You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Swing Fling’ category.
We’re at Swing Fling!
First year under new management! Dave Moldover and his Dance Jam Productions cracker-jack organizational team (who do MadJam in March). This is Swing Fling’s 20th Aniversary year – created by Barry Durand and Dawn Garrish in 1991 and a founding member of both NASDE and WSDC, Swing Fling is DC’s oldest all-swing event.
So we’re at a new hotel for the first time in many years: five minutes from the airport with a free shuttle, great lobby with cool dining situation (you can sit down anywhere in the lobby – on the couches, in a formal dining room at regular tables, outside on the patio, at the lobby bar – and receive either an extensive full menu or an abbreviated menu (both with wonderful dishes at decent prices), attentive professional staff, and the Hyatt’s new “PURE” program where the rooms are treated so that every surface, fabric, even the air, is treated to remove irritants such as mold, viruses, bacteria, pollen, and yeast and odors, and comes equipped with a continuous air-filtering unit. The difference is noticeable – the rooms smell good. Or better put, they *don’t* smell at all, which, if you stay in as many hotel rooms as we do, makes you realize that all other hotel rooms smell pretty bad in comparison. Eeew.
Ballroom’s pretty – the backdrop glows with a lumiscent twilight-blue casting a dim blue-ish pall over the floor, eerie and quite beautiful. This floor is wider than last year’s, maybe not quite as deep, feels medium-sized and nice quality. Music has been so-so. Last night (Thursday) lotta complaining that the music was “weird” – we left at 12:30 and there were maybe 100 people on the floor. Tonight so far so good – feels like better energy, floor is full so far, lobby is filled with people lounging, laughing, drinking, and eating – they serve food till late which is working well for hungry late-nite dancers.
Jason and Sophy are here! We love them and haven’t seen them in ages, almost since Jasmine was born. And … Sophy is pregnant again! *Very* pregnant – she’s due at the end of September. They did the pro strictly tonight and Sophy is just SO adorable, completely totally adorable.
And newcomers to DC: Jason and Yvonne Wayne are here and WOW are they fun to watch! He caught our attention at last year’s Boogie where he and Sarah did a most amazing strictly (I’m sure you’ve seen this by now, but if not: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eohJ-1reMUQ ) so it’s a blast to have them out here on this coast.
So far we’ve had a full day of pro-ams, then all the hustle and west coast strictly’s tonight.
And here are Awards for Strictly’s:
4 Sam Easley and Kim Myers
1 Less and Tammy
5 Joanne and Giselle
4 Anthony and Barbara
3 Charlie and Ramune
2 Todd Irzik and Cath Cogut
1 Richard and Susan
4 Steven and Catherine Johannsen
3 Scott and Angela
2 Rick and Lura
1 Sean and Mary
5 Carol and Linda
4 Jack and Buffy
3 Pat and Brenda
2 Scott and Barbara
1 Sean and Mary
4 Phil and Angela McCabe
3 Billy Marti and Erica Smith
2 Brian and Stephanie Risser
1 Tybaldt and Hazel
5 Curt and Nicole Stottlemyer
4 Sam and Ramune
3 Myatt and Chorissa
2 Aidan and Alyssa
1 Brent and Kim
5 Gerry and Diana Lynn Cote
4 Michael Blackburn and Shoshi
3 Brian and Pam
2 Jeff Moscaritolioliolio and Sally Charles
1 Roy and Julie
5 Steve Ryan and Khyrystyna Cuismano
4 Brad and Sarah Wheeler
3 Akil and Whitney
2 Kumar and Stephanie Risser
1 Sam and Denise Miller
5 Roy and Cheryl
4 Genieboy and Jody Katz
3 Will and Chrissee Brownlee
2 Gerry and Khyrystyna
1 Keven and Lorraine
(Finalists were: Robert and Jill Damarco, Jason and Yvonne, Jason Barnes and Stephanie (Batista) McHenry, Greg and Taletha, Doug Rousar and Lemery, Luis and Deonna, Tybaldt and Hazel, Markus and Jen Lyons; Alternates: Alfred and Trendolyn, Anthony and Kay)
5 Hazel and Tybaldt
4 Jason and Stephanie
3 Luis and Deonna
2 Jason and Yvonne
1 Robert and Jill Damarco
Tomorrow is Jack and Jill’s!
