Monday, November 23, 2009

Memoirs Showcase at Sheraton Waikiki

Memoirs Showcase re-living the Magical Memoirs of the Golden Era of Dance was held this past Saturday evening at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel. Lucas Jaime and Yanna Samkova are to be congratulated on running this first time event. I felt that it was very successful for them despite some minor hiccups.

Upon arrival outside the Ballroom there was a long line of attendees waiting patiently to find their table assignments. Several had forgotten their numbered tickets or were asking for tickets that were being held for them, this seemed to slow up the proceedings. Once in the ballroom we found that podium area had been decorated by large cut out figures of dancers, which made for an interesting series of entries onto the dance floor by the couples dancing exhibitions. Paul Laderta was responsible for this neat and unique arrangement. Emi Matsuoka provided beautiful table arrangements. David Ostler did an excellent job with the lighting and his wife Ellen together with Leilani Aimoto took good care of the front desk registrations. I also give a great deal of credit to two ladies who have generously supported Lucas and Yanna throughout this event – Maria Handl and Marie Laderta.

The three-course sit-down served dinner was exceptional. My only concern was the fact that only fish (which was excellent) was served for the main course - not everyone likes just fish.

The general dance music was good but what little there was of it could have been better.

The MC! Well I think Lucas and Yanna must have a re-think on that. The introducing of each of the exhibitions was precluded by a sometimes-lengthy explanation or history of the dance. This made it more interesting but the monotony of the MC was not inspiring the audience to become involved. Was that why the audience was so very quiet with polite applause that the beginning and the end of each routine?

Following an excellent dinner there was an impressive total of 17 exhibitions, a drawing for door prizes, Honolulu City Mayor Mufi Hanneman doing a short speech and singing a song, and then the presentation of Dance Achievement Certificates to all participants. During the presentation of Certificates there were so many dead spots of silence – the DJ could have provided background music and played it softly during the announcements and brought up the volume a little for the actual presentation and photograph sessions. After the presentation several people left not realizing that Lucas and Yanna were going to perform. Theyonly did three of their spectacular numbers and dropped their Theatrical Routine because the evening was running so late. This was disappointing. I think that the timetable needs to be re-thought. Is it really necessary for a student to do two numbers?

It was good to see so many local professionals supporting this event. I think that all professionals should support each other’s showcases but that is not often the case.

I must say that I am very happy that Lucas and Yanna have made their home in Hawai‘i and are helping to develop a higher standard of dance through their knowledge and proficiency. I look forward to seeing even greater things from them both. Congratulations to them both and all of their students!

Now onto my critique of the exhibitions!! Oh my goodness what am I going to say? Hang on and know that I am trying to be constructive and not destructive. Some may think otherwise but that is their problem!

First let me comment on the two exhibitions that were not from Divino Ritmo Dance. Stanley Munesato and Karen Miyahara danced an International Waltz (teacher Akiyohsi Sugino) with good choreography, timing, and control. Choice of music was excellent and Karen’s dress was perfect. I understand that the floor was “sticky” which explains why they were picking up their feet. Both need to try and open up their top line. Stanley needs to use his left side more and Karen’s footwork was not the best!

Professional Albert Franz with student Theresa Yi also danced an International Waltz. Theresa looked far more comfortable with Albert than when I saw her the last time with another Professional. Albert has always had the gift of making his partners look good! Theresa must try to use more foot pressure and use her feet, instep and ankles more.

Noreen Ho with Lucas danced an International Rumba. The presentation was very good but I would like to have seen more basic work and less “two figures and then a line”, “two figures and then a line” etc. Noreen should know that heel leads are not permitted in Rumba so she should try to use her instep and ankle more.

Rolando and Gloria Padasdao danced a Tango that seemed to incorporated American, International, and Argentine Tango. The attire was very appropriate, the footwork was not bad but could have been better and Gloria needs to show a much better dance position.

Next Moneque Dejesa and Lucas dancing a Mambo or was it Salsa. I kept seeing them on the 1 beat and then on the 2 beat. Was it supposed to be this way?

Paul and Marie Laderta gave a very convincing performance in their Bolero. Marie looked great in her white costume. Paul leads his lady well and Marie follows beautifully but their arms and foot placements sometimes look a little untidy.

Cole Horibe and Yanna Samkova then danced an International Cha Cha Cha that I felt was too short – I just began to enjoy this performance and then it ended. This, for me, was the best performance during the First Act.

Maria Handl danced an American Foxtrot with Lucas. This was a fun routine depicting two hobos. Maria’s nose fell off and that disturbed Lucas more than it did Maria! Well-danced but Maria must watch her footwork.

Formation Team “Hairspray”. After seeing this at the Hawai‘i Star Ball I was looking forward to seeing it again. Well, I don’t think it really came off as planned. Only 5 couples this time. But they put their best effort into it and it was OK.

After the Intermission.

Amy Do and Helen Lai with Lucas doing a three-way Rumba/Cha Cha Medley. I remember these two sisters (to me they look like twins!) dancing a similar routine many years ago with Bill Kerfoot and I must say that was the best. Tonight one of the young ladies was constantly catching up or lagging behind. This really could be an excellent routine but it needs more care and rehearsal.

Now a Tango Medley with Marie Laderta and Lucas. Marie’s costume was so appropriate for this number. An interesting routine that I think was new to her. It needed more rehearsal. The choreography seemed to be first and foremost in Marie’s mind and it was not coming naturally. I think she is getting too much too soon. I don’t think I saw one heel lead during the entire performance. I know how dedicated Marie is to dancing and I encourage her to push herself to go further because I know she can do it.

Jackson Cho and June Choong dancing an International Samba. You both danced a very good routine that shows a great deal of promise from you both. But you both do need more rehearsal and practice. Your Samba action at time was very good and then it went off. Jackson needs to use his hips more. Try to accent the 2nd beat of the Samba more strongly.

Rea Cormick danced a Theatre Arts routine with Lucas. The beginning was just beautiful; Their lifts at times were controlled and artistic until the last one. Rea must be disappointed at that but she was a true competitor and artist and carried it well. Their entry off the floor was just wonderful. Congratulations.

International Jive was next with Jones Valenzuela and Yanna. This young man is so enthusiastic about his dancing and it shows. He really does try to give a good performance (he does just that in the Formation Team!). However I saw him looking at Yanna when doing side-by-side groups to see if he was with her – he was! I was not convinced that the tempo of the music was really Jive – it seemed more like EC Swing.

Another routine from Maria Handl with Lucas – this time a Bolero. This nicely danced by a very elegant lady whose costume was very appropriate. Again I think that the choreography was a little too high for her standard. She really needs to work on eye contact, foot pressure and footwork using the instep and ankles more.

Next a Rumba from Paul Laderta dancing with Yanna. Paul is an excellent student and partner and is aware of his lady whether it is Marie or Yanna. He shows them both off so well and that adds to his presentation to the audience. Good show.

Last on was Ellen Ostler dancing a Hustle with Lucas. Ellen is the consummate performer having personality and eye contact on the dance floor. Her Hustle technique is as I remember it was way back in the 60’s and 70’s. It is a pity that she was not able to show more Hustle and fewer lifts. Otherwise an excellent performance and I would say the best one of the Second Act.

Having said all that I would like to congratulate all of the students for participating in this Memoirs Showcase. I know it takes a great deal of courage to get out there, but you all did it and you all are a great credit to your teachers, Lucas and Yanna.

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