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11,000 u-stream viewers watched MadJam on Sunday afternoon! From every continent, all around the world!
Chris and Nicole, “A-W-E-S-O-M-E” (Jason Mraz) So fast, so funny, so fast, so playful, so fast, so witty, and so FAST! I could watch this over and over with a big grin on my face. Brilliant choreography, gorgeous execution. Here they are debuting this year’s winner at the Open.
2nd Josh and Anyssa, “Good Feeling” (Busta Rhymes remix) Superstars on the rise, placing in every jack and jill and strictly they enter, and winning the Juniors division, with this routine, last October at Boogie. Here they are earlier this year at ACC.
3rd Kyler and Whitney Brown, “Dock of The Bay” (Otis Redding) and “Sittin’ On The Boatdock” (Fatback Deluxe) west coast and shag! Their quick feet! Their lines! Her spins are off the chain (I heard a bunch of leaders laughing about trying to do pirouette finger-spins with her an their hand and arm not being able to keep up the speed of her turns – she’s CRAZY fast! Whitney’s got the “it” factor – watch out world, she’s here. Oh and yes, if you were wondering she is one of TWO gifted daughters of beautiful, beloved Gina Amato Brown – both daughters clearly inherited their mother’s talent. The next few years are going to be fun, watching these two! Here’s the routine at ACC earlier this year.
4th Akil and Alexis, “Shake It Up” (Selena Gomez) and speaking of beautiful daughters inheriting their parents’ talent – Alexis (and younger sister Taylor) are the lucky inheritors of Dean and Dawn Garrish’s “entertainer genes” born to perform, to be happiest in a crowd, to be so attractive there should be a law against you, and to go through life making people laugh. Alexis has her mother’s face and expressions, her dad’s height, and her own sense of grace and balletic movement. Her partner Akil has been an audience favorite in routines as well as social-dance competitions from the day that he smiled through the front doors of our Cherry Hill dance one Friday night only a few years ago. When Akil walks through a door his smile enters first, the rest of his body following after. Here they are last October.
1. Lindsey Nastos wowing the audience (and receiving a standing ovation) with her gorgeous heart-rending modern piece: “Give Me Love” (Ed Sheeran) Here is this beautiful creation.
2. Marya Wallace and Taje Lowe, “Fireball” (Willow Smith) in hot-pink ruffle-skirts, neon-striped knee-socks over black leggings, sparkly Chuck Taylors, and braids – ridiculously adorable sweet little girls hip-hopping and bouncing all over the stage like matching candy-covered cupcakes. Watch them here.
3. Kurt and Heather “Close Your Eyes” (James Taylor) with their lovely, graceful, sweet, perfectly choreographed Nightclub Two-Step. So nice to see Kurt bring his Country background and Heather her lifetime in ballet to the west coast competition floor. Gorgeous couple. Here they are.
What a blast this division was! Like a shot of 5-Hour-Energy-Drink coming just at the right time at the tail-end of the weekend.
1. Role Play in lime green, neon purple, and black, in checkerboard and diagonal stripes, “Do You Remember” (Pitbull and Glee), everybody leading and following, boys and girls and purples and greens all morphing in and out and amongst each other in beautiful shapes like a colony of amoebas oozing across a slide in biology class.
2. Capital Swing in black and gold animal prints, “Dinner At The Sugarbush” (Brent Lewis) (a piece of music so brilliant for a team routine – huge credit to Dawn for finding and choosing this), thumpy, “call-and-response” style choreography filled with jokes, wit, attitude, and boatloads of “Oh yeah? Watch THIS!” moments. Great routine.
3. Love To Dance in black and shiny metallic blue, a smooth and sexy DC hand-dance team, to Michael Jackson’s “Come Together” and “Leave Me Alone.”
4. DC Swing, “Play That Funky Music” (Wild Cherry) in which they did the “sprinkler” and got a roar, whistles, and a spontaneous standing ovation from the crowd, who never sat down again after this. These guys are not old but they *played* old – selling it as if they were a bunch of old geezers funking it up ghetto-style – pretty hilarious. Fun routine!
5. Swinging In The Rain (from San Diego – Arjay and Katie , in neon green and hot-pink, tops, wristbands, and ties to 80′s classics “Push It,” “Bust A Move,” “Sweet Dreams” and “Livin’ On A Prayer” – high-spirited and fabulous! The audience went crazy insane, the French contingent actually jumping up and down and yelling to the beat in unison from start to finish. You couldn’t sit still for this – so much fun!
MadJam was great this year. We live here so we’ve been every year, and have watched it grow from very small to pretty daggone big. Not sure what the final numbers were this year but it was big. Too big for the ballroom, really – the floor was fine but seating was difficult. I’m still hearing comments about how great the floor was – anyone who competed on it this year loved the backdrop, the freaky-great spotlighting, and the amazing energy created by allowing audience members to sit on the floor for routine and spotlight divisions.
However. We also heard a lot of griping that sitting on the floor you weren’t able to see a thing if you’re a short person or had too many rows sitting in front of you. And that there was nowhere to sit at all if you wanted an actual chair. Seats on either side of the ballroom were completely obstructed by the crowds of competitors and staff lining up there – these seats ended up empty for much of the event. Seats at the front of the ballroom were few and were appropriated and “marked” (like cat-spray) early in the event. Much of the weekend was standing-room only which doesn’t work for everybody.
Venues for our events are hard to find, especially as our dance gains in international popularity and the comps get bigger. This hotel may be the best that’s available in DC.
An event director is lucky if he lives in a city with
- a convention center
- near an airport
- which is affordable
- with a gigantic ballroom
- with wiring, structures, and codes to allow for stage and spot lighting, screens, streaming
- great guest rooms
- an all-hours affordable buffet
- friendly hotel staff
- who can accommodate our weird sleeping/eating/sweating patterns
Event directors try so hard to get it right, and it’s not easy. I’m glad they do what they do so the rest of us have places all over the world where we can go play for four days and nights.
Five cases of laryngitis during MadJam! Total laryngitis, too, these folks could only whisper. People said it was a virus but I don’t think so. I think it was five cases of Yelling-Your-Head-Off cheering for friends.
And a lot of laughing.
What a fun weekend!
“Well it’s kind of everywhere, the entire hotel is MadJam.” Hal Greenwald, lost in the empty lobby, had asked, “where is MadJam?”
“Everything’s MadJam. See over there? That line of computers and stations is the registration area – that’ll be buzzing in an hour. There’s the ballroom – floor is already down, backdrop and lighting are up, they’re building the sound system and seating now. Jordan and Tatiana for the opening kickoff workshop at 8 o’clock JORDAN AND TATIANA RIGHT HERE IN DC! AWESOME! WAY TOO AWESOME! Oh what a big weekend this is gonna be! What a pro lineup this year! Impossible to get all these guys these top Champion dancers together in one place they’re always travelling hither thither and yon everywhere in the world it’s like trying to keep cats in a damn box whew this many top pros all at once! right here in DC sheesh what a weekend what a weekend. Hotel sold out in October we almost didn’t get a room! Thank you Kiona thank you Wayne Wisdom! thank you for thinking of us this would not be the weekend to miss holy shamoly so many of our friends coming over from Europe cause here on east coast usa it’s the same distance from Europe as from California so we always get a crowd from France and uk, and eastern europe, and russia and OMG the lighting at Dave’s events! Moody nightclub noirish trancey great photographs with extreme light and shadow and some photos like you were shooting in a watery blue aquarium or an irradiated fantasy land of dancing smurfs oh yeah and the closed-circuit TV! You can watch the ballroom in your hotel room 24/7 all day all night fall asleep to silent silhouettes floating back and forth back and forth across a glowing purple backdrop what a weekend what a weekend what a weekend.”
Looks like not much hustle on the program this year unlike last year and the year before and the many years before. Don’t throw a shoe at me – here’s my opinion: Yippee less hustle! The less the better is my opinion. Those interminable hustle heats! A person could keel right over and pass out from endless air jabs and disco music. But I will say: I would like Erica Smith to model her hustle outfits which if you put all her hustle outfits in a pile you could stuff them into one of my socks. But who’s looking at her clothes, anyway? Nobody is looking at Erica’s clothes.
Smoke machines! Multi-colored light-shows on the walls! What a night of dancing!
PACKED ballroom last night, jammed until the last 25 dancers left to have breakfast at 6am. Louis and Helen – music was crazy great!
We walked out into the lobby at 1:30am to find a small city of bleary-eyed bed-headed black-coated Europeans and Asians clutching pillows, dragging suitcases staring into space passively zombie-like beaten down the way you get from a day in airports waiting to check in at the front desk and in lines at the registration table. MadJam is using the cool new ipad system (Chris Palmieri’s creation) we saw last summer at Swing Fling. Super cool (tied to the scoring system too, I think, which is even cooler – you sign your agreement on an ipad how cool is that!) but not super fast. Yet, anyway. I’m sure she’ll keep working on it.
Great energy here today! We’ve been watching pro-ams from morning till now in our room and on tv’s around every corner in the hotel. The lobby’s been humming with people all day – crowds at the front desk, crowds at the registration tables, crowds on the lobby floor taking private lessons, crowds in the shoe-hall buying shoes (Shoshi worked yesterday from 7am till 1am when they finally closed shop – she lost her voice from talking to customers 18 hours non-stop.)
