Chicago 2013 Update #6

SPECIAL NEWS! Arjay and Bridget have a baby boy! Born March 11! Which, as Arjay pointed out, is a cool palindrome:  3-11-13

In other news: I am getting hourly CNN alerts about the color of smoke coming out of a chimney. Cool it CNN! Wolf Blitzer dude seriously! Take a chill pill.  If the smoke is still black don’t tell me about it okay? That’s not news. Also if it’s dark grey, slate-grey, battleship grey, ash-grey … I don’t need to know the 50 Shades of Grey coming out of the Vatican chimney. Just tell me when it’s white. Put it on an elevator TV.

Classic was OUTSTANDING.

1. Eddie and Elise, “Beauty and A Beat” (by Bieber) omg so FAST! And so different than last weekend, first time on the floor! Wow, what a difference one single week makes. It was the BOMB last night – clean, so energetic, so full of joy and health, complete trust and commitment to every movement – she goes full force all the way from one side of a connection to the other whether it’s a bend, lean, or whipped body part – she’s all the way there and looks like she’s having a blast at every moment. Love the look on her face. This routine doesn’t “breathe” – a thing you’re “supposed” to have according to some people who know much more about dance than I ever will – but in my uninformed opinion this song doesn’t “breathe,” either, and the choreography fits the breathlessness of the song perfectly. I loved this.

2. The Uspenskys, “Eet” descriptions here and here  HOLY CRAP THE BALLROOM these guys are LOVED here on their home turf. It was good to have a raucous ballroom tonight since the room had seemed quiet on Friday, timid almost, not how I remember mid-west events. But tonight – different story. Musta been saving up all their yelling for routines. The Uspenskys got a wild standing ovation. I must say that as much as I love this routine I will never ever again be able to see it – or hear the song – without remembering one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen: Matt and Brennar and this.

3. Hugo and Brianne, “Fade” (Claude Hay,) in red and silver diagonal slashes of fabric. So smooth! She’s adorable, he’s adorable, they’re both talented, funny, and great dancers.

4. Sebastien et Blandine (dancing to a personal favorite: “Skinny Love” by Birdy) – OMG I love this routine! Blandine’s dancing? OMG! How she has progressed! In such a short time! This is the girl who only two years ago couldn’t speak or understand a word of English, came to the States for the first time with Sebastien (and Verane, Stephane, Estelle, Benjamin and Melodie, and a few others) to her first event (Atlanta? SwingDiego?) a Novice dancer who really didn’t know the dance.  SUPER nice people from their first tentative foray into the west coast community but obviously new to our dance. Sebastien had been tossing a team of girls around his neck and heaving them up to the ceiling as effortlessly as if he was juggling oranges so he may have been a bit more comfortable at the beginning than Blandine, but both were new. And both have worked their butts off, worked so hard to improve, and boy does it show. They get orders of magnitude better every month. We were blown away by this routine at the Open but last night? OMG simply astonishing. You must see it!

Here is the link to the paid “thumbsupvideo” for last night’s Classic Division.

5. Shane and Keri, “New Alphabet” (Eels) with another of their bad-ass, dangerous, cool “fusion” pieces – combination of swing with Argentine Tango, contemporary and lyrical, hip-hop, gymnastics, thrashing, and jazz. I love their courage in putting daring, cutting-edge routines out there knowing they’re pushing the edges of what and is and is not swing, and that in terms of competing they are taking a risk cause they might not please judges. My favorite part of this routine is how they go from extreme speed and bouncy energy to extreme extreme slo-mo. Pretty cool. They take risks with costumes, too. This one is military-inspired, khaki and camo. My favorite was this dramatic flamboyant costume from the US Open two years ago, with Keri’s stunning face paint.

6. Kyle and Sarah! With their funky, funny, fun, fast, “Seven Nation Army” and “I’m In Miami Trick.” Check this out – their footwork! The combination of speed and smooth! How they slide around the floor as if on wheels! They’re crazy amazing.  Here’s a description, and here’s a video of the routine in full costume.

Kyle and Sarah make west coast look easy. I’ve always said and will say again: when it looks really easy is when you know you’re looking at greatness.

Because west coast is hard! Really hard. I’d put money on wcs being way harder than any other social/street dance. First of all you have to cooperate with another person. That in itself is impossible, especially if they’re the opposite gender (which I think of as The Enemy.)

Second, you have to be able to be creative and make things up on the fly which is a problem if you are any of the following:

  • brain-dead
  • annoying
  • drunk
  • an accountant
  • a stripper
  • an academic
  • boring
  • undersexed
  • oversexed
  • uncoordinated
  • shy
  • ADD
  • mortified
  • disturbed
  • an exhibitionist
  • an introvert
  • a 60’s hippy
  • Lindsay Lohan
  • serious
  • haven’t slept for four days

The really great champion dancers, like Kyle and Sarah, make it look easy no matter how they are feeling. You think “Shoot. That looks easy! I know I can do that. Watch me make Champions by next year.”

