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We’re at the Open! We’re at the Open we’re at the Open We’re at the Open!
Wow! So exciting this year! So super EXTREMELY exciting! Routines holy shamoly! I admit I’m easily excited but really, this time it’s not just me, the energy here this year is HOPPIN’ big time! You can just feel excitement in the air. And oh man the rumours flying about routines! Wow. This one’s fast, this one’s slow, this one is killer, this one’s got stuff no one’s ever seen done before … Crazy crazy electricity flying through the air – you could get electrocuted walking from the tower to the ballroom. AUGHGHGHGHGH!
Tonight was Golden Ticket: The Final Round! (Sounds very World Wrestling Federation doesn’t it?) Doug’s last time running the tour.
After the pro prelim and the pro final, after the sixteen couples whittled down to the final six, I suddenly remembered I should probably have been writing down names! Oops I didn’t. Too busy being excited about so many friends in one place at one time. (aughghghghghghgh!)
But I did get the top six couples:
6th Stephen White and Blandine Iche
5th Kris Swearingen and Jessica Greer
4th Marina Gutsch and Rome
3rd Yvonne Antonacci and David Guido (winning $1,000)
2nd Chevy and Kyle Patel (winning $2,000)
And 1st Place Winners! Rebecca Ludwick and Sheven Chevy Kekoolani! Winning jackets, a trophy, and $3,000!
After Golden Ticket we went down to the the practice room. Just off the lobby (we were there to be an audience for friends) and oh man what a scene! Small little floor CRAMMED with sweaty couples in sweaty t-shirts, no makeup, rumpled street clothes, glasses, there with coaches and friends to work work work out the final kinks, laughing, straining, all these couples running routines beside and between each other, boomboxes laptops everywhere on floors, tables, chairs, asking each other Can you watch this for a minute? Which looks better the spins or the leap?
Then we open the doors to the lobby and couples and teams everywhere there, too! Beside the front door, in the corner behind the bellboy stand, behind the front desk, everyone running routines, last-minute coaching, final changes. And everybody knows everybody! Cause they used to be married! Or about to be married! Or dance partners but now mortal enemies! Or each others’ coach! Or mentor or protege! Or had a secret affair! Which wasn’t secret! To anyone! But their mother!
Hotel staff walking though the lobby staring, staring, mesmerized. We wonder what does it look like through their eyes? All these dancer people who know each other? Very well, it seems? They laugh, hug, run into walls for a joke, slapstick falls, catch each other, get their faces stuck in each others’ armpits? So comfortable together? And yet … they compete against each other?
AUGHGHGH this is so FUN! I love this dance! I love these people from all over the world who’ve spent a whole year creating something out of nothing but blank space! I love partner dancing what a trip! love every aspect of this. AUGHGHGHGHGH!
Oh yeah and before I forget: maybe you didn’t know but you are able to watch the whole weekend (think I’ve heard $30 gets you two weeks of watching a continuous loop of the weekend over and over) at global dance tv, here:
Did I mention that Yvonne Antonacci is competing here at the Open? She did the Golden Ticket last night with David Guido (“Baby G”) and took third place! And Yvonne Wayne is judging this weekend! Awesome how the two Yvonnes have totally switched identities!
Or it could be I switched their names. Nah. I don’t usually make mistakes like that.
Well I did make a mistake when I said Jessica Greer when I meant to say that Jessica Rosenbloom danced with Kris Swearingen last night, taking 5th place. But that is a very unusual typo. I don’t usually make mistakes. I report everything exactly, exactly perfectly. You can rely on me.
On a more serious note: OH MY GOD! HOW AMAZING IS THIS WEEKEND!?!? AUGHGHGHGHGHGH!! INCREDIBLE ROUTINES! OFF THE CHARTS AMAZING!
Let me start with Showcase which just happened, and which, of course, was the big deal tonight (more about Teams, Strictlys, and JJ’s in a minute – the whole day has been a display of amazing amazing dancing.)
Okay, so all KINDS of crazy gossip, rumours, and guesses flying around about Showcase and Classic, and tonight finally was Showcase and OH. MY. GAWD! The routines this year!
You must go check these out for yourself to see how incredible they are! Won’t be anything like what it is live, here, but still I recommend going to see for yourself: http://www.globaldance.tv/set/usopen2011
So here is what we just saw tonight, in the order that we saw it:
1. First out on the floor, Greg and Lemery, “Teenage Dream,” their lovely, much beloved, audience-pleasing love poem of a routine which they’ve performed *flawlessly* several times and almost flawlessly dozens of times all year. Nailed it tonight.
2. Ronnie and Laureen: “Without You,” Beautiful new routine! They are so GOOD!
3. Eddie and Elise Valdez, “The Light,” Rumba-esque, so different from their last funky hip hop piece. Skirt and heels!
4. Stephen and Sabrina, “The Other Side.” Same beautiful routine we’ve seen for a few months – they, too nailed it.
5. Myles and Tessa, “Rolling In The Deep” (a great, quiet, tense acapella remix) You have got to see this! Standing ovation! A screaming, cheering, awesomified standing ovation! Sudden surprise lifts, stunning feats of balance and strength, gorgeous choreography, all in white again (they are so pretty in white – they were in white for “Am I Wrong” several years ago) and this time Tessa had these cool chains hanging vertically, attached only at the collar-bone and hip, which, when she spun, ballooned out forming an optical illusion of what appeared to be a translucent bubble encasing her – I think there are two separate times she spins forty zillion times around and you see this shimmering silver shield appear – it is SO cool. The entire routine is wow factor … and clean! Perfectly clean. They nailed every stunning lift! Gorgeous perfect.
Okay, you know what I’m too tired to write more. That is only five of the thirteen Showcase routines! But it’s almost 6am and the day starts again in a couple hours so I’ll finish this later. This is one amazing weekend so far! And it’s only barely started.
Oh, and we had Jack and Jill’s and Strictlys too! Man oh man.
Okay, more later, lots lots more! G’nite! Or g’morning! Whatever! Who cares! I am in heaven. I cannot stop smiling! I am in west coast swing heaven!
Was it really an entire week ago that we saw Showcase? Wow! Fastest week in history! We’ve been home now for four days two of which were spent either sleeping or stumbling around bumping into walls in a stupid-happy stupor, unpacking so slowly might as well stop trying, flopping exhausted onto the couch between trips to the washing machine and dryer.
If you haven’t been to the Open yet … you absolutely! must! go! It is not to be missed. Such excitement in the air! One could get electrocuted just walking through the halls!
So. To continue with Friday Night, and Showcase!
