Dancesport Rules Updates: Rozana Sweeney

Samantha StoutMay 18, 2020Ballroom Chat: Episode #6
Ballroom Chat #6: Rozana Sweeney
This week we talked with Rozana Sweeney from Art & Style Dance Studio. We talked about how the current situation is affecting dance studios and competitions, potential ways this will change how Dancesport events are conducted, the 2019 NDCA rules updates to syllabus events, and what you can do to stand out in front of a judging panel.
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Show Notes

Episode Transcript

Samantha: Good morning, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Monday morning coffee talk. I'm your host Samantha, and today I am joined by the wonderful, amazing Rosanna Sweeney. For those of you that maybe aren't familiar, Rosanna is -- and I hope I'm saying this correctly -- a former German world champion; a US professional in the Latin category with her husband, Terry. She's now the owner or co-owner, I guess I should say, of Art and Style Dance Studio in Pittsburgh, PA, and she is also an NDCA adjudicator and judge of many a competition, correct?

Rozana: That's correct. Thanks for having me.

Samantha: Thanks for being on. how are you doing? How is life these days?

Rozana: Well, very slow compared to what we did a couple months ago. It's been a drastic change, you know, for all of us, not just here in the US but everywhere in the world. Like, honestly, people say there's a light switch. You push it down and over -- it's done. I think the first two weeks when we closed our studio, March 12th, that was the last time we were in the studio due to the Coronavirus and the close down and stay at home. And with that, obviously all the travel stuff immediately.

We were actually debating that following weekend -- should we still go to New Jersey and coach? We were invited to coach in the studio, and then we decided not to do it because nobody knew, you know, what's going to happen -- how this virus develops -- and we still don't really know. Anyway, it's been more like a shock the first two weeks. So things started to be like "Oh my God, it's everywhere. What do we do?" Then you're scared to go to the grocery store because you have no idea, but that's the highlight of your week, you know? Today is the first time we don't have that.

They do it here in colors. We went from red, which is, I think it's the first phase. Now it's yellow, so we don't have to stay at home, but no gatherings allowed.

We would be able to do one-on-one in our studio if everybody continues being, you know, conscious and aware and what we have to do. We have had mixed responses from all students. Some say, no, we'll wait until this is over. Some say, yeah, let's go. But I'm not gonna wear a mask, so I'm not agreeing with that. And then, the social distance thing, it's a little hard on some of our older students who want to dance with you or they want to at least be guided by a partner.

Samantha: Yep.

Rozana: So we have some things to think about how we're going to deal with that and how we're going to open. Today, my cleaning lady just texted me and said she did a deep cleaning in the studio. Yay. But it doesn't mean that we're going to be operating exactly like we used to, which is kind of sad, to be honest with you. It really killed the dance industry.

Samantha: Yeah. No, really. I 100% agree with that. I think the dance industry and a lot of those one-on-one learning experience industries are really suffering as a result of this, but we'll bounce back, and we'll innovate, and when we come back we'll be stronger than ever.

Student Feedback Regarding Covid Precautions

Samantha: We're in a similar situation here in Utah. Parts of the state are now in yellow; some areas of the state are still in orange. I was able to get in the last two weeks to do some one-on-one private instruction, and the feedback from the students is exactly the same. I think the feedback everywhere from students is going to be the same. Some are excited to get back and they just want to be back in the studio and whatever that means they're happy for it. And other students are like, "I'm not wearing a mask while I'm dancing." Or, "the whole reason that I'm taking these lessons is so that I can have some physical interaction and some physical connection with another person."

So I'm going to wait and come back when all of the boxes are checked. I hope that you guys can get back to normalcy in whatever capacity that is soon.

So obviously, this is impacted the timeline for competitions. I mentioned in the intro that both you and your husband are judges and adjudicators. Obviously the summer is sort of when competitions normally pick up, and there's a different competition in a different state every other week. What are you seeing from organizers, being an organizer yourself? What are you seeing the reaction to be and how are folks handling this?

Rozana: Well, I can only speak for ourselves. And we have the one-day event, which is normally on the first weekend in June. We had to cancel it because the hotel was not able to provide us with the same amount of people that we can let into the ballroom. Their restaurant is closed, and they don't know when it's going to open, because I think a lot of their workers are either on furlough or they let them go. It's an airport hotel, so they were dead basically, you know?

Samantha: Yeah.

