September 11, 2001 - A decade later

world-trade-center-lightsFrom the day that it happened, I have always wondered what it would be like a decade later. I was 28. I lived and worked in New York City. I grew up in New York City. September 11, 2001 was the craziest day of my life.

At that time, I was working at Cushman & Wakefield, the largest and most prominent commercial real estate company in the world. I had been dancing West Coast Swing about 3 years and Hustle 1 year. My partner Tami and I were at the top of our dance game with our classic routine "Fly Me To The Moon" (we had recently placed top 5 at SOS Grand Nationals in Atlanta, GA) and we were about to debut our first Hustle routine to a remix of "Oops, I did it again".

Performance at Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater was a Success

West Coast Swing at Ailey Citigroup TheaterOur West Coast Swing and Hustle performance as part of the Performing in NY Experience at the Ailey Citigroup Theater was a tremendous success. Personally, it was one of the most memorable moments for me both as a dancer and as a teacher.

There’s something indescribably special about working very hard in rehearsals for a special moment, then for that special moment to be as momentous as it was supposed to be.

For us, it was 19 of our dancers surviving almost 12 weeks of rehearsals, getting through the inconveniences of a hurricane, being postponed and finally having a powerful performance. The feelings of such an accomplishment and the memories that are indelibly etched are priceless.

Hurricane Irene affects Dance

Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene on 20110828 at 1.53.29amWhen last I wrote, we were on the "final road" to our performance of our West Coast Swing & Hustle showcase at the Ailey Citigroup Theater. However on Friday afternoon, I received a call from Kat Wildish (the producer) indicating that, because of Hurricane Irene, our Sunday double performances would be canceled and our Saturday evening performance would run an hour early.

Of course, I was disappointed but I was also relieved that I could avoid having my Connecticut cast drive into New York City on Sunday - the supposed worst day of the storm. I immediately started calling the cast starting with the two dance captains, Kim Brolet and Josh MacDonald. I had just finished reaching everyone and getting everyone ready to perform on Saturday night when my phone rang again…it was Kat.

Last Monday rehearsal before Ailey Citigroup Theater

West Coast Swing & Hustle Showcase jump photographTonight, we had our last Monday night rehearsal for our West Coast Swing and Hustle Medley. Although we still have one more rehearsal before arriving to the Ailey Citigroup Theater in New York City, this was the main rehearsal to answer questions and add some character to our showcase.

West Coast Swing & Hustle Showcase Video

Crystal Theatre, Norwalk, CT

Friday, July 29, 2011

West Coast Swing & Hustle Showcase in Norwalk, CT

Crystal Theatre in Norwalk, CTI'm a little late in posting this. We had the most amazing time choreographing for the Choreographer/Student Showcase at the Crystal Theatre in Norwalk, CT last Friday, July 29, 2011.  Here's some of the story.

Routines at Disco America

disco america 2011 - Hustle dance eventLast weekend we performed all three of our routines (two of them debuts) at Stardust Dance Weekend. This weekend we will be putting the new routines to the test in competition format at Disco America, one of the premier Hustle events on the east coast.

Stardust Debuts

Last Saturday (just over 24 hours ago), Anna and I debuted 2 of our new routines during the Stardust Dance Weekend. We performed with two other couples: Nikolai Shpakov & Tatiana Keegan and the legendary Billy Fajardo & Katie Marlow.

20110611-Stardust-HustleWe were the third couple to perform. We opened with our new Hustle routine. I think the audience liked the black and red costumes and you could hear audible gasps when we showed our first lift. We rocked out our routine with drama, speed and power. It was a good start to our new competitive Hustle routine of 2011. We'll be competing it for the first time in one week at Disco America in PA.

2 Weeks to Go!

Anna and I have been working on two new routines to supplement our West Coast Swing routine - a Hustle and a Cabaret routine. Our debut performance date this year is June 11, 2011 where we will perform all three routines at Stardust Dance Weekend in the Catskills.

The New Hustle Routine

20110114-Take-it-off-01One of our new routines is Hustle. For us, this might be the hardest challenge. When we picked music back in January, we knew that it was going to be a musical routine and a test of endurance. The song we picked was Ke$ha's Take It Off which is at 125 beats per minute. We liked the song for its party style energy, strong lyrics, and interesting compositional texture. During our first rehearsal, back on January 14, 2011, we choreographed a solid 45 seconds - which is a good amount.

Erik Novoa makes West Coast Swing the final thought on WNPR's Colin McEnroe Show (guest hosted by Mark Oppenheimer).

Your Public Media (WNPR)On Thursday, April 28, one of my students (thanks Doug) texted me to tell me about a radio program about dance on 88.5. Since I was home, I tried to tune in on the internet but could not find the program about dance. It wasn't until I brought my wife to our local train station when I was able to tune into the car radio and heard the radio broadcast.

WNPR's Colin McEnroe Show was being guest hosted by Mark Oppenheimer. The show entitled "The Elegance (And Pleasure) Of Dancing" was a full range discussion about dance in America. It was so interesting an poignant that I raced back home to hear the final moments at home. Simultaneously, my student had texted the phone number of the radio station to me, perhaps as a subtle suggestion to call in.

Counting out-loud while learning to dance

Counting-while-dancingThere are many ways to help a person achieve a new motor skill such as dancing (especially partner dances like West Coast Swing, Hustle or Salsa). Discussion of rhythm, spatial movement and arithmetic methods are usually combined to create a complete package for someone to understand the new skill. As a teacher, I call it, "picking the lock" of the dance student's brain. I have found out-loud vocalization to be highly effective to get people dancing as quickly as possible.

The act of expressing your physical action through a vocal process is a sophisticated mental game. If it is done, it actually accelerates the learning process and prevents the body from memorizing incorrect movement during the early stages.

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