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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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5 Lessons 2020 Taught Us

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As horrible as this year must have been, we should be thankful for it has taught us plenty of lessons. The year 2020 forced us to reevaluate our plans and dreams. 

2020 showed us who our real friends are and who is willing to give up on us when we need them the most. This year a lot of partnerships have ended, and others have formed. Some have quit dancing, while others have started new & exciting projects.

I summed up what I think are the most important things that 2020 showed to us. 

1. We Love Competitions

As a competitive dancer, preparing and going to competitions is your main activity and this year showed us that we might take them for granted.

This year I saw how much all dancers, from beginners to dance legends, suffered that they couldn’t attend competitions such as the Blackpool Dance Festival, German Open, and many other competitions that hold a special spot in each dancer’s heart.

This year we missed all the fuss and excitement that surrounds a big event. We missed people that we see maybe just once a year at that certain comp and we certainly missed being on and off the dance floor.

2. How Addicted To Dancing We Really Are

Ok, at first, it was quite nice. Everyone thought, “Oh, I can finally have a well-deserved break now”. 

But we soon realized that we could not live without dancing. We all started dancing around the house, we reorganized our living rooms in mini dance studios, and we used our walls as partners. 

Some of us who gave up dancing a while ago know how difficult it is to stop. But for those who were in full ascension, I imagine this forced pause felt even worse. 

Nevertheless, dancers are not easily broken down. Many of you practiced in your homes and used this time to learn new things about dancing. Some of you listened to interviews or perfected specific dancing skills such as elasticity. 

3. Online Education Is Important

Because we are on this topic, we realized how crucial online teaching resources really are during this pandemic.

Many dancers couldn’t see their teachers, and this is how online classes came into play. Either if you prefer pre-recorded courses as we offer on Dancesportlife Academy, or live classes, you cannot deny that this is what kept dancers growing during 2020. 

4. How Attached To Our Dance Family We Really Are

The connection between partners is something very difficult to put into words. It is that type of fondness that is hard to explain. In 2020 we didn’t only miss dancing. We also missed what goes hand in hand with dancesport – our partners. The connection between the two partners is one of the most beautiful aspects of dancesport.

Besides our partners, we missed our teachers. There is nothing like a good lesson with our favorite teacher. We missed that type of lesson in which you get those “Aha!” moments when everything clicks. 

5. To Be More United

All in all, I think the most important lesson this year taught us that we need to be more united. 

Many dancers came together to create beautiful online projects this year. We’ve watched fascinating discussions between dancers that otherwise might have never seen together. 

I think we should always remember that the most important thing is never to lose our humanity & kindness. 

The post 5 Lessons 2020 Taught Us appeared first on Dancesport Life.

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11 Online Courses For Soft Skills In Ballroom & Latin

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Technique is crucial if you want to be a good dancer. But what do you need to do in order to achieve that higher level? Well, that’s when soft skills subjects like partnering, communication, musicality and style choice come into play.

I put together a list of 11 courses you can find at Dancesportlife Academy that will help you be a more sophisticated dancer. 

A tip from me: because Santa Claus thinks we’ve been good this year & respected all the rules, we have all our courses on SALE.

1. Partnering Skills in Rumba by Espen Salberg

In his lecture at Dance Amore Roma 2019, Espen Salberg is discussing the sensitivity of lead & follow. Dialog and communication between the two bodies are essential in order to create togetherness.

Espen showcases in his lecture, assisted by Oxana Lebedew and Laura Zmajkovicova, two ways in which you can improve your leading actions:

  1. By knowing the order in which you need to communicate with your partner.
  1. By knowing the amount of energy/physicality you need to put into your leading actions.

Length: 35 minutes

Here is the link to the course

2. Finding Your Dancing Self by Oxana Lebedw

Learning how to express yourself through dancing is one of the most beautiful and challenging aspects of dancesport. It’s something that allows a dancer to touch other’s hearts and souls. That is done by discovering and expressing your own uniqueness.

In this course, you will explore the freedom to show yourself as a performer. You will find out how to relate your own self to your dancing self by learning to be aware and open all your senses.

Length: 45 minutes

Here is the link to the course

3. Mastering Of A Partnership by Oxana Lebedew

In a course that feels like a discussion with a wise psychologist, Oxana shares her pieces of advice on how to develop your partnership into something out of the ordinary.

She touches on subjects like how to communicate with your partner and how to connect. She offers examples on how to divide the duties in a partnership and how to choose a style for you, as a couple.

Length: 25 minutes

Here is the link to the course

4. Samba by Slavik Kryklyvyy

In his lecture from the Gladiators Dance Congress 2019, Slavik is touching many important aspects that create and give samba the characteristic of a “body dance”.

