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We have a generator! Bill says the hotel is ready for us – we can stay holed up here at the special dance rate, and Bill will keep the floors down until the storm is done with us. This is FUN! Can you imagine a funner place to be stuck in a hurricane than in a hotel with all your favorite people, a floor, DJ’s, and a generator? Instead of a pool party Bill and Yuna should have a hurricane every year.
Summer Hummer is in Framingham, 20 miles west of Boston so 20 miles closer to where Hurricane Irene is scheduled to touch down sometime tonight. Local news here is showing Red Cross shelters set up, people in long lines stocking up on water, batteries, candles, medicine. We flew in from DC on Thursday and when we asked the agent if he thought we’d have problems returning home on Sunday he burst out laughing, saying all east coast airports would be evacuated, airplanes moved into the midwest since, as airplanes are made to be lifted and tossed around by wind it might not a great idea to leave them sitting in the middle of a hurricane. So no, we weren’t going to be flying anywhere on Sunday. Or Monday. The moment we landed we got an email telling us all AirTran flights had been cancelled Saturday through Monday. So la voila! Here we are! At the Sheraton Framingham until who knows when! The same hotel which last year leaked hours of toilet water from the room above us into our clothes, dance shoes, toiletries, computers, suitcases, bed, food …
So far we are having a blast. Yesterday was Strictly’s (Adv/Allstar and Pro), JJ Prelims (Inter and Adv), and Showcase.
Adv/Allstar Prelim Judges:
Ben Morris, Melissa Rutz, Sean McKeever, Michael Kielbasa, Katrina Branson, Larry Mongeau, and Chief Judge Maira Pineda
Mrs. Anna Lumsden Balcom
Showcase was really good. Others may have predictions but I have no idea whatsoever how placements for this division might stack up. It’s a NASDE division and the Open is only three months away so it will be interesting to see what happens with these couples.
An interesting Judging Panel for this division :
Anne Fleming, Didier Jean-Francois, Donna Roesel, Jennifer Lyons, Larry Mongeau, Gary Jobst, and Chief Judge Maira
1. Greg and Lemery – We’ve now seen this beautiful winning routine all over the country (and at home). Just keeps getting better.
2. Brandon Lee Detty and Yvonne Dodson – First time I’ve seen this one – loved it! Love their music (some wonderful Irish step-dance-meets-rock-and-roll something or other) and loved their combination of step dancing (only a little taste – not so much that it overshadowd the swing of the routine) with west coast. They’re both tall and lean, too, so you wanted them to stand there in tandem and lift those mile-long legs Riverdance style. Seemed well rehearsed and clean to me but I was glued to the camera so might have missed bobbles if there were any.
3. Myles and Tessa – Only second time I’ve seen this (Dave Matthews – forget the name of the song) but I love it. Love their choreography, love their tricks, love how prolific they are, love their taste in music, love to watch Tessa move.
4. Robert and Nicola – Their new routine! It was beautiful at Swing Fling but was WAY beautifuller last night – they changed it and it’s great, my favorite of their routines in recent years.
5. Arjay and Jen – This routine looked way changed too (I saw it last at Liberty). I’m probably embarrassing myself – it might have been an entirely different routine. The music sounded different – was it? Or am I imagining things? Their costumes were black and neon but more refined and elegant, less baggy hip-hop, less yellow (Jen didn’t have the bright yellow wife-beater this time), the look was toned-down and tighter-fitting, cleaner lines. Whether it was the same routine revamped or a new one I preferred last night’s version.
6. Benji and Torri – Same amazing amazing routine they’ve been performing all year since the Open and what can you say? They’re astonishing. So so sososososo FAST. Sheesh. I guess I do have one prediction for placements – they’ll probably win. Then again on our circuit you never know.
More about last night in the next update … now we’re on our way down to the ballroom for Newcomer, Novice, Allstar and Champion JJ’s. Then the Hurricane Party this afternoon. Without Black Flies! We had a plague of them last year so Bill and Yuna outsmarted those suckers and arranged for Irene to be here this weekend. Ha! You abominable critturs you. Let’s see you just try to hang on to my arm in Category 3 gale force winds.
It’s a beautiful sunny day here in Boston and we are finally on our way home having survived Hurricane Irene, cancelled flights, and two extra days days in the hotel. Fifteen Europeans are still stranded for another week which they’re loving: whale-watching today, dancing every night in Boston.
We had power all weekend until Sunday during the Novice Strictly when poof! the ballroom suddenly went pitch black and silent. After the briefest pause the whole room broke out in cheers, clapping and pounding the floor. Then 30 seconds later the lights flickered on and there before us were the Novice Strictly couples! In closed position with shiny faces looking considerably less tense than the last time we saw them. Victor cranked the song back up where they’d left off and we were up and running again.
Ten seconds later Boom! the music stopped, ballroom went dark a second time, this time everyone cheering and stomping with more enthusiasm. Poof! the lights were on and Victor started up the music again.
A minute later Pop! Power out a third time and now it was really funny. Pop! The lights were back on.
Robert said “Okay you guys. Do all the moves you know in eight counts. You get 10 seconds to dance. Don’t hold back, put all your best stuff out there immediately.” This time Victor threw on a more appropriate song, “Hit The Lights” and the Novice Strictly was finally able to finish.
The power lasted through the Allstar JJ Finals. Check out the 80′s Classics Victor played! Awesome!
1. Chris Dumond and Joanna Meinl to “100% Pure Love”
Chris! Oh my goodness! Always playing, always creating on-the-fly inventions which don’t always work, whacky convoluted pretzels where he has to twist bend turn inside out duck below step between hands to exit. His face! He never stops laughing. He stumbled and fell during one of these, springing right back up BOING! like a super ball, grinning the whole time. Robert said “I could have done all that. Except I would have fallen *three* times instead of once. But I’d have had my Life Alert.” (for non-US’ers and Juniors: “Help I’ve Fallen And I Can’t Get Up” was a national punchline in the 80′s and 90′s
2. JB and Samantha Fernandez to “Pump Up The Jam”
3. Rome and Kelly Hull to “Pump Up The Volume”
4. Anthony and Linda Cuccio to Good Vibration
5. PJ and Kim Filippo to Rhythm is a Dancer
6. Steve Hunt and Anne Fleming to “Everybody”
7. Rob Glover and Dr. Zena Knight of Harvard to “Smooth Criminal”
And the All-Skate to Elvis’ “Steamroller”
The music all weekend long was WOW. Everyone said so, kept saying so over and over for four days so the mixes must have been brilliant to have pleased *everyone.* Who does that?!? It was Victor and Louie – both phenomenal. Anthony DeRosa played Saturday midnight straight through till floor trials at 7 or 8 and he was fantastic too. We had trouble tearing ourselves away at 5am – every song the kind that makes you say “Oh no! I love this!” and put your shoes back on. Through a door at the side of the ballroom was an alternate all-blues room which – except for a sad laptop running a continuous playlist of classic blues – remained empty all weekend. We missed out but heard that Leafy Greene brought his guitar and played some live acoustic for a little while one night.
