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Dancing is not just a hobby, it's a lifestyle! I use this blog to post about my news and travel in the dance world.















Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Windy City Open 2011




Roxi and I just returned from the our most enjoyable event to date, The Windy City Open, held in Chicago.
 The Dance Factory took home the Top Studio award for this event, and we are deeply grateful to our students and the event organizers who made this event possible,with a special thanks to Michelle Carpentier-Lazarz who organized our studio entries for this event.

Attendees included:

Jean Fulton
Suzi Smith
Christa Mason
Sophia De' Angelo
Miguel Ramos
Simone Donee
Sandy Hecker
Bill Zeisel
Gabrielle Friedenberg
Dmitri Dolgopolov
Roxi Holloway
Mike Baris

The studio took several top student awards, with Simone Donee, Suzi Smith, and Sophia De'Angelo in the top 20 line up. Sohpia took the top bronze student award and overall top student award. The Dance Factory had several students make finals in both Smooth and Rhythm Championship Rounds and Scholarship Rounds. The Dance Factory took 5 medals home from this event. We're very thankfull to everyone who helped make this event a huge success. We are also mindful of those who couldn't join us at this event, thinking especially of Doug Drob and his wife, Betinna, who was recently diagnosed with Breast Cancer. We're keeping them both in our thoughts, and are confident that our studio family will all be together next year to celebrate life with dancing at the Windy City.

The event was held at the Hyatt Regency at McCormick Place in downtown Chicago. The event started on Thursday evening, which was quite a luxury. The gang had all of Thursday daytime to enjoy the hotel's many amenities.




Following a fabulous dinner in the hotel restaurant, Roxi got to work on hair and make-up. I got to catch Gabby in mid-process at the hair and make-up station, where typically no camera's are allowed:




On Thursday evening we enjoyed a fabulous evening of competition, with Miguel and Sophia placing in Championship and Scholarship rounds in the Rhythm Division. At the conclusion of the session, we got to spectate for the novelty dances including Salsa and Hustle, including a fantastic open bronze hustle by Christa Mason and Dmitri. As luck should have it, the DJ played "I'm Too Sexy", which may be Dmitri's unofficial theme song.



On Friday, the dancing continued in the Rhythm Division in the Silver Level. Suzi, Christa, and Jean all earned medals in their respective categories, and they all had outstanding competition.
As the competition continued on, Roxi and I ventured out into Chicago to enjoy our day off in the city. Together we walked with Miguel and Simone, enjoying the sights and sounds of Chicago, walking along busy streets with elevated trains. Together we made our way to the Eleventh City Diner for breakfast.




Once we arrived at the Eleven City Diner, we were eager to order their famous Dill Pickle and Tomato plate. While it looks like and odd breakfast appetizer, we were all unanimous in enjoying it! There's a reason why it's one of their famous dishes, cuz it's really good!



Friday was definitely our fun day, which included a walk through Millennium Park and a visit to the Famous Bean! Here Roxi and I stop for a photo:






our next stop was a riverboat architectural tour on board the First Lady of Chicago. I had a splendid time on this adventure, enjoying the tour, but the girls found it to be rather dull and less adventurous. Luckily they had vodka lemonade to entertain them. The highlight of our cruise was the discovery of Suzi and Christa on a passing riverboat, about midpoint during our tour. Roxi was so excited to see them that she nearly fell overboard. She interrupted the tour to wave and shout to them, and nearly fell over.


Friday was a day full of fun, and to top off the end of a perfect day, we had dinner with the gang on Chicago's historic Navy Pier.


We ended the evening with an adventure on the Navy Pier's Ferris wheel. I was looking forward to our Ferris wheel ride throughout the weekend, but our adventure took an interesting turn when our gang exploded into a rather comical situation inside the Ferris wheel cabin. The Ferris wheel adventure was documented on video in four parts. The ensuing dialogue would be perfect for reality television, but Roxi may never authorize it's release. Only part one is made available for viewing enjoyment:

The Ferris Wheel Part 1: Gabby asks a question about Ferris Wheel Safety
The Ferris Wheel Part 2: Miguel Shouts "This is Fun!" while Gabby & Roxi begin their doubts
The Ferris Wheel Part 3: Roxi has a Meltdown filled Panic and laughter
The Ferris Wheel Part 4: A safe return to earth, with a slight use of profanity

The View from the Ferris Wheel offered a spectacular View, which Roxi later admitted to enjoying between moments of panic.





Despite the comical meltdown that Roxi had on board the Ferris Wheel, it didn't stop her from (moments later) boarding the Yo-Yo Chair Ride along with Miguel and Dmitri. It seems as if moments later, she magically became the fearless wonder again. I sat cheerfully on the sidelines as she swung through the air.



After a full day of fun, we all arrived back to the hotel before midnight, when our Cinderella Liberty was set to expire. The girls awoke early the next morning at 5am, to prepare with hair and make-up for Saturday's Ballroom session, and by grace of their efficiency, we were all dressed and ready on the floor by 7:30 am! Saturday's Smooth session ran wonderfully. Dance Factory students placed in both the Pro/am Smooth Championship Rounds and Scholarship rounds, with first time placements for Simone and Sophia in the line-ups. For Sophia, this was her first time competing in ballroom and it was also her birthday! It was nice to see her surrounded by friends and family for the occasion. She had a wonderful cheering section there to support her. Between heats I found time a catch a quick photo of Dmitri and Jean, who looked stunning in her new Jordy ballgown.



Seeing that we just arrived home from Chicago, I don't have many pictures available from this event. The event photographer folded up shop early, leaving me with no opportunity to purchase group photos, but hopefully we'll have them soon! It was nice having the whole team dance during the same session. At the end of the session we got to enjoy Suzi and Christa's open choreography in the Open Bronze and Silver level, which for Suzi, included several daring dips and drops.

After a full day of danicng, the gang celebrated by attending the Windy City's Grand Banquet and Saturday evening show, which included professional competitions in Smooth and Rhythm. Our studio had a ringside table to enjoy all the action. During the awards ceremony, it came as a complete surprise to us when the Dance Factory was awarded the Top Studio Award ! It certainly made for a moment that we'll never forget.

Following the competition, Sunday was a quiet day for us at the hotel. Roxi and I enjoyed brunch at the Hyatt, before an evening trip to the Botanical Garden for a friend's wedding.



Before our departure from the Windy City, we met up with Dmitri and Gabby on Monday for some holiday shopping on Michigan Avenue. It seems perfectly normal that Dmitri was nearly convinced to buy this Panda Bear hat at H&M, but he passed it up in favor of a new velvet suit jacket.



We concluded our Chicago adventure with lunch at Miller's Pub, which has it's place in Dance History for being the popular night spot for Bob Fosse and his dancers.




While Miller's Pub was not the most glamorous stop during our Chicago Adventure, it was fun to visit a piece of Chicago history that was enjoyed by both Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon.The fried food made for an unsettled stomach on out flight home, but it was definitely worth it.

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