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SALSA GROUP CLASS

"SPOTLIGHT ON BROADWAY" SHOWCASE TIMELAPSE

SPRING 2017 DAZA DANCE MEDAL TEST PARTCIPANTS!

Congratulations to our students Susan Roberson, Colet Falvey, Bonnie Emerson, Kamaria George and Jackie Levi, as well as their instructors Mario Recoba, Maximiliano Panesi and Antonio Daza for their amazing results at the last Daza Dance Medal Test, held at our studio in April. We are extremely proud of our team and wanted to acknowledge all the effort and hard work you have put into your dancing since the very beginning. During our Showcase, we made a little pause to to honor and recognize our students them publicly in from of our dance community, friends and family, as well as gave them a certificate of completion. Thank you so much to you ladies for trusting our experience, professionalism, and for allowing us to be part of your journey. We look forward to our next Daza Dance Medal Test coming up in October. Go Daza Dance Team! #DazaDance#Daza#Atlanta#Diversity#Peace#Love#Iloveballroomdance


INDEPENDENT THOUGHT

I have had a wonderful Independence Day celebration with my family, and now I am reflecting on what it means to be an American. I appreciate the freedoms I have experienced, and that the true America is a place that encourages independent thought that collaborates to build a better tomorrow. These ideals are represented at Daza Dance where so many cultures come together through the common ground of dance, and through the bond of creativity we breathe life into works of love that transform us from the inside out.

Last Monday was my last class with Antonio before he travels for two months, first to Italy and then of course to Argentina. We are having such a good time that I get a little careless, at one point I stop closing my feet during a waltz. I look up hoping Antonio missed the mistakes to see him smiling at me with a look that says “no you did not get away with anything, I see everything!” (Hahahaha!) Today we are focusing on the position of my left hand in closed dance position and making sure I make more of a connection when I close. I of course focus on closing so much I am rushing to close the position every time I turn. Antonio encourages me to hold my arm out to wait for his direction. His final note is to take bigger steps. We then go through the Rhythm dances and my confidence is shining through, especially during the cha-cha. I’m really starting to love the cha-cha!

Later in the week I had class with Maxi and he had me laughing so hard during the warm-up my cheeks start hurting and I turn several shades of red.  During the technique portion of class he are working on the positioning of the hips in of Corte in Tango. I am rotating the top portion of my body but the bottom half moves straight forward to connect, I must also remember to tuck my hips under. While I am initially feeling uncomfortable the picture that forms is beautiful. Maxi compliments me for taking a large side step during the Tango so I need to remember to incorporate more of that into my dance.

As I think about my life’s lesson, one of the greatest gifts of knowledge has come to me through partnership dancing, and that is to truly be a partner I have to first be an individual. As I learn and perfect my part in the partnership the confidence that continues to develop helps me to be a stronger follower. As I relate this to my life, as I continue to define my voice and learn to stand on my own, taking complete responsibility for my life and always striving to be a better version of myself, I can continue to add to the collective conversation to better our world.

By: Kamaria George (07/04/2017)


ESTELA ALONSO IN ATLANTA!

It’s that time of the year again, choreography is already in progress for the showcase in November! As I ascend the staircase I am captivated by the energy of Antonio, Maxi and Mario as they are in deep concentration, and I am almost too intimidated to enter the space where they are working. Antonio invites me to come into the studio and I get warm hugs from everyone before they go back to work. I take a few moments to absorb the excitement; I learn so much from watching the different choreographies take form. Soon I start on the warm-up and piece together the exercises that Antonio and Maxi have given me. Whether or not I am in the studio I can devote some time each day to these exercises which include leg raises, pointing and flexing the feet, hip rolls, and of course walking with napkins to make sure my feet stay on the floor!

The preparation at this point is as important as the final performance, and enables me to press past my nerves to perform.  When my class begins with Antonio I am stumbling through warm-ups; further evidence that I need to develop my core. I have started a regimen with planks and push-ups to help build my upper body strength.  When we get to the technique portion of the class we are working on Mambo Twists. During this step you twist two times, during the first twist you bring the legs together at the end of the twist; during the second twist the legs are open, and the step finishes with a turn. Near the end of my class Estela arrives. We hug and catch up for a moment before she begins her class with Antonio. Estela is one of the shining stars of Sebastian Colavita’ studio who now also trains with Antonio and is part of Daza Dance.