And then … Louie’s “Between-Music” which I think I mentioned in the Tea Party updates. Louie plays bits of show tunes, classical pieces, Disney movies, classic rock, heavy metal, Zepplin, rap, marching bands, sitcoms and tv commercial clips – anything he finds funny and interesting.
Man! What a difference it makes to have upbeat background music bring on the judges, introduce the emcees, played during jj rotations, or between heats, between routines. All those transition times where normally all you hear is instructions on a mic.
“Between-Music” changes the whole dynamic in the ballroom. You get contestants rocking out or skipping like Mary Poppins to their new rotation partner, spectators jammin’ in their seats and doing the wave, emcee’s lip-syncing to famous Broadway tunes or bursting into impromptu skits. Brilliant! Energy and silliness – brilliant!
During the Intermediate JJ Louie played “Follow The Yellow Brick Road” which made Royston run over and grab Myles Munroe and Jun Ogata, yelling “Ha! I’m the tallest munchkin! I’m the Gary Jobst of munchkins!” the three of them hopping around shoulder-to-shoulder singing in munchkin-helium voices. Louie’s Between-Music made them do it! Brilliant!
(I’ve decided I’m calling everything “brilliant” now, with an English accent.)
It was Victor’s idea some years ago at Summer Hummer to let the pro’s choose their own songs for the Champion JJ. The pro’s, as in all the pro’s who aren’t female. I love this idea of pro’s choosing their own music, as I’ve written before. It makes for great dancing and interesting new music. So this year they really went out on a limb and let the pro *girls* choose. So fun to hear people’s music tastes!
1. Tessa and Ben Morris dancing to an acoustic version of Celine’s … uh oh I forget the name … Celine’s something. It was pretty.
2. Lemery and Robert Royston to “Crash” (we dance to this at home at Lemery’s all-night dance parties. Now I know why!)
3. Hazel and Myles, to Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.”
4. Sarah and Benji to an acoustic version of Rhianna’s “S&M”
5. Katrina and Arjay to Jeff Golub’s “Soul Serenade”
6. Jen DeLuca and Nick King to Busta Rhymes’ “Don’t Touch Me” and Lawd Have Mercy – steamy sexy sweaty hair-whipping, sliding, crouching, bumping, leaning … Jen is the definition of blood on the dance floor. These two together? They could whip Hurricane Irene’s grandchildren’s butts.
7. Courtney and Kyle to James Brown’s “Get On Up,” and
8. Torri and Michael Kielbasa to Daniel de Bourg’s cover of “How to Love.”
So now it’s late Sunday afternoon, one more competition to go before Awards: Pro-Am routines, and we’re on a two-song break and the power goes out. We wait, we wait some more, but this time it doesn’t come back on. It is pitch black in the ballroom except for a dim glow from the white emergency lights seeping in from the hall outside. Rob and Robert (Glover and Royston) who had made a great comedy team all weekend, run to the front of the dark room yelling into their mics as if there were still sound and instantly became Abbott and Costello, launching into Who’s On First west-coast style – “Who’s Dancing With Arjay” – ridiculously funny. Briliant.
A couple people turned on their flashlight apps and soon the room was filled with phones being held in the air as spotlights. What a scene! Totally dark ballroom spotted with squares of blue-ish white light, ghostly faces smiling all around you.
Rob shouted “I’ve got it I’ve got it! We’ll sing a round! Row Your Boat!”
Royston ran in the darkness to the far side of the room yelling “Great idea! great idea! I’ll take this group over here, you take that one!”
Glover yelled from his side “Okay listen up everybody! The words are:
Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
If you see a crocodile
Don’t forget to scream!”
Royston’s voice yelled “Wait, WHAT? Crocodile? What’s – no, no crocodile! The song goes:
Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Life is but a dream!”
Glove, from the dark at the other side of the room “What is that? The American version? ifyouseeacrocodiledon’tforgettoscream!”
Another voice suddenly jumped out from the darkness – it was Ben Morris – we could make him out when every phone in the ballroom moved at once onto his ghostly figure running wildly up to the front waving his arms, “No! No! You’re both wrong! The words are:
Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
Throw your teacher overboard
And listen to her scream!”
And then suddenly there was Glover’s face suddenly in the spotlight, looking rather blue-ish and a bit too much eyebrow, little ominous actually (funny how he’s so handsome when the lights are on), and he yells “Okay three-part round! Three sections! Royston you start, we’ll come in, Ben’s group last!” and then came the worst most chaotic off-key ugliest disaster of a sing-along I’ve ever heard, and that includes every classroom of first-graders playing twinkle twinkle on the violin. It was SO shriekingly awful mating cats interrupted their howling to flee Framingham in droves in the midst of Hurricane Irene.
Bodies were flickering around in the center of the ballroom – Bill and a crowd of helpers were putting up the limbo pole. Todd Irzyik brought his laptop, Dave Raines hooked up wires, Steve Broskey set up ipod speakers and soon we had faint limbo music at the foot of the pole and instantly a line of limbo contestants weaving back into the darkness. People’s arms and necks were lighting up with neon glow sticks. Someone had gotten hold (or thought to bring!) supplies of necklaces and bracelets and soon the black ballroom was spotted everywhere with brilliant streaks of pink, green, orange, yellow. An amazing spectacle! It was like bits of Aurora Borealis had fallen to earth, into our ballroom! So we could play in a hurricane!
And then Bill had another idea: Skywalking! where we took turns walking high in the darkness over a human ladder of arms. And then another game where we lay side by side on the floor like sardines with our arms stretched up to pass bodies down the line from one end to the other. But bodies not just lying there like lumps, oh no. Dancer bodies! Holding their centers! With long backs and strong cores, arms in second position and ballet hands! All in the glow of phones held high in the air, Steve Broskey wandering around in the dark filming everything so he could stream it later, glow sticks wrapped around ears, foreheads, waists. So funny! So magical! Beautiful! Like a group-showcase routine performed in the darkness, around a campfire.
Ben said “Let’s do Pro-Am routines! We can light it with our phones!” And we did! Louie lay down on the floor with his laptop, the routine couples donned extra glow sticks, Hurricane Irene roared outside, and we all sat in the audience holding up our phones for light, cheering and yelling for the dancers.
Another of those historic moments in west coast history. Who will ever forget this? We think Bill and Yuna should include this as a tradition from now on, to commemorate 2011. Instead of Spotlight it could be Flashlight. Or “Dancing in the Dark.”
We had Awards out in the hall where two skylights let in the dim haze of dusk and Awards were unusually cozy, Bill saying in fact that he preferred them this way – all of us squished together on the floor and crowded into the small hall space, Rob and Robert swinging their legs perched on the counter, everybody hugging everybody each time the winners were announced. It felt like family. It is family. The instantaneous creativity and problem-solving, the love and cooperation, the mutual support, the life-long friendships, the jokes. Laughing, laughing, laughing, so much laughing.
I can never believe how lucky I am to have stumbled into this world.