The sixth couple to dance: Ben Hooten and Rebecca, second time on the floor with this routine (we’d seen it two weeks before in Tampa) to a hot new club song “Little Bad Girl” (David Guetta.) Bright yellow, black, and silver. Rebecca’s arm and leg extensions! Limbs stretched out to their ends, filled with energy! Her ronde through the air, flying across Ben! Her eight pirouettes from low to high, holding her right foot and knee in front at shoulder level as she spins. Great choreography – their feet like automatic weapons to the rapid-fire vocals in the middle of the song, long graceful movements to the slower parts. Love how tall Ben is, his long arms, how they go fully out to the end of their connection, love the stretch and expansiveness of their shapes.
Next Doug and Annmarie in palest pink and white (perfect colors for these best friends who are in body and spirit palest pink and whitest white) to Coldplay’s “Fix You,” a favorite of mine (and everybody else’s) – a song so tragic and powerful it’s a lot to live up to to be emphatic enough in choreography and execution. Love these two people! Love how in sync they are mentally and physically. How their love for each other shows. Annmarie is a tall girl and yet Doug lifts her effortlessly, both of them with giggling radiant faces. They love each other and it shows – pure pleasure to watch. This is a brand-spankin’-new routine (that’s Annmarie-speak) and you could see it wasn’t yet flushed out, but this routine will be gorgeous with work. All the ingredients are there.
Then Lionel and Amandine! In solid black. She in a backless halter top with a chiffon scarf flying from the back of her neck out to one wrist, her long black hair flying out behind her. The piano starts and they are instantly dashing around the floor, up, down everywhere! So fast you forget to exhale. Every move, trick, lift, drop, pattern you have ever heard of zipped through one after the other, relentlessly, in double-time. Perfectly clean! Not a finger out of place. Lionel and Amandine – they are little! Teeny tiny itsy bitsy little. Beautiful miniature creatures zipping back and forth across the floor like two black butterflies playing in sunbeams. Life-long partners (together since they were eight years old!) they know to use their size to their advantage: they are able to perform enormous movements in a split second. Moves which would take a taller couple four beats they accomplish in one. In a single measure they can speed through a rag-doll, a splits, a swallow lift, and two whips in double-time! Smoothly and effortlessly! Or so it seems, anyway. And double-timed! Not at normal wcs tempo, either, but at 145 beats per minute! For West Coast Swing that is cheek-ballooning fast. Oh and I haven’t mentioned the music which was some piano cover of something which I know that I know but just can’t place. A driving, breathless piece, non-stop. As a musician I love that it’s only music, no lyrics, no miming of lyrics, just movement to the flighty feel and essence of a piece of music, dancing *in* the music, part of the piano sound. Gave me chills. Gorgeous intelligent routine!
Next Sebastien and Chloe, to “Titanium” by Sia, in black and teal. Two phrases in he tosses her above his head in a flip so high she almost knocked the 20′ ceiling chandelier to the ground. Which they then followed with two more ceiling-height tricks including her standing on his palms! And ending the routine with five of those around-the-neck-under-the-arm feats of acrobatic amazingness AUGHGHGH!
Then JB and Sara (“Best One Yet” Black Eyed Peas) – adorable routine which we’ve now seen for a few months. Sara is ridiculously cute, cheerleader cute. Perfect lines! No matter what moment I snap a picture every body part, every facial expression, every finger is in place. 100% of the time. How does she do that?
Luis and Jennifer (“Miracles” by Res) – same lovely routine we’ve now seen for six months or so, and what a change the practice makes! They now look completely comfortable. Oh and by the way I learned from Luis that it is he who is buying both Jennifer and Taletha’s coolest hottest outfits, and oh my GOODNESS do they have some outfits! Wow, wait till you see pictures. Thigh-high boots to die for with lacing up the back, clothes to make you swoon. Lucky, lucky man! Two bombshells as artist’s canvasses – so different looking and each so gorgeous it’s crazy – and he gets to dress them up and parade them around one on each arm! AND do routines with them! Ha! Well done Luis!
Next, Rob and Connie (“Drops of Jupiter” by Train) – the routine they’ve been working on for a full year, all their work leading up to this scary wonderful amazing weekend at the US Open, their very first time! We love this couple. We love them as a couple – how tall, dark, and strong he is and how tiny, fragile, wren-like, translucent-white she is beside him. We love how striking their differences are and how this gives them a whole range of beautiful opportunities in choreography. And that last lift, conceived only a week ago, in which she lies on one arm above his head – wow! We’re very proud of them.
And then! Benji and Torri! AUGHGH!! Lovely Torri! Like a Disney princess with her hair in an elegant up-do, tiara of sparkling diamonds, pale lavender slacks, white, silver and diamond cropped top, diamond bracelet … swooningly lovely! Benji in a simple clean white top and black slacks. Dancing to a piano and viola cover of Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” (with one wonderful Viva La Vida! Jordan and Tatiana moment.) Another instrumental, like Lionel and Amandine’s, but different from theirs this piece had highs and lows, changes in tempo from quite fast to quite slow. Torri’s footwork! Holy mackerel! You think she’s standing still but you look down to where her legs meet the floor and there’s a spinning blur down there so fast your eye can’t make out what’s going on, like in a cartoon. And her neck and head – love how she carries her head! And her spins, her famously crazy spins! And some roll-over-his-back-then-flip-through-his-legs something which happened so seamlessly before I could catch it, so gently and sweetly, I thought maybe I’d imagined it. And Benji! His footwork! His balance! The control on both of their parts, the cleanliness – they’re moving blindingly fast but then stop in a precise spot in the air without even the wiggle of a head, no sign of impact, or trying, it’s just easy, relaxed, pristine … and JOYOUS. This routine is pure joy. The choreography is gorgeous, no better word for it. The execution is gorgeous. They are gorgeous. At one point Torri does seven pirouettes with one leg held up at the knee as Benji moves around her, and I’m whisked back in time, I’m opening the lid of my childhood music-box, the pretty music twinkles and the ballerina spins round and round on her pedestal.
And last of all, the final Showcase couple for the 2011 US Open, Robert and Nicola with “Edge of Glory,” their loveliest and most dramatic routine yet, which we’ve been following now for several months. How beautiful is Nicola, red wings flying along her arms!
What a division! What a night!
We had planned to make it to the hotel in time for Ben Morris’ Wednesday night kick-off workshop but alas! Flight delays! We missed it daggnabbit. We figured well, guess we wouldn’t be missing much in the way of social dancing since last year the hotel was pretty quiet on Wednesday night. Not this year! By Wednesday late afternoon there were already dancers everywhere, teams in costumes and makeup running formations in the lobby, couples working out moves in every alcove. By Wednesday the mood had already swung into full High Drama, you could already get electrocuted just walking down the hall. Your clothes would catch on fire every time you passed the ballroom.
