Each year the BDF run a 2 day Training Camp for the top six Junior and top six Youth Couples in Ballroom and Latin American.Invitation is based on performances and results of the UK Closed Championships. If there are couples withdrawing from the initial selection, all subsequent replacement couples will be selected from results of British National only. The two day event is hosted in Sutton and couples are provided with hotel accommodation in the nearby Holiday Inn, all covered by the funds of the BDF. At the end of day one there is also a get-together dinner where the couples have the chance to socialise with their fellow competitors as well as meet with members of the BDF EC and available lecturers.
First of all we would like to thank everyone involved in organising and delivering a very enjoyable and informative dance camp and for giving their time, effort and support over the Christmas period. It is an honour to be invited and as young competitors we found the lectures informative and beneficial and feel that all of the lectures were delivered in a professional and easily understandable way. The lectures covered many aspects of dance, performance techniques and attitude which we will be able to take and positively influence our future performances. Being involved in the BDF dance camp has enhanced our understanding of mechanics of dance, working as a partnership and developing our understanding of individuality as a couple. Having access and exposure to this number of professional dancers and teachers and having them share their extensive knowledge and experience in this environment can only be positive for the future for young dancers. As I said previously all of the lectures were very professional and easily understandable, the key memorable messages that we took from the lectures were; • Recognising couple space and how to use it to best effect. • Development and balance of strengths and weaknesses. • Personal and couple balance. • Awareness and importance of footwork. • Personal Motivation and sustaining development. • Understanding the basics to aid evolution. • Knowing who the focus is about and showing who it is about. • Knowing the basics and showing the emphasis • Showing the different intended expressions. • Connecting with your partner. • Being able to use the floor in connection to your partner and body action. As well as the actual dancing every detail was extremely well planned and coordinated, from the hotel check-in and accommodation to the venue and the enjoyable evening dinner which was needed and appreciated after a full day of exceptional lectures. It was also nice to be in a learning and social environment with fellow competitors and build friendships which I’m sure will last for many years to come. Last but not least we would like to thank the members of the BDF who very kindly transported us to and from the dance venue and hotel. We hope that the BDF continue to organise and deliver events like this, they are very much appreciated by the dancers and parents and can only be good for the development of young dancers in the UK. Yours Faithfully, Oliver Hand & Eleanor Beacock
After making the British National under 21 Latin final we were extremely privileged to be invited by the Ballroom Dancers Federation (BDF) to attend a two day training camp consisting of a day of Ballroom and a day of Latin lectures and tuition, which we eagerly accepted. The ballroom lectures took place on 2nd of January. This included lectures from; Kenny Welsh, Hazel Newberry MBE, Sasha and Natasha Karabey, John Wood and Loraine Barry. We found every lecture really interesting as each lecturer highlighted different elements of ballroom dancing, all of which will help us to improve our performance and technique once practiced. We particularly liked the exercises we were shown, which we can now take to our own practices. Overall we thoroughly enjoyed the day and gained vital information to help take our dancing to the next level. The BDF were also kind enough to organise a lovely dinner for everyone invited to the training camp, which included the lecturers. We think this was a great idea because it gave us the rare opportunity to socialise with our fellow competitors, in a more relaxed environment. The following day was Latin. This again was filled with incredible lectures from; Collin James, Margaret Redmond, Lynn Harman, Carmen, Hans Galke, and Micheal Stylianos. They all worked on the basic fundamentals, breaking them down to help us improve our technique. Although we were doing basic the lecturers looked at the steps in imaginative ways in order to make them feel new and exciting. As a whole we really enjoyed the day and found the lectures truly inspiring! Throughout the training camp we felt that there were two reoccurring themes. One of which was how to use the feet, in particular foot pressure to create movement and power. The second theme was partnering, this included sensitivity between two dancers. We felt this improved awareness of each other and also the performance level of our dancing. We would once again like to thank the BDF committee, especially Graham Oswick, for their time and effort in organising this event. We would also like to thank the lecturers for giving up their time to help us with our competitive dancing. Hopefully in the future we will be lucky enough to attend again. Jordan Sahota and Georgia Blatch
I speak on behalf of all who attended when I say that the lectures and workshops at this year’s the BDF Junior and Youth training event were outstanding. I believe that the lessons learnt were so invaluable to our dancing and I know that what we learnt will help us throughout our dancing careers. It was clear when we received an email with the timetable for both days that we would be fuelled with information from distinguished and renowned dancers, who are famous for their flair, knowledge of fundamentals and sheer talent for what it is that we all love the most.
