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What an outpouring of love for Doug and Lori! It’s now been three days and Facebook is overflowing with long missives on how much the weekend meant, how great Doug and Lori are, the love felt all weekend, how thankful people are to be part of the community. Heartfelt thank you’s and appreciations of Doug and Lori thanking them for their generosity, humility, the respect they have for individuals and for the community as a whole. It all feels genuine – it’s clear that people have real relationships with the Rousars and other leaders here – that the community has been built on a foundation of actual friendships and close personal relationships. Of course relationships are everywhere in the wcs community (good and bad – “relationships” is an understatement) but you know what I’m trying to say. It’s different here. You just feel something very different. Trying not to use the word “love” which sounds melodramatic but love is exactly what you feel here. Solid, devoted, long-term, down-to-earth, mushy, compassionate, fierce, respectful love.
Four Rising Star couples (Doug made a special request that we show interest in having this division at the comps we attend. I agree! Rising Star is a great way for new couples to learn how to get a routine on the floor and start up on the circuit.)
1st Place Hieu Le and Natalie Gorg, “Unfold”
2. Michael Saloka and Nicole Zwerlein, “Feel So Close”
3. Chris Edwards and Amy Lee,
4. Frank Blakemore and Faith Musko, “Lovestruck”
1st Place: Matt and Crystal “You Don’t Know Me” – which I think they’ve now danced a few times since late summer. Our first time seeing it live – it’s beautiful! As funny as Matt is in this he is serious and believable. And Crystal? What a gorgeous woman she is! And how beautifully she moves! Great song, great choreography, gorgeous dancing.
2. Arthur and Colleen with “Eet” (I lerv this routine)
3. Kris and Rebecca with “Gold”
4. Jason and Annmarie with A NEW ROUTINE! Our favorite so far, “Creep” (Radiohead)
Have you ever seen a Classic All-Skate? I bet not. You would remember if you had. Another of Doug and Lori’s ideas, and omgawd, how hilarious! After all routines are done Classic couples are called out to the floor for an All-Skate to perform their own routines, everybody together at the same time, to “Sexy Back.” So funny.
Jack and Jill finals here are all spotlight (wait! Having a Nah-Duh moment! This is why it’s called Spotlight New Year’s?!?)
Here are finalists, placements, and music:
(Judges: Nino DiGiulio, Jason Miklic, Jason Marker, Sophy Kdep, Debbie Figueroa, Arthur Uspensky, and Hazel Ulrich. Deejay: Victor)
Finalists (show of hands found almost all Novice dancing their first spotlight. Exciting!):
Jonathan and Judalyn got “In My Head” (Jason DeRulo)
Clayton and Kimberly got “Freeze” (Jordin Sparks)
Todd and Catherine got “Let It Rock” (Kevin Rudolf)
John and Tess got “Take It Off” (K$sha)
Jeff and Rachel got “Wait For You” (Chris Brown)
Corey and Crystal got “I Must Be Crazy” (Gnarls Barkley)
Carlos and Abby got “1, 2, Step” (Missy Elliott)
Thomas and Adriana got “The Way I Are” (Timbaland)
Michael and Noelle got “Wait For You” (Chris Brown)
Jonah and Amy got “This Ain’t Sex” (Usher)
And the All-Skate to “Yeah” (Usher)
1st Place: Todd and Catherine
2. Michael and Noelle
3. Richard and Abby
4. Damon and Etta
5. Thomas and Adriana
Wesley Weasel Brown
Elissa Gutterman (from Israel!)