Thursday night was Thanksgiving. We had a nice Thanksgiving. A little rushed. Maybe more than a little rushed. Actually it was so rushed a person might not digest their food properly. If they had eaten anything, that is. We had a lovely invitation to join a good friend for Thanksgiving dinner but instead spent Thursday night tearing through the streets of L.A. in a sweaty panic, free-fallin’ west down Ventura Boulevard, rushing up to our friend’s house yelling HelloGoodbye!, a frantic pivot turn and racing right back to the hotel so as not be late for the Golden Ticket Tour. At 2am, when all the rest of the United States of America were patting bellies stuffed with mashed potatoes, we realized we were ravenously famished.
We heard that a certain Englishman whom we all know but shall not mention his name, who was also invited to our friend’s house for dinner, that this Englishman walked into the house next door without knocking, the wrong house, and opened the door and walked right in and sat down at the dining room table, which was empty, yelling “Hello! Where’s the food?! Hello! Anyone here?” until the surprised strangers came running down the stairs to explain that he was at the wrong address.
Random tidbit that doesn’t have to do with anything: Rebecca Ludwick was demonstrating how cool her Android version of Sirius is and said into the microphone “I love you.” The phone went completely whacko, scrolling “Do you know I LOVE YOU? I LOVE YOU? I LOVE YOU? ILOVEYOU?ILOVEYOU?ILOVEYOU?ILOVEYOU?ILOVEYOU?ILOVEYOU?ILOVEYOU?ILOVEYOU?ILOVEYOU?ILOVEYOU?ILOVEYOU?ILOVEYOU? and then crashed. I know some people like that.
Another random tidbit that doesn’t have to do with anything: Many people came up to introduce themselves to me this weekend. It was very flattering! They would shake my hand, say “Nice to meet you,” and “Please don’t put that on Facebook.”
So let’s see. After Thursday was … FRIDAY! With Showcase of course, which I’ve told you about. But did I tell you yet about the Jack and Jill’s? They were really fun! I guess that’s all I have to say about the Jack and Jill’s.
Then Strictly’s (the proper spelling of which I have been corrected for (for which I have been corrected? For?) several times now and I’m sorry I refuse to leave out the apostrophes for the word “Strictly’s” or the word “Pro’s.” Those words are weird without apostrophes.) were also fun! Three heats of about ten couples each. Such great dancers! The best in the world!
Jordan and Sarah
Nick King and Jill Dumarco
Kris Swearingen and Tiffany Lubran
Michael O’Connor and Connie Gauthier
Brennar and Rutz
Chuck and Tessa
Scott Stuart and Alyssa
Stephen White and Lara Deni
Eddie Valdez and Torri
Three songs (Beth was the DJ): Moves Like Jagger, More Than Words, and Honky Tonk something-or-other blues something
Jesse Vos and Tara
Ben Morris and Stacy Chiang
Benji and Brandi
Luis and Mackenzie
Parker and Katrina
Steve Hunt and Kara
Annmarie and Ben Hooten
Melina and Michael Kielbasa
Mr. and Mrs. Doug and Lori Rousar
Courtney and Pete
… and their songs: Give Me Everything, Free Fallin’, and One Scotch One Bourbon One Beer
Ryan and Katrina Ostrenski
Geoff Nighswonger and Dawne
Sean and Katie
Rob Jackson and Tori Ellington
Greg and Cameo
Kyle and Tatiana
Jason Wayne and Laureen
Robert Royston and Yenni
Mr. and Mrs. Kyle and Amy Patel
… and THEIR songs … Only Girl In The World, Breaking Me, Have You Heard The News
And then US Open 2011 Opening Ceremonies! I love this, I just love it! Those huge flags carried around the floor! The parade! The kids – their beaming faces! How happy and proud everyone is to be part of it all! There on the floor are the competitors we’ve watched all year long who’ve come in from around the country and the world, every routine couple, every division, every team, every cabaret act, every NASDE event director, the emcees, the DJ’s, the judges … all standing together on the floor, waving flags! What a sight.
By now I’m sure you’ve seen results but just in case you haven’t here are Friday’s winners:
1st Place Benji and Torri
2nd Myles and Tessa
3rd Lionel and Amandine
4th Ronnie and Laureen
5th Greg and Lemery
6th Robert and Nicola
7th Stephen and Sabrina
8th Rob and Connie
9th Ben and Rebecca
10th JB and Sara
11th Eddie and Elise
12th Sebastien and Chloe
13th Luis and Jennifer
14th Doug and Annmarie
There were a number of penalties and violations for various infractions of rules. I wasn’t able to get any of these recorded (which might have been educational) but I can say that there was a definite calm in the scoring room; a respectful, cooperative feeling – peaceful, almost. Phil Adams (Competition Director) was there to answer every question directly and knowledgeably. I was hurrying off to dinner (our friends were about to pass out from low blood sugar) so didn’t pay attention to who or what but it looked to me that although some couples were surprised or disappointed to discover that they’d lost points, still no one seemed to feel they’d been treated unjustly. I felt a little sorry for some of our French couples who seemed confused and had to find translators to understand nuances of interpretations of the rules of which, it seemed, they had been unaware. All in all, though – and considering the hoopla surrounding Showcase in the weeks leading up to this year’s Open – the behavior of everyone involved was completely civilized.
Two days back from Tampa and here we are at DCSex (you might know it as VSO). Then we’re home for two days before we fly out to … the Open!
It’s Friday night at this event created by Hutch (Craig Hutchinson) so very many years ago. It was Hutch’s idea for VSO (the Virginia State Open) to be a celebration of swing, all types of swing. You may not know that Hutch wrote two books attempting to describe, define, and codify swing; made a terrific short film, and drew up a manual with squinchy little squinkie creatures, arrows, and feet stepping and dancing all across the pages. Wonderful Hutch, what an odd duck, so beloved here and across the country, a founder of NASDE (maybe *the* founder? with Barry? and a few others – who else?), and boy oh boy did Hutch love Swing. I think we have VHS (or Beta) tapes of the first years of this event.