When I met her she was a true master of the Argentine Tango and I warmed up to her as she has a kind heart and a beautiful spirit. Her presence infuses the studio with the light of Argentina, one of the many beautiful diverse nations and cultures represented at Daza Dance.

When I come on Wednesday Antonio and Mario were working on my choreography which will be a Tango to the song “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid.  The Tango was the dance that had the lowest scores in my Smooth Ballroom test, thus Antonio wants me to perfect that dance. I am intimidated by the choreography which is very dramatic, and I am trying to start forming my character in my mind as I watch. In this scene sweet Ariel, shows her dark side. I must find the darkness within me to be able to cozy up to the evil Ursula. Perhaps the character should be more curious than dark, and I will have plenty of opportunities to explore these questions in the upcoming weeks. I am up for the challenge and have my usual goal of making it the best experience yet!
When class begins with Antonio we have fun going through our warm-up. For the technique portion of the class we work on the Throw-Out from East Coast Swing again. I have been practicing it but am feeling nervous because this step has given me an absolute fit. We practice the step one time and Antonio says it is perfect – and we are done! I absolutely savor these moments because I know he truly means these compliments, and it feels amazing to have my hard work acknowledged in such a positive way!!

Later that evening everyone who knows Estela meets at Bonnie’s house for a party to celebrate our Argentinean guest. We stay in Bonnie’s kitchen the entire night just catching up and enjoying each other’s company. There is dancing, laughter, and everyone, especially Estela has a wonderful time.

Later that week in the studio I would watch Estela in the moments when I was warming up for practice. I found out she also had studied ballet which contributed to her grace and precision in movement.  Having her in the studio is inspiring. She shows the results of hard work and dedication, and the fact that, with true commitment, everything is possible. 

By: Kamaria George (06/26/2017)


THE LANGUAGE OF DANCE

I finished the week in Philadelphia for a family wedding, it was so wonderful being around so much love, and joy truly filled my soul.  While I was there I got to climb the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art stairs that Sylvester Stallone made famous in the movie Rocky.  I felt a sense of accomplishment when I reached the top, which symbolized my ongoing journey to find and to be my true complete self.

This past week on Monday Antonio was encouraging me to think of dance as a conversation, to wait to hear what is said through movement and then respond. If I try to anticipate what is coming next and start the movement without waiting for the leads, it’s as if I’m talking over Antonio, or as if I’ve been ignoring the conversation that is happening and only want to be heard with no desire to listen. Learning to dance is indeed learning another language! As I dance now I am trying to think of my movement as dialogue.

On Wednesday Antonio and I showed up with the same hair!  It’s true I want to be bold and fearless like Antonio, but I’m not sure how we were both inspired to create the same hairstyle. I guess great minds truly think alike. (Ha-ha!) Today we were working on the Throw Out step in East Coast Swing because it is one of the basic steps that will be on the Rhythm test. I did not believe Antonio when he said it was a basic step. This was the one step in my East Coast Swing choreography that we kept practicing over and over. Antonio even included religious references to help me figure out the step, so I felt there was no possible way this was a basic step. Antonio had to actually show me on my progress report that it was indeed basic!!! This time however, I felt like things were clicking and I could finally move with confidence.

Today’s life lesson was to jump off a cliff -to take risks. I need to somehow consolidate all of the notes and digest them, and then make bold confident steps and not be afraid to be wrong. As I apply this to my life I have read many books about success and have many ideas on creativity. I need to be bold and step out instead of overthinking things through, and then only halfway committing to something. There is a saying in Finance; no risk no reward. I am finding out as I continue to take risks I am so pleased with the results, and I know I have only caught a glimpse of the person I am becoming.

By: Kamaria George (06/19/2017)


JUNE PARTY RECAP- THE DREAM CONTINUES

Something about Daza Dance makes me feel calm and peaceful. No matter what my day is like the moment I step inside the walls of the studio the air changes. Without realizing it a smile radiates from within; I am at home. Today as usual I am the first person to arrive at the party and have time to relax and reflect on the past week. These moments feel like a dream as I finally know today that I will be returning to Argentina for a second time. What was in my heart and mind has come to fruition and it feels good to let myself feel complete joy!

This past Monday I had class with Maxi and was feeling proud that my warmups are starting to improve. When we move to the technique portion of class we work again on the reverse turn with outside swivel in Tango. I still have notes swimming in my head from the last time we practiced this step! I have given up the notion that I know anything about ballroom dance (ha-ha) and let myself fully embrace this moment. Maxi tells as I move across the ballroom to push from the back leg and let the momentum propel me forward.  He encourages me to focus on the preparation, to flex the standing leg and push. 

