UK Congress 2016

UK Congress 2016

By Jack Reavely

Everyone is greeted on entry with a gorgeous picture on a large TV screen of Anthony and Fay Hurley in lunge position …Anthony’s right hand position encompassing Fay’s backline and the style allowed Tony to enhance the dance, as it was impeccable in the time scale of dance progress. So, the scene was set and anticipatory relish filled the venue with ambience … Then the TV picture changes to a picture of Tony and Amanda Dokman … young, fervent and his glasses transmitted intelligence … in dance of course as he will show in his lecture as will also Amanda … the power behind the dance Prince, as are all the ladies of excellence.


Tony & Amanda Dokman

Tony and Amanda Dokman: So, the audience settle and the first lecture is announced as being Tony and Amanda Dokman. How could I know that I was going to be entertained, and also educated, by one of the finest lectures it has been my pleasure to attend. The sheer warmth, the undoubted terrific knowledge, the thrilling enunciation and the twists and turns were simply terrific. It was for me wonderful also that this young pair of exponents mentioned in many instances from where the information had come … from their previous coaches who had instilled into them some of everyone today.

They mentioned the ‘Moment of Truth’ as being so vital in dance and they explained many of those moments also that attenders were delighted to lap up the information. Very cleverly, they used visual aids as a means of transmitting much of the information and because of this, the information that they imparted was slotted into the minds of spectators as the aids were most unusual and will bring back the memory of the fundamental action that they were intended to emphasise, and they sure did … A large wicker basket appeared on stage, carried by Tony and it had in large letters on the side F and M … could it be the famous Fortnum and Masons? Well believe me, the lecture was just as succulent as is the famous food from that famous store in London. It was full and magical … the taste buds of dance were amplified and their efforts were magnificently presented … humour abounded, but did not mask the underlying and obvious ‘Moments in Truth’ in dance which they presented … Already it felt as if I had five numbers on the lottery and was waiting for a sixth … and along it came … Gosh … A tennis racquet appeared and Tony explained how it was a ‘Moment of Truth’ as it determined the outcome … It is the same in Golf or Football and even a pianist because pressure creates a different level of sound from the notes played. Then Tony produces a large basin and says that you should stand with both feet in it … and it is full of cement … then practice … don’t use your feet or your head weight or you will fall … You should then move your knees to go outside the bucket … practice one knee inside the bucket and one knee outside it and then change the knees over and do the same again … Already gasps of astonishment and glee were reaching my ears and the warmth being created was fun fun fundamentals … Practice as if you are moving from promenade position and again ensure that you use your knees … Tony yells that our knees can move diagonally forward, so you can have contrary *Bucket* Movement (CBM) … Information is cascading to the audience and surely they are allowing it to flood into their memory banks because, if they do and then if they try to emulate the illustrations given by Tony and Amanda, they could leap into much better contention, as they will improve their dance prowess.

Posture and movement from the great Benny Tolmeyer … he said he only used his knees to bend to go forward but not to go backwards, and by the way the use of the bucket was from the fantastic Peter Eggleton. Bobbie Irvine used to tie a man’s tie between his legs and yank the tie upwards … this ensures that the body did not drop and collapse and Tony and Amanda had great fun showing this to roars of laughter from the audience … Tony and Amanda say that a long body contact is essential and the man must not attack the lady from his top line … you must displace your base before you move your face and you must also keep a calm face, to transmit the character of the dance. Put a cup and saucer on your head … keep your head calm and dance without dropping the saucer. A torch was then used, tied to Tony and so that the beam showed clearly on the floor and he explained how it should when your knees move … such an informative lecture … they surely will become Stars of the lecture circuit, because they encapsulate exactly the requirements … ‘education and entertainment’ combined with the terrific undertone of giving beautifully clear messages, so that those who saw and heard them, will be able to attempt their recommendations … This is like finding a pearly reward in an oyster you open for lunch … they cascaded information as if confetti at a wedding … wonderfully … and their almost final words were “If you allow choreography to get in the way of the ‘Moment of Truth’ … it is no good” … I look forward immensely to this young couple becoming in demand world wide if they can continue to give lectures of this calibre … I congratulate them most warmly indeed … simply terrific.


Sergey Surkov and Melia

Sergey Surkov and Melia … ‘The Art of Partnering’: On comes ‘Houdini’ Surkov and Melia, and Sergey immediately announces that you have to like your partner before it can all work well … of course this means a love match between him and Melia as it sure worked for them and they gave some magnificent performances of Latin dance in Championships all over the world, and produced headaches to judges, as they were so good the judges had to contemplate them for the highest possible placements. Two active bodies are required and the frame must show a body set up to create a ‘presence’ on the floor. However, although you must retain the presence you must also discover and use freedom … As Sergey showed and explained this he transmitted as if he was a member of the Royal Ballet … and a top class one too.

Before you start any movement, you must have two bodies which are absolutely alive or it will not work … So the inferences are already quite clear and it is that postural maintenance, coupled to freedom, are essential if you wish to be in the ranks of top class exponents of Latin dance. The man should lead through the use of hands and then it was explained that the body must be used to create presentation and co-ordination and it all starts from body movement. The man’s body must activate first, before he dances his lady of Latin. The silence of footfall in the Rumba, which they now showed was superb and Sergey says that he always tries to fill up space with his body. The use of free foot positions shown, was, by itself, an object lesson for the production of sheer beauty … it was mesmeric and could and should inspire watchers to try to emulate and it is the combination of many aspects which creates excellence. Melia says that she always tried to be dramatic and to transmit that into visuality and an emotional transmission. Practising for excellence is rather like driving a car … timing, direction of your bodies … you must know your final destination and exactly what you wish to show and produce when you dance … How very true. Through the legs to the centre and up to the upper body you must use body motion and this leads your lady of Latin and ‘allows’ her to accentuate and emphasise the actions that you dance.

It is easier when one is active and the other passive, but you both have to show activity and it fills the musicality and the transmission of, for example, an emotional Rumba.

Tone Nyhagen was their main teacher and she so very sadly passed away recently and as well as a teacher, she was also their mentor … Their sadness still allowed them to give a very moving tribute to Tone’s memory and they said that without her, there would not be us … As a tribute to Tone, they danced a Rumba which conveyed nostalgic memories, sorrow, passion, speed and ooze which gave a beautiful conclusiveness and enhanced body structures. If Tone was able to see this, she will be smiling and shedding a tear too as did many of the audience … a sad but so warm memory was left and we think of Tone as young 1963 to 2015 but remember forever and a day.

Today’s dancers are so very lucky because through the hard work and courtesy of DSI-London, the two Congress lectures and the whole of the Celebrity Audience with Anthony and Fay Hurley is available for everyone to see and to relish. Don’t miss it and you too will revel both in the principles of Ballroom and Latin and also the sheer fervour incited by John Kimmins and Greg Smith will fill our ears and your eyes with so much historical information, which applies equally to today as it did in yesteryear … We must profusely thank Malcolm and Gerald for their continued fervour in using their equipment and taking the time to allow their films and also their streaming direct from the event to satisfy the eager requirements of those unable to travel personally to the events they cover. A record of performances is available for all to cherish and will give years of pleasure to those who purchase … Look for the advert in Dance News. I understand that, in addition to the streaming already done, DVD’s are available covering the competitions as well as The Congress and An Audience with Anthony and Fay.

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