This post discusses the Calgary BKS Experience [url: http://www.dancebks.com/], a dance festival I attended over June 22-24, 2018. BKS refers to the three featured dance styles: Bachata, Kizomba, and Salsa. Bachata and Salsa are Latin dances, while Kizomba is of African descent.
The festival was self-contained in the downtown Delta hotel. The instructors were from all over (Canada, USA, Dominican Republic, etc.) and most of the remaining 250+ attendees were Canadian. The main draws of festivals of this type are workshops by the local and visiting instructors, performances by professional and non-professional dancers, and social dancing until late at night. Some instructors provided private lessons on demand for a fee. There was also a small expo where one could buy dance shoes or see a chiropractor.
During the daytime I busied myself with a total of eight Bachata workshops. The most interesting workshop for me was “Sensual Bachata Isolation” by Angela of Unleashed Dance Company [url: https://www.unleasheddancecompany.com/] in Calgary. Below is a panel of photos from the lesson demonstrating body rolls. These moves are initiated and controlled by the male’s hand on Angela’s back. In the right panel, Angela is set upright as the male creatively moves his hand up and left like a fish swimming upstream. I was so enamored with Angela’s teaching that I took a group private lesson with three other individuals (which reduced the cost without diminishing the quality of the lesson).
My second favorite workshop was “Dominican Footwork With Style” by Julie of Fiestafitness [url: http://fiestafitness.ca/] in Montreal.
Also popular was the workshop “Bachata: Various Triple Steps – The How & When” by Rodchata, who teaches in the San Francisco Bay and Reno, Nevada areas.
Rodchada in action
Performances took place on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, with the best ones happening on Saturday. Some of the highlights from Saturday night are pictured below.
Robin & Felisa:
Robin and Felize perform
Indira Castello’s Ladies Team in green catsuits:
Salsa Rica Semi Pro Team:
Patrick & Scarlet, who have won many awards for their Salsa, including three Canadian championships:
Patrick and Scarlet perform
While I was having tons of fun at the festival, I was also eager to see city of Calgary itself. From what I saw of the downtown, Calgary seems to be a clean and safe city (relative to San Francisco, at least). I was also pleasantly surprised that the weather in Calgary was warmer (approximately 77 degrees Fahrenheit or 25 degrees Celsius) and more humid than San Francisco.
A few themes emerged when exploring downtown Calgary. First, Canadians are extremely friendly and fun to talk with. This was also true to the Canadians back at the festival. Second, the downtown area is populated with random, yet tasteful, artwork. Below are some examples.
City art in Calgary
Finally, Calgary is famous for its historical ties to the Wild West. This is evident from western-themed shops and references to the annual Calgary Stampede rodeo and festival. Examples below.
In closing, I strongly recommend visiting Calgary. It is only 175 miles north of the Montana-Canada border and is an easy three-hour plane ride from the American west coast.
Written by Tim Weinzirl, 2018 July