Ballroom can carry two different meanings. First, it can refer to a social event in which one can dance at leisure and in time to the music. The other meaning relates to technique, skills and taking deep gulps of breath off stage. In other words, the latter is a sport and the former is for enjoyment.
Alec Lazo, a US-based ballroom dancer, can attest to this. He is a ballroom dance-sport professional but also enjoys a good strut across the room without the pressure.
“The amount of energy and what it takes to look effortless, it’s unbelievable – to give it an illusion that it’s fine when we are back stage, bending over to catch our breaths,” he said.
Competitive ballroom dancing consists of four main styles – the American rhythm section which include the salsa, merengue and cha-cha-cha as well as the waltz, foxtrot and tango.
Lazo was in TT recently, representing Dance Vision International Dance Association (DVIDA), to observe and train dance tutors at Eugene Joseph’s Trinidad Dance Theatre in San Fernando. DVIDA is the governing body for the syllabus the Trinidad Dance Theatre follows.
His second visit to Trinidad in two years, Lazo sees potential for local dancers to participate in competitive dancing.
“Eugene Joseph’s curriculum is so fabulous that his dancers could go to the United States and do well. The ballroom dance world is amazingly huge. People understand it’s an accepted profession,” Lazo remarked.
Lazo was introduced to the art of ballroom dancing when he was 14. He saw a group of girls dancing and was curious to know what was happening.
“I was asked ‘you wanna dance?’ And I replied, ‘sure.’” he recalled. His decision to make dancing his full-time profession was confusing to his Cuban parents. “Why do you want to dance? We dance,” he laughed. During his career, which has spanned 30 years, he captured several titles in many dance-sport styles including grand national rhythm and smooth champion. He is also a teacher, an examiner as well as owner and managing director of the Paramount ballroom in Florida.