Rozana: a lack of a term there, but, we couldn't really give them the same experience. And then we were talking about even if we do, the food and the bar and the coffee place and all that -- how many people can we have in the ballroom? So right now, I think it's still 10 people in Pennsylvania. I'm pretty sure I might be wrong, maybe 25 now. But, it's still social distancing. You're going to dance with the teacher six feet apart.

You want to have people come in and watch it. So we just decided, you know what, it's not worth it for all the effort we have to put into to make it a little bit more comfortable for everyone. So we decided to skip this year and do it in 2021 and hopefully be stronger and bigger. We had in March, every weekend a competition to go to. So all of them were canceled immediately. You can imagine the panic that started. April was holding on for a little while, and then all those competitions cancelled. I think we had three to go to, to judge. They were let go, including the coaching as well, and in different cities. May started the same, too. I think I just saw that Millennium just canceled. There's another comp which is further down in June -- Florida State -- which I was very disappointed for because I thought we might be a little more free in Florida, but they also decided to cancel.

On the upside, North coast -- which is also end of June -- they confirmed today that they're going to hold it, and they're gonna try to do their best. I can't quite picture it, to be very honest with you, how that's going to go out. We're all going to stand around the floor with masks.

Samantha: Right.

Rozana: Are we going to talk to each other and then say "let's be like six feet apart?" Maybe by the end of June things might change a little bit. Hopefully. But the fear is going to still be there, you know?

Samantha: Yeah, that's my main concern as an instructor. I obviously had students that were planning on doing competitions farther in the year, and I'm sitting here going, okay, so what's my criteria as an instructor going to be, before I enter my students? Am I going to ask how many people are allowed in the ballroom? Do I take the flight to get to the competition in mind? Do I think about, okay, what is the potential scholarship that my student could win versus what's the potential risk of our health?

You know, there's this balancing act that I think both professionals and amateurs are going to be kind of weighing going into the competitions for the next couple of months. Hopefully by the end of the year, hopefully by the time we get to Ohio or holiday classic at the end of the year, that might change. But also with the larger competitions like Holiday and Ohio, you almost would imagine that there's going to be more pressure on them than like a small local one-day competition.

Rozana: Yeah. Emerald ball also canceled. They moved their dates from may, I think, to our weekend when our competition was. He also said that the hotel will not allow, you know, the certain amount of people. That's the biggest issue with our art and our sport. We're giving each other hugs. We see each other constantly -- face-to-face, basically. So, that's a very difficult thing. And a lot of people are in this business because they like the social interaction because they want to be around people, especially some of our older, so to speak, students.

And you know, I think 80% of our business is the older clientele, so they're probably afraid of if they have any. I don't know, kidneys or asthma or whatever, you know, that there might, get. faster infected than a very, very healthy person, you know, but it, it's, it's still so unknown, that it's, it's frustrating because you don't, I don't see yet to end the light on the end of the tunnel because it could, You'll take a student to a competition and all the precautions are there. Okay, but are they going to enjoy it? You know, are they going to be either going to be ready for it because they haven't had any lessons for over two months? You know, face it, zoom lessons are not the same. Then when you actually dance with you, you're, students. same for the pros. You know, some of the pros I have talked to. Some of them considering to just stop and not continue because it's just frustrating money-wise. You know, they're not making any money. they don't know when they're going to be able to get back. To competing. That's why we all do this, you know?

Ohio Star Ball and Other Competitions During 2020

I talked to Sam a few weeks ago -- Sam Sudano, I'm sorry -- and he said that, he was our chairman, so I had to communicate with him that we're not going to hold the comp and stuff like that. But, he said the same thing.

It's gonna take. a while. Till things start coming back the way we used to. I hate that. The same. The new normal. I can't stand it for some reason, like we used to, operate our business. You know, you might have people stopping completely because, you know, if you don't have competitions, big ones. they. Might not have the interest.

This is why I did it. You know, some, Oh, I saw Ohio Star Ball. You know, I so inspired by it. I want to do that. Now. You run a competition without audience, is another thing. You know, you can't bring your family in. We were, our last comp judge was the, Arnold Dancesport classic in Columbus, which was the first weekend in March, and Ohio already started to close down and there was the, if yes, can we have a, can we not have it? And then finally, the hotel and the government, government or whoever they were talking to, it was bill sparks and Sam Sodano that said, yes, you can, but no family. Can come in to watch.

