'Spot Light' ---- Beth Darchi
As a young ballerina majoring in dance at the Performing Arts High School, she would experience a seismic shift as she gravitated towards social dancing and the hustle. She became the envy of dancers young and old, Beth Darchi was innovation.
From her early up bringing in Newark, New Jersey, Beth began studying ballet at the age of eight. "My mother loved going to the theater and just loved dance mainly as a spectator and student," explains Beth. "She was my true influence in taking dance classes in Ballet," she shares. Once the family moved to Brooklyn, New York, Beth settled in and hasn't moved since. Focused on the talents of dance legends Leslie Browne, of the NY City Ballet, and movie icons like Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse, Beth wanted to expand her range of dance. Along with some friends they explored the hustle phenomena by attending a social at the legendary Darien's Dance Studio. Although she had witnessed the dance prior, it wasn't until she stepped into the studio and experienced first hand the talents of many of the hustle legends. "As the story goes, I was completely blown away when I saw Arte, Eddie, Maria, Lisa Nuz, Butchie, Melvin, plus many others", shares Beth. From that point on, she immersed herself in the dance. By breaking away from the pack, she built on her skills putting her own style and signature on the dance. With unlimited creativity, Beth was becoming one of the premier dancers. Inspired by many of the divas of the day: Maria Torres, Lisa Nunziella, Lourdes Jones and Nellie Cotto, Beth had her sights on multiple levels of dancing. She began partnering with the late Dante and would team up with super star Franc. "Perico" Reyes to learn and study lifts and tricks. These experiences helped expand her own tool box of knowledge. As her resume grew so did her skill sets and confidence. She began partnering with popular competitor Lucas Jaime. Together they would compete in many contests including Zachary's, Dancesport Studios, Joey's and then began performing with Roberto Pagan's New York Express Dance Company.
On a typical night at one of the classic discotheques of the era, Inferno, an atypical thing happened. Still developing her craft, Beth was asked to dance by a hustle pioneer. Louis Orlando and Beth just clicked. There was instantaneous chemistry. They would feed off of one another's energy creating and driving the dance. From that point on they remained close confidants and dance partners. In 1995 prior to the launch of the first 'Hustle USA', organizer Maria Torres encouraged them to compete in the Professional Classic division. This competition introduced this duo to the hustle world. The response was magical and the demand for their skills has not let up. "I truly thank Maria for pushing us" explains Beth. Together, they continue to travel and teach workshops at most the top Hustle/Swing events. "She is one of my all time favorite dance partners," explains Louis Orlando. "Beth has great rhythm and flow. We are very close friends on and off the dance floor. We share many hobbies, interests and past times outside of dance," shares Louis. With their success came more opportunities as Beth would hone an incredible friendship with dance superstar Arte Phillips. "Arte was my mentor and dearest friend. He had taken me under his wing to learn more than just dance and expand it into the world of Production", explains Beth. "He had introduced me to theater and how to work with it behind the scenes." Beth would travel with Arte and the production company to assist in hosting hustle workshops for the theater production of "Saturday Night Fever" in Santo Domingo, National Theater. The symbiotic relationship forged by the two would land Beth in performances and showcases in Arte's productions for 'Disco America' and the 'International Hustle & Salsa Competitions'. "I will never forget him for taking me beyond and for being such an understanding and loyal friend. It was wonderful to work with him," shares Beth. Each year Beth was front and center of the Disco America dinner shows. She along with the troop would have the audience applauding for more, it was only fitting that she was recognized with the very first "Arte Philips Life Time Achievement Award" last year. "Beth Darchi has always been one of my Hustle idols, from the first time I saw her dance I wanted to dance just like her," shares fellow dancer Stephanie Risser. "She has so much class and grace on and off the dance floor. Beth has given so much of her time to helping the community-doing websites for events, dinner shows, and most of all giving a lot of time and energy to the IHDA. Beth has been an integral part of the Hustle community and continues to inspire with her classic style and grace," explains Stephanie. Beth has been the recipient of numerous awards and experienced many highlights over the years but some stand out including being a principal dancer along with Louie in the Movie production of "Carlitos Way" starring Al Pacino. Learning about movie lighting, production and directing has added to her all around knowledge of dance and choreography. Another notable experience on television was working and demonstrating for "Good Day New York" along with Bobby Morales.
This past month Beth choreographed multiple pieces for the Saturday night dinner show at the 2010 Disco America Championships. She has broadened her horizons and utilizes her years of experience of hard knocks in production and choreography. She wants to continue to expand and is inclined to implement other concepts and ideas into her performances. "I had choreographed for a singing group and now I'm in the process of putting together a dance production" she shares. As a webmaster, when she is not dancing, Beth loves to unwind from all those spins by taking walks, bike riding and being outdoors. She is intrigued by how some folks don't understand or relate to "the hustle." When questioned 'where could this dance lead you', it's very easy. "Without this dance I would not be the person I am today. I have done so much as a dancer in my life than anyone would dream. Starting from performing, traveling, TV and movies, recognition, teaching, expanding my teaching to Ballroom for 6 years, choreography, meeting different people and just plain fun." The creative talent and artistry continues to pour out and we look for more exciting work from this hustle innovator.
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