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US OPEN! 30TH ANNIVERSARY! 30 years of Opens – hard to believe!
Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends! We have just wolfed down dinner in the hotel restaurant (quick plate of pasta for me, turkey and mashed potatoes for Genieboy) and are on our way back down for Jack and Jill finals. Today’s been Jack and Jill prelims (Novice through Allstar) and pro-am routines. Two heats per division, about 15 couples in each. Competitors’ meeting this morning at 11:30 for JJ contestants – nothing more than a quick announcement about staging and when to show up.
We arrived late last night (Wednesday) to find the lobby FULL of dancers from around the world who had arrived earlier in the week (or last week, for Swinging New England in Boston.) Someone said this is like the the soccer World Cup – Brazil is here, a big Russian contingent, France, UK, Australia, I’m sure many Asian countries will be represented …
Getting here was was confusing: No traffic on the highway, instantly found a parking space at the airport, no line at check-in, one person in front of us at security, plane took off five minutes early and landed a half hour ahead of time, no traffic on the 405 during rush hour driving down from LAX, no issues checking in at the hotel. This, on the day before Thanksgiving, with TV and radio reporting massive travel delays and chaos like hasn’t been seen in years. Something *has* to go wrong, right? All this good luck is making me nervous not knowing when the axe is gonna fall.
Major rhinestoning going on in rooms all over the hotel. I’m buying stock in rhinestones.
Some very sad news.
David Koppelman was found dead in his home last night. Long-time member of the community, dear friend to many, deejay at most every major event in California and around the country, Dave will be sorely missed. Many people here are shaken up this morning, waking up to hear this. Dave was supposed to have come on to DJ at 11 last night and when at 11:45 he had not yet shown up people began to worry. It is not yet known how he died but looks to have possibly been a heart-attack. Dave had ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) – a miserable disease – but you would never have known it from his sweet, humble, uncomplaining, unbitter attitude towards life, people, and the west coast community that he loved. He was a good man.
If you want to consider donating here is the link to the ALS Association website.
What a sadly beautiful day today! Cloudless blue skies, mild breeze, 80º, long yellow sun.
Floor trials for tonight’s Showcase were early this morning – word is that there are some mind-blowingly fantastic new routines (we’ve already seen two of these and OMG AUGHGH.)
By the way – for a small fee you can watch all weekend on your computer or wide-screen TV: Global Dance TV.
Here are last night’s Awards for Thursday Pro-Am routines (awards for Thursday Jack and Jills will be announced Saturday night.)
1st Sharon Her with Ben McHenry
2nd Desie Damaso with Stephen White
3rd Tish Varletti with Doug Silton
1st Cameron Crook with Sarah Vann Drake
2nd Chris Brown with Taletha Jouzdani
3rd Robert McChesney with Yvonne Wayne
Tonight began with Masters Strictly:
Opening All-Skate to “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay;\”
Jam to “Get Up, Get Down, Get Funky, Get Loose”
Final All-Skate to “Natural Man.”
Novice JJ Finals (sorry about names of finalists in Novice – I missed names in this division)
Judges: Dani, Michael and Amber Cross, Mary Ann, Martin, Carmen, Jim Tigges, and Chief Judge Yvonne)
1. Matthew and Joy to “The Way I Are”
2. Blake and Larisse/Clarisse/Maurice/Kellese to “Stomp You Like A Memory”
3. Sacramento (maybe Trista?) and a Frenchman to “In My Head”
4. (oops didn’t get either of these names) to “Freeze The Moment”
5. Connor and Marissa to “I Just Want To Know”
6. Alexandra and somebody to “Wait For You”
7. Somebody and somebody else to “Fatal Love”
8. Jose and Davinia (Dubruvitch?uppavitch?Ruvdubwawchich?) to “Let It Rock”
9. Jerry and Vanessa to “Strobe Lights”
10. Diego and Henessey to “I Won’t Tell”
Intermediate JJ Finals
Judges: Crosses, Mary Ann, Dani, Martin, Carmen, Jim, and CJ Yvonne
1. David Guido (Cali) and HaeLa ne Reula (France!) to “I Want To Know Who You Are”
2. Justin Zadro (Oz) and Kristin Humphrey (Arizona) to “Don’t Need It”
3. Matt Richey (Cali) and Maelle Jacoulet (France) to “Cause I Said So”
4. Thomas Carter (Arizona) and Rehanna Loncar (Arizona) to “Baby Please Don’t Go”
5. Jonathan Uy (Oz) and Cintia Fiaschi (Brasil) to “Forever”
6. Barry Carothers (Texas) and Samia Amrani (Cali) to “Damaged”
7. Michael Shibasaki (Canada) and Larisa Tingle (Cali) “Brokenhearted”
8. Michael Picard (Denver) and Marina Motronenko (Moscow) “Stuttering”
9. Chris Brown (Texas) and Rachel Cureton (Oz) “Own This Club”
10. Frank Blakemore (Pennsylvania) and Caroline Reyhae (France) “Dynamite”
All-Skate to “Baby What You Want Me To Do” and “She’s A Bad Mamma Jamma”
Advanced and Allstar in a few minutes ….