Matthew and Lauren got “What’s Your Name” (Usher)
“Don’t Need It” (Jamie Fox)
Scott and Leah got “Cause I Said So” (Ne-Yo)
Grant and Marina got “Helluva Night” (Madcon)
Jesse and Katie got “Please Don’t Go” (Mike Posner)
Michael and Elissa got “Damaged” (Danity Kane)
Steven and Keerstin got “Available” (Flo Rida)
Wesley and Ashleigh (brother and sister – they drew each other! and were SO adorable, so fonky, controlled, attitudinous – they had us at that first “1, 2, 3, 4!” which they counted out in unison with such bravado they won the division at that moment) – dancing to “Forever” (by Chris Brown)
Frank and Faith got “Dynamite” (Taio Cruz)
Jean-Paul and Jewell got “More”
Yu and Kerry got “Stuttering” (Mario)
And the All-Skate to “Pump Up The Jam” (Technotronic)
1st Place Winners: Wesley and Ashley
2. Vern and Lauren
3. Michael and Elissa
4. Matthew and Lauren
5. Steven and Keerstin
Katie Slater Hicks
Jamey and Julie got “Imma Go” (Taio Cruz)
Nelson and Stephanie Risser got “Turn Up The Music” (Chris Brown)
Jeff and Katia got “Scream” (Usher)
Genieboy and Maria got “Only Girl” (Rihanna)
Mike and Natalie got “Me U and The Music” (Lemar)
Chris and Dawn got “Give Me Everything” (Pitbull)
Niko and Kendra got “I Can Only Imagine” (David Guetta)
Hieu and Katie got … uh oh I missed this one …
And the All-Skate to “Blues Power” (Albert King)
1st Place: Nelson and Stephanie
2. Mike and Natalie
3. Jeff and Katia
4. Hieu and Katie
5. Jamey and Julie
Larry and Cynthia got “Just Got Paid” (Johnny Kemp)
Scott and Beverly got “Let’s Groove” (Earth, Wind and Fire)
Wayne and Jennifer got “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” (MJ)
Mike and Joann got “Got To Be Real” (Cheryl Lynn)
Genieboy and Catherine got “Word Up” (Cameo)
Rick and Julie got “Best Of My Love” (The Emotions)
1st Place: Rick and Julie
2. Mike and Joann
3. Larry and Cynthi
4. Wayne and Jennifer
5. Genieboy and Catherine
Didn’t make it to the ballroom in time to see Newcomer, but here are the winners:
1st Place: Doug Nofzinger and Katrina Verey
2. Dominic Bernard Carolina Amendola
3. John Zonicle and Sophia Gutterman
4. Michael Cooper and Marjorie Kyle
5. Stanley Moody and Veronika Doma
And in that magic campfire-like Allstar/Pro JJ final in which all couples danced to Sungha Jung’s haunting guitar melodies:
Angel and Melissa Rollins got “Just The Way You Are”
Carlos Garcia and Melissa Greene got “Rock With You”
Chris Van Houten and Taletha got “Change The World”
Mike Konkel and Debbie Figueroa got “California Dreamin”
Jason Marker and Colleen got “She Will Be Loved”
Arthur and Stephanie Ciaglo got “Set Fire To The Rain”
Matt and Erica Smith got “Pay Phone”
Tybaldt and Crystal … and then later Nino and Rebecca … danced to “More Than Words”
Bryan Jordan and Rebecca got “Grenade”
Kris Swearingen and Annmarie got “Man In The Mirror”
Brennar and Sheli Schroeder
Jason and Sophy (yes, they drew each other!) got “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough”
Nino and Stacy Cramer got “Sunday Morning”
For the final All-Skate Victor played Daniel Bedingfield’s “Gotta Get Through This” and the Juke Jumpers “Give Me Something Fried”
1st Place: Tybaldt and Crystal
2. Jason and Sophy
3. Matt and Erica
4. Nino and Rebecca
5. Jason and Colleen
All scores (complete with judges sheets! Why doesn’t every comp do this?) can be found here.
Doug: “If you’re in you’ll get tapped. If you don’t get tapped you didn’t make it, so go to the bar. Wait, the bar’s closed? Shoot. Okay then if you don’t get tapped go to your room and drink.”
Doug (explaining Jack and Jill to Newcomers): “This is a perfect time to bribe the judges. They’re not cheap, but it’s worth it cause it’s effective.”
Doug: “Grab someone and just dance with them. Don’t do west coast swing, don’t do anything special. Just dance. For the fun of it.”
Bookends on Sunday night – omgawd – we haven’t laughed so hard in a long time.
