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Darla Davies: Who Said I’d Never Dance Again?

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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. 

I was so annoyed and angered by his ignorant statement. It was at that very moment that I decided I would have to prove him wrong and that I would have to write a book about it and tell the world.
Darla Davies
Darla Davies: Who Said I’d Never Dance Again?

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 thought: “WOW, this is the most exciting thing I have ever seen!”. The costumes, the energy, the athleticism, and the glitz it just drew me in. I was captivated by what I saw that day.
Darla Davies
Darla Davies: Who Said I’d Never Dance Again?

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.

Darla Davies: Who Said I’d Never Dance Again?

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. 

Patients should not allow anyone to put limits on the potential of their success after the surgery.
Darla Davies

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. 

Choose your doctors wisely!
Darla Davies

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. 

Darla Davies: Who Said I’d Never Dance Again?

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!”. 

I just took a negative and turned it into a positive and it worked!
Darla Davies

Bianca: As you say in your book, “a butterfly with a broken wing will only fly higher”.

Darla: Yes! 😃

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.

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Interview: Wojciech Furman Brings The Fighting Monkey Practice Concepts In Dancesport

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Matteo: How did you get in touch with dancesport?

Wojciech: I’m connected with dancesport at a very young age. It was more or less a 16 years journey. But actually, for me it has never ended. I competed mainly on a national level and then started teaching Standard. 

I didn’t achieve any spectacular results as a competitive dancer. Probably the best one was the Semifinal U21 at the Polish Championships or the Final in Junior 10 dances at the Polish Open Championships. Nevertheless, I fell deeply in love with dancesport and teaching was like a rebirth of this relationship.

Interview: Wojciech Furman Brings The Fighting Monkey Practice Concepts In Dancesport

Matteo: You started to develop a new kind of training for dancers. Where did it come from and why do you believe it’s effective in dancesport?

Wojciech: It came from my huge fascination with Fighting Monkey Practice by Jozef Frucek and Linda Kapetanea. 

«Fighting Monkey is an applied practice for human development through movement».

The learning process in dancesport is quite academic, but the world of movement has much more to offer. In short terms, the training process should be maximally effective, providing immediate results. 

I understand the reason and I’m not here to judge, but I think that this orientation has its consequences. As the creator of the BMC (Body Mind Centering) said: “What you look for and the way you look for it will determine the kind of answer you get”. 

Speaking about consequences, there is a moment when it could be very hard to take your dancing to the next level with that approach. There is a moment where nobody can teach you literally the complexity that is happening inside of your body

What I’m trying to do is to propose a certain frame, establish situations and circumstances in which you can evolve. My experience in contemporary dance and movement culture along with being inspired by Fighting Monkey naturally led me to this idea of adapting this practice to dancesport reality. 

Check out this video to watch an introduction to one of the Fighting Monkey Concepts:

Matteo: Can you give us some examples of the exercises included in your training?

Wojciech: The training is quite complex, plastic, alive, evolving with me, my ideas and my observations. It’s quite complex to write in the details about it, but I’ll try to give a general overview of it.

Interview: Wojciech Furman Brings The Fighting Monkey Practice Concepts In Dancesport

Let’s start from abstract tools: 

  • the practice ball – a tennis ball on a string 
  • wooden sticks or small wooden blocks. 

Other methods I use are body-body games/tasks and coordination drills. I also work a little with a topic of observing your structure, your current state through fixed, mindful movements, which comes from Fighting Monkey section called “zero forms”. 

Fighting Monkey practice lets you observe your mechanics in order to improve your structural integrity and neutral communication. It’s meant to refine your performance through irregularity and complexity – exactly what you see on the dance floor. 

Paraphrasing the Fighting Monkey creator: we want to build a body structure that is interconnected in an adaptable way by establishing open connections that are ready to transport information to the entire structure of yourself and your partner.

Matteo: How do dancers react to this kind of training? Do they see improvements once they do your exercises regularly?

Interview: Wojciech Furman Brings The Fighting Monkey Practice Concepts In Dancesport

Wojciech: So far, I only worked with couples in a workshop format. This means that I don’t supervise them after. What’s crucial is that I need, especially from dance trainers, a bit of trust in something that is unknown or different. 

Those who believed me so far and gave me the opportunity to apply these ideas really made me proud. It also gave me the possibility to develop and improve the overall project even more.

I made a study on a small group of dancers as a part of my Bachelor thesis. They attended a workshop with me and after, I asked them some questions in an anonymous form. 

