Another Spectacular Year with World Bachata Festival 2017!

Another year, another success!

The World Bachata Festival, in its fifth year, was another resounding success. Held from 10th to 12th November 2017, the 2017 festival consisted of three nights of performances and social dancing, and two full days of dance workshops from the best instructors in the world.

This year, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend all the parties and even attend the dance workshops. Last year I couldn’t make it to the dance workshops due to work commitments, but this year I decided not to miss the opportunity.

PRE-PARTY

The pre-party was held at Blanco at Sunway Nexis, Kota Damansara, on Thursday night, 9th November 2017. It was a simple affair with light refreshments, a DJ and a dance floor – and that was all we needed to let our hair down and have fun! It was a great way for both the local and international dancers to dance and mingle in a relaxing environment. I think more so for the international instructors – this was the opportunity for them to put in a lot of fun dancing before the weekend, as they would be busy with workshops and performances (although that wouldn’t stop them from social dancing at night!).

The DJ console, where they played latin music all night long
Dancing under the open night sky!
It was a very cozy party with many familiar faces

WORKSHOPS

Too many workshops, too little time!

I decided to try a variety of workshops – after all, this was the best opportunity.

Workshop Schedule for Saturday
Workshop Schedule for Sunday

The workshop was colour-coded accordingly, indicating the levels which each workshop would be teaching it. Of course, all workshops were open to everyone, but dancers are recommended to join the workshop at the level they are comfortable at. Beginners are still welcomed to go for the intermediate and advanced classes too – but they have to be aware that there may be some moves they may have difficulty executing as they have not learnt the basics.

This being my first time going for dance festival workshops, I wasn’t entirely sure if I could join the partner workshops, as I didn’t have a dance partner. However, I needn’t have worried. Most of the festival participants were also single dancers, so it was easy to find someone to match up with. Plus, the instructors encourage partner rotation so that everyone gets to try dancing with different individuals, to try different leads and/or follows – which is the whole idea of social dancing!

One of the many partner workshops that were conducted at the festival. Photo courtesy of World Bachata Festival

There were also workshops available for solo dancers. They were labelled as “Ladies Styling”, which was of course open to everyone, but because of the title, of course only ladies attended the workshops. The workshops consisted of choreography which one can dance on her own, without a partner.

One of the Ladies Styling workshops. Photo courtesy of World Bachata Festival

One of the most fun workshops that we joined was the Bachata Ladies & Men Battle on Saturday at 3pm. Led by master instructors Nestor, Rebecca and Katrina, it was a one-hour workshop where – as the title says – there was a battle dance between the guys and the girls. The guys learnt a routine from Nestor in Room 1, while the girls learnt a routine from Rebecca and Katrina in Room 2. At the end of the workshop, everyone converged in Room 2 (which was the large hall) and there was a dance battle – which of course, everyone was a winner!

Nestor teaching the men during the Bachata Battles workshop. Photo courtesy of World Bachata Festival
Rebecca and Katrina teaching the ladies in the Bachata Battle. Photo courtesy of World Bachata Festival

PERFORMANCES

The nights were filled with performances from dancers all over the world, followed by social dancing which everyone was welcomed to dance!

This festival saw a range of performers, including master instructors, specially invited guests (some of whom were champion competitors in their own field), seasoned dancers, and all the way to beginner dancers who wanted to try performing. The crowd applauded them all, and it was really heartwarming to see how everyone was inclusive and welcoming to everyone.

Nestor and Rebecca performing a stunt during one of their highly energetic salsa performances. Photo courtesy of World Bachata Festival
Richard David Tholoor and Swetha G from India in the middle of one of their mesmerising moves. Photo courtesy of World Bachata Festival

PARTIES

The dance floor was open after the performances every night until about 3am, and open to all ticket holders to stay on and enjoy the night! There was plenty of salsa, bachata, zouk and lambada music. In fact, the wooden panelling on the floor was not large enough to hold all  the social dancers – many ended up dancing on the carpet. Everyone wanted a piece of the action!

Too many dancers, too little space! Photo courtsey of Michael Yip & World Bachata Festival

NESTOR’S PERFORMANCE BOOTCAMP

I saved one of the highlights for the last – Nestor’s performance bootcamp. This year, World Bachata Festival offered TWO performance bootcamps – one by Nestor and Rebecca, and one by Katrina.

What is this bootcamp? Well, Nestor has  been conducting performance bootcamps in many festivals that he has been teaching at. He wanted to give dancers a chance to perform, especially dancers who never had the chance to be onstage but wanted the experience. Performing can be quite scary and overwhelming, and many dancers may not have the chance to perform due to many reasons. With a dance festival like World Bachata Festival, Nestor saw it as an excellent platform for dancers to learn and for them to have an opportunity to perform in a comfortable, welcoming setting. It is not without its challenges though, as dancers had to learn the dance within a few hours at the bootcamp, and perform it on Sunday night!

In previous years, Nestor and Rebecca had been offering one performance bootcamp in the World Bachata Festival, and this year, with his other dance partner Katrina coming onboard, they were able to offer two bootcamps – one for partner dancing (by Nestor and Rebecca), and one for solo dancers (by Katrina).

I wanted to try the partner bootcamp, so I signed up for the one by Nestor and Rebecca.

The bootcamp was scheduled for 5 hours – 3 hours on Saturday morning, and 2 hours on Sunday morning, although Nestor and Rebecca graciously extended it to 3 hours on Sunday morning. Nestor and Rebecca partnered us up, and taught us a bachata routine. It was not that simple, to be honest… I would say it was an intermediate level routine, because it involved some simple stunts. But Nestor and Rebecca were patient, and most of the dancers in this bootcamp were already familiar with partner dancing, and some were even repeat bootcamp participants.

Nestor and Rebecca leading the participants in the bootcamp through the routine. Photo courtesy of World Bachata Festival
Everyone practising hard for the performance on Sunday night! Photo courtesy of World Bachata Festival

We managed to execute the performance well, if we do say so ourselves!

I learnt a lot from Nestor and Rebecca during this short time, and it was a fantastic experience. Nestor and Rebecca were excellent instructors – they were fun, yet they were focused and made sure we learnt the correct techniques to execute the moves.

Another plus point- everyone in the team was really fun to be with! They were friendly, and no one had any arrogance or airs – all in all, it was an awesome experience.

All the bootcamp participants posing for a group photo before the performance

I highly recommend joining the bootcamps if you want the opportunity to learn directly from world-class instructors, and have a chance to perform onstage!

The following video was taken with a handphone, so it’s not very clear…. our apologies!

WORLD BACHATA FESTIVAL 2018

Riding on the success of the last five years, World Bachata Festival is going strong and will continue to set the dance floor on fire! Don’t miss the opportunity to be a part of next year’s festival. Super early bird passes are going for only RM280, with full access to the 2 full day workshops and 4 social nights including pre-party (normal price passes are RM550), with the promo ending 31st December 2017.

Block your calendar for 23-25 November 2018 for the World Bachata Festival 2018. See you there!

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