The prestigious Triple Crown Award has been awarded, for the second time in SwingDiego history, to Tatiana Mollmann.
This much-coveted award has been won only once before at SwingDiego by – guess who?
This is a big deal. Winning the Triple Crown means that Tatiana won all three major divisions: Classic, Jack and Jill, and Strictly.
And wow! She sure deserved the prize!
Here is her Strictly, danced with Benji. Astonishing! We have watched this over and over, open-mouthed, mesmerized. Pure west coast – triples, pushes, passes, whips – pure lead-and-follow, unchoreographed, created moment to moment. West Coast Swing at its pinnacle.
For those who can’t view the video (non-USers or others with bandwith restrictions): Tatiana and Benji are dancing to “Lights” (Jess Moskaluke cover) with luxuriously large, lovely movements enhancing all of our familiar west coast patterns, and extreme “mind-reading” cooperation. If you have ever wondered how to define “Connection” this is it. Leading and following via foreheads, shoulders, neckbone, Benji’s outstretched leg – any points of contact. Wide, graceful, sweeping movement across the floor; stretches, leans, level changes, variations in tempo and pace, backbends, drops, dips; emotion that feels honest. Large and magnificent.
And here is her winning Jack and Jill in which she did …
… A HANDSTAND OVER A CHAIR!
[hahahahahaha excuse me a minute while I die laughing one more time.]
And before you get upset about the obvious non-dancing of doing …
… A HANDSTAND OVER A CHAIR …
[hahahahahahaha I can’t stand it hahahahahaha]
… this was the contest in which the couple had to fight a Battle Of The Sexes – without touching! – for 30 seconds before their actual dance began.
Every year Parker and Earl come up with some new way to provide audience entertainment during this final competition of the weekend. And every year it’s a surprise for the pros as much as for us, the audience, and not always easy. In fact, never easy. Especially considering that it’s Sunday afternoon and if we are tired, you can imagine that these pros who have been judging and teaching all weekend, not to mention competing with routines, are much MUCH moreso.
This year Parker introduced the surprise by describing for us how ultra uber MEGA cutthroat these people are … so competitive, he told us, that when they dance they aren’t only competing against other couples, they’re competing against each other while competing against the other couples. They are always competing. They never stop competing.
While they’re eating they’re competing. In their sleep they’re competing. In every waking moment they’re competing.
So funny! And so true.
So this 30-second bit was a chance for them to try to outdo each other in any way they could, out there in front of an audience which, of course, is all they live for in life.
So when Maxence dragged a chair out onto the floor to do something clever (guess we’ll never know what he had in mind) Tatiana thought:
“Ooooh! Handstand over chair!”
And that is what she did.
Royston, doubled over in stitches: “She’s THAT competitive that she’s willing to sacrifice her entire career to win the moment.”
Their dance which followed, to “Scream” (Usher, and a slower acoustic cover) included multiple pirouettes in unique positions, running to four walls during the “yaaaaaa” part of the song, and other fantastic tricks and flourishes.
But most importantly it was a marvel of gorgeous, smooth, connected, flowing swing, beautiful swing, with lightning fast footwork and mind-sync collaboration and connection between the two.
I notice I seem to be repeating myself here on this “swing content” theme. I guess because I’m thrilled to see the dance be OUR dance – not morphed into something that’s not our beautiful beloved swing – and at the same time so creative, current, dancerly, smart, witty, and expressive. Tatiana is a west coast swing dancer. All of her crazy-wonderful creativity emerges from the foundation of west coast with respect for what defines and separates our dance from other genres. She’s a model for this – respecting the dance – stretching it to its limits, but not beyond.
And for the final Crown, here is her winning Classic routine with Jordan, “Somebody That I Used To Know” bigger, badder, faster, stronger, more fiery and passionate than we’ve ever seen them dance. The level of difficulty – the speed alone! – makes the hair on the back of our necks stand up. They are as good as it gets!
Congratulations to Tatiana for winning the 2013 Triple Crown!
And now I’d better hurry up and write about ALL THE REST of the astounding dances in the Strictly and Jack and Jill, because I know that every pro who might be reading this is a bit disgusted at this point.
Also every non-pro is a bit disgusted.
Come to think of it, every member of the entire international west coast community, on all continents, any dancer who might be reading this, is a bit disgusted.
And proud and happy for Tatiana.