Samantha: So you're talking about a thousand competitors. I was going to say you're talking about a thousand. youth amateur and college students? That's the entire point of having a competition that size is to bring your family and...

Rozana: The juniors who, you know, they have to bring their parents. So they're loosened up on it a little bit and let the immediate family come in. But the whole event had no spectators. It was like a ghost town. We were used to like constantly running. We had to wait for things, you know, waiting at Starbucks for sure. No way to get checked in at the hotel. So, but it still hasn't quite been sunken in, you know, because we didn't know all the details. And then we started thinking afterwards, Oh my gosh. We were, there could have been that one of us or been affected, but thank goodness all the judges are fine who were there. And as far as I know, the dancers from CMU, my, my students and my kids junior kids. So, it was the last one.

Samantha: That's, that's insane. Yeah. I did not attend Arnold as a college student, but I did go to Ohio star ball and actually just, just stepping away from, the doom and gloom for a moment. So, that is actually how I originally met Rosanna when I was on a, and I'll use the term rival very loosely, collegiate competition team.

So. I was a member of the Fairmont state university ballroom team. it's a very small little college. I don't think that ballroom program even exists anymore in West Virginia. And, Rosanna and Terry are coaches for Carnegie Mellon university in Pittsburgh. So because we were so close geographically, we tended to go to the same competitions. So I first knew of you through that.

Rozana: Yeah. That was a really small team was only like four or five maybe. Right. Very. A small team. I forgot the gentleman's name who actually first contacted me. It was a guy, I can't remember his name anymore, but

Samantha: Probably James Suter was the coach when I was, on the team well, and it was, I think it was interesting too, because, obviously you were, you are or were coaching, CMU and then the owner of Art and style, dance studio, and then, Andrew and Amanda from absolute ballroom in Pittsburgh were, our like associate coaches for Fairmont state. So it was just, it was a very, it was a very small community, that kind of ran in the same circles. So. yes. But yeah, so Arnold's classic and Ohio star ball, I, at least in my opinion, are the two largest collegiate competitions that happen over the course of a year. you have BYU, which BYU nationals, which obviously got paused midway through the competition this year for the amateur titles, which was an interesting experience. I wanted to get your opinion on there was a competition and, and. Everyone at home will have to forgive me for not remembering the correct name of the competition. But there was a competition about a month ago in Russia that went, ahead as scheduled, but they didn't allow any spectators in the room. It was a Pro-Am competition. They only allowed, I believe it was eight couples to compete in each, division and the judges were all virtual.

So they were watching a live stream of the competition as a judge. would that be something that you would be interested in doing?

Rozana: Oh, I don't know. I didn't even think about it. I didn't hear that. The virtual judging, I have not heard of that and I'm, between the two of us is probably was the money. I probably didn't want to give refunds to just students who are already entered. So, I don't know. I would have a bit, I mean, the fun part is to go to a comp, meet everybody, and be with your friends or colleagues and see it. Live. Live dancing is so. Ah, much better than video. I hate YouTube when people, Oh, I saw like my CMU Kids, I started on YouTube.

I'm like, no, we're not going to do that. But, it's just such a different atmosphere. I mean, we're going to lose a lot of the, The feeling of, of being. And watching it live. You know, the energy an audience can give to a couple to elevate them in their dancing. You can't put a price on that point, you know? So I doubt that virtual judging will be in our future. Very, very. I think people rather do like smaller events. Then instead of huge, that where they can control the people instead of. Doing that because that is actually very sad, I have to say. Yeah, we all like to dress up. I just don't want to be die in those heels.

Samantha: I would agree with that. I think from a competition standpoint, part of it is that comradery and sense of community, and you're right, having a live audience in front of you. Can really boost and elevate your performance because it gives you such an adrenaline kick that it's like, okay, now I want to perform a little bit extra or want to dance a little bit harder, and if you remove the audience from that, then you're going to lose a lot of that, that energy and that extra little pep. Yeah.

Rozana: If you, if you'd just consider when you, at home by yourself practicing with your partner, you're alone in the studio. Maybe you're not as lucky, like living in Brooklyn where they're like a hundred thousand couples around you competing. I mean, I'm sorry, practicing. it's the same feeling that you doing the same thing. You're dancing for yourself. On the dance floor, and there's nobody, even when the judges are virtually sitting in, maybe at home, I don't know where that would be or in the hotel room. I have no idea. No, I, I would be very surprised.

