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Yallo. Liza here, ACC in Houston.
WELL. We have been here since Friday and have been busy dancing, registering, dancing, attending this meeting and that meeting, competing, and spectating. The comp feels big this year, way bigger than last year. Don’t know if that’s actually true but everyone says it feels that way. Super high excitement level, high energy, total funness so far.
Last night was Showcase, Pro-Am routines, Masters Classic, and Novice Classic (a division they seem to have only here in Texas, where they do things the Texas way regardless of what the rest of the country thinks). My favorite was a pro-am routine Matt Auclair did to “Bemir Bist Du Schein,” (a sentimental classic Yiddish song from the 1930′s made popular in English by the Andrews Sisters – it is to Jews what “That’s Amore” is to Italians) in which she (forget her name) wore an adorable Lindy outfit and shoes but they danced a west-coast routine – funny, quick, clean, witty – and the song itself is so great that during the chorus the whole audience started clapping and singing along. Delightful!
So far today we’ve done WSDC JJ prelims, AANCE JJ prelims, AANCE Strictlys; and in an hour we do AANCE Strictly ffinals. Then Rising Star, Intermediate Classic (another one of those weirdo who knows what the heck it is Texas divisions) and regular NASDE Classic. Then tomorrow are WSDC JJ and Strictly finals. It’s a late comp – JJ finals only begin a 5:30 – so most people are flying home Monday.
This AANCE title has really taken off! Lotta people down here gunning for the title. Mario, Angel, and Cher created this tour maybe four years ago (or three only, maybe?) to attract and reward beginner dancers, and it seems to be working, big time. Last year Oscar and Chelsea Rodgers won (they’re both in Advanced now, a year later). You have to have qualified elsewhere around the country in order to dance tonight in the finals. From DC we have Genieboy, Rob, James, and Robin Tittley dancing. Robin made semi-finals in her WSDC JJ earlier today – there were 102 Novice girls! Almost as many guys – a HUGE division. I’m sure she’ll make finals tomorrow – she’s looking fantastic.
So far nice weather here. T-shirt weather during the day, little chilly at night. Nothing like what we hear is going on in DC – is it really 9 degrees?? Holy Shamoly!
I shall write more later! Taking loads of pics which I’ll post on, yep, Facebook! Get on Facebook dudes.
GUESS WHO WON AANCE??!!!??
ROBBBBBBB! OUR ROB!
The way Marion announced it, ” THE Best Novice Male Dancer in The Nation is …… ROB JACKSON!!”
Awesome! So Rob stood up there on that stage, in front of that marvelous ginormous backdrop, and received his winner’s jacket and tickets to every single AANCE event this year. YAY ROB! So proud of him.
The female winner is wonderful, funny, beautiful, smart, sexy Amy Carter, who drove us to the grocery store. We actually drove in the same car with the winner of AANCE. Whoa.
And guess who won the Novice Strictly?
ROB AND ROBIN! hahahahahahahaha Can you beat THAT?!? Did DC represent, or WHAT? So cool, so so cool.
And Robin placed 3rd in AANCE! The 3rd best female Novice dancer in the country! Pretty daggone great!
In AANCE Intermediate, Katy Slater and Demery Strickland won, and Katy Slater and Clint won the Strictly.
3 Felix Hernandez and Maria Cirino
2nd Haider and Heather (GAWD I love this routine, and love love her dancing!)
1st … and the winner is … Orion and Rebecca! They NAILED their routine! Without a doubt the very best we’ve ever see them do it.
1st Michael and Jen
2nd Christopher and Katrina
3rd Matt Auclair and Sophy! – great routine – she looked terrific
4th Jason and Erica
5th Benji and Kellese
6th Trent Haynes and Debbie Figueroa
7th Jake and Taletha (lotta lotta mistakes, shame)
8th Brian Jordan and Laura Christopherson
9th Sebastien and Blandine (they have been since Thursday without their luggage – the airline says sorry they have no idea where the suitcases are, maybe Paris, maybe Canada – no idea – so they had to cobble together a costume which got caught on his sleeve during the routine, and she wears a size 5 shoe so had to borrow a size 6 from someone. Makeup from me. I feel sorry for them – they were scared to death and made a lot of mistakes. Really darling sweet couple).
