Bianca: If you could tell us a little bit about your book. How did you decide to put your story into a written form and inspire others?
Darla: I was having great success as a top Pro-Am for the past several years and then I had a groin ache in my left leg that went down the whole leg. I was seeing chiropractors, doctors and all kinds of doctors to try and heal this. Nevertheless, it became quite apparent that I was headed towards a hip replacement surgery.
After I wasted time with the chiropractor doctor and the orthopedic doctor, a friend of mine got me a special referral to see this retired surgeon. He was a former chairman of the Orthopedic Section at a large hospital and a world-traveled researcher. He pretty much told me the same things as the other doctors: I should put off hip replacement surgery because at 50 years old I was considered too young (hip implants are supposed to last only 15 years).
So this wise expert offered me no sympathy nor solutions. I told him I was anxious to get back to ballroom dancing competitions and he told me that I would not be able to dance again after the hip replacement surgery.
Bianca: We can come back to “doctor Wise” a bit later on. What I would like to know about a bit more is how you started dancing and how did you fall in love with it?
Darla: For many years I have been a competitive equestrian and I was jumping horses. I had no interest in anything else. I did play a bit of tennis and golf. There were some events with ballroom dancing on TV but I just wasn’t interested.
When I was around 40 years old I was sort of getting burnt on the whole equestrian scene. One day I turned on the TV and I think it was the World Latin Championship. I was completely mesmerized.
I was really attracted to the body movement to the music and how the body interprets the music. Of course, when you’re a beginner you just learn the steps and the timing. It was a long evolution from a beginner to an advanced dancer.
Bianca: And how did the partnership with your now-husband Jim Maranto start?
Darla: I first met Jim at a dance camp. I was a beginner, just taking some classes. He was a really good teacher and a two-times Professional American Smooth champion. About a year later, I was taking lessons at this little studio in Charlottesville, Virginia and they invited him to be a guest instructor because we had some of his teaching videotapes. I took a couple of lessons with him and we just fell in love and started dancing together. He basically taught me everything I know about dancing.
Bianca: Moving the discussion towards the medical aspects, what advice would you have for people who might think they have a hip problem?
Darla: Too many doctors and medical professionals don’t really understand the classic symptoms of a hip problem, like the chiropractor who told me “Oh it’s definitely not your hip”.
I want doctors to be honest with patients and not mislead them to believe that drugs, physical therapy or steroid injection are going to magically fix the severely deteriorated hip joint. Sometimes the only solution is surgery and the only magic that’s gonna fix the problem is the scalpel in the hand of a skilled surgeon.
I really want patients to know that they don’t have to suffer from chronic pain for many months or years. If you have severe groin pain go get an X-ray. Then, find a doctor who’s experienced and has the knowledge and confidence to tell you what is possible after the surgery.
Bianca: Ballroom & Latin is such a different sport and someone who does not know much about it might not take it seriously. Do dancers need a special type of doctor that has more knowledge about this sport?
Darla: I definitely think one who is intuned with athletes and sports medicine would be more informed, but this “doctor Wise” that I went to has been all around the world doing research on hip replacement. I would’ve thought he would’ve been the foremost and utmost authority on the subject, but he was clueless.
Then, when I went to my surgeon in Arizona he said: “Yeah, your X-ray is terrible and you have to get a hip replacement, but I’ll have you dancing again in no time”. He knew what is possible and the other one had no clue.
By choosing the right doctor I became a US Champion 1 year and 10 months after my surgery.
Bianca: How can we deal with depression when your body does not work in your favor anymore?
Darla: You have to make a plan and stay positive. I studied sports psychology quite a lot and I’ve learned that you can use your mind to overcome negative thoughts. This is exactly what I did during my recovery from surgery.
You have thoughts coming into your head like: “Oh my gosh, look at me now. How am I ever going to get back to dancing like I was before? I had surgery, I can hardly walk”.
I always had little goals – baby steps to move forward each day like little exercises in my hospital bed. I’d look forward to seeing what I can do next and I’d refuse myself to look back.
Bianca: What story inspired you the most in your recovery period?
Darla: Oh, I was looking up all the athletes who’d had hip replacements and got through it or dancers who‘d had things happened to them but made it back to the dance floor.
