Bookends on Sunday night – omgawd – we haven’t laughed so hard in a long time.
Three acts: the “Swifter Swingers” – Beverly Solazzo (who’s funny even when she’s not doing funny routines) and two friends dancing with attitude and Swifter-Sweeper mops (and dusting gloves and rags which they flung seductively into the audience.) Doug: “That was so good I’d like you to run it again but this time start it over there in the corner and make sure to get the whole floor.” Then Cory Flowers, Billy Marti, and two umbrellas in a funny swing send-up of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.
And then … Matt and Brennar. Another year of what is becoming a New Year tradition – Matt and Brennar outdoing themselves this time in the funniest medley they’ve concocted yet. Opening with a caricature of Matt and Crystals’ current routine (“But You Don’t Know Me” which when performed during Classic is so gorgeous it brings tears.) Brennar as a much less attractive version of Crystal, stroking Matt’s bald head, lots of hip sways, a butt roll, a huge lip-smacking smooch (with both their hands over their mouths,) emoting and smearing pained heartache all over the place. Seguing into a perfect parody of the Markers’ “Unwritten” with Matt as Annemarie-On-Steroids flailing around with her long arms and her signature arm sweeps, her dramatic drops, her Annemarie hippy walks, her fist waving, an uncanny imitation of her head nods and facial expressions, the way she strokes Jason and herself. Absolutely nailed poor Annemarie (who was sitting on the floor keeled over with laughter, loving it.) Performed in front of the whole crowd of Michigan dancers almost all of whom discovered and learned west coast as students of the Markers. Lot of love for Jason and Annemarie in this neck of the woods so the audience just loved this. Then “Eet” starts up and here are a perfect Colleen and Arthur, the Uspenskys so precisely portrayed you had to remind yourself it wasn’t actually them. The ballroom was HOWLING, crying with laughter. Colleen was crying with laughter. I couldn’t hold my camera from laughing so hard. It was like siblings picking on each other, like if you were the Markers’ or Uspenskys’ brother or sister and you knew every little thing about them so well, every little move, and you wanted to pick on them, so you went nutso jumping around the house doing an over-the-top imitation just to make fun. That’s what this was – impressions so accurate and so funny they had to have come from extremely close friends – friends who know these people and these routines intimately well. Hilarious.
Crystal says Matt and Brennar *are* each other, they’re clones of each other, the brother-from-another-mother. Upstanding citizens in real life, conservative and traditional-minded, but with wildly funny “alter egos” on the dance floor.
They finish the medley by strutting to the back of the floor while throwing off their vests and out come Arthur, Jason, and Mike Konkel to join them in an almost-x-rated hotbody guy routine complete with bawdy gestures and raunchy poses (and a flash of Mike Konkel’s ripped chest and abs) better than any Chippendale performance. You’ve got to see the video – especially if you know these routines.
Speaking of video – I’ve said it before and will say again: Becky Larson is not only one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet (this entire community is nice – it’s the influence of the leaders of the community here – the kindness, humility, love and respect is palpable in every aspect of the dance community here) – she’s not only extremely nice but is a perfectionist and puts out a beautiful product for a ridiculously low price. You can help make sure we continue to get the quality videos of the moments we all love so much by purchasing the Spotlight (and other comps!) videos here.
And speaking of quality products, Doug and Lori posted finalists on facebook throughout the event and the judges sheets immediately, the day after! How great is that? You can find the scores here.
So many stand-out moments at this event! All weekend long. But the one that will remain in my mind’s eye forever was Sunday night’s chilling, electrifying Pro JJ finals.
Victor had a brilliant idea, a risky idea, he says he was a nervous wreck knowing it could have failed completely. He would play songs by a new artist he had only just discovered by chance, Sungha Jung, a 16-year-old South Korean classical guitarist, a series of instrumental covers of songs we are currently dancing to in the community. Doug said okay let’s go for it. And let’s bring the audience close in, let’s seat them on the floor in a tight circle around the dancers. And let’s cut the lights and make the ballroom completely dark and use followspots.
What happened was magic. Moody, atmospheric, intimate, spine-tingling, mesmerizing, unforgettable magic.
Pitch black room, quiet plucking of guitar strings, the dancing couple painted with streaks of light and shadow floating silently back and forth in the center of a circle of watchers – heads and bodies with light flickering off them, barely perceptible, as if seated around a campfire. And you could hear voices in the dark involuntarily singing words to the songs, softly, you felt you had to whisper, you found yourself humming along.
No words to describe the beauty, the quiet joy in that room.
I would say try to find the video to get a glimpse of what happened but I don’t know if any video can capture the darkness and light, the silent noise, the magic.
Another of those historic moments in the community. What a way to start the new year.
Lots more to tell … it was a great weekend.