Seating at the Open is arranged a little differently than at other events. Two rows of chairs along the floor level itself, a row of box-seat tables above these and six rows of risers behind these.
Yesterday the entire left half of the floor – the first row of seats right on the floor – was filled with 30-40 screaming cheering Frenchies jumping up and waving a collection of French flags every time a compatriot walked onto the floor – in other words every five minutes all day long.
Down on the other end the entire right half of the floor was screaming cheering Russians waving Russian flags and jumping up cheering every time a Russian walked onto the floor, also every five minutes.
In the middle of the floor a smaller group of Brasilians (don’t know if more are due to show up today) and as I’ve said before when it comes to boisterous enthusiasm one Brasilian is equal to seven Europeans combined.
So it was a loud energetic day with ridiculously great dancing at the lower levels as well as Advanced and Allstar.
So much fun to have these rowdy competitive international crowds here! It does feel like the World Cup.
Advanced Jack and Jill Finals
1. Arnaud Perga (France) with Lisa Toepel (Denver) to “Release” (Timbaland)
2. Maxime Zzaoui (France) with Irina Amzashvill (Irvine) to “Me U And The Music”
3. Clint Glasgow (Oz) with Virginie Perga (France) to “Dancing In The Dark” (Dev)
4. Ewan Dupre (Montreal via France) with Terra Deva (California) to “Give Me Everything” (Pitbull)
5. Sebastien (France) with Izabella Kowalska (Budapest) to “Wild Ones” (Sia)
6. Edson Modesto (Brasil) with Emmeline (France) to “Closer” (Ne-Yo)
7. Shane Mcintyre (Colorado) with Beverly Brunerie (France) to “Only Girl” (Rihanna)
8. Brady (Oz) with Katia Avlasevich (Moscow) to “Little Bad Girl” (David Guetta)
9. Lee and Fabienne (UK routine partners! they drew each other hahaha) to oops didn’t get the song …
And the All-Skate to “Best You Ever Had” and “Move Across The River”
MELINA IS PREGNANT! Melina and Scott are going to have a baby! YAAAY! And I think I’ve mentioned but if not: Bridget is pregnant too! Arjay and Bridget are going to have a baby! Yaaay Yaaaay double triple yay!!
Heading down for the competitors’ meeting … Allstar finals in a few …
What a Showcase!
People shaking their heads in complete disbelief, tears in their eyes, just stunned. The division ended and the place exploded with people running around everywhere exclaiming how this was the best Showcase they’ve ever seen, ever, crowds of people in the aisles, the halls, the lobby, the bar, the restaurant, the elevators – the place was just buzzing with amazed excited delighted energy.
What a show!
For starters, there were seventeen couples! This may have been the largest Showcase in 30 years. A few couples who were a little weak, could have used more time to clean up and strengthen their performances. But every other routine was so strong, so interesting, so different one from the other. I wouldn’t know how to begin to judge between them.
And then there were the top couples who were simply fantastic. The music choices this year are superb. Choreography has turned a corner – with this division it is clear that our dance has taken a huge leap forward.
And then. Benji and Torri.
“Flabbergasted” is the only word that comes to mind.
I turned to see behind me an entire table of people looking like they’d been hit by a stun-gun or witnessed an alien spaceship landing in the ballroom. Genieboy said “What Was THAT? I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT I JUST SAW!”
Watch it on TV! I recommend springing for the $35 for full online access. You will watch these routines, mesmerized, over and over again – I guarantee it!
