long flowing fringe I was reminded of pictures of Aphrodite rising from the ocean. Likewise Callie had a beautiful yellow dress that seemed to stretch out like the rays of the sun as she danced.  As everyone moved together in perfect joy and unity, the only way to describe Louis and Chloe’s first showcase is the Rihanna song “Diamonds in the Sky”.

This has been a breakout year for Colet Falvey, and watching her star rise has been truly eventful.  Her last showcase was with the stellar student performance group that performed their piece without an instructor, and for her first solo dance she took her performance to the next level. Coming straight off of her win as Best Newcomer from the North Carolina Classic she made the choice of a true champion; to have her first performance be a Viennese Waltz to the song “Le Festin” from Ratatouille with Mario. The Viennese waltz is a dance so difficult that there is a separate medal test for that portion, so the fact she wanted to take it on was truly impressive. Colet was completely glamourous wearing a stunning black and white gown with rhinestone incrusted buttons.  She whirled effortlessly about as if she were in a dream, capturing the whimsical nature and beauty of the song. Colet’s performance was astoundingly beautiful and left you wanting more.

Lynn Ragan performed a second piece with another thoughtful choice, “Let it Go” from Frozen.  Rumba is a dance of love, and while she danced I felt a message of learning to love yourself. She moved confidently with Maxi, Mario, and Antonio in a cerulean gown accented with lace. The powerful words about embracing who you are and not being defined by the thoughts and expectations of anyone were communicated with every self-assured movement.  One of the most powerful moments where Mario Maxi and Antonio lifted Lynn who seemed to be in a state of perfection and calm. This dance ended with Lynn in a pose by herself as Mario, Maxi, and Antonio looked on, which seemed to symbolize finding peace with the person you are.

 The Tango Evolution team of Clint Rauscher and Shelley Brooks always embrace the beauty of Argentine Tango. This time they danced to the suspense filled music from the animated Feature Lorenzo.  Lorenzo is the Tale of a self- absorbed cat who is driven to madness when his tail takes on a life of its own and compels the cat to perpetual Tango. Shelly wore a pale blue dress accented with magenta and a magenta flower in her hair symbolizing the colors and motifs in the film. Capturing the urgency of the song they did several complicated figures, moving effortlessly as the rhythm constantly changed.  They left a memorable impression on the hearts of all who were present.
 Next were Natalia Terekhova and Maxi dancing a Lively East Coast Swing to a remake of an old Elvis classic “Burning Love” from the movie Lilo and Stitch. Natalia wore a pink floral swing dress accented with hot pink satin shoes and a pink floral garland. Natalia and Maxi kept the fast pace of the song from beginning to end adding elements of fun and playfulness.  It’s especially hard to dance to any of Elvis Presley’s signature songs because they are so much a part of the fabric of popular culture, but this performance was excellent! You couldn’t help but get caught up in these beautiful moments and didn’t want them to end.

Regina Davis did a fun-loving foxtrot to “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” from Toy Story with Mario. Regina was dazzling in a red gown dazzling with stones and peacock feather embroidery that reminded me of brightly colored saris from India.  Capturing the fun festive nature her song she danced with elegance and ease and showed the gift of true friendship. Regina’s lighthearted fun-loving spirit was displayed beautifully as Mario expertly led her through this piece. This dance communicated that through life’s constant challenges to have a friend you can count on makes all the difference.

Amber Meyers captured the sweetness and tenderness of the song “River Lullaby” from the Prince of Egypt looking beautiful in her forest green chiffon gown with crystal accents. Her hair was artfully crafted, every detail down to the placement of the stones in her hair connected to the time and place of the song. Her partnership with Maxi was very gentle and compassionate as they danced the song of a mother singing sweetly to her child. As another first time performer Amber truly left her mark on the ballroom floor.

Beverly and Thomas Rogers added their own special touches for their first showcase to a country and western version of “Kiss the Girl” from The Little Mermaid with Mario and Callie. There were unique details like beautiful turquoise pieces of Jewelry that Beverly and Callie wore that was from Beverly’s personal collection. These brilliant statement pieces highlighted their blue lame gowns accented with black lace. Beverly was in her element enjoying the music and displaying her beautiful arms, and Thomas was taking in every moment as he and led both Callie and Beverly. It was evident as I watched that Beverly and Thomas not only had learned the steps, they had absorbed Mario’s excitement and joy for ballroom dance which made the piece even more fun to watch from the first moment of the dance to their special kiss at the end.

