SATURDAY NIGHT! Emcee for the night Braaaaaaay-yent (that’s Kellese calling) Key in a spiffy red bow-tie and matching shoes, hot!
1. Hugo and Stacy, dancing to “Wild One” – super fast, young styling and choreography, clean, relaxed, great chemistry! You see their eyes a lot – wide-open, communicating constantly with us and each other. Gorgeous couple dancing with one voice – look almost lke brother and sister they’re so well-matched in body type and facial features.
2. Mike Davis and Angie Jones, dancing to an “E.T.” dance remix. Angie’s movement so strong! Powerful! She can throw her arm and hit a precise location in space without the slightest quiver.
3. Ben McHenry and Cameo, “Too Close” (Alex Clare) HOLY SHAMOLY CAMEO-O-O! Astonishing! Her extensions, her sideways bends, her neck, her lines! The drama in this routine! Gorgeous! Keeps getting better every time we see it.
4. Hieu Le and Natalie Gorg, “Sad” (Maroon 5) – New for us! Glidingly lovely, slow, ballet-like, Natalie’s graceful head, neck and arms; their control; LOVE this choreography (was so mesmerized I didn’t look for swing – was there? I would think so since choreography in these parts – I’m guessing this was either Auclair or Marker choreo – would be solidly based in swing. But I sure wasn’t thinking about swing content while watching – just swept away by the loveliness of it, the beauty of their movement, the shapes.)
5. Michael and Amy Shibasaki dancing to an acoustic version (or cover) of Drake and Rihanna’s “I’ll Take Care of You.” Adorable couple! Sweet routine, tentative movements among moments flying across the floor. They’re small, pretty people, flitting around the floor like two quick, pretty birds.
6. Matt and Crystal, “You Don’t Know Me.” Every time we see this a whole new group tell us about being brought to tears. This routine does that to you. Well, not to me anymore – all it does for me is make me nearly choke to death trying to stifle laughter, focusing hard on Crystal instead of of Matt’s funny face, enjoying Crystal’s gorgeous movement knowing that later I’ll get to watch Brennar who’s also pretty, in a different sort of way. But even I get choked up. The routine is beautiful!
The end is the killer.
“You’ll never know the one that loves you so,” [your heart is breaking - you want to explode with tears]
“Said you’ll never know the one that loves you so,” [they're dancing faster and faster and now you are in fact going to explode with tears]
“No you’ll never, never know” [okay that's it, you're crying]
“Cause ba-byyyyy…” [Rip my heart out! Are you serious? 40 pirouettes? Into a sad dropped head? Followed by silence? And 40 pirouettes back in the other direction? Yeah, they got you good, you're sobbing, slobbering all over yourself]
And then, just to put the knife all the way in, it doesn’t end. It hits that last “You …”
Then hits you again “Don’t…”
And hits a third time “Knowww Me-e-e-e-e!!!”
Three unbearable gut-wrenching heartaching final hits – the audience going wild with the tension buildup jumping up crying like babies, cheering and crying.
What an ending! Yep, that there is one great piece of choreography.
7. The Markers! Jason and Annemarie, dancing to “Creep” Oh man they KILLED it! Best they’ve ever danced this, ever, gorgeous dancing! Thrashing across the floor, flailing, frustrated explosive outbursts – then dramatic silences – drops, reaches, falls. Passionate dancing at its best, so very much their own voice, their expression of themselves undiluted. Talk about an audience going wild! Sheeeeeeesh. The Markers are beloved, on and off the dance floor.
Next, RISING STAR!
I have to say this was the best Rising Star division we’ve seen. Many of these routines are more than ready for Classic, to put it mildly. What a surprise to be at a smaller comp like this (although at 600 Michigan no longer qualifies a “small comp,” does it?) and discover eleven gorgeous, clean, smart, creative routines we didn’t even know were in the works.
1. Levi Laroco and Melissa Moy dancing to “Arms” (Christina Perri) – we’ve been watching this all year get better – now SO clean! Starts slow, builds up getting fast, lovely soft, gentle choreography, level changes, on-the-floor movements, zillion “Kodak Moments” as Skippy would call them.
2. Sammy Powers and Heather Fronczak dancing to “Mad” (acoustic cover by J.R.A.) A routine which was so dramatic, such great story-telling, almost felt more like theater than dance. Quiet choreography full of subtle small movements, silences, emotional outbursts. Heather’s hips! Gawd. Dangerous.
3. Jay Tsai and Katia Grigoriants, “Hello It’s Me” (Sister Hazel) – smooth, clean, competent, recognizable west coast swing! Two strong dancers first time out on the floor (they took 5th place!) Saw Katia earlier in the day and asked if she was having fun. “Yes. Except that I’m about to throw up because we’re dancing tonight.” If she was scared it didn’t show.
4. Michael Saloka and Nicole Zwerlein, “Feel Again” (One Republic.) NEW! Even better than their 2012 routine which was great! Geee Or Gee Us choreography. Looks like Marker artistry – all kinds of fast and slow, complicated dips, twisty drops, complex rythms, BLAZING FAST triples everywhere. Beautiful! And clean!
All the Rising Star routines were so clean. Amazing! These mid-west guys must be hard workers – it’s not easy to make a routine show so well the first time out on the floor. We are impressed.