We began with Ballroom. With workshops and lectures from David Sycamore, Andrea and Sara Ghigiarelli, Michael Barr and Marion Welsh we certainly collected a wealth of knowledge. Both David Sycamore and Michael Barr’s lectures covered the fundamentals across waltz and quickstep. At opposite ends of the day, these lectures ensured that all couples were clear on basics with sound footwork and technique. We learnt that it is important to have the quality in our performance from head to toe. Andrea and Sara’s lectures were in the middle of the day. We learnt the importance of the connection between the man, lady, the floor and the music. Andrea decided to add in a funny exercise where the girls were to be blindfolded and partners were swapped around. We were even treated to a demonstration waltz – I’ve never heard the couples so silent! At the end of the day, we were delighted to listen to the wise and wonderful words of Marion Welsh as she explained how connection and posture were essential for a successful partnership. Overall, the day was a success after fitness with Ben Walsh put us through our paces in the morning and a fascinating lecture from John Harris who taught us how to prolong our health and competitive dancing career in the afternoon.
The second day was focussed on Latin. In the morning, Danny Stowell conducted a Zumba session which was so fun! Everybody let loose and had a good time. Throughout the day, we heard lectures from John Byrnes, Michael Malitowski and Joanna Leunis, Pamela McGill, Gregor Rebula and Rachael Heron and Graham Oswick. We kick started the workshops with a lecture on how to interpret and find a balance in each dance from John Byrnes. We touched upon finding the accents in each dance and how we should have the will and the trust in our partners. Next were Michael and Joanna. Even whilst Michael was talking, the room was mesmerised. He led a workshop on how to fill the space and create an aura around yourself on the dance floor. We were inspired to challenge ourselves and be creative. Joanna conducted a lecture on the senses and how using one part of the body can create an emotion. We were so pleased to see them demonstrate a Rumba for us, and I spotted a few jaws drop to the floor! Pam McGill had prepared a questionnaire for us, to test our knowledge on the fundamentals. This was such a good way to interact and teach us exactly what we should know. Each dancer had the opportunity to share what they knew. Gregor and Rachael taught us how to portray a relationship within each dance and showed us how we can put across a story behind our choreography. It was excellent to see them display how it should be done. We concluded the second day with a lecture from Graham who taught us how to add artistry to each dance. To express the feelings, emotions and characteristics which vary throughout the five dances, to show the meaning between each couple and make it believable.
I know I speak on behalf of the couples that attended this year, when I say that we couldn’t be more appreciative and thankful to the wonderful people that made this possible. We feel privileged to have such support from the people we respect the most.
After a short Christmas break, on 27th December 2011, a handful of couples arrived in Sutton, Surrey to take part in the Ballroom Dancers Federation’s training camp. Couples from afar stayed in the hotel which was conveniently located next to the training venue that we would be spending many hard working hours in. As soon as we arrived at the hotel there was a vibe and a feel of excitement as everybody was ready to learn from some of the finest dancers the world has to offer
The morning of the 28th came and as we reached the training venue after an early wake up call, we began to see faces we recognised. Once again that feel of excitement and readiness was amplified around those taking part in the training.
Then it began, the two day schedule kicked off with a challenging yet fun fitness lecture from Ben Welsh which included muscular enduring activities as well as cardio-vascular. This was great as it allowed us to use some stretches which some of us may not have seen before and also kept the heart rate up at the same. Next was a lecture from David Sycamore. In this lecture David spoke about the importance of the fundamentals in ballroom and how everything can be built from there. The lecture was focused on the Waltz yet the principal could be applied to any dance. David put together a short basic routine and asked everyone to dance it and pointed out plenty of technical features of how the basic figures could have been improved. Finally, David concluded the lecture by saying how not many dancers practice the basics enough, this is something that I feel many who attended will take on board and fix immediately. The next lecture was hugely looked forward to by all attending, after their recent successes to have received a lecture from a competing couple as high profile as Andrea & Sara Ghigiarelli was a huge privilege. We was luckily enough to have two lectures from Andrea & Sara, the first on Waltz and the second Quickstep. The first lecture began by talking about the connection of a couple. Andrea then gave a quick talk on the man’s right hand connection in accordance to the woman’s back and then Sara gave a quick talk about the woman’s left hand in accordance to the man’s upper arm. They then told the males to blind fold their partners and to dance with someone different to get used to feeling for a connection, we then went back to our original blindfolded partner where the girls all realised that they were dancing with their own partners. This showed how everyone’s connection is different and partnerships are used to each other’s connections. Secondly was the quickstep lecture, this began by everyone getting into their own individual space and doing a hop sequence on the spot to show how the upper body and head should remain perfectly still despite the base moving. Then we took part in another exercise involving differently timed scatter chasses to help us differentiate the slows and quick’s to make them more obvious. To conclude what was a brilliant lecture full of humour as well as valuable information, Andrea & Sara danced a waltz for us which really made us realise the quality of today’s dancing as well as the quality of the lecture we had just received. John Harris gave the next lecture, this was interesting as it was not the normal dance lecture but a lecture on bones, muscles and how to warm up & cool down. I thought this was a great addition to the day as it gave some information which I feel was very valuable and could even prevent future injuries. The lecture began with a talk about the most commonly affected areas in dancer’s bodies which were then linked