As I promised in my first blog, I will share with you my FIRST PLACE competition in Vegas. So no it is not about my wild parties in Vegas, though I might share with you some small secrets!
After my Bronze competition in May 2011, I had a new instructor, as you know by now his name Igor and we decided to work on Silver level. Silver level is higher than bronze, meaning there are more patterns in the routine and the judges look for more than just hitting the steps on time. My other instructor Inna from the same studio (http://www.imperialballroomdance.com/), which I do group classes with every Tuesday, allowed me to rent her gold dress. Inna also did my hair and make up for the competition.
I started training with Igor around end of June and took a break on my birthday the 40th, flew to Europe and to be specific to Amsterdam and Paris, where I spent the best ten days of my life, celebrating my birthday evening with my sisters at MOULIN ROUGE in Paris , http://www.moulinrouge.fr/, but that is a whole new story that maybe I should dedicate a blog for it. I came back from Paris and went back to my normal daily life, which by the way was very difficult . I learned and practiced with Igor the whole time and we danced more intensively towards December.
It was time to fly to Vegas and two great friends from work decided to join my journey, Claudia and Cynthia. It was so much fun from the moment they arrived to the hotel.
We ended up spending the whole weekend in Vegas after the competition. So yes we did party one night wildly and to tell you a secret, I was five feet away from Karina Smirnoff, the professional dancer from “Dancing with the Stars” show, while she was partying with her friends. In this competition , I saw four professionals from “Dancing with the Stars”, which made the experience even better.
The most exciting moment was when I was preparing myself to go to dance on the floor. The first dance was the Chacha. I cannot describe all the nerves and excitement going through my mind at the same time. I danced the first dance and I’m sure I messed up somewhere. Immediately after the first dance we did the second dance the Samba, Rumba, Paso Doble and the last one was the Jive. Let me describe the feeling after doing all these five dances in a row and after the last killer dance the Jive. I felt I’m going to throw up big time. I was holding Igor’s hand on the floor and whispering, I’m going to throw up and I was not kidding. Another unexpected thing occurred is that I had a neckless glued to my forehead that Inna installed earlier, it started dangling while I’m dancing on the floor. The glue was not strong enough to keep that big stone on my forehead steady. While I’m dancing and competing I was thinking “GREAT”, of course with sarcasm. Meanwhile dancing, my amazing girl friends were screaming my name and saying “Go Sam” and that was a great feeling to have that someone was sitting there cheering for me. For clarification Sam is for Samantha, a nick name I use at work.
We did the first five dances, then we had to repeat them again, because we were chosen from Semi finals to dance the finals. For me that was a great accomplishment already. It meant we had to compete again with less dancers on the floor. This time my girlfriend Claudia made sure that this stone on my forehead was super glued. Just to let you know I had glue on my front head and my hair and it took forever to clean it up after the competition. We competed the five dances again, this time nothing was dangling on my head, but the throwing up feeling was there again.
After dancing ten times we had a break . It was nice , I mingled with my friends and ate my banana which was my meal for that day. They called the dancers to the floor to announce the winners, first , second and third place in those single dances. I had no expectations what so ever, I felt very curious at that moment to see who the judges picked. So they announced the third place winner and then I heard my name as a second place winner for the first single the Chacha. For clarification there are no prizes for single dances , it is just to let you know who danced the best. When I heard the words second place, I thought to myself ok, sounds like I might end up second or third place. After that immediately they continued to announce the winner. I got first place for the second dance the samba, then I could not believe my ears when they kept calling my name as the winner for almost every single. We ended up placing first place in eight dances and second place in two dances. I was very pleased and smiling form ear to ear, it was more than I imagined. Later Igor, explained to me that the first dance was the Chacha and the judges did not know me and did not have enough time to see me, that is why I got the second place. The other second place I got was in Paso Doble, Igor explained to me that I was not moving enough, it wasn’t that good. Little that I knew that those singles were basically an introduction to the judges to get to know the dancers and usually they are a good prediction to the winners of the Scholarship competition.
After this small ceremony which I got ten stickers representing the ten dances, eight saying the number 1 and two the number 2 .
We had about two hours break, so I rested and spent it with my girl friends. After that it was time for the scholarship competition. This scholarship competition had only four dances. In Bronze level the scholarship has three dances, in Silver four and in Gold five dances. My scholarship dances in silver were Chacha, Samba, Rumba and Paso Doble. I was pleased that I didn’t have to do the “killer” Jive again. We got to the flour again to participate in the Semi finals round , feeling excited and nervous at the same time. Igor told me this is it, give it all. I was very competitive inside and was ready to dance. We did the four dances in a row. Then they called us back for finals and we did the four dances again.
Notice: When you watch me dance the Samba, the second dance , Anna Trebunskaya wearing a grey suit judging the dancers.
One of the coolest things I experienced was that Anna Trebunskaya was one of the judges in the scholarship. Anna is a professional dancer from the big show “Dancing with the Stars”. I remember a nice moment when I was dancing the Rumba and it happened to be a good song that I was in the moment dancing with all my emotions and I saw the judge smiling. As a dancer I really feel I could dance better if I connect to the song, but of course if I say that to Igor, he will say, “you have to dance on every song the same way”. So don’t tell him I said that ! Please!
Time for the winning announcements, all couples stood on the floor and I was holding Igor’s hand very nervous and anxious to know. They announced the 7th place, 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd and so far I did not hear my name. This is when I was thinking ” PLEASE GOD! NOT THE SECOND PLACE!”, then I heard 2nd place a different name than mine and then I knew I won, I heard for the first place “Ghada and Igor” . I would say that was one of the happiest moments of my life. I cannot describe the feeling. The best part was when Anna Tribunskaya handed me the envelope and said ” you did a great job”. What an Honor to hear that from her. I turned to leave the floor, when Igor grabed my hand and said , we had to stay to take the photo of the winners. So we stood the first in line next to the judges and took the winning photo.
We left the floor and suddenly I heard “GHADA” , It was Inna walking towards me and hugging me and I could not help it but break in tears. No one knew how I felt inside, this winning was a big proof that I can do it, with all the difficulties and the late nights working and practicing in addition to being a parent. How I longed for this moment, to compete and win. If I go back five years , I used to look up to those competitive dancers and envy them for their ability to compete and wear all those fancy dresses. I cannot believe that I made it this far.
After winning, me and my friends hung out in Vegas, we partied that night and enjoyed wandering around Vegas the next day. On Sunday we shared a ride with Claudia and drove home. This was a great experience and now that I tasted winning, I want MORE.
Stay tuned for more about my Gold level dancing.