Liberty 2011 – Update #5

Classic, continued …

The sixth routine Saturday night was performed by Sebastien and Blandine (Montpellier, France), to “Home” by Vanessa Carlton (great routine song). I love this routine. I love watching

Blandine move, period, I’ve been mesmerized by her all this and last year, watching her win Jack and Jill’s, Strictly’s, and Golden Ticket. I’m told she feels as good as she looks. And

Sebastien! What a hunk and a half! And fun to dance with! So this song has loads of drama and so does their choreography: just at the end, at the highest most dramatic point, the piano repeats a four-note scale over and over and as it does Blandine does four outside turns, then four pirouettes, four flatbacks, four turns around Sebastien, then EIGHT flatbacks, and eight finger spins looking skyward – 32 beats of spinning! Parfait!

Next, Kyle and Sarah, with their funky “How You Like Me Now.” Sarah starting out with her face one inch, literally, from Angel’s nose. How did she keep from laughing? No idea. How can you be serious pinned up against that huge toothy grin? But she did, and she was all bad-ass attitude. And she ended the routine by strutting right back at him again all uppity How You Like Me Now In Yo Face. By the way, the Facebook “VIP Awards” page is showing Kyle and Sarah’s “Johnny Be Goode” (2002 Classic 1st Place) as winning in several different categories. (The Facebook page is not where you actually vote so it’s a bit confusing. But it does hint at what you might expect at the upcoming VIP Awards Gala this August.)

Then Erik and Anna Novoa’s elegant “You Made Me Love You,” he in a tie and vest, she in a pretty little dress and heels on her pretty little legs. Sweeping kicks and leaps, everything in
tandem. They’re both ballerinas and this routine shows off their sweetness and grace.

And last of all the amazing Brennar and Torri. Wow. Just wow. Their footwork! So FAST! Shag footwork maybe? I don’t know I can’t even see the feet it’s just a big blur like they’re zipping around on unicycles, or like those cartoon characters that shoot across your tv screen with a blurry circle where the legs are supposed to be. And they’re smiling and doing back-bends and knee drops and spins all through it. Perfectly clean! They’re amazing. Great song, great routine, great great great.

SwingDiego is sunny, expansive, sparkled with big names and superstars, very southern California. Liberty, on the other hand, is totally New York. Very Broadway. John Lindo presiding over everything like the owner of an exclusive Michelin 3-Star establishment, greeting everyone, shaking hands, overseeing operations, pouring wine, putting out fires, thanking each guest for coming. Lindo is a generous host – breakfasts provided each morning in the atrium outside the ballroom; big trophies for the top three winners in every category (I brought one home! It’s gorgeous standing on our mantel!); big cash prizes. Lots of extras at Liberty to show that he knows you’ve spent boatloads of money and many hours of travel to patronize his event and he appreciates your support.

People come in early to see New York, take in a show, visit the Statue of Liberty, the Met, Soho. When we arrived in the pouring rain Thursday afternoon Torri and Kim (Torri’s wonderful mom) were just returning from Times Square, completely drenched but happy and unbelievably cute and huggable, both of them. I wish thunderstorms made me look adorable like that. They don’t.

Speaking of adorable, cutie-pie Cali Buntin reminded me that I am not the only person in the hotel with a humidity hair advantage. Cali has one too. Both of our hairs are maxed out – there’s nowhere else to go. Thunderstorms? No problem. Hurricanes? Blizzards? Hail? Avalanches? Nothing affects our hair.

Oh, and speaking of New York, Mario opened Friday’s competitions telling us that Liberty is not a NASDE comp, Liberty is in fact a proud non-member of NASDE. Why? Because, since its inception in 2004, Liberty has always been, in Mario’s words, “gender equal.” This was particularly poignant because only two hours earlier the state of New York had legalized same-sex marriage with a 33-29 vote in the state Senate. Mario made this announcement and then, mic in hand, walked across the floor to John Festa sitting in his judge’s chair, got down on one knee and said, “My dear friend. It’s been 20 years. John, I would like to ask for your hand in marriage.” I’m not sure whether Festa said yes or no – couldn’t hear his reply through all the laughing. Fortunately – or unfortunately – New York has not yet legalized multiple marriages so Mario’s beautiful wife Stephanie, sitting in her judge’s chair several seats down, need not worry about sharing.
And with that DeLuca and DeMarco (Jenn and Jill) began the Pro Strictly, followed by six other couples: Jordan and Jessica, Arjay and Torri, Brennar and Melissa Rutz, Benji and Sarah, Robert Royston and Debbie Figueroa, and Kyle and Tatiana. Judges for this comp were Festa and Stephanie, Dawn Garrish, Blake, Phil Lamothe, and Angel, Chief Judge for the weekend.

Friday night social dancing was FUN! Fun but crowded – if you weren’t up there when the song started you were not able to find a place to squeeze in without taking someone else’s slot. I sat out a lot because there was simply no room. And the floor was a little sticky – heat and humidity  to blame I’m sure. But despite these things the energy in the room was high – lots of laughing, goofing off, lots of people dancing all night. Floor was still full when we left at 3am and we heard it stayed that way for another hour or two.

Lots more to tell …

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