7. Matt and Crystal, “You Don’t Know Me” – HOLY SHAMOLY THE BALLROOM! So much pounding and screaming when they walked out onto the floor it was bouncing the floor boards up and down! The Auclairs are beloved in Chicago. What a pretty routine this is – I love these guys’ taste in music. And Crystal, sheesh! She’s curvy and sexy, and that beautiful face, and her sensuous movement – oh my goodness. Standing ovation for the Auclairs, of course.

8. Jordan and Tatiana, “Somebody That I Used To Know” (Gotye, Dubstep and Frisbee remix.) The amazing, blazing, winning routine that has brought cheering crowds to their feet at the Open and everywhere they’ve performed it since in Europe, Australia, and far-flung cities across the world.  Here’s the description from the Open.  Have you seen it? Hope you’ll be lucky enough to see it live. It’s thrilling!

9. Josh and Lindsey, “This Love Is Over” (Ray LaMontagne) the gorgeous routine we saw at MadJam last weekend. This routine became an immediate audience favorite – both weeks we heard breathless exclamations about the beauty and emotion of the piece and predictions of high scores and placement. Lindsey is a stunning dancer – she performed a Cabaret routine at MadJam (we were hoping to see her perform this here, too, but didn’t) which outshone most everything else on Sunday – she has not only extreme technical ability, strength and grace, but she has heart and connects with the audience, she speaks to you boldly and directly. Josh is a great dancer too, and the partnership seems, from what I can make out so far, to be a good one. So far the routine hasn’t placed in the top five which might mean that as lovely as it is other routines were even better. Or it might mean judges aren’t seeing swing content. Or who knows what – a whole host of other criteria on which judges base their scores. All I know is that I’d never want to judge. I would put everybody first.

10. Mike and Sheli, “Too Close” (Alex Clare.) Sheli’s balance is amazing – she can do anything. Funny too, she’s so funny. She says she’s smiling in the routine not because you’re supposed to smile when you’re dancing but out of sheer petrified embarrassment. Now that I think of it her face is always red which I’ve always found charming.  But now I know why she’s bright red and smiling.  Her face is stuck that way. She told me the funniest story years ago, about hitting the very first break at the beginning of their routine only doing it backwards by mistake so that she found herself right up against the backdrop, arms outstretched, smiling a huge smile into the drapes. She’s fun to watch social dance because she, literally, can do anything, and does. Oh, and Mike, social dancing, I will only say this: girls tell me he’s so good and so hot they lose the ability to talk and can only grunt space-cadet noises. Maybe that’s why Sheli is always smiling. Also: I have on my office wall an autographed picture of Mike with his shirt off. Limited edition, distributed to a lucky few at Spotlight New Year’s.

11. Kris and Rebecca, “More Than Words” (The Piano Guys.) Beautiful ballet-like slow routine, much different than last year’s fast “Gold,” to show their control, lines, and mastery of balance and strength. Rebecca’s ballet training shows – her long neck, extensions, flexibility and grace.

12. The Markers, “Creep” (Radiohead) AUGHGHGH! THE BALLROOM WENT WILD! CHICAGO LOVES JASON AND ANNMARIE! They NAILED it. We’ve now seen this three times, each time it gets even baaaaader, and I mean that as a compliment. Their quality of movement is different in this routine – how can I describe it – they do “sharp” stuff, angular, fast jabs, quick hard hits, stuff you might expect to see from short people who are quick and agile not huge tall Saginaw, Michigan people with long limbs that take forever to extend and retract. The feel of this routine is new – it’s just, I don’t know, not as nice.  It shows the not-quite-as-nice-as-you-thought side of the Markers. Twice now I’ve come home from a comp and in my notes, right beside the word MARKERS!!! scrawled across the page, I find I’ve written “spit.” I guess that word must come to mind when watching this routine. Spit. Like spitfire, or spitting mad. Restless, impatient, itchy. It’s just great. And, like I say, they nailed it this time. I didn’t see a single hiccup, not a moment’s indecision or lack of focus. Not that *I* could see, at least.

Oh! About the Boston Globe reporter! He (or she?) was seen around 1am Saturday night being escorted out the front door by security. So who was this person? Not a reporter I don’t think hahaha. I’m guessing someone dropped that business card on the floor and this lady (man) thought “I have an idea!” Which actually is a great idea now that I think of it. I’m going to use a business card myself the next time I want to crash a party. Maybe I’ll say I’m from CNN and I’m doing a story which will appear on elevators world-wide.


2 responses to “Chicago 2013 Update #6

  1. Pingback: Swing Fling 2013 – Update #4 | Liza's Updates·

  2. Pingback: Liberty 2013 – Update #6 | Liza's Updates·

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