It’s a beautiful sunny day here in Boston and we are finally on our way home having survived Hurricane Irene, cancelled flights, and two extra days days in the hotel. Fifteen Europeans are still stranded for another week which they’re loving: whale-watching today, dancing every night in Boston.
We had power all weekend until Sunday during the Novice Strictly when poof! the ballroom suddenly went pitch black and silent. After the briefest pause the whole room broke out in cheers, clapping and pounding the floor. Then 30 seconds later the lights flickered on and there before us were the Novice Strictly couples! In closed position with shiny faces looking considerably less tense than the last time we saw them. Victor cranked the song back up where they’d left off and we were up and running again.
Ten seconds later Boom! the music stopped, ballroom went dark a second time, this time everyone cheering and stomping with more enthusiasm. Poof! the lights were on and Victor started up the music again.
A minute later Pop! Power out a third time and now it was really funny. Pop! The lights were back on.
Robert said “Okay you guys. Do all the moves you know in eight counts. You get 10 seconds to dance. Don’t hold back, put all your best stuff out there immediately.” This time Victor threw on a more appropriate song, “Hit The Lights” and the Novice Strictly was finally able to finish.
The power lasted through the Allstar JJ Finals. Check out the 80’s Classics Victor played! Awesome!
1. Chris Dumond and Joanna Meinl to “100% Pure Love”
Chris! Oh my goodness! Always playing, always creating on-the-fly inventions which don’t always work, whacky convoluted pretzels where he has to twist bend turn inside out duck below step between hands to exit. His face! He never stops laughing. He stumbled and fell during one of these, springing right back up BOING! like a super ball, grinning the whole time. Robert said “I could have done all that. Except I would have fallen *three* times instead of once. But I’d have had my Life Alert.” (for non-US’ers and Juniors: “Help I’ve Fallen And I Can’t Get Up” was a national punchline in the 80’s and 90’s
2. JB and Samantha Fernandez to “Pump Up The Jam”
3. Rome and Kelly Hull to “Pump Up The Volume”
4. Anthony and Linda Cuccio to Good Vibration
5. PJ and Kim Filippo to Rhythm is a Dancer
6. Steve Hunt and Anne Fleming to “Everybody”
7. Rob Glover and Dr. Zena Knight of Harvard to “Smooth Criminal”
And the All-Skate to Elvis’ “Steamroller”
The music all weekend long was WOW. Everyone said so, kept saying so over and over for four days so the mixes must have been brilliant to have pleased *everyone.* Who does that?!? It was Victor and Louie – both phenomenal. Anthony DeRosa played Saturday midnight straight through till floor trials at 7 or 8 and he was fantastic too. We had trouble tearing ourselves away at 5am – every song the kind that makes you say “Oh no! I love this!” and put your shoes back on. Through a door at the side of the ballroom was an alternate all-blues room which – except for a sad laptop running a continuous playlist of classic blues – remained empty all weekend. We missed out but heard that Leafy Greene brought his guitar and played some live acoustic for a little while one night.
And then … Louie’s “Between-Music” which I think I mentioned in the Tea Party updates. Louie plays bits of show tunes, classical pieces, Disney movies, classic rock, heavy metal, Zepplin, rap, marching bands, sitcoms and tv commercial clips – anything he finds funny and interesting.
Man! What a difference it makes to have upbeat background music bring on the judges, introduce the emcees, played during jj rotations, or between heats, between routines. All those transition times where normally all you hear is instructions on a mic.
“Between-Music” changes the whole dynamic in the ballroom. You get contestants rocking out or skipping like Mary Poppins to their new rotation partner, spectators jammin’ in their seats and doing the wave, emcee’s lip-syncing to famous Broadway tunes or bursting into impromptu skits. Brilliant! Energy and silliness – brilliant!
During the Intermediate JJ Louie played “Follow The Yellow Brick Road” which made Royston run over and grab Myles Munroe and Jun Ogata, yelling “Ha! I’m the tallest munchkin! I’m the Gary Jobst of munchkins!” the three of them hopping around shoulder-to-shoulder singing in munchkin-helium voices. Louie’s Between-Music made them do it! Brilliant!
(I’ve decided I’m calling everything “brilliant” now, with an English accent.)