Susan Roberson’s dance to “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas showed her affinity for Bolero as she took the stage in a satin aqua gown with brilliant stones. Susan is one of the students that has been at Daza Dance the longest, so it was only fitting that she would pick a song that reflects what our studio is all about, learning about different cultures and coming together in love.  Her movements were graceful like the wind as she and Maxi painted a masterpiece in the sky with multifaceted colors of love.

Closing the show with a slot usually reserved for the a dance with two instructors was the one and only team of Eric and Chelsea Petit and Melissa Gibson doing one of the hardest dances in ballroom, a Quickstep to the song “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin. The Quickstep is an advanced dance, so the fact that they were fearless in attempting it and had never learned it before made me very excited, and as I expected they were show stopping! Melissa and Chelsea wore dresses with pale sea foam chiffon draping, and simple headdresses with aquamarine stones in the middle of their foreheads. Maxi and Eric wore baby blue shirts and pants with bright red cumber bunds and bowties. This dynamic team captured the quirky nature of the song with their joyful expressions, and with speed and sheer artistry they nailed their footwork with precision. This bold fearless performance was a perfect way to end the evening.

After the curtain calls we all greeted our friends and family and enjoyed our accomplishments. When all of our guests left we had our usual cast family dinner while watching the playback of the show. Sharing in everyone’s joy once more was truly enlightening, and I feel blessed to be part of such a special group. When the evening ended and we parted ways there were so many beautiful memories. The next time we gather for our Showcase it will be to Celebrate the 10 Year Anniversary of Daza Dance!


By: Kamaria George (12/03/2017)


FAIRY TALES AND FANTASIES - ACT 1

I woke up at 3: AM Sunday; I didn’t realize I had fallen asleep with my make-up on – and it was still fully in tact! I wanted to keep it on but sadly I knew at some point that day I would have to face the outside world. I did leave the stones in my hair an extra day – why? Sparkles of course!
In these early morning hours I began to think about the beautiful memories of the day before. As usual I was one of the first hair and make-up appointments at 8:15 AM so when I arrived at the studio I went straight to the coffee! There were two make-up artists and two hairstylists and it felt like backstage at a fashion show. I was a few minutes early and saw Callie in deep conversation with Lexi, Sam and the rest of our glam squad pouring over pictures and making sure every detail was on point. Maxi would come through periodically to make sure everything was running smoothly. As others began to arrive and get their hair and makeup done it was so enlightening to see the different creations bringing the characters to life in everyone, and it was also a great time to catch up with people you might not see on a regular basis.

If the last Showcase was the showcase of Veterans, this was the Showcase of Newcomers, and of people taking chances and making their dreams come true. Opening the show was Golden Precious, The team of Ferdinando and Maria Lioce.  From their previous showcases they have become performers who are greatly anticipated. Since they were dancing to the song “Strangers Like Me” from Tarzan they were now Golden Precious the Jungle version. The song is about exploration and wonder and set the tone for the entire showcase. Maria and Ferdinando captured the attention of everyone with authentic costumes from the period of Tarzan, and the usual joy and confidence that is present every time they dance. Maria wore a yellow satin dress trimmed in lace Ferdinando had a hat from that period  with a Safari suit and a maroon ascott tie. Callie and Maxi wore leopard print outfits further accenting the theme. This dance left an air of excitement and expectation for the rest of the performance.

One of the most deeply moving performances I’ve ever seen was Lauren Silensky’s beautiful Rumba with Mario “Go The Distance” from the movie Hercules. When you think about Hercules an image comes to mind a strong warrior that overcomes many battles, and I see this same type of strength in Lauren. She explained in her video that she has a disease called Ehlers- Danlos syndrome that affects her collagen. She almost didn’t come to the studio because of difficulty climbing stairs, but she overcame that challenge and now has become an example of conquering fears and obstacles to all of us. She absolutely glowed with joy dancing in her pink chiffon gown with her brilliant smile. Her movements and beautiful spirit transcended the performance and captivated everyone in attendance.  It was equally impressive that this was her first showcase.