So here we are at the newest rendition of VSO, this year at a new hotel, a very standard Hyatt, nothing special really, but which will work well for out-of-towners as it’s close to the airport. Our room’s a bit old and seedy, smells funky, but adequate. This is the new hotel for MadJam too (in March) so we’ve been curious to see what it’s like and now that we have we are seriously hoping the ballroom for MadJam will be WAAAAAY bigger. Cause this one is, well, one of the smaller ballrooms we’ve seen, like ever? We counted floor squares (each maybe 3 sq ft?) and there are 14 front to back, 12 side to side. That about tells you the total size of the room cause not a whole lot of space left for actual sitting. There’s room for 16 chairs crammed along each side of the floor, four skinny tables of six people each jammed along the front of the floor, and behind these three rows of 14 chairs each. No room to walk from one side to t’other without trouncing on people and nowhere for us to sit in an actual chair, at all.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
So tonight was Strictly’s. First Lindy (didn’t get here in time to see) then Novice WCS (maybe ten couples? Didn’t get here in time for that either – terrible Friday traffic!), Intermediate (eight couples total), and Adv/Allstar/Pro Strictly (20 couples).
Three songs for Adv/Allstar/Pro prelims: Moves Like Jagger, Ability to Swing, Man in the Mirror.
John Lindo with Nicola Royston
Alyssa and Jesse
Genieboy and Jody Katz
Jody Moscaritolo and Kelly Hull
Xavier and Tammy Brown
Dean and Lemery
Rob and Deonna
Kay and Alfred
Robin Smith and Debbie Tuttle
Mike Glasgow and Robin Grimsby
Brian Kidd and Heidi Batdorf
Steve Hunt and Rachel Martin
Jerome Louis and Abbi Leggett
Sam and Denise Miller
Marcus and Erica Smith
Greg Scott and Jennifer Lyons
Reggie and oops! don’t remember!
Abi Stone and Don Herron
and last but not least … Akil and Trendolyn
Finals for this were done Jam/Spotlight style, and the three songs were Cause I Said So, OMG, and S&M.
Akil and Tren
Rob and Deonna
Steve and Rachel
Alfred and Kay
Lindo and Nicola
Dean and Lemery
Greg and Jennifer Lyons
Marcus and Erica
Xavier and Tammy
Sam and Denise
Alyssa and Jesse
1st alt Jody Moscaritolo and Kelly Hull
2nd alt Mike Glasgow and Robin Grimsby
and the top three placements:
1st Akil and Tren
2nd Rob and Deonna
3rd Dean and Lemery
1st Roy Legaspi and Julie Parrish
2nd Brandon LeFrance and Sally Charles
3rd Jeff Moscaritolo and Danielle Lindblom
1st Sam Easley and ??
2nd CJ Tate and ???
3rd Nicole Stottlemeyer and ??
(sorry! hard to hear and I don’t recognize some of the newer names – very difficult acoustics in the room, hard to make out a lot of what is said on the mic)
That was it for tonight!
Jack and Jill’s tomorrow.
Packing, unpacking, repacking, AUGHGHGHGH!! Two days between events is not enough!
DCSex (the artist formerly known as VSO) (which has now been renamed “DC Swing eXperience (official event)”) (or DCSX) (or DCSex) turned out to be a FUNnnn! weekend!
Terribly cramped Friday night, even terribly-er cramped Saturday morning for Novice prelims (not even standing room available! Much less a seat! Or floor space!) Karen Beck (Dave’s long-time right-hand-man-who-is-a-woman) said “wait till you see what happens tonight! Magic! The walls will magically open up and the floor will magically become bigger! Like Disneyland!”
And they did! Saturday night the walls (“air walls” I’ve learned they are called) went up, more floor was laid down, and poof! Magic! We had a ballroom and floor at least twice the size, roomy and marvelous, with plenty of seating.
Saturday night Dave announced that last year’s VSO had 250 registrations (we get 250 people every Friday night at Dave’s dance so for us that’s small – if you’re ever here in town try to include a Friday, it’s like a mini-comp every weekend) so he was expecting about the same numbers, maybe a little more. Instead he had 600 registrations by Saturday morning! Wow! No wonder there was nowhere to sit. What a happy problem to have! Pretty cool. There was a Bar-Mitzvah next door and some other event next door to that so as soon as the rooms became available Dave was out there pushing the walls back, rushing around laying more floor, and voila! A beautiful big ballroom!
We’re expecting (and hoping) this event will grow. It would be so cool if we’d get tons of Lindy Hoppers (we have a great Lindy community here in DC), tons of Shaggers (we’re a one-hour flight from “shag central”), tons of DC Hand-Dancers, and tons of wcs dancers, so we could have cross-over competitions, workshops to learn all the other styles. It could be the VSO that Hutch originally envisioned! How fun would that be!
We had closed-circuit TV in the room, again, cameras on the main ballroom floor 24/7 so from the moment we arrived till tear-down on Sunday we were able to see and hear everything – workshops, competitions, everything. All with titles, too, explaining what was going on.
MadJam is purple, Swing Fling was bathed in blue light … the color for this event is red, so red and black backdrop, ballroom bathed in red lights, and everyone encouraged to wear red most of the weekend.
Robert Royston emceed much of the weekend (along with Jody Moscaritolioliolio) and was ON all weekend, just beyond hilarious. I tried to scratch down both his jokes and Jody’s so I wouldn’t forget anything but he was letting them fly so fast I couldn’t write quickly enough and most of the time I was laughing so hard all I ended up writing was lines and scribbles all over the page. I think most of the event was filmed on ustream (haven’t looked yet myself) and may still be available there. It’s worth watching just to hear Royston.
Okay so Saturday night! Routines! Most (maybe all) of the following couples are heading out to the Open this weekend.
First Alexis and Akil – (that would be Dean and Dawn’s stunner of a daughter with Akil Boatwright, a darling of a person who saw wcs and was instantly hooked for life) and WOW. Wait till you see! I will say nothing more until after the Open, don’t want to spoil the surprise.
Then three couples in an open swing division (another opportunity to compete but no points – this is no longer a NASDE event): Rob and Connie (new ending! very dramatic, very hard! Especially hard coming at the very end of a difficult routine); Greg and Lemery (flawless, yet again, at least as far as my untrained eye could see); and Mike Glasgow and Kristin Wenger – lovely, elegant routine – keeps getting better.
Next, the Superstar Show:
Markus and adorable 6 or 7 or 8-year old Marya-Montez Wallace, with sparkly LED-lit hot-pink basketball shoes and ATTITUDE oh so cute, standing ovation of course; Robert Royston and Deborah Szekely’s new Classic routine, “Man In The Mirror” – she tripped or stumbled – and if available on ustream you should try to catch it because you get to see how Champions handle a blip in the middle of a performance: they keep dancing! With even more passion and commitment!; Sam and Lisa West in another graceful, witty, totally delightful shag routine, to the theme from “Pink Panther;” Max Pitruzella and Annie Trudeau in an amazing, hilarious, brilliant lindy routine, complete with props and costumes (how I hope my pictures come out! I was on the floor, two rows back, so lots of heads in the way. If mine don’t come out, though, plenty of other people were taking pictures. And Dave will put up videos I’m sure. You’ve got to see this, you’ll love it); Marcus and Tren (funny, full of life, fun routine they did for us at Swing Fling, to “Boogie Shoes”); Robert and Nicola’s great Edge of Glory, and last of all, and for many the highlight of the weekend, Jordan and Tatiana performing “Pump It,” which seemed, if possible, even faster, funnier, more powerfully, more ferocious, than in 2006. What an honor to see this live, again! Right there in front of us! Wow.