Three acts: the “Swifter Swingers” – Beverly Solazzo (who’s funny even when she’s not doing funny routines) and two friends dancing with attitude and Swifter-Sweeper mops (and dusting gloves and rags which they flung seductively into the audience.) Doug: “That was so good I’d like you to run it again but this time start it over there in the corner and make sure to get the whole floor.” Then Cory Flowers, Billy Marti, and two umbrellas in a funny swing send-up of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.
And then … Matt and Brennar. Another year of what is becoming a New Year tradition – Matt and Brennar outdoing themselves this time in the funniest medley they’ve concocted yet. Opening with a caricature of Matt and Crystals’ current routine (“But You Don’t Know Me” which when performed during Classic is so gorgeous it brings tears.) Brennar as a much less attractive version of Crystal, stroking Matt’s bald head, lots of hip sways, a butt roll, a huge lip-smacking smooch (with both their hands over their mouths,) emoting and smearing pained heartache all over the place. Seguing into a perfect parody of the Markers’ “Unwritten” with Matt as Annemarie-On-Steroids flailing around with her long arms and her signature arm sweeps, her dramatic drops, her Annemarie hippy walks, her fist waving, an uncanny imitation of her head nods and facial expressions, the way she strokes Jason and herself. Absolutely nailed poor Annemarie (who was sitting on the floor keeled over with laughter, loving it.) Performed in front of the whole crowd of Michigan dancers almost all of whom discovered and learned west coast as students of the Markers. Lot of love for Jason and Annemarie in this neck of the woods so the audience just loved this. Then “Eet” starts up and here are a perfect Colleen and Arthur, the Uspenskys so precisely portrayed you had to remind yourself it wasn’t actually them. The ballroom was HOWLING, crying with laughter. Colleen was crying with laughter. I couldn’t hold my camera from laughing so hard. It was like siblings picking on each other, like if you were the Markers’ or Uspenskys’ brother or sister and you knew every little thing about them so well, every little move, and you wanted to pick on them, so you went nutso jumping around the house doing an over-the-top imitation just to make fun. That’s what this was – impressions so accurate and so funny they had to have come from extremely close friends – friends who know these people and these routines intimately well. Hilarious.
Crystal says Matt and Brennar *are* each other, they’re clones of each other, the brother-from-another-mother. Upstanding citizens in real life, conservative and traditional-minded, but with wildly funny “alter egos” on the dance floor.
They finish the medley by strutting to the back of the floor while throwing off their vests and out come Arthur, Jason, and Mike Konkel to join them in an almost-x-rated hotbody guy routine complete with bawdy gestures and raunchy poses (and a flash of Mike Konkel’s ripped chest and abs) better than any Chippendale performance. You’ve got to see the video – especially if you know these routines.
Speaking of video – I’ve said it before and will say again: Becky Larson is not only one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet (this entire community is nice – it’s the influence of the leaders of the community here – the kindness, humility, love and respect is palpable in every aspect of the dance community here) – she’s not only extremely nice but is a perfectionist and puts out a beautiful product for a ridiculously low price. You can help make sure we continue to get the quality videos of the moments we all love so much by purchasing the Spotlight (and other comps!) videos here.
And speaking of quality products, Doug and Lori posted finalists on facebook throughout the event and the judges sheets immediately, the day after! How great is that? You can find the scores here.
So many stand-out moments at this event! All weekend long. But the one that will remain in my mind’s eye forever was Sunday night’s chilling, electrifying Pro JJ finals.
Victor had a brilliant idea, a risky idea, he says he was a nervous wreck knowing it could have failed completely. He would play songs by a new artist he had only just discovered by chance, Sungha Jung, a 16-year-old South Korean classical guitarist, a series of instrumental covers of songs we are currently dancing to in the community. Doug said okay let’s go for it. And let’s bring the audience close in, let’s seat them on the floor in a tight circle around the dancers. And let’s cut the lights and make the ballroom completely dark and use followspots.
What happened was magic. Moody, atmospheric, intimate, spine-tingling, mesmerizing, unforgettable magic.
Pitch black room, quiet plucking of guitar strings, the dancing couple painted with streaks of light and shadow floating silently back and forth in the center of a circle of watchers – heads and bodies with light flickering off them, barely perceptible, as if seated around a campfire. And you could hear voices in the dark involuntarily singing words to the songs, softly, you felt you had to whisper, you found yourself humming along.
