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SALSA GROUP CLASS

#TBT: BUILDING OUR NEW STUDIO ON PEACHTREE ROAD!

#TBT ...WOW! We have come such a long way since those days when we decided to step outside of our comfort zone at Miami Circle and embark this new adventure on Peachtree Road. We were about to build our very own, dreamed space in the heart of Buckhead... where all the action is happening! Those who have been with us for a long time know that it was not a very easy process, but we did it... TOGETHER. So, Thank you for sticking with us and continue to show us your support! Those who have recently become part of our family, now know that we have worked extremely hard to be able to provide this magical and positive place... We also want to thank them for giving us a chance to walk them through this dance journey. I, Antonio Daza, could not have done it without the help of my friends and co-workers; some of them still with us and some of them have moved on to better opportunities... Nevertheless THANK YOU for believing in my dream!
#dazadance#daza#becomingbetter#IBelieveInMIracles#Love#Diversity#Equality#ILoveBallroomDance#Atlanta



























FEBRUARY PARTY RECAP #RISEUP!!

This week Atlanta was energized as the hometown team the Falcons played in the Superbowl. Even though they didn’t win, they gave the city something even better. They chose #Riseup as their theme and the Atlanta community came together as this became the battle cry of the city. I was carrying these thoughts this week. Daza Dance is a place where you can rise up and soar, and I am experiencing this in my life.

This week I was working with Maxi, and he challenged me to go deep within to believe in myself as I continued to learn my choreography. As we continued to practice, Maxi was encouraging me to take bigger steps when I do the grapevine so I can travel. As I incorporated it, I could see how this made the overall picture stronger. Maxi was also working with me on making my arms fluid, instead of making staccato sudden movements. He showed me how to make my arms slow and graceful, and as I put this into practice I could feel the results.

As we go through the choreography I am learning quicker than I ever have. I am getting nervous as I am seeing that it will be at least a minute before I get to closed dance position. I am starting to become irrational and getting hard on myself for every little mistake, even though I have learned so much and am far enough ahead that Maxi wants to take the next class to work on technique. It is during these moments that my life lesson comes. Maxi tells me to not get stuck in my mistakes, but to figure out where I am and continue to move forward. As I apply this to my life I have a tendency to keep reliving my mistakes in my mind to the point where I become paralyzed. It was as if this class gave me permission to release the thoughts that have kept me so bound to the point where it is almost difficult to breathe. I am feeling the true freedom of my faith as I make a decision to silence the voices in my mind that want to chain me to my past; it’s time to move forward.

After a week of hard work it’s time to relax and enjoy the monthly party. I consider these three hours a special family time to catch up with my fellow students, and to raise my game by being challenged by the instructors. Tonight was extra special because there were a lot of new people to welcome into the fold. Because it is right before the Valentine’s Day the class before the party is Rumba, the dance of Love. Maxis is teaching, and creates a combination which includes a basic, a shoulder check, and a turn. I decided to take the time to practice the details of shoulder check.  After the class is our usual chill time where I caught up with several of my fellow students. During the party I was excited as the school came together to honor Mario for his Birthday. Mario cares for every student as if they were his own, always going above and beyond for everyone. He was given plane fare and six nights to his favorite place, Puerto Rico, and it gave me joy to see how happy he was when he received the gift.
Both Mario and Maxi keep me on my toes throughout the night first by raising the bar with Foxtrot. I also got to do a special East Coast Swing with Maxi, and I got to dance the last dance of the night which was a Rumba with Mario. As we close the evening with the Samba Line Dance I am overjoyed to be one of the leaders, I am one step closer to my goal of teaching! I am not in a hurry and know I need to go through process, but I am truly excited about the things to come. As the evening ends I can’t stop smiling and feel peaceful and calm, I can’t wait to come back to the studio to learn more choreography!

By: Kamaria George (02/12/2017) 


THE ART OF BALANCE

As I am continuing my quest to become a bronze level dancer every class is challenging and I never know what to expect. I absolutely never expected dancing to also include lessons on philosophy and math. I continue to see how different concepts in different subjects connect through creativity as Antonio creates another mathematical diagram to help me solidify and perfect my turns. I seem to be continuing my liberal arts education through ballroom dance, picking up where I was when I graduated from Spelman.

