Blackpool Dance Festival Experience – Find Out How It Is To Be Part of the Most Famous Dancesport Competition
What can you see at the Blackpool Dance Festival?
If you are a dancer, you’ve probably heard by now about the Blackpool Dance Festival – also known as the Open British Championship. It is one of, if not, the most famous competition in the world of dancesport.
The festival is hosted in the historical Empress Ballroom in the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, England since 1920, currently organized by Mrs. Sandra Wilson. In those days the dances consisted mainly of Sequence Waltzes, the Lancers, Two Steps and many Novelty Dances.
Part of the dance festival is also the International Dance Congress, held by the Ballroom Dancers Federation (BDF) during the first weekend of the festival. Famous names from the industry of dancesport give lectures around a theme suggested by the BDF in which they share inspirational advice. For example, this year, the speakers have discussed their One Point Wonder – what is the key ingredient in their dancing that makes it so special.
Of course, the main attraction of the Blackpool Dance Festival is the competitions – especially the Professional and Amateur Latin and Ballroom categories. There, you can see performing on the Winter Gardens dance floor names like Riccardo Cocchi & Yulia Zagoruychenko, Arunas Bizokas & Katusha Demidova, Stefano & Dasha Di Filippo, Victor Fung & Anastasia Muravyeva.
Another moment that makes the crowds thrilled is the team match. The top four couples from USA, Europe, Asia, and England are competing against each other so that one of these four geographic areas will win.
If you are looking to change your costumes or your shoes, the festival gives you a chance to find great deals and super diversified merchandise from top designers and companies. This is, by the way, very tricky – you are in danger of leaving with more luggage than you came with 🙂
We went, we saw, we enjoyed!
When you get on the plane and know that you’re going to Blackpool, England a warm sensation of excitement builds in the pit of your stomach (at least, that’s how it was for us). At the airport, you even spot some dancers here and there. You can recognize them from the posture, walk and the fake tan obviously :). You almost feel that you’re going to compete as well and you just feel honored.
The whole thing can feel quite overwhelming. Think about it: it’s the place you dreamt about since you were a child. Back in the day, your teacher would show you in classes VCRs of the International Congress lectures. And now you’re there!
The lectures were held on the 26th and 27th of May. Wow! The amount of passion and knowledge that the speakers spread to all of us is like fuel that will keep us going all year long.
This year’s theme was One Point Wonder and great names from the world of dancesport got to share with us their secrets.
We’ve seen the neverending grace and composure of John Wood & Anne Gleave, but also how ballroom can be sensual and sexy through the artistry of Alessia Manfredini.
It was also an honor to listen to the WDC Professional World Champions: Arunas Bizokas & Katusha Demidova and Riccardo Cocchi & Yulia Zagoruychenko showcased their drive and professionalism.
When Troels Bager & Ina Jeliazkova and Stefano & Dasha Di Filippo stepped on the dance floor, all you could feel was the power of the connection between them.
Kirill Belorukov & Polina Teleshova were at their first Blackpool lecture (Congrats guys!) and showed us the importance of charisma. They demonstrated how you can interpret the music and the importance of showing your personality.
One of the funniest lectures was from Donnie Burns MBE & Sammy Stopford. It was a blast! They showed us their completely different approaches to dancing and preparations for competitions.
Paul Killick & Allan Tornsberg managed to make every woman in the room to want to dance with them and every man to be a bit envious (wink wink). They shared with us the secret to a great partnership and performance: the man has to really be inspired by the woman’s body and put her in the best light he can, let her flourish.
The Ballroom Dancers Federation celebrated their 40th anniversary and the wonderful Michael & Vicky Barr were there to celebrate it with their class and elegance. It was a historical moment to witness as they were present at the 1st anniversary as well!
How about the competitions?
Dancing on the Empress Ballroom dance floor is a huge honor and it is the moment that all the dancers have been waiting and preparing for the whole year. The level gets higher and higher every year, as more dancers from all around the world are entering the competition.
The first competition we went to watch was the team match. We couldn’t believe the atmosphere in there! By the end of the jive, people were cheering their favorites and were giving standing ovations. It is then when you can really see how much dancers love to perform!
Amongst the couples that represented USA, England, Europe and Australasia were Riccardo Cocchi & Yulia Zagoruychenko, Stefano & Dasha Di Filippo, Arunas Bizokas & Katusha Demidova, Victor Fung & Anastasia Muravyeva, Troels Bager & Ina Jeliazkova.
Congrats USA for winning!
Pro and Amateur competitions
The amateur ballroom and latin competitions are one of the most important events of the festival – they are the couples that are going to turn professional. Their attitude on the dancefloor is so powerful and you can see through their dancing that they want to be the best of the best.
This year Ferdinando Iannaccone & Yulia Musikhina won the latin category, closely followed by Klemen Prasnikar & Alexandra Averkieva. In ballroom, the stars of the night were Fedor Isaev & Anna Zudilina and Chong He & Jing Shan.
In professional latin and ballroom, you can sense a different emotion from the couples. Whilst in amateur you see power and energy, in professional the couples focus more on their connection and the energy between them as man and woman. It is truly beautiful!
The winners for ballroom were Arunas Bizokas & Katusha Demidova and second place was occupied by Victor Fung & Anastasia Muravyeva. For the latin category, Riccardo Cocchi & Yulia Zagoruychenko were unanimously considered number 1, followed by Stefano & Dasha Di Filippo.
If you want to see the full results, click here.
What can you buy from there?
Oh and the dresses! And the shoes! Jewelry as well… I swear our wallet was fuller when we arrived there :).
One of the best things at the Blackpool Dance Festival is that all the well-established dress designers are there, like Jordy and Chrisanne Clover and they sell for good prices. Also, for shoes you have SupaDance and International Dance Shoes amongst many others.
Besides all the pop-up stores, you can find makeup artists and hair stylists that will help you achieve the look you dreamt of.
Until next time…
Blackpool Dance Festival is definitely a life-changing experience for any dancer. The top quality dancing will motivate you, the lectures will inspire you, and the historical Winter Gardens will make you feel excited.
Congratulations to all the dancers who competed! We cannot wait for the next edition!
Make sure you stay tuned! We have more surprises for you from Blackpool!
If you want to read more about Blackpool Dance Festival, check our previous article:.
I've started dancing when I was 9 years old and it has been a part of me ever since. I love to surround myself with everything dancesport related. Now I get to experience the world of dancing through a writer's lens.