We do partner dancing. Unlike ballet or jazz we are about Relationships.
Connection. Chemistry. Cooperating. Partnerships. Careers made, careers blown to smithereens. Stardom, Loserville, Purgatory. Marriages, scandals, pregnancies, continental jetting, continental plate tectonic shifts, volcanic eruptions, emotional explosions. Winning streaks. Reputations invented and then reinvented. Reputations ruined. Divorces, public spectacles, turf wars, cat fights. Drama. Giving it all up for love. Giving it all up for dance. Finding “The One” in the middle of a dark steamy dance floor at 4am.
Our dance is about relationships in every sense of the word.
Every three-minute Jack and Jill pairing, every Strictly couple, every routine partnership – each with the potential to light up the sky in magnificent fireworks or a spectacular crash-and-burn. And man do we love to watch it all, and tell stories about it forever after.
They say we’re a “clan” species built to live in close-knit groups of 100. But they obviously weren’t thinking about the West Coast community when they came up with that number, cause we’re like Clan of One Thousand Clans. We’re like Paleolithic Skyping Hunter-Gatherer Facebook Scavengers, emailing while slurping Red Bulls, instant-messaging, texting and tweeting. On a plane to a comp. In other words, our community is becoming huger and huger, and yet we are very close – like a small town where everyone knows everyone’s business.
So just this weekend, for instance, feeding our very human, clannish frenzy for relationship-gazing, Swing Fling is treating us to 90 (okay, 89 to be exact) Strictly duos; 1,100 Jack and Jill pairings; 150 Pro-Am couples; and 16 routine partnerships. That is 1,361 relationships! Not including social dancing! No wonder we return home exhausted!
Swing Fling is, as of this year, no longer a NASDE event. The designation has been re-assigned to MadJam in March. So this year instead of Classic or Showcase divisions Saturday night gave us an “Open Routines” contest of six couples followed by a “show” of eleven routine couples.
First, the contest:
Juniors Akil and Alexis opened the program with “Evacuate The Dance Floor” – this routine is exponentially better each time we see it. They’re juniors so their rate of improvement is like the adult rate times 200. Thousand. Two hundred thousand. So every time you see them it’s like you’re watching a different couple doing an entirely different routine. Only a month ago this routine was cute. It is not cute anymore – now it’s cool and exciting, with a mastery of movement that’s scary good. These two are both up-and-coming superstars.
Next Rob and Connie with their Showcase routine (Drops of Jupiter), ramping it up for the Open which is now looming in the not-too-distant future, experimenting with different energy in their choreography. This time out Rob was more prominent and visible, much “louder” than previously, a factor which changed the whole dynamic of the routine. They’re trying this and other adjustments to see what sort of feel they like best.
Then Tybaldt and Hazel with a lovely Hustle.
Next Erik and Anna in a slithery, snakey, slimey many-armed asymmetric black and bloody red Goth-ish piece, Erik in eye makeup with Transylvanian overtones, to Wild Thing (by Tone Loc). These two are so sweet together, Mr. and Mrs. Novoa – her pretty little legs in heels, his kind-hearted eyes and elegant grace. They are a charming couple. They were the cutest, most loeveable Mean Vampires ever. They’re so nice, such decent people, it’ll take quite a stretch for them to do the dark side justice. They’ll have to dredge up a coffin-full of hate, cruelty, and twisted psychotic mania to fill out a routine like this, and I hope we get to watch them try. But even without the darkness they were still a pleasure to watch – especially the cool shapes at the beginning, their graceful lifts, and their high ballet kicks.
Next Mike Glasgow and Kristin Wenger with “She’s Not There,” ramped WAY up a notch. Five notches. This routine has new batteries and it drank three Red Bulls, ate four packs of Skittles, took its vitamins and got a syringe of epinephrine. Don’t know what these guys did but they were juiced this time. Even under the blinding spotlight (or maybe because of it?) Mike was looking right out at us, fully engaged. The sound system helped them too, I think, because theirs is a great moody song which midway through picks up in tempo and volume and this time the dramatic second half was actually loud enough to feel exciting. They seemed to be dancing with more commitment, harder hitting, faster and slower. This is an elegant, smart routine (their first together) and it’s exciting to watch it get a heartbeat.