The zillion dollar question: How are 1,600 people going to fit into this ballroom? There’s a second floor outside the ballroom (where the bar used to be – which is what the rennovation was: removal of the bar and remodeling of the hotel restaurant – the ballroom and guest rooms have not been redone) so maybe if the ballroom floor gets crowded some people will move out to the lobby? We shall see! The floor doesn’t look huge but I’ve learned that the apparent size of a floor can be deceptive and the actual size is often way smaller or way huger than it looks. Tonight’s late-nite dancing will tell the tale!
Impromptu zouk and bachata demonstrations tonight in the club lounge! The waitress was loving it but moved the couple away from the food when the wild hair-whips started flinging carrot sticks, celery and pot-stickers at the diners (just kidding. But she did move the couple. Cause the wild hair whips were actually whipping food across the room. No just kidding.)
I had the most incredible one-and-one-half-handed massage today. Melissa Greene – smart, superbly sensitive, talented massage therapist – fell on her hand last night and busted half of it. The other half performed magic – can’t overemphasize enough. She’s here all weekend – grab some time if you can!
1st Place Luis and Heather
2 Ken Roesel and Lisa Schaupp
3 Kurt Senser and Kristin Wenger
4 Gary Jobst and Sue Lambell
1st Place Jean Pierre Sachs and Christelle Ouvrad
2 Tze Ming Wee and Krystal Symbolin
3 Blaine and Miki Schultz
4 Mairon Batista and Vanessa Sorres
5 Dave and Gina
1st Place Pavel Pavlov and Olga Usmanova
2 Ramero Royster and Veronica Castilla
3 Casey Miller and Tatiana Zavyalova
4 Miguel Valle and Nadia Serova
5 Corey Flowers and Cat Silvers
1st Place Grigory Lebedev and Kat Aulasevich
2 Jerome Fernandez Irina Puzanova
3 Hugo Miguez and Lindsey Nastos
4 Reginald Beason and Linda Cuccio
5 Akil Boatwright and Whitney Brown
… and the most AMAZING Open Strictly … seriously astonishing dancing … jam style with spot lighting …audience circled around on the floor … finalists (14 couples from a field of 40 fabulous dancers) dancing two times through (WHAT A TREAT!) and a final all skate …
Picture these couples, at their happiest, most creative, energetic, joyful, craziest best:
Jordan and Sarah
Brandi and PJ
Luis and Tren
Marcus and Kellese
Brent and Tessa
Benji and Tatiana
Brennar and Deborah
Kyle and Torri
Arjay and Melissa
Jason Barnes and Lemery
Chuck and Laureen
Maxence and Virginie
Robert and Jill Demarco
Stephen and Nicole
… and the Open Winners:
1st Place Benji and Tatiana
2 Arjay and Melissa
3 Jordan and Sarah
4 Kyle and Torri
5 Maxence and Virginie
I keep asking people “are you having fun? do you like this event?” and I have heard nothing but 100% HAVING A BLAST OMG SO MUCH FUN I LOVE THIS EVENT OMG. Seriously – I’ve asked brand new people, allstars, people who’ve been to only a few comps, people who go to every comp, chronic complainers, Russians, Texans, blondes, old-timers, kids, and lots and lots of pros (cause there are lots and lots of pros here to ask, and if pros are having fun there’s a “trickle-down” effect in my opinion) and so far nothing – seriously, nothing – but enthusiastic rave reviews …
Also, so far no problems with the floor being too crowded. Of course it’s still early as I write this – 2am so dancing’s just starting ..
~ I forgot to mention a third DJ last night – Erica Lyons! How could I forget Erica? Sheesh.
~ And the reason registration was slow is because the wifi connection in this hotel leaves much to be desired. I know I’ve been struggling with it myself and I’m told they’ve been struggling down at registration, too.
Here’s the Open Strictly Final!
WHAT AN AMAZING CHAMPION JACK AND JILL FINAL OMGAWD ….
Benji and Tren to “This Girl Is On Fire” and “Shakin’ The Shack”
Brennar and Brandi – darn I forget which songs they got i was too busy watching. gorgeous control, subtlety, clean, attentive
Maxence and Deborah – “Best You Ever Had” and “Spankin’ Leroy”
Kyle and Torri - AMAZING dancing = “Sure Thing” and “Funky Mamma” – brilliant dancing. so fun, so funny.
Jordan and Tatiana (they drew each other OMG SUCH DANCING! CRAZY GREAT!) – “Talk That Talk” and “Thanks for the Memories”
Markus and Sarah – “Thrift Shop” SARAH!!! HOW SEXY FUNKY BRILLIANT ADORABLE IS SHE and “Drinking Wine Spody Ody” (starting off with a fight scene)
Parker and Kellese – “Night Call” and “Wall To Wall”
Braaaayyyynt and Melissa – “Wide Awake” and “Spankin’ Leroy” – omgawd the most ADHD sugar-high red bull double espresso flying-across-the-floor dancing in the history of swing
Arjay and Lemery – “Madness” and “Spankin’ Leroy”
Robert and Tessa – “Shine Bright Like A Diamond” and “Move Across The River”
Juniors (Josh and Anyssa, Chris and Nicole, Kyle and Whitney, Akil and Alexis)
(Judges: Arjay, Robin Smith, Festa, Gary Jobst, Brennar, Bill, Chief Judge Dawn)
Jordan and Tatiana (mind blowing.SUCH powerful dancing! wow are they loved here the audience went wild)
Hugo and Stacy (NEW! “Wild One,” How beautiful these two look together! Great chemistry!),
Josh and Lindsay (“This Love Is Over” her exensions! emotional choreography, their fingers at the end),
Ronnie and Brandi (aughghgh! GORGEOUS GORGEOUS mesmerizing too beautiful),
Eddie and Elyse (NEW! “Beauty and The Beast” fast! joyful!),
Alexi and Katrina (“Small Bump” her long limbs, her grace, his cravat, pretty hot pink and white costumes),
The Markers! (love this routine – it’s saucy, mean, troubled, very different for them),
Luis and Taletha (“Hotel California” sad, moody, melancholy – love that they never smile),
Maria and David (fun fast bluesy piece from last year),
Kyle and Sarah (so GREAT so funky, fun, fast, so damn FUNNNNY)
(Judges: Arjay, Bill, Gary Jobst, Festa, Chuck, Parker, Robin Smith, Chief Judge Dawn)
Ronnie and Laureen (“Bring It On Home To Me” OMG! So fast! Fast and slow, clean stops in mid-flight, incredible lifts and drops, Ronnie has WAY too much fun – they both look so relaxed like they’re having a blast, even when she’s balanced high above his head on one hand;
Stephen and Sabrina (“Somewhere With You” their quality of movement gets so much better each time we see them. Their transitions are so smooth)
Miles and Tessa (“Let’s Get It On” oh my gosh so beautiful, so sexy, and that crazy trick …)
Greg and Lemery (love this routine. can’t see this without crying. feels very real, like it comes right from the heart. gorgeous song, gorgeous choreography)
Luis and Jen (better and better each time we see this)
Brennar and Torri (no words. mind blowing. astonishing dancing. utter control, brilliant choreography, powerful technique, joy, showmanship, chemistry, years of practice and work and artistry and soul … showcase at its finest)
The Roystons (their best routine yet! so young, fresh, fun, bad-ass, full of life … love this routine)
Jack and Jill prelims all day today – finals tomorrow.
Parties all night tonight – hotel security is going a little bonkers with all the noisy room parties – they don’t know how to handle an entire hotel that’s taken over by a single event, where everybody in every room knows each other. It’s like a college dorm.
Ballroom is absolutely packed as I write this. Last night ballroom stayed packed till 7am floor trials. Really fun energy here.
I’ve managed to get this written, in between visiting four different party rooms. Hope it’s coherent … and I am heading down to the ballroom now to dance for a few hours …
1st Place Chris and Nicole
2nd Josh and Anyssa
3rd Kyler and Whitney
1st Place Jordan and Tatiana
2nd Ronnie and Brandi
3rd Kyle and Sarah
4th Kris and Rebecca
5th Luis and Taletha
1st Place Benji and Torri
2nd Greg and Lemery
3rd Ronnie and Brandi
4th Myles and Tessa
5th Robert and Nicola
1st Place Brian and Pam Bennett
2nd Levi and Melissa
3rd Scott and Tatiana
4th Frank and Faith
5th Tze Ming Wee and Dalena
1st Place Lindsey Nastos
2nd Heather and Kurt
3rd Fireball (Marya-Montez Wallace and Taje Lowe)
1st Place Swingin’ In The Rain (Arjay and Katie)
2nd Capital Swing (Dawn)
3rd Roleplay (Arjay)
4th DC Swing (Dawn)
5th Love To Dance (Anthony Jones)
1st Place Luis and Heather
2nd Kenny Roesel and Lisa Schupp
3rd Kurt and Kristin
4th Gary Jobst and Sue Lambell
1st Place Jean-Pierre and Christele
2nd Tze Ming Wee and Krystal
3rd Blaine and Micki
4th Mairon and Vanessa
5th Dave and Gina
1st Pavel and Olga
2nd Romero and Veronica
3rd Casey and Tatiana
4th Miguel and Nadya
5th Cory and Cat
1st Grigory and Kat
2nd Jerome and Olga
3rd Hugo and Lindsey
4th Reginald Beason and Cuccio
5th Akil and Whitney
2nd Arjay and Melissa
3rd Jordan and Sarah
4th Kyle and Torri
5th Maxence and Virginie
JACK AND JILLS
1st Place Josh and Anyssa
2nd Akil and Whitney
3rd Chris and Ashley
4th Wesley and Nicole
5th Christopher Wrigley and Hannah
1st Place Kurt Senser and Robin Grimsby
2nd Matt Nichols and Sue Lambell
3rd Bruce Baker an Kristin Wenger
4th Vence Harbuck and Wren Newman
5th Lawrence Bunde and Jamie Callahan
1st Craig Myanmodo and Karen iWilliamson
2nd James and Saave
3rd Jonathan and Schoeder
4th Philip and Carole
1st Place Tze Ming Wee and Blandine Goudou
2nd Brian Richards and Hanna Tuominan
3rd Jean-Pierre Sachs and Lori Fleicher
4th Mairon Batista and Carrie Smith
5th Aran Peily and Ramune Sveekyte
1st Alfredo Melendez and Olga Usmanova
2nd Roger Batista and Dalena Lee
3rd Frank Blakemore and Ashley Brown
4th Roy Legaspi and Veronica Castilla
5th Yu Sun and Sophie Caseneuve
1st Place Eric Byers and Whitney Brown
2nd Josh Williamson and Lindsey Nastos
3rd Jerome Fernandez and Beverly Brunerie
4th JC Bryant and Irina Puzanova
5th Grigory Lebedev and Stacy Kay
1st Place Hugo and Virginie
2nd Josh and Anyssa
3rd PJ and Yuna
4th Chris and Erica
5th Akil and Melissa Rollins
1st Place Kyle and Torri
2nd Jordan and Tatiana
3rd Benji and Tren
4th Markus and Sarah
5th Brennar and Brandi
We’re about to do Rising Star and – FIRE ALARM! FIRE ALARM! FIRE ALARM!