Results! (These are the folks who braved a hurricane so as not to miss Summer Hummer. Some cancelled entirely, others flew in but didn’t want to get stuck in Boston so flew out early)
JJ Newcomer Placements:
1. Jason Zwolak and Catherine Miu
2. Kai Qu and Cristia Lesher
3. Mark Bolter and Jacqueline Joyner
4. Jack Flynn and Eveleen Sung
5. Marton Erdos and Dani Mullin
6. Florent Fabre and Joelle Sasseville
7. Dale Zumwalt and Lynne Walker
8. Asher Tenn-McClellan and Laurie Curley
9. Gabor Lippner and Michele Fischer
10. Ludovic Felten and Jessie Vitale
JJ Intermediate Placements:
1. Jerome Fernandez and Quenna Wong
2. Ewan Dupre and Kate Lovegrove
3. Josh Williamson and Anyssa Olivares
4. Jerome Louis and Nicole Clonch
5. Stephane Schneider and Marine Fabre
6. TJ Bednash and Marina Motronenko
7. Steve Yi and Alissia Bishop
8. Brandon Detty and Hannah Clonch
9. Phouvanh Meckhasinh and Liza Hillman
10. Steve Wilder and Michelle Fletcher
JJ Allstar Finals Placements:
(Judges: Donna Roesel, Jennifer Lyons, Gary Jobst, Kyle, Michael Kielbasa, Nicola, and Chief Judge Maira)
1. Rob Glover and Zena Knight
2. PJ and Kim Filippo
3. JB and Samantha Fernandez
4. Chris Dumont and Joanna Meinl
5. Rome and Kelly Hull
6. Steve Hunt and Anne Fleming
7. Anthony Derosa and Linda Cuccio
JJ Champions Finals Placements:
1. Benji and Sarah
2. Ben Morris and Tessa
3. Michael Kielbasa and Torri
4. Arjay and Katrina Branson
5. Robert Royston and Lemery
6. Nick King and Jenn DeLuca
7. Kyle and Courtney
8. Myles and Hazel
(Judges: Anne Fleming, Didier Jean-Francois, Donna Roesel, Gary, Jennifer Lyons, Jessica, Larry Mongeau, Maira)
1. Benji and Torri
2. Myles and Tessa
3. Arjay and Jenn Deluca
5. Greg and Lemery
6. Brandon Detty and Yvonne Dodson
(Judges: Anne Fleming, Ben Morris, Didier Jean-Francois, Donna Roesel, Gary, Heidi Mongeau, Nick King, Maira)
1. Brennar and Torri
2. Kyle and Sarah
3. Michael Kielbasa and Katrina Branson
4. Sean and Courtney
5. Tybaldt and Hazel
6. Kris and Rebecca
7. Nick Jay and Joanna Meinl
8. Ilya Obshadko and Ganna Kondakova
Oh my. I don’t seem to have Advanced JJ’s, or any of the strictly results. I’ll get them from Bill and Yuna …
Made it to SoCal! 85° balmy blue skies, rolling canyons, movies, television, music … who wouldn’t want to be here?
Thursday was fairly quiet in the hotel … saw Kellese and Mommy Cher, a buncha Texans lounging by the pool, Carmen, Rosa, and Yvonne from Chicago, a few tired Russians checking in at the front desk.
Doug Silton and Pete Greene held a “Where’s Westie” dance here last night … heard about 150 dancers attended (including 30 competitors in the All-American JJ) until midnight when locals drove home leaving only out-of-towners – mostly allstars – who danced till 3am.
Same hotel as the Open. Decent lobby, standard rooms … nuttin’ special. One hour’s drive from LAX (if you’re lucky! The only two routes are the two famously crazy L.A. traffic jam highways) or immediately across the street from the smaller Burbank airport.
Ron and Tyoni Martin (who hold the Open) are here filming for globaldance so if you’ve got a decent connection you might be able to catch some of the weekend live. The ballroom is set up differently than for the Open – cool backdrop (just uploaded a picture to Facebook if you wanna see) but only the ballroom lighting no stage or other special lights.
So far today I’ve seen Steves Hunt and Hall, April Sakaluk (Steve and April will not be doing their routine here, not quite ready yet), Trista and Alyssa (“TristAlysscious”), Michael O’Connor, Courtney (she and Sean are doing their routine yay! Haven’t seen it since I dunno – many months), several Guidos, Scott and Melina here from Australia, Kris and Rebecca coming out of floor trials, Robert and Nicola, Lasonda Campbell, Lori Hayner behind the registration desk (who tells me that there are “issues” with Dance n’ Fly – they’re going to re-think the program), Jack Smith behind the DJ booth, Vivian Glucksman-Weiss Running With Clipboard, Patti Vo with a cool new business: “Paws” – adorable specialty flip-flop insoles, Greg and Lemery checking in at the front desk, more piling in by the minute.
Kickoff in three hours with JJ and Strictlys prelims and semis, cabaret, and Classic!
Opening Ceremonies postponed ’till 9:30 so I’ve got a quick moment here …
So far we’ve had Novice and Intermediate JJ prelims: 24 Novice couples, Intermediate 10 boys 14 girls. Judges for these divisions: Chief Judge Yvonne Antonacci, Carmen, Lori Hayner, Michelle Kincaid, Kellese, and Lasonda Campbell.
Novice Strictly’s (5 couples) and Intermediate Strictly’s (7 couples) both moved straight to finals on Sunday, and will be Spotlight! Ha! Fun for these couples!
I’ve been corrected!
1. Asterix is a French cartoon character. Asterik is what indicated finalists at Swing Fling.
2. 3,600 feet is not where our plane was which I know because we were flying *above* the Rockies not crashing into the sides of them. Mike Glasgow (who knows) says my number was missing a zero.
3. Vivian Glucksmann-Weiss tells me 300 attended Thursday night’s dance, not 150 like I’d heard earlier.
Robert Royston cleared something up for me: I never did understand why this event was called the VIP Advanced/Allstar WAG Westie Awards Gala, which has seemed like a bit of a mouthful. I’ve been calling it either “VIP” (or “WAG” which has made me want to talk wike Elmoo Fudd and weave out certain wetters of the owfabet). But I have been enlightened: one of the main motivations for the event is that Barry feels there’s been a “bottleneck” in Classic and Showcase, where only the same top five couples win. He wanted to give Advanced and Allstar dancers a chance to shine, the way it’s done in the Ballroom world. Nah duh. That’s embarrassing. Everyone else knew this I’m sure.
Those who actually knew about the event, that is. On the east coast people didn’t seem to know this was happening, weren’t aware there was a Facebook group or page, or a website, didn’t know anything about voting. Word just didn’t get out this first year.
Music so far has been good: Jack Smith, Victor, and Cher …
More after the rest of tonight’s program (Kickoff, Classic, Teams and Cabaret
This is a great thing Barry is doing here. I keep hearing from one Allstar after another how awesome it feels to have this opportunity to compete without having to go up against Champion dancers in the same division.
Robert Royston on the mic tonight and he is a great emcee. So funny. So quick! SO loves our community. So respectful of all the characters in it.