For Wednesday’s class Antonio has returned, I am always so excited to see him! While we have fun as usual there are some adjustments as the details with each step are getting more refined. Today we are discussing how I am holding my arm in closed position.  When we close I need to have a toned arm and let Antonio close the gap letting our arms touch. I don't need to keep lifting my arm because he will never be able to close. While we are dancing I should never let my arm drop, and when we open and close positions my arm needs to mirror his movements.

Class begins at the party and tonight Maxi is teaching Salsa. Since I crashed and burned in Salsa in a recent class I am paying close attention to every detail and applying every nuance. Every time I come to class, even when the most basic steps are being taught I can always can add something to make my dancing better. After class I am enjoying the break time and I met some new students who have joined our family, some of who are immediately jumping into the next showcase! If this past showcase was a showcase of veterans, this upcoming production will feature many who will be having their first experience. So far the stars with the names of the performers are covering half the wall and there could be more to come!

When the party starts I dance Salsa with Gerri who challenges me to stay on my toes. I take notes on how she presents herself with such a confident elegance, and how I can incorporate that in my dance. I danced the Rumba with Mario and I could feel how I have improved! I believe Mario is noticing the improvements as well as he continues to smile with approval as he oversees every step. We also danced the Cha- Cha together and I confidently applied all the changes I have learned in the past few weeks including one of my favorite steps, the lock step. I danced a lively and fun Foxtrot with Maxi, we cover the ballroom in laughter and I am feeling relaxed and hopeful. As the evening progresses some of the highlights of the every party are the line dances because we all move together as one. As our family continues to expand these moments become more and more meaningful as a physical representation of the love and community in our studio.  When the evening ends I realize that I am in a place of happiness and contentment, and am boldly looking towards the future.

By: Kamaria George (06/12/2017)


DREAMS CONTINUE TO BECOME TRUE!


Once again I will have the pleasure to dance with this lovely lady at the upcoming #SouthAmericanOpen Competition, hosted in #buenosaires#argentina in the month of August by the extraordinary team lead by Anna and Andrew Smart. 

I am so excited and proud of my student Kamaria George for always believing that dreams CAN AND WILL come true when there is enough belief, trust and hard work. 



MY LIFE IS A RONDE

My dance class warm up are going fantastic! Maxi and I have been dancing to the fastest East Coast Swing I have ever done, and by the end of it I am doubled over and panting. Nevertheless, Maxi hasn't even broken a sweat; he is smiling and calm like he could go another five or ten minutes! As he smiles at me, he asks me if I want water, and all I can do is barely squeak out a “Yes!

The last warm up dance for the day is Salsa, which doesn’t go too well. I don't know if it is because I can’t catch my breath from the East Coast Swing or just the masterful way Maxi is changing the sequence today. I keep thinking of the movie Matrix where Lawrence Fishburne tells Keanu Reeves “forget everything you know!” Sure enough we are breaking the basic step in Salsa down to the fundamentals, as a matter of fact we don’t even do the whole basic but just the step forward. While stepping forward in the smooth dances is with the heel, stepping forward in the Latin dances is with the toe.  Maxi moves me to position that reminded me of the scene Where Michael Jackson Leans forward in the video Smooth Criminal.  We then just practice the step forward with a pointed toe and moving from the ball of my foot to a pointed toe for about thirty minutes. It’ clear that this stage in my dance journey it’s all about the details!

During my next class I am connecting well in the warm up but continuing my bad habit of lifting my feet off the floor. The title of this article came today as Maxi exclaimed “Your Life is a Ronde”! There is joke between myself, Antonio, and Maxi; it is that the one step in all of Ballroom that lets me lift my feet off the floor is the Ronde, so whenever we get to that step they laugh with me and start cheering.  Maxi started working with me on places where I didn’t even realize I was lifting my feet, then we concentrated on the open break turn in Rumba for about thirty minutes!  I finally get the turn right all the way final pose and I look so good… then in a true Kamaria fashion way I trip over my feet! (Ha-ha) I realize I need to work on my core strength, as this level of dancing will require a lot more physically from me.