No words to describe the beauty, the quiet joy in that room.
I would say try to find the video to get a glimpse of what happened but I don’t know if any video can capture the darkness and light, the silent noise, the magic.
Another of those historic moments in the community. What a way to start the new year.
Lots more to tell … it was a great weekend.
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!
So much fun here at Spotlight! So far today JJ prelims and semis – finals (all Masters, and Novice through Advanced – all spotlight!!) in an hour. Later tonight Allstar/Pro JJ finals … and … the highlight … what we are hearing is gonna be a BAD ASS extremely heelarious routine division – ” Bookends.” WHAT FUN!!
Been here since Thursday night and feel like we’re eating our way through the weekend so far – feeling bloated and happy.
Friday Pro/Allstar Strictlys so funny – big screen at the corner of the floor and on it, before each couple danced, Doug showed a video clip of a famous routine move which the couple had to incorporate into their dance (all dances were spotlight.) For the first few the audience was polite but once we realized that the funny part was watching the leader’s face as he tried to figure out how to get the move in there, once we saw the leaders red-faced and sweaty, struggling under pressure, we were relentless, like vultures thirsty for blood screaming “NOW! NOW! DO IT NOW!”
Brennar and Annemarie got Tatiana’s famous drop to the floor in “More” (to “Move Across The River”)
Kris and Melissa Greene got Sarah’s final fist-pumping twirl in “Johhny B Good” (to “Fine Brown Frame”)
Jeff Mumford and Rebecca got Tatiana’s pivot-on-her-knees in “More” (which Rebecca executed on her butt and danced the rest of the dance in black pants that were so dusty from sweeping the floor it looked like they came with bleached cheeks) (to “Let The Good Times Roll”)
Mike Glasgow and Erica Smith got Kyle and Sarah’s lindy hand-waving thing (what’s that called? it’s not lindy hand-waving thing – there’s a name for it) from “Johnny B Good” (to “Sweet Home Chicago”)
Angel and Debbie got Jen DeLuca’s laid-out feet-walking-around move from “Din Daa Daa” which Debbie did, like, three times, so then Angel laid out flat and stepped around Debbie (to “Ain’t Jivin I’m Jammin’ “)
Jason Marker and Taletha got Kyle and Sarah’s 14,000 rock-and-go whip hip catches followed by 14,000 turns and a final bow – Johnny B Good – the bow was the funniest part to “Ya 3x”
Mike Konkel and Stephanie Ciaglo got Benji and Kellese’s Diablo Rojo, the part where Benji does multiple one-legged spins finished by throwing a leg over her head while Kellese lays out on the floor in a back-bend. Well they were dancing just fine but Mike just wasn’t putting the trick in there and time was running out. Talk about screaming for blood! The audience went berserk goading him DO IT DO IT NOW MIKE NOW! until finally he set it up, did his spin and was about to lift his leg over her head but oops there was Stephanie just standing there looking confused. So he set it up again, spun around again, but there was Stephanie again just standing there. So he set it up a third time but this time when he came around he stopped, put his hands on the top of her head and pushed her down so he could do the leg thing. It was hilarious. Stephanie says when they showed the video she never saw the back-bend part, she was only looking at Benji.
Matt and Colleen got Tatiana’s roll on the floor from “Viva” (to “Don’t Wanna Go Home”) and Matt, being Matt, did not only that trick but every other trick that had been shown so far, including Mike and Stephanie’s new head-pushing-down trick.
Arthur and Crystal got Tatiana’s famous Pump-It roll (to “Brokenhearted”)
And the All-Skate, to Gagnam Style, with Kyle and Sarah’s backwards neck-drop pull-through-his-legs.