Robert opened the night by telling us about the Feather Awards – how Barry said back in the mid-90′s that he’d like to bring back the Feather Awards, create a kind of People’s Choice awards event which would allow non-Champion dancers to shine. And that is how this event came to be. Because of this event people all over the world formed partnerships and worked hard to choreograph and master routines to perform this very weekend. What a great boost this is for advanced and allstar dancers in our community! A group particularly devoted to our dance, people who have put in years working to get better, competing in Jack and Jill’s, Strictly’s, and Routines. People whose faces we all recognize.
Tonight was Teams:
1. “D Troop” – five adorable young girls (from Houston) all in black and either neon yellow, orange, pink, blue or green, with big numbers on their shirts. Cool jazz/hip-hop choreography to “Do You Remember” and “Give Me One Reason.”
2. “Boom Boom Girls” – five more adorable not-as-young-as-the-last-team-and-definitely-fertile girls doing a burlesque chair-dancing act to “Welcome To Burlesque.” Man it was hot. Robert said, after a long silence, “I never wanted to be a chair so bad in my life.”
3. “Floor Play” – from Oklahoma City
4. “S Factor” – from Dallas – this is the team that wowed us at MadJam
Judges for this division: Arjay, Patty Vo, Michael and LeAnn Norris, and Chief Judge Yvonne.
And then, Classic!
1. Cooper and Jessica
2. Ed and MacKenzie
3. Steven and Carla (Texas … only their third time on the floor)
4. Sean and Courtney
5. Michael O’Connor and Linda Cuccio
6. Kris and Rebecca
7. Mike and Angie
8. Ben McHenry and Cameo
9. Josh and Katherine
Robert, with a beautiful quote from Parker: “We can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know where we’ve been.” And throughout the evening Robert acknowledged icons of our community who were there with us in the ballroom: Skippy! Maryann! Sharlot! Val LaFemina! Kellese (who Robert called “the Winningest Woman in the history of West Coast Swing – she’s won everything there is to win. And she’s always in such a “bad” mood.”)! Michelle! Jack and Annie! So many legends. And Barry himself!
A beautiful evening.
Advanced and Allstar JJ and Strictly prelims and begin in an hour, tonight the WAG Awards! With Red Carpet interviews with: Robert and Nicola Royston, Ben McHenry and Tara Trafzer, Ben Morris and Melissa Rutz, John Lindo, Michael Kielbasa, Michael and LeAnn Norris, Earl Pingel and Parker Dearborn, Sharlot Bott and Mark Scheuffle, Mary Ann Nunez, Skippy Blair, Jack Carey and Annie Hirsch, Torri Smith, Victor Loveira, Val LaFemina, Arjay Centeno, Jesse Vos and Clint Glasgow, Steve Hunt, Michael Stephens and Karen Leiker, David Guido, Kris Swearingen and Rebecca Ludwick, Stephen White and Sabrina Paxman, Lasonda Campbell, Melina Ramirez and Scott Stuart, and Nominees in all categories.
Grace will be officiating tonight’s activities.
And the Nominees Are:
Best Dance Event of 2011 (under 500):
Desert City Swing
Chico Dance Sensation
Hudson Swing Affair
DFW Pro AM Jam
Fresno Dance Classic
Orlando Jack and Jill Jam
Tulsa Spring Swing
Best Dance Event of 2011 (over 500):
USA Grand Nationals
Boogie By The Bay
Best DJ of 2011:
Best Routine 1983-2000:
Robert Royston & Laureen Baldovi (Fever)
Mario Robau & Val LaFemina (Baby Workout)
Brent & Kellese Key (Scat Man/You’re All I Need)
Robert Cordoba & Keldee B (Stuff Like That There)
Wayne & Sharlott Bott (Johnny B Good)
Robert Cordoba & Deborah Szekely (Chains)
Jason Colancino & Katie Boyle (When Doves Cry)
Jackie and Charlie (Red Beans & Rice)
Best Novice/Intermediate Female Dancer, 2011:
Best WCS Club/Dance Studio:
D’Amico Dance – Houston, TX
Loafers Beach Club – Raleigh, NC
2 Left Feet – Danville, CA
Starlight – San Diego, CA
WnY Warehouse – Novato, CA
Next Generation Swing Dance Club – San Francisco, CA
Capital Swing Dancers – Sacramento, CA
Best Swing Ambassador(s):
Jordan Frisbee and Tatiana Mollman
Jack Carey and Annie Hirsch
Volunteer of the Year of 2011:
Carmen & Rosa Passi
Best WC Routine of the Decade 2001-2011:
Kyle Redd & Sarah Van Drake (Johnny B Goode)
Mario Robau Jr & Kellese Key (Alva’s Baby Blues)
Jordan Frisbee & Tatiana Mollman (Gravity)
Jordan Frisbee & Tatiana Mollman (How to Save A Life)
Jordan Frisbee & Tatiana Mollman (Pump It)
Benji Schwimmer & Kellese Key (Michael Jackson Medley)
Best Juniors Couple of 2011:
Rome Slater & Chevy Slater
Connor Goodmanson-Adlard & Alyssa Glanville
Christopher Dumond & Nicole Clonch
Steven Guido and Hanna Blonch
Ian and Emily Hull
Jeremiah Willis & Jennifer Willis
Best International Event of 2011
French Open West Coast Swing
UK & European West Coast Swing Championships
Sea, Sun & Swing
London Swing Invitational
World Swing Masters
Best Adv/All Star Dancers of 2011 – MALE:
Best J&J Dance of 2011:
Robert Royston & Brandi Tobias – Capital
Sarah Van Drake & Jason Wayne – Boogie
John Lindo and Melissa Rutz – MadJam
Ben Morris & Melissa Rutz – Seattle
Jordan Frisbee & Tatiana Mollman – Reno
Best Adv/All Star Dancers of 2011 – FEMALE:
Best Masters Couple of 2011:
Michael Stephens & Karen Leiker
Chips Hough & Janice Salmon
Tommy Gibbs & Renee Lipman
Wayne Brodd & Karen Meador
Bob Gorman & Rose Bartolini
Best Novice/Intermediate Dancers of 2011 – MALE
Steven Van Nguyen
Best International Dancer:
Maxence Martin – Montpellier, France
Paul Warden – London ,UK
Tessa Cunnigham – Vancouver, Canada
Scott Stuart – Melbourne, Australia
Catriona Wiles – London, UK
Olivier Massart – Lyon, France
Katrina Ostrenski – Australia
Jesse Vos – Perth, Western Australia
Clint Glasgow – Sydney, Australia
Diego Borges – Fortaleza, Brazil
Best Event Director, 2011:
Parker Dearborn & Earl Pingle – SwingDiego
Cher Peadon & Mario Robau – America’s Classic
David Moldover – MadJam
Michael & LeeAnn Norris – USA Grand Nationals
Steve Zener – FreZno Dance Classic
Jay Byam – Palm Springs
Best Female Instructor:
Sarah Van Drake
Mary Ann Nunez
Best Classic Couple of 2011:
Jordan Frisbee & Tatiana Mollman
Brennar Goree & Torri Smith
Kyle Redd & Sarah Van Drake
Ronnie DeBenedetta & Brandi Tobias
Ben Morris & Melissa Rutz
Best Showcase Couple of 2011:
Benji Schwimmer & Torri Smith
Myles Munroe & Tessa Cunningham
Gregory Scott & Lemery Rollins
Ronnie DeBennedetta & Laureen Baldovi
Robert & Nicola Royston
Best Strictly of 2011:
Robert Royston & Jill DeMarco – Swing Diego 2011
Maxence Martin & Melissa Rutz – Capital Swing 2011
Matt Auclair & LeAnn Norris – Swing Dance America 2011
Kyle Redd and Jessica Cox – MadJam
Brennar Goree and Sarah Vann Drake (SwingDiego)
Robert Royston and Patty Vo – Tampa Bay 2010
Best Male Instructor:
Mario Robau, Jr
… and after Awards … Showcase! Eight couples!