Royston’s like “Okay was that an actual fire alarm? because we don’t want to start danci – OH THERE IT IS AGAIN!”
And the fire alarm goes off a second time followed by an announcement which sounds like “BUH GRGR WALK TO THE PHFFFF BRBUG RRNN” and Royston’s like “First they give us a fire alarm and now she’s going to whisper at us?”
So Louis, because he can, then plays a very LOUD fire alarm and hits the smoke machines a few times. And somehow the entire ballroom and all the practice rooms and the lobby floor and the vendors and the registration table folks – the whole event – stops what they’re doing at the same moment, like it was choreographed, and starts moving outside where it is FREEZING! BITTER COLD! ICY WIND WHIPPING AROUND, and there are clumps of shivering dancers in huddles to keep warm in our skimpy dance clothes and open sandals all over the front drive groups of 20 laughing hugging dancers and then someone says hey wait why are we out here? Look at all those people waiting in the lobby where it’s warm.
So a sea of shivering dancers moves inside all together – we’re good at following – like a school of deep water fish – and back into the lobby we go where we blend into a larger school of fish and all swim back to our practice rooms and the shoe hall and the ballroom.
To warm us up Louis plays five songs about fire and smoke, and during the breaks between divisions more songs about fire and smoke and alarms, and fire and smoke songs for the half hour before Awards … a whole afternoon of songs about fire and smoke.
And then finally a water song at the very end to put out all that fire.
I love Louis he’s hilarious.
What an audience for Rising Star! WOW was this audience supportive! Cheering, whistling, jumping up and down, the Russian contingent waving flags … rowdy loud crowd all afternoon. I think the fire drill helped.
1. Levi Larocco and Melissa Moy to “Arms” (Christina Perri) lovely in white and silver and diamonds, both actually laughing throughout the performance the way couples do when they make a mistake only they didn’t make any mistakes they were just giggling the entire time either from nerves or embarrassment but they did look genuinely relaxed and having a blast. I asked Levi afterwards and he said yeah they have fun doing this routine. What is wrong with them? I thought you’re supposed to be miserable and end up hating each other getting divorced and becoming mortal enemies for life.
2. Chris Edwards and Amy Lee to “Hazy” (Rosi Golan and William Fitzsimmons) in soft yellow and gray – these are Marker babies (students of Jason and Annmarie Marker) and man oh man oh man the Markers do SUCH a good job training their community! In body and mind. Their students have such a good attitude and workmanlike approach. And joy. And mutual support for their fellow competitors.
3. Frank Blakemore and Faith Musko to “Love Struck” (Vs. Factory) in slashy hot pink and neon yellow (Faith hand-made the costumes)
4. Jonathan Regan and Stevie Bliss to “Crazy” (Ray LaMontagne) in green and black, sleeveless on one side, the other a long sleeve unattached to the rest of the top. Very cool.
5. Scott Mehlberg and Tatiana Zavyalova to “I Want You Back” (Glee Cast) in matching charcoal gray vests over white shirts (hers a white tank, his a dress shirt) with red belt and tie
6. Scott Michielli and Gayle Reed to “More” (usher) she in black netting over a dazzling, sparkling, silver-sequined, rhinestoned major bra, and black jeans with zippers and hardware; he in a white t-shirt under a black leather jacket, also in black jeans with chains and hardware.
7. Brian and Pam Bennett to “Bright Lights Big City” in black and teal sparkle
8. Billy Marti and Veronica Castilla in an awesome bright orange top slashed and tied in bows maybe 15 slashes worth, down her entire back, with butterfly wings and draping in the front which flew when she spun (which she does a lot of – this girl is fast)
9. Tze Ming Wee and Dalena Lee (from Singapore!) to “For Your Entertainment” (Adam Lambert) – she is the skinniest tiniest itty bitty curvy sexy thing she looks like a spoon – in a metallic red, pink, gray and black bikini top and itty bitty bad ass low-rider jeans in the same colors, and the longest coolest eye-lashes with long white feathers at the end of each lash (I actually own a pair of these myself they’re crazy great); he in a matching t-shirt with large slashy shapes in the same metallic colors and matching hipster jeans – total in-your-face attitude outfits and a total in-your-face-attitude routine, loved it loved them.
What a fun division!
1. I forgot to mention an important Classic couple! Rebecca and Kris! I was so excited to see this new routine, and so touched by it, that I got all choked up when they walked onto the floor, put my pen down and didn’t write a thing and then forgot to include them in the list of Classic couples. I LOVE their new routine! Rebecca is a ballerina and this lovely choreography shows off her lines, control, grace, strength and power … and Kris’ too! … “More Than Words” an acoustic remix of this beautiful slow song.
2. Brennar is an awesome dancer, so awesome that he danced with Torri last night in Showcase and looked and moved EXACTLY like Benji and I mean exactly you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart if you were their own mothers. Brennar is amazing.
Okay no just kidding it really was Benji who danced that mind-blowing amazingly astonishing Showcase with Torri, not Brennar like I said in the last Update. I can’t tell them apart what can I say.
3. I watched Ronnie and Laureen’s awesome Showcase routine on dvd and there actually is no one-handed over-the-head lift of Laureen high above Ronnie’s head. I can see why I thought there was – they are so fast and effortless it feels like there are tons of these lifts, like she’s constantly flying through the air above his head. My mind must have invented this image of her sitting up there with that dazzling smile of hers.
Sometimes I read what I wrote the night before and I wonder if I have undiagnosed mental problems.
4. Santino tells me “In Advanced strictly, Jérôme has danced with Irina, not with Olga. So 2nd in advanced strictly : Jérôme and Irina!” – Santino is that correct? Cause it was announced again at Sunday Night Awards that Jérôme and Olga won second place.
Any other corrections?
So much more to tell about MadJam, but in the meantime here’s a FALL-DOWN BORING list of competitors for all those people asking me who was there who did this who won that who what where prelims finalists my friend my sister ex-boyfriend names please …
Any corrections? Let me know. Not that I ever make any mistakes. I’m usually 347% accurate.
