First, congrats congrats CONGRATS to Benji Schwimmer who, as most know on Wednesday night, was named “America’s Favorite Dancer” on the ever-so-popular TV show “So You Think You Can Dance”! Here is a picture I took of him being declared winner on my sucky, cable-less TV set. Thank you to Benji (and Heidi) for officially putting West Coast Swing on the dance map!!! I don’t know Benji personally, but he seems like such a sweet guy, very genuine, very caring, not to mention a very versatile, charming dancer who showed that not only could excel at ballroom but could do everything from Fosse to hip hop too. I don’t know how to judge dance technique, especially when there are dancers from so many different styles all competing together, and people accuse the show of simply being a popularity contest, which in some ways it is. But I think the bottom line with being a performer in general is that, while it goes without saying you have to be able to dance extremely well, your personality also has to show through — that’s what audiences will latch onto. And those with the most personality, who know how to put on the best, most mesmerizing performance, will go the farthest.
This coming Thursday, Marcelo Gomes!, the great Brazilian ABT principal whom I’ve long been obsessing over (smiley face), is having the world premier of his very first choreographic venture out on Martha’s Vineyard as part of the annual performance by Stiefel and Stars / Stiefel and Students, run by ABT principal Ethan Steifel. David Hallberg, whom I’ve recently begun obsessing over (another smiley face), new ABT principal and Winger contributor, is dancing the lead along with Gillian Murphy; Stiefel’s summer students are dancing the corps. I managed to convince one of my friends, Alyssa, to make the trek out there with me to see it, and I’m so excited! I am always up for a nice ferry ride and am packing my Dramamine now! Into my Vera Bradley tote of course, ha ha, an essential for any travel to the Cape This is my first time on Martha’s Vineyard, though I’ve been to neighboring Nantucket before, and damn is MV expensive! B&B accommodations are the price of a four-star hotel in other parts of the country! And many of these B&Bs advertise oh so important amenities such as Ralph Lauren bedsheets — ha ha! A real selling point for me! It’s interesting to me, by the way, how B&Bs in different areas sell themselves. The ones in Blackpool advertise quiet locale with single sex rooms, catering only to people over 50, etc.; the inns in MV advertise designer bedding. I think someday someone should do a study of what B&Bs say about the local culture they serve…
I am also excited about my upcoming trip to Hollywood, Florida, during Labor Day week (Sept. 5-10), to attend the U.S. National DanceSport Championships, the most prestigious ballroom comp in the country. Unfortunately, the event is held at the swanky hence exorbitant Westin Inn Resort and Spa, and blasted Trump has just bought the only affordable accommodation in the area, so this trip is going to be a big expense for me. Plus, the event admission fees in the U.S. are huge — much more than in Blackpool anyway. Yikes. Even when I’m only watching and not competing myself, this hobby is slowly draining me! And, all the stress of flying right now is not helping, to make a massive understatement. I’m one of those who’s been a VERY anxious flier since 9/11; then as now, I work two blocks from where everything happened (everything that happened in NY, that is). Plus, I always carry several bottles of water and fruit juice on board so I can take last-minute sinus and relaxation meds, “pop” my ears, and prevent dehydration which would, I fear, launch me into a horrid headache episode. It looks like that’s going to be a problem now; fortunately my flight is only 3 hours long. I booked on JetBlue, which I’ve never taken before, figuring that’d make it part of a new adventure for me. (And, because of its extensive , stress-relieving on-board entertainment system, my fellow post-9/11 anxiety-ridden office-mate, Michelle, recommended it.) I have to say, one great thing about dance is that it got me on a plane again after the attacks. My first time flying post 9/11 was last year’s trip to Billy Fajardo’s Hustle and Salsa comp in Miami. (Before that, I was taking only destination-limited and ridiculously expensive cruises and train rides… so yay for dance!). Anyway, regardless of expense and travel stress, this is my first time at this huge comp and I’m excited about that, excited about soaking up some sun on the Westin’s ritzy private beach, getting orthopedist-recommended dancer cross-training by swimming laps in their big outdoor pool, possibly even getting a good head and upper back massage for my headaches depending on the spa’s price, and enjoying good wine, food and Art Deco architecture in fun South Beach. Oh, and of course watching the greatest in the country compete for the U.S. title!
Also, I’m very excited because, according to their website, my favorite Latin goddess, Karina Smirnoff, is going to be joining Dancing With the Stars for the upcoming season! I know a lot of professionals dislike her, supposedly because she has a real ego and is not the nicest person, but I surmise it may possibly be chalked up to jealousy, since she gets a lot of attention. (She had a speaking part on Shall We Dance, and in Blackpool, her face was all over dance CD covers, posters, you name it.) Still, I think, artistically, she is the greatest Latin dancer in the world today, and I love watching her. I guess the show, being another “popularity contest,” will enable us to witness her personality for ourselves, right!
I also want to bring attention to The Winger’s message board. It’s a place where dance lovers can post messages about upcoming events, critical reviews, etc., and just talk to each other about their love of dance. It’s a lot of fun! Unlike Ballet Talk and some of the other message boards, it’s open to all kinds of dance and, unless you get really out of line, the moderators don’t restrict you in what you say. And, when you set up your profile, you can attach a picture of yourself (so that every time you post, your photo pops up, so you can feel like a real op-ed commentator, like Maureen Dowd or somebody!) or, you can select one of the many “avatars” Kristin has downloaded, to represent who you are. If you haven’t already, definitely check it out! Additionally, The Winger is now selling its own line of t-shirts and other dance accessories. The designs are very cool, we all need dance / yoga/ just hanging-out clothes, and it’s a lot more fun to wear something unique than sporting the typical Danksin / Capezio / Bloch lines. Plus, one message board member has said you can make your own design on the site. I’m definitely ordering at least one!
Finally, I have been caring for my little upstairs neighbor, Jones, while his mother is away visiting her boyfriend in Scotland. It’s been almost a year since my dear little Najma passed, and I am still missing her immensely. My allergist wants me to refrain from getting another kitty for a while to see if my allergies improve, which so far, I haven’t seen a change. So, it’s a great pleasure for me to kitty-sit! Here are some pictures of Jones and me!