Boston DOR 2017: “What a wonderful competition!” Part 2

Debbie Ford with instructor Kennedy dancing Country Western.
Newcomer Wedlyne Pluviose with instructor Kennedy.

Dancing continues on Saturday with the open category. For this division, teachers and dancers are not limited to syllabus material. Many let loose on the floor, whether executing well rehearsed choreography or adding their own special touch to the moves.

Recognizing the desire for an environment more suited for social dancing, Arthur Murray now includes club-style events. Rather than looking for perfect footwork and frame, adjudicators want to see a strong connection between the dancers – as if the two of them just met and spontaneously danced!

Debbie Ford, Jim’s wife, danced in the country division with her instructor, Kennedy. She called it taking a crazy risk. “My goal was to stay calm (sort of!), do MY best, and not get upset if (WHEN!) I messed up a pattern. I am pleased to announce I accomplished my goal as best if possible for me.” Debbie and Kennedy won second place out of fourteen other couples.

The team wins the Spirit Award & Top Studio.

The evening ended with a red carpet banquet followed by the professional competition. Newcomer Wedlyne Pluviose says she had never seen so many professionals in one place. “I expected to get a weekend of dancing – but I got so much more! To see the different levels, the work that goes into competing, the kicking, the flipping – it made me want to compete more and do a solo next time!”

Hillsborough instructors Keenan and Laura won their first Arthur Murray event as Future Champions in rhythm. From Cranford, Valerie and Lance debuted in the professional smooth division, along with Kennedy and Colleen, and Chris and Kate who made it to the semifinal.

Cranford took home two team awards: 2nd place Top Studio and the coveted Spirit Award. First-timer Eric Adams won his category as Top Newcomer; Jerry and Jennifer Cerulli also won their respective Top Associate Bronze awards.

Boston DOR 2017: “What a wonderful competition!” Part 1

The Cranford Pink Ladies & T-Birds enjoyed the early arrival Grease party!
The Cranford Pink Ladies & T-Birds enjoyed the early arrival Grease party!

Each year in early summer, Cranford and Hillsborough travel up the coast with a team of students to attend the Boston Dance-O-Rama. This year’s team included: Eric Adams, Jerry and Jennifer Cerulli,  Jim and Debbie Ford, Kerry Francis, Wedlyne Pluviose, and Lynn Rabadeau. Located in Quincy, BDOR entices Arthur Murray studios from across the North American continent for four days full of camaraderie, spirited cheering, sparkles galore – and plenty of dancing.

Kerry Francis with her instructor Danila in a dramatic Tango.
Kerry Francis with her instructor Danila in a dramatic Tango.

This year, BDOR kicked off with a Grease themed early arrival party on Thursday. The Cranford Pink Ladies and T-Birds met up with other studios for a night full of crooners, hand jives, and hula hoops. They dined in true 50’s fashion on burgers and root beer floats (though some of us really just wanted the ice cream). A live band belted out some of the most popular hits of the era – and we were only too happy to add our voices.

Jim Ford with instructor Valerie in his solo Argentine Tango.
Jim Ford with instructor Valerie in his solo Argentine Tango.

The dancing started early the next day with the closed category freestyles. This refers to the type of material danced. Closed material is Arthur Murray syllabus steps – and some variations – only. Dancing in this category helps the student create strong muscle memory in the basic steps and technique. Dancers are given a proficiency score, not a ranked number, to help their teacher recognize where they are within their current level.

Dancers of all talents and levels joined the Cranford team this year. Gold Bar dancer Kerry Francis, a very strong competitor, said everyone in team Cranford did amazingly well. This year, she wanted to have fun at a competition. Kerry said of her instructor, Danila, “Not sure how you put up with me but I really achieved my goal of having fun at a competition again. I could not ask for a better partner. You continually inspire me to get better.”

Jim Ford, a seasoned BDOR veteran, observed the level of dancing this year was extremely high, which motivated him to do better. This was the first year Jim performed a solo Argentine Tango with his teacher, Valerie. “I really went out of my comfort zone. We are constantly being challenged to do better. My stamina has increased tremendously along with muscle memory and my mental capability to remembering all the steps in a dance.” Jim attributes this to the level of preparation leading up to the event.