Jack and Jill Contestants
JUNIORS Finals (no Prelim):
Kyle IndianSantaClaus Patel
Her Awesomeness of DJtitude Helen Tocco
ALLSTAR Finalist Couples:
Akil and Melissa Rollins
Hugo and Virginie
Doug and Nicole
Reginald and Elise
Josh Sturgeon and Anyssa
PJ and Yuna
Brad and Linda
Chris Dumond and Erica
Stephane and Kendra
Jerome Subey and Lori
(Alternates: Erik, Alfred Lee, Chris Lo, Melissa Moy, Jen Diener, Helen Tocco)
Ying Chi Chow
Bonnie Cannon Subey
Mary Beth Lane
INTERMEDIATE FINALIST COUPLES:
Trae Anderson with Abby Hare
Yu Sun with Sophie Caseneuve
Casey Miller with Ty Thomas
Cory Flowers with Jaqueline Joyner
Louis Schreiber with Jenny Layug
Roger Batista with Dalena Lee
Vence Harbuck with Raquel Williams
Alfredo Meledez with Olga Usmanova
Roy Legaspi with Veronica Castilla
Frank Blakemore with Ashley Brown
Miguel Valle with Margaret Tuttle
Nicolas Besnier with Evgenia Dudukina
Froilan Mate with Nadya Serova
Jeremy Govert with Shelby Thorne
(Alternates: Phillip Spinka, Bernard Phua, Jeremy Govert, Rebecca Savoca, Faith Musko, Cali Buntin)
Prelims: 38 Leaders, 34 Followers
Will Burbage with Dori Eden
Donnie Neron with Leslie Mallory
Kurt Senser and Robin Grimsby
Matt Nichols with Sue Lambell
Phil Bradfield with Tracy Gauthier
Ken Negley with Lorraine Rolik
Bruce Baker with Kristin Wenger
Lawrence Bunde with Jamie Callahan
Vence Harbuck with Wren Newman
Gary Jobst with Vivian Glucksman-Weiss
Prelims: 39 Leaders, 52 Followers
Craig Myamoto with Karen Villamarin
Thomas Gomez with Kristine Riemer
James Kong with Gayle Allen
Paul Gersch with Audrey Bermejo
Jonathan Norton with Noble Schroeder
Hal Greenwald with Lynn Heyden
Dan Sweet with Lauren Stoffer
Ian O’Gorman with Rebecca Tree
Keoni Denison with Rebecca Thiele
Phillip Decker with Carolin Mattox
Jonathan Regan with April Northcutt
Matt Eddy with Simona Gizdarska
(Alternates: Bob Carleone, Harlan Messenger, Eugene Golbourne, Blair Stanford, Rose Goff, Michelle Schafman)
NOVICE Prelims: 82 Leaders, 103 Followers
NOVICE Semi-Finals: 50 Leaders, 50 Followers
NOVICE Finalist Couples:
Christopher Muise with Christelle Ouvrard
Angelo Maniquis with Brittany Baker
Victor Hernandez with Gina Murata
Chris McCormick with Lia Brown
Tony Walker with Lauren Nelson
Tze Ming Wee with Blandine Goudou
Brian Richards with Hanna Tuominen
Jean-Pierre Sachs with Lori Fielder
Mairon Batista with Carrie Smith
Chris Cusick with Micki Schultz
Pavel Pavlov with Thea Musantry
Aran Pelly with Ramune Sv
(Alternates: Minh-Tam Tran, Dave Mu, Roy Rafter, Allysa Rees, Serah Hare, Emma Cormie)
It’s the first day of March and here we go! March Madness has arrived!
Beginning with MadJam here at home in DC. First year here at the new hotel (same hotel where we were last October for “DCSex” (the new name for “VSO” – the Virginia State Open) – but reconfigured for this much much bigger event.) And so far the hotel is wuuunderbarrr! Super duper wunderbar! Everyone here is SO NICE! A whole line of “greeters” when we arrived just after noon today – five beautiful young women standing in a row with big smiles and “Welcome! Welcome! This way please! Need help with your car? Your bags?” A table with a big urn of hot chocolate and a pitcher of fresh apple cider. The nicest, friendliest front-desk staff ever – going out of their way to accommodate crazed dancers switching rooms and roommates like musical chairs. Doormen jumping to open doors for us, running ahead to press elevator buttons! A team of smiling, joking bellman waiting with baggage carts and kind words. WOW! Someone has trained this staff! I don’t remember anything like this in October but then we arrived late at night so maybe that’s the difference. They say they do conventions all the time so they’re used to taking care of people. But wow! Nicest check-in ever!
And all the rest of the staff, too. I asked for an extra pillow and Poof! Within seconds an older gentleman appeared at the door with a stack of pillows – he handed them to me then bowed down and kissed my hand! Queen Liza! Wow.
We had no heat, called the front desk and within seconds a mechanic appeared at the door (had to replace the motor) – the all-time nicest guy! Cuban! a dancer! Music collector! – very excited a dance event is happening here in his hotel and looking forward to peeking into the ballroom to see what we do. So nice! Wow.
Our room is standard – not fancy but adequate. We didn’t get one of the newer “Respire” hypo-allergenic rooms. Waaaa. I would have liked that, famous germaphobe that I am.
The French are coming the French are coming! Buckets and barrels of them! Found myself in the elevator with five very tall Frenchmen – a French wcs basketball team! – all first time in the States. Maxence is here I know cause I saw his happy hat dancing along on top of a crowd in the lobby. Aussies are here! Brady Stanton and his female entourage! Myles and Tessa are here, Rebecca Ludwick, Grant and his many shoes, Brad Whelan, first time here in DC – what a treat!, Steve and Rachel from London! And lots and lots of us DC locals. Fun!
At 10pm the kick-off dance (in a side room – the big ballroom is still being set up) was already starting to rock – felt like excited energy. It’s now midnight and I’m heading down!
More tomorrow … lots of people will be arriving all day long tomorrow. Pro-ams mid-day, strictlys later in the afternoon and evening …
We still have no heat in our room rghghgh and it’s cold and raining today rghghgh pirate noises argh rghghgh it is fuh-reezing in here we have to wear coats oh well worse things in life some people never get to go to dance comps at all anywhere ever we live a pretty charmed life so I should stop complaining. And anyway it’s not snowing, I should think about that. Two years ago, or three years ago, or maybe four years ago Michael O’Connor and his mom Kim had to walk across the city in, like, four feet of snow, to get here to MadJam. No snow this year. So. By now most everybody’s made it to the hotel (it’s 3am Friday night/Sat morning as I write this) despite tornadoes in mid-west and south and some flight delays and cancellations.
Today was a loooong day of pro-ams. A very long day. Robert Cordoba MC, Judges: Brent, Kellese, Gary Jobst, Debbie Ramsey-Boz, Deborah Szekely, and Chief Judge Dawn Garrish. Long day. Fun cause comp-Fridays are always fun with people arriving from all over the country and the world. So it was fun hanging out in the lobby. But hard to stick it out in the ballroom where there were solid pro-ams all day starting 11am in the morning and continuing straight through till dinner which we speed-snorted off the plate using rolled dollar bills since we were famished and had only an hour till strictlys. Hustle divisions most of the day, many small heats in each division (one to four couples each.) Hustle has “pre” divisions so it goes “Pre-Novice,” “Novice,” “Pre-Intermediate,” “Intermediate,” “Pre-Advanced,” “Advanced,” and so on. Double the number of divisions, in other words. West Coast pro-ams followed in late afternoon and continued till dinner.
MORE THAN 40 PEOPLE HERE FROM FRANCE! Mostly from Montpellier, but also from Lyons, and north of France, too. So cool to have them here! The women are gorgeous and the men are all named Jerome. Really! All except Maxence, he’s not named Jerome. Maxence and ridiculously beautiful Virginie have a Classic routine in the works! CAN’T WAIT OMG it will be SO awesome omg omg! Not ready yet … they’re aiming for SwingDiego AUGHGHGH! As if there weren’t ALREADY enough reasons to go to SwingDiego AUGHGHGH! He says it’s medium tempo, and not emotional because “I dunt know hair goot enough yet to do emotional dence!” What a gentleman. A lesser man would take one look at Virginie and do an emotional dence right der on zee spot.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ [several-hour break] ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Oh, hello! I must have fallen asleep and what do you know! It’s now tomorrow morning!
Comp-morning, that is. In normal-people time it’s 1:30pm in the afternoon. We are still in our PJ’s, however, watching Bill Cameron on closed-circuit tv. They’ve just now begun wcs Newcomer – it’s been hustle jack and jills since 11 am (running an hour and a half late today but closed-circuit tv makes it easy to know when to head down to the ballroom.) Sunny today, bright blue sky, beautiful out!
Last night was Strictlys – fun! More about that in a few minutes. First I’d better take my morning shower and get ready to face the day before there’s no more today left to be faced. Tonight is routines – Classic, Showcase, Juniors, Rising Star .. can’t wait!
OH MY GOODNESS!
What a WONDERFUL Saturday night this has been! What great routines! What a great Champions’ Jack and Jill!
And what a fun night of dancing tonight! We are forcing ourselves to leave the ballroom now -at – what is it? 6:30 AM? It is light out – aughgh - Ballroom is still full and great energy. Music all night was terrific. How can you leave when you’re like OH! I love this song! Oh I love this song too!! Hate to stop dancing but we gotta because GB made finals tomorrow (today, I mean.) But instead of going to sleep I’m sitting here looking at the ballroom on tv and it’s totally packed, still, one great song after another aughghghgh
Lots to tell! More tomorrow! I mean today! In a coupla hours ….
P.S. Brennar did a bad bad thing. Which turned out to be not bad at all. But which was VERY worrisome for a few scary moments. Especially since this is Brennar, of all people, Brennar the ultimate extreme thoughtful gentleman. So funny so so so funny. I think he shocked himself way more than he shocked his partner (Lemery) or any of us in the ballroom or any of the gazillions watching on ustream all around the world. Poor Brennar. I promise to give Brennar a hard time about this for the rest of his life.
AUGHGHGHGH It’s almost 8am and still great music in the ballroom! I’m still up (GB fast asleep for two hours now) – should I give up trying to be responsible and just go back down to dance? I’m watching on tv and It is still hoppin’ in there! Who’s the DJ? Such good music!
The energy Sunday night! From just after awards (around 5) till 7am Monday morning – sheesh! Lots of people saying it was the highlight of their entire weekend. One of those dimly lit “in the zone” nights where a roomful of dancers are transformed.