with the stretches John showed us next. There was a large variety of stretches to warm up and cool down not only muscles but also the bones in our body. Furthermore, John spoke to us about drinks and how important it is to make sure we get enough fluid as dancers lose so much liquid via body heat. This was a really interesting lecture that just made me think about the importance of preparing to dance as a pose to just getting up and dancing immediately. After a short break we received a lecture from Michael Barr. Like David Sycamore’s earlier lecture this was also about the fundamentals and basics of dance which really shows how important the basic figures are to top level dancing. In Michaels lecture we took Waltz as the main focus yet the main idea of this lecture could and should be applied to all dances. Michael put together a routine based on basic figures and asked us to dance it. After we danced, he explained all the alignments we should be making and how much turn each step should receive. After everyone making a few adjustments the dancing felt so much stronger just for turning that 1/8th more. To complete the ballroom day we ended with a lecture from Marion Welsh. This lecture was predominantly about getting into a good hold and staying there. Marion began by talking about the man’s left wrist and how it needs to be at a specific angle which she got us to do by using a clever analogy of ‘shooting a gun’ which really helped. From here she then got us to get the feel of elongating the neck by placing your thumbs under your partners ears and pushing up giving a sense of stretching without leaning backwards. This lecture really helped the idea of setting up a good a hold that feels good as well as being aesthetically pleasing. With an hour spare after all the final notes had been made everyone headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. The dinner was kindly sponsored by DSI and was a nice way of bringing all the dancers together and creating a friendly atmosphere. The morning of the 29th was another early start but everybody was looking forward to another enjoyable day of lectures ahead. To start the day off we had another fitness session, this time with Danny Stowell. This was different to the previous day’s fitness schedule as this time we would be doing Zumba which to many of the couples was a new and exciting experience. The Zumba was not only great fun but hard work and certainly prepared us all for the day ahead. The first Latin lecture of the day was from John Byrnes. John began the day by working on the fundamentals, he got us to get into lines and just show him rumba walks and cha-cha locks. We then talked about weight transference and how the weight needs to be central between the two feet as a pose to being too far forward or too far back. After this we began to discuss accent beats in all the Latin dances so that we were aware which steps needed to be accented, quickened or held for a longer period of team. Finally, John then talked to us about the connection between a couple and got us to do a leaning forward and backwards exercise to show the trust in a partnership. Like a few ballroom lectures the previous day, this lecture taught us the high importance of the fundamentals in dance. Next was a lecture that everybody was amazed by, as Michael Malitowski & Joanna Leunis spoke the whole room was silent as everybody was in ore of what they had to say. Michael gave their first lecture on Paso Doble, he started off just by making strong shapes which he got us to copy. Michael then went onto to talk about how we can expand the shapes by making them three dimensional purely by continuing the shape of the arm behind the body. Next Michael gave us a talk on spatial awareness and how we need to be aware of ourselves first, the partnership secondly and thirdly the surroundings. We all then danced individually and tried to react to what is around us including other dancers to become more spatially aware. Michael & Joanna then gave us time to apply their teachings into our routines ourselves which was incredibly useful. Their second lecture was handed over to Joanna to speak, she decided to do Rumba. The main topic for this lecture was what Joanna named ‘Sense activation.’ Michael & Joanna put together a basic routine which we all learnt and then one by one we added a new sense to it. Firstly, Joanna talked about the sense touch, then sight and finally a more abstract one in the form of breath. We all worked in our couples to all come up with a different interpretation of the same routine containing all of these elements. For me the idea of breathing in and out at certain parts of the routine to create an impact in your body is so clever and it works so well. A technique that really made our dancing feel more realistic and created a stronger connection. Following on from that was Pamela McGill. Pam decided to give out questionnaires containing technical dance questions on all five Latin dances to every individual. One by one we went through the questions and figured the answers out by demonstrating what we thought was correct to the rest of the dancers. It was a great, quick and simple way of learning and recording relevant technical information in order for us to succeed as dancers. The next lecture was from Gregor Rebula & Rachael Heron. Gregor & Rachael began their lecture by talking about the stimulus of dance, music. They showed how you can take any song and change the genre but keep the lyrics the same and it will still be recognisable. This shows how we should be able to dance and react to any music they play in a competition, no matter how we expect it to sound. They then gave us a scenario on which to create a routine to and separated us into three groups, each group making a different dance. Either Rumba, Cha-Cha-Cha or Paso Doble. When watching them back you could see the story being shown through the steps used as well as the body action. To conclude our two day training camp we had a lecture from Graham Oswick. Graham began his lecture by summarising what key points had previously been said throughout the training camp which really helped them stick in our minds. After this, he then went on to discuss music on the chose dance, Rumba. He played a particular track into the room and we closed our eyes and listened. When asked what instruments were playing and what the lyrics were, everybody struggled to answer as we all were so keen on listening to the beats of the Rumba. After a second listening everybody was able to discover more about the song. Graham then got us all to dance to the song, but without thinking too much about the beats more like dancing to the song itself. A few examples were selected and you could see how the song was affecting the way people were dancing.
