With 2016 only hours away, my attention turns to reflecting on what a great year 2015 has been – and the awesome contributions to the community made by our members and team.
I don’t often get chance to say thank you – as things are often so manic during the weekly schedule of events. So I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight some special contributions – it wouldn’t be possible without you all.
It would be impossible to recognise every person in the network, for the wonderful things they do – so if you’re missing from the list – please don’t be disheartened. StreetSalsa wouldn’t be what it is without the contribution of each and every member. From first-time visitors to hardened veterans.
So thank you all, and here goes…
Rising Star Award
This award goes to a member who is relatively new to the scene, but in a short space of time has become a very valuable member of the community and embodies everything that StreetSalsa is about.
And the nominations are: Asad Sadeghi, Marcin Wojtkowski, Anna Higgins, Rina Deb, Myra Rowland, Anthony Smith, Jacob Sullivan, Linda Atkinson, Nathaniel Birkett, Guilherme Caxaria, Nimisha Mistry, Louise Bruntlett, Siobhan Lloyd, Sarah Reynolds, Hannah Dunmore.
And the winner is… Rina Deb! Anyone who knows Rina would agree that her bright personality and sense of humour is infectious. She brings her own flava to the dance and brings energy and passion to every event she attends. In a short space of time, Rina has become a pillar of the community and long may it continue. Deserved winner.
Most Improved Dancer
We’ve seen some truly astounding gains made by our members, often in a remarkably short length of time. This award goes to the dancer that we feel has made the most improvements in their own dancing in 2015.
And the nominations are: Dan Browne, Kamila Kubiak, Claudia Maclean, Andrew Holmes, Rina Deb, Myra Rowland, Anthony Smith, James Fenwick, Jacob Sullivan, Linda Atkinson, Nathaniel Birkett, Sarah Reynolds, Nimisha Mistry, Louise Bruntlett, Siobhan Lloyd.
And the winner is… Nathaniel Birkett! So difficult to pick this one, as I’ve been astounded by the improvement in all of our dancers this year. But Nathaniel really stands out to me, the extra work he puts in practising outside of the classes and studying the videos is really paying off – in just his second run through the Foundations syllabus he’s cracking anything I can throw at him. And he’s a top bloke too.
Dance Captain of the Year
The Dance Captains of StreetSalsa are the unsung heroes of our community. They’re a friendly face for new visitors, ready to jump into any role at a moment’s notice. They are a voice for our groups at the leadership meetings, and help our team members develop in their roles.
And the nominations are: Ania Banks, Carly O'Neill, Donna Farey, Janette Seach Turek.
And the winner is… Janette Seach Turek! This year Janette has embodied everything a Dance Captain should be – particularly with the challenging launch of Temple Works in the latter part of the year. Janette motivates her team, challenges me to be better, is a friendly face to visitors, jumps into every role where needed, and truly cares about what we’re trying to do. A remarkable achievement when you consider she is balancing the family life of being a new mum!
DJ of the Year
The DJ role is a tough gig, you need a thick skin and to take criticism before you enter into this one – everyone has an opinion! It’s like being a goal keeper, you’re very unlikely to get a pat on the back but if something goes wrong you’ll be the first one to hear about it… Not to mention you have to be locked away in your box for the whole game!
And the nominations are: Jason Archdale, Jonathon Carter-Hume, Lee Richardson, Richard Ruff.
And the winner is… Jonathon Carter-Hume! The speed at which Jonathon has taken to the role of DJ at Smokestack and made it his own is remarkable. You’d think he’d been doing it for years! The passion and dedication he has shown to the job is commendable. Monday nights rock – in no small part due to his efforts. Well done.
Promo of the Year
Another fundamentally important role in the StreetSalsa team, is that of Promo. On the surface of things it’s just signing people in – but the role serves a far more important purpose. And that’s getting to know your members and welcoming new people – after all, you’re the first port of call for our visitors who may be nervous and unsure of themselves. It’s another thankless role that keeps you busy all evening!
And the nominations are: Andrew Holmes, Gaynor Secker, Kamila Kubiak, Kat Oxley.