It was Victor’s idea some years ago at Summer Hummer to let the pro’s choose their own songs for the Champion JJ. The pro’s, as in all the pro’s who aren’t female. I love this idea of pro’s choosing their own music, as I’ve written before. It makes for great dancing and interesting new music. So this year they really went out on a limb and let the pro *girls* choose. So fun to hear people’s music tastes!
1. Tessa and Ben Morris dancing to an acoustic version of Celine’s … uh oh I forget the name … Celine’s something. It was pretty.
2. Lemery and Robert Royston to “Crash” (we dance to this at home at Lemery’s all-night dance parties. Now I know why!)
3. Hazel and Myles, to Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.”
4. Sarah and Benji to an acoustic version of Rhianna’s “S&M”
5. Katrina and Arjay to Jeff Golub’s “Soul Serenade”
6. Jen DeLuca and Nick King to Busta Rhymes’ “Don’t Touch Me” and Lawd Have Mercy – steamy sexy sweaty hair-whipping, sliding, crouching, bumping, leaning … Jen is the definition of blood on the dance floor. These two together? They could whip Hurricane Irene’s grandchildren’s butts.
7. Courtney and Kyle to James Brown’s “Get On Up,” and
8. Torri and Michael Kielbasa to Daniel de Bourg’s cover of “How to Love.”
So now it’s late Sunday afternoon, one more competition to go before Awards: Pro-Am routines, and we’re on a two-song break and the power goes out. We wait, we wait some more, but this time it doesn’t come back on. It is pitch black in the ballroom except for a dim glow from the white emergency lights seeping in from the hall outside. Rob and Robert (Glover and Royston) who had made a great comedy team all weekend, run to the front of the dark room yelling into their mics as if there were still sound and instantly became Abbott and Costello, launching into Who’s On First west-coast style – “Who’s Dancing With Arjay” – ridiculously funny. Briliant.
A couple people turned on their flashlight apps and soon the room was filled with phones being held in the air as spotlights. What a scene! Totally dark ballroom spotted with squares of blue-ish white light, ghostly faces smiling all around you.
Rob shouted “I’ve got it I’ve got it! We’ll sing a round! Row Your Boat!”
Royston ran in the darkness to the far side of the room yelling “Great idea! great idea! I’ll take this group over here, you take that one!”
Glover yelled from his side “Okay listen up everybody! The words are:
Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
If you see a crocodile
Don’t forget to scream!”
Royston’s voice yelled “Wait, WHAT? Crocodile? What’s – no, no crocodile! The song goes:
Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Life is but a dream!”
Glove, from the dark at the other side of the room “What is that? The American version? ifyouseeacrocodiledon’tforgettoscream!”
Another voice suddenly jumped out from the darkness – it was Ben Morris – we could make him out when every phone in the ballroom moved at once onto his ghostly figure running wildly up to the front waving his arms, “No! No! You’re both wrong! The words are:
Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
Throw your teacher overboard
And listen to her scream!”
And then suddenly there was Glover’s face suddenly in the spotlight, looking rather blue-ish and a bit too much eyebrow, little ominous actually (funny how he’s so handsome when the lights are on), and he yells “Okay three-part round! Three sections! Royston you start, we’ll come in, Ben’s group last!” and then came the worst most chaotic off-key ugliest disaster of a sing-along I’ve ever heard, and that includes every classroom of first-graders playing twinkle twinkle on the violin. It was SO shriekingly awful mating cats interrupted their howling to flee Framingham in droves in the midst of Hurricane Irene.
Bodies were flickering around in the center of the ballroom – Bill and a crowd of helpers were putting up the limbo pole. Todd Irzyik brought his laptop, Dave Raines hooked up wires, Steve Broskey set up ipod speakers and soon we had faint limbo music at the foot of the pole and instantly a line of limbo contestants weaving back into the darkness. People’s arms and necks were lighting up with neon glow sticks. Someone had gotten hold (or thought to bring!) supplies of necklaces and bracelets and soon the black ballroom was spotted everywhere with brilliant streaks of pink, green, orange, yellow. An amazing spectacle! It was like bits of Aurora Borealis had fallen to earth, into our ballroom! So we could play in a hurricane!