I would like to finish this report by saying a big thank you to the Ballroom Dancers Federation and everybody who has helped run this outstanding event on behalf of all of the couples who attended. The standard of lectures we received was incredibly high yet so simple to understand. It was a very enjoyable two days which I feel has helped me gain a lot more knowledge of dance.
By David Cockram
‘Fresh from our Christmas break, we arrived early on 27th December at 9.00am, ready to begin a day of hard work. Many other couples had arrived the night before and stayed in a neighbouring hotel, but as we greeted each other the excitement between us all was electric’ … John Giannini
Organised by the BDF with Graham Oswick as the co-ordinator, nothing was forgotten from the free hotel accommodation for the two nights along with free meals during the daytime, a wonderful dinner on the evening with all of the BDF executive, invited guests, the couples and many of their parents enjoying the needed camaraderie for these young dancers… ‘We both liked the atmosphere created in the group which was welcoming and friendly but also competitive which can only help all those involved to improve….. We both liked the Evening dinner that was introduced this year because it made the group feel like a team and not individuals’ Sam Hunter & Charlotte Plant
The lectures on the Monday were to be all Ballroom to keep the theme and mood throughout the day but started with a real bang and a big surprise for everyone, a fitness class with the emphasis perfect for the dancers, not just aerobic but special exercises for speed, balance and agility that started the competitive spirit immediately, each one of the lads determined to be the best and fastest and the girls equally determined to beat the lads. ‘How to keep yourself fit and preparing yourself for a competition and others focused on different elements like foot speed’ Lorna Arnold
Then came Snieguole Wood who started the ‘simplicity theme of the two days with work on foot placements and full use of feet and ankles… ‘Our experience of the 2 day training camp was fantastic… I really think that the simplicity theme throughout the 2 days really benefited us. We don’t get chance really to be talked through the basic figures of each dance, even though we have all been taught them, it’s good to just dance these basics, which we will now be doing in our own training time’ Adelmo & Leila Stewart
Then it was Craig Draper and Snezana who moved to the upper part of the body creating hold and shape, again making it simple but absolutely clear… Shouldn’t invade partners space (we have our own window) and rotate without bringing left shoulder round. We want to maintain a good, consistent shape, which we can’t do if it’s tense and tight. … Katherine Giannini
Kenny Welsh chose music and movement as his theme ‘Don’t just dance your steps, feel them, listen to the music and dance to it. We can all work on the technique, but when we compete, dance’. … Katherine Giannini
‘Kenny Welsh’s lecture on musicality and how we can dance to different songs that are at different speeds I found that we have learnt so much in those two days that I think that my brain might explode’ … Miles Chapman Anne Gleave introduced the six elements of dance and explained how each element should be extended and thereby improves balance and power. It was put in such basic, simple terms. I can easily go back to this … Katherine Giannini
Not to be outdone by his wife Richard now took to the floor and worked on pure basic correctness and probably made the biggest impact of the two days. ‘the standard of lecturers could not have been any higher, the best of the best with expert knowledge really helping us to understand the art of dance. It truly was an honour to be taught by these legends of dance. …As Richard Gleave said “If you can do the simple bits perfect, you can do the hard bits well”. Genius. … Miles Chapman
While all the lectures were individual and personal, focusing on different ideas throughout the ballroom dances, one solid message of what English dancing needed in order to progress became clear, and was summed up perfectly by Richard Gleave, “learn how to do the basic things perfectly in order to do the difficult things well.” This phrase became somewhat of a motto for the two days, and hearing them from such a well-respected and prestigious name made them all the more important. … John Giannini
The final lecture of the first day was undertaken by Hazel Newberry and she approached the hour with a completely different theme of ‘How to train and What to train’ taking about warm up and warm down, dance exercises, practice finals, food and drink a complete synopsis that from the looks on the faces of the couples was a complete eye opener. I also liked how everyone did a different topic and how nothing was doubled or repeated even though there was that strong theme, it made it enjoyable and interesting… Lorna Arnold