Luis has a new Showcase partner! Jennifer Pasetes (formerly Guy) (these guys are a couple outside of dancing, too) (she is crazy beautiful, a stunner, I’ve been following her around with my camera for years now – ask her! – falling over furniture trying to snap her picture like an annoying papparazza) dancing, as far as I know, her first routine ever. She’s all in red, Luis all in black with a red tie (and red pocket cuff) in a routine clearly designed to show her off, “introduce” her as a new routine dancer, loaded with as many lifts and tricks as could be crammed in between the obligatory swing patterns. We saw them at breakfast that morning, just after floor trials, maybe 8am. She looked a mixture of petrified, terrified, horrified, and mortified; muttering, as she ordered her omlet, that she felt “broken” from being thrown around the ceiling in a cold empty ballroom at 6:30am. Congratulations to Jennifer! She survived her first performance actually smiling the whole way through! Not the most relaxed smile perhaps, but it was a smile. I don’t enjoy imagining what my face would have looked like up there. It wouldn’t have been a smile.
That was the contest part of the evening. Robert Royston on the mic, funny as always. Judges were Festa, Stephanie McHenry (formerly Batista), Nicola, Bill Cameron, and Chief Judge for the weekend Dawn Garrish.
And the placements (not counted or recorded on any circuit) were:
1st Rob and Connie
2nd Tybaldt and Hazel
3rd Erik and Anna
4th Mike and Kristin
5th Luis and Jennifer
(Juniors Akil and Alexis were not ranked)
Next was the 11-couple show! With some verrrrrrry cooool stuff ….
“Smurfs! A ballroom of dancing blue smurfs!” That was George Wenschel and his videography team on Friday evening when the room was bathed in blue lighting, as if you were dancing underwater in an aquarium. Moody, other-wordly, spooky almost.
Blue was only part of a marvelous weekend-long light show at Swing Fling – what a playground for anyone with a camera. Top quality halogen stage-lighting; atmospheric lighting; commercial spotlights for performances; light shows on the screens and walls during social dancing (whirling wheels and shapes!); LED RGB mood-lighting fixtures in different colors to affect the energy in the room. An artistic environment all weekend long! As this new version of Swing Fling fades into memory it’s the dramatic shadows and colors of the ballroom that linger in my mind.
Dave Moldover (producer of Swing Fling, MadJam in March, and the upcoming VSO in the fall) calls the lighting “a production element” and says that this, along with live streaming of the event to ustream (4,500 people from all over the world watched on their phones and laptops!), quality “signage” (that’s a word?), the elegant white backdrop, titles streamed to the two huge monitors in the ballroom (and feeds to the internet and the hotel TV which we watched in our room all weekend long) – all these things Dave calls “production elements” and says they are the reason the event feels commercially produced rather than home-grown and amateurish. It’s a good feeling – like you know things will be managed correctly.
And they were! 51 workshops ran precisely on time. (That’s a lot of education for your money – a weekend “school” if you want it.) Not a thing was late all weekend, including Awards. Jody (on the mic Sunday afternoon): “Because the Swing Fling team is so efficient Awards will be very soon. We will now have a Zero-Song break okay finished now it’s Awards.” No long-winded speeches, no endless thank-you’s (acknowledgement of volunteers was woven throughout the weekend, emcees asking staff to stand for applause). Awards were so speedy – the plaque table rolled right up to the front and plaques handed out as the winner approached – that I had to run around frantically snapping pictures of whoever decided to pose for a moment mid-stride. It didn’t feel rushed it just felt efficient, and respectful of a tired Sunday crowd having to pack and get to the airport.
