Saturday afternoon started off with the preliminaries for the Revolution, Freedom and Liberation divisions (that’s medium, slow, fast for those not in the know). The bandstand was set up in the middle of the far wall and three heats went out for the medium and the slow, and two for the fast. The band was pretty good, although not exceptional for the contests. Their songs lacked tension in the slow tunes and drive in the mid and fast divisions. I was excited to watch the prelims and very proud of my friends who entered the competition alongside some of the biggest names in the community. They worked and danced exceptionally and next year the big names will have a huge community stepping up.
Saturday night is a night to dress up. Men snazzy in suits, vests and jackets; women in skirts and dresses; a full dance floor and a big band. The Wolverines Classic Jazz Orchestra had been set up middle of the far wall with the one oddity of a keyboard on the floor (probably did not fit on the bandstand). The room was packed. I’ve only had a limited number of occasions to see a big band in action, but the Wolverines were probably the best outfit I’ve seen so far. They played classic tunes with exceptional energy. Their song book was probably five inches thick and they played tunes so rarely heard except in recordings that it was exceptionally refreshing.
There were the finals for the three strictly style divisions during the second band set and the crowd was anxious to see who had made it and what fabulous dancing they would see. It started off with the midtempo division. The couples included Sakarias dancing with Ramona, a very entertaining and rhythmic pairing; Skye and Frida with top-notch dynamics and spectacularly graceful motion; Andy with Laura who are so easy to watch and cute; Mikey Pedroza and Nikki Marvin an interesting pairing of ethereal modern grace and classic style; Dax Hock with Emily Hoffberg; Thomas and Alice, although I’ve never met Thomas before Alice is a wonderful to watch; and Andy Spitz with Christelle de Crus. It was a fantastic showing with a number of international dancers who made the finals.
Next was the slow round. Of the strictly rounds, this was one of my favorites. I’ll name off the couples first: Thomas and Emily, Skye and Frida, Todd and Frida, Peter and Naomi, Mikey and Ramona, Dax and Alice, Brien Brown and Mia Goldsmith. I was a bit surprised by the results of this competition watching it again now. Mikey and Ramona had such wonderful chemistry, it was sexy and sultry without feeling sleazy. Peter and Naomi were subtle and gentle in their appreciation of the music the first time out and very rousing their second time out. Brien and Mia were vastly entertaining in the prelims and kept it up in the finals, almost a character dance on Brien’s part. Todd and Frida were entertaining, the stylistic choice that Todd seemed to make throughout the weekend was very unique, as if he was playing a suave Charlie Chaplin. Skye and Frida are always a wonderful duo with such controlled and easy physical movement, their lines always feel clean yet simple. Thomas and Emily had moments I thought were excellent and very cute although I disagree with their placing cause they didn’t feel in sync always and the lines weren’t as aesthetically pleasing. Dax and Alice, although excellent dancers seemed a bit jerky in this competition which surprised me.
Keep up for part two.