And so to the second day which was to major in Latin American with a couple of extra themes thrown in for good measure. We started the morning with Cara Stubbington who gave all the couples a thorough body workout, using muscles that most of them didn’t know they possessed ‘The second one was really enjoyable and kept everyone moving the whole way through which is what we all needed to wake up, but all of that was high intensity stuff’, … Miles Chapman
‘I think all the dancers can agree that Cara Stubbington’s “Body Attack” workout was incredibly challenging, very enjoyable, and extremely satisfying to complete. This set us up for the day’s lectures’. … . John Giannini
And the days Latin lectures was started by Pam McGill who simply talked about beautiful accurate use of the feet, simple in topic but incredibly difficult in execution as they all found out ‘I found that from every lecture I have been able to take something away to work on to help me to improve’. … Jordan Sahota & Megan Chatwood
Then came another legend of Latin American dancing, Lorna Lee who’s theme was on the use of arms and giving everyone simple exercises in how to use the arm correctly, ‘preparing yourself for a competition and focussing on different elements like foot speed and styling of the arms’, … Lorna Arnold
‘I found that all the lectures were inspiring, like Lorna Lees lecture on arms and how they can be used’ … Miles Chapman
Alison Fulham then introduced a new can of worms, how to practice on your own when your partner is not there, fast foot speeds, actions forward, backward and sideways, isolated rotations and moving spatially, all of which now meant that the couples had no excuses for not practicing at home on their own, Which was followed by Raffaele Zaccariello with a lecture on the body, its needs and functionality with specifics applied to dance and training, which put simply was how you should look after yourself to get the best from what you have… and this did not only totally absorb the couples but all of the pros present all eager to look at the charts he used and then the exercises he demonstrated and advised for certain conditions… ‘The one Lecture that we specifically enjoyed was the lecture on the muscular and skeletal systems and how muscles were used in dance and what we needed to do to prepare ourselves to dance’… Sam Hunter & Charlotte Plant
And then Graham Oswick, always renowned for his variety of lecture topics introduced yet another facet of training that majority of the couples had not even thought about, psychology and mental approach to performance, positivity, desire, perception and self-belief… ‘Graham Oswick asked us why we were dancing, then asked us to close our eyes and just dance I didn’t worry about who was watching, what they were thinking, or what I was doing, I was living in the moment. I felt really good, important and I didn’t care about anything, except how much I loved dancing’. … Katharine Giannini
Denise Weavers was to hold the responsibility of the last lecture and produced one of the most excellent lectures of the whole two days developing the art of shape and fluidity of movement both for the man and lady in Paso Doble. She took simple basic movements from the technique book, added a cape and explained so simply and with great clarity exactly what was needed for a great performance, For me, Denise Weavers was particularly helpful in encapsulating the drama and passion involved in Paso Doble, but in a way that was easy to understand and incorporate into our own choreography. … John Giannini
The whole day was completed with a question and answer session with Kenny Welsh in the chair and wow this was vibrant with the main message, everyone wanted more of what had been given and as often as possible. It was clear to all of the committee, the buzz that it had left with all the couples, so much so, that already three more dates are being planned for 2011, so that we can provide the same level of help to all of the British dancers whether beginner or expert, young or not so young. This year, it was very refreshing that the ages ranged from Under 14 Junior competitors to the oldest Youth competitors. The mix of dancers created a supportive atmosphere that really made us feel like Team England, and through applying the knowledge we gained we certainly will be able to improve our capabilities as competitors…. an outstanding couple of days, which provided us with knowledge from some of the world’s best and gave an insight into how we can unlock our dreams. John Giannini
Graham Oswick and the BDF have produced what I thought could only be done abroad. They gave every one of the guys here a mind filling experience, they and all the lecturers were brilliant, and I have to admit the ‘simplicity’ of it all was, …well just too simple for words which only leaves us all with three question. Why didn’t we think of that before? Why hasn’t this been done before? And, Can we have more? Please BDF … James CutlerTeam England, we are on your case! Martin Cutler BDF PRO