Michael Kiehm at SwingDiego in 2004 (when he won the Champions' Jack & Jill)
The venue for the DanceGourmet events is within the East Hartford Community Cultural Center, just a couple of minutes by car from downtown Hartford, at 50 Chapman Place, East Hartford, CT. The venue has a sizable, sprung wooden dance floor and a sizable seating area for dining. Everyone is charmed by the atmosphere.
DanceGourmet weekend events occur about five times a year. Each workshop weekend we bring in a talented dancer and instructor to teach some of the secrets of his or her dance. Each instructor has a unique style and personal path to becoming a dancer who can beautifully interpret music.
DanceGourmet events feature four worshops on Saturday, with
a dance on Saturday night after the fourth workshop.
The DanceGourmet events are a marriage between great dance (which presupposes inspiring music) and great food.
DanceGourmet events are a great bargain in West Coast Swing. For $65-$75 (preregistered), you get four great workshops with a phenomenal instructor from out of town, a five course gourmet dinner, and a dance with great music (and often a demo by the visiting instructor).
With regard to the dance aspect, instructors are chosen with several things in mind. The instructors are generally (but not always!) drawn from the competitive level one step down from the champion level. Such dancers are often on their way to the champion level and are often more “hungry” and “eager to please,” either because they are fresh faces or because dance instruction has become their personal calling.
The correlation between champion level competitive dancing and champion level teaching is not a perfect one. Some champion competitors do not teach as well as they dance, and some advanced competitors teach at a champion level. It is the latter whom we strive to bring in for DanceGourmet events.
Dancers who teach may be better with groups than in privates and vice-versa. For the DanceGourmet events, we try to choose instructors who are very strong with groups. Many of them are also excellent in private lessons, but the focus in their selection is on their abilities with groups.
There is a “performance” aspect to teaching which can spell the difference between technical soundness and just plain fun. Dance is about fun, and learning it can be fun if the instructor puts on a show while teaching good stuff.
Finally, we try to select instructors who understand the plight of struggling dancers at all levels and treat each one with gentleness and understanding. This means, among other things, that the instructor dances with one and all after the classes are over.
In closing, I quote from an unsolicited email I received a few months ago. Such emails make all my efforts seem worthwhile.
”I wanted to offer some feedback regarding the Gourmet events you sponsor.
Lastly, we work very hard at playing music which makes it hard to sit still. We play a mixture of new and old and of tempos fast and slow. Always with an ear to music that has interesting rhythms, accents, and moods to which one feels urges to respond in one’s dance.
If you have never attended a DanceGourmet event, please give one a try sometime. If you have, I hope you enjoyed it and will continue to come. I also hope you will tell your friends and neighbors!
Thomas A Johnson