Pasha and Anna Return to the Stage!

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 πŸ™‚ ! Yes, she’s actually worse than me in that department πŸ™‚ 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!!!!!!


  1. The best part was what happened after the routine – you know how Michael and I exited the stage in a lift? Well, I go to get down off him in the wings and he goes “wait, wait, wait!!” We were stuck together in two places – my fishnets on his belt and his shirt buttons on my fringe. So he’s holding me up on his hip with one hand and unhooking us with the other – friggin’ hysterical!

    And Anna told me at the party she liked my yellow costume – total fangirl moment fulfilled!

  2. I know exactly how you feel after seeing a great performance, movie, or finish a good book. My mind and heart cannot function for quite some time. I loved your description of the performance. I felt like I was there myself. PS: Happy Birthday Honey

  3. Parker, that is hysterical! Your dress ended up being gorgeous — that back strap was really cool — usually they just slap a nude-colored piece of elastic wherever it needs to go, but I love how your mom matched the color to a t — made it so much fancier! You were great! By the way, I think I sat next to your family?! (were they in the balcony?)

    Thanks, Mom πŸ™‚

  4. Can’t believe that met is a week away….that is nuts. I have been so out of the loop it’s hard to even fathom! Is today your birthday? If so, happy birthday!

  5. Yeah it is, thanks, M πŸ™‚ I know, it is really close. I can’t wait! I hope you are really starting to feel better and can dance for at least part of the season?…

  6. I’m sure I’ll be back in SOME form doing SOMETHING πŸ™‚ My doctors are saying “light” work but we will just have to see day by day and week to week. Even with my limited involvment I’m gonna do my best to document as much as I can. I’m gonna blog about all of this soon, it’s just so crazy that I have been in my apartment for a month while everyone else is working their butts off!

  7. Oh good! “Light” work — do your doctors know what you do, ha ha! I’m sure when you really get back into it you will have so much pent-up energy, you’ll just be flying all over the stage and doing many multiple pirouettes!… That’s how the people I saw last night were — he had a long illness (actually a mild illness but, frighteningly, exacerbated by antibiotics) and you could tell how ready they were to return to the stage.

  8. Gracia Michelle

    Ah Tonya, I was just going to ask you when your actual birthday was!
    So… Happy Birthday! πŸ˜€

    Though of course I am not sure if it’s exactly the same feeling as you get after seeing a moving performance or finishing a book, I think for me the thing is that it’s like a spell is cast on me, but unlike in fairtytales this spell is not “broken” abruptly when the experience itself is over. So for a long time I can stay adrift in a state of being half aware of reality, half still lingering in moments -or just the feeling- of the performance/book.
    It’s kind of a sad feeling, a bit like parting with someone you love, but it’s the best kind of ‘sad’ there is…

    Oh, and I witnessed a similar “Whoah!” reaction last year at the ballet! πŸ˜€
    People from a rather poor neighbourhood were invited to watch Swan Lake, and at the end of the pdd when the girl does quick, fierce a penché to that last beat, instead of that little silence that usually precedes the audience’s applause there was one person’s voice really loudly going “Whoah!!!”.
    I wouldn’t like this EVERYtime I went to the ballet, but for this once it was really funny. πŸ™‚

  9. happy birthday wishes tonya!

    perhaps the abt guys can give you a late birthday kiss in a week! πŸ™‚

  10. I’m still reeling from Pasha and Anna. I had a similar moment of thinking they weren’t going to come because they hadn’t been there at any rehearsals, and weren’t there when the tech rehearsal started that day. Then I’m sitting in the audience watching everyone else and this music comes on and out they come – both in black cargo pants and black shirts, no hair, no makeup – and just … I can’t even describe it. Their “marking it” is so far superior to most dance performances, I cannot explain. I think I held my breath through their whole routine. And both routines really demonstrated that they are not “ballroom dancers” but “dancers” – no other description needed.

  11. Thanks you guys πŸ™‚ I couldn’t agree more about P & A, Parker! Ha ha, Jennifer — speaking of those guys, I actually got a little one from Matt tonight at NYCB. I went to get a ticket for a later performance and saw Philip / Oberon around the plaza waiting for tonight’s show, so stopped to talk with him (because of course what better way to avoid going home and doing work you’ve brought home with you than chatting with fellow balletomanes outside the State Theater!), and up comes Matt, who was seeing tonight’s performance. Expect lots of R+J blog posts tomorrow!

  12. Ahhh! I’m a day behind! Happy Birthday Tonya!

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