Lots more to tell about last weekend … Alfred inadvertently performing amazing feats of juggling and Jesse Vos inadvertently spinning out of a cummerbund, all while maintaining swing content … which I’ll write up during our flight out to L.A. tomorrow. Virgin America with Wi-Fi! So I might not only get it written I might even be able to send it out!
Oh, and as always with Dave’s events, results were posted online right away: http://www.dcswingexperience.com/winners.htm
We’re in Tampa! Having a buh-last so far!
Just finished the Allstar/Pro Strictly:
- Brennar and Alyssa (HILARIOUS dancing, hilarious creative insanity. Brennar was on tonight, all night, his best funniest most outrageous self, red-faced, dripping with sweat, not missing a single instant to do something beautiful, witty, and almost always hysterically funny.)
- John Lindo and Jessica
- Tiffany Lubran and Jason Marker
- Luis and Lemery
- Greg Scott and Jennifer Pasetes
- Rebecca and Bryan Jordan
- Doug Rousar and Anne Marie Marker
- Gina Amato-Brown and Christopher Hussey
- Robert Royston and Jill Dumarco
- Patti Jobst and Stephen White
- Patty Vo and Jason Miklic (Jason and Sophy are here with both girls! Jasmine and their beautiful new baby, Jade. Such cute names for such cute beautiful baby girls.)
Just before that, the Allstar/Pro Jack and Jill prelims – lotta good dancers here this weekend so this was a fun JJ. I didn’t count so I’m guessing maybe 30 couples.
And before that: Showcase! Way, way cool. Nine couples:
1. Ben Hooten and Rebecca – First time on the floor and WOW! What a great routine! I LOVE it! Wait till you see – it is FIERCE! Got some pictures, but 30 seconds in I said “forget it – I wanna watch this, not take pictures.” So I have a few of the very beginning only. (There’ll be video (Bobby Caudill is the videographer) and there were other cameras snapping. And the Open is in two weeks so there’ll be plenty of pictures there too. But I’ll post my few.) Their costumes are FAB – slashes of yellow, black, and silver. Very futura techno-ish – to “Little Bad Girl” (Dave Guetta, Taio Cruz and Ludacris). They missed one lift. Rats. But first time on the floor, so big whoop.
2. Dave Weiss and Crystal Auclair – in elegant black, white and silver, to Broken Strings (James Morrison and Nelly Furtado).
3. The Roystons – their wonderful new(ish) routine to Lady Gaga’s acoustic version of Edge of Glory, Nicola stunning in her tiny little red top with ruffly pieces flying in a whirl around her.
4. Rob and Connie – Same great routine (Drops of Jupiter) they’ve been working all year … and AUGHGHGHGH they messed up in the middle! and never really recovered after that. These are our good friends. We hate to see this happen. But it happens!
5. Sheven Kekoolani and Agnieszka Maslanka (Such. Great. NAMES!) – new routine (at least to us, maybe to everyone, might have been their first time on the floor) and really fun. They danced to Mission Impossible, dressed in bank-robber khaki pants and black turtlenecks. Serious faces. Agnieszka (“Agnes” in English, but who wants to use that when her real name is so terrific?) has HUGE blue eyes and man does she use them, whirling around to stare threatingly at you. No wasted moments – two and a half minutes of scary slasher acrobatics and sudden changes in tempo, including a back-drop in slo-mo (shades of Matrix) where she oozes all the way down to his ankle and then gets tossed up again.
6. Luis and Jennifer – to If Only You Believe – last time we saw this was at Swing Fling (their first time on the floor) and wow, what a difference two months makes! Jennifer looks like a different dancer! Relaxed, confident, toes pointed, hands in the right place, no stiffness, pretty lines, lifts looked effortless … beautifully done! No mistakes that I noticed.
7. Stephen White and Sabrina Paxman – same great routine we’ve seen several times now, danced powerfully and cleanly.
8. Greg and Lemery – Same gorgeous, powerful routine they’ve been working (and taking first or second around the country) for a year now (Teenage Dream.) Danced *almost* flawlessly (Greg stumbled for one nanosecond on the first lift.)
9. JB and Sarah Krezinski – Saw this at VIP – another good routine which has gotten WAY cleaner and more powerful.
Benji and Torri did not dance – they’re both here so I’m not sure why.
The evening started with prayers and a tribute (by a local pastor) for Veteran’s Day. Then Phil told us about a charity he’s become involved in, “Nourish The Children,” put a hat in the middle of the floor, and asked us to make donations ($1,200 went into the hat!). This was followed by two exhibitions: first the Willis clan performed a re-enactment of Titanic (the Willis’ are being filmed this weekend for an upcoming reality show about them – they’ve already done the first half and this weekend they’ll finish shooting. They say it’s weird having cameras follow them around while being asked to act normal, as if there weren’t a crew of people walking backwards in front of them holding a humongous lens 6″ from their face and other people dangling microphones over their heads. Then a second exhibition by Mike Glasgow and Kristin Wenger (their Sophisticated routine). And then 13 Novice Pro-Am routines! (Rick Weston, Danielle Blouin, Robert Royston, Matt Auclair, Stephen White … am I forgetting any pro’s? … oh! and Brennar and his student Chase who were so terrific they got a standing ovation (so fast! such clever choreography! such a FUN routine! and they put it together from scratch, on a whim, three hours earlier!), and three Intermediate/Advanced Pro-Am routines.
What a fun night!
It’s Saturday morning and we’re about to head down to the ballroom to begin our day of JJ’s, Strictlys, and then tonight Young Adult and Classic.
It is GORGEOUS weather here on the beach – clear blue skies, waves crashing all day, surfers skidding along, gulls crying, white sand as far as you can see … Heaven! And an enormous Full Moon! The beach at night bathed in silver, wind shining on the waves, palm trees dancing … Heaven! Pure heaven! Our private balcony hangs over the sand, sun shines directly from 11am on – nude sunbathing yesterday! We’ve had a glass of Kim Crawford and watched a brilliant orange and pink sun sink into the long horizon two nights now. Thursday night, around 3am, I had a second glass of Kim Crawford and then figured it was so lovely out there on the balcony I might as well have a third glass, and then heck, might as well have a fourth and then the last few drops to finish off the bottle which I did and which is why I woke up with a headache Friday morning.