We’ve always had good late-nite dances at our comps here in DC, seems like it’s always been true, even with our tiniest events like the Easterns in its senile years, on the famous “lobby floor” at the Hilton – the all-time weirdest space – a small pass-through foyer-hall sandwiched between outside doors at one end (neon-pink signs taped all over the glass “KEEP LOCKED AT ALL TIMES USE OTHER DOORS” so naturally for four days they remained propped open with chairs, shoe-boxes, cans of red-bull (so many funny, important, memorable conversations right outside these doors in the smoking/drinking “lounge”) and at the other end a winding hallway and doors to the main ballroom (which had a beautiful floor and stage lighting and which sat utterly empty all night long – desolate except for one lonely DJ wondering why everyone was dancing crammed into each other on the other side of the wall out in the hallway on that floor with the steel pieces that ripped your shoes and made you trip and fall on your face and every couple hours we’d have to get down and pull the whole thing away from the wall because it kept sliding across the carpet. And yet the energy all night long! People in and out all night, up to the rooms and back down again, dancing and dancing and laughing all night long, lounging on the couches along the floor dragging chairs to the back of the room, trying on shoes at 4am, hanging with Louie who’d still be playing music at 9am when the first morning workshop began.
This year’s MadJam Sunday night dance was in a smaller meeting room – same one used for workshops and the Thursday night dance (which was not particularly well-attended – we counted 20 couples on the floor at the most crowded time of the night on Thursday, and by 2am the room was almost cleared out.) But last night all 45 of the French were still here! And the Aussies! And the English and Canadians, Californians and Texans and all the hard-core DC locals! All finished with competing, teaching, and other responsibilities and wanting to rock and roll. So Sunday night was WOW! Room was jumping. Until 7am we heard. We also heard a few people decided to miss flights rather than miss dancing. Now that is truly devoted!
Also also heard that instead of the MadJam “Pickle-Shots Parties” of previous years that this year there was a “Luge Party.” Since I had heard of neither “pickle shots” nor “ice luges” I had to have both explained: 1. Shot of Jameson’s followed by a shot of pickle-juice brine (with or without the pickle); 2. A humongous double-bed-sized ice sliding-board down which is poured a stream of one’s choice of alcohol, with someone’s open mouth hopefully at the bottom to catch the drink as it comes sliding down. Ice luges also come in the shape of interesting body parts. What can I say – google it. So Sunday night was dancing/partying/fun times all around the hotel! You could feel it – people walking around smiling, cracking jokes, camped out in circles on the carpet sharing pizzas, friendly with strangers, happy happy happy smiling people everywhere, even having gone without sleep for at least four days.
So! I’m getting emails, texts, and facebook messages asking about results. I was scratching them down by hand as they were being announced until someone told me not to bother cause full judges’ sheets would be posted on nowdancing.com … but so far anyway (It’s Tuesday 5pm as of this writing) I can’t seem to find results posted anywhere. So … from memory only (my memory is 347% accurate):
(11 couples: Judges: Festa, Bill Cameron, Debbie Ramsey, Parker, Gary Jobst, Brent, Dawn CJ)
1st Brennar and Torri
2nd Arjay and Jen
3rd Kyle and Sarah (new routine! Even newer than the Open!)
4th Ben and Melissa
5th Sean and Court
6th Kris and Rebecca
(Six couples; Judges: Bill Cameron, Festa, Barry Jones, Debbie Ramsey, Parker, Dawn CJ)
1st Myles and Tessa
3rd Greg and Lemery
4th Rob and Connie
5th Ben and Rebecca
6th Sebastien and Vanessa
You can watch Showcase here:
And Classic here:
For those who can’t get to a computer right away:
- Myles and Tessa – “Rolling In The Deep” (their gorgeous USOpen routine)
- Roystons – “Edge of Glory”
- Greg and Lemery – their new “No Diggity” – this time in shimmery gold and black
- Rob and Connie – “Drops of Jupiter” – last time on the floor, best they’ve ever danced it even with – or maybe even because of – a 16-beat lead-and-follow at a critical point, in which Connie said this, using eye-contact only: “Haha dude you screwed up! You’re the leader I’m following you! Good luck, hope you fix it! And if y’don’t I’m laughing my ass off!”
- Ben and Rebecca – “Little Bad Girl”
- Sebastien and Vanessa – “You” (Martin Jondo) (I love Sebastien’s taste in music! Another one with tempo changes, hits, yelps (I’m a sucker for yelling in a song) – tons of stuff to choreograph.) Something went wrong within the first few seconds so they stopped dancing and had to have their music restarted. That’s not allowed, of course. What a shame, to come all the way over from France and then have a glitch like that right at the beginning and be disqualified. The audience – during this glitch and several others (I’ll tell you about them) was SO supportive! Cheering, pounding hands, yelling YAAAAAY YAAAY Allez La France! Go Sebastien and Vanessa!” Some crazy lifts, of course. Sebastien always does crazy lifts. Jody Moscaritolo (stepping in for Robert during Showcase (came out afterwards taking his pulse.)
- Kevin Fitzhugh and Ashley Riddick “Changes” (Hendrix)
- Kyle and Sarah – an acoustic version of “Somebody Told Me” (Killers) Very easy routine, not much to it, really. Except for the fact, that is, that the song is ONE HUNDRED FORTY-FIVE BEATS PER MINUTE! Hello! Holy Flying Footwork! hahahaha Try this yourself! Without bouncing! Good luck!
- Sean and Courtney “Feelin’ So”
- Sebastien and Blandine “Broken Sorrow” (their USOpen routine, with her nine pirouettes holding her foot behind her) – they received penalties (and a drop in placement) at the Open for what appeared to be a separation for too many counts (Sebastien says it is only an illusion, he actually maintains contact with her back) – great dramatic music choice, again and yet another costume creation (they do all their own costumes – for their own routines, their students’ routines, and their teams) – one of her legs in wispy black netting all the way up to the lacy fringe at her hip, one arm snaked with black ribbon the other only a black sequined cuff. And a wide black choker. Crazy sexy.
- Ben and Melissa “You and I” (Robert walked on the floor afterwards shaking his head, muttering “Holy Knickerbocker’s Meat Market WOW. I am a fan of dresses. Can I get an AMEN? For the Church of Short Skirts and Heels! Where we party Saturday night and pay for it Sunday morning.” (booming overly enthusiastic amen from the men in the audience)
- Brennar and Torri “Sadly Beautiful” (When it’s over Robert walks on the floor says “Okay quick impression. Who is this?” sits down in the middle of the floor, cross-legged, staring off into space, mouth wide open jaw hanging on his chest, and just sits there staring dumbfounded like an imbecile, then asks us, “Raise your hand if that was you.” It must be funny to stand at the other side of the floor and watch the audience’s reactions.)
- Ben and Cameo “Fort Knox”
- Arjay and Jen, “Moves Like Jagger” (Robert: “I’m a fan of short skirts AND leopard print”)
- The Markers “Unwritten”
- Kris and Rebecca dancing for the very last time their marvelous flying “Into The Night” (they’ll debut their new routine this coming weekend at Chicago! you’ll be able to watch it here: http://globaldance.tv/set/chicago2012) (Rebecca, by the way, dancing not one but two routines last weekend – on a torn meniscus. Amazing.)
More in a little bit ….
Seven random tidbits:
1. The French have left DC and are now on their way to Chicago for the Chicago Classic this coming weekend. Most flew but some are driving. Why, I asked, Why are you driving? Such a long drive! “Vee vant to see leetle beet of your country!” they said. Great! I said Great! Where are you going? “Peesburgh!” they said.
I always tell visitors from abroad: If you’re visiting the States the one place you don’t want to miss is Pittsburgh. No I don’t.
2. New at MadJam: If you won more than $100 in prize money you received an empty envelope with a tax form and a note that in order to receive your prize you must submit the completed form at the Registration Desk. Hoping it was a W-9 (which asks for social security number) and not a W-2 (which asks for a lot more than that) but don’t have one here in front of me so can’t say for sure. Never seen this at any other comp. Means that if we win prize money we (rather than the event director) pay taxes on it.
3. For next year’s MadJam: There is an online store which sells 100% purple merchandise. Fishnet stockings, electrical tape, jewelry, furniture, bow ties, hair dye, kitchen tools, food, writing implements, stuffed animals, electronics, home decor, and clothing.
4. Melissa Greene has the cutest new hair style. Adorable cut, fifty different colored highlights. I took pictures but could be the next millennium before I post them so be on the look-out for other pictures of her.
5. Lemery’s shoes at Awards OMGAWD! White, red, black, yellow, bold modern-art slashes of color on 6″ heels, chunky peep-hole toe. AUGHGHGH.
6. Great lighting all weekend. Stage lights, spotlights, “christmas lights” sparkling on the back-drop … a photographer’s dream! Dramatic contrasts, shadows, enough light to make it easy to capture flying dancers. No excuses for bad pictures – it was even easier than shooting outside.
7. If you were watching u-stream you may have noticed that the list of finalists in each category was broadcast beforehand. I love that the lists of finalists appeared *somewhere* even if you have to go to a u-stream video to find it. I always try to catch the names of all contestants, including all those who pay to enter but who, if they don’t make finals, leave no trace, as if they don’t exist, never attended the event. And I try to get the names of finalists. And all the rankings – not just the top three or five. Cause I’m constantly asked who competed? Who made finals? Who placed where? People all over the world are always waiting to hear the “stats.” I’ve said before: wouldn’t it be great to see the full lists of competitors, the full lists of finalists, and the full lists of placements and judges’ rankings? Lotta geeks and analyst/engineer types in the dance world, guys (geeky girls, too) who love lists, excel spread-sheets, pie-charts, graphs, forecasts, analyses … These folks would love to see all the data. In an era of 1′s and 0′s it would be easy to make this available.
I’m for complete transparency anyway. We have this awkward cult of secrecy regarding scores for which I’ve heard three explanations:
- People have photo-shopped pictures of the judges’ sheets and posted them online. This is why pictures are not allowed. (If the event posts the scores then there’s no possibility of altering and lying about them, right? So I must be missing something.)