10th Damon and Lisa (Um, wow. Wow not in a good way. No comment since I have no idea what was going on there.)
WSDC JJ finals:
Crystal Auclair (what a sweetheart, with the all-tiime cutest daughter in history)
1st alt – Kelly Faust
2nd alt – Tori Ellington (she has the best hair in the swing-dance world)
Trey Ellington (Tori’s brother – they’re both adorable, but he has normal hair)
Michael Stephens (with whom I am doing the Masters Strictly tomorrow)
1st alt – Blaise Tamo
oops didn’t write down the rest
Graham Fox (all the way from Scotland! I love this guy but I can’t understand a word he says)
Heather made chocolate-cake shooters in her room again, same as last week in Boston, and I FORGOT TO GO aughghgh AUGHGHGH!! Dag NABBIT. We’ve been talking about chocolate shooters for an entire week and a half and I FORGOT TO GO. Dang! They’re good, too. REallllllly good.
Very full day. More tomorrow!
Okay … here are the final wonderful totally wonderful wsdc results:
Novice JJ (with 102 followers – huge field):
3rd Butch Nelson and Taylor Harrel
2nd James Thompson and …. ROBIN TITTLEY!!!!! YAAAAYYY!!!
1st Mark Shephard and Amy Carter
3rd Kelly Strouse and Abby Wood (we can claim her as DC – she lived here and will be back)
2nd JB Brodie (the kid I got in finals in Dallas 2007 – couple years older now and all the 12-yr-old girls think he is DREAMY screaming and squealing every time he’s on the floor)
1st ROB!!!!! with Christina DeMeola (wonderful, funny, friendly gal from Chicago – she did Rising Star last year) YAAAAYYYY!!!
3rd Brian Spivey and Darla (great dancer, who did, again, her Rising Star routine with Demery Strickland. I love the routine, and she’s all class and elegance, and fast, but they didn’t do so well which is a mystery to me).
2nd Austin Murray and Christa Martin
1st Trey Ellington (the brother of Tori-with-the-hair) and Taletha (she’s phenomenol)
3rd Jorge and Sarah (Houston folks – don’t know either of them)
2nd James and Amanda Thompson (more Houston people, don’t know ‘em)
1st Mark Shephard and Amy Carter (this girl cleaned UP this year – and – more importantly – she took us to the grocery store in her Lexus to get soda’s)
3rd Demery and Brianne Cline (the sweet tiny little thing from Tampa who, with Anderw, did their Juniors routine at the Open)
2nd ROB!!!! with … MARIA VASSILIEVA!!! YAAAAAAAY!!!
1st Clay and Katy Slater (who won stuff all weekend – she kept bursting into tears from happiness as she received her multiple jackets up on the stage)
3rd Jake and Rebecca
2nd Brian and Lisa Spivey
1st Trey (again) and Heather Smith (looooooove her, looooove her dancing)
3rd Chip DiStefano and Janice Salmon (this is Chip, not her boyfriend who is Chips. What’s going on with this?)
2nd Heavy and Snowflake
1st Richard and Roxanne (Houston couple)
Michael Stephens and I placed 4th, just behind these couples, receiving one 1 and one 2 from the judges – so that’s pretty good.
3rd Brent and Kellese
2nd Jason Barnes and Katrina
1st Benji and Deborah – and omgawd what a show. Hilarious, wildly creative, wildly near-unbelievable following on Deborah’s part ( I told Benji Deborah can follow anyone, ANYONE, even you for gawd’s sakes, which cracked him up (thankfully – it didn’t come out sounding as much like a compliment as it had sounded in my head before I blurted it out).
Some other random scores from the judges’ sheets after the event (and I have others if you’re interested):
Haider and Lara did a Strictly and placed 6th out of 15 (not bad!)
Robin and James H did an Intermediate Strictly and placed not so good.
Orion placed 8th (out of 16) in Advanced JJ
Rebecca and Trent Haynes (the wonderful slow-whip dancer, teacher in Houston, married to the wonderful Michelle Haynes (who, with Joel Gorman, did a sweet, romantic, graceful Rising Star routine (Mario and Angel’s work) in a dress and heels) placed 10th in Advanced JJ
Oscar and Yuna placed 14th
Dana with Kyle Snow placed 15th out of 16.