5. Mordecai Fayas and Lauren Assaf, “What A Feeling” (Alex Gaudino and Kelly Rowland), Holy Shamoly! A Showcase routine! We sure weren’t expecting him to drop her to within a millimeter from the ground; or for her to do a hand-stand up onto his shoulders! Holy mackerel These guys are great! Superbly clean and controlled! Spins, turns, slot-angle changes, eating up the floor! The shapes, the sweet drop at the end, wow! A stunner, rewarded with a first place win.
6. Kyle and Aimy Patel, “Sexy And I Know It” (Noah cover.) This one we’ve seen once before and love it – they’re so funny! Faces full of mischief and fun – they look out at you inviting you to join them laughing at their jokes. On “I work out” she lands on the floor for a series of sexy one-handed push-ups, on “wiggle wiggle wiggle” she’s crouched low, her back turned looking out with the most devilish expression as she wiggle-wiggle-wiggles her butt for us. Two pirouettes to three low pot-stirrers? Not an easy routine but they make it look like effortless. Beautiful final pose – she in a center splits facing him, her back to the audience. Second place win!
7. Frank Blakemore and Faith Musko, “Love Struck” (Vs Factory) Another we’ve now seen a few times and man, how clean and relaxed it’s looking now.
I’m harping on the “clean” thing because these Rising Star routines were just that. Noticeably clean for new routines. Well-rehearsed, all of them.
This one is fast, slow, full of beautifully executed spins, drops, speeding footwork. It flies, ending with Faith in a full front-splits in the final pose. Love the slashy neon yellow/hot pink costume created and hand-sewn by Faith herself.
8. Jim and Joanna Chisholm – and oops oh my gosh I don’t remember their song! Think I was too stunned to notice music when a few seconds into the dance up she goes above Jim’s head into a full spinning hip-lift! My jaw just dropped. This is a Rising Star routine?!? This routine is fully Showcase-worthy. They soar across the floor dressed in glittery white, like a pair of angels. Lovely stretches and expansions. She does a hand-stand – he grabs one leg and lifts her by one leg above his head. Sheesh. Wish I had the names for these lovely movements.
Joanna tells me they wear white because the routine was born as their wedding dance (they are newly married! September!) and re-choreographed by Malia to add difficulty and conform to Showcase/Rising Star rules. Joanna smiled throughout, completely calm and relaxed. Jim, on the other hand, somewhat calm and relaxed. Till the end, when one shirttail came hanging out and he began to look a little peaked. Little bit disheviled, mildly traumatized. Not a lot, just enough to be funny and make you feel for the guy throwing his new wife through the air in their first routine hahaha.
Oh good! Joanna has just messaged me! The song (their wedding song!) is “Longing For” by the Ballas Hough Band.
9. Pam and Brian Bennett, “Bright Lights” (Cee Lo Green) another we’ve seen a few times already, at this point very clean and strong. Love the beginning choreography most of all, really cool opening. They took third place!
10. Chris Edwards and Amy Lee, “Hazy” (Rosi Golan) another we’ve seen a few times – love this choreography! The way their feet move so subtly, doing triples to finish sentences, every other body part so quiet, so still. The syncopated rythms, her effortless splits, her grace.
11. Jonathan Regan and Stevie Bliss, “Crazy” (Ray LaMontagne) I’m guessing more Marker choreography with its characteristic contrasts of speed interspersed with extreme quiet moments of little or no movement. Or maybe it’s Matt and Crystal? Somebody up that way is choreographing some remarkable stuff – this routine another in a whole division full of beautiful work.
Not only choreography up there, but coaching, too. Some fantastic coaching must be occurring because all the Rising Star couples are progressing rapidly and doing it correctly in body and attitude as they go. They seem to “get” the essence of west coast swing. And appear to be trained in proper technique from the beginning so understand the importance of posture, stretch, that the dance is about connection, communication. Somebody up there is teaching well.
You can see all these routines here. Becky Larson was the videographer for Michigan Classic – her work is beautiful. Purchase her DVD’s of the event and see routines, opening ceremonies, jack and jills, shows, workshops – the entire event! – at her website, “Moments of Dance”
My pictures can be found on my facebook page where I upload photos from each event into a separate album. Haven’t uploaded any from Michigan yet but sooooon!
Omgawd. The shoes at this event! AUGHGHGH!
Hyperventilating, heart-attack inducing, just-kill-me-now shoes!
- Shoshi’s 6″ shiny turquoise patent-leather peep-toes!
- Cameo’s 5″ cream wedge Mary Jane pumps!
- Kellese’s bombastic Lady Gaga-esque black and metallic-gold boot-like wedged Chuck Taylor high-tops AUGHGH!
- Crystal’s 5″ red spike-heel suede pumps!
- Colleen’s cork and pewter 6″ wedge sandals (with a polka-dot top AUGHGH!)
- Sabrina’s 6″ strappy spike-heeled glittery black Kiss-Me’s!
The shoes showing up at events lately are SICK! Buck! Bitchin! KK! Prussia! Wickedawlsome! ATPM!
Or, as Edson Modesto from Brasil recently said, “SUCK Great!”
Lots more still to tell about Michigan! …