He is pointing out that nowadays, many dancers and teachers forgot what are the core principles of this dance or what are its origins. Thus, the character of samba has been lost.

Length: 31 minutes

Here is the link to the course

5. Movement In Rumba by Slavik Kryklyvyy

In this lecture, Slavik is focusing on body movements in rumba, while tackling subjects like freedom and fluidity.

Being the talent that he is, his lecture is truly inspiring if you want to develop your thinking in a more artistic way.

Length: 30 minutes

Here is the link to the course

6. Creating Your Own Dance Story by Klemen Prasnikar & Sasha Averkieva

Klemen Prasnikar & Sasha Averkieva, WDC World Latin Champions, take you into a self-expression journey by playing with one of the most fundamental principles of dancing: connection.

In the first chapter, they tackle the physical connection. Then they show you how to stay connected even if you are not touching your partner. Lastly, they show you how to play with these types of connections to create your own dance style, your own dance story.

Length: 1 hour 25 minutes

Here is the link to the course

7. Freedom Through Breathing by Paul Moldovan & Cristina Tatar

Paul Moldovan & Cristina Tatar are one of those dance couples that are simply meant for each other. They are currently semi-finalists in all the major events in WDSF Amateur Latin and former World Champions in WDSF Youth and Under 21.

The course is structured in three parts. In the first chapter, Paul & Cristina will show how deficient breathing can influence your mental state and affect your performance. In the second part, they explain how faulty breathing patterns can affect your body, especially your stamina. Lastly, Paul & Cristina shed light on how you can use breathing to play with your steps during your routine by creating a different dynamic.

The course is very unique and could be illuminating for many dancers out there, Latin or Ballroom!

Length: 34 minutes 

Here is the link to the course

8. Qualities Of A Long-Lasting Partnership by Paul Moldovan & Cristina Tatar 

Long-lasting partnerships are something we all strive for. They offer us a sense of security and reliability, which helps us truly focus 100% on the dancing.

But how to maintain a good partnership throughout the years?

Through their 18 years of experience together as a dance couple, Paul & Cristina realized what worked for them. Now, they are willing to share some of their key ingredients of such a beautiful relationship.

This course will leave you with the impression that you just discussed with your most responsible and thoughtful friends.

Tip: This course can be found as a BONUS if you decide to buy Paul & Cristina’s course – “Freedom Through Breathing”

Length: 11 minutes

Here is the link to the course

9. How To Make A Ballroom Dancing Hairstyle For Men by Madis Abel

This course is a step-by-step program designed for Ballroom and 10-dancers to give you all the tools needed to have a champion’s hairstyle.

You will find 20 lectures divided into 5 sections: Preparing your hair, Basic principles, Blow drying, Hair spraying, and Common mistakes. This isn’t fluffy theory stuff either. You’ll get real, ready-to-use tools that you can begin to implement immediately. 

Length: 2 hours

Here is the link to the course

10. The Details Make The Difference In Latin by Frederic Mosa

Frederic Mosa is one of the most sought after teachers and adjudicators in the WDSF Latin world, coaching top Latin couples.

In his lecture from Master Evolution Training Camp 2020, Frederic is showing you with the help of Andrea Silvestri & Marina Varadi the importance of details in our art.

Three of those details are: creating a signature move, musicality, and the connection between partners.

Length: 39 minutes

Here is the link to the course

11. How To Make The Interpretation Interesting, Using The Musical Structure by Pietro Braga

When you say musicality in Standard dances you automatically think of Pietro Braga – one of the best teachers to go to if you want to excel in this area.

In his lecture from Master Evolution Training Camp, Pietro teaches you how to interpret movement by understanding the musical structure.

Length: 28 minutes

Here is the link to the course

The post 11 Online Courses For Soft Skills In Ballroom & Latin appeared first on Dancesport Life.

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11 Best Online Courses On Ballroom & Latin Technique

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We’ve put together some of Dancesportlife Academy’s best courses and premium camp lectures for Ballroom & Latin technique. 

We also have massive Black Friday & Cyber Monday promotions at the moment, so if you decide to buy some of the courses, now is the time! 

1. Fundamentals Of Ballroom by Mirko & Edita Gozzoli

One of our best-selling courses is, by far, the greatest choice if you want to learn the core principles of Ballroom technique such as posture, hold, centres, footwork & body action. Furthermore, you get the chance to discover four novel choreographies and how to apply the theory to them.

Mirko & Edita Gozzoli barely need any introduction. They are one of the most renowned names in ballroom dancing. They have been both World Champions and European Champions.