Next up was another newcomer, Katie Arnold with an East Coast Swing to “Try Everything” from Zootopia. Katie added levity and fun in a brilliant hot pink dress accented with fringe and crystals. As she and Maxi captured the essence of the film to not give up no matter what the circumstances, she put a smile on everyone’s face. Her mastery of the steps at such an intense speed was quite impressive, and she exuded a joy for life that was contagious.

Lynn Ragan dazzled in a black gown with purple Peacock Feather accents across the bodice of the dress. She was dancing the Viennese waltz to “Once Upon A Dream” from Maleficent with Mario. Lynn always gives a solid, confident performance that stems from her core of positivity.  Lynn was the perfect person to deliver this story of finding the humanity in Maleficent, someone who was thought to be inherently evil but showed a capability of a love that was kind, gentle and restorative.   As Lynn commanded the stage with confidence and elegance she intertwined with the haunting chords of her song to leave an air of mystery and calm.

 Margaret Hopper was next, and her brilliant hair and make-up looked like the iconic movie star pictures from the 1940’s, a time when glamour was the expectation of every celebrity. Margaret danced to “Almost There” from the Princess and the Frog.   You could feel her joy excitement all the way through her routine, from the first movement of the arm until the masterful footwork at the end.  Her piece showed that dance is for every one of all ages, and she was another person experiencing her first showcase. This theme of dance being ageless was truly reinforced at the end of her routine when she was presented with flowers from her 96 year old friend who still competes in ballroom competitions.

Newcomers Andrea and Curt Seidle danced a Cha-Cha with Maxi and Callie to “Can’t Stop The Feeling” from Trolls. Andrea and Callie wore glamourous Fuchsia and black gowns and truly connected with their partners Mario and Curt.  Curt and Andrea captured the audience with their love for dance and each other. The Cha-Cha is a hard dance to master, but Curt and Andrea tackled their patterns with a fierce joy.

Heidi Braniff was another newcomer dancing to “You’ll be in my Heart” from Tarzan. To know Heidi is to be embraced by the purest form of love, and that love was magnified through her brilliant performance. In the video she explained how the song was special between her and her son and how they would sing the song to each other.  She wore dazzling animal print gown accented with feathers, flowers, and buttons. The stunning artistry of her movement left an imprint on the souls of all who watched, and the fact that this was her first showcase added to the magic of the moment.
Susan Roberson danced to the “Ghost Busters Theme”. Maxi and Mario wore the authentic Ghostbusters costumes, and Susan wore a Ghostbuster dress with black fringe. Susan raised the bar as she always does in her performances by tackling a combination of the West Coast Swing and Cha-Cha, and this was the perfect song to incorporate her artistry and sense of humor. Susan, Maxi, and Mario masterfully wove between both styles of dance while simultaneously igniting the sense of fun from the original movie.

 Next up was me! Even though I didn’t have my usual nerves that leave me pretty close to passing out, I still had incredible anxiety until stepping foot on the stage. My song was “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid.  This was not only the most challenging routine I have ever done, but I was doing the Tango which was my most difficult smooth dance. I also had to learn the routine to lyrics instead of counts, and then learn the speaking part and coordinate them with the corresponding movement. One thing that truly helped to calm my nerves was that I truly felt like a mermaid princess in my dress which was purple and green, and covered in pearls and abalone shells. As I embraced my character and moved through the dance I was able to let go and dance better than I ever have!

Bernadine Veal Wanha was another newcomer dancing “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat” from The Aristocats. Wearing a fuchsia dress with silver crystals she moved with fierce determination, and you could tell she truly felt the song in every fiber of her being. Her joy made you want to get up and dance! She moved through her patterns confidently and with precision and ease, even when the song changed rhythms and moved faster! She didn’t miss a beat and had everyone tapping their feet and intoxicated by her jovial musicality.

The first act ended with Margit Jano and Joseph Powe’s amazing first showcase with Callie and Maxi. They danced to the song “I See The Light” from the movie Tangled.   Margit and Callie stunned in purple and silver dresses and were led perfectly by Maxi and Joseph. It was hard to believe this was their first showcase as they kept the timing of Rumba like professional dancers, and added stunning arms accenting their every movement.  Rumba is known as the dance of love, and from the first moment of the dance until the final embrace you felt that love. When Joseph and Margit completed their debut there was a happily ever after feeling that left everyone anticipating the second act.