Was that competition successful? Do you know?

Samantha: As far as I can tell, yes. I know on the judging panel was Toni Redpath and Slavic and I have not reached out to them yet to get their opinion on how it went. it was a Pro-Am competition and I, I, I am failing at remembering the name at the moment.

Rozana: I'm sure, I'm sure I would have been posted like crazy. Maybe it was just came up because I know that tried here to do something like that. would you be interested in the couples with a dance at home and then you would have had to compare them and there was no. There was nobody interested in that. So

Samantha: Yeah. I saw that blurb go past and I'm like, well, that's great if you're married to your competition partner, but for kids like the youth, are you going to film the girl and then film the boy and then try to edit the two together so it looks like they're dancing? Yeah.

Rozana: Yeah. Actually one of the issues I had with my juniors for zoom classes. So like, well, I'm dancing by myself. My partner is, we can't be together, so why, why are we try? You know? And then it kind of like died out and, yeah, we stepped away from it.

NDCA Rule Changes for 2020

Samantha: Yeah. so shifting away from current issues plaguing, competitions. I did want to get your opinion on a couple of the NDCA changes that happened in 2019. so starting with the syllabus changes in closed bronze, silver, and gold, we saw a tightening up of some of the rules and regulations, specifically with the American syllabus. I think international has kind of found their balance point and they, they. They have the set rules in place, but with the American smooth and American rhythm syllabus, we saw a tightening down of what is considered closed syllabus. And what is more in the open, divisions. What do you see. Being the main motivating factor for making those changes and how do you think it's going to impact, competitions? Because I, as an instructor, I have my assumptions about what was the motivating factor for really restricting what is in closed syllabus. But I wanted to get your opinion as a judge.

Rozana: Well, it was main. It was mainly meant for a bronze and silver in American style. Smooth. it started to get so out of control with mixing, especially young teachers, you know, who will not sit around and try to learn the syllabus they. Just look and look and then put it together, you know? And sometimes the coaching is not there for them or they don't have coaches who can help them for whatever reasons. So they wanted to trim that up a little bit so that they're staying in closed position. And then actually the students have, has a chance to learn the bronze syllabus and not right away. Pumped up into open Bronze, which they like to call so famously, and go into open routines because the knowledge of the teacher's not there to. To teach. The syllabus. So the basics, the, the technique. So might as well, Oh, let's just jump into the open, which, they're trying to avoid. And I think we were very successful with doing that. I mean, competitors are much more aware of what they can, what they can not do. sometimes we have even two, invigilators, who are there to, because if the comp is bigger, like Ohio has.

Two or three or four. We have sometimes at the same time because of the split split floors or there's just too many people on the floor to keep for one invigilator up. But, I think it's good. I think it forces teachers to go back home and study so that they're better for their students instead of just. Dumping them into open, and most of the time those people don't survive because let's assume everybody in the open has studied and has danced for many, many years. There's a teacher and knows their syllabus and knows their technique. So now you come as a new teacher in there and like. Throw your student around.

So nobody benefits from that. But I think this was good. I liked the change. It was, at first, a little weird to adjust to it that you had to count how many bars that can stay together and not, that was a little a challenge, for a couple months. But. You know, and ended up okay. And as far as in Ohio, I wasn't invigilating but I know I talked to some of them when I was judging and then they were all saying, yeah, they're listening. People are listening and following the rules, which is great. Dancing can only benefit from that. It's not to tell you what to do, what not to do, it's to do it better.

Samantha: Absolutely. I would agree with that. I think, requiring a good foundation in closed hold and a good solid understanding of that connection. Before you can break hold is only going to improve everyone's dancing. I think, having that structure in place too also gives us as instructors, just like you were saying, a guideline, right? I, this is the box that I'm allowed to play in, and then it's up to me as an instructor to figure out creative ways so that my choreography with my students stands out. From everyone else's. If we're only allowed to use the same seven or eight or nine patterns, then it's really going to come down to your understanding of floor craft, your understanding of your students' strengths, and then understanding how to create a performance quality that really catches that judge's attention.

So no I, I am a huge fan of the rules changes actually. we do have a question.