It’s afternoon here. The sun is so bright, skies are so blue, air is so gentle. No semi’s so we’ve got a bit of a break until tonight’s Awards. Dancers lounging everywhere – at the pool, napping on the terrace couches, at the bar. Bunch of Texans lugging cases of beer and bags of chips into the elevator.
Lotta Texans here this weekend – Texans and Okies, or “North Texans” as Robert calls them. Texans seem to be travelling the circuit this year, actually getting out of Texas. Word must have gotten out that there’s something out there and it’s *not* Texas and the brave ones are venturing out like daring explorers to see what amazing things might be out there.
The elevator for the North Tower is in a very yellow, small cave-like foyer with one wall of mirrors and a couch placed so you can sit and watch people getting into and out of the elevator. Rome Slater spent most of last night sitting in the couch elevator-watching. It’s like train-watching, only with elevators. People would debark, stop to chat with Rome for a while, then be on their way. He was like Otis settin’ on the front stoop of the general store chattin’ with the townsfolk.
There are two elevators but one’s not working. It stopped working with Michael O’Connor in it, where he was stuck for an hour and a half, which must have been boring for Rome just watching the closed elevator door.
There’s something very disorienting about this foyer. You get out and turn this way to cross outside to the ballroom, that way to enter the lobby. I’ve gone up and down the elevator 200 times and turned the wrong way every time. Last night it sprinkled for an hour so the sidewalk to the ballroom was wet. We got out of the elevator and after first turning the wrong way had to walk through puddles in our dance shoes. Except Bridgette who rode Arjay over.
I’m sure there must be more important things to tell you about …
Advanced/Allstar JJ Prelims (two heats):
Lee Ann Johnson
Judges: Annie, Michelle, Nicola, Carmen, Tyoni, Kellese, Lasonda, and Chief Judge Yvonne.
Victor played SUCH good music for warm-ups before the JJ’s started. Perfect warm-up music for Saturday morning: moderate tempo groovin’ soulful R&B. Nothing too screaming loud or pounding, just the right music to wake up to, get your bones moving again after only a few hours’ sleep. Victor’s music for the comps was also great. Perfect in fact. Perfect perfect mix. All danceable. He’s really good.
Dave and Claudette Berryhill
Wayne Brodd and Patty Jones
Don Law and Enola O’Connor
George and Diane Hughes
Chips Hough and Janice Salmon
Jorge and Angie Jones
JB and Alissia Bishop
Clint and Rebecca
Jesse Vos and Tiffany
Michael O’Connor and Tracy Staten
Jason Taylor and Janelle
Sean and Tori
Daniel and Kat Ostrenski
Steven Guido and Lee Ann Johnson
Brad and Angeline
Hugo and Bella
Kris and Courtney
Soleman and Cameo
Ed Purselle and Christy Parker
Connor and April
Steve Hunt and Kara
Greg Scott and Sabrina
Ben McHenry and Alyssa
Steve Hall and Tara
Doug Silton and Samantha Ramirez
Judges have been the same for all divisions so far.
Now I’m going to put on my gown and walk the Red Carpet!
Just walked in the front door, finally home after a long day of flying across the country from VIP, back to my Genieboy (who had to work this weekend so couldn’t make it to the event – first comp in seven years we weren’t together. We drive each other crazy but miss the heck out of each other when we’re apart.
I’ve returned home to 17 zillion requests for results, so before I say a thing about Saturday night here are the winners of the 2011 WAG Awards:
Best Volunteer: Vivian Glucksmann-Weiss
Best Club/Studio: D’Amico Dance Studio (Damon and Lisa, Texas)
Best International Event: UK Championships
Best Event Under 500: Desert City
Best International Dancer: Maxence Martin
Best Junior Couple: Rome and Chevy
Best Swing Ambassador(s): Jordan and Tatiana
Best Female Novice/Intermediate Dancer: Alyssia Bishop
Best Male Nov/Intermediate Dancer: David Guido
Best Female Advanced/Allstar Dancer: Yenni Setiawan
Best Male Advanced/Allstar Dancer: Ben McHenry
Best DJ: Victor Loveira
Best Routine 1983 – 2000: Robert and Laureen, “Fever”
Best Routine of the Decade: Kyle and Sarah, “Johnny Be Goode”
Best Female Teacher: Tatiana
Best Male Teacher: Mario
Best Jack and Jill: John Lindo and Melissa Rutz
Best Strictly: Robert Royston and Jill Dumarco
Best Masters Couple: Chips and Janice
Best Showcase Couple: Benji and Torri
Best Classic Couple: Jordan and Tatiana
Best Event: SwingDiego
Best Event Director: Earl and Parker
Lots and lots to tell about these Awards, the speeches, the whole night …
But first I have to unpack so in two days we can re-pack and fly up to Boston for Summer Hummer!
1. Kris and Rebecca
2. Ben and Cameo
3. Ed and MacKenzie
4. Josh and Katherine
5. Steven Van Nguyen and Carla Romine Haggm
6. Sean and Courtney
7. Mike and Angie
8. Michael O’Connor and Linda Cuccio
9. Cooper and Jessica
1. Greg and Lemery
2. Rob and Connie
3. Stephen and Sabrina
4. Doug and Angel Jenkins
5. Ben and Tara
6. JB and Sara Krezinski
7. Hugo and Brianne
1. David and Skye
2. Brandon and Melissa
3. Pierre and Sammi
4. Chris and Morgan
5. Brandon and Trista
6. Stephen and Louise
7. Derek and Angie
8. George and Sunshine
9. David Gontier and Maria
10. Jonathan Uy and Cheryl
1. Brandon and Maria
2. Steven Guido and Skye
3. Jonathan and Louise
4. Brendan and Sammi
5. David and Trista
6. David Teague and Renae Teague
7. Olivier and Morgan
8. Joel and Caroline
1. Sheven and Na’Kedra
2. CJ and Liana
3. Mike and Monica
4. Benjamin and Erica
5. Steven Van Nguy and Jessica
6. Alex and Heather
7. Jesse Vos and Sara
8. Thomas and Carla
9. Wayne and Auntonya
1. Greg and Sabrina
2. Scott and MacKenzie
3. JB and Rebecca
4. Clint and Cameo
5. Kris and Courtney
6. Michael O’Connor and Alyssa
7. Steven Guido and Lemery
8. Stephen White and Tori
9. Josh and Taylor
10. Daniel and Angie
1. Ben and Alyssa
2. Sean and Tori
3. Clint and Rebecca
4. Kris and Courtney
5. Greg and Sabrina
6. Daniel and Katrina Ostrenski
7. JB and Alissia
8. Brad and Angeline
9. Steven Guido and Lee Ann
10. Stephen Hall and Tara
1. S Factor
2. Boom Boom Girls
3. Floor Play
4. D Troupe
We’re at Swing Fling!