My Life lesson for today was to gain power, not just physically but mentally. Just as I need to develop my core strength to sustain, I need the discipline and focus to press past my anxiety and the comfort of mediocrity. As my steps are becoming more defined and my voice is becoming clearer, I am moving towards developing a laser like focus to accomplish my goals. I as I was reflecting on these thoughts I about my painting class at Spelman and how before each portrait we would build the canvasses and cover them with gesso, a white substance that hardens and prepares the canvas for painting. These past two years with my dance I have built a canvas, and now I am ready to paint a portrait with bold, vibrant strokes.

By:  Kamaria George (06/06/2017)


"ADVANCED" BEGINNER

Classes are getting intense! My lowest scores from my smooth test were on technique and now there is a noticeable focus on technique with my coaching sessions, and an increasingly challenging program.  Even though I am preparing for my Rhythm test we are still working on the Smooth so I don’t lose any ground in that area.  I am sure my coaches are already looking ahead to my next testing in the Smooth Dances, which will probably be almost a year from now.

In class Monday I was working on this step with Maxi, we were lunging to the side and moving to the balls of our feet, I was breaking into a sweat.  I thought this was a new step and then Maxi told me was just the basic box step in Waltz, but it was broken down so far in technique I didn’t recognize it. (Hahahahaha!!)   I felt like I was climbing a mountain and when I thought I reached the top, the clouds receded and I realized I had only climbed halfway. I wasn’t even able to practice on my own because the details were that specific. This reminded me of my ballet days and how in open classes you would see advanced students and even dance professionals taking the beginner classes because there is always room for improvement in the fundamentals of technique.  Even with this in mind I am getting nervous, and hoping that the next time I practice the basic box step with Maxi I will retain more so I can practice the right way!

I come back on Wednesday and have a fun warm-up Maxi. He saw how excited I was to dance to Clocks by Coldplay to practice Rumba so he surprised me with a special version of the song for Cha-Cha.  I am starting to relax more and allowing myself to make mistakes, being able to read the leads for the different steps makes me release myself more and more to the moment. When we get to the technique portion of class, we practice the Reverse Turn with Outside Swivel in Tango. Even though I have done this step many, many, times and even performed it in competition I can always fine tune the step. If there can be so much technique that I can’t recognize simple box steps, then I know every other step is open for review!! Notes I have taken from earlier classes are starting to make sense as we tighten up the figures and shapes I am supposed to move in. Maxi showed me when I pull my leg up to point instead of holding the point when I extend the leg, I should flex my foot on the way down and immediately step into the swivel. When I focus on these changes I can feel a smoothness start to settle in instead of the sharp staccato movement. I can at least feel a sense of accomplishment today instead of bewilderment, and my heart is very happy knowing the type of dancer I will be when I reach the completion of this next phase of training!

My life lesson was humility, realizing that I am an “advanced” beginner. In order to embrace this new level my mind has to become like the mind of a child and I must approach each class like a brand new experience. As I am doing this I am noticing a deeper understanding of the movements. As I am applying this to my life I know humility opens the heart to deeper wisdom. It is important to see all of my knowledge as a grain of sand against the Universe, which leaves my soul open to possibilities, changes, growth, and continual metamorphosis.

By: Kamaria George (05/28/2017)


"SPOTLIGHT ON BROADWAY" SHOWCASE

Congratulations to the most #AmazingTeam of #Students and #Insturctors in the whole world for their amazingly beautiful participation during our "SPOTLIGHT ON BROADWAY" #Showcase on May 6, 2017. We are so proud of you guys and we would like to thank you all for being such and amazing team to work with. At Daza Dance, we sincerely appreciate all your trust and commitment to our dance school. We would be nothing without your dreams, support and love. This experience has been incredibly fun and humbling… Not only the dance level has been raised, but also we have grown as individuals. I thank you all for giving us the opportunity to be part of your lives and share our experience, knowledge and passion with you, as well as your friends and family. 





BACK TO THE BASICS

I am feeling fantastic going to class today as it is time to prepare for my Rhythm test which will take place in October! I have plenty of time perfect each dance, and now that I know what to expect I won’t be as nervous this time around. My first test ever, my smooth test, was such an enlightening experience.  I am looking forward to my constant goal of always improving and making each dance experience the best ever!

Today I learned the side basic in Rumba, it’s like the regular box step but you keep moving from side to side. It felt strange at first because I am so used to moving in the box formation, but I was able to pick up the movement.