Rozana: Go ahead, sorry. But also avoid, which sometimes happened, to my, my, I'm talking about Latin now real quick away from the American that there went on the floor and they saw other people in the same division they were doing, let's say gold steps and they'll come to me. It's like, why can't we do that? And I tried to explain them, no, this is your. division, this is what you entered in and this is what we're going to do. Why, why can they do it? So definitely that helps. Across the board. I mean, there's always, you know, one or two stragglers, but then wake up pretty quickly when they get pulled off the floor and say, Hey, you cannot and they change it.

So it's good. Yeah.

Samantha: Yeah. Absolutely. The, the envy of, well, that pattern looks really cool. Why are, why am I not allowed to do it? Yeah. Well, they are, they technically aren't supposed to be doing it either. Yeah, absolutely. We have a clarification from the chat. It says, don't leave me hanging. Oh, I'm assuming that's, I'm referring to the comment about open bronze.

Rozana: in question, can you repeat it?

Open Bronze and Other 'Open' Competition Categories

Samantha: You made the comment about it being referred to as open bronze. So, in syllabi, in competition, I'm going to speak mainly about Pro-Am, but this also applies to lower divisions in amateurs as well. You have syllabus and then open events. So syllabus means that you have a rule book. You have a certain amount of certain types of steps with certain technique, with certain counts that have to be executed in a certain way. open is more like what you see on dancing with the stars. So there are patterns.

From the syllabus that you're using, but you're also creating choreography to move between those patterns. So it's a little bit more free form. It's a little bit more artistic. still all of the couples are on the floor, but there's less restrictions, I would say, in open about what you can and can't do

Rozana: Well, originally, the open divisions were. Designed to do, like if you do Bronze, let's say, American or rhythm, which you know what, whatever style you want to do is to stay, in bronze and silver. If you dance bronze and when you dance, silver, silver, and gold. All right, so that was the original idea. But then. Oh, I don't know how it happened over over the years. All of a sudden you see full choreography in a bronze division, right. In the silver division, or later on down. Even more elaborate and gold because especially in American smooth it got, a little bit out of control. But, I think we deal with this right now.

We are speaking for judges. yeah. Okay. This is what they're showing me. I have to mark that, but I'm telling you my personal opinion, if I see, a couple of Pro-Am or, or amateur amateur. On the floor dancing open silver, and then using a few steps out of gold but that's showing me the quality of their dancing through their syllabus in that technique. That's my winner. Then then comparing it to somebody who is doing a full out routine, you know, like open and, struggles. Struggles through it tries to either push or pull their students through it because they are balance off time. it's not easy to teach a beginner bronze students open routine. It's very difficult.

You have to be very, very smart. What you can put in. And sometimes, unfortunately, you see on the floor. Not so good choices, what they decide to do and give their students. So, I would like to see bronze combined with silver, silver combined with gold as the open divisions. That what should be, you know, maybe like a little opening in the beginning, a little ending, but not as elaborate right now.

Samantha: I think that's incredible feedback. because I, as an instructor, I struggle a lot of times between my coaching, which was exactly how you said it. The open division is a transitional division. You aren't supposed to stay in that division. It's supposed to be a way for you to explore silver patterns while you're still in bronze or explore gold while you're still in silver.

So from a choreography standpoint, that's how I'm putting together students' routines when they're in that open division. But then I get to a competition and I'm like, well, what was that 14 count grapevine into an open double hand spin where you're not set, not connected with your partner? How in the world are they getting away with doing that? So it's reassuring to hear that from a judge's perspective, there are still judges on the panel that that want to see that foundational. Within the confines of the syllabus, even in the open division. I, I appreciate you sharing that.

Rozana: I truly believe that at least I'm going to say 80% of, My friends and judges, we all believe in quality. You will still have that. And it will be a sad day when it comes to judging when you just want to see the flat. But I doubt that will happen to be very honest with you because, we all have worked very, very hard on our own dancing, struggled. And you know. Blood, sweat and tears, all that, too. And, and fought, for our quality of dancing, you know, so you want to see it, at least 80% on that floor instead of being dazzled by, all the different, dance. genres, and I'm not, I'm not cutting that down. I think it's great to have openings for. you know, different, genres to come in to get inspired by it. But I don't like to lose the essence of, of a Latin or rhythm, especially that is going back and forth, smooth, you know, can be sometimes a little much Cirque du Solei versus. Seeing a beautiful natural turn, you know, you can do it so beautifully with good quality. So, but that's my personal opinion. So

Samantha: Yeah, and for people that want to explore more of that blend of styles, shall we say, there's always the cabaret or theater arts or solo division, right? That might be a better fit than in a mixed event.