Uh oh oops gotta go – we have to run down to check in (no competitors’ meetings! yay!), warm up, and dance.
Holy Mackerel! What a way to ruin a comp! How completely inappropriate can you get?
Tonight was Saturday night, the Big Night! Wonderful show, the Willis Clan and their Reality TV pilot! Masters routines! Young Adult routines! Rising Star! And Classic! A wonderful exciting night, right? Two weeks before the Open?
But a peculiar announcement was made several times: “There will be a meeting of Showcase at 11:30pm All Showcase couples who competed last night! You will be meeting tonight at 11:30pm!”
So of course everyone here wondered what could that possibly be about? Showcase was yesterday! It was great! A meeting on Saturday night?
Here’s what it was about. Beata Howe, Chief Judge, decided that all the showcase couples but one (Crystal and Dave) should be disqualified. For lack of swing content.
So Beata convened a new, second panel of judges, and had them watch a video of last night’s routines. And after this discussion and viewing Beata confirmed that in fact every single one of the showcase couples (except Crystal and Dave) should be disqualified for lack of swing content. Beata decided not to disqualify them here in Tampa but informed them in their 11:30 meeting that in two weeks, at the Open, they would be judged again by this same panel of judges, and should expect to be disqualified for lack of swing content.
Couples were flabbergasted.
Showcase is 60/40. 60% swing content. They asked Beata what is swing content, according to you, that you would disqualify all of us?
You can’t define swing content, Beata answered.
How are we supposed to do it if you can’t tell us what it is we’re supposed to do, they asked.
Has to do with weight. Where your weight is, Beata said. Your weight can’t be over the balls of your feet.
But that’s technique, that’s not swing content, they said.
Well that’s how I define swing content, she said. And this second panel of judges I’ve convened are the same judges who will be judging you in two weeks at the Open. So change your routines or be disqualified.
The feeling here, of this event, went from an excited Saturday Night high to a shocked, disappointed, worried low. In the space of an hour. People everywhere on their phones calling family and friends all over the world, worrying, confused, not understanding.
Robert and Nicola Royston? Seriously? Greg and Lemery? Lemery is 22 years old. This is her first year on our circuit. She and Greg have travelled at their expense, to every NASDE comp and a lot of non-NASDE comps in order to put this routine on the floor, playing by the rules as the rules were described to them. For a year they have not once received a violation, not to mention a disqualification! The Open is two weeks away and how exciting this has been for Greg and Lemery! They’ve thought they might stand a chance of placing at the USOpen! How wonderful!
And now … this. Really, Beata? This is the “welcoming” community you want to show our young competitors?
What a way to ruin the high of Saturday night!
Of course news of this travelled instantly and after that no one really felt much like celebrating. The ballroom was sparse, mood was gloomy.
Something must be done to rectify this!. Will this second panel of judges, whoever they were, now have already decided that every one of the Showcase routines of last night – including Greg and Lemery, Robert and Nicola who danced more beautifully than before with the most beautiful routine yet, Rob and Connie who have been performing their routine since March, Stephen and Sabrina, Ben and Rebecca, Sheven and Agnieszka, JB and Sarah, and Luis and Jennifer – that these routines are all to be thrown out of the Open? For lack of swing content? Which cannot be defined? Other than to say that your weight needs to be over your heels?
There is so very MUCH here that’s inappropriate, I’m embarrassed.
Breaking News! A third judging panel has been convened to review the scores of the second panel which was convened to review the scores of the original judging panel for the Showcase Division at Tampa Bay Classic 2011. Discussions with a fourth review panel are underway in case this might be needed.
In other news, Lance Shermoen has been brought in to create a program using relative placement to tally the results of four separate panels judging each other, and the city of Tampa has agreed to make available the 448 feet of Convention Center wall space to post the Judges’ Key.
Joking joking just joking! Lance has not been brought in and Tampa did not give us the Convention Center.
Saturday night was fun. (Well, until midnight, when it became a little less fun.) The theme was Academy Awards (Phil had two enormous Oscar figurines and a gigantic clapboard as the backdrop) and began with a small costume parade. Robert Royston, hilarious as always, officiating. He asked Captain America (Adam Sanborn) so what exactly *is* that shield? Is that, like, a kids’ toboggan? That’s exactly what it is, Adam answered. Robert said “We’re in Florida. They’ve never heard of a toboggan in Florida. They never even heard of snow. Okay maybe they have heard of snow but it means something different than snow everywhere else.” (all the Floridians in the audience clapping and jeering). Robert pulls these things out of the air, impromptu. So dang funny.
First we had an exhibition by the Willis Clan, a rendition of “Titanic.” Robert announced that there’d be filming for the Willis reality show again and encouraged us to be patient and supportive of this most amazing family, an important part of our WCS family (encouragement was a good idea cause it was inconvenient having the film crew there – we had to stop the flow of the evening for re-takes, crowd shots, audio takes and the like. I loved watching a film crew at work, and watching even the littlest Willis kids handle anything asked of them with grace and humor. But I can imagine some might have found it an imposition), introducing the family by describing how he’d visited them ten years ago when there were only seven kids … now there are 12 “and they’re all from the same mother!” Then adding as an afterthought, “and the same father!” And how they all play instruments, and sing, and are home-schooled, and write and record their own music, and are USOpen champions, and step dance champions, and state wrestling champions. “I keep thinking,” he added, “if only they applied themselves, maybe they could be good at something.”
Everyone is mesmerized by the Willis’ and their huge, happy family. Now we’ll get to watch them on TV and see if they’re actually as messed up and dysfunctional as the rest of us.
1. Chips and Janice – cool new routine to an awesome jazz/R&B/hip-hop remix of California Soul. Cool choreography. Loved her costume – black and teal with blitz and what looked like pieces of ruffly somethings attached to the front and sides, sparkling and floating around as she moved – very cool and creative. And appropriate for this elderly hobbling couple hitting their mid-80′s. Okay that’s not true. They’re ridiculously young looking for their mid-80′s. I’m totally jealous.
2. Renee and Tommy – also a new routine, to “Get Down On it,” – also cool choreography (they WON! Results down below), wearing black with blue-and-red layered stripes, little blitz to catch the light.
3. Wayne Rohr and Cindy Dionne, elegant white, “Best is Yet To Come.”
4. Michael and Karen to another cool remix: “Think” (not all remixes improve on the original but both of these mentioned are really good), and their costumes! So good looking! She’s got two different sleeves, slashes of coordinated color and pattern, all black-and-white spots and stripes and pieces, all except for one single blue sequined wrist cuff to match his blue sequined shirt buttons. Such an eye for design! And an understanding of what’s appropriate, creative, and elegant on a Masters couple.