Length: 4 hours 20 minutes

Link to the course

2. Fundamentals Of Quickstep by Hazel Newberry

Hazel Newberry MBE is one of the United Kingdom’s leading ballroom ladies and dance teachers. She was three times undefeated World Professional Ballroom champion. 

In her lecture at the Gladiators Dance Congress, she focused her attention on lead & follow by looking at body positioning and core principles such as contra body movement.

Length: 29 minutes

Link to the lecture

3. Paso Doble – Structure And Its 5 Elements by Alan Fletcher

When you say “Alan Fletcher” you automatically say “true legend of the Latin American dancing world”. One of the most sought after teachers, preparing couples to win the highest titles, reveals the five key aspects of Paso Doble.  

Learn from Alan some secrets on music, posture, shaping, framing, and resistance. Also, you will get a cameo from one of the most loved lady dancers. I’ll let you guess who that is!

Length: 26 minutes

Link to the lecture

4. Partnering Skills In Tango By Steve Powell

A true gentleman of the ballroom dancing world, Steve Powell is a multiple-time European Professional Ballroom finalist and a World Professional Ballroom Semi-finalist.

In his lecture from Gladiators Dance Congress, we can learn about partnering applied strictly in Tango, as it is quite different than the other Ballroom dances. Steve is looking mainly at how the body and foot positioning helps in mastering the partnering skills. 

Length: 31 minutes

Link to the lecture

5. Paso Shaping by Graham Oswick

Charming and charismatic, with a great competitive career behind him, Graham Oswick uses his knowledge to teach Ballroom and Latin American competitors valuable principles.

He showcases this charm and love for core principles of Latin-American dancing in his lecture from Gladiators Dance Congress. Graham explains how to create that distinct Paso shaping through mastering feet pressure and leg action.

Length: 29 minutes

Link to the lecture

6. Fundamentals Of Movement In Latin by Andrea Silvestri & Martina Varadi

Andrea Silvestri & Martina Varadi are one of the top WDSF Amateur Latin couples. They are finalists in all the major events such as Grand Slams and WDSF World & European Championships. 

For their Dancesportlife Academy course, they’ve put together five chapters of theory and choreography designed to help you learn the basic principles of bodyweight, movement, and connection. In the choreography part of the course, Andrea & Martina will show you four basic routines and four more advanced routines by applying all the principles discussed in the theoretical section.

Length: 2 hours 40 minutes

Link to the course

7. Use Of Different Timing In Cha-Cha-Cha By Goran Nordin

Goran is a former UK Closed Amateur Latin Champion, British National Professional Latin Champion, and a finalist in major competitions from the WDC world. 

He is known for his inclination towards choreography, timing, and musicality. And that is exactly what he discusses in his lecture from the Gladiators Dance Congress. Goran, with amazing enthusiasm, showcases how we can play with different timing in Cha-Cha-Cha.

Length: 28 minutes

Link to the lecture

8. Specific Positions That Give Character To Your Dance by Mirko Gozzoli

Mirko Gozzoli has a special place on this list as he appears not one time but three times! 

In this lecture from Gladiators Dance Congress, Mirko shows you how to dance a Tango that respects its character by creating different positions. 

Length: 32 minutes

Link to the lecture

9. Viennese Waltz And Its Technical Actions By Mirko Gozzoli

The third lecture held by Mirko is the one from Master Evolution Training Camp. 

As should expect from each of Mirko’s lecture, you will receive great details and discover hidden aspects of a dance. In this lecture, he teaches you the correct foot alignment & placement in Viennese Waltz and the amount of turn in the body position.

Length: 50 minutes

Link to the lecture

10. Bodyweight By Simona Fancello

Simona Fancello is a great ballroom instructor. Her career was filled with great results together with Fabio Selmi. She has been a finalist in all the major competitions, such as World & European Championships.

In this lecture, she focuses on the importance of bodyweight and how to use it in the fundamental basic steps of quickstep.

Length: 27 minutes

Link to the lecture

11. Slow Waltz And The 3 Important Actions: Swing, Sway, Shape By Irina Solomatina

Irina Solomatina is one of the most sought after teachers. Together with Alexander Melnikov, she was 12 times Russian Champions.

In her lecture from Master Evolution Training Camp, Irina explains thoroughly how the swing, sway, and shape in Slow Waltz are crucial for good leading in Slow Waltz

Length: 39 minutes

Link to the lecture

 

Next, we’ll make a list of courses and camp lectures that focus on softer skills such as musicality, artistry, or communication.

The post 11 Best Online Courses On Ballroom & Latin Technique appeared first on Dancesport Life.

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