Arts dance review

Art, sport, or DanceSport?

World class ballroom dancing in Boston

American DanceSport Festival 2016
Oct. 8 - 9
University of Massachusetts, Boston

Is dancing a performance art or competitive sport? That is the question put before the International Olympics Committee (IOC), as it considers allowing competitive ballroom dancing in the Olympic games. To help the IOC make its mind, the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) brought some of its best dancers from around the world to the Boston World Open for the first time last weekend.

Judging by their figures, power, speed, and all the sweating going on, it looked every bit as sporty as figure skating. Ballroom (or dancesport) is danced in two distinct styles — Latin and Standard — which are easily distinguished, if not by the music, then by the costumes. The Standard style is what you would expect ballroom dancers to look like, with elaborate, sparkling cocktail dresses and high heels for the follower, and tail suits with a white bow tie and patent-leather shoes for the leader. These outfits are complemented with fancy hairdos, spray tans, and over-the-top makeup for both. With so much attention to detail, the presentation style looked surreal, as couples danced, pranced, and romanced each other to exquisitely choreographed routines.

In the Professional Open Standard category, the night belonged to Benedetto Ferruggia and Claudia Koehler, whose performance made other couples appear to be moving in slow motion. With their hips glued to each other but their torsos a world apart, they performed an amazing routine with incredible speed and flexibility, while smiling and winking at the crowd as though they were strolling through the park. Not to be outdone and equally outstanding were the German couple, Simone Segatori and Annette Sudol, who won the Adult Open Standard Amature category. They were also the crowd’s favorite couple and managed to exude elegance and ease while performing incredibly complex choreography.

Perhaps the most exciting couple of the evening was the world Latin dance champions, Gabriele Goffredo and Anna Matus from Moldova, who won the World Open Latin Amature division. Goffredo, with movie-star good looks, and Anna, with an incredible body that seemed to lack a spine, turned and twisted in every which way to the tunes of Samba, Cha Cha, Rumba, Jive, and, of course, the dance of the bullfighter, Paso Doble.

The night was a showcase of beauty, elegance, sex appeal and athleticism at its best. WDSF made a convincing argument to justify its inclusion in the Olympics. The festivities were co-sponsored by the Todos dance studio in Natick, whose owner, Ronen Zinshtein confirmed that he has big plans concerning the future of DanceSport in Boston in the years to come.