Last night’s Awards for Strictlys -
1. Genieboy!! and Joann
2. Larry Hough and Julie Epplett
3. Wayne and Cindy
1. Larry Powers and Rachel Detain
2. Guy and Anne Pew
3. John Rosda and Anne Berklin
1. Wesley and Maria
2. Chris Evers and Laura
3. Kyler and Faith
1. Nelson and Naomi
2. Hieu and Kendra
3. Niko and Alyssa
1. Brennar and Annemarie
2. Matt and Colleen
3. Jason Marker and Colleen
… and, and, and, so much more funny fun stuff but no time no time no time have to hurry back down to ballroom no time to proofread hope this is not a mess saw 8 routines last night AND A FIRST EVER CLASSIC ALL-SKATE will tell more later really super fun weekend ….
Oh my GAWD what a great New Year’s! Four days of brilliant moments. SO MUCH LAUGHING! My stomach will never recover.
I don’t know where to start! Maybe with Doug’s latest genius creation, yet another brilliant idea: a new division, the “Jack and Jill Classic” in which Allstars and Pros draw names on Friday night (even this part was funny – Doug held the small glass bowl containing the follower’s names and every leader who walked out there had some problem simply pulling a piece of paper out of a bowl. Either their hand got stuck, or they poked Doug in the face, Jason Barnes’ hand fishing around on Doug’s bald head instead of in the bowl, Brennar on tip-toes couldn’t reach the bowl because Doug purposely held it too high, Rob Jackson held his hand so high Doug on tip-toes couldn’t get the bowl up high enough. You get the picture – it was a hilarious hot mess) and also draw a CD with music pre-cut to 2:30; having two days, till Sunday night, to put together a new routine with this partner, to this music, using other people’s old routine costumes.
Two days to prepare in between participating in all the rest of the event’s activites, competing in other divisions, judging, teaching privates, performing, giving workshops, and social dancing. And in some cases taking care of young children too (Jason and Amy Barnes brought April, Jason and Sophy brought Jasmine and Jade, Matt and Crystal brought their little pistol Lilly.) But wait till you see videos of these routines. You will be floored. SO FUNNY! So brilliantly creative! Such great dancing!
Chris Van Houten and Chelsea Rodgers came out in black spangles and sequins, dancing a cool disco-ball swustle to “Missing You,” Chris lapsing every few bars into crazy head flinging reminiscent of the famous Will Ferrel/Jim Carrey/Chris Kattan “What is Love” skit. 20 seconds into the routine Sheven Kekoolani, in his trademark black and white argyle sweater, walked just in front of the backdrop from one side of the floor to the other, not even trying to go unnoticed. Seemed a little disrespectful. Chris and Chelsea had no idea Sheven had done this, they were up at the front of the floor dancing earnestly (with the exception of Chris’ momentary fits.) And then 15 seconds later Sheven appeared again, walking back the other way, stopping in the middle to do a b-boy airchair freeze and swaggering down to the other end to disappear behind the drapes. This seemed not only disrespectful but even rude, trying to steal the show like that. 20 seconds later Sheven appeared a third time but now accompanied by six other guys rolling onto the floor in formation: Hieu Le, Chris Moy, Jon Elms, Mineh Ishida, Han Doan, Yu Sun, and Sheven – it was an Asian Invasion! Leap-frogging, b-boying right up into the middle of the floor, totally upstaging Chris and Chelsea and then running over to join them in a rioutous chorus line can-can finale. The whole thing carefully choreographed. Earlier in the day we had seen a roomful of Asian men and Chris Van Houten laughing together in secretive discussion but even we were taken by surprise. They got us! They got us good! Oh my goodness people were just dying laughing.
Jason Miklic and Erica Smith performed a FANTASTIC routine, put together in 45 minutes on Sunday afternoon, to “The Way I R.”
Brennar and Colleen (“Colleen MacDonald” as Doug mistakenly announced – oops – Colleen is now Mrs. Uspensky!) in a FANTASTIC rendition of “More” (the Jordan and Tatiana acoustic routine version, by Alex Vargas). (Brennar and Colleen spent the weekend drawing each other for every contest – if they didn’t know each other before they do now!)
Jason Marker and Crystal, “After The Love is Gone,” yet another total Matt spoof. Poor Matt Auclair! He spent his New Year’s being made fun of, relentlessly picked on from everyone in every direction. And if anyone knows how to make fun of Matt Auclair it is his beautiful wife Crystal Auclair who knows intimately his egg-beater, washing-machine, sprinkler – alllllll his moves, both on and off the dance floor. This routine was fall-down funny.
