Dancing With the Locals

The Summer Dance Expo, Loews Ventana Canyon, August 11

Local professional and amateur ballroom-dancers will demonstrate the sizzle and the elegance of their craft at Summer Dance Expo 2012.

The expo, sponsored by the Studio West School of Dance, is an all-day event that brings dancers from local studios around the city to the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, where the dance styles will range from salsa to the foxtrot to waltzes. The festival is in its eighth year, and more than 1,000 dancers ranging from 18 to 85 years old are expected to hit the dance floor.

Linda Lowell, manager at the Studio West School of Dance and creator of the expo, said she came up with the idea for the event because there was a need for an opportunity for dancers to show off their moves without the stress and pressure that surrounds dance competitions.

Instead of vying for the typical prizes and placements, dancers will be given critiques from a panel of ballroom-dance professionals.

"It's a wonderful event that's definitely grown," Lowell said. "We always think of things we can do better, but generally, as a whole, we think we do a good job. We try to accommodate everybody. We've got a good combination right now of well-organized people. It's a gorgeous setting in a cool ballroom full of gorgeous dancers, costumes and beautiful music."

The expo will be divided into several categories and various subcategories. Each round, or heat, will feature six to seven couples on the dance floor at the same time. The show will start with the Smooth Dancing category, which includes the foxtrot, waltz, tango, Viennese waltz and quickstep.

John Caballero, manager and dance instructor at the Sonoran Ballroom Academy, said more than a dozen of his students will be performing at the expo. He will perform as well, dancing the foxtrot, quickstep, tango, merengue and rumba.

"I always have fun. There's camaraderie amongst the dance instructors," he said. "It brings us together, and since we all know each other, we get to see the students and how they've progressed. A lot of the studios, we share a lot of students. It's just really nice, and I'm always excited to go there."

Lunch will be provided with the purchase of the proper ticket. During the lunch break, dance music will be played so that visitors can dance with each other or some of the performers.

Other dance categories include Country-Western, and Rhythm, which features Latin-dance styles like salsa and the cha-cha. The event will end with local dance professionals competing in an event that's modeled after the popular TV show Dancing With the Stars, Lowell said.

Another dance school sending students to the expo is American Dance, which has participated in the expo since its inception. Instructor Rene Celaya said at least four of his students and two of his fellow instructors will be performing. He is uncertain whether he will perform—but he said he'll be ready.

"I would like to perform, but I would still have a lot of fun dancing with my students if not. It's a relaxed event compared to most ballroom competitions," Celaya said.

Seating will be provided at tables surrounding the dance floor. The ballroom can hold at least 200 people in addition to the dancers on the floor. Last year, more than 200 people came to watch more than 850 dancers.

Spectators can also visit the various vendors who will be at the expo to sell ballroom-dance items such as dresses, dance shoes, makeup and jewelry. Seamstresses will be on hand to advertise their services for people who want custom-made dance outfits.

Visitors are encouraged to bring a sweater due to the cool temperature in the ballroom. Attendees may leave and come back as they please.

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