I was particularly impressed with an ice skater, Rudy Galindo, who had won a national title before he had two hip replacements. He went back to perform, doing his double jumps in shows.
I thought that this is so impressive! If this guy can get two hip replacements and then go back and skate on the ice, jump in the air and land on that skinny little blade, then I can certainly get a hip replacement and dance on a wood floor.
Bianca: My favorite part of the book was when you talk about the moment you returned to watch the Ohio Star Ball after your surgery and you realized that your weakness can make you stronger. What can a dancer who has never been injured learn from this episode?
Darla: You just always have to turn a negative to a positive. People might think: “Oh my God, she just had a hip replacement, she must’ve lost her strength. She’ll go out there with a titanium hip against all those strong ladies”.
But I thought just the opposite: ‘I got this strong new hip that is made of titanium, I’m like a bionic woman!”.
Bianca: As you say in your book, “a butterfly with a broken wing will only fly higher”.
Find more about Darla on her website and you can buy her book from Amazon.
The post Darla Davies: Who Said I’d Never Dance Again? appeared first and you may read completly on Dancesport Life.
Why go to Training Camp and Which International Training Camps are the most famous for Dancers?
In addition to daily training, specific preparation for a Competition or for a season is essential for an athlete. Usually, before the competition season starts, there are several Training Camps organized by great dancers or clubs. What is pursued by attending a Training Camp level is to closely observe other couples how they execute their technique and also receive valuable details of the main international coatches in thematic group classes, and in case you choose a particular class, get the «tailor-made» advice of a coach specifically understood in what you want to improve.
The aim of the Training Camps is therefore to help each athlete to become a better dancer through mastery of the technique and learn the key principles of Dancesport from the best teachers.
In recent years, we have seen a significant change in the Dancesport Approach. Currently you have the opportunity to be observed, analyzed and corrected by the world’s leading specialists. You just have to know what you want to improve and which teacher is ideal for you.
A level Training Camp must be well planned, structured. Group classes must touch different aspects and each teacher must contribute that subject or aspects in which it is more specified. The role of the organizer is essential by selecting the most suitable and elite International Coaches Panel. Not only choose specialists in Latin and Standard. There are coatches specialists in pure technique, others in the artistic manifestation, others scan you and tell you clearly in which aspects of the many that there are more lazy and you should improve, or in which dance you are below the others, perhaps because the choice of some figures that are not correct for your characteristics as a dancer. Sometimes the characteristics of the boy as a dancer are not ideal for dancing with the girl with whom he dances or vice versa. This happens because there are different «types» of dancers and sometimes in the couple «he is not for her and vice versa».
This has two solutions: that someone who understands you say it – difficult because it is a delicate matter – or be in the hands of a great specialist who knows how to look for the right figures and the correct execution of them to try to «join the water with the oil».
There are international teachers like Ilya Danilov who is a living Scanner. That is why they call it «ORACULUS». If he wants and you ask him, he can revolutionize your life in an instant. I could tell you: he is not for you or you are not for her. In 1 minute of your dance vision, he will know more about you than you can ever imagine. I could also tell you which figures are not for you and configure a program according to your characteristics. But be careful if you ask for maximum sincerity: you can leave a class confused with him.
It is better that you go with the very clear ideas of what you want to ask the teacher. The 45 minutes run very fast and are very expensive. The best thing is something specific, convey what you need in a specific way in the first minutes of the class. Before you, you must have made a reflection of the most important thing you need and the exhibition begins must be clear and concrete.
If you do not go with the concrete ideas, the teacher will give you a generic class that may be more successful or less, and you will know little by little. It’s up to you that the class is worth it.
A great international coach (not everyone) knows how to do this, but of course, it will not be easy to be offered or offered at the first. It is something that goes out of the ordinary, you will need an approach to that teacher to enter that field.
The normal dates to attend a Training Camp is in summer to prepare the competition season that begins in August-September. Also at Christmas-New Year. But there are other Training Camps at other times of the year that are very interesting to attend.
In a few years, we have moved from a few closed camps, focused on training, to several camps each month with the best teachers and couples from around the world.
