I LOVE Bert Balladine (1927-2009)! I first met him at a workshop sponsored by Carol Shannon back in the early 1980s in Fort Worth, TX. That workshop was so cool. I also met Amaya and Yasmeen Samra at that event.
There is no other workshop like a workshop with Bert Balladine. It is more of a “family” gathering. He is not far away from the dancers, he is up close, personal and in-your-face, in a good way. Very involved instructor, you don’t feel like a stranger, it’s like you’ve known him all of your life.
I learned one of my most favorite dance steps from Bert, I call it a Basic Beledi step. Whenever I perform it, or use it in a dance, it brings back a fond memory of meeting him in person. I loved how Bert made great partnerships with dancers, such as Sula, Carol Shannon, Soraya, Amaya, Shalimar Serene, etc. Those dance duets were fabulous!
I also had the honor of having him teach a workshop in my hometown with Soraya from Oklahoma City, OK; that was the most financially successful workshop I ever sponsored.
I miss Bert, he’s was like a big brother, so cool, so talented and so down to earth. A lot of dance workshops are a very “serious” affair. The instructor has a planned syllabus of instruction and follows it to the letter. But when you had the honor to be at one of Bert’s workshops, you learned a lot, but you also had so much fun being involved with his personal stories, laughing with him and the way he made each dance student feel special and a part of a family. With many workshops, it is a “cold” impersonal collection of dancers, but with Bert it was so warm, friendly and personal.
He made dance a lot of fun! Not that you did not learn a lot when you studied with him, but the process of learning was so fun. You danced a lot, you learned a lot, but you also laughed a lot. Here’s to you Bert!
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I will be posting some of my original Dancer Tributes in WordPress, only the early ones that were in Twitter only, not WordPress. Back when I first starting posting the dancer tributes on Twitter I only had 2 subscribers. Now that I have more, I realized that a lot of people missed my early dancer tributes. But as I am reposting those, I will also keep adding new content for topics like Dance Choreography, new Dancer tributes, etc.
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What is your favorite memory of Bert Balladine?