About that hotel TV station: This was something Dave has done for a couple of years at MadJam, too. We love it, and kept it on in our room the entire weekend to know which heat they were on, if the social floor was crowded, and to make sure we were hearing all the emcee Funny’s. But the reception at the hotel this weekend was not good (last-minute technical snafu) so when the lights in the ballroom were low we could only make out ghostly purple silhouettes …
… and we discovered something! We were able to identify every shadowy figure. Instantly, without even trying. There’s the guy – you know him, we all do – who dances split-weight with two bent knees, bobbing his head enthusiastically to the music, kicking up a foot every now and then for accent. There’s the girl – you know her! she’s everywhere! – who walks like a cowboy with a load in ‘is britches, and holsters, who jest git down offn’ his horse, liftin’ up his feets tryin’ not to stomp in them thar cow patties. There’s the one with frozen hunched shoulders and a forward neck, chin lifted up too high to compensate. The girl bent over with her butt stuck out, the wooden-legged toy soldier whose knees don’t bend, the woman with body parts wiggling in all different directions. There’s the robot. We recognized EVERYBODY! This was a shocking and rawther uncomfortable discovery when one began thinking about oneself.
Eleven routines Saturday night!
First, Robert and Nicola with their new “Edge of Glory” (Lady Gaga’s acoustic version) Showcase – only the second time out on the floor (first was last week in Denver). We love it! It feels contemporary. Not just because of the music – the choreography feels fresh and current.
Next Greg and Lemery with their winning “Teenage Dream” Showcase (they’ve been taking 2nd and 3rd around the NASDE circuit and both are, as of this writing, at the top of the NASDE charts).
Erik and Anna, “She Will Be Loved” (Maroon 5) – another of their lovely sweetheart routines.
Markus and Tren, in ripped jeans and red and plaid, Markus with his cute swingy little braids and skinny little Trendolyn with that big fluffy head of kinks and a red flower over her brow, so dang cute! Jumping across the stage in an exuberant hip-hop/stompin/swingin/whackin’ piece to “Boogie Shoes.” They haven’t decided if they’re going to take it to the Open – hope so! it would add a lot of fun to the Cabaret division.
Next Tybaldt and Hazel with another hustle – lovely as always.
Then Jason and Yvonne. So glad they brought this crowd-pleaser out to the east coast (we saw it at last year’s Open – they got a standing ovation): “We No Speak Americano” (by Yolanda Be Cool). Great funny song, great funny routine.
And then … Luis and Taletha, to Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia) and Oh! My! Goodness! TALETHA! That girl is BAD. ASS. I can’t comment on Luis, I didn’t even see him I was so mesmerized by Taletha. She stands with her back to you in the shadows of the far back corner and chills run down your spine just watching her stand there. And then she turns and looks you in the eye and that’s it, you’re done for, can’t look away for the rest of the routine. Those eyes! The tilt of her head! The force of her movements! I watched Taletha all weekend – JJ’s, Strictly’s, social – such intensity electric bolts shoot out of her ears, sparks fly from her eyes, her feet singe the floor boards. I can’t tell you a thing about the routine cause I didn’t even see it. Or hear the music (I had to call to ask) because my ears went deaf for 2 1/2 minutes. I’ll have to go look on youtube to see how they did.
You too can see this and all the other routines on Dave’s youtube channel where he provides everything that would go on a DVD, including JJ’s and Strictly’s, free! Not only does he let anyone film whatever they want throughout the weekend, in addition he hires a professional videographer (George, a great guy who doesn’t like smurfs, with his pro team) to give him quality footage which he then uploads to his youtube channel (1.5 millioin subscriptions!). Click here:
Dave Moldover’s Youtube Channel
Next, Jason and Sophy, “Summer Breeze” (by Jason Mraz), and a summer breeze is exactly what they looked like, Jason in a loose white Hawaiin shirt covered with flowers, Sophy in a floaty white flowered dress to match. With her eight-month-pregnant stomach she looked like a scoop of vanilla ice-cream with confetti sprinkles and a cookie on top.
Next Billy Fajardo dancing with a human pinata – Katie Marlow covered in tassles head to foot – Mexican yellow, black and red – rows of tassles flying horizontally as she spun around and above him in their saucy hustle-merengue showcase routine.
Then Kevin and Tammy in a happy “reggae-swing” to Bob Marley’s “Jammin’” and of course you had to love this cause who doesn’t love Bob Marley? Kevin in shimmering gold, Tammy in rich satin red with gold flowers, a brilliant green choker, and huge peacock earrings in the same colors. Together they were a luscious whirl of jewel tones. Kevin designed these outfits (Tammy made them) and he’s got a fantastic eye for design and style – Tammy’s layered, ruffled dress hung perfectly on her round body, spinning way out when she twirled, perfectly balanced with her plump little legs beneath in gold satin heels. They were like a gift basket of candied fruits dipped in chocolate.