Today I am focusing on the signals to turn and where I should be with each signal. I usually am too hasty to turn, making my first step on a diagonal. Today I am concentrating on making my first step a simple step forward with the signal of the raised hand, and waiting for the second circular motion which is almost like a halo above my head to begin to do the actual turn. Taking my time to perfect these details not only helps to make my turns cleaner, it helps me to keep my timing, and to stay balanced.

In addition, this week we start my showcase choreography, and I am thrilled. As we are going through the steps I am surprised to see that the choreography so far has me in front driving the dance! I won’t even be able to see Antonio during this first part of the dance, I won’t be able to hold on to him for dear life, I will have to trust myself completely and my ability to lead. As Antonio is watching me with these first phrases he is encouraging me (as always) to stop second guessing myself. I make an effort to stop overthinking things and this becomes my single greatest first week learning choreography. Not only am I learning quicker than usual, but Antonio is extremely encouraging and excited to see my progress which gives me even more confidence.

Today’s life lesson came as Antonio was encouraging me throughout the week to find my balance- to find what will ground me and help me move with authority and boldness.  As I apply this to my life what grounds me and keeps me focused is my faith in Christ, and the more I grow in faith the more my life becomes balanced. My faith has been enhanced by my experiences at Daza Dance which have encouraged me to develop my thoughts and clarify my voice. The discipline that is helping me become a better dancer is making me stronger and wiser, as well as helping to deepen my spiritual roots; furthermore being around people of various backgrounds and cultures different from mine has enhanced me as a person, and added depth to my beliefs. Being in a place where I can comfortably interchange visions and ideas with those who are different from me helps me to see how we can build a better world together through love and understanding.

In dance and in life I am perfecting the Art of Balance.

By: Kamaria George 02/05/2017


A BRIGHTER SUN

Today the sun seems to shine brighter, and the vision of Daza Dance gives me clarity and focus like never before. I am thinking about how earlier this week at the studio the instructors were wearing the same shade of navy blue. This may have been a coincidence in fashion, but for me, it was a visual representation of how every instructor is from a different culture and background, but they all come together despite their differences to create beautiful art, setting the standard of love, peace, and acceptance that is the heartbeat of our studio. Everyone connected to us including instructors, students, and friends represent various stories of strength, resilience, and character. It is our commitment to these ideals that propel us to move forward through the challenges of this week and not become overwhelmed in the face of adversity, but to stand in solidarity with one voice.

This week I was focusing on making sure I was facing Antonio in proper position slightly to the left in all of the dances. By staying on my side especially when I complete a turn etc., it makes it easier to move to closed dance position. When I am in my proper place Antonio does not have to take extra time to correct me, and when I am confident and can move independently from Antonio, he is able to focus on other aspects of the dances making our patterns stronger.

We are continuing to practice the double sided under arm turn, and I am concentrating on a note I get quite frequently to close my feet. Even though I know closing my feet helps me by knowing which step to take next, sometimes the excitement of the music causes me to lose focus. Antonio tells me closing my feet is vital in this particular step because it will be impossible to execute properly. As I get this adjustment straightened out I am able to complete the step perfectly, and Antonio pleased with my progress. I am extremely pleased as well as I am truly seeing myself improve at an accelerated pace.

Today’s life lesson became when I make a decision to solidify it with action. My desire to be right and not make mistakes can cause me to analyze the next step to the point of paralysis, and even when I am sure which way to go sometimes I hold back irrationally out of fear. As I am growing in dance I am feeling freer to use my growing knowledge of each dance to be confident moving forward, and if I am wrong I can be corrected. Paralysis from fear halts my progress abruptly and causes me to have to begin each pattern again. As always, my issues on the dance floor reflect my life struggle. I can be extremely indecisive and when I do make a decision, sometimes I let fear stop me from moving forward, even when I am sure of my path. Following through with going to Argentina was one of the most powerful things I have ever done to combat fear and indecisiveness, and turned out to be a life changing experience. The lessons I am learning through ballroom dance are helping me to silence the inner struggles that hinder my progress and showing me the hero within myself. I still have a long way to go, but I am making progress one phrase at a time.

