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The Spanish DanceSport Federation (FEDB) appears to be operating under the old adage “When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.”
The pandemic has slowed progress in the country to be sure, but it has only strengthened the resolve of those in charge of DanceSport in Spain.
From 9-12 October, for example, the National Member Body (NMB) successfully hosted the II Alicante DanceSport Challenge, featuring 1,331 dancers of all ages competing in Standard, Latin, Caribbean, Breaking and other disciplines.
It was a tall order, especially with COVID-19 restrictions and protocols that amounted to no fewer than 30 pages per event hall.
“Initially we were going to organize the event in one building but under the regulations at the time, we were only allowed to have 400 people – that means the participants, officials, public and staff. So we asked for another building just 100 meters away,” said Sergey Nifontov, who oversaw the organisation of the event, which included three national championships.
The rules required that all participants wore masks, while gloves were also mandatory for all event staff. Four personnel were tasked with constantly disinfecting and cleaning the two halls, including the dressing rooms and bathrooms.
Nifontov and his team were even obliged to do a head count every 15 minutes to ensure the numbers stayed under 400 throughout the four days of competition.
“From a coordinator’s viewpoint, it was hard work, but we showed that it was possible,” said Alicante DanceSport Challenge Coordinator Diana Simarro, who said the head count peaked at 369.
“It was a bit more difficult logistically than normal,” continued Nifontov. “But in the end, for us to give hope to the dancers, and especially the parents who came with their children, it was really important.”
That was a sentiment echoed by WDSF Membership Commission Member and Chair of the Educational Commission at the Spanish DanceSport Federation Valeri Ivanov, who provided valuable daily support to Nifontov and his team, in particular with the tricky business of scheduling.
“Sergey and his team did a really, really great job for the Federation, and to continue DanceSport in Spain was very important for us,” said Ivanov, who is also the organiser of one of Spain’s longest-running competitions, the DanceSport Cup. “The most important thing is that it showed that it is possible to organise competitions in this situation. And the competition was perfect, with very strict protocols, including how people got in how they got out, each block by age, everything was very well organised.”
The competition included national championships in Standard, 10 Dance, and Breaking (Mini Kids, Kids and Junior), the Spanish Cup in Latin, and regional championships in Standard and Latin. In addition, national competitions were held in Standard, Latin, Caribbean, Single and Choreographic dances.
With over 1,300 dancers competing, ensuring a smooth flow of people in and out of the two halls was crucial for the safety and well-being of the participants. It required a little bit of scheduling magic from Ivanov to pull off.
“What Valeri did with the timetable and the schedule of the event was very special,” said Nifontov. “We tried our best not to not mix people, so Valeri divided everything into groups. There was a senior three group, for example, and a senior four group, etc., all starting and stopping at different times, with each group leaving the halls before the next group arrived.”
The competition was attended by Jose Luis Berenguer, a representative of the city hall of Alicante, as well as President of the Spanish DanceSport Federation Luis Vaño.
“It was really great that the Federation could continue with our sports calendar,” said President Vaño. “The Federation has already hosted some small national competitions since the II Alicante DanceSport Challenge and we have more planned until the end of 2020. It is important because the dancers need to dance and the competitors need to compete. Our events help to keep them motivated and wanting to work harder.”
The next major DanceSport event on the Spanish sports calendar will be the national championships for multiple disciplines from 6-9 December in Guadalajara, outside of Madrid. The event was originally supposed to be a WDSF-sanctioned World Championship for Latin but was cancelled due to the pandemic. As a Plan B, the FEDB decided to host an event for Spanish dancers instead. A Plan C has also been considered, should COVID-19 restrictions force a move of venues.
The Federation has been keeping itself busy off the dancefloor throughout the pandemic as well. Activities include a weekly online programme that features interviews with dancers and trainers, over half a dozen online competitions, and an online training camp where the Federation gathered around 40 teachers to give free lectures.
The FEDB also managed to hold its General Assembly in person in Zaragoza earlier this year, where elections for president and other posts were held and regulations updated.
The flexibility, ingenuity and tenacity shown by the Federation this year are exemplary, and according to Ivanov, everything has been done out of love for the dancers.
“Not every dancer is ready to return to competition, and we respect that. But for those who have come back they have proven that they are ready and can dance under these conditions. I think it is really important and has set an example that we can continue in the new reality. It’s really important for our sport not to stop,” said Ivanov.