Rozana: Yeah. Show dance, for example. You can do pretty much anything. You like the music, you want to do the lifts, you want to do the rolling around on the floor. You want to do the costume you want to wear. So go ahead. Do that.

NDCA Rule Change to Permit Same-sex Dance Couples

Samantha: So I think you said something really important there, which was you want to, you want to keep the essence of the dance and you want to see the essence of the dance, throughout. So that brings me to the next huge change that happened for the NDCA at least, last fall, which was, allowing non-gendered partners to compete in regular competition. I can't not bring it up.

Rozana: Of course not. Of course not.

Samantha: In my humble opinion, it's the biggest thing that's happened to dance sport in the last like 10 or 15 years. so as a judge, have you had the opportunity to now judge and adjudicate a non-gender partnership?

Rozana: We have actually, in Ohio, and it was in the American style syllabus and it was. Awesome. That was great. It was a, guy down from Florida. I probably wasn't going to say names, but he was doing, he was dancing and the, I think it was the lady A, which is a very, very tough, division in Ohio. It's tough to judge this, because so good.

You know, I mean, you go down to the 12th and you want to call back eight in the final, you know, instead of just six. But, it was fantastic. It's all about dancing and it was quality. It was elegant. It was, really, really good to watch. It wasn't even, it didn't even come up in my brain that was two men dancing. It didn't even occur to me. and there was two ladies too, I think it was in the silver, Latin. Fantastic. You know, but. I have not seen it yet. No, that's not true. I have seen at once in the, in the pro, in American smooth, you know. I don't know if it's harder for straight men, straight women to watch.

I don't know. I feel, sometimes when you have two equal men on the floor that can kind of like, How can I say that politically correct. They can, minus themselves out. You know, one is stronger. The other one likes to be stronger than when you go to the other side of the female part of it is too feminine. What do you, you know. I don't know. In the pro, I will have a harder time to watch it. My husband always says the interesting thing, and I, I truly believe so. Imagine yourself, you like Yulia Zagarachanko right? How many years of dance experience, how many Rumba walks do you think she has done in her life? So now you want to go on the floor in the same division.

You know, and dance against somebody like that. You don't have the same experience or the same caliber. And I'm going for the highest level here, of course. But that's how we have to start to comparing it. I, we're going to watch in Latin and rhythm, two, two girls or two guys that are gonna produce the same quality in dancing, you know, and the chemistry, which I love. I am a true believer in the female part and male parts. I think that makes it sparkle, that makes it, get that feeling inside. It's like, Oh my God, this couple is unbelievable. You know, that gets you, maybe not technically that great, but they have some such a chemistry together on the floor. You can't look away from them. You know, no matter if it's how, you know, to men, women, Same sex, whatever, it just misses out if it's not there.

Samantha: Yeah. That was, that's something that I've obviously discussed, in my YouTube video when I addressed to the change. And then in conversations with other instructors, I think regardless of the genders of the individuals dancing. When I'm looking at a really good Latin routine or smooth routine or standard routine or what have you, I'm looking for the balance and contrast between parts, right? I'm looking for the femininity and the masculinity. I'm looking for the soft and the harsh. I'm looking for the dark and the light. I want to see the balance between those two and it doesn't matter whose bodies are dancing it, but it's finding that balance aspect. So if you do have two people of the same gender , either one has to go feminine and one has to go masculine, or you have to interweave the two so that you always have a balance. Because I think you're right. If you have this really harsh masculinity and no femininity to balance it out, I think you're missing something. And on the other side, if you have a lot of femininity, but no. Masculinity to balance it out. It doesn't look like a whole composition,

Rozana: but not, not only that, it's a good point what you just said, but I just miss it in general when I, if you have a chance and you go on Dance speed and read my, right up on the prolactin, and that was. One of the, all the way through. So every couple with one exception for that night is that both partners look too much like they're competing against each other, not for each other. Or, they're competing for a showmanship for the audience, but there's no relationship. In the partnership. So if you can create it as a professional amateur in a, in an equal, you know, female, male, I think w might be even, way harder to create it in the two male or two females.