First year under new management! Dave Moldover and his Dance Jam Productions cracker-jack organizational team (who do MadJam in March). This is Swing Fling’s 20th Aniversary year – created by Barry Durand and Dawn Garrish in 1991 and a founding member of both NASDE and WSDC, Swing Fling is DC’s oldest all-swing event.
So we’re at a new hotel for the first time in many years: five minutes from the airport with a free shuttle, great lobby with cool dining situation (you can sit down anywhere in the lobby – on the couches, in a formal dining room at regular tables, outside on the patio, at the lobby bar – and receive either an extensive full menu or an abbreviated menu (both with wonderful dishes at decent prices), attentive professional staff, and the Hyatt’s new “PURE” program where the rooms are treated so that every surface, fabric, even the air, is treated to remove irritants such as mold, viruses, bacteria, pollen, and yeast and odors, and comes equipped with a continuous air-filtering unit. The difference is noticeable – the rooms smell good. Or better put, they *don’t* smell at all, which, if you stay in as many hotel rooms as we do, makes you realize that all other hotel rooms smell pretty bad in comparison. Eeew.
Ballroom’s pretty – the backdrop glows with a lumiscent twilight-blue casting a dim blue-ish pall over the floor, eerie and quite beautiful. This floor is wider than last year’s, maybe not quite as deep, feels medium-sized and nice quality. Music has been so-so. Last night (Thursday) lotta complaining that the music was “weird” – we left at 12:30 and there were maybe 100 people on the floor. Tonight so far so good – feels like better energy, floor is full so far, lobby is filled with people lounging, laughing, drinking, and eating – they serve food till late which is working well for hungry late-nite dancers.
Jason and Sophy are here! We love them and haven’t seen them in ages, almost since Jasmine was born. And … Sophy is pregnant again! *Very* pregnant – she’s due at the end of September. They did the pro strictly tonight and Sophy is just SO adorable, completely totally adorable.
And newcomers to DC: Jason and Yvonne Wayne are here and WOW are they fun to watch! He caught our attention at last year’s Boogie where he and Sarah did a most amazing strictly (I’m sure you’ve seen this by now, but if not: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eohJ-1reMUQ ) so it’s a blast to have them out here on this coast.
So far we’ve had a full day of pro-ams, then all the hustle and west coast strictly’s tonight.
And here are Awards for Strictly’s:
4 Sam Easley and Kim Myers
1 Less and Tammy
5 Joanne and Giselle
4 Anthony and Barbara
3 Charlie and Ramune
2 Todd Irzik and Cath Cogut
1 Richard and Susan
4 Steven and Catherine Johannsen
3 Scott and Angela
2 Rick and Lura
1 Sean and Mary
5 Carol and Linda
4 Jack and Buffy
3 Pat and Brenda
2 Scott and Barbara
1 Sean and Mary
4 Phil and Angela McCabe
3 Billy Marti and Erica Smith
2 Brian and Stephanie Risser
1 Tybaldt and Hazel
5 Curt and Nicole Stottlemyer
4 Sam and Ramune
3 Myatt and Chorissa
2 Aidan and Alyssa
1 Brent and Kim
5 Gerry and Diana Lynn Cote
4 Michael Blackburn and Shoshi
3 Brian and Pam
2 Jeff Moscaritolioliolio and Sally Charles
1 Roy and Julie
5 Steve Ryan and Khyrystyna Cuismano
4 Brad and Sarah Wheeler
3 Akil and Whitney
2 Kumar and Stephanie Risser
1 Sam and Denise Miller
5 Roy and Cheryl
4 Genieboy and Jody Katz
3 Will and Chrissee Brownlee
2 Gerry and Khyrystyna
1 Keven and Lorraine
(Finalists were: Robert and Jill Damarco, Jason and Yvonne, Jason Barnes and Stephanie (Batista) McHenry, Greg and Taletha, Doug Rousar and Lemery, Luis and Deonna, Tybaldt and Hazel, Markus and Jen Lyons; Alternates: Alfred and Trendolyn, Anthony and Kay)
5 Hazel and Tybaldt
4 Jason and Stephanie
3 Luis and Deonna
2 Jason and Yvonne
1 Robert and Jill Damarco
Tomorrow is Jack and Jill’s!
We do partner dancing. Unlike ballet or jazz we are about Relationships.
Connection. Chemistry. Cooperating. Partnerships. Careers made, careers blown to smithereens. Stardom, Loserville, Purgatory. Marriages, scandals, pregnancies, continental jetting, continental plate tectonic shifts, volcanic eruptions, emotional explosions. Winning streaks. Reputations invented and then reinvented. Reputations ruined. Divorces, public spectacles, turf wars, cat fights. Drama. Giving it all up for love. Giving it all up for dance. Finding “The One” in the middle of a dark steamy dance floor at 4am.
Our dance is about relationships in every sense of the word.
Every three-minute Jack and Jill pairing, every Strictly couple, every routine partnership – each with the potential to light up the sky in magnificent fireworks or a spectacular crash-and-burn. And man do we love to watch it all, and tell stories about it forever after.
They say we’re a “clan” species built to live in close-knit groups of 100. But they obviously weren’t thinking about the West Coast community when they came up with that number, cause we’re like Clan of One Thousand Clans. We’re like Paleolithic Skyping Hunter-Gatherer Facebook Scavengers, emailing while slurping Red Bulls, instant-messaging, texting and tweeting. On a plane to a comp. In other words, our community is becoming huger and huger, and yet we are very close – like a small town where everyone knows everyone’s business.
So just this weekend, for instance, feeding our very human, clannish frenzy for relationship-gazing, Swing Fling is treating us to 90 (okay, 89 to be exact) Strictly duos; 1,100 Jack and Jill pairings; 150 Pro-Am couples; and 16 routine partnerships. That is 1,361 relationships! Not including social dancing! No wonder we return home exhausted!
Swing Fling is, as of this year, no longer a NASDE event. The designation has been re-assigned to MadJam in March. So this year instead of Classic or Showcase divisions Saturday night gave us an “Open Routines” contest of six couples followed by a “show” of eleven routine couples.
First, the contest:
Juniors Akil and Alexis opened the program with “Evacuate The Dance Floor” – this routine is exponentially better each time we see it. They’re juniors so their rate of improvement is like the adult rate times 200. Thousand. Two hundred thousand. So every time you see them it’s like you’re watching a different couple doing an entirely different routine. Only a month ago this routine was cute. It is not cute anymore – now it’s cool and exciting, with a mastery of movement that’s scary good. These two are both up-and-coming superstars.
