In the final segment of Saturday at ULHS the Liberation or Fast round brought some of the best competitors from all over the globe to the floor. The competitors were Max Pitruzella with Annie Trudeau, Minn Vo with Ria DeBiase, Sakarias Larsson with Frida Segerdahl, Mattias Lundmark with Hannah Zetterman, Jeremy Otth with Laura Keat, and Henric Stillman with Joanna Eriksson. Last year this competition set the benchmark for fast dancing for the year (and the 2nd highest number of hits on Youtube for Lindy Hop) and I believe it will again for the next year.
Here is a little rundown of my thoughts on each couple. In this section I am critical of each of the couples that were competing, if this bothers you, don’t read on.
Minn Vo and Ria DeBiase did a decent job (they made it to the finals, that is something on its own), however it felt overly choreographed. It did not capture the innovation of the contemporary lindy hop scene, more of a traditional show piece than a competition piece. Their partnering was not always the best, with moments of dissonance.
Sakarias Larsson and Frida Segerdahl were out next. They have excellent partnering having worked together for many years. They had very strong swingouts with long lines which I would have liked to have seen more of. They had a slip up or two with aerials, although they were often just as entertaining if not more so with the slip up than without.
Max Pitruzella and Annie Trudeau had a spectacular performance. They brought a variety of innovative twists to known aerials and my happiest point, lots of solid swingouts (particularly in the all skate). Very tight and solid pairing without any slip ups. The only minor point is that while they are very tight, sometimes it feels a bit too hard and could use some softness.
Mattias Lundmark and Hannah Zetterman exceptional performers, although I felt that I had seen that same sequence before in many different situations. A similar point to the first couple out, it didn’t push the boundaries enough. Otherwise their aerials were exceptional, especially the super pancake in their second spotlight.
Jeremy Otth and Laura Keat brought a very different feel to the fast round. They had clean and consistent aerials and they had creative material that played up a clear stylistic difference. They felt much softer even while dancing to such a swift tempo, although occasionally it felt as if they slipped a little against the tempo. The more I watch the video, the more I appreciate their sections.
Henric Stillman and Joanna Eriksson were the third couple from Sweden who made the fast round finals. During the all skate they look tired, doing a good amount of half time or slow motion movement, however along with Max and Annie there is a section of exceptional ensemble swing outs (around 5:45 in the video) which is really one of my favorite parts of the all skate.
Overall, the performers in the fast round were exceptional but I really hope to see the dancers take it up a notch next year with creative and fantastic material that I haven’t seen before. Showdown sets the bar every year, lets hope it stays that way.