Dance Vision Mastery Camp Review

By Vivian Beiswenger

This year I treated myself to Dance Vision's annual dance camp in Las Vegas from June 11th - 16th. I've been a customer of Dance Vision (DV) for a long time, first for music, then videos, manuals and finally DVD's. I think they have the best all round training materials available to the general public. This was my first, but not last, foray into their dance camp products.

There were four separate products offered: the main four-day Mastery Camp for everyone, a four-day Professional Mastery Camp limited to full time professionals, a three-night Midnight Madness Camp (featuring 7 PM - Midnight Hustle, West Coast Swing, Salsa, and Argentine Tango classes with dancing until 4 AM), and a three-night National Management Seminar for studio owners. I attended both the Professional Camp and Midnight Madness classes (but wasn't "mad" enough to stay until 4 AM dancing).

I've been to other 3-day and 4-day dance weekends and weeklong festivals, all worth the money paid, but none with the quality and level of instruction available at this one. From our area, Bill and Patty Underwood of West Chester were there, attending their 30th dance camp in the past 8 years. Due to having attended nine DV camps (six in Las Vegas, two in New Orleans, and one in Stamford, CT), Bill and Patty are Dance Vision Mastery Camp Ambassadors since they met the 5 camp attendance minimum to be part of this elite group. They said that the Las Vegas venue combined with the quality of instruction makes this their favorite. The Underwoods credited the organizational skills of DV's owner and Director, Wayne Eng.

In addition to owning Dance Vision, Wayne is the Vice President and Competition Director of the US DanceSport Championships held in Miami every September. He and his wife are owners of the Emerald Ball Championships and he has recently purchased the US ISTD's rights to run the North American Championships in Cherry Hill starting in July of 2007. He has been running the Mastery Camp for about ten years and claims that they have an excellent client return rate with about 35 % of attendees returning the next year.

The venue was the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino, an older resort that has had some renovations recently. The ballrooms, as well as the rooms, were large and spacious. The food at the buffet was inexpensive, diverse, and plentiful, if not my idea of gourmet ($7 for breakfast, $8 for lunch and $13 for dinner). The restaurant?s fare was a bit better and all the staff was friendly and helpful. The Underwood's stayed next door at the more upscale Rio Hotel Casino. I tried the Rio buffet for lunch one day - it was clearly better but at twice the cost - $16 for lunch.

What really makes this camp is the instructors. Nearly all the teachers were former national champions in their division, some retiring undefeated, and most were also featured in one or more Dance Vision DVD series. They included: Michael Mead & Toni Redpath, Jim & Jenell Maranto, Victor Veyrasset & Heather Smith, Bob Powers & Julia Gorchakova, Donald Johnson & Kasia Kozak, Tony Meredith & Wendy Johnson, James & Jaana Kunitz (former pros at Crystal Dance Club Wilmington), and Diane Jarmolow. The Midnight Madness staff included Christy Cote' & George Garcia, Katie Marlow & Nelson Flores (subbing for Billy Fajardo), Barry Durand, and Linda Drake. What most impressed me was how warm and friendly all the instructors were and how much they cared about seeing that the classes "got it." I was in awe of Victor Veyrasset & Heather Smith who made throwaway oversways, same foot lunges and contrachecks easy to learn. One of the highlights of my week was a class with Jim & Jenell, two time U.S. American Smooth Champions. Jim walked the room checking everyone's starting frame and stopped at me and said "Very Good. I like your opposition." I was especially pleased since I was dancing as leader.

The week started with a Sunday night reception with dancing and plentiful hors d'oeuvres. Wayne introduced the instructors and staff. He also presented DV Mastery Camp jackets to the new ambassadors attending their 5th camp and also recognized some ambassadors who were attending their 6th through 10th dance camp, including the Underwoods.