So you understand that you can get a good Training Camp. I mention below the pros and cons of a Training Camp point of view of a dancer:
1. Time saving
You can have lessons with many teachers in the same place. You save money and time, compared to the previous system in which we needed to fly or drive each teacher separately.
2. Increased motivation
You can find a larger group of dancers to train. Your presence will inspire you and motivate you to do better. You will hardly find elsewhere the same adrenaline and energy you get during resistance training in a training camp.
3. Expand your device
You can expand your group of favorite teachers. In fact, it can sometimes happen that I book a lesson with a teacher just because he / she is on the training camp list. But in the end, you can get an unexpectedly surprising lesson. Then you wonder why, until that moment, you have never considered studying with that teacher.
You can also read our other article on how to find the right teacher for you here.
4. You will be noticed
Compared to competitions, the atmosphere in a training camp is generally more relaxed. The people around you have more time and will look at you with different eyes. If you really are a good dancer, but you still don’t have a large audience, during training camps people will notice you and start taking you into account.
5. Make friends
In a training camp, dancers can let others see how they really are in normal life. Teachers and other dancers can sometimes have a distorted idea of you if they only met you during competitions. During a training camp, you have a good chance to turn your enemies into friends.
6. Level up!
It is very common to see a couple improve their level day by day during a training camp. Be it the amount of information, the quality of the lessons or the contagious emotion, the truth is that the training fields help you grow and improve. The truth is that it happens often and that is one of the main reasons why so many dancers attend training camps.
1. A training camp can be really expensive
A training camp can be quite expensive. If your budget is not large enough to be free-minded and simply take and leave, try to plan ahead. Start saving money!
The actual price you will pay per lesson may be higher than usual. In fact, most of the time, you will have to pay an additional price that goes directly to the organization … This surcharge allows organizers to pay for plane tickets, accommodation and transportation for teachers.
3. The energy level.
The quality of the private lesson you get can vary greatly. As teachers are working up to 12 or 14 lessons per day. At the end of a long day, your teacher may not be able to give his 100%.
4. It will affect your program
As a training camp is generally not planned for weekends and lasts several days, it can be a problem for those who cannot easily get free time or reorganize their schedule.
5. Contradictory information
The amount of information you are going to get is huge and everything happens in a very short time. This will usually create some problems. Sometimes the information you receive is contradictory. A teacher will say one thing, and the other exactly the opposite. The funny thing is that both things may be true, but it is difficult to combine the information. You have to let the knowledge be absorbed.
In addition, it may not be easy to practice all the knowledge you acquired before starting the next lesson. Therefore, you can easily forget what you just learned.
6. Too easy? Too hard?
Very often you will see that there are different levels of participants, from juniors to seniors, from beginners to advanced. The teacher has to find a way to run a workshop that is interesting for everyone. But, this is going to be a problem for you.
Sometimes, they organize different groups for younger students or for older people. However, sometimes this is not happening and the group lesson ends up not being useful. For example, if you are a beginner and the teacher is playing a topic that is too difficult to understand or, conversely, if you are a high-level couple and the topic is too simple for you, time and money are you investing It won’t be worth it.
Once analyzed what can be useful to attend an International Training Camp, we will mention below the main International Training Camps both WDC and WDSF.
1. THE CAMP – Wuppertal, Alemania
But what makes this Training Camp so good?
First, it has some of the best teachers in the industry and the location, the Historic City Hall, is absolutely stunning. Everything is very well thought out and the purpose is to leave Wuppertal inspired and focused.
Here is the list of teachers of the 2019 edition
2. Dancing Superstars Festival – Bremen
In 2019, the Dancing Superstars Festival will be in its sixth edition and is announced better than ever. The coaches who will organize the workshops are some of the greatest legends: Slavik Kryklyvyy, Catia Vanone, Fabio Selmi or Julie Fryer, to name a few.
3. Summer Dancecamp – Dinamarca
What is a summer without this Training Camp? Well, the perfect one would be Summer Dancecamp. Why is it perfect? They are, as they say on their website, an «independent dance camp for federations, dance schools, clubs and organizations: all are welcome regardless of their affiliation.»
World champions Kristina and Peter Stokkebroe and Frank Høgh are in their eighth year organizing this camp for all dancers of any level to come and learn from the best. For us, it seems the perfect environment where every dancer will feel welcome.