By the way, yesterday I wrote that Marion had announced “THE Best Novice Male Dancer in The Nation is …… ROB JACKSON!!”.
But I have no idea who Marion is. Whoever she is she probably didn’t announce that.
What I meant to say is that MARIO made the announcement, however there is a little war going on between me and my spell checker, which waits till I’m ignoring it and then sneaks the letter “n” onto what I wrote because, well, because it has issues. Passive-aggressive thing going on, or it has a problem with Cubans.
So this was a fun event. Rob says he had even MORE fun in Boston, even with all his winning in Houston this weekend. What was really fun about Boston was that a whole crowd of us went up up together so what a total blast hanging out at a comp with all our friends – and so supportive to get out there and know you have your whole crew screaming for you.
But GB and I thought this year’s Houston was a fun comp. We’ll definitely go back next year – I think everyone will want to (if they can stand Texas. We happen to love Texas and Texans even if they do have to do everyting their own damn way. They’re so rambunctious! And the Houston community is rockin – vibrant and well-trained,)
Cher says the number of registered competitors here was off the charts – blindsided them completely. Like everyone, she worried how the economy going to affect the circuit this year, and she says ballroom registrations were in fact down from last year. But she says what they were absolutely not expecting was this surprise flood of competition registrations, which by themselves ended up increasing the total numbers from last year. That might explain why GB and I liked the event so much, and why the high level of energy and excitement. Because at this comp everyone was there to compete rather than just watch.
They (meaning Cher, Angel, and Mario) kept the schedule jam-packed, since there were four tours having to run all their competitions in one weekend. So not a lot of down time, comps going on into the night. But Cher runs a tight ship. I love her style – itty bitty tiny thing with a BIG mouth and a whip (Cher is Kellese’s mother). She does not mess around. Last year there were loooong lines at the registration desk and she said no way, unacceptable, dun’t matter what it costs – I’m not makin’ dancers stand in lines at my event. So this year she used Brian’s full package (Event Express) and there wasn’t even a single-person-wait at the registration desk. You arrived at the hotel and could get banded – and your bibs – right there in the lobby before even going up to your room. And even with all the competitions and the huge fleld for Novice things were run on time, or at least reasonably on time.She’s great. She’s tough, full of heart, laughs at everything, salty-mouthed (even on the mike for closing ceremonies – which were actually fun to listen to – between her, Angel and Mario no moment is without a joke); and she’s an elegant, subtle, smooth dancer – all class.
As of last night she didn’t know yet how they’ve done financially this year, but she’s hoping it will beat last year’s profit of $82.
Oh yeah and I’ve got, hmmmm. Lesseee. This time maybe, ohhhh, a million pictures. Up from my 500 I took in Boston. Which I will post on Facebook soon’s I can. Every picture is so great, another great picture of another great friend, so I can’t bring myself to ever delete any, which is becoming a little tiny problem.
Oh, and two other things:
1. I asked Lisa D’Amico what the heck happened with their routine, did he blank out or sumpfin? and she said yeah that’s exactly what happened. So they just did side-passes for three minutes. To “Mercy” (Duffy). They didn’t even look phased. She says it doesn’t matter at all to either of them ’cause they’re so loved and supported in the Houston community they can go out and do *anything* and they have the community’s support. It was nice to hear how to handle major bombing like that cause I just know it’ll happen to us (if we ever get this routine on the floor, that is). So that explains that – they got out there and totally forgot their routine.
2. The after-party last night was SMOKIN. We left at 3am to be at the airport at 5:30am and the place was just as crowded as during the comp, all the pro’s mixing it up all over the floor, too, dancing with everybody. Great social dancing. And the girls were LINING UP for Rob with his backwards-baseball-cap self. I mean, it was ridiculous. Wobbie Wob, our own Wobbie Wob. He’s good and all, but come ON now, he’s not THAT good, is he? (Har har just kidding just kidding. And don’t tell him I said that!).
3. Oh yeah I forgot to mention there was a contingent from Scotland, a few people from London (including Mike Rosa and Sue Lampbell), four from France and a bunch down from Canada. As of last night the poor French group still had not received their luggage. They asked the airline pleeese pleeese do not *now* find our loogage and send thees to Houston because now we are on our way back to Paris. Ugh. I would have died without my big pink suitcase.