I will give lengthier descriptions in a later Update but for now (before we run down for strictlys and Classic semis) here’s the speedy summary:
1. Scott and Marina to “HIgher” (Taio Cruz acoustic version) – he’s strong, she’s gorgeous, quick and bendy
2. Brett and Tara, “Northwest of Ju Ju” – wonderful guitar and drum instrumental, complex rythms, small precise subtle movements, silences filled with dance, dramatic end
3. Eddie and Elyse, “Something’s Got A Hold On Me” – double cartwheels smooth and controlled while in the air, as if they slow down and get graceful at what should be the most awkward part of a cartwheel.
4. Myles and Tessa, “Let’s Get It On” (some marvelous acoustic soulful version) – got to be the sexiest, most soulful, romantic, heartfelt interpretation of this song ever.
5. Luis and Jenn, “Fight For Me” what a difference two weeks makes! Her quicknessb and confidence have just changed the routine completely since the last time we saw it.
6. Stephen and Sabrina, “Somewhere With You” like fluffy white fur and feathers flying through the air – Sabrina’s platinum hair is longer now and looks fabulous whipping around – so dramatic
7. Robert and Nicola, “Mercy” (Duffy, but an even more raw acoustic version) – BAD ASS! Best they’ve ever danced, ever. They got 15 years younger overnight. Energetic, dancerly posture, best lines and control we’ve seen them accomplish.
8. Sebastien and Laura, “Dream On” he’s sexier and stronger than Arnold Schwarzenegger, she’s a ballerina with shockingly long limbs and extensions and the most gorgous costume ever
9. Ronnie and Laureen, “Bring It On Home” by Sister Hazel what great music what great choreography what awesome interpretation what terrific costumes what a joyful couple aughghgh!
10. Rob and Connie, “I Feel Good” – they TORE it up! Best they’ve ever danced it. Little teeny tiny Connie is a powerhouse. The audience laughing and clapping thoughout, leaped to their feet in a standing ovation at the end. (Saw Rob immediately after and he was so pleased he couldn’t even talk, all he could do was make dopey laugh-grunt sounds, shaking his shoulders up and down.)
11. Didier and Blandine “You May Not Want To Listen To Music Again” terrific song, terrific choreography, she is a STUNNING dancer, mesmerizing
12. BENJI AND TORRI OHHHH MY GOD! DANCING FROM ANOTHER PLANET!
13. Rome and Chevy, “Dog Days” I love this routine! I love this song! I love her blonde hair! I love their new elegant velvet and gold Victorian-meets-Hollywood costumes! Her power and control! So so glad to see them dancing in Classic!
14. Greg and Lemery, “In Your Eyes” – gorgeous dramatic operatic piece, strings, long stretching silences, tearful pauses, moves from far corner of the floor to the other, ending precisely in the center. The DC community has now seen this twice in the last two weeks, to tears and standing ovations. All of DC is watching with high expectations for this routine.
15. Ben Hooten and Deborah Szekely, “I’m Bad” – Deborah looks like a teenager! So cute with perky red hair and her crinkly little smile. Adorable routine.
16. Arnaud and Maelle, “Heartless” another adorable French couple with quick sharp movements, sweet routine.
17. Patrick and Lisa, rghgh forgetting the song at the moment but man is she sexy. She has one of those sway backs and rolling hips that were made to do west coast swing.
Sorry just got called down … charging out of here late as usual without editing hope no typos …..
Classic semis now AUGHGHGH this is way too much fun the most fun ever in my entire life ever I’m having time of my life I love this dance ….
NASDE rules will be changed for 2013.
Member events will double their contribution to the prize fund which will mean $24,000 paid out as the year-end award (or $26,000 if there are 13 member events.)
In addition, NASDE will set a standard for judging panels (the NASDE Judging Standard) the key points being:
- No fewer than seven judges for Classic and Showcase
- No more than three judges from the same club/region/studio
- No couples (i.e. married or unmarried partners)
- At least half of the panel must have competed in NASDE Classic or Showcase
- No more than three will be NASDE event directors
- A code of conduct to include (among other factors):
Judges will not discuss or make public their scores or preferences before awards are announced;
Discussion after awards are to take place in an appropriate place and manner
These and other decisions were reaches at an extended NASDE meeting held this morning at the Open. This will mark the first increase in member contribution and prize money in thirteen years and is expected to be followed by further increases and much larger year end awards. This measure is intended to strengthen the stature and of NASDE, to attract the best of the best, and further the goal of ensuring that NASDE is the standard of excellence in the West Coast Swing community, continuing the tradition that the NASDE tour crowns the best west coast dancers in the world.