 By: Kamaria George (11/21/2017)


"NEW" YOGA CLASSES BY SUSAN ROBERSON @ DAZA DANCE

We are so happy to announce that after many years in the works, our very own student and friend Susan Roberson will be sharing her passion, love, and experience as a yoga instructor with all of our community of dancers during our new #YOGA class at #DazaDance. What a wonderful way to begin 2018 with Dancing and Yoga! Every Thursday morning from 7:30AM TO 8:30AM. Drop-in rate $15 or 4 classes for $50. For more information call us at (404)5375222, email us at info@dazadance.com or visit our website at www.dazadance.com!
#daza #atlantayoga #atlanta #ibelieveinmiracles #2018resolutions #changingtheworld


BRING IT!!!

I started off my week with a burst of joy. Antonio had been telling me he had a surprise for me, and I felt like I knew what it was. Sure enough, when I arrived at the studio he told me to close my eyes, and when I opened them my new friend Angeles that I met at the South American Open Competition was here from Argentina! Angeles is a beautiful person inside and out and an extraordinary dancer who was in the states performing with her Tango troop. Have you ever had an experience where you meet someone and there is an instant connection? That was my first impression meeting Angeles, the first day I met her we embraced as if we were old friends. We had a nice time catching up although her English has improved so much more than my Spanish! We had a fun time talking together before my class over coffee, and with the help of Google translate our communication was seamless. Like all of the students from Colavita Studio, I admire her attention to technique and flawless execution when she dances, so I felt nervous at first as she watched me rehearse.  She was so pleasant and encouraging I had nothing to fear.  Our time together was short but I am looking forward to her next visit!

As Antonio and I Work on choreography I have to remember to cross in the back during the second part of the open fan. During this time I realized the one thing I didn’t talk about in my Showcase video was how hard it was to learn this choreography compared to my other dances, this choreography was set to the phrasing of the music and there are absolutely no counts!! Because of this even though I knew the steps in my routine as we started to set it to music I was completely lost. Antonio and I wind up singing the lyrics so I can connect the music to the choreography.
Later that week having trouble getting into position after the Ronde. Mario observed my struggles and showed me I was dancing too far away and need to come in closer. As I try to follow Mario’s advice I slam my nose into Antonio’s shoulder and Mario can’t contain his laughter. Between the Ronde and these dips throughout the routine, I have my work cut out for me. I am having some anxiety and am not as confident, but Antonio isn’t hearing it! Antonio tells me “I need you to bring it!” Even though at this moment I feel like I don’t know my left foot from my right I know from working together for over two years that he sees potential beyond the limitations of my mind.

This Friday is the party!! Maxi is teaching Rumba and I get to be one of Maxi’s assistants which I always enjoy. I get to practice the special arms Maxi taught me which add dramatic flair to my dancing. The students from the college of North Georgia ballroom club are back this month, and they always bring a fresh new perspective and fill the studio with excitement. There are several new students from Daza Dance tonight and I have an opportunity to spend time getting to know them and dance with them, sharing in the joy of the party and making first time party goers feel welcome.
When we took our usual break I was excited to win a class! This was extra special and meaningful today because I celebrated my birthday along with a few other students that I was just getting to know. Later that evening Antonio also shared some beautiful words about me in competition. He also shared some inspiring words about Colet Falvey who won Best Newcomer at the North Carolina Classic.

Of all the times I danced that evening the most memorable was dancing with Antonio Hero by Mariah Carey, a song he sent to me early in my journey to encourage me to step out beyond my fears. Fear used to be a controlling force in my life, but being able to express myself through dancing and being my true self-has completely transformed me through moments of pure clear joy.
That Saturday morning I wake up for an early morning class with Maxi. When I arrive at the studio I am a bit grumpy and need coffee but Maxi is already bubbling over with smiles and his excitement and joy are contagious; it isn’t long before I start smiling and giggling. We start to work and my head is spinning as I try to work out this last combination. We finally reach the end of the routine and Maxi gives me the biggest hug! Even though I don’t have it perfect if feels so sweet to be in this place.

