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Hustle
Salsa
Deauville Beach Resort
United States
Florida
Miami Beach, FL
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Hustle & Salsa & Sun - International Hustle and Salsa Dance Festival & Competition

by Lori Ortiz
May 4, 2009
Deauville Beach Resort
6701 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33141
(800) 327-6656
April 30th - May 4th

International Hustle and Salsa Dance Festival & Competition web site: hustleandsalsa.com
Location, location, location! It may sound cliché, but that was the rallying cry for the 10th International Hustle and Salsa Competition, held at the picturesque Deauville Beach Resort, April 30th- May 4th, 2009. On palm-lined Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, deco is la mode.

Hustle legend Billy Fajardo and partner Katie Marlow are at the helm. Both are world champions in hustle and cabaret exhibition. A few random selections of their combined performing credits: Don Kirschner's Rock Concert, Radio City, the Cunard, "Miami Vice," and the film "Chorus Line."

Dance lovers attended workshops by day, in spacious ballrooms. Amateur and professional competitors rehearsed in the far recesses of the cavernous complex. Dramaturgy took place in hotel hallways, away from the programmed events. Performers hurried through the lobby, adding to the glamorous aura while melding into the crowd, safe from paparazzi. The grand hotel's back doors opened onto pool, patio, tented dance floor with DJ 'booth,' and barbeque set-up. Hustle and bustle, yes, and good times. The mood barometer read balmy and sun-stroked.

Wednesday to Sunday were packed with simultaneous workshops and competitions. Shows and parties filled all hours. Fajardo and Marlow, by presenting salsa and hustle, dance-form cousins, attracted an extended family of dancers from around the country. I can't imagine a livelier convention. It was almost an embarrassment of pleasure, in dancing.

I met Franklin Ayala resting at one of the large, round, linen-draped tables at the dance floor perimeters. Ayala placed third in the pro hustle-only event. Having worked a decade to achieve this, he glowed with pride. Describing the social dance scene, he said insightfully, "You have to earn your respect."

Hustle and salsa classes and competitions happened in the hotels gorgeous, mid-century ballrooms where the likes of Frank Sinatra once danced. Donna DiSimone, Billy Marti, Lisa Nunziella, Donna Boyle, and Maria Torres were among the pros leading hustle workshops— which ranged from classes for beginners to advanced level styling. I attended with a special interest in hustle, and admittedly steered in that direction during my limited time there. "Westie" converts took the popular swing workshop, decamping with hustle pro Tybalt Ulrich. The Miami Festival and Competition is definitely an inspiration. This 10th anniversary event was a jubilant introduction. Where have I been?

The World Open Professional Hustle Championship finalists took the stage during the Saturday night dinner-dance. Five couples performed. The competitor's theatrical hustle extended that exhibition style with varying degrees of steamy narrative, along with flashy lifts and tricks, sparkle, and precision. The tall Shay and Michelle Dixon were smoothest and won first place. New Yorker Susan Fritz performed her smart choreography with Wingo Hom. She'll be hustling at Sandra Cameron this summer.

The judges, (outnumbering the competitors,) took to their weighty task unsmiling. Unlike the TV reality competitions, there was no commentary for the crowd, just the sheer pleasure of performance pyrotechnics.

While the ranking was secreted off to an undisclosed location, a varied production show called Dance Dimensions distracted us superbly. Marlow's own pastel-clad Dancesation Ensemble opened. The Miami Casino Rueda Allstars followed with their dance magic. This multitudinous dance spectacle uplifted the dining crowd, digestively and spiritually.

Ulrich DJed and the music inspired the diners/dancers when the floor opened up between acts. A few of us at the sidelines feasted on eye-popping social dance, while tartuffe remains and dessert plates were cleared.

Surprises followed, including the presentation of this year's Augie and Margo Rodriguez Lifetime Achievement Award to Lori Anne Greenhouse and Kevin Roche. Fajardo and Marlow took the stage, dazzling late night lingerers with their ever-popular cabaret piece "Conversation with a Snake."
Michelle & Shay Dixon

Michelle & Shay Dixon

Photo © & courtesy of Lori Ortiz


Dixon finale

Dixon finale

Photo © & courtesy of Lori Ortiz


Ginny Carey & Daniel McGee

Ginny Carey & Daniel McGee

Photo © & courtesy of Lori Ortiz


Katia Morales & Victor Contreras

Katia Morales & Victor Contreras

Photo © & courtesy of Lori Ortiz


Susan Fritz & Wingo Hom

Susan Fritz & Wingo Hom

Photo © & courtesy of Lori Ortiz


Sabrina Pexman & George Garcia

Sabrina Pexman & George Garcia

Photo © & courtesy of Lori Ortiz


Donna Boyle on the Dance Floor

Donna Boyle on the Dance Floor

Photo © & courtesy of Lori Ortiz

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