These and other changes are to be announced tonight after Classic and are expected to create quite a buzz.
FINALISTS JUST POSTED!
Sean and Sarah
Jordan and Melissa
Maxime and Alyssa
Michael Kielbasa and Virginie Grondin
Robert Royston and Deborah Szekely
Benji and Patty
Kyle and Tatiana
Maxence and Jill Demarco
Ben Morris and Torri
Gregory Lebedev and Katia
Diego and Jessica
Arnaud and Estelle
Rob Jackson and Heather Powers
Andrew Opychral and Cintia Fiaschi
Zsigmond Marias and Izabella Kowalska
JB and Elise
Hugo and Kara
Warren and Irina
Stephen White and Dawne Kiehm
James J and Chevy
Lee and Joanna
Ryan and Janelle
Reginald Beason and Blandine
alt Sheven and Jenn Pasetes
Classic Finalists (we saw 31 classic routines today in semis! astounding day!):
Maxime and Virginie Perga
Luis and Taletha
Jordan and Tatiana
Sebastien and Blandine
Brent and Kellese
Shaheed and Rachele
Lee and Fabienne
Clint and MacKenzie
Ronnie and Brandi
John Kirkonnel and Alyssa
Sean and Courtney
Gary and Susan
Ben and Cameo
Arthur and Colleen
Kyle and Sarah
Running down for Masters!
Running down for Young America, Young Adult and Cabaret!
Last night’s Classic was OFF. THE. CHAIN. Jordan and Tatiana’s new Tron reflective-tape routine they are SUPER-HUMANS AUGHGHGHGH!! Ronnie and Brandi’s GORGEOUS story-telling!! Kyle and Sarah’s funk! Sebastien and Blandine so so French angst STUNNING searingly beautiful new one, Sean and Courtney, Brent and Kellese! AUGHGHGH!, … so many new ones so much to tell about!
Phil Adams and “Cameo’s mom and dad” (The Crosses) inducted into Hall of Fame …
31 Classic routines yesterday afternoon – THIRTY ONE! Most of which should have made the cut into finals. I’m not joking, it really was like that. That strong.
Jack and Jill winners were announced (for Novice, Inter, and Advanced) but I wasn’t in the ballroom so missed them – they’ll be posted tonight after Awards …
Okay, down to see the new up and coming superstars – the juniors!
Oh, and do not scuff the floor in this hotel’s restaurant. More about this later.
1st Place Jordan and Tatiana
2 Ronnie and Brandi
3 Kyle and Sarah
4 Gary and Susan
5 Maxime and Virginie Perga
1st Place Benji and Torri
2 Myles and Tessa
3 Ronnie and Laureen
4 Rob and Connie
5 Rome and Chevy
1st Place Chris and Nicole
2 Ludavich and Beverly
3 Josh and Anyssa
5 Akil and Alexis
1st Place Gary and Susan
2 Ethan and Nicki
3 Ronnie and Brandi
4 TDC Senior Company
5 David Weise and Melissa Rutz
1st Place Bill and Lorraine
2 Warren and Laurie
3 Tom and Rhonda
4 Chips and Janice
5 Wayne and Cindy
1st Place Kurt and Heather
2 Luis and Joanna
3 Kevin and Tammy
4 Shane and Keri
5 Tom and Sossy
1st Place The Fly Rights
2 Thunder from Down Under
3 LA Shag
4 Project Swing
1st Place Ben and Torri
2 Jordan and Melissa
3 Robert Royston and Deborah
4 Maxime and Alyssa
5 Benji and Patty
1st Place Reginald Beason and Blandine
2 Ryan and Janelle
3 JB and Elise
4 Hugo and Kara
5 Joanna and Lee
1st Place Cameron and Nicole
2 Akil and Victoria
3 Josh and Beverly
4 Chris and Hannah
5 Steven Guido and Anyssa
1st Place Warren and Peggy
2 Louis and Bess
3 Gary Thompson and Laurie Schaeffer
4 Don Welch and Lorraine
5 Martin Brown and Milly
1st Place Stephen White and Nicole Clonch
2 Shaheed and Malia
3 Diego and Sabrina
US Open suitcases still not unpacked!