5. Wayne Brodd and Karen Metter, “Love and Sex and Magic,” in black and sparkly turquoise, with cool netting
6. Buz and Deborah McCreary – ” When Love Comes To Town,” – love this couple. They’re smart, funny, loving, beautiful, and the proud parents of several busloads of children.
7. Bob Budzinski and Deborah White – Love this routine! Love the footwork, the play on rythyms, the classical/jazz feel, the subtlety and wit. Love that they’re in formal black and white with one red rose, one red tie, and one set of brilliant red lips.
8. Bobby Caudill and Donna Purcell – “Slow Boat to China” (Renee Olstead version), black and shiny metallic blue
And the Masters placements were:
1st Place Tommy and Renee
2nd Wayne and Cindy
3rd Michael and Karen
4th Chips and Janice
5th Wayne and Karen
6th Bobby and Donna
7th Bob and Deborah
8th Buz and Debra
Then … Classic!
In a moment!
And then …
Young Adult! Four couples. Astounding!
1. Jackson Willis and Jasmine Willis (Jack’s 13, Jazz is 10) to “Babysittin’ Blues” written by Jessica Willis (she’s 19.) So sweet your teeth hurt, so fast your knees quake, so theatrical your brain explodes! The lines! The drama! The leaps and lifts! And they’re such beautiful kids! With her long blonde hair and big blue eyes Jazz would make her daddy worry if he didn’t already have six other beautiful daughters to worry about.
2. Chase Forrester and Garrett Spencer to Bonnie Raitt’s “I Do Believe I’m in Love With You.” I loved this. It was like a Shaggy-Showcase-West-Coast, so fast, funny, FUN! Bright red sequins, his bright red shoes and tie. He’s tall and handsome, she’s a young Marilyn Monroe.
3. Rome and Chevy, “How Far We’ve Come,” their wonderful routine we’ve been watching all year, loving it every time – their speed, power and control is amazing. They’re pros. Gracious, calm, wise young pros.
4. Jeremiah Willis (he’s 18) and Jennifer Willis (she’s 16) to another wonderful song written by big sister Jessica Willis. I had to put down my camera for this one, didn’t even see Jeremiah I was so fascinated by his sister. She is quick as a flash. Her spins are finished before you realize they’ve started. She’s so clean it’s scary. Every movement has a beginning and an end. She’s so pretty, too! And keeps smiling at you, looking relaxed and happy while she zooms under around and over her brother at mach speed.
By the way … the Willis’ have a webpage. Like everything else they do, their site is elegant, clean, clear, smart, user-friendly, artistic, gracious.
What is WITH these people? This is getting annoying.
Click here to see pictures, hear their music, and be hugely impressed: http://www.thewillisclan.com/Home.html
And the placements for Young Adult:
1st Place Rome and Chevy
2nd Jeremiah and Jennifer
3rd Jackson and Jasmine
4th Garrett and Chase
And then! CLASSIC!!!! YIPPPEEEEE!
Seven couples, none of whom were disqualified! Some should have have been, according to several hundred thousand of the 3,830,047 posts on Facebook today. (Several hundred other thousand disagreed.) (Several hundred even-other thousand weren’t even there but it’s like they were cause they’ve been texting like crazy for three days.)
1. Terry Roseborough and Gina Amato-Brown to “Musicology,” and I have to say it is SO cool to see Gina on the floor again! I remember Gina from [ribbigrolbleb^7cough*5lupa] years ago, the early days of the first Country Junction here in DC. She was the It Girl then and for me will always be. And her daughters! Oh my goodness! If you haven’t met danced with or watched her daughters dance then you are in for a treat! Anyway, cool routine by Terry and Gina, in black and spangly green.
2. Kris and Rebecca’s marvelous “Into The Night” – flying! flying! across the floor, shapes and lines and speed and passion – I love this routine and I love these people. Best I’ve seen them do it.
3. Matt and Crystal, “Run Around” (love this song, personal favorite.) Love the Auclairs. Love their dancing. Love her smile, his hilarity, their egg-beater, his longevity, his goofiness, their kindness, their love for each other. Someday maybe he’ll learn to dance fast, though. For 20 years he’s been dancing like a snail.
4. Mike and Sheli, “Heartless,” with her wonderful flat-back pirouettes, spins, leans. So balanced!
5. Brennar and Torri. Simply. Un. Bee. Lee. Va. Bull. Can’t see this without shaking my head in amazement. Every time, a whole year’s worth, and I am just as amazed as the first time. When I see it live like this I’m in a daze for two and half minutes, then it ends and I look around me and everyone looks like a rock hit them in the forehead, stunned, speechless. This routine will *never* get old.
6. The Markers! Another two of the nicest people on earth, much beloved in the wcs community and especially in their home wcs community (Saginaw, Michigan) which they’ve built and taken care of so well. A few people mentioned to me this weekend that this was their favorite classic routine, the true-ness of the emotion rang a bell for people. The Markers always have this effect. They dance from the heart, and the welcome the audience in. And she is so beautiful. He’s okay too.
7. And last of all, speaking of adorable loving couples who manage to dance together and *still* love each other (unlike us, who either love each other or dance together, never both at the same time,) Jason and Sophy to “Summer Breeze,” in flowy flowered Hawaiin shirt and mumu. We saw this routine at Swing Fling and now it’s even cuter. Sophy has long curly hair!
And the Placements:
1st Place Brennar and Torri
2nd Kris and Rebecca
3rd The Auclairs
4th The Markers
5th Jason and Sophy
6th Mike and Sheli
7th Terry and Gina
More in a moment!
1st Place Demery and Elisa DeFoe
2nd Jesse Vos and Jenn Pasetes
3rd Keith Stremmel and Beverly Co
4th Hugo and Stephanie Weiss
5th Evan Schwartz and Sabrina
6th Dave Weiss and Cindy Dionne
1st Place Sheven and Sara
2nd Mario Lett and Alaina Sislay
3rd Jerome Louis and Monica Garcia
4th Vino Salame and Jillian Townsend
5th Peter Zellner and Alissia Bishop
6th Vence Harbuck and Catrinel Jordan
7th Kyle Merritt and Victoria Andromalos-Dale
8th Alex Waller and Lauren Byrd
9th Fabio Beltramini and Cali Buntin
10th Stphane Schneider and Valerie Sponsler
1st Place Chips and Janice (they drew each other!)