- Judges are attacked. This is why their names are withheld or only displayed for a short time. (Judges should not be attacked. I haven’t ever seen this myself but I’m sure it happens, evidently enough to warrant inconveniencing the majority of competitors who are polite and thoughtful. If asked politely it seems a judge should be able to say either “I’m sorry I don’t remember what I saw” or “I do remember and this is why I put you where I did.” )
- People don’t want it publicly displayed that they did poorly. (Maybe they shouldn’t be competing in a public “race” if they want to keep secret how they do? Competition means ranking yourself against everybody else. It seems odd to have a public competition and then keep the results secret.)
At MadJam the finalists, at least, appeared in the u-stream videos broadcast in the ballroom, in the guest rooms, and on monitors and cell phones around the world, which was a breath of fresh air.
Jack and Jills! Saturday morning! (“morning” as in 1-4pm Saturday afternoon)
Bill Cameron on the mic; Anthony DeRosa DJing
Judges: Tybaldt, Hazel, Arjay, Robin Smith, Erik Novoa, Taletha, Doug, Myles, Annmarie, Patty Vo, and Chief Judge Dawn
72 girls in Newcomer prelims!
100 girls (74 guys) in Novice prelims!
65 girls in Intermediate prelims!
Had to be out of the ballroom for Juniors, Advanced and Allstar prelims but I think I heard Juniors 11 guys 12 girls; Allstar 12 girls 15 guys; and Advanced maybe went right to finals? Correct me if I’m wrong …
In any case Bill told us there were a total of 770 Jack and Jill prelim competitors Saturday morning! That means that Bill pronounced 770 names. At least once. Wow, that’s a lot of pronouncing.
I did catch Champions Prelims (Judges: Barry Jones, John Festa, Bill Cameron (doubling as judge and emcee), and Dawn CJ):
Champion Finals were later that night and wow what a show! So much mind-blowing dancing! Between Classic, Showcase, Juniors, Rising Star – and then finally the Champions Jack and Jill – Saturday night was SO much fun!
So Champion Finals were danced spotlight, of course, two songs each, one slow contemporary and one fast blues.
First up: Brent and Torri (I must mention Torri’s top: thin silk collared shirt/vest kind of a thing, almost backless, mint green with faint burgundy pin-stripes, which she wore with a wide black patent-leather belt. So cute! Loving her sense of style.) First song “She Ain’t You,” second “Shakin’ The Shack” – beach music! For two champion Shaggers! Brent slid down to the floor in one of those one-leg-extended drops and got stuck down there waving for Torri to please pull him back up. Priceless.
Parker and Tessa, “Work Out” (J. Cole) and “Funky Mama” (Danny Gatton) – Parker did a back-bend so Tessa echoed with her own back-bend-drop-to the floor. And no one fell on top of anyone!
Kielbasa and Kellese, “It Girl” and “Baby Work Out.” “Put your hands on your hip, Let your back-bone slip, Work out! Ahhhhh….” Right-side-pass Michael switches hands, looks like he winds her up in a prep for a spinning death-drop, he drops down to one knee so *she*drops down (while being un-torqued,) and BAM on the beat she hits the floor, flat on her back, and BAM on the beat they’re both up again, Kellese finishing by arching up in time to that “Ahhhhhh” at the end. For us sitting several feet away, on the floor, watching it unfold in real time, this was crazy great. Was it a series of “mistakes” and “quick saves” turning into more mistakes and quick saves? Were they reading each other with some inkling of what each was envisioning? Who knows, who cares! It was dancing on the edge and it is thrilling to be allowed to witness Champions dancing on the edge, taking chances that might miss. It’s like watching Nik Wallenda cross Niagra Falls (which, by the way, he is planning to do later this year.)
My father was a great story-teller. I asked him once how he thought of these tales he’d tell and he said he didn’t know how it happened, he’d just open his mouth and a story would come out. He himself would want to hear what was going to happen next. Kellese reminds me of my father in that way – she gets on the floor and dancing just happens, free-spirited, un-programmed, of the moment, 100% right-brained intuitive dancing, as if it’s “channeled” through her. That wild hair! That gorgeous laugh! Kellese is an artistic soul if ever there was one.
Next Arjay and Melissa! (For those who don’t know: these two were partners – in dance and in life – for many years. They are very beloved in the community. And Arjay was just married, just last weekend!, which made their drawing each other even sweeter.) “How To Love” and “Wall To Wall.” I can’t find words to describe how superb these two dances were, only that I have already re-watched them 20 times or more, mesmerized at the quickness of their thinking, the sheer wit and focus which is apparent, and the extreme joy of dancing. Not to mention the quality of their movement. Doesn’t get any better. I think everyone knew this couple won. These two dances will be reviewed on youtube forever as an example of what brilliant lead-and-follow can look like.
Kyle and Deborah Szekely, “5:00 In The Morning” and “Junk In Your Trunk.” Kyle is SO creative, SO funny. And Deborah? She can follow ANYTHING. Deborah makes anything funny even funnier, anything beautiful even beautifuller. She finishes things for her partners – great ideas, half-baked ideas – she improves and completes all of it. She’s ridiculous. So Kyle starts off sexy Deborah makes it sexier and the dance quickly becomes naughty. And then, because the lyrics say so, Kyle puts her in a side pass where she can’t see what he’s doing, pulls out his phone and starts texting somebody else. Too funny. Two more brilliant dances from these two. What a night!
So much more to tell … four more couples in this division … (Ben and Jen, Robert Royston and Sarah, Maxence and Hazel, and Brennar and Lemery.)
Next installment soon …
… Champion Jack and Jills continued! …
So four more couples:
BenJen! (Morris/DeLuca), “Rack City” and “Move Across The River.” If ever there was a girl to do Rack City it’s Jen DeLuca omgawd. Love the song – it’s down, down, down – deep, low, gritty as it gets. First growling bass notes and the whole line of Champions are weaving in their chairs – this song’s impossible to sit still to. Ben’s mopping his brow, straightening his shirt, looking like he doesn’t know what he’s in for. Ben seems young to be dancing with hot stuff like Jen, doesn’t he? He may be badder than he looks but that face! He looks so innocent!
So at one point he gives her a hip catch with her famous “triceps-excercise hold” (elbow in the air, hand at the shoulder blade – she did multiple spins like this in, I dunno, 2007?, and for a year the audience would leap to their feet screaming at that point in the routine – it sort of became her signature move) which she spins out of, then back into, and then ducks out. And her duck out, okay why does my duck-out look completely not like her duck-out? I usually get stuck, for one thing. And I’m sorry there’s something about north south east west while looking at your feet – I simply cannot figure out which way to go or what I’m supposed to be ducking *under* so frantic confusion while I’m crouched over thinking where do I put my head where do I put my head over here? over here? over here? and by the time I’ve tried different directions the moment is lost to put it mildly and I have a searing pain in my lower back and a splitting headache. Anyway Jen must do this everyday I guess, while grocery shopping or going through airport security, cause she looks SO HOT.
But seriously – they are both so good, so, so good. Playing off each other, both leading and following at every moment. Such rich dancing.
Royston and Sarah, “Up” and “Drinkin’ Wine.” This was another funny partnership and again because of the grittiness of first song, another down and dirty rap song – which Sarah of course can handle (Sarah invented hips. Before we back on the east coast had ever seen her in person we heard there was this little pip-squeak of a girl who would be laid out flat in a horizontal drop and would body-roll in mid-air, defying gravity and bringing audiences screaming to their feet.) But Robert Royston! He’s the cleanest, wholesomest country boy to ever dance to a dirty rap song and it was hilarious watching him try.. This is a man who knows how to play an audience better than anyone out there but I’m not sure he was actually “performing” he looked so out of his element. Best moment – which you must go watch for yourself (put it on slo-mo if you can, or try to find a different video that might catch his face head-on because it’s the detail that is fall-down funny) – is when she surprises him by spinning around and he gets caught about to do a spank so starts clapping his hands nervously real fast like a spazz, way up under his chin all dorky, and his facial expression! So guilty and sheepish! Bright red and sweaty. Omg. It’s funny on tape but maybe that’s cause we’re remembering it live – hope you can see how hilarious this moment was. Genieboy and I have been recounting it to each other for a week falling out of our chairs laughing.
Maxence and Hazel, “Far Away” and “Think” – WOW! Two gorgeous dances! Hazel is so musical and Maxence! Maxence is just merveilleux. Both of these people are exceptionally friendly, welcoming, and open, both are great listeners – and they dance that way. This was a GREAT partnership. Hazel’s face! She has one of those smiles that capture a room. And man is she quick! Smooth, creative dancing. Everyone knew they’d do well and they did! Third place (behind Arjay and Melissa and Kyle and Deborah.)
And last of all the wonderful handsome amazing Brennar and our beautiful Lemery (actually if we’re lucky we might soon be calling Brennar “our” Brennar, too, if he is accepted to the Naval Academy in Annapolis. Won’t we be lucky in DC! Not that we’d get to see him much. But we might! We saw Orion while he was here… which he got docked for, a lot, but we did see a lot of Orion.)
