I watch dance competitions like other people watch hockey or football.
From the very first round of a competition, all the way through to the last moment of the last dance of the final round, I will remain glued to my TV or laptop to make sure I don’t miss a single moment of the action. I will cheer, groan, gasp, sit on the edge of my seat and collapse in relief depending on what is happening.
When comes to watching dance, the Blackpool Dance Festival is like my Olympics or NHL Playoffs. It is the event I look forward to all year, and certainly it hasn’t disappointed. In a twist of unforeseen events (meaning my health issues), I was able for the first time to watch it live on the internet, and I don’t think I will ever be able to go back to watching a ‘replay’ again.
I am not a professional dancer. I am not even that experienced in dance. I have been dancing only four years, and it wasn’t until about a year ago that I discovered it is possible to watch full competitions online. Since I have, I suddenly didn’t need ‘Netflix’ anymore.
But Blackpool is special. Besides one of the biggest and longest running competitions in the world, the level of dance is phenomenal—even for someone who is not quite sure yet what ‘phenomenal’ dancing really is. I am learning though, thanks to lots of watching of different competitions, the insightful commentary available with the streaming of competitions and the perceptive understanding and impressions provided by a friend much more experienced in dance than I am.
On top of being amazed by the dancing I am able to see, Blackpool is even more special because I can watch people competing whom I have personally met, seen compete live, been coached by, and even the couple who taught me my very first steps in waltz and samba, among other dances, four years ago. Truly I have been blessed in the dance world and somehow these personal connections, even if they are small, makes the wonder and atmosphere of Blackpool more real and exciting than any other competition I have watched.
I find myself impressed beyond imagination with what I am watching, the amazing atmosphere of the competition, and how it makes me feel.
And that is the key to watching dance for me. That is what inspires me as a relatively new dancer. As much as fitness and stamina are important in dance, it is also an aesthetic art form—and the power of what I am watching at Blackpool is coming to me through the emotive response the couples on the floor are evoking in me. I want to cheer for them. I want to see them succeed. I feel like I am sharing the experience with them, even though I am thousands of miles away sitting on my couch with my cats. Every event I watch, as the number of couples on the floor become less and less, the more it is like I am sharing in a personal journey with each couple as they dance. I know there is a story behind each couple that brought them to where they are. I want to know more.
That is only a piece of the power I experienced watching Blackpool. Truly amazing.