And the winner is… Kamila Kubiak! What can I say? I honestly don’t know what we’d have done without Kamila this year. She is an absolute trooper, grafting all year first at HiFi and then Temple Works to get everyone signed in while making them feel welcome. Trust me it’s a tough gig signing in more than 50 people each week, and a thankless task. Well I’m thanking you now Kamila! Kamila’s dancing at a top level now too, think 2016 is time we got you more involved in teaching.
Lead Teacher of the Year
Whether it’s teaching the basic steps, or putting together a tricky pattern, the lead teacher role is a great opportunity for developing your own dancing and teaching style. It’s surprisingly energy-consuming job, and takes real commitment to deliver week after week.
And the nominations are: Lee Richardson, Leonard Ng, Elliot Chinnock.
And the winner is… Lee Richardson! Picking up the award for the second year running, I can’t help looking back to last year’s award – when Lee was just finding his feet as a teacher. Well in 2015 Lee has truly become an accomplished teacher in his own right. Weighing up different techniques and sources, Lee empowers his students to make their own decisions about what is right and wrong. I personally look forward to his lessons as they make me a better dancer and constantly challenge myself.
Follow Teacher of the Year
It can be difficult to get a word in edgeways between a lead teacher’s fussy ramblings, but oh so important that our follows receive the same great level of instruction. Not to mention spinning on demand in front of a room full of people! So the follow teacher role is a tough gig, and hats off to all the follows who have stepped up for us this year.
And the nominations are: Allison Marsay, Amy Brassington, Ania Banks, Donna Farey, Emma Nunney.
And the winner is… Emma Nunney! I know what a personal challenge it has been for Emma moving from teaching a small group at Smokestack to tackling groups of over 50 at our Wednesday events. It takes courage to stand up and assert yourself in front of that many people – many who are there to have a great time and can get quite rowdy! Not only do I commend her courage, but also the constant challenging of her own dancing to make sure she’s doing the best possible job for her students.
Outstanding Achievement Award
The following team member’s commitment to StreetSalsa often goes unnoticed – particularly because much of it has been directed into our ongoing partnership with LUU SalsaSoc.
Teaching week-in and week-out, choreographing and organising performance opportunities with the group, and providing advice and guidance tirelessly on top of a busy work schedule – this individual deserves a nod. Not to mention helping out massively with the Temple Works project and covering teaching at Smokestack.
Amy Brassington, please take a bow! I’m looking forward to you getting more involved with core StreetSalsa activities in 2016.
StreetSalsa Personality of the Year 2015
Ok, it’s the big one! The StreetSalsa Personality of the Year Award 2015.
This award goes to the person we feel embodies everything that StreetSalsa is all about – fun, friendly, committed and a real team player who has made an immeasurable contribution to the community in 2015.
A real cornerstone of the community, who’s at nearly every event we put on – dancing until they kick us out. A tough one to decide this one!
And the nominations are: Emma Nunney, Lee Richardson, Richard Ruff, Andrew Holmes, Jonathon Carter-Hume, Dan Browne, Kamila Kubiak, Allison Marsay, Claudia Maclean, Amy Brassington, Rina Deb, Kat Oxley, Janette Seach Turek, Ania Banks.
And the winner is… Richard Ruff! For over three years, Richard has been the kind of friend and supporter of StreetSalsa that comes along once in a lifetime. He’s been instrumental every year since he first dropped into a class. But unbelievably, this year he’s stepped it up a gear and is wholeheartedly deserving of this award.
The standout moments for me have been his unshakable belief in the Temple Works project, even backing the project financially as well as getting his hands dirty to pull it off. We really couldn’t have done it without him! He’s worked out all the details and truly made it the success we’ve seen.
Not to mention his usual commitment as DJ, techie, and general angel of the community. Ice cream club, miles as a taxi, and his absolute commitment to the welfare of all our members. Then there’s his support of our partnership with LUU SalsaSoc – phew the list goes on. Suffice to say, he deserves this award and more! Well done mate, you’re the best thing to ever happen to this community!