You know, if, if. Regular, couples can, can create it. So I, I missed that all the way through. So I dunno. I have only my experience with one. same sex couple was in smooth in Indiana challenge. I was not, it was not great quality and dance. The major trouble that particular couple had was floor craft, they had no idea how to handle, 12 couples on the floor. I was actually borderline dangerous. I have not seen it yet in, in, pro rhythm or pro latin or pro standard. And I think it will happen eventually here and there, but I don't know if it's going to be like the, the most interesting thing to watch at a competition or maybe people just want to make a point.

Yes, we can fine great, but it's not the same in my opinion,

Samantha: Fair enough. Fair enough.

Rozana: I might be a little one sided, but I'm a true believer in chemistry on the dance floor, and I'm not saying two men, two women can not have that. I'm not saying that, but it's not the same in my opinion. So.

Samantha: Well, and it's difficult.

Rozana: It was all up there. Shoot me.

Samantha: No, I think he made a good point that it's difficult. So we're. A traditional couple that's not actually in a relationship or maybe even is in an actual relationship to project that that connection and chemistry in an authentic feeling in a way that's interesting to an audience. On a competition floor. so for non traditional couples or non traditional partners, you, you're gonna run against that same challenge. And it doesn't really matter if it's nontraditional or traditional. It's just you have to project that in a Rumba. You are in lust with this person and you want to, and you just want to be as close as possible with them. even if it's your. Instructor or a best friend or your husband or wife, regardless of who it is in that moment, you have to create this story and this narrative. and it doesn't matter who that person is, it's, it's the one minute relationship right?

Rozana: It's the authenticity we're going to miss out. If we in general down the line, if we don't watch for that, because some of my, good friends, Who I competed with when, when I was living in Europe, are gay, and it's funny then never believed. Into a dancing for fun. Did it? Yes, but not in competitions. And, I still have conversations with them today and most of them down the board, they're not agreeing that I believe in men and women the same. You know, traditional beliefs, although they're all, you know, have partners that are married to their, you know, their husbands and whatever, and they just don't believe in, we're losing the authenticity. And we're starting to see that in the last 10 years. I'm gonna say all over the place that. The essence of Chacha, for example, the essence of waltz.

So a mambo is get in lost a little bit and becoming too sporty. You know, it's all about athleticism and how fast and how, how much more footwork can you put into something versus take your time and enjoy the drama of the Rumba. For example, you know, the tango.

Samantha: Yeah. on last week's episode, Martin and I were talking about the fact that, ballroom dance is one of the few areas in the world that continues to evolve and adapt and change. There's no. You know, pinnacle of, once you've hit this point, congratulations, you're done. You've figured it all out. It's constantly evolving and it's a living, breathing thing on its own. So the essence that you're talking about, that has been the essence of ballroom dance for the last, you know, 10 or 15 years.

It is changing and it is adapting. And as it, it is, evolving, and I think with a lot of things that cyclical right. we talk about, we talked last week and I talk a lot with my students about the fact that American rhythm five years ago looked a whole heck of a lot like international Latin. And now the Cuban leg action or the harsh Cuban leg action is back.

So now it's looking like its own individual thing. And in five years time it might go back to looking more straight leg. And then in five years. Time again, it'll go back to being harsh Cuban or it might be something completely different. so I agree with you. I think what we see is traditional classic ballroom dance isn't the direction that it's moving.

I think it is moving more athletic and more sport and that might forever change the path of ballroom dance. Or we might decide in 10 or 15 years time like, no, we don't really like. Trying to hit the Oneonta two and a three and a four year and a Chacha. We might want to go back to just two, three, four and one

Rozana: Yeah, I, yeah, I think, yeah, probably comes back around. I think it's starting to get a little bit better now, and I'm going to say since. 19, 20, 19, and obviously 20, 20 is a little bit of a slow year, but, it, it, it's, some couples do try, to create more of their own, the city between each other on the dance, but some couples are, get so lost in, in, Trying to create all these extra things, they're really not necessary. You know? And sometimes you get through to couples when you coach and you get through to them, but then you know, you, you look at the dance floor and everybody kind of looks the same. So now what do you mark? You know, you want to see that couple who really put. The, let's say in chacha, then you can read the timing or samba that, you know, it's a Samba and not turn off the music and have to guess what the dance is. So it's getting better. I'm going to say, although probably Terry with the screw with me and rhythm, he's a, he's a true rhythm boy. He grew up with rhythm, definitely believes in the, of that dance and how, how much happened to this, to this style over the last, 10 years, 12 years? I don't know how long we've been judging now. 12 years. 13 years. So, yeah, sometimes you really don't know what it is you have to guess, you know?