4. Edita Daniute International Training Camp – Trakai
Coaches: Edita Daniute, Mirko Gozzoli, Fabio Selmi, Pietro Braga, Salvatore Todaro, Catia Vanone, Alexey Silde, Alessandro Firmo, Marek Chojnacki, Michele Bonsignori, Anastasia Titkova.
5. Team Vivo Latino with la Grande Orchestra Italiana – Italy
Between July 19 and 21, in Italy, Team Vivo Latino is organizing the largest Training Camp for international training and competition in southern Italy. The Training Camp and the sson competition in Mariotto, which is 30-40 minutes away by car or transfer from Bari-Palese airport.
The Vivo Latino Team Training Field has one of the best coach selections.
- Hans Galke
- Sergey y Melia
- Paul Killick
- Andrej y Melinda
- Viktor Nikovskiy
- David Yin
- Goran Nordin
- Jukka y Sirpa
- Maurizio Vescovo
- Joanna Leunis.
6. S&F Camp – Moscow
The Training Camo S&F is organized by Alexey Silde and Anna Firstova, mainly dedicated to Latin. It is held at the Crocus Expo usually in early January and the second time is at the end of August and lasts 5 to 6 days. During these days, the schedule looks like this: in the morning you have stretching sessions, around 4 PM you will have general physical preparation and in the evening there are practice sessions.
7. ZK Camp – Moscow
The ZK camp is organized by Dmitry Zharkov and Olga Kulikova and is dedicated only to standard dancers. Like the S&F Camp, it is celebrated in Moscow at the Crocus Expo. The first ZK camp is in early January and the second time is in September and usually lasts 3 to 4 days.
The schedule of the day is divided into two parts: physical preparation and practice sessions at night. In addition, there are separate groups for children up to Junior II and separate groups for young people. In charge of these groups are the teacher assistants: Matteo del Gaone, Evgeny Nikitin and Anton Besedin.
🔵🔴⚪️ZK SUMMER DANCE CAMP ⚪️🔴🔵Every Tuesday 10:00-2:00pmAge 3-6 WelcomeHoly Cross Church Hall, CH49 7LS£10 per child Contact Zacc for more information ZK SMASH THE SUMMER 2016 ☀️☀️☀️
8. International Championships Preparation Quality Camp – Warsaw
It is organized by Lukasz and Aleksandra Tomczak from September 13 to 16 in Warsaw, Poland. As the name implies, this Training Camp is dedicated to those who are preparing to do their best in the International Championship that normally takes place in October of each year.
9. Mabo Training Camp – Italy
The third week of September you can usually participate in the Mabo Training Camp and receive valuable information from some of the biggest legends in the industry.
10. Transylvanian Grand Prix
The Transylvania Grand Prix is one of the most important dance events in Romania. The best WDSF couples from around the world attend and fight for a place in the final. The best thing about this event is the Transylvania Training Camp, which brings together teachers such as William Pino, Pietro Braga, Barbara Ambroz, Giordano Vanone, Colin James and many others.
11. Royal Dance Summer & Winter Camp Spain
Organized in the first week of January in winter, and in the first week of August in summer, the famous international coatch Karina Rubio organizes one of the most outstanding Training Camps, which also advances in prestige at times.
The cast of teachers that come is fantastic. It is a Training Camp especially prominent for Latin dances and very well organized.
12. Master Evolution Benidorm -Spain
Organized by a group of teachers such as Piegro Braga, Valeri Ivanov, Frederic Mosa, etc. (Dance Sport Team), a very special Training Camp is organized in Benidorm in January, just before the prestigious DANCESPORT CUP International Competition.
The organization works to create 2 specific events within the Training Camp itself: Mater Evolution Latin and Master Evolution Standard.
The cast of top-tier coatches is spectacular.
13. Gold Camp Bilbao -Spain
In the middle of October of each year the Bilbao Dancesport Cup International Competition is held in Bilbao- Spain.
Just a few days before, a prestigious Training Camp is also organized, which every year enjoys a presence of couples and category.
Por Frank Gascón – DancesportNews.info
Which Heel is the Best for Ballroom?