“Stereo Hearts” and “Spankin’ Leroy.” So Spankin Leroy has this famous break, right? A full eight-count silence. So Brennar and Lemery are standing facing each other and on 1 of this great break Brennar reaches his hand through her legs, planning to have her reach behind her back and pull him through. Only the coordination of the grabbing-of-hands and the crouching-versus-standing-upright doesn’t happen quite in sync like it’s supposed to and there are a few seconds where all we are able to see – we’re one foot away on the floor at eye-level this whole thing unrolling silently in slo-mo like falling off your bicycle – all we see is Brennar’s hand groping blindly, wildly in the air, searching for a lifeline, something to grab onto, and since they are both now standing up his hand is just a bit too “cozy” for comfort. It’s silent, it feels like time freezes and all eyes are on the hand wiggling helplessly in the wrong spot.
Believe it or not the move actually worked out perfectly. After this moment. Brennar slides through and comes up at the other end of the slot exactly right on time! And it was made funnier and certainly more interesting because of that one long long second, being out on that precipice for that one scary moment. The whole audience (and all the pros in their chairs) laughed in relief when it was done.
What a fun division this was!
Scores were posted last night!
1 Brennar Goree & Torri Smith
2 Arjay Centeno & Jennifer Deluca
3 Kyle Redd & Sarah Vann Drake
4 Ben Morris & Melissa Rutz
5 Sean Mckeever & Courtney Adair
6 Kristopher Swearingen & Rebecca Ludwick
7 Ben McHenry & Cameo Cross
8 Sebastien Cadet & Blandine Iche
9 Kevin Fitzhugh & Ashley Riddick
10 Jason Marker & Annmarie Marker
1 Myles Monroe & Tessa Cunningham
2 Robert Royston & Nicola Royston
3 Gregory Scott & Lemery Rollins
4 Robert Jackson & Connie Gauthier
5 Ben Hooten & Rebecca Ludwick
1 Christopher Dumond & Nicole Clonch
2 Akil Boatwright & Alexis Garrish
3 Stephen Guido & Hannah Clonch
4 Josh Williamson & Anyssa Olivares
5 Brandon Anzaldi & Madison Malone
6 Cameron Crook & Amanda Mckamey
1 Brady Stanton & Libby Collins
2 Reginald Beason & Lara Deni
3 Michael Saloka & Nicole Zwerlwein
4 Jerome Chanchom & Laura Conforti-rousse
5 Derek Leyva & Katheryn Baca
6 Jc Bryant & Tracy Martin
7 Jason Lane & Mary Beth Lane
1 Capital Swing
2 Les Cingles du Swing
3 DC Swing
1 Ryan B-Boy Boz
2 Favorite Things
3 Stephanie and the BBs
4 Nightclub two step
1 Rich Chung & Nam Lim Kim
2 Xavier Dumail & Vanessa Bazin
3 David Kalifa & Olga Usmanova
4 Claude Frezou & Laura Conforti-rousse
5 Justin Spencer & Kimberley Myers
6 Myat Nyunt & Margaret Tuttle
7 Brendan Jacques & Talley Starbird
8 Scott Gilbert & Patricia Rogan
9 Tommy Brodie & Samarah Wright
10 Nathan Smith & Schroeder Noble
1 J. Fernandez & Marine Fabre
2 Olivier Duplay & Virginie Duplay
3 John Bowman & Alaina Sisley
4 Yu Sun & Nicole Zwerlwein
5 Stephane Schneider & Amanda Mckamey
6 Jeff Mumford & Leah Burkman
7 Tj Bednash & Sally Charles
8 Kyle Merritt & Nicole Stottlemyer
9 Froilan Mate & Sara Plescia
10 Michael Blackburn & Natalie Kuczma
11 Sam Easley & Raquel Williams
1 Trevor Spika & Chelsea Spika
2 Cameron Crook & Estelle Bonnaire
3 Jb Brodie & Helen Tocco
4 Reginald Beason & Heidi Batdorf
5 Sebastien Cadet & Sandra Pellegrini
6 Grigoriy Lebedev & Katia Avlasevich
7 Bradford Whelan & Anna Balcom
8 Stephane Dominguez & Samantha Fernandez
9 Pj Turner & Lara Deni
10 Akil Boatwright & Celine Sully
11 Matthew Smith & Libby Collins
12 Keith Stremmel & Erica Smith
13 Mitchell Marcello & Lori Rousar
1 Brennar Goree & Deborah Szekely
2 Kyle Redd & Jennifer Deluca
3 Robert Royston & Lemery Rollins
4 Maxence Martin & Emeline Rochefeuille
5 Michael Kielbasa & Cameo Cross
6 Arjay Centeno & Patty Vo
7 Brent Key & Kellese Key
8 Robert Cordoba & Tessa Cunningham
9 Ben Mchenry & Sarah Vann Drake
10 Ben Morris & Virginie Grondin
1 Kevin Fitzhugh & Kimberly Ciccarelli
2 Dave Damon & Sue Lambell
3 Lewis Neal & Leslie Mallory
4 Mike Glasgow & Debbie Ramsey-Boz
5 Anthony Jones & Linda Allen
6 Eddie Karoliussen & Kristin Wenger
7 Gerry Morris & Kelly Wentling
8 Will Burbage & Johanna Barnes
9 Shawn Brennan & Nancy Price
10 Roger Harris & Adela Su
Jack and Jills:
1 Chris Cusick & Mary Keegan
2 Chris Arasin & Gabriela Figueredo
3 Kevin Loveland & Veronica Castilla
4 Charles Williams Jr. & Sara Frazier
5 Nathan Johnson & Danielle Cooper
6 Tom Allen & Kendall Pham
7 Gregory Johnson & Allison Bennett
8 Thomas Gomez & Darlene Crowl
9 Billy Northcutt & Gayle Allen
10 Bob Carleone & Kelly Jordan
11 Elan Ronen & Robin Stocksdale
1 Justin Spencer & Laura Conforti-rousse
2 Roger Batista & Raquel Williams
3 Jerome Chanchom & Becky Wolcott
4 Derek Leyva & Sarah Sheaff
5 Luc Maurette & Katheryn Baca
6 Tyler Sullivan & Shelby Thorne
7 Rich Chung & Jennie Hartman
8 Tommy Brodie & Sara Plescia
9 Kevin Vial & Joni Horton
1 Jerome Subey & Taylor Bechtold
2 Ewan Dupree & Margaret Tuttle
3 Josh Williamson & Larysa Krasij
4 Olivier Duplay & Alaina Sisley
5 John Nye & Virginie Duplay
6 Benjamin Folch & Victoria Andromalos-dale
7 Jeff Mumford & Kendra Zara
8 Riquelme David & Terra Summers
9 Scott Mehlberg & Natalie Kuczma
10 Phouvanh Meckhasinh & Whitney Brown
11 Andrew Mastin & Auntonya Rogers
1 Akil & Blandine
2 Reginald Beason & Nicole Clonch
3 Stephane Dominguez & Emeline Rochefeuille
4 Andrew Makowski & Virginie Grondin
5 Rajeev & Lisa Toepel
6 Sebastien & Estelle
7 Stephen Guido & Anyssa Olivares
8 Eric Byers & Celine
9 Mitch Marcello & Abi Wood
1 Kris Swearingen & Chelsea Spika
2 Cameron Crook & Trendlyon Veal
3 Doug Rousar & Cameo
4 Stephen White & Jen Diener
5 Erik Novoa & Yuna
6 Trevor Spika & Samantha Fernandez
7 Rob Jackson & Tori Ellington
8 Kyle Patel & Heidi Batdorf
9 Jb Brodie & Lara Deni
10 Brandon Gautreaux & Helen Tocco
1 Arjay Centeno & Melissa Rutz
2 Kyle Redd & Deborah Szekely
3 Maxence Martin & Hazel Ulrich
4 Ben Morris & Jennifer Deluca
5 Robert Royston & Sarah Vann Drake
6 Brent Key & Torri Smith
7 Parker Dearborn & Tessa Cunningham
8 Michael Kielbasa & Kellese Key
9 Brennar Goree & Lemery Rollins
1 Akil & Whitney Brown
2 Josh Williamson & Hannah
3 Stephen Guido & Amanda
4 Brandon Anzaldi & Anyssa
5 Cameron & Madison
6 Chris Dumond & Alexis Garrish
7 Tommy Brodie & Nicole
1 Gary Jobst & Lorraine Rohlik
2 Kevin & Johanna Barnes
3 Mike Glasgow & Robin Tittley
4 James H & Patty Gray
5 Dave Damon & Tracy Gauthier
6 William Mattocks & Kelly Wentling
7 Gerry Morris & Robin Grimsby
8 Miguel & Tammy Brown
9 Shawn Brennan & Sue Lambell
10 Marcus Schwarz & Kristin Wenger
11 Genieboy & Cathleen Rhodes
** “Sophisticated” (in case you’re wondering what the heck it is) is kind of like your pinky toe or appendix: it’s a holdover division from years ago with no real use anymore (ie no points tracked by the wsdc) and mostly not seen on the circuit (I don’t know if we’ve ever seen this division in California, mid-west or Texas – it’s mostly an east-coast thing. Or maybe just DC?) It’s an age division, up to the event director what the age is (we’ve seen it 30+, 35+, 40+) The wsdc points registry does track Masters (50+) and as more and more baby-boomers enter that demographic more and more comps are including Masters divisions for Jack and Jills, Strictlys, and a NASDE Routine division (for which there is a great tour, created by Bob and Beverly Budzinski and rewarded handsomely with a large pot at the end of the year both by the tour and by the Open. Not naming names but one lucky couple recently walked off with just about 10K at the Open.) We are aware of some terrific new Masters routines in the works for this year – the division is finally taking itself seriously and becoming respectable.