By: Kamaria George (01/29/2017)


THIS TIME THE VICTIM WAS OUR VERY OWN STUDIO

This is what we came to today. The front door of our beautiful studio was, without a doubt, vandalized by people who despite us, as an intent to plant fear and scare us. Unfortunately for them, their intent was not successful, because we simply do not do fear!! 

With great sadness, we observe this type of malicious actions happening more and more often in our country by individuals who just simply can accept other people's beliefs, cultures, ideologies, and good intentions. It seems difficult not to feel anger, frustration, and the hoplesness feeling of not having the necessary ways to do something to bring justice to those who harm us. This incident is not the first one nor it will be the last obstacle we will confront in our journey, and although we might have fallen down today just for a bit short amount of time, we will get up and continue doing what we love to do! 

Thank you, thank you, thank you so much to all of our students, friends, family members and neighbors who who made a point to show us their support and love. We feel very humble by seeing how much we matter to this amazing Daza Dance community of individuals!

At Daza Dance, we are, and will continue to be, committed to be a place where everyone finds a happy space filled with peace, diversity, love, fun, freedom, equality and a lot of DANCE!

#Peace#Diversity#Love#Fun#Freedom#Equality#Dance, #DazaDance, #Ibelieveinmiracles#NoFear, #Atlanta, #RiseLikeAPhoenix


  

JANUARY PARTY RECAP!

As you know one of my favorite events each month is the Social Party at Dance – it is not only a chance to perfect my craft, but an opportunity to press pause for a little while and enjoy spending time with the amazing people who are a part of our family at Daza Dance. Every party has its own individual flavor, this one was extra special because Antonio was in town, and we always miss him when he travels.

Maxi is teaching the Cha-Cha tonight and I take the opportunity to focus on my rock step in the class and throughout the night. Tonight Gerri was formally introduced to the studio, an Instructor with a beautiful welcoming spirit who has been teaching. I had a chance to dance the Cha -Cha with her for the first time, and it was helpful to gain insights from a new set of eyes, and she was incredibly encouraging to me as well.   I danced the Rumba with Callie, I have learned so much elegance and grace with her, and I always look forward to her insight.  With Mario I danced the Tango, and he commended me for staying in character. As always he challenged me with new variations, building on what I am currently learning. Alas it is now time to say goodbye to my scary Tango Face - as a bronze level dancer my intensity must now come through my dancing and technique. Maxi and I danced the Foxtrot – Maxi was extremely excited that I remembered the notes he gave me the last time we danced the foxtrot together, and I was happy to be continually improving in Foxtrot. If there’s one thing I look forward to, it’s dancing the East Coast Swing with Antonio. It’s such a lively fun dance, and the one I have worked the hardest to perfect. As we covered the ballroom I couldn’t help but be joyful, and I was fortunate enough to get to dance this twice with him.  Antonio and I also did a waltz together and I was able to practice the two way under arm turn I had learned earlier that week. During the door-prize section, one of Gerri’s students gave me their free dance lesson they had won. I was so deeply moved that someone who I met briefly that evening could be so generous. I was already happy, but that made my entire evening!

After a wonderful party it’s time to get work in class the next week. For part of the lesson we are focusing again on the two way underarm turn by breaking down the first three steps, and I practice them over and over and over. Antonio draws me a geometric diagram so I could mentally picture the pattern I should be creating. I not only practice these steps that night I come back and the next night to practice, making sure I am facing the right direction.

Before class I had decided to make my class Wednesday the best class ever – by just making that decision my dance changed completely. Antonio told me I danced the best Rumba and Cha-Cha ever!!! Those words meant so much to me, especially knowing that he does not hand out compliments lightly.  As we moved through the other dances I had many more encouraging words from Antonio, and he told me he could see I was improving. I am seeing more and more confidence and faith give life to what seems impossible - which became my life lesson for the day. I started last year accomplishing more than I could imagine with a small grain of confidence, but as I am continuing to grow I am starting to see that 2017 can be a year of limitless possibility.

By: Kamaria George (01/22/2017)


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)