Montreal West Coast Swing Dance Festival deserves an award for Best New Dance Event of 2011!
Canadians really GET this scene. It was soooooo amazingly “merveilleux”– I’m betting it will be the next BIG thing!!!
Friendly, warm – with a refreshing approach to teaching – fair (and fast) competitions – and LOTS of social dancing!
It took the courage of young Canadians to try new ideas without worrying about crazy politics, dinosaur era procedures and pleasing a bunch of jerks.
They just did what they thought was best. Was it all perfect?
Noooooo way! But who cared? We were having too much fun!
The SuperStar cast of teachers included: Jordan Frisbee & Tatianna Mollman; andMichael Kielbassa & Jessica Cox.
Also teaching and judging were New England pros Bill Cameron & Yuna Davytan; and Maria Ford & David Ward from Ottawa (making their judging debut).
The event was MC’d by Rob Glover who kept everyone laughing all weekend.
When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, he responded that he might like to be the next Simon Cowell!
Anda professional comedian -Broadway star and movie idol.
Only this guy can take corny old jokes and make them fresh again.
One thing about Canadians that I quickly learned is they are very friendly and enthusiastic!
Almost everyone takes the lessons and participates in the competitions.
West coast swing is newer to them and they are ever so “appréciez” of this art form!
The event had a magical quality – probably because:
THE FIRST THING THEY DID RIGHT was treat people nicely when we came to register.
The minute I walked in I felt comfortable.
That doesn’t usually happen because people are too busy being “très” important!
They made me feel at home and I knew from the very start that it would be an “exceptionnel”weekend.
Nice people run nice events.
The Next Thing They Did Right was change the lesson structure. Advanced level required screening. Everyone loved it – even those who were disappointed.
The rest of the lessons were divided into Levels 1 & 2 and given in two hour blocks with the same teachers.
This procedurehelped us dig a little deeper. Level 1 was misunderstood a bit.
It was actually basic technique for ALL levels but some people thought it was just for beginners.
And the lessons – all levels – were goooooooooooooooooooood!
The Next Thing They Did Right was pick a really great location. Although we were at a Holiday Inn by the airport, it was easy to get downtown where most of the siteseeing is.
This year, however, the event is being held in centrally located Delta Centre-Ville.
Old churches, museums, the ballet, shops, abound in the old town.
Take the OrangeLine on the subway to “Place D’Armes” and you’ll be right in the middle of it all.
The design of this city is a work of art - architecture is an enthralling mixture of new steel and old stone.
Check out the grocery stores but don’t expect to see all your favorite American products – these Canadians have “très” better stuff!
The Next Thing They Did Right is keeping competition and performance to a minimum and running them efficiently.
No stupid competitor meeting here!
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the Open Strictly, and combined Intermediate/Advanced competition on Friday night.
There were many more entrants for Newcomer and Novice.
Judging seemed to be careful.
Saturday night had a short and entertaining show.
The Westie Bombers team from Ottawa gave a great performance!
There was also dancing by Jordan & Tat, Michael K. & Jessica.
Maria Ford & David Ward performed their “Temporary Insanity” routine for the last time.
It was better than ever!
A new routine is in the works to a hard-driving blues song.
Maria says: “…we are both looking forward to being able to smile at each other (and the audience) in this one! LOL! We’d like to keep the song under wraps until we debut…”
Tat & Davis Thurber
There was also a Lindy style dance Jam – reminiscent of WCS in NYC back in the 90′s.
Hadn’t seen this for quite a while - time to bring it back - eh?
What WASN’T included was the “Wobble.” Some of us are sick and tired of this line dance!
My Thanx to the organizers for giving it a rest!
The Next Thing They Did Right was have a whole lot of social dancing!
Out west, events are still torturing dancers with endless competitions and performances. Not here!
California is soooo passé!
Everyone danced with everyone else – there was a good ratio of leaders to followers and level was not a bar.
Frankly, some of the beginners were “étonnamment” good and I am anxious to return next year and see how far they have come.
We thoroughly enjoyed the DJs – particularly Ottawa boyz OldsKOOL and DaCube (Left).
There was even a little by Rob Glover and Davis Thurber.
It was all good and “trés” difficult to call it a night.
ONE MORE THING – Canadian men!
VaVa Voom! Gorgeous & young – or Balding & paunchy – whatever!
Special mention to the Newcomer and Novice level winners.
1. Randolph Peters & Catherine Harvey
(Pictured on left)
2. Marie-Josee Tardif & Sonya Dessurault
3. Dani Davidov & Natalie Madison
4. Julie O’Brien & Marie-Julie Plasse
5. Thomas Clyde & Alisha Ruiss
1. Jerome Subey & Claudia Joyal Laplante
2. Jason Ng & Cheryl Williams (Pictured on Right)
3. Travis Mattte & Eveleen Sung
4. Ken Kreshtool & Vanessa Keroak
5. Dominique Morin & Gwendoline Bugnot
Jordan Frisbee & Jessica Cox
Tragically,Ann Fleming has cancer – AGAIN – and a “Taxi Dance” was held on Saturday night.
(She has since recovered magnificently!)
But, this was not her first time.
We gladly donated money to dance with all the pros.
Montrealhas amazing food! My friend and I went into the old part of the city to enjoy the sights.
As we strolled the original square, we were stopped by a charming maître de in front of a restaurant called “Acite.”
I ‘m a sucker for that Frenchie style sales pitch!
The café was located next to “Rue des Artistes” – a narrow, cobblestone street which must have hosted artists for centuries.
The mussels were amazing, but the “frites” ruined me for all other fries for life! Unfortunately, I also discovered “sugar pie.” Enter at your own risk! (410, place Jacques-Cartier, Montreal, Quebec)
Frankly, I had a Great Time at this event and was very satisfied.
However, if I may make a coupla suggestions?
Michelle Blaike & JP Marchand
*Many of us had been traveling on Friday night and would have appreciated a snack. Midnight is a good time for pizza.
Breakfast on Saturday night was very forgettable and many people had a big dinner earlier anyway.
Let’s try something Fresh – like – desert?
**People would also appreciate earlier finals on Sunday.
Many of us traveling from the States need extra time at the airport to go through Customs.
Ottawaaaas & Torontoes have really long drives home.
*** Perhaps it would be a better choice to raise money for charity is an “All American” style Open Jack n’ Jill competition.
Everyone – at every level – from beginner to pro for $20. Throw all the Pros in too!
Hold a raffle for judges.
***TOSHCdonated $600 to the winners in the competitions. I don’t understand this. Money is nice, but that’s not what we are there for!
It’s the damn points! Wouldn’t it be more useful to invest that money in next year?
I‘ve been all over to events and one of the BIGGEST draws anywhere is personal critique sessions.
**** Everyone has asked me if there was any Lindy at the event - hey guyz - I think that means you should add some! The addition of other styles of swing would be a big draw. (Update: Count on Lindy and Balboa in 2012)
What the whole world really needs to know is that although WCS is a small community in Montreal – there are comparable communities in Ottawa, Toronto, upstate New York (Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo) and a large WCS community in New England.
Add the whole eastern seaboard – Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, DC – we’ve got our own California with 14 annual conventions!
The northeast is where the Gold Rush of dancing is.
Montreal was a delightful treat.
Canada has an amazing swing dance scene and these events are a wonderful way to see this country!
Marine Fabre, Jim Chow, Fabiola Bonilla
Thanx To: Davis Thurber - Max Pitruzzella and everyone else who worked so hard to make this event happen – and to do it their own way– fearlessly!!!
See Ya Next Year –“Chers Amis”!
Special thanx to Contributing Photographer: Jim Chow