Chico was this past weekend! We heard it was wild and hilarious as always – a December revelry in the ancient Roman/Christian Christmas tradition.
Youtube videos of this year’s routines are beginning to surface so you may now have seen the fantastic array of Showcase, Classic, and Junior/Sophisticated/Masters routines we can look forward to enjoying around the international circuit.
Jordan and Tatiana’s 1st Place Winner (they’re ten time US Open Winners – longest anyone has ever held the title) - “Somebody That I Used To Know” in sleek black and brilliant neon yellow. Who knew that effulgent yellow reflective tape could adorn a neck so beautifully? Tatiana looks stunning. They both do – these are beautiful people. They roll and undulate across the stage organically, like a dangerous animal – or two dangerous animals – alternately threatening and cooperating with each other. He advances ominously, she moves back only so much, the coordination of space between their bodies precisely choreographed so that both are powerful but he always moreso. She drives into his chest, her legs sliding backwards as if pushing through cement. At every moment we have at least one set of eyes on us – with them you always feel clear, clean communication from the instant they turn to face you at the back of the stage till they drop to the floor at the end. They are impossibly fast, impossibly slow. I love Tatiana’s sideways head-leans perfectly parallel to the floor, love her long neck. Her pirouettes landing hard and suddenly one leg stretched across his back, both staring at us, “in-your-face” mode. Scary wonderful, theatrical. Love that their fingers dance! Fingers! Love his hand across her mouth. Choreography that is subtle, forceful, and deeply insightful. This routine is superhero, traditional swing, MTV, art-house, animation, international – appealing to every age and demographic, lovers of every genre.
Ronnie and Brandi’s second place winner, “Draw You,” a sweet, sad story that draws you in from the first guitar strings, so rich, every moment so expressive and filled with meaning that they couldn’t have been any clearer had they been speaking to us with voices. A routine that is theater as much as dance, a play with two characters, a journey. They are so clean! Smart, understated, technically beautiful, and grabs your heartstrings.
Kyle and Sarah’s third place win, “Come Alive,” another of their signature combinations of down-and-dirty funk performed with control, smoothness and speed; and their famous quickness – lightning quick footwork and their ability to hit the large and small bits so fast you almost can’t see how they get there. He weaves his hand diagonally down her body as she does a diagonal full-body roll. The first thing we ever heard about Sarah, years ago, was that this tiny little thing had appeared on the west coast swing circuit, performing magician’s acts of levitation in which she executed funky horizontal body rolls suspended in mid-air. Sarah’s hips! A thing of beauty.
Gary and Susan in fourth place with the Beatles’ “Maybe.” Elegant lines, shapes, precision, grace, and a perfect matching of movement to the ethos of the song. These two are eye-candy, handsome and beautiful, tall, thin, accomplished in other genres in addition to west coast, the lifetime of training and expertise more than apparent.
In fifth place surprise winners and audience favorites Maxime and Virginie, from Lyon France, dancing to “Down The Road.” These are firecrackers, these two, with an infectious joy and enthusiasm, utterly comfortable on stage and having so much fun prancing around out there you find yourself laughing with delight. These two were born to perform. Clean, quick, gorgeous technique, humor … and most of all happy happy happy. Is this the first non-North American couple to place in the top five? Congratulations and Félicitations!
US Open 2012 Young Adult Placements, corrected version:
1st Place Chris and Nicole
2 Josh and Anyssa – AND – Ludovic and Beverly
4 Tommy Brodie and Monica Garcia
5 Akil and Alexis
I had previously ommitted Tommy and Monica! I blame my computer for deleting a line of text. My apologies! This is Tommy and Monica’s first routine and first time on the US Open floor – they were beautiful!
As for the 2nd Place tie: An error was made in judging in which a line of Josh and Anyssa’s song was misinterpreted as inappropriate (it’s difficult to hear lyrics in any case and with all the yelling and cheering nearly impossible) and this mis-hearing resulted in a violation which caused them to be dropped down by a placement. The mistake was rectified by restoring Josh and Anyssa to second place alongside Ludovic and Beverly, with appropriate points, trophies, and prize monies awarded.
Much more to tell! What a great Open this year!