My Life lesson this week is to “bring it”!! As I strive to be unashamed, bold and fearless in the execution of steps I need to treat life the same way. This routine is helping me gain confidence, the feisty nature of Tango is infusing into my personality.  I feel like smiling and putting my hands on my hips like they do in those cheerleading movies and saying   “Bring it? It’s been brought!”

By: Kamaria George (11/03/2017)


"FAIRYTALES AND FANTASY" SHOWCASE

We are so excited to officially invite all of our friends, families, and students to our upcoming “FAIRYTALES AND FANTASY” Showcase at #DazaDance on Saturday, November 11th at 5:00pm. This showcase theme is a dream come true for all of us at Daza Dance and we want to share it with all of you. Join us, as we promise to entertain you and make this experience an unforgettable one. Our amazing team of instructors and students have been working extremely hard to learn their routines for the last four months... and now it’s Showtime! For more information about getting tickets call us at (404)5375222 or email us at info@dazadance.com. We look forward to seeing you then! 
#daza#DazaDanceShowcase #IBelieveInMiracles #atlanta #AtlantaDance#ChangingTheWorldThroughDance

REBOOT THE MOON!!

On my birthday I woke up to a phone that was self-destructing before my eyes. Half my apps had what looked like Divinci spider webs on them, I couldn’t access texts or what’s app messages, and everything else was frozen! I was on the phone with tech support for two hours and they finally determined that there was too much information on my phone, and for it to work again I would have to erase all the memory, data, and pictures from my phone. Usually, something like this would cause me to have a panic attack, but my immediate reaction was to listen to the lesson in the situation. I could feel a stillness in the midst of my disappointment telling me it was time to let go of negativity and all the things that clutter my spirit and keeping me from functioning to my fullest potential. The more I stay true to who I am through the joy and discipline of dance the light within me becomes brighter making my path to wholeness and peace clearer.

While I was waiting on my phone to update I began to reflect on my time in the studio. On Monday I had a fun warm-up with Maxi to the song “We Got the Beat” by The Go-Gos for the east coast swing.  I got this strong burst of energy and happiness and moments of pure, clear, laughter poured from my soul. After warm-ups, we focus on some more of the choreography and I am able to catch on quickly. At the end of the session, I ask to do it by myself to make sure it I cemented in my memory. I am able to complete the choreography by myself, and Maxi gives me a big hug.

Later that week I am working with Antonio and am having issues with the dip movement in my choreography.  I have to get it together as I am doing several dips throughout this routine, but I keep stumbling and falling like a scene from I love Lucy.  Even though the illusion will be given that Antonio is holding me up, really I am supposed to hold up myself. At one point I almost tip over completely on the floor! Mario, Antonio, and I burst out in laughter as this is such a challenge for me to master. Through fully engaging my core and squeezing my thighs together for the support I am feeling more secure in my stance. I am also focusing on strengthening my ankles with various exercises to further control my wobbling, and I can see things coming together slowly but surely.

The next night I got to do my video for the upcoming showcase and do one of my favorite things, talk about how much I love the studio and how much being here has changed my life. I was reflecting on how far I’ve come in my personal growth and how through Daza Dance I now have a platform to encourage people throughout the world! Antonio has helped me to draw out the best in myself, and my family at the studio through their love and acceptance of me shows me how to give that love to others. Later that evening Antonio surprised me with a cake and everyone at the studio sang happy birthday, it felt good to be acknowledged by this group of people that I have grown to love so much!

As I conclude these thoughts I finish up with tech support. The lesson I learned from my temperamental cellphone rings throughout my entire being. (pun intended, ha-ha) I entitled the piece reboot the moon because my name means like the moon, and just like my cell phone I need to reboot and let go of harmful thought patterns that no longer serve me. As I started to monitor my thoughts I noticed a twinge of pain when I would dwell too much on negativity, and I noticed feelings of fear began to rise at the thought of letting them go because I had become comfortable in these patterns. Now in order to live my fullest life I must let them go. Dancing continues to help me find the truth in my spirit and allows the light within to shine so bright, I am ready to press through the darkness and truly embrace gratitude and the good in life.

By Kamaria George (10/08/2017)