I was so excited about this weekend, I felt literally like a child waiting for Christmas. And it turned out to be even more than that. Why was this weekend the best weekend of my life? Its not because I lack meaningful moments in my life, but because of the importance of this event. I’ve been dancing mainly Bachata and Salsa for a while now, and what I find special about Latin dance is that almost everywhere in the world there is a dance community. I really love that about it.
But here comes my problem. Sometimes people forget or simply don’t know that the dance styles that we love and dance today have a rich history and background. And since I am a patriot, even though not Dominican, it meant the world to me to see an event totally dedicated to the country, which as the wise artist, mentor and ambassador of the Dominican Republic (DR) Edwin M Ferreras said “DR gave us so much and never asked for anything in return”.
These words got to me, because Bachata is my biggest passion and I realized how important is to give credit to the Dominican nation for the gift that they gave us.
Culture, history & authenticity
For me the most important thing was how much I, as a Bulgarian, could learn about the history of Bachata and the Dominican culture. Of course, I have researched it before, but it’s different to hear it from the artists, mentors, ambassadors and experts.
Artists & classes
The love of the artists and teachers for the Authentic Bachata and their passion to share it with us was mesmerizing. You would expect that famous artists and teachers so rich in knowledge and good in their field would be haughty or egotistic. But not these artists! They not only shared as much as they could with us, but also danced more than anybody at the parties and gave attention to each dancer that asked for a dance.
Never did they hide in the backstage room. And if they did they did it so well, that we never realised that there was one. ( :D)
Different dance style classes
It was a Dominican Bachata festival, but it covered more than that! I had the chance to discover interest in other dance genres. Like the Bolero which I instantly fell in love with it.
I explored the joy of Merengue which is often underestimated (speaking from my own experience).
There was Dembow, which made us sweat like crazy, but left smiles on our faces and gave us some cool moves to show around.
And one of the most important ones Musicality and History.
The Musicality lesson was so important to help the dancers understand the music that they are dancing. I cant even express the great importance of this class with words … maybe with a dance ( 😉 )
And of course History, because knowledge is everything! Dance education is not only about the steps that you make, the flow that you have but also its origins and the authenticity of the style that you dance.
I always say “Less is more “and in this festival, you could notice that! There were just enough classes to fit in everyone’s schedule. You could have followed every hour a class of choice without getting too tired for the party later at night. Most importantly, without feeling torn that you missed so much no matter how much you followed. I was torn anyway, but it felt less than other festivals. I came home with the feeling that I followed almost everything that I wanted and that I have learned so much without forgetting the half of it due to too much information.
It is so great to see choreographies in shiny costumes with the perfect synchronisation and to have masters giving them points and deciding witch one is the best. But for me it was special to see the first Dominican social dance competition ever! As everything else happening for the first time in life this too made you feel like you are part of something big and important. And this was huge and very important that it happened. Originally bachata was not danced on the stage with the shiny costumes. Mostly because bachata is as many other dances about socialising, enjoying with your friends and family. And that’s what this competition was about. Social dance!
As many other festivals, there were many nationalities and representation from different countries. But this time it was different. I have always felt let’s say … weird for being so patriotic about a heritage (because that’s what bachata is) that its not even mine. Sometimes I feel more like an ambassador of the Dominican Bachata than of my own culture. With that said it was so incredible and surprising for me to see that I am not the only one! There were people from other countries as passionate about it as I am. They were willing to learn as much as they can, so that they can spread the correct information and introduce the bachata in its purest and most authentic form to the rest of the world.
This weekend helped me to connect with so many people from different countries which not only reinforced my passion for Bachata, but also my vision and ideals about it, the importance to support each other and the authenticity. It really felt like we were all distant family, cousins that came together for a holiday. There was so much love and good vibes that after the week you feel an emptiness because it came to an end.
Social dance at mid-day
It was great that there was a lunch pause from the classes and that it was longer than it usually is during Latin Dance festivals. That gave us the chance to have a proper lunch, socialize and of course to dance some more! It’s great when we are all dressed up for a party, but it’s so cool to have the chance to dance in your training clothes with your casual look. This was well thought of and in the theme of Dominican Republic where you can go and dance in the barbershop or at the Carwash or even in front of the supermarket before or after your grocery shopping.
And as every other big family event this one couldn’t happen without some good authentic Dominican food! Delicious food that warmed up our hearts, filled up our tummies and gave us power to learn & dance some more.
So, all in all, great experience and amazing weekend which was made possible by Samy el Magico and his love for Dominican Swag, flow and dance. Thank you so much and thanks to all the people that shared all their great energy with me and my partner in dance and life John Ortiz.
I am a fashion and theatre costume designer based in Antwerp but originally from Bulgaria. I’ve been living in Belgium since 2010. I’m sharing my passion for Dominican Bachata with my partner John Ortiz since 2013. We met during a social and never stopped dancing ever since. You can follow us on our facebookpage John & Nushi