For the next class we went all the way back to the basics and most of the class is focused on the elements of a perfect box step in Rumba. Maxi tells me we are starting with Rumba because it is the slowest rhythm dance, and it will be easy to apply it to other dances. Maxi wants me to focus on not clanking my heels. He shows me an exercise raise and lower my heels like releve from ballet, and emphasizes that Rhythm Dances should be on the balls of the feet.

My life lesson today was connected to my evolving sense of trust, trust absolutely crucial in partnership dancing. I realized that I have so much anxiety about being making a mistake that I have been memorizing the patterns I dance in with both Antonio and Maxi. This really came to light today because Maxi changed the sequence we usually dance several times in all of the dances, and I couldn’t rely on what I had memorized, I had to stay on my toes.  As a follower I need to relinquish control to Antonio and Maxi, and I also need to trust that I will be able to follow the leads. I can definitely see that as my confidence is improving and I am able to trust more my dance continues to improve exponentially.

By: Kamaria George (05/22/2017)


HAPPY 9 YEAR ANNIVERSARY TO DAZA DANCE!

Nine years ago one of my biggest dreams came true: To have my very own Dance Studio! I was only 24 years old and I didn't know anything about what having a business meant... All I had was my passion for dancing and a vision. There was someone very special named Liz Chester who believed in me and help me in many ways to become the person I am today. Thanks to her commitment and trust in me Daza Dance became a place like never seen before in Atlanta. Certainly, the road to success has not being at all easy... specially at the beginning. There was so much to learn, so many things to deal with, employees, taxes, scheduling, marketing, budgets, etc etc. I was on top of the world! Suddenly, a lot of people came into my life... Even some of them still around; those are the true friends. The ones that didn't let the appearances and jelousy take over them, but instead took the time to get to know the real me and supported me along the way. At all times, my family, partner and friends were there to encourage me in every possible way... and believe me when I say, there were many many times when I doubted my purpose. I can probably go for ever telling stories about the development of this dream called Daza Dance. But now, I just want take a minute to take it all in and thank everyone that has been part of this vision. I appreciate tremendously all the tears, blood, crying, but also fun, laughter, learning, and growing that this experience has contributed in helping me become a better person. I look forward to many more years of success and dance. Bill BennettMario NicolasMaximiliano PanesiMartha Fernandez BorreroElyn DazaSebastian ColavitaCallie Harris Foley #DazaDance#Daza#Atlanta#ILoveBallroomDance#BetterChoices#BecomingBetter#Healthy, #Atlanta #Great2017#AtlantaDance#IBelieveinMiracles#Love#Health#Forgiveness#Freedom#PowerToThePeople#Peace#Diversity, #Love, #Fun#Equality#Dance, #ibelieveinmiracles, #hrc#latinosviviendoenatlanta#latinosviviendoenatl#NoFear#NoRegrets#MakeTheBestOutOfLife


SPOTLIGHT ON BROADWAY SHOWCASE RECAP

Today was a beautiful clear day without a cloud in the sky. I reflected fondly on the week before and how the showcase came together in a way that was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

This week I had practiced my routine so much and listened to my song to the point where I knew every nuance. The challenge for me this week was not to over rehearse. This was extremely difficult for me as I am always drilling, always going over movements in my head, and when I am not practicing my routine I am thinking about when will be the next opportunity to practice. For our last rehearsal Antonio said we would only do the routine twice which made me nervous.  I do it once almost perfect and then the second time I am focusing so much on getting each step perfect I completely fall apart. Antonio stops the song and we restart. This time was much better and I realize Antonio is right I need to pull back from the routine a little bit. This is my last full rehearsal and the weight of the moment is making me anxious, but I make the decision that this is indeed the last time I practice outside of the dress rehearsal. I will trust that I know my routine and just let it happen. 

I look forward to the dress rehearsal as it is the last opportunity to see everyone’s routines live, the night of the performance all of the performers will be in the green room watching from a monitor.  As the routines progressed everyone looked amazing and we have the makings of a wonderful show. Antonio gave a speech always keeps us mindful of the reason for the studio and to thank us all for being a part of the vision. The pillars of Daza Dance are a total embrace of diversity and inclusion, acceptance, and the desire to help each person become the best person they can be. We are a true family of different ages, cultures, races, and backgrounds. This vision is so close to my heart as it created an atmosphere where I could be allowed to flourish and become the person I have always wanted to be.  We departed for the evening full of expectation of the day to come, and for the first time I was able to get a full night of sleep the night before the showcase.