Next Rob and Connie with their Showcase routine (Drops of Jupiter), ramping it up for the Open which is now looming in the not-too-distant future, experimenting with different energy in their choreography. This time out Rob was more prominent and visible, much “louder” than previously, a factor which changed the whole dynamic of the routine. They’re trying this and other adjustments to see what sort of feel they like best.
Then Tybaldt and Hazel with a lovely Hustle.
Next Erik and Anna in a slithery, snakey, slimey many-armed asymmetric black and bloody red Goth-ish piece, Erik in eye makeup with Transylvanian overtones, to Wild Thing (by Tone Loc). These two are so sweet together, Mr. and Mrs. Novoa – her pretty little legs in heels, his kind-hearted eyes and elegant grace. They are a charming couple. They were the cutest, most loeveable Mean Vampires ever. They’re so nice, such decent people, it’ll take quite a stretch for them to do the dark side justice. They’ll have to dredge up a coffin-full of hate, cruelty, and twisted psychotic mania to fill out a routine like this, and I hope we get to watch them try. But even without the darkness they were still a pleasure to watch – especially the cool shapes at the beginning, their graceful lifts, and their high ballet kicks.
Next Mike Glasgow and Kristin Wenger with “She’s Not There,” ramped WAY up a notch. Five notches. This routine has new batteries and it drank three Red Bulls, ate four packs of Skittles, took its vitamins and got a syringe of epinephrine. Don’t know what these guys did but they were juiced this time. Even under the blinding spotlight (or maybe because of it?) Mike was looking right out at us, fully engaged. The sound system helped them too, I think, because theirs is a great moody song which midway through picks up in tempo and volume and this time the dramatic second half was actually loud enough to feel exciting. They seemed to be dancing with more commitment, harder hitting, faster and slower. This is an elegant, smart routine (their first together) and it’s exciting to watch it get a heartbeat.
Luis has a new Showcase partner! Jennifer Pasetes (formerly Guy) (these guys are a couple outside of dancing, too) (she is crazy beautiful, a stunner, I’ve been following her around with my camera for years now – ask her! – falling over furniture trying to snap her picture like an annoying papparazza) dancing, as far as I know, her first routine ever. She’s all in red, Luis all in black with a red tie (and red pocket cuff) in a routine clearly designed to show her off, “introduce” her as a new routine dancer, loaded with as many lifts and tricks as could be crammed in between the obligatory swing patterns. We saw them at breakfast that morning, just after floor trials, maybe 8am. She looked a mixture of petrified, terrified, horrified, and mortified; muttering, as she ordered her omlet, that she felt “broken” from being thrown around the ceiling in a cold empty ballroom at 6:30am. Congratulations to Jennifer! She survived her first performance actually smiling the whole way through! Not the most relaxed smile perhaps, but it was a smile. I don’t enjoy imagining what my face would have looked like up there. It wouldn’t have been a smile.
That was the contest part of the evening. Robert Royston on the mic, funny as always. Judges were Festa, Stephanie McHenry (formerly Batista), Nicola, Bill Cameron, and Chief Judge for the weekend Dawn Garrish.
And the placements (not counted or recorded on any circuit) were:
1st Rob and Connie
2nd Tybaldt and Hazel
3rd Erik and Anna
4th Mike and Kristin
5th Luis and Jennifer
(Juniors Akil and Alexis were not ranked)
Next was the 11-couple show! With some verrrrrrry cooool stuff ….
“Smurfs! A ballroom of dancing blue smurfs!” That was George Wenschel and his videography team on Friday evening when the room was bathed in blue lighting, as if you were dancing underwater in an aquarium. Moody, other-wordly, spooky almost.
Blue was only part of a marvelous weekend-long light show at Swing Fling – what a playground for anyone with a camera. Top quality halogen stage-lighting; atmospheric lighting; commercial spotlights for performances; light shows on the screens and walls during social dancing (whirling wheels and shapes!); LED RGB mood-lighting fixtures in different colors to affect the energy in the room. An artistic environment all weekend long! As this new version of Swing Fling fades into memory it’s the dramatic shadows and colors of the ballroom that linger in my mind.
Dave Moldover (producer of Swing Fling, MadJam in March, and the upcoming VSO in the fall) calls the lighting “a production element” and says that this, along with live streaming of the event to ustream (4,500 people from all over the world watched on their phones and laptops!), quality “signage” (that’s a word?), the elegant white backdrop, titles streamed to the two huge monitors in the ballroom (and feeds to the internet and the hotel TV which we watched in our room all weekend long) – all these things Dave calls “production elements” and says they are the reason the event feels commercially produced rather than home-grown and amateurish. It’s a good feeling – like you know things will be managed correctly.
And they were! 51 workshops ran precisely on time. (That’s a lot of education for your money – a weekend “school” if you want it.) Not a thing was late all weekend, including Awards. Jody (on the mic Sunday afternoon): “Because the Swing Fling team is so efficient Awards will be very soon. We will now have a Zero-Song break okay finished now it’s Awards.” No long-winded speeches, no endless thank-you’s (acknowledgement of volunteers was woven throughout the weekend, emcees asking staff to stand for applause). Awards were so speedy – the plaque table rolled right up to the front and plaques handed out as the winner approached – that I had to run around frantically snapping pictures of whoever decided to pose for a moment mid-stride. It didn’t feel rushed it just felt efficient, and respectful of a tired Sunday crowd having to pack and get to the airport.
About that hotel TV station: This was something Dave has done for a couple of years at MadJam, too. We love it, and kept it on in our room the entire weekend to know which heat they were on, if the social floor was crowded, and to make sure we were hearing all the emcee Funny’s. But the reception at the hotel this weekend was not good (last-minute technical snafu) so when the lights in the ballroom were low we could only make out ghostly purple silhouettes …
… and we discovered something! We were able to identify every shadowy figure. Instantly, without even trying. There’s the guy – you know him, we all do – who dances split-weight with two bent knees, bobbing his head enthusiastically to the music, kicking up a foot every now and then for accent. There’s the girl – you know her! she’s everywhere! – who walks like a cowboy with a load in ‘is britches, and holsters, who jest git down offn’ his horse, liftin’ up his feets tryin’ not to stomp in them thar cow patties. There’s the one with frozen hunched shoulders and a forward neck, chin lifted up too high to compensate. The girl bent over with her butt stuck out, the wooden-legged toy soldier whose knees don’t bend, the woman with body parts wiggling in all different directions. There’s the robot. We recognized EVERYBODY! This was a shocking and rawther uncomfortable discovery when one began thinking about oneself.
Eleven routines Saturday night!
First, Robert and Nicola with their new “Edge of Glory” (Lady Gaga’s acoustic version) Showcase – only the second time out on the floor (first was last week in Denver). We love it! It feels contemporary. Not just because of the music – the choreography feels fresh and current.
Next Greg and Lemery with their winning “Teenage Dream” Showcase (they’ve been taking 2nd and 3rd around the NASDE circuit and both are, as of this writing, at the top of the NASDE charts).
Erik and Anna, “She Will Be Loved” (Maroon 5) – another of their lovely sweetheart routines.