A guide for men’s dance shoe heel types
In dancesport, there is a tight connection between comfort and performance. As a result, this directs us from a very young age towards particular brands or models that make us feel good and therefore perform better. If you remember in my previous article, I discussed how tail suits need to be made to fit you perfectly. Even the shirt you wear under the tail suit impacts the end result. That said, when it comes to dance shoes, each dancer has their own preferences.
In this article, we will only compare the different types of heels and try to determine which is best for you.
The traditional heel – also called the “Oxford” or the “Gibson” – is timeless. It’s the heel that has never changed along time. If you are old enough, this is surely the heel you started dancing with and maybe still use to this day.
Nothing special has been added to this model; it’s comprised of a flat base, a suede bottom, and a slightly rounded and slanted top to be as ergonomic as it can in its simplicity. Despite the limited comfort this heel offers, it’s very stable and quite durable.
As ballroom dancers gradually increased their dynamic on the floor, they required a heel that allowed for easier movement. More specifically, they wanted to be able to create a larger movement with a lesser risk of sliding out of control on the parquet.
Dance shoe manufacturers solved this issue by rounding the edges and lifting the suede sole. By losing a small portion of the standing area, greater control is achieved when using the heel. Furthermore, the edges won’t wear off as quickly as the traditional one does.
We see a similar idea in the slanted-heeled shoe; the back has been inclined to offer better control when making a big step through the heel. But where the suede in the rounded shoe is lifted to cover the rounded edges, the suede in this shoe simply follows the slant of the heel.
This heel is a good compromise for those who like the stability of a traditional heel but are searching for better comfort and control when increasing the size of the step.
Lately, placing a layer of soft rubber between the suede base and the heel itself has gained popularity. This shoe’s comfort is second-to-none, especially the “noiseless”, soft-touch feeling that you get in every step, even if you don’t do a perfect bodyweight transfer (with a traditional heel, you would make a horrible sound that everyone in the hall would hear)!
For some dancers, the cushioned heel might feel less stable than other models, but if it’s comfort you’re looking for, this is the heel for you. But, beware:the soft layer wears off quickly!
Other Available Options
Of course, you can find numerous other kinds of heels, especially in rubber and other, less traditional materials with shapes that can vary significantly from those mentioned above. Many dancers prefer to use these only for teaching. Standing and working for many hours can be difficult; it can tire you if not you’re not using comfortable and ergonomic shoes. Some models of this kind of shoe may be suitable for competitive use.
Just try them yourself and find the one that suits you best!
Find the author on
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15 Pieces Of Advice From Emanuel Valeri & Tania Kehlet
Emanuel Valeri & Tania Kehlet are one of the most loved standard dancers. Their long career has been filed with great results both in Amateur and Professional division. Among their best results are titles like Blackpool Amateur champions and WDSF World and European Professional Standard champions – WDC & WDSF.
In our podcast with Emanuel & Tania, we have discussed many things, but here are 15 pieces of advice from them:
1. Don’t talk more than you dance. We need to use the body, not the mouth.
2. Competitions are important but don’t forget to have fun.
3. When you’re in the studio practicing and having lessons you need to be there 100%.
4. You have to be prepared mentally and physically. If one of these two is missing, you’ll have problems during the day of the competition.
5. Respect each other as dancers and as human beings. Respect your competitors and your teachers.
6. I am a big believer in not having huge teams. Big team = many opinions.
7. You must be sure about what you really want to bring to the dance floor.
8. You cannot have just one lesson and say this teacher is good or bad. You need to give it a bit of time to find the connection and coordination.
9. You need to go away a little bit sometimes from the natural tuning waltz.
10. I would like to see a little bit more the girl in the couple – the male dancers are trying to cover too much the ladies.
11. Stay focused on creating proper quality dancing. The quality of movement and technique behind it is the solution to having a better performance.
12. Do not go for fast solutions.
13. PRACTICE! Spend as much time as you can really practicing.
14. As a teacher, you need to understand who you have in front of you. Every couple is different and every dancer is different.
15. Stick to what you really know and to what you are 100% sure of.
If you want to listen to Emanuel Valeri & Tania Kehlet’s story and find out what else they’ve shared with us, make sure you listen to the full podcast here.
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