Let me share some of the findings with you:

  • Do you think that this kind of training has an impact on better awareness of mechanics of your body in ballroom dancing?
    • 100% of positive feedback (71% definitely yes, 29% rather yes).
  • Do you think that this training has an impact on better sensing and organizing your body in ballroom dancing?
    • 100% of positive feedback (43% definitely yes, 57% rather yes).
  • Do you think that this kind of training has a positive impact on technical aspects/movement qualities required in ballroom dancing?
    • 86% of positive feedback (43% definitely yes, 43% rather yes).

 

There was also an open question: “What are your feelings about training inspired by Fighting Monkey Practice in Ballroom Dancing?

Here some of the answers: 

«Fighting Monkey’s practice will help me for sure in perfecting ballroom dancing. Despite difficult tasks, I’m happy about taking part in these classes. I know that they’ve brought me a lot of benefits. I will happily take part in the next Fighting Monkey workshops.»

«I think that it can really develop a dancer’s skill. The training gives you the feeling of being focused on yourself and your body from a different perspective than in a typical training. It teaches you the control but also the freedom of the movement.»

«Positive. It connects all aspects in one. A lot of tools that don’t diverge from the main style.»

Matteo: Would you suggest any dance teacher to include in their teaching system this kind of training? 

Wojciech: Surely! My ideas are not here to change a technique but to explore it, to expand it, to rethink it. 

I encourage teachers and dancers to explore it as a community. At the same time, give a sense of independence to your students. Fighting Monkey serves as a platform which gives you a quality of observation, so you can get valuable feedback. 

Another important aspect is prehabilitation – building “earthquake architecture”, offering a proprioceptive variability to your joints and state of play to your mind. Like this, you’ll avoid burn out and keep your freshness. Diversity breeds immunity

Interview: Wojciech Furman Brings The Fighting Monkey Practice Concepts In Dancesport

Matteo: On what should dancers focus their training to get the most out of it and to develop constantly, without any “ups and downs”?

Wojciech: Firstly, as far as I know, it’s impossible to develop without “ups and downs”. Let’s be honest and just take your time. Secondly, to get the most out of your training is not the same as developing constantly without “ups and downs”. 

Jozef likes to tell the story about going on a journey up a mountain, let me quote it from the brand new, unpublished to the public, Fighting Monkey book:

“How will we go about this journey? We like to move forward in a good pace, happy to see results, we like to be first, special, different and better than others. I hardly ever hear anyone saying “I take my time”. It does not matter how long it takes. Yet, we are in a hurry, stressfully looking for maps to advance faster. We want to get there now, and to do so we are told that we need to be efficient. But in order to be efficient we need the maps of other people, fast highways that others have created for us, highways that take the straightest possible way. Without rest, we just go. We try to stay focused, invest time, know what we are doing, look for how to get to the top of that mountain as soon as possible. I call it “flower practice”. Results are quick, beautiful with many colors and shapes, often very impressive, but the flower fades away also very quickly. We all know it. No, you can not hack the system and speed up things, it will result in failure, severe injury, and deficiency.[…]”.

I like this perspective that the great athletes are great not because of their “effectiveness”, but because of the love for what they do. This love made them want to explore, to look out for the best solutions, and to dig deeper.

I know that all of this may sound poetic, but that’s a good thing, as I don’t want to be only physical and I hope dancers wish this too. We are all artists in the end.

What I would like to suggest to all dancesport enthusiasts is to not be afraid to explore and to improvise. You should shut down the automatic pilot and don’t settle on the answers that were handed to you – always question yourself. Like so maybe, you’ll enhance your dance and refine your performance.

Explore more about Fighting Monkey in dancesport:

  • Tennis ball exercise.
  • Wood sticks and tennis ball exercise.
  • Latin-American dancers practice Fighting Monkeys concepts.
  • Tennis ball exercise on one leg.
  • More exercises with tennis balls and wood sticks.

The post Interview: Wojciech Furman Brings The Fighting Monkey Practice Concepts In Dancesport appeared first on Dancesport Life.

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30 Funny Dancesport Realities

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1. Dancing in heels should count as a superpower.

2. Your partner’s face is immune to ponytail whipping.

3. Ruined bedsheets by fake tan. 

4. There is no such thing as too much gel of hairspray

5. You learned to do a full face make-up way before any of your non-dancer friends.

6. You can always pull off a sleeked back hair. 

7. When you learn all the names from the Swarowsky stones palette. 

8. Your teacher uses noises instead of counting.

9. “Let’s do it one more time” is a huge lie. 