2nd Dave Collins and Renee Lippman
3rd Michael Stephens and Cindy Dionne
4th Wayne Brodd and Dori Eden
5th Dave Raines and Patti Jobst
6th Bob Budzynski and Vangie Sponsler
7th Bruce Perotta and Debbie Tuttle
8th Mike Glasgow and Susan Downs
1st Place Brennar and Patty Vo
2nd Robert Royston and Jill Dumarco
3rd Greg and Lemery (yes, they drew each other)
4th Jason Miklic and Torri
5th Jake and Jessica
6th John Lindo and Sophy
7th Stephen White and Gina
8th Christopher Hussey and Nicola
And the Famous Much-Talked-About Historical Tampa Bay Classic 2011 Showcase Results in which No One was Disqualified:
1st Place Robert and Nicoloa Royston
2nd Greg and Lemery
3rd Stephen and Sabrina
4th JB and Sarah
5th Ben and Rebecca
6th Luis and Jennifer
7th Rob and Connie
8th Dave and Crystal
9th Sheven and Agniezska
Sheesh! Lot of goings-on these past four days.
It’s clear the “issue” (I am not sneezing) was ill-timed and mishandled. Judges who should have been consulted weren’t; judges on the first panel weren’t aware of the second panel; the meeting with competitors was called without prior notice to the judges involved; none of the following judges were used: not Benji, Parker, Jessica, Barry, or Patty Vo – even though all of these are champion showcase competitors, all have judged NASDE events throughout the year, and none were competing at Tampa. And yet not one of them knew a thing about the deed till after it was done. And all of these missteps occurring just two weeks before the Open! All in all a big untimely clumsily handled mess.
We’re not a community of tax auditors hence the resulting response was as you can imagine … colorful.
In an odd way, though, the upset resulted in bringing the community closer together. Felt that way to me anyway. Maybe because things were handled so obviously wrong-headedly most everyone I spoke to agreed a mistake was made. In any case, by Sunday morning the mood at Tampa had changed, felt like people had “rallied,” come together, reassured each other, that there was an outpouring of support for the dancers involved. Parker organized a second meeting late Sunday following Awards for Showcase competitors and past Showcase champions ( those who didn’t have flights to catch, anyway.) And this meeting, from what I hear tell, was cheerful, bright, hopeful, supportive and reassuring. Just right! But that’s Parker. I won’t nauseate you again by going on about how much we respect Parker.
In these intervening four days Phil Adams, Competition Director at the Open, has responded calmly and graciously to worries that judges at the Open might be influenced by events in Tampa. The fact is that only two of the Tampa judges (Jim Minty is one) will also judge for the Open, and, as Phil has explained, assignments for who is judging what are not made until the weekend itself and judges themselves know neither who the other judges are nor which divisions they will be judging. Phil has been reassuring that dancers in all divisions need not worry.
I’m sure that no surprises about swing content or anything else will be sprung at the Open. NASDE rules as written and as applied all year will be carefully followed – there’s no question about this not only because of Tampa but because the issue is on everyone’s mind. No preconceived biases or agendas will be played out – it just won’t happen. Not this year, anyway. Open judges represent decades of experience, fairness and ethics at the top of the list, and in the end on the side of the dancers.
Sounds cheesy but it has been heartwarming to see is the passionate love of this dance emanating from all corners, the love for and ownership of the community, and the overwhelming support for wcs dancers everywhere.
The only two people who haven’t been included in this love-fest (at least not publicly) are Phil and Beata which is sad, really, because, of all people involved in this mess these two may feel the worst. I haven’t spoken with them but I don’t doubt they of course were trying to do the right thing. Nobody but a sociopath is ever trying to do the *wrong* thing. I’m guessing Phil and Beata saw what they felt was a looming problem for the Showcase dancers and, knowing the Open was only two weeks away, thought they might help by alerting them in time to change their choreography if they chose. I’m making this up based on nothing but my imagination and what I know of these two people. And by the way if you don’t know Beata you should because she is quite something. She’s been dancing all her life and in the west coast community since the early 90′s, winning titles at the Open and every other important event around the country. Feather awards, NASDE awards, champion routines in Showcase and Classic. Beata was considered one of – if not *the* – top female dancer in the country for many years. Poise, balance, stunning lines, quads of steel (she can do more consecutive pot-stir spins, lower to the ground, than anyone in history), coaching, running workshops, years of judging and head-judging, and a famous roar which for many of us was the sound of the 90′s. Beata is an icon of the community. She and Phil made a mistake (in my opinion – they may disagree) but of course they were doing what they thought was best. For the dancers! It’s always about the dancers.
I wrote what was known to me after speaking with twelve of the eighteen Showcase dancers as they walked out of the meeting. If you’re going to hold a closed meeting which everyone knows about and which will be controversial then you’ve got to expect that the story will come out in pieces unless you “release a statement to the press”‘ so to speak. Beata and Phil certainly did not employ good PR. So I pieced the story together from the indignant, emotional outbursts I heard immediately afterwards, thinking that people who weren’t in Tampa would probably want to know what was going on. When I read now what I wrote then about what Beata purportedly said in that meeting I can’t conceive that Beata would have defined swing content based solely on where one’s weight is located. That’s a little crazy. She wouldn’t have said that, or said it that way, or whatevah …
Cause of all of the components which comprise West Coast Swing “swing content” is the most difficult to define as it is an abstract concept. Not just about a triple, an anchor, where your weight is, or how many six or eight count patterns. Nor is it just a feel. It’s a complex mix of these and a multitude of other subtle characteristics. What “swing content” is and where West Coast Swing is going always has been the most discussed topic in the community and as another US Open approaches the subject is thrashed around yet again. And debated, over the past four days since Tampa, again … but this time on Facebook. In a collection of intersecting heated, emotional threads. One doesn’t argue about something if one doesn’t care deeply about it and judging from the amount of impassioned argument there is a lot of caring about our dance.
This is an explosive, exciting time in our history – our dance has become hugely popular around the world. We have vibrant communities in how many countries now? Australia, France, England, Brazil, Hungary, Turkey, Iceland, Poland, Sweden, Russia, Singapore, Canada. With events! Routine couples who travel across the world to compete! YouTube and Facebook have made what we do accessible to people around the globe. And as we all know - once you see WCS your life is changed forever. And because of the new communities and interpretations our dance is changing, evolving, like the street dance that it is.
I have found myself repeating – maybe ten times in the past months – something Mario said years ago which got stuck in my head: “West Coast Swing is not standardized. This is its greatest strength and its greatest weakness.”
Even with all the hubbub and upset we had SUCH fun at Tampa this year. How could we not? We were with 1,000 dear friends! Dancing! All day and all night for four days and nights! Who gets to do that? How lucky are we, really? The beach out the back door! Sand, waves, seagulls, a full moon, laughing, telling stories, and West Coast Swing? We are lucky! We are very lucky.