Each morning started at 8 AM with a "Core Rhythms" workout with Julia & Jaana. These ladies got our heart rates up and kept up their famous 1000 watt smiles the whole time (see their web site for more info about their workout program). From 9 AM to 6:30 PM with a 1.5 hour break for lunch, attendees had an opportunity to attend 50 minute classes with a ten minute break. There were four tracks for amateurs that covered most of the American and International style basic dances: Pre-Bronze, Intermediate Bronze, Full Bronze, and Silver+. Pros were able to choose from these tracks or the fifth professional track. Two hours were reserved each day to teach a performance routine (in Tango and Cha Cha for the amateurs - a different routine for each level), and an open west coast swing for the pros). Any participant who wanted to perform the routine could do so with their proficiency group at the Thursday night banquet. Dance Vision made the opportunity for everyone to perform, even if they didn't have an even number of leaders and followers, by dancing the routine twice so that every lady could have a partner. I thought they did a great job with only four days to prepare. Note: Performing was optional.

There was only one track for Midnight Madness (a new addition to the dance camp) and the lessons progressed over the three nights from beginner to intermediate level building on the lesson of the previous night. Barbara Capaldi of Atrium Dance Studio also attended the pro camp, some of the amateur classes, and part of Midnight Madness. She enjoyed the world-class instruction and said that some of the amateur classes were even better than the pro classes. She recommended that there be more than one track for Midnight Madness for future camps. Although all the night instructors were good, I don't think they all matched the caliber of the day camp instructors in their respective fields.

Most of the instructors were available in the evening for private lessons (advertised as for couples only) for $105 for a 45-minute lesson. The Underwoods, as well as their friends, Bill and Jill Urban of Levittown, took advantage of the availability of these world-class pros and took private lessons most nights to refine what they learned in class during the day. Bill and Jill who were attending DV's camp for the second time said they recommend the camp to others, adding "the pros really want you to learn."

On Thursday, the last night of camp, there were no classes. The Grand Banquet started with performances by each amateur level in both tango and cha cha and a separate performance by the pro attendees. The banquet food was much better than the buffet cuisine. After dinner, in addition to general dancing, there was an Argentine Tango performance by Christy Cote' and George Garcia, and Jack and Jill competitions in tango, cha cha, rumba, and waltz. Attendees were randomly matched with someone they didn't know. Our Delaware Valley couples competed in all four events, making most semi-finals and finals and with Bill Urban ending the events by winning the rumba competition.

The Urbans and Underwoods were having a lucky week and year. Passing the roulette table, Bill Urban placed a bet on black 17 and won $700 (that paid for his camp). In the past year, Patty Underwood has won a cruise, a free pass for next year's Ohio Star Ball, and a tango dress.

There were about 550 day camp amateurs, about 60 pros, and over 150 people registered for Midnight Madness. The cost for either the regular camp or the pro camp (including day sessions for that camp, hotel from Sunday to Friday, welcome reception, Grand Banquet, evening practice rooms, and competitions and shows) was $669 per person double occupancy or $769 single. The Midnight Madness was an additional $149 for day camp registrants or without day camp registration: $259 per person double occupancy or $360 single occupancy (3 hotel nights only; does not include Grand Banquet or welcome reception). They were already taking deposits for next year's camp which will start with the reception on Sunday, June 10th and end with checkout Friday, June 15th. Prices for next year are higher: $749 per person double occupancy or $869 single occupancy for the day camps plus $199 per person to add Midnight Madness, which on its own is $359 per person double occupancy or $439 single for Monday night thru Thursday morning.

The camp has sold out for the last ten years in a row. This year's camp sold out before the end of 2005 and was closed to single ladies even earlier. I have already placed my $50 non-refundable deposit for next year's camp. Hope to see you there!

Call 1-800-851-2813 to make your reservations today! Or click here for more information or to register online.

Click on the photo at the top of the page to browse our Dance Camp Photo Gallery and experience the fun and excitement waiting for you in 2007.

Click The Links Below To Experience The Magic On Video
Professional Performance Class Routine
Beginning Tango Routine
Beginning Cha Cha Routine
Intermediate I Tango Routine (Group 1)
Intermediate I Tango Routine (Group 2)
Intermediate I Cha Cha Routine
Intermediate II Tango Routine (Group 1)
Intermediate II Tango Routine (Group 2)
Intermediate II Cha Cha Routine (Group 1)
Intermediate II Cha Cha Routine (Group 2)
Advanced Tango Routine (Group 1)
Advanced Tango Routine (Group 2)
Advanced Cha Cha Routine