I hope I never stop appreciating how awesome it is that as social dancers, we can go to some random country and spend a whole weekend studying dance, partying, taking part in international competitions and meeting new friends from all over the world. I mean, who’s going to top that answer to “how was your weekend?” at the office?
It’s been a few months since I was at such an event, so I was looking forward to the Tel Aviv based Feelin’ Blues festival. I couldn’t wait for those few days and nights that would leave me with aching muscles and blistered feet.
When a solo blues track was offered, I knew straight away that I wanted to try it. One of the reasons was that for the past year or so I’ve been taking different types of non-partnered dance classes and I’ve noticed how they’ve influenced my partnered dancing. For example, I think modern and contemporary dance helped with being “in the moment” while dancing and by opening my mind to different ideas about movement. Improvisation classes, which many times will be without music, ironically helped me to be more aware of music and how to react to it, as well as develop my personal style of movement. With solo blues, I’d get to learn how to dance on my own to music I’d normally dance with a partner, so it would be able to contribute in a more direct way than the other dances.
The third edition of the international festival brought classes from 10 instructors over 3 full days of workshops: Joe Demers & Mike Legenthal, Chris Mayer & Amanda Gruhl, Adamo Ciarallo & Vicci Moore, Brenda Russell, Ksenia Parkhatskaya and Ron Dobrovinsky & Sharon Guzman. I wish I could have gone to all of their classes!
After spending all day trying to roll my knees and chest in opposite directions simultaneously without looking at Ksenia like a confused puppy, it was great to go to the parties and have fun with partnered dancing. Each night took us to a new venue and a different atmosphere. Saturday night was a highlight with live music where you could tell the band was having just as much fun as the dancers, if not more. I’m sure it’s not often that they get to play to such an enthusiastic and appreciative crowd as the one they had last week.
Sunday night was marked by the nerves and excitement of competitions. This year, in addition to Jack & Jills and solo comps, there was a new division – showcase. Five different choreographies were performed, each with its own distinct character.
First place went to the charming Neomi Castell Colomé:
Next up was the solo blues finals. I had been quite nervous since hearing that I was going to be a part of it since I’d never been in solo finals of any kind before. But when the time came, I was surprised to see that my heart was staying neatly in my ribcage and my dinner wasn’t trying to come back for an encore. I don’t know if you can tell, but on the inside I was having fun
Of course there can’t be a festival without a Jack & Jill or two. This year had an open Jack & Jill as well as an advanced Jack & Jill.
I was honored to participate in the J&J finals as well, and was unexpectedly more nervous than in the solo comp. Nonetheless, I didn’t make my partner, Laura trip or anything!
And now, I shall leave you with an original first world problems blues ditty because I’m writing this in the middle of the night and I’m getting silly.
Woke up this mornin’/ can’t believe what I see
The wifi ain’t workin’/ and neither is the 3G!
Oh, I got the blues/ I said, I got the blues so bad.My baby gone left me/ nothin’ but milk in the fridge Yeah, that’s all he left me/ don’t he know that I’m vegan? Oh, I got the blues/ I said, I got the blues so bad.
I encourage writing your own verse in the comments.
See you at Feelin’ Blues 2015! It’s going to be hard to top, but you just know it’s going to happen.