And last, Kelvin Roche and Lorianne Greenhouse, performing another of their sexy spectacular winning Hustle Theatre-Arts routines, with lifts and death drops and flash and fire to make your jaw drop. Love her outfits. This time she was a muted canvas – from her blonde hair to her shoes to her flesh-colored leotard – she matched the floor. Except for one color: the very tips of her long nails were screaming Neon-Orange.
Saturday night’s program ended somewhat anti-climatically with the combined Allstar/Pro Jack and Jill Final which might be funny later but was not funny at the time. It was, well, I guess you’d call it odd. Twenty-two famously good dancers dancing … oddly. Not the good kind of oddly. As Robert Royston said of one of the dancers, “He was going for stretch. Trying to elongate his partner.” Another couple was battling to see who could dislocate the other one’s shoulder first. One couple was doing waltz, or rather, he was waltzing while she was doing, I don’t know what she was doing. Standing there. At one point I had a clear thought cross my mind: “This is a very bad Jack and Jill.”
Except for Erik and Deonna, who won and deserved it.
Unlucky judges for this competition were: Festa, Nicola, Robert, Bill Cameron, and Chief Judge Dawn.
And the placements were:
1st Erik Novoa & Deonna Ball
2nd Jason Wayne & Stephanie (Batista) McHenry
3rd Doug Rousar & Hazel Ulrich
4th Jason Barnes & Patti Jobst
5th Luis Crespo & Jen Czarkowski
6thTybaldt Ulrich & Taletha Jouzdani
7th Gregory Scott & Jennifer Lyons
8th Markus Smith & Jill Dumarco
9th Jason Miklic & Lisa Schaupp
10th Rob Jackson & Lemery Rollins
11th Dean Garrish & Kelly Hull
More in the next Update ….
On the plane out to L.A. for VIP Awards, 3,600 ft. above snow-capped Rockies in a blue blue sky…
Final words on Swing Fling 2011:
Massage tables! Are these guys making a killing at dance events? I’d think so but haven’t asked. Abi Legget had a table right outside the ballroom, Pam Marshall carried her’s room-to-room. I would imagine these gals would be booked from morning till night, all weekend.
Music: good mix most (not all) weekend. Primarily April Prince, with some TJ and Erica Lyons. Festa had a separate Blues and Soul room but both times I looked in it was empty. Heard the Hustle room was mostly empty, too, or very light.
The combined Allstar/Pro Jack and Jill prelim lineup (to give you a feel for who was there):
Mrs. Michael Diener*
(The *asterix = made finals)
Judges were Chris Schaupp, Loryann Greenhouse (hustle), Kelvin Roche (hustle), Festa, and Robert and Nicola Royston
Bill Cameron, emcee for the division: “I hope you’re taking advantage of our great pro workshops. Jason and Sophy are teaching tomorrow at 10am – what are you teaching Sophy? ‘How To Make Babies?’ You seem to be very good at it!”
Bill again, Sunday morning: “… and Jason Wayne will be dancing with Yuna Davtyan. STAY AWAY FROM YUNA SHE’S MINE. DON’T TOUCH YUNA.”
Bill was in rare form all weekend, very funny on and off the mic.
Speaking of Jason Wayne: A line of women stoood waiting for a dance with him from 1am Saturday night till we left at 5. Including Yvonne! His own wife had to stand in line to get a dance! Laughing about it Sunday morning she said it’s always that way for him, even at home (Bay area) – it gets tiring. To his credit, we watched him Friday night going around the edges of the ballroom asking the shy women to dance. By Saturday he had a hotel-full of breathless, starry-eyed groupies. I’m glad the Waynes came out to the east coast and introduced themselves – their presence made a difference all weekend long.
All in all the weekend was an improvement over recent Swing Flings. Beautiful lighting, great accessibility to Dulles, decent hotel (though we heard not all rooms were good – some were cramped and dingy), the judging panels could use some improvement, music was good, ballroom and floor 40% bigger and attendance about twice that of last year’s …
And here we are in L.A.! Six rawther noisy AirTran hours later …