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Hi everyone! This weekend has been absolutely amazing for me, and I hope that it has for you as well. I got the chance to attend the Heritage Dance Classic at the Omni Grove Park Inn of Asheville. Though I did not compete in the competition due to the fact that my instructor and I just finished the choreography of our dances, I still attended the professional competitions as well as the show last night. Karina Smirnoff and Slavik Kryklyvyy were the dancers of the show and let me tell you…..they were INCREDIBLE. I was completely star-struck to say the least. Karina’s technique is impeccable and her performance ability is so enchanting and draws you in to each routine, almost as if you are a part of it. Slavik is so powerful and really takes control of Karina (in the way a male dancer should). As a team, they are dynamite. It’s amazing how they execute each mood of the dance so well and how their bodies are constantly in motion, accentuating every movement. I got a chance to meet Karina and Slavik after the show, which was also amazing. They are incredibly sweet and humble.

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These pictures were taken several years ago when I competed at the Heritage Classic
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Getting to watch the Professional Latin and Smooth competition was definitely another highlight of my weekend. American Smooth is so beautiful and fluid, and the dancers were so full of passion and grace. And then there was the American Latin which is my favorite of course. The dancers were so sharp with their movement and perform each dance so fully. One thing I really loved about the couples that made it to the finals was how they connected as partners. It makes such a huge difference when two dancers are completely in sync and have an obvious chemistry and passion together; that’s one thing that I really need to work on in my own dancing. I am completely inspired by all of the pros that I got to see this week, especially Karina and Slavik. They have all worked so hard for their professional status, and the dance abilities that they have achieved. It makes me hopeful for my future career, and makes me determined to achieve what they have. It was sad not competing this week, but I know that I made the right decision. I will be much more prepared in July (our first competition in Open Gold Latin) and much more confident as well. Becoming a dancer takes a lot of time and hard work, and this week I am reminded of how much that will pay off in the future if I just keeping working toward my goals. I know that dancing is the path for me, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

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Me and my dance coach, John King
Not only did I get to enjoy a wonderful weekend of dancing, but I got to spend time at one of my favorite places which is the Omni Grove Park Inn.  This is where the Heritage Classic is held each year.  Every time I visit this amazing hotel, I am completely mesmerized by its beauty and the feeling of class, romance, and retreat that it portrays. The hotel is absolutely beautiful and makes you feel as though you are in a different time period, away from the world as it overlooks the entire city of Asheville. One of my favorite places in the Grove Park is in the main lobby, where they have two huge fireplaces on each end, embedded in beautiful rock walls, complete with rocking chairs that sit in front. I love just cozying up by the fire with a good book and some hot chocolate; I could sit there for hours. I also got to reconnect with one of my really great friends that used to dance at my studio. I spend most of my time with my family and my boyfriend, so it was great to have her back in town for the weekend and just discuss life.

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For my 19th birthday, my Mom took me to the spa at the Grove Park. It was like nothing that I had ever seen before. The inside of the spa is like a fairytale cave with beautiful waterfalls and pools. The outside of the spa has fireplaces and hot tubs as well; the day that we went it was foggy and chilly outside, which made it even more beautiful. I felt like such a Princess that day, and the whole setting just makes you feel happy and relaxed. I cannot wait to go back and take my boyfriend. It’s a great place for couples as well as individuals.

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This weekend rejuvenated and revived me, giving me confidence to really attack my goals with drive and passion. After seeing the confidence in the professional dancers and how they are so sure of themselves and their ability, it gives me the courage to embrace the challenges that may come and just dance like I know that I can.

Go out and Inspire,

Ashlyn Tori<3