LOTS MORE TO TELL!
There always is.
And meanwhile, it is Friday, and the Chicago Classic is in full swing! This is our first year in seven that we can’t be there. But we will be watching all weekend! You too can watch it, here:
More soooon …..
Yallo! Liza here, on our way to Chicago, and now have some time to write about MadJam … we were way extremely too busy *at* MadJam to even breathe since MadJam is our local event.
Great weekend! Friday afternoon I passed Jessica Cox running somewhere and asked if she was having fun (this was her first time at this event) and she said “WOW YES the energy in the ballroom is JUST CRAZY!” Jessica was right, it was high energy all weekend, beginning Thursday night with a rockin crazy steamy (steamy as in sauna – we were shvitzing in there – note to Dave: next year turn down the heat in Jr. Ballroom!) hot dance to kick off the whole weekend with a bang.
Saturday night we left the ballroom early – we thought! – trying to be good and get ourselves to bed – we thought it was 2am and discovered it was 5:30 already! Met people at the elevators who were just as surprised as we were to hear how late it had gotten to be without noticing. It was like that all weekend long – great dancing, high energy, loads of comps, round-the-clock social dancing in the Jr. Ballroom and awesome social dancing in the big ballroom every night - crazy fun.
We wore purple all weekend. We, meaning me. Heidi wore Dave’s Purple Hat. But the prize goes to Kimmie and Jim, who were PURPLED OUT on Saturday, after midnight: wig, top-hat, glasses … Facebook pictures to follow (and by the way, loads of people had cameras and have posted albums of MadJam pics on Facebook – look for them all!)
I brought a huge bag of red and yellow arm bands and Saturday night before Classic we distributed them to anyone who wanted to have fun with Jordan and Tat (they wear arm-bands as part of their costume.) It was spozed to be a surprise. But the minute I saw them on Thursday night I yelled “HI! HI! HihihihihiHIYOUGUYS!! WE BROUGHT ARM-BANDS FOR EVERYBODY IT’S A SECRET! oops” so then it wasn’t a secret anymore. But they said they were glad to know beforehand because if they had looked out and seen a sea of arm-bands it might have been distracting. Not that they can be distracted. But it was fun wearing arm-bands to show support.
The Saturday night show was fantastic! Jordan and Tatiana, Brennar and Torri, Parker and Jessica, hustle (sorry, don’t know hustle-people names,) and a beautiful and moving tribute to the memory of Mike Glasgow’s son Ian – Classic Rock songs (Ian loved classic rock) danced by all the pro couples.
The weekend included hustle comps, wild New York style street hustle social dancing (the hustle people were ecstatic – they rarely get top-level hustle pro’s and famous street dancers gathered together for an entire weekend), and the launching of the hustle version of our wsdc (World Swing Dance Council.) I’m not crazy about hustle. However. What I did like about hustle was the clothes. We wcs dancers are bor-ring compared to the disco-ball snazz n’ glitz n’ flash n’ trash. Fishnets! Lotta leg! (“leg” as in when your leg includes your gluteus maximus and halfway up your back,) seriously spiked heels. Couple of rawther shortish skirts above the fishnets, some where, if sitting at a table, one found oneself at eye-level with the meeting of the fishnet stocking and the rawther shortish skirt which meant one didn’t notice much hustle dancing since one was interested in deciphering whether that was actually a nu-nu which was peeking out at one or if there were nude-colored underpants inside the fishnets and the peeking-out thing was an underpants-covered nu-nu. Not a … whatever. A nu-nu just out there in the world.
The all-star and pro strictlys were CRAZY great! So many allstar and pro dancers! In DC! Sheesh! The All-Skates gave you whiplash trying to look everywhere at once. Awesome JJ’s too! Jordan and Jessie drew each other in the Jack-and-Jill (this keeps happening!) and Jordan looked out at the audience and said “Okay repeat after me: 1, 2, 3, awwww!” Which we did, of course. Har har. But come on, they are SO CUTE together! It’s sickening.
Saturday afternoon I was rushing through the lobby and stopped to watch a crowd of hand-dancers goofing off dancing awesomely cool stuff on the marble floor hilarious, fast, Xavier in the middle of course.
Saturday we were up at 8am to get ready for the day (after sleeping, what, an hour maybe?), left the ballroom 6am the following morning. Up again three hours later at 9am (comps and finals started early.) Crazy busy weekend … exhausting but fun!
Loads of people from California came out for MadJam – CALIFORNIA! – lotta folks who’ve never travelled to the east coast for an event before this. I asked as many as I could if they had fun and I haven’t heard a single complaint yet, not anything but raves about what a blast it was. And – the most amazing – actual real live TEXAS dancers actually LEFT TEXAS and came all the way out to the east coast for MadJam! Now THAT is an astonishment. Texas people don’t travel. I don’t think they even realize that anyone actually does west-coast outside of Texas. I don’t think they realize there are actually human beings outside of Texas. So it was great to have them!
1. Catriona Wiles intended to come but couldn’t get a visa. WAAAAAA!!! Huge disappointment. So many people had been looking forward to dancing with her, seeing her dance, and just enjoying her presence. And where Cat goes or doesn’t go, Paul goes or doesn’t go, too, so Paul wasn’t there either. Waaaaaa DOUBLE waaaaa. They were super SUPER missed.
2. Geoff Pann’s camera was stolen. Someone took it out of its case dropped the flash on the floor and walked off with it. Very not good, and makes me worry about carrying mine around with me. Geoff said “I don’t care about the camera – it’s just money. Money is money. What I care about is my pictures.” I can relate. Sort of. Okay maybe not.
3. I brought mucho purple. Since we were driving, not flying, I didn’t need to worry about weight so I just THREW (and I do mean threw as in hurled in a frenzy) every purple everything I owned into the suitcase. However. When I looked at what I brought it was all tops! I forgot to bring pants! So I had to wear a pair of GB’s old jeans, which I cut up so they wouldn’t drag on the floor and cinched at the waist with a belt. I looked like a moron, or the guy from Deliverance.
4. Kiona fell during her routine with Christopher Schcaupp, and maybe tore or hopefully just sprained a ligament in her knee. They had to stop dancing, of course, and she spent the remainder of the comp in a wheelchair.
5. Sean Brennan, I have just learned, was taken from the ballroom in an ambulance late Sunday. Does anyone know how he is, or what happened? I DO hope he is okay!
The results are all on the web now, but here are the results (of people I know) which I scratched down as they were announced:
Novice Hustle Strictly:
GENIEBOY AND FAYFEE FIRST PLACE!!!!
Novice Strictly wcs:
5 Clyde and Terri Miller
4 Nicholas and Giselle (Toronto)
2 Brian and Cali!!!!!! YAY BRIAN AND CALI !!!!
1 Jason and Lemery!!!! yaaaaaaayyyy!
Intermediate Strictly wcs:
5 Rajeev and Charlotte
4 Michael and Sara
3 Will Mattox and Tracy
2 Ken Minchin and Caroline Amblard
1 Justin and Lori Perella
Adv wcs Strictly:
5 Blaise and Kelly Hull
4 James and Alina
3 Benjamin Plante and Adair
2 Rob and Kelly Laderoute
1 JB and Abby Wood
5 Brennar and Deonna
4 Maxence and Katrina
3 Arjay and Tatiana
2 John Lindo and Lisa Schaup
1 Jordan and Jessica
3 Jody and Connie
2 Joel and Michelle
1 James and Jamie
5 Keith and Lara
4 Don and Whitney
3 Jason and Erica
2 Jason Marker and Anne Marie
1 Chris and Katrina
Showcase (in which everybody dropped people and fell – little scary to witness but no one was hurt):
5 Alex and Sergei
4 Jason and Sophy
3 Roberto and Rosa Perez
2 Orion and Rebecca (they didn’t drop anybody – they nailed it, again. What an awesome routine.)
1 Daniel and Shari
Nicki Fiore won Newcomer JJ!!!!
5 Glenn and Jannel!
4 Brandon and Rachel Cuccinata
3 Justin and Trendolyn
2 Brandon and Charlotte
1 Ed Malone and Lemery
5 Steven Hunt (yay Steve! from England!) and Bonnie
4 oops forgot
3 Christina DeMeola (sweetest person in history of human race)
2 Alan Brady and Maria VaSILLYya-va (yaaaaaaaay Maria!!!! Yaaaaaaaay Alan!! Yay Maria you rock!!)
1 Billy and Abby
4 Michael Diener
3 Jody and Sascha
2 Orion and Connie
1 Michael and Rose
5 Kelly Strouse
4 Patti Jobst and Robin Smith
1 MIKE GLASGOW AND WENDY MILLER!!! YAYYYY!!! or, as someone – I will not say who or why, but it was very funny - said: “Yeah, baby! Vinda – f(*&ing – cation!”
5 Xavier and Anne Marie
4 Maxence and Wendy
3 Yenni and Alfred (Asians!! Asians!! Two at once! AUGHGH!)
2 Brian and Torri
1 Brennar and Lisa
5 Parker and Jill DUMarco
4 Jason Barnes and Melissa Rutz
3 John Lindo and Deonna
2 Jordan and Jessica
1 Arjay and Tatiana
And now, since we are actually arriving here in Chicago, I will actually start paying attention to what is happening THIS weekend instead of LAST weekend and will send a Chicago Update later!