And then Bill had another idea: Skywalking! where we took turns walking high in the darkness over a human ladder of arms. And then another game where we lay side by side on the floor like sardines with our arms stretched up to pass bodies down the line from one end to the other. But bodies not just lying there like lumps, oh no. Dancer bodies! Holding their centers! With long backs and strong cores, arms in second position and ballet hands! All in the glow of phones held high in the air, Steve Broskey wandering around in the dark filming everything so he could stream it later, glow sticks wrapped around ears, foreheads, waists. So funny! So magical! Beautiful! Like a group-showcase routine performed in the darkness, around a campfire.
Ben said “Let’s do Pro-Am routines! We can light it with our phones!” And we did! Louie lay down on the floor with his laptop, the routine couples donned extra glow sticks, Hurricane Irene roared outside, and we all sat in the audience holding up our phones for light, cheering and yelling for the dancers.
Another of those historic moments in west coast history. Who will ever forget this? We think Bill and Yuna should include this as a tradition from now on, to commemorate 2011. Instead of Spotlight it could be Flashlight. Or “Dancing in the Dark.”
We had Awards out in the hall where two skylights let in the dim haze of dusk and Awards were unusually cozy, Bill saying in fact that he preferred them this way – all of us squished together on the floor and crowded into the small hall space, Rob and Robert swinging their legs perched on the counter, everybody hugging everybody each time the winners were announced. It felt like family. It is family. The instantaneous creativity and problem-solving, the love and cooperation, the mutual support, the life-long friendships, the jokes. Laughing, laughing, laughing, so much laughing.
I can never believe how lucky I am to have stumbled into this world.
Results! (These are the folks who braved a hurricane so as not to miss Summer Hummer. Some cancelled entirely, others flew in but didn’t want to get stuck in Boston so flew out early)
JJ Newcomer Placements:
1. Jason Zwolak and Catherine Miu
2. Kai Qu and Cristia Lesher
3. Mark Bolter and Jacqueline Joyner
4. Jack Flynn and Eveleen Sung
5. Marton Erdos and Dani Mullin
6. Florent Fabre and Joelle Sasseville
7. Dale Zumwalt and Lynne Walker
8. Asher Tenn-McClellan and Laurie Curley
9. Gabor Lippner and Michele Fischer
10. Ludovic Felten and Jessie Vitale
JJ Intermediate Placements:
1. Jerome Fernandez and Quenna Wong
2. Ewan Dupre and Kate Lovegrove
3. Josh Williamson and Anyssa Olivares
4. Jerome Louis and Nicole Clonch
5. Stephane Schneider and Marine Fabre
6. TJ Bednash and Marina Motronenko
7. Steve Yi and Alissia Bishop
8. Brandon Detty and Hannah Clonch
9. Phouvanh Meckhasinh and Liza Hillman
10. Steve Wilder and Michelle Fletcher
JJ Allstar Finals Placements:
(Judges: Donna Roesel, Jennifer Lyons, Gary Jobst, Kyle, Michael Kielbasa, Nicola, and Chief Judge Maira)
1. Rob Glover and Zena Knight
2. PJ and Kim Filippo
3. JB and Samantha Fernandez
4. Chris Dumont and Joanna Meinl
5. Rome and Kelly Hull
6. Steve Hunt and Anne Fleming
7. Anthony Derosa and Linda Cuccio
JJ Champions Finals Placements:
1. Benji and Sarah
2. Ben Morris and Tessa
3. Michael Kielbasa and Torri
4. Arjay and Katrina Branson
5. Robert Royston and Lemery
6. Nick King and Jenn DeLuca
7. Kyle and Courtney
8. Myles and Hazel
(Judges: Anne Fleming, Didier Jean-Francois, Donna Roesel, Gary, Jennifer Lyons, Jessica, Larry Mongeau, Maira)
1. Benji and Torri
2. Myles and Tessa
3. Arjay and Jenn Deluca
5. Greg and Lemery
6. Brandon Detty and Yvonne Dodson
(Judges: Anne Fleming, Ben Morris, Didier Jean-Francois, Donna Roesel, Gary, Heidi Mongeau, Nick King, Maira)
1. Brennar and Torri
2. Kyle and Sarah
3. Michael Kielbasa and Katrina Branson
4. Sean and Courtney
5. Tybaldt and Hazel
6. Kris and Rebecca
7. Nick Jay and Joanna Meinl
8. Ilya Obshadko and Ganna Kondakova
Oh my. I don’t seem to have Advanced JJ’s, or any of the strictly results. I’ll get them from Bill and Yuna …