Markus and Tren, in ripped jeans and red and plaid, Markus with his cute swingy little braids and skinny little Trendolyn with that big fluffy head of kinks and a red flower over her brow, so dang cute! Jumping across the stage in an exuberant hip-hop/stompin/swingin/whackin’ piece to “Boogie Shoes.” They haven’t decided if they’re going to take it to the Open – hope so! it would add a lot of fun to the Cabaret division.
Next Tybaldt and Hazel with another hustle – lovely as always.
Then Jason and Yvonne. So glad they brought this crowd-pleaser out to the east coast (we saw it at last year’s Open – they got a standing ovation): “We No Speak Americano” (by Yolanda Be Cool). Great funny song, great funny routine.
And then … Luis and Taletha, to Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia) and Oh! My! Goodness! TALETHA! That girl is BAD. ASS. I can’t comment on Luis, I didn’t even see him I was so mesmerized by Taletha. She stands with her back to you in the shadows of the far back corner and chills run down your spine just watching her stand there. And then she turns and looks you in the eye and that’s it, you’re done for, can’t look away for the rest of the routine. Those eyes! The tilt of her head! The force of her movements! I watched Taletha all weekend – JJ’s, Strictly’s, social – such intensity electric bolts shoot out of her ears, sparks fly from her eyes, her feet singe the floor boards. I can’t tell you a thing about the routine cause I didn’t even see it. Or hear the music (I had to call to ask) because my ears went deaf for 2 1/2 minutes. I’ll have to go look on youtube to see how they did.
You too can see this and all the other routines on Dave’s youtube channel where he provides everything that would go on a DVD, including JJ’s and Strictly’s, free! Not only does he let anyone film whatever they want throughout the weekend, in addition he hires a professional videographer (George, a great guy who doesn’t like smurfs, with his pro team) to give him quality footage which he then uploads to his youtube channel (1.5 millioin subscriptions!). Click here:
Dave Moldover’s Youtube Channel
Next, Jason and Sophy, “Summer Breeze” (by Jason Mraz), and a summer breeze is exactly what they looked like, Jason in a loose white Hawaiin shirt covered with flowers, Sophy in a floaty white flowered dress to match. With her eight-month-pregnant stomach she looked like a scoop of vanilla ice-cream with confetti sprinkles and a cookie on top.
Next Billy Fajardo dancing with a human pinata – Katie Marlow covered in tassles head to foot – Mexican yellow, black and red – rows of tassles flying horizontally as she spun around and above him in their saucy hustle-merengue showcase routine.
Then Kevin and Tammy in a happy “reggae-swing” to Bob Marley’s “Jammin’” and of course you had to love this cause who doesn’t love Bob Marley? Kevin in shimmering gold, Tammy in rich satin red with gold flowers, a brilliant green choker, and huge peacock earrings in the same colors. Together they were a luscious whirl of jewel tones. Kevin designed these outfits (Tammy made them) and he’s got a fantastic eye for design and style – Tammy’s layered, ruffled dress hung perfectly on her round body, spinning way out when she twirled, perfectly balanced with her plump little legs beneath in gold satin heels. They were like a gift basket of candied fruits dipped in chocolate.
And last, Kelvin Roche and Lorianne Greenhouse, performing another of their sexy spectacular winning Hustle Theatre-Arts routines, with lifts and death drops and flash and fire to make your jaw drop. Love her outfits. This time she was a muted canvas – from her blonde hair to her shoes to her flesh-colored leotard – she matched the floor. Except for one color: the very tips of her long nails were screaming Neon-Orange.
Saturday night’s program ended somewhat anti-climatically with the combined Allstar/Pro Jack and Jill Final which might be funny later but was not funny at the time. It was, well, I guess you’d call it odd. Twenty-two famously good dancers dancing … oddly. Not the good kind of oddly. As Robert Royston said of one of the dancers, “He was going for stretch. Trying to elongate his partner.” Another couple was battling to see who could dislocate the other one’s shoulder first. One couple was doing waltz, or rather, he was waltzing while she was doing, I don’t know what she was doing. Standing there. At one point I had a clear thought cross my mind: “This is a very bad Jack and Jill.”
Except for Erik and Deonna, who won and deserved it.
Unlucky judges for this competition were: Festa, Nicola, Robert, Bill Cameron, and Chief Judge Dawn.
And the placements were:
1st Erik Novoa & Deonna Ball
2nd Jason Wayne & Stephanie (Batista) McHenry
3rd Doug Rousar & Hazel Ulrich
4th Jason Barnes & Patti Jobst
5th Luis Crespo & Jen Czarkowski
6thTybaldt Ulrich & Taletha Jouzdani
7th Gregory Scott & Jennifer Lyons
8th Markus Smith & Jill Dumarco
9th Jason Miklic & Lisa Schaupp
10th Rob Jackson & Lemery Rollins
11th Dean Garrish & Kelly Hull
More in the next Update ….
On the plane out to L.A. for VIP Awards, 3,600 ft. above snow-capped Rockies in a blue blue sky…
Final words on Swing Fling 2011:
Massage tables! Are these guys making a killing at dance events? I’d think so but haven’t asked. Abi Legget had a table right outside the ballroom, Pam Marshall carried her’s room-to-room. I would imagine these gals would be booked from morning till night, all weekend.
Music: good mix most (not all) weekend. Primarily April Prince, with some TJ and Erica Lyons. Festa had a separate Blues and Soul room but both times I looked in it was empty. Heard the Hustle room was mostly empty, too, or very light.
The combined Allstar/Pro Jack and Jill prelim lineup (to give you a feel for who was there):
Mrs. Michael Diener*
(The *asterix = made finals)
Judges were Chris Schaupp, Loryann Greenhouse (hustle), Kelvin Roche (hustle), Festa, and Robert and Nicola Royston
Bill Cameron, emcee for the division: “I hope you’re taking advantage of our great pro workshops. Jason and Sophy are teaching tomorrow at 10am – what are you teaching Sophy? ‘How To Make Babies?’ You seem to be very good at it!”
Bill again, Sunday morning: “… and Jason Wayne will be dancing with Yuna Davtyan. STAY AWAY FROM YUNA SHE’S MINE. DON’T TOUCH YUNA.”
Bill was in rare form all weekend, very funny on and off the mic.
Speaking of Jason Wayne: A line of women stoood waiting for a dance with him from 1am Saturday night till we left at 5. Including Yvonne! His own wife had to stand in line to get a dance! Laughing about it Sunday morning she said it’s always that way for him, even at home (Bay area) – it gets tiring. To his credit, we watched him Friday night going around the edges of the ballroom asking the shy women to dance. By Saturday he had a hotel-full of breathless, starry-eyed groupies. I’m glad the Waynes came out to the east coast and introduced themselves – their presence made a difference all weekend long.
All in all the weekend was an improvement over recent Swing Flings. Beautiful lighting, great accessibility to Dulles, decent hotel (though we heard not all rooms were good – some were cramped and dingy), the judging panels could use some improvement, music was good, ballroom and floor 40% bigger and attendance about twice that of last year’s …
And here we are in L.A.! Six rawther noisy AirTran hours later …