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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

New York Dance Festival 2013

This weekend our group traveled to NYC for the New York Dance Festival. This was our 4th year attending, and it was our best time in New York to date. It seems like every year, this event gets better.

This year we had a group of 30 travel to NYC for the event, with 13 competitors and 17 spectators. The event was held in the historic Roosevelt Hotel Grand Ballroom and was hosted by Edward Simon. We extend a huge thanks to Eddie for hosting us, and to Label  INC. for outfitting our ladies in fabulous new dresses.

Our group arrived on Friday morning, with plenty of time for sight seeing in Times Square. Roxi got right to work on the girls with hair styling and event preparations. Our group had a fun and Relaxing Friday (lol, for everyone but Roxi who had to work !). We ended the night in the Roosevelt bar and Lounge area, soaking in the sights and sounds of the hotel's opulent lobby.

The Roosevelt Hotel is by far the most glamorous hotel of any event we attend, only rivaled by the historic Phister Hotel , home to the Wisconsin State. I'm partial to the Roosevelt because of it's historic ties to Theodore Roosevelt "the man", our nation's 26th president. Inside the bar and Lounge area there is a beautiful painting of Theodore Roosevelt, which brings back many memories of being stationed on The USS Theodore Roosevelt, CVN 71.
Onboard USS Theodore Roosevelt CVN 71, with the 9/11 World Trade Center Flag
During my Navy years assigned to the Theodore Roosevelt, I became intertwined in presidential history, attending many ceremonies in the ships onboard presidential museum. The crew was tasked on more than one occasion in ceremonial guard duties at the gravesite of Theodore Roosevelt in upstate New York. I was honored to once serve this duty,and tour TR's family home with the Theodore Roosevelt historic society.

I also had the pleasure of once meeting Claudilia Roosevelt, great granddaughter of TR, who volunteered in Post 9/11 disaster relief work at the Winter Garden in NYC.

 Many crew members of the USS Theodore Roosevelt are bonded to the president with deep respect to his service to our nation. The Roosevelt Hotel, is in edifice, a patriotic symbol to TR's legacy, and something very special for our dance group to discover in NYC.

With Claudilia Roosevelt in 2001
The Grand Ballroom in the Roosevelt Hotel is that befitting of a US President

Atmosphere really does make for a successful event,
 here's a view of Kate and David Cohen in the Roosevelt lobby:

Our dance group on the mezzanine level:

We are so very thankful to our students, competitors and spectators who performed so well this year, we were really lucky to have such a great team. Just to name a few:

Anna Kabul
Azhar Manipady
Julie Manipady
David Cohen
Kate Cohen
Judith Albarelli
Michael Albarelli
Alice (Miss Alice) Williams
William (Mr. Bill) Zeisel
Rowdy Harrision
Terang Mehta
Danielle Roeber
Dana Copola
Roxi Holloway
Lindsay Hayden
Karin Hayden
Nancy Jane Thurley
Sarah Jane Caveleri
Riley Maxwell Caveleri
Kate Albareli Gaglione
David Gagilone
Reesha Mehta
Patricia Mongeau
Katherine Mongeau
Diana Vitola

For many of our students, the New York Dance Festival has served as their first ever event. The event has been an inspiration to many , not just for starting long term hobby, but for the adoption of dancing as part of their lifestyle. There is some part of this event that serves well to inspire, because we now have students returning to the competition for their second and third year.

For Danielle Roeber, it was her third year attending this event, and she started at NYDF as a newcomer.

NYDF was also the first event for Dana Copola, who celebrated her
Dance-a-versary at the Roosevelt Hotel. She place first in the bronze American 6 Dance Championship and 3rd in Dancesport Series.

Tarang Mehta danced as a newcomer, her first event (ever), and she made several placements in her heavily contested newcomer freestyles. Her competition was so talented, that it leads one to believe that fellow professionals define the term "Newcomer" very loosely.

Also attending their first ever NYDF, were Michael and Judith Albarelli, who earned our MVP award for the weekend. Their daughter, Kate Albarelli came to visit them and spectated/ supported them from the balcony during their bronze freestyles.

Kate Albarelli is one of the nation’s leading fitness experts. A former professional ballerina, Kate is the Founder and acting Creative Director of Figure 4 in New York City. It was so nice to have her in the audience, supporting her parents as they danced at NYDF.

Also returning to NYDF this year was Alice Williams, Bill Zesiel, and Azhar Manipady. Roxi had a lot of fun with Azhar and Bill this year, because the gentelmens division, which is normally uncontested, had a lot of men in it this year!

Roxi also competed with Rowdy Harrison,
And they placed first in the gentlemens' bronze 6 dance division.

All of the students from our dance company competed in the bronze division. Once we were finished dancing , we had a great time spectating for the silver and gold levels. We particularly enjoyed watching Christjohn Batters and Mona Maerz, she looked stunning in latest smooth gown.

We also enjoyed watching Michael Simms dance with Sharon Ianacone.

And the lovely Pinky Puno, with Avant Garde Dance studio co-owner, Slava Sergi.

