I know it is near impossible to see, but here is the great, the amazing, the beyond talented, the bewitching, the captivating, the truly wonderfully incredible — not enough superlatives to describe her! — Anna Garnis, taking her bow after performing in the pro part of the Dance Times Square pro / am showcase last night in Hunter College auditorium. Pasha Kovalev, my former teacher, who is of course all of the same and more(!), is to the left of her.
It was actually really nice not to perform, to just sit and relax and watch everyone else — especially them. My studio friends and I — a bunch of us sat together up in the balcony — were worried they weren’t going to show. Pasha’s just coming out of a long, weird illness, but is finally, thank Heaven, fully recovered. They didn’t appear until the last quarter of the show. When Pasha walked out onstage, my heart fluttered, and my friend grabbed my arm and squealed, “that’s him!”
I don’t know what it was, but tonight — just like after the first time I ever saw them perform, at the first DTS showcase two years ago, before I actually began my lessons with Pasha — I just felt this huge lump in my throat watching them. After they left the stage, I felt like I couldn’t concentrate for the rest of the night — all I could do was stare into space. After the show completely ended, I just felt like crying, but not out of sadness, out of … I don’t know what. My friend tried to get me to go to the studio, to the after-show party, but I hadn’t planned on it since I had to get home and get rested up for my hectic work week ahead. But even if I would have decided to go just for a little while, I knew I wouldn’t be able to have fun and be social. I don’t mean to sound ludicrously melodramatic; I just felt like I have when I’ve just finished a novel or seen a movie or play that drove me to tears, that I could only come straight home and just … be. I don’t know what it is — it’s definitely not jealousy — I know I’ll never be Anna and I can definitely appreciate her greatness without thinking how horrible I am; it’s something else entirely … just like something you just can’t talk about for a while.
Anyway, it’s also so amazing, just such an experience, to watch people being exposed to dance for the first time witness truly great dancers. I hardly recognized any of the student performers from the studio, and, since I’ve spent so much time there over the past two years, I knew many of them were new. Being primarily a student showcase, most of the audience was comprised of students’ families and friends, who were, judging by their comments about dance, likely similarly inexperienced in the ballroom scene, or any other dance scene for that matter.
Before Pasha and Anna danced, the crowd was laughing and cheering on the students, having a great time and really enjoying themselves. One of the professionals, Lauren, did a three-quarter splits in her Rhumba routine, and I guess because she went down so quickly — speed being a key element in Latin — this guy up in our section who was being pretty vocal throughout, shouted, “Whoa! Man!” like it was the coolest thing he’d ever seen! The theater’s small and everyone heard him and laughs abounded — Lauren couldn’t help but be affected by his hilarious enthusiasm herself — and she even cracked a smile up there on the stage.
Well, Lauren and Fred, her partner, finished and Pasha walked out. I heard vocal guy say, understandably, “Who’s he?” Every other pro had been on at least once already, if not a few times. My friend and I exchanged glances and giggled. We both wondered if vocal guy and the rest of the crowd would recognize that these two were on a completely different level than everyone else up there. You never really know with a crowd that’s new to something, if they will recognize greatness, you know? A guy in orchestra called out, “Pashaaaaa!” Women down below began cheering. My friend and I clapped. After their music began and Anna took about two Rhumba walks toward him, the crowd went completely still. And remained so throughout. After they finished, slowly the crowd came to its feet. Vocal guy screamed “Oh my God, oh my God,” and several others started a chant of “Bravos” — the first I think I’ve EVER heard for a ballroom performance. It was the most breathtaking Rhumba I’ve ever seen. I really felt like crying. My friend squeezed my arm ever harder. I guess when you’re out for a while, sick and recovering, you just naturally come back with a bang. A huge one.
It’s well known in the studio and the ballroom world in general now that Pasha and Anna tried out for and got pretty far on “So You Think You Can Dance” — the TV show. They’re sworn to secrecy now and cannot reveal what happened in the final cuts until the show airs at the end of this month. I hope so much they did well. They so deserve it. They are true performers. And this is the cruelty and travesty of ballroom. They’re currently stuck in fifth position in the U.S. National Latin championships and basically will be until the four above them retire. Because that is The Rule of the ballroom world: The Rule is that couple number one is Andrei Gavriline and Elena Kruyshkova, couple number two is Max Kozhevnikov and Yulia Zagorouychenko, and so on down the line, and the judges never forget it, those are The Ranks, set in stone. Perhaps I’m being unfair and Pasha and Anna don’t really do that well in competition; perhaps they just excel in performance. Some dancers are like that. And when I see other dancers competitively ranked above them do a solo showcase, they’re nothing compared to Pasha and Anna. But maybe that couple is just better at competition. Maybe competing and performing take two completely different sets of talents, who knows. But I do know that Pasha and Anna deserve to be better than Number 5 in the country for the rest of their careers.
Anyway, here’s my friend Parker taking her bow. Yes, that’s the same Parker from the previous night’s bellydance showcase — this one does practically every kind of dance imaginable ! Yes, she’s actually worse than me in that department She did a very sweet, very fast fun cha cha, and got a lot of applause!
And here’s the whole “cast.”
Of course I’m sad I didn’t perform as well. But on the other hand, I saved about $2,000, and I got to see Pasha and Anna’s emotionally moving return, from the audience, from their perspective, instead of cramped in the wings.
And … Just one week — ONE WEEK NOW — till my other favorite returns to the stage!!!!!!