I've been dancing salsa for almost a year now. I was a very slow learner at first, but the last few months I have gotten a lot better and I would consider myself an intermediate dancer, at least before this weekend. I usually dance LA on1…I have a few weeks experience with casino rueda, and a few workshops worth of experience with NY on2.
The performances started late both nights (90 minutes and 60 minutes or so for each night). That was understandable since this was the first event ever of this magnitude in Atlanta, but it was especially disappointing on Saturday night because it only left time for the band to play 1 set. The quality of the performances was amazing. Juan Matos did an *amazing* footwork performance along with Marco Ferrigno. While all the performances were great, my personal favorites were the two by the Masacote dance company. The first night they did an amazing routine to Mambo Gallego by Tito Puente, and on Saturday they performed "5 Beat Mambo", a routine danced to original mambo music written by Joel Masacote in 5/4 time. Overall, these were some of the most original and exciting performances I have ever seen. I'll post a link to video of the performances in the forums as soon as I have them.
The performance above is titled "The Cipher", by La Oscuridad – Gordon Neil, Shaka Brown, Sekou McMiller, Leon Rose, and PsyonMaurico Scott. The song is "The Hustler" by Willie Colon.
Flava invasion had a very good selection of workshops. My personal favorite was Milton Cobo's workshop. We learned a very good pattern that I was mostly able to pick up, despite my lack of on2 experience, and at the end, he gave some very good general tips that explained his smooth style. I also got a lot out of Magna's spinning workshop, I was actually quite surprised at how in depth she was in an hour workshop. There was a lot of explanation, and a lot of drills that will be very useful in developing spinning technique.
Juan Matos had an amazing footwork workshop with a lot of afro cuban influence as well. The only on1 workshop I attended by Leon Rose was also very useful and entertaining. Anna and Joel Massicot also gave a very good workshop on musicality and choreography. While most of the information wasn't new to me as a former musician, I think it was explained very well and is knowledge that every dancer should have. To end Saturday, there was a workshop by Bachata Greg that was very popular. I have no idea how the Sunday workshops went since I was so exhausted from Fri/Sat that I slept all day Sunday…
Although the parties started late due to the previously mentioned delays in the performances, they were the best dance parties Atlanta has ever seen. The quality of dancing was so amazing that I really started to feel like a beginner again. There were 4 different dance floors, and the selection of music was great, although I personally prefer DJs who have breaks in between songs, which wasn't the case for these DJs. The band was fantastic, I have seen them several times before and they always put on a good show. However, they only played for about an hour since everything got started so late.
There were a few vendors on hand at the event, but I was upset that the only shoe vendor sold only women's shoes. Beside that shoe vendor, there were a few groups selling dance DVDs.
Although I am a big fan of Gordon Neil and I usually find him very entertaining, the MCing in this event tended to go on a lot longer then necessary. For example, it took them about half an hour on Saturday night to hand out two simple awards, one of which I could not see the relevance for, as it was given to a dancer that has no ties to Atlanta that I know about, even if she is really amazing.
There were quite a few organizational issues, but it was not enough to ruin the event, and I expect it all to be fixed for next year's version. With the amazing performances, social dancing, and workshops, Flava Invasion was a great success!