Lori Hayner and Niko Salgado (graciously stepping in for Sean McKeever who had drawn Lori on Friday night but wasn’t able to dance) to Danny Gatton’s “Funky Mamma.”
Arthur “MacDonald” as Doug announced it (formerly Uspensky) and Stephanie Risser, in mildly indecent matching sleeveless black vests (no shirt underneath) and tight black pants, to Apple Bottom Jeans … and … surprise! They re-cut the music to include two surprise segments of Justin Timberlake’s famous hilarious “D!(% in a Box” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9HloS9Ukto&feature=related)
Carlos Garcia and Taletha to “Get Up Get Down Get Funk Get Loose” – with all sexy dips and drops done by Carlos instead of Taletha, carrying on the rest of the routine as if nothing unusual was happening. Hysterical.
Our favorite of the night, Jason Barnes and Courtney, to “Smack That.” Oh. My. Gawd. This was priceless. We had passed these two practicing in the lobby several times since Friday, each time stopping to ask how it was going and each time being shown what they’d come up with so far, telling us how hard it was to figure out interesting ways to “smack that” (the lyric repeats over and over.) It looked like the routine was coming along – we didn’t see anything particularly great or horrible, just a lot of competently danced west coast with a few pats on the butt. At one point – this must have been very late Saturday night (Sunday morning, I should say) – we passed them still practicing, by now looking particularly frazzled. They said they were so tired they’d become giddy and their choreography was devolving into complete smut, demonstrating some of the more recent ideas they’d come up with. Pretty bad is all I’ll say. Very funny, but pretty, pretty bad. It’s a wonder the hotel staff hadn’t called the cops.But somehow by Sunday night they pulled it together and the final product was ridiculously funny.
So picture this: Jason Barnes is a very big man – maybe 6′ 7″. Courtney curled her pretty blonde hair and wore a pretty yellow shirt under a black bustier. A very big man and a very pretty girl. So the routine starts with nice dancing, a few polite “smack that’s” and a lot of swing. And then Jason bends her over and WOP! smacks the living daylights out of her butt so hard it resounded at the far side of the ballroom – so hard she went flying forward, stumbling trying to catch her balance and not fall on her face. One powerful loud-ass smack. When she came up for air her face was bright red – she looked genuinely surprised, and the smile plastered on her face had a different character than before. It said “REALLY JASON? REALLY?!?” As they continued dancing you could just feel her getting madder and madder. And then they did something between his legs to the lyric “tae bo” and he smacked her on the side of her head so hard he said afterwards he worried he’d knocked her out. She was getting beat up. So when it came to the end of the routine, the final “smack that” lyric, and Courtney wound up, hauled off, and smacked Jason so hard across his face and neck that she sent him reeling across the floor falling down flat on his back to the last note in the song, when she finally did that you knew exactly why. She smacked the bejeezus out of him. It was such an outrageous routine the audience just fell out of their chairs laughing, crying and laughing, jumping up cheering in a standing ovation that just wouldn’t be calmed down. One of the funniest things we’ve ever seen. We talked to them later (Jason had a huge red welt across his neck) and they said they practiced it by dancing to the point of the smacks, saying “and here you hit me,” agreeing that when it came to the actual performance they would truly clock each other. And they did. Sooooo funny. Unforgettably funny.
Jimmy Mulligan and Annemarie (looking like Elly May Clampett in pigtails and a checkered shirt), gorgeous dancing to “Beggin’.”
And last of all, to the wonderful “How Long Can A Fool Go Wrong,” Matt Auclair and Connie Gauthier, and poor poor Matt – even Matt himself was making fun of Matt Auclair this weekend. And poor Connie, too! Having to dance egg-beaters and washing machines with new and even more complicated speed-demon innovations, like going up and down up and down while rotating around each other WHILE doing a washing-machine! Hilarious, astonishing dancing.
These routines came on Sunday night at the end of a long, fabulous weekend. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much or as hard as I did this event. What a blast!
LOADS more to tell!