US Open 2011 Update #3

Was it really an entire week ago that we saw Showcase? Wow! Fastest week in history! We’ve been home now for four days two of which were spent either sleeping or stumbling around bumping into walls in a stupid-happy stupor, unpacking so slowly might as well stop trying, flopping exhausted onto the couch between trips to the washing machine and dryer.

If you haven’t been to the Open yet … you absolutely! must! go! It is not to be missed.  Such excitement in the air! One could get electrocuted just walking through the halls!

So. To continue with Friday Night, and Showcase!

The sixth couple to dance: Ben Hooten and Rebecca, second time on the floor with this routine (we’d seen it two weeks before in Tampa) to a hot new club song “Little Bad Girl” (David Guetta.) Bright yellow, black, and silver. Rebecca’s arm and leg extensions! Limbs stretched out to their ends, filled with energy! Her ronde through the air, flying across Ben! Her eight pirouettes from low to high, holding her right foot and knee in front at shoulder level as she spins. Great choreography – their feet like automatic weapons to the rapid-fire vocals in the middle of the song, long graceful movements to the slower parts. Love how tall Ben is, his long arms, how they go fully out to the end of their connection, love the stretch and expansiveness of their shapes.

Next Doug and Annmarie in palest pink and white (perfect colors for these best friends who are in body and spirit palest pink and whitest white) to Coldplay’s “Fix You,” a favorite of mine (and everybody else’s) – a song so tragic and powerful it’s a lot to live up to to be emphatic enough in choreography and execution. Love these two people! Love how in sync they are mentally and physically. How their love for each other shows. Annmarie is a tall girl and yet Doug lifts her effortlessly, both of them with giggling radiant faces. They love each other and it shows – pure pleasure to watch. This is a brand-spankin’-new routine (that’s Annmarie-speak) and you could see it wasn’t yet flushed out, but this routine will be gorgeous with work. All the ingredients are there.

Then Lionel and Amandine! In solid black. She in a backless halter top with a chiffon scarf flying from the back of her neck out to one wrist, her long black hair flying out behind her. The piano starts and they are instantly dashing around the floor, up, down everywhere! So fast you forget to exhale. Every move, trick, lift, drop, pattern you have ever heard of zipped through one after the other, relentlessly, in double-time. Perfectly clean! Not a finger out of place.  Lionel and Amandine – they are little! Teeny tiny itsy bitsy little. Beautiful miniature creatures zipping back and forth across the floor like two black butterflies playing in sunbeams. Life-long partners (together since they were eight years old!) they know to use their size to their advantage: they are able to perform enormous movements in a split second. Moves which would take a taller couple four beats they accomplish in one. In a single measure they can speed through a rag-doll, a splits, a swallow lift, and two whips in double-time! Smoothly and effortlessly! Or so it seems, anyway. And double-timed! Not at normal wcs tempo, either, but at 145 beats per minute! For West Coast Swing that is cheek-ballooning fast. Oh and I haven’t mentioned the music which was some piano cover of something which I know that I know but just can’t place. A driving, breathless piece, non-stop. As a musician I love that it’s only music, no lyrics, no miming of lyrics, just movement to the flighty feel and essence of a piece of music, dancing *in* the music, part of the piano sound. Gave me chills. Gorgeous intelligent routine!

Next Sebastien and Chloe, to “Titanium” by Sia, in black and teal. Two phrases in he tosses her above his head in a flip so high she almost knocked the 20′ ceiling chandelier to the ground. Which they then followed with two more ceiling-height tricks including her standing on his palms! And ending the routine with five of those around-the-neck-under-the-arm feats of acrobatic amazingness AUGHGHGH!

Then JB and Sara (“Best One Yet” Black Eyed Peas) – adorable routine which we’ve now seen for a few months. Sara is ridiculously cute, cheerleader cute. Perfect lines! No matter what moment I snap a picture every body part, every facial expression, every finger is in place. 100% of the time. How does she do that?

Luis and Jennifer (“Miracles” by Res) – same lovely routine we’ve now seen for six months or so, and what a change the practice makes! They now look completely comfortable. Oh and by the way I learned from Luis that it is he who is buying both Jennifer and Taletha’s coolest hottest outfits, and oh my GOODNESS do they have some outfits! Wow, wait till you see pictures. Thigh-high boots to die for with lacing up the back, clothes to make you swoon. Lucky, lucky man! Two bombshells as artist’s canvasses – so different looking and each so gorgeous it’s crazy – and he gets to dress them up and parade them around one on each arm! AND do routines with them! Ha! Well done Luis!

Next, Rob and Connie (“Drops of Jupiter” by Train) – the routine they’ve been working on for a full year, all their work leading up to this scary wonderful amazing weekend at the US Open, their very first time! We love this couple. We love them as a couple – how tall, dark, and strong he is and how tiny, fragile, wren-like, translucent-white she is beside him. We love how striking their differences are and how this gives them a whole range of beautiful opportunities in choreography.  And that last lift, conceived only a week ago, in which she lies on one arm above his head – wow! We’re very proud of them.

And then! Benji and Torri! AUGHGH!! Lovely Torri! Like a Disney princess with her hair in an elegant up-do, tiara of sparkling diamonds, pale lavender slacks, white, silver and diamond cropped top, diamond bracelet … swooningly lovely! Benji in a simple clean white top and black slacks. Dancing to a piano and viola cover of Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” (with one wonderful Viva La Vida! Jordan and Tatiana moment.)  Another instrumental, like Lionel and Amandine’s, but different from theirs this piece had highs and lows, changes in tempo from quite fast to quite slow. Torri’s footwork! Holy mackerel! You think she’s standing still but you look down to where her legs  meet the floor and there’s a spinning blur down there so fast your eye can’t make out what’s going on, like in a cartoon. And her neck and head – love how she carries her head! And her spins, her famously crazy spins! And some roll-over-his-back-then-flip-through-his-legs something which happened so seamlessly before I could catch it, so gently and sweetly, I thought maybe I’d imagined it. And Benji! His footwork! His balance! The control on both of their parts, the cleanliness – they’re moving blindingly fast but then stop in a precise spot in the air without even the wiggle of a head, no sign of impact, or trying, it’s just easy, relaxed, pristine … and JOYOUS. This routine is pure joy. The choreography is gorgeous, no better word for it. The execution is gorgeous. They are gorgeous. At one point Torri does seven pirouettes with one leg held up at the knee as Benji moves around her, and I’m whisked back in time, I’m opening the lid of my childhood music-box, the pretty music twinkles and the ballerina spins round and round on her pedestal.

And last of all, the final Showcase couple for the 2011 US Open, Robert and Nicola with “Edge of Glory,” their loveliest and most dramatic routine yet, which we’ve been following now for several months. How beautiful is Nicola, red wings flying along her arms!

What a division! What a night!

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