Pinky was kind enough to loan a smooth dress to my cousin, Lindsay, who was also competing in her first ever NYDF.

The championship rounds were held during he evening session of the competition, with the group still going strong, filled with energy. The competition was running ahead of schedule so the Master of ceremonies, John DePalma, paused the competition and opened the floor for general dancing. We all had a good laugh DJ played the played Boogie Woogie Cho Choo Train, which broke up the monotony of hearing 4 hours of American Smooth style music. Our group did not hesitate to dance the Bar Tender's Stomp when we heard the song played. I didn't really matter to the girls that they were in full ballroom regala, they all broke into line dance when they heard the song, to much amusement to some and horror to others. I think it did a lot to loosen some nerves, and definitely reawakened us to complete the championship rounds. The girls had a lot of fun during the general dance break, especially when they got to wave up to the famous MC, perched high above the ballroom on the balcony level. They all had a good laugh when the famous voice of ballroom occasionally waved back. After a successful session we all regrouped and changed back into civilian attire.

Once the girls all changed and deglamorized, the whole gang remustered in the ballroom to spectate the Open Professional Rhythm Division. The Open Professional Rhythm Division was sponsored by our very own,
Sophia D'Angelo, I was so proud of Sophia for sponsoring this event, as a Patron of the arts. The decision to sponsor this event was made in two tiers, to both support the New York Dance Festival, but also to sponsor the Rhythm Division on platform cause, and one very dear to Sophia's heart. The Open Peofessional Rhythm Division was sponsored in Honor of the families of Newtown and Mental Health Awareness. Where as in the past my students have avoided the option of sponsoring an event due to the negativity surrounding sour dance politics. The opportunity to for Sophia to sponsor NYDF was wonderful, holding honor to two causes: furthering the cause of dance and also to mental health awareness.

All of our DC Ballroom students and several of my family members came out to the evening session to spectate for the Open Professional Rhythm division, and to support for Sophia's efforts further the cause of Mental Health Awareness.

Eddie Simon asked me to represent Sophia during the awards presentation for the event, which was hotly contested. The judges were unable to decide finalist round so the event had two semi finals, and ran late into the evening. The oddness of this occurrence was featured in the next morning's Dancebeat headline.

In the moments leading up to the awards ceremony I actually got really nervous.
It was a bit sad to have Sophia missing from the awards ceremony, but we knew that she was there in spirit.
Important family matters prevented her from attending this year, but her presence was still felt, none the less. I was half joking when I told the gang that I was ready to vomit on the spot, from anxiety over presenting. Somehow dancing comes quite easy to me in front of people,
but awards ceremonies don't come naturally to me at all.

My last awards ceremony involved a case of becoming tongue tied and blinded by stage light, and at least during this ceremony I didn't have to speak... It was just a matter of handing presorted envelopes to some of the worlds most talented rhythm professionals, couldn't be too difficult, right?

It's always in these situations when I start dreading the curse of second hand embarrassment, which seems to follow me in public activities that do not involve dancing. Christjohn and Mona were on the sidelines and helped calm me down, and when the moment came, Eddie talked me trough every thing, and whispered behind me, with what to do with the envelopes and flowers, and puppeteered my handling of the awards line up in an effortless manner.

Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine and Liana Churilova won the Open Professional Rhythm Division and headed the line up. I very naturally goofed on handing Liana her flowers, as only a Ballroom D-Lister would do. It was a stress overshadowed by how graceful she was in receiving them. The awards ceremony was concluded with a thoughtful announcement on Sophia's charitable platform of mental health awareness. It was a very sincere moment and definitely a highlight of my time at the competition.

On Sunday morning I woke up early, to spectate in the ballroom for the Bronze International Fresstyles. I packed my suitcase early so as to have time to watch Myra Coffield dance with her instructor, Derek Walker. I think they danced in the new "mixed proficiency" category. This was her first time competing in per 2 years and she looked stunning in her ball gown. It's nice to see friends we only have known in plain clothes, to appear suddenly transformed by ballroom apparel. It was nice to see her on the floor, even it it was only brief. It was a perfect way to end my time in the ballroom.

Before departing the hotel, I met with my family and cousins for a Sunday Victory breakfast at the Roosevelt Grill. We had something special to celebrate because at the close of the evening festivities, Roxi received her first ever Top Teacher award! She came in 1st place, in the American Style, which is something very difficult for a lady professional to do. The award my made entirely possible by the hard work of her students:

Micahel Albarelli
Mr. Bill
Rowdy Harrison
Azhar Manipady

Her men performed so well that she earned enough points to earn the rank of top teacher. We had a fun breakfast and a lot of good laughs over Roxi's lead position over mine, by which I proudly took 3rd (thanks to the hard work of my lady dancers, and 3rd position is something that I am very proud of!)

The kids all enjoyed breakfast in the Roosevelt Grill, which was packed full of TR and Rough Riders momento's. I had fun warbling off historic facts about TR to my cousins, who amused me with feigned interest. They also allowed me to snap a quick picture in front front of TR's portrait.

After breakfast we made fond departure from the hotel for a show on broadway, already to look forward to NYDF for next year.

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