Friday, May 27, 2011

Blackpool: First Night

If you're a competitive ballroom dancer, "Blackpool" means one thing: The British Open Dance Championships, also known as the Blackpool Dance Festival. It is arguably the world's most prestigious dance competition -- a bigger deal than the World Championships. The World Championships only allows two couples per country, but some countries have such a strong depth of talent that more than two couples rank amongst the tops in the world. (Recent politics in the dance world are dulling Blackpool's luster, but that's a long story I won't even try to relate.) If this were tennis, it would be Wimbledon. You get the idea.

Today the Senior (Over-35) Amateur Ballroom and the Professional "Rising Star" Latin were contested. I missed the early rounds, but got to see plenty of fine dancing as the field was winnowed down to the top couples in each division. The USA had a very strong showing, with three out of twelve couples in the semi-finals in both divisions. My friends Andreas & Jody Meijer were one of the Ballroom semi-finalists, they danced wonderfully and I'm so happy for them for this great result. Pictured here is another US semi-finalist couple, David & Liva Wright.

Unfortunately I'm adjusting to my "new" camera, which really isn't so great for this kind of work, so I don't have decent pictures to share like I did in 2009. I'm heading back tomorrow afternoon to watch the Under-21 Amateur Latin Championship, and will see if I start to get the hang of things then. Most people shooting here have awesome set-ups with super fast long lenses. I used to shoot with a Nikon digital SLR with a slow-ish zoom, but that camera got lost at San Francisco Airport on a trip to Seattle in 2009. It was replaced with a compact point-and-shoot Leica with an F2 lens, but there's no real telephoto so that makes taking dance pictures difficult. Oh well. I'm going to have to replace the lost Nikon this summer or fall because I want to have something decent to use when I go to the US National Figure Skating Championships next January.

On the other hand, the rest of my set-up is kind of fun: between competitive rounds I can upload pictures to my iPad via the Apple camera connection kit, and then edit them in Photogene. My iPhone is unlocked, and I've put a UK SIM card in it. I use PhotoShare+ to bluetooth the edited photos over to the iPhone, and then can post to Twitter or Facebook from there. Pretty fun -- I just need to work on the source material :)

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