Advice From Rozana for Dancers

Samantha: Yeah. So using that as a good transition point, the kind of thought that I want to end on is. As a judge and as a coach, what advice would you give, new competitors coming up through the ranks, whether they're pro am or whether they're pro. what, what is one piece of advice as a coach that you wish more students would take to heart?

Rozana: You know, to be honest with you, I think, people need to pay attention to music more. Musicality is getting such a bad rap on, on, on the competition floor or on the Pro-Am floor. Nobody listens to music anymore. you don't recognize. not that they're off time. I don't mean that, but it's just not deep into the rhythm of whatever song is playing. I mean, some songs are harder than others, but honestly, the music has developed as well. We have such amazing DJs right now at competitions who are really on the search of deep, percussion or, or creating their own, like Brent mills is creating his own stuff. style, and it's amazing, but they still have no listeners, if I may say so.

They're there. They're hearing it, but they're not really listening to it. One small little example I want to give you, No MAs are. Last year, we, Chuck, dancers competition, and he has this in Philadelphia and he has this tradition tradition. He brings a Latin band in and these are guys who've been playing, Latin music. God knows how, you know, I mean, forever. And it's so. I mean, you can't stop standing still. You, even when you judge, you cannot stand still listening to this awesome music, right? So he did it at nighttime for the rhythm and for the Latin. He didn't do it for the ballroom, and there was not one couple. And there were good couples there, not one couple.

You can say that like, Oh wow, they're actually making it up. As they go there, they're holding longer there. They're feeling the music they're with each other. None of that dancing their routine, no matter what music is playing. So that's my point. That's what I would like to see for every couple who starts dancing to listen, feel. And then produce it through your own body, because that will take you a long way than just learning the step to, you know, hiphop music.

Samantha: Well. And I think, I think that's an incredible piece of advice. And I know personally in my, when I'm coaching students, that's one of the, one of the things that I'm trying to really strive to, to get into my students' brains. but it's, it's really difficult because. I think we get so tied to the routine or to the pattern or to the syllabus that. Adapting your performance quality or, or allowing the dance to breathe and react and move and change is a really difficult skill to learn. But when you see those top level dancers, you can tell that they're playing with the music, that, you know, they have their set routine that you've seen a hundred times over the course of the competition year, but every single time they perform it, it looks different because every single time they've, they're dancing to a different song and reacting to it.

Rozana: Absolutely. Yeah. And it's so much more enjoyable to watch. You know, you get into it, you put your, you watch and your heart and soul gets into it instead of just again and not a one. Truly. Yep.

Samantha: So, excellent. Excellent. Well, is there any other, anything else that you would like to talk about or any other words of wisdom that you'd like to pass on to our listeners?

Rozana: Just to not give up right now. Right now it's a little bit challenging time for all of us. I've been hearing some couples want to quit. Don't give up. Don't give up. Now most of the States are opening up and sort of, we can move around a little bit. Go into your studio practice. Even when you're by yourself, it will get better. It will, and it will. Maybe even 2021 it's going to be the strongest competition year. You never know. People are starving for dancing, to be very honest. And, it will, we'll get over this. So don't give up. That's my thing, biggest right now, because of some of the conversations I had with a couple of us. It was a little sad to hear, nah, I don't want to do it anymore. Fight through it. We'll get through it.

Samantha: Yep. Yep. Stay hungry for it because we will come back and we'll come back better than ever.

Absolutely. I love that. Oh, thank you ROZANA, so much for coming on and chatting with us. thank you. Chat for tuning in. if you did not catch this live, it's available on our YouTube page and also in podcast form, in a couple of days time. next week. Let me make sure that I've got the right guest in mind next week. We have, yes, we have the amazing Molly King on. for those of you that tuned in a couple of weeks ago to my West coast discussion with James Cook, Molly is the other half of their partnership, so I'm going to have her on. she. Does some amazing things in the West coast community. She's also, I'm a freelance writer and has a lot of amazing motivational kind of concepts and philosophies about just life and living.

I'm so excited to have her on next week. as always, have a wonderful week ahead. Stay positive, stay safe, stay healthy, and we will see you next time.

Rozana: Same to you.