The next morning I am eager to get my hair and make-up done. Hair and make-up time is not just an opportunity to be beautiful, it is chance for all of the ladies who have different class times to catch up  with each other as we count down to our  performances. It was such a pleasure for me to also talk with to talk with our Glam Squad and see how they perfectly fit into our family. I am always amazed at how every professional person that comes through our doors that does work with our studio lines up with our vision statement no matter what their profession. Alexis Williams our hairstylist and I talked about her concept for Blushlife Salon and how she and her staff focus on beauty from the inside out. This holistic approach to beauty was something I picked up when I first met her and our Make-up artist Samantha Ellis.  At the end of our sessions together I not only had completely beautiful hair and make-up, I left their presence with a soul that was filled with wisdom.
When the time came to put on our dresses we all stood by to help each other, and I was thankful for the four people who helped me into my dress, likewise I helped others with their dresses! With all of the corsets, crinolines, hooks, what nots, and thing- a- ma-bobs that keep these outfits together it takes a village to dress for showcase!!

The time finally came for the performance, and since we are a family it was only fitting that we open the show with the actual family of Chelsea and Eric Petit with Melissa Gibson who happens to be Chelsea’s mom. They were phenomenal in their Tango that was danced with Maxi to the Theme from Phantom of the Opera.  They breathed life into their piece complete with costumes to match the era, black lace gowns with corsets, and special make-up designed by Chelsea with painted white phantom masks. You could tell how much Chelsea, Eric, and Melissa loved the show through their care and precision with each movement. They have now proved they can rise to the challenge Smooth and Rhythm dances, and I look forward to future performances from them.

Next Regina did an East Coast Swing with Mario to “Hey Baby” from Dirty Dancing wearing a black and white dress with a crinoline. The connection between Mario and Regina is undeniable and helped to fuel an amazing performance, Regina’s Character came alive and the dance put a smile on everyone’s face. Each moment was captivating until the end when they exited the stage with a skip that added levity and fun to the piece. Regina would come back later and do a completely opposite performance with Antonio, Mario, and Maxi from the Play Spring Awakenings about a woman who as a girl struggled with being sexually abused by her stepfather while her mother looked the other way. The dance represented her living in freedom with her sexuality and not being defined by here abuse. Regina was able to execute these emotions and give a defining transcendent performance.
Next was Bonnie Emerson’s heartfelt performance to “One Night Only” from Dream Girls. She wore a stunning black gown with crystal accents that were placed by Maxi. The theme of the Dance was about Bonnie having to choose between two lovers played By Mario and Maxi You could feel her angst as she went between each man trying to make a choice and there was thunderous applause from the audience.  Up until the last moment this story was conveyed by Bonnie, Mario and Maxi with drama and passion.

The Student Performance Group was back, with Colet and Patrick Falvey, Byron Starcher, and Michaela Harris. True to the Spirit of the show Colet and Michaela wore red and black polka dotted gowns and Patrick and Byron wore red sequined jackets.   They danced a Rumba/Swing number to the song “To Good to Be True” from Jersey Boys. You could tell they were feeling the song and I could feel the love between this group. You couldn’t help but smile as you watched them go in and out of their formations, and the piece left you feeling the beauty of love.

Next Jackie Levi did a fun lively Jive to a medley to Mama Mia with Mario and Maxi. Jackie truly came alive and I saw a carefreeness that made you smile from the inside.  She wore hot pink dress which captured the essence of the character she portrayed. She would later come back to do a waltz from the Sound of Music to the song “Edelweiss” With Antonio. She wore a beautiful cream lace blouse with a black flowing skirt which captured the essence of Vienna Austria during the time of the musical. She had a personal connection to the song as her grandmother was from Vienna, and she spoke in her video of how much her family loved to waltz. This was evident as Jackie gave a truly beautiful, heartfelt, elegant, performance.

Next up was me! I was feeling like a princess in one of the most beautiful gowns I had ever worn, a white and yellow dress with yellow and white crystals and a yellow crinoline that shadowed my every movement. While I usually am a bundle of nerves the whole day of a performance, this time I was perfectly calm until a couple of routines before my dance and then I started freaking out. Susan and Bonnie were encouraging me, and Bonnie gave me a special pep talk before I went to the holding Area with Antonio. Antonio let me know how proud he was of me.  That along with Bonnie’s special message helped me shake off my nerves and give the best performance of my life to the song “One” from A Chorus Line. I was able to live in the moment and experience joy throughout the entire piece, and was filled with emotion when I was done.

