New York Dance Festival 2020

Published in  
Ballroom Dance
March 7, 2020
The iconic Roosevelt hotel in the heart of Manhattan hosted once more the New York Dance Festival and Training Camp. Huge, World-Class event with a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The organizers Eugene Katsevman and Maria Manusova- icons of Latin- American dancing worked tirelessly to make everyone feel at home.

February was coming to an end, which meant one thing- I cant wait to get myself to the Big Apple for ballroom dancers' spa week- The New York Dance Festival and Training Camp.

This week was a treat for myself, and everyone around- from the 5-year-olds to our seniors. It all started with THE training camp. Lectures and lessons were given by icons who shaped the world of Ballroom Dancing the way it is today. Everything naturally flowed into what had turned into one of the biggest on the NDCA calendar. Wow, Eugene Katsevman and Maria Manusova, the organizers, have taken the event on a brand new, grand level.

The Training Camp

Oh, what a treat that was. Seeing the flyer for the camp a few months back, I knew that I have to attend and that it would be amazing. Turned out I was right.

3 days of lectures given by dance Gods- Shirley Ballas, the lady of Latin dance that needs no introduction; William Pino- a brilliant musician- his instrument- Ballroom dance; fabulous Greg Smith, the one and only Slavik Kryklyvyy, the German team- Hans Galke and Markus Homm and from the British Isles, super funny- Graham Oswick.

Shirley Ballas giving her all in her Jive lecture at NYDF Training Camp
Shirley Ballas giving her all in her Jive lecture at NYDF Training Camp
Truly brilliant lecture from William Pino at NYDF Training Camp
Truly brilliant lecture from William Pino at NYDF Training Camp

Eugene and Maria have put together a dream team that worked tirelessly for days to inspire everyone on their dance journeys. Lesson after lesson, every teacher poured their hearts out. Beautiful.

The Competition

The iconic Roosevelt hotel nestled in the heart of Manhattan became the hub for dancers from all over the country and abroad. The Ballroom- beautiful, sophisticated, it felt like a small Blackpool Dance Festival. The massive chandeliers hanging over the dance floor reminded of a Vienna Ball- a real classy treat.

There is something special about this ballroom. Because it is smaller than other ballrooms, it feels much cozier and friendlier, bringing everyone closer together, to enjoy their dance journey in a fun atmosphere. Another seemingly little thing that makes a big difference, in my opinion, is hospitality.  Eugene and Masha are there from the very first heat from 7am until the very last one of the evening sessions. They greet and talk to students and professionals, making sure everyone is having a great time!

New York Dance Festival Roosevelt Hotel Ballroom.jpg

Another Ballroom hosted the huge Junior and Youth events. Kids from all over the country competed in multiple categories and levels.

A lot of the events had first rounds, which is something we don't see very often. It is also terrific to observe west coast couples participate and compete against some of the east coast kids. Refreshing to see so many young couples being so inspired and in love with dancing. Such a beautiful world.

The American Smooth Day

The Pro-AM competition started on Wednesday with Rhythm, but my first day for me to dance with students was Friday- The American Smooth style. It was 7am, eyes only half open, but the heart was fully ready and excited to take on the dance floor.

You know that a competition is big when there is a lot of buzz in the ballroom that early in the morning. My student had semifinals and quarter-finals in all of her single dance events. Later that day,  the Championship and Scholarship events both started from quarter-finals.

The American Smooth is growing rapidly and to see so many competitors at NYDF was really refreshing. Sue danced her best and made all finals in both single and multi- dance events. She danced beautifully in her last event and finished 3rd in the Scholarship event.

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The Ballroom Day

Day 2 for me- Ballroom. Another 7am start, this one feels a little harder. Quite reasonable, considering the amount of dancing we did yesterday- something like 60-70 dances. The single dance events were first thing in the morning. Sue made finals again in all of her 20 dances.  

The heat list for us was excellent, we had about 6 hours before the multi dance events. We hit the coffee shop for breakfast, then back to bed to catch up on much-needed sleep.  

The multi dance events ( Championship and Scholarship ) went smoothly. Sue danced an incredible final and I was very satisfied. Second place for her this time. Moving closer and closer to the gold!

Atanas and Pro-am Student Sue Dance Standard at New York Dance Festival 2020.jpg

One of the things I love about ballroom dance competitions is traveling. We always end up in different cities, and its an excellent opportunity, when we have time, to go out of the hotel and explore the city.  

I've been to New York before, but visiting Times Square never fails to amaze. We walked around and grabbed some fantastic Lebanese food at Balade Your Way next to the Library.  

Time to go back to the hotel and enjoy some ballroom dance spectacle. One of the things that shape New York Dance Festival beautifully is that Amateur and Professional events are big and very competitive, making them a real treat for everyone to watch and get inspired.

In the Professional Latin, my friends Rangel and Veronika from Image Ballroom Dance in Dallas and Ina and Troels cooked quite a storm on the dance floor.  

The Cabaret events were huge- about 15-16 numbers, and all of them were fascinating, the judges were in real trouble. I was stunned, I've never seen so many Cabaret numbers at one competition.

BIG NEWS- Max and Tatiana, one of the most energetic representatives of the American Smooth, surprisingly announced their retirement from competitive dancing. A special couple that brought such passion, mystery, and sophistication to the table- true craftsmen. They will be forever missed on the floor.

The Latin Day

Naturally, I expected this to be the most attended day since the organizers Eugene and Maria are one of the most sought out Latin- American coaches today. The ballroom was full from 7am until 9pm. The day session flowed seamlessly into the evening session without any break for the judges, scrutineers and on deck captains.  

Atanas and Pro-am Student Sue Dance Latin at New York Dance Festival 2020.jpg

And so we began at 7am. My hips were not ready, but I was! The first cha-cha tunes infused my blood with energy, and off we go. My student danced all her heats flawlessly, and before we realized our first part of the day (the single dance) was over. We debriefed what we want to improve later on for the multi dances, got some breakfast and the same drill as yesterday- nap, hair and make up fixes, and dance time.  

Sue did so well! I was proud of her. She danced strongly, even though the day was really long for us. She kept it together and delivered an excellent performance in the final, making it difficult for the judges. She finished 2nd but won the Rumba and was only one mark away from being first. A close call.

Wrapping it up!

Feelings of gratitude and inspiration are flooding my mind when I am recalling the NYDF experience. Eugene and Maria did such a fantastic job at their 5th New York Dance Festival.

Not only did they grow the competition immensely, but they made it a hub for all dancers seeking inspiration and in-depth knowledge of ballroom dance. Bringing fascinating teachers from abroad makes the camp worth every second. Teachers like William Pino, Slavik, Hans Galke, and Graham Oswick don't come to the states often, to have the opportunity to learn from them was humbling.

Thank you, Eugene and Maria. Already cannot wait for next year.

Disclaimer: All photography copyrights belong to their rightful owners. Please feel free to contact me for credit.

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