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The Riccardo and Yulia Factor

August 24, 2011

This weekend I had the rare privilege and honor of training with Riccardo Cocchi and Yulia Zagorouitchenko. For anyone outside the ballroom world, Riccardo and Yulia are current World Professional Latin Champions, 3-time US Professional Latin Champions and in many ways are living legends. On Saturday I attended a 3-hour workshop taught by them at a local studio. Aside from having watched them compete handful of times and perusing videos of them on YouTube for inspiration, I knew little about this power-house couple’s background or personalities. As dancers, their style is powerful and mesmorizing and they stand out on the floor in a way that is hard to describe. Rather than reading up, I decided to walk in with a blank slate, and I found them to be delightful and passionate people.

Me with Riccardo and Yulia - Photo by d'Image (c) 2011

The workshop itself was chock-full of tips and details on rumba, cha cha and samba. Their teaching style was easy to follow, with useful information for both beginner and advanced dancers. If you have the chance to take any kind of training with either or both these two lovely people, I highly recommend doing so – not only because of their impressive credentials, but also because of their accessible teaching style and enjoyable personalities. One of my favorite points by Riccardo was to be mindful of the distinction between dancing something right and dancing it beautifully. As dancers we so often focus on technique and how to do something correctly. It is important to be reminded that we are also artists, and that can mean bending the rules for the sake of beauty and expression.

On Sunday I also had the pleasure of taking a private lesson with Riccardo. I came prepared with a list of questions, which he happily answered, followed by finessing the details of some basic movements. The man has an amazing presence and charisma that immediately pulls you in. And “dancing” with him, within the limits of a lesson, was simply divine. It is a cherished memory I shall carry with me and I’m sure will inspire my dancing moving forward.

There is something to be said for being in the presence of greatness. It touches you in subtle ways, energizes you and brings life more into focus. And this weekend, I was so blessed.

**My sincerest gratitude to OC Dance Camp for making this opportunity possible.**

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