Next was Azita Rezaei who did a breathtaking first Waltz with Maxi to the song “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables. She wore an elegant black gown with flesh tone accents. Before coming to Daza Dance she had never danced before, but today she looked like a seasoned professional filled with grace. I was amazed at the way she expressed emotion and was able to connect with Maxi in her amazing debut.

Next came Susan Roberson. When I think of Susan I think of the song “We Are The Champions” by Queen. She took on two very challenging routines, the first being a Salsa with Mario in a stunning yellow fringe gown with beautiful movement to a song from the musical In the Heights. She and Mario have a special connection that shines throughout when they dance. Watching them together made me smile as I felt the story they wanted to tell.   Her next Dance was a Paso Doble with Maxi to the song “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” from the Musical Evita. Paso Doble is a challenging advanced dance and Susan is only the second person in the history of the school to do one in a showcase. I remember watching Maxi practice Paso Doble In the studio with his precise intricate movements so I was thrilled to actually see one being done. Susan wore a stunning black gown with beaded accents that were placed by Maxi, and Maxi wore a red shirt symbolizing a matador.  Susan truly shone in her performance which had several beautiful moments that captured your attention showcasing her abilities.  Later we find that not only did she give two beautiful, challenging performances and raise the bar in the studio once again, we find out she was performing on a broken toe. She is a true Champion and inspiration to us all.

Next Were Cara and Alex Suarez Performing the song “Tango Maureen” from Rent with Callie and Maxi. Callie and Cara dazzled in their red gowns detailed with lace. The fierceness of their movements showed completely reflecting the true heart of Tango. Cara and Alex were also able to capture and convey the frustration of the song that talks about the fears and insecurities of loving an unfaithful partner.

Lena Hybrook and Alain Hernandez from Tango Evolution took the stage for our first of two Argentine Tango performances. Lena as always was beautiful and elegant in a bronze lame gown to the song “La Punalada” from Tango Argentino. Lena and Alain’s connection from their many performances shone through as they communicated a story of love and performed their movements beautifully.

Golden Precious, the team of Mario Lioce and Ferdinando Martino were back for an encore performance with Maxi and Callie for Salsa performance from Gloria Estefan’s show On Your Feet. Golden Precious was a nickname that came from the last production, and for this production they introduced themselves as Golden Precious the Latino Version. Callie and Maria Dazzled in brilliant green Salsa dresses that flowed as they moved.  You could tell Maria and Fernando were truly experiencing joy as they transitioned in and out of their formations with ease, precision, and a connection with their routine and with Callie and Maxi.

Our second Argentine Tango was a fiery performance with filled with passion With Clint Rausher and Shelley Brooks to the song “A Evaristo Carriego” from Luis Bravo’s Forever Tango. Shelley wore a black and red polka dotted dress accented with gold Tango Shoes.  Their intricate footwork dazzled the audience, and their connection as a team was evident.  I took special pride in watching this performance as the night before Clint and I realized we were both alumni of the Northside School of the Performing Arts.

Lynn Ragan performed with Antonio, Mario, and Maxi a Medley from the show American Idiot She was incredibly lighthearted in a beautiful red gown. She did both the East and West coast swing keeping energy throughout her piece. Lynn exudes a joy when she dances that uplifts all who view her and has a commanding presence of confidence.

Next there was a surprise as those of us who tested received our certificates. Myself, Colet Falvey, Jackie Levi, and Regina Davis Got our Intermediate Bronze Certificate while Bonnie Emerson and Susan Roberson got their full bronze certificates.

The much anticipated finale, the Instructor piece was a Cha-Cha performed by Callie and Maxi to the song “Sweet Transvestite” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. They not only captured and reinterpreted the movie for this piece, they took it to a stratospheric level in technique. Callie wore a champagne spangled mini dress, and Maxi wore a Nerd outfit similar to the character Brad in the original production. Callie and Maxi kept the tradition of inspiring every student to aim higher and dream bigger than ever before.

We ended the evening with the viewing party for the participants where everyone could be relaxed and watch the entire show while encouraging each other. Of the showcases I have participated in so far this was the one I felt the deepest connection with. I am feeling ever-growing confidence with each step, and can’t wait to see what the future holds.

By: Kamaria George (05/10/2017)