10. Your dance wardrobe is bigger than the “street clothes” wardrobe. 

11. Finding stones in weird places. 

12. Definitely “and” is a number! 

13. Choreographing every song you listen to.

14. Practicing your connection when you open every door.

15. Feeling your center every time you stand still.

16. Being ace at faking confidence. 

17. Everyone telling you that you seem arrogant. 

18. When everyone assumes you are dating your dance partner. 

19. You know what “Davai” means even if you’re not Russian. 

20. You learned how to treat a lady from a young age. 

21. You say 5,6,7,8 instead of “ready, set, go”.

22. When the teacher puts you in a position and it feels weird, but you actually look amazing. 

23. You cannot walk without moving my hips.

24. Quickstep can be a combat sport. 

25. People whp you follow on Instagram: 5% friends, 5% family, 90% other dancers.

26. That mini heart-attack when you don’t find your partner before the Round.

27. Total brain freeze when the teacher asks “What’s the count there?”

28. Latin dancers do not simply practice without watering their shoes every 5 minutes.

29. Always misplacing your shoe brush. 

30. Restoning missing stones on your dress/shirt is pure relaxation.

 

                                                                                     OR

Just spending 3+ hours on @dancesportlife page when you should be studying instead!

 

 

Leave us in the comment section below what are your most relatable dancesport realities!

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German Open Championships 2019

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The biggest and most awaited World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) event of the year has now been archived with more than 4,000 registrations, 58 present nations, and 45 different competitions. Once again, the 33rd edition of the German Open Championships 2019 gave people unique sentiments to remember for a long time.

The Professional Division

The competition week started with the WDSF PD Super Grand Prix Latin. Gabriele Goffredo and Anna Matus confirmed to the world that they are, without a doubt, number one in their category, boasting a near ten-point gap between them and Marts Smolko and Tina Bazykina, the runners up.

German Open Championships 2019

Not only was a night full of energy and sparkles, but of strong emotions too, as Alexandr Shmonin and Maria Shmonina announced their retirement from their competitive careers.

Day after day, the feelings grew to their highest peak, when Dmitry Zharkov and Olga Kulikova performed outstandingly on the floor of the Beethoven Saal – the same floor that saw them win the Amateur title twice, in both 2017 and 2018. 

German Open Championships 2019

“Today we felt really free mentally, and it made us fly. The main importance to us was to dance: to dance really from the bottom of our hearts, and we loved it!”
Dmitry Zharkov & Olga Kulikova
-after winning their first PD Super Grand Prix Standard

The Amateur Competitions

Standard

The amazing performances of the pros fired up the Amateurs’ atmosphere in the last two days of the German Open Championships 2019. It’s tough to surprise the public with marvelous dancing after a lineup of professionals. Nevertheless, the top amateur couples weren’t worried at all.

On Friday, the title of the Grand Slam Standard Champions went to Evaldas Sodeika and Ieva Zukauskaite, who earned a standing ovation after their spectacular Quickstep. Therefore, the adjudicators noted it more than a full point higher than that of the runners-up, Francesco Galuppo & Debora Pacini

German Open Championships 2019

The real fight, though, was between Moshenin-Spitsyna and Glukhov-Glazunova for the bronze medal. In the end, Evgeny Moshenin and Dana Spitsyna got the third place by only 0.169 points!

Latin

At the German Open Championships, Saturday night rhymes with latin night! 

This time was a special edition for the home public; two German couples claimed the highest podium steps. Nonetheless, Marius-Andrei Balan and Khrystyna Moshenska confirmed their title with their unique and passionate dancing. Still, Timur Imametdinov and Nina Bezzubova – the silver medalists – put on a stunning show as well. 

German Open Championships 2019

Why are the German Open Championships so special?

The German Open Championships holds a very special place in dancers’ hearts. It might be because of the beautiful venue, the orchestra, or the importance that this event has gained over the course of its rich history. 

Whatever the reason, what really matters to those who love dancesport is being part of it and experiencing the feelings that can only be given to you by the German Open Championships.

The Medal Table

 

   🥇

   🥈

   🥉

1. Russian Federation

      17

       9

       9

2. Germany

        5

       6

       3

3. Moldova

        5

       4

       2

4. Italy 

        3

       4

       6

5. P. R. China

        3

       5

       0

6. Romania

        1

       4

       4

7. Latvia 

        2 

       2

       2

8. France

        1 

       2

       2

9. Lithuania

        1

       1

       3

10. Slovakia

        2

       1

       0

11. Japan

        0

       2

       2

12. Norway

        2

       0

       0

13. Spain

        1 

       0

       2

14. Canada

        0

       1 

       2

15. Finland

        0

       2

       0

16. USA

        1   

       0

       0

17. Netherlands  

        0

       0

       2

17. Spain

        0

       0

       2

19. Austria

        0

       0 

       1

19. Bulgaria

        0

       0

       1

19. Thailand

        0

       0

       1

Useful Links

  • Official GOC website
  • German Open Championships 2019 Results
  • WDSF Official Results
 
If you are really curious to find out more about some of the names mentioned in this article, make sure to check Dancesportlife’s interviews at the Bucharest Grand Slam.

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