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The following is a report of this year's event by students David Easa and Marie Laderta
By: David Easa & Marie Laderta
Geoffrey Fells IS the Hawaii Star Ball and this last week, the 19th consecutive yearly ballroom competition premier event was held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. It seems that Geoffrey has perfected this event. Indeed, this year’s event was clearly modeled after last year’s event, which was modeled after the year before and so on and so forth. In addition to the competition and the wonderful professional dance show, this included a little Chinese – Lion dance, a little Japanese – Taiko Drums, a little Hawaiian – hula, local entertainers and singers, and much more.
The Venue: While the Hilton Hawaiian Village remains a very splendid venue for the event, it had its pluses and minuses. Certainly a pristine setting, the sleeping rooms were large and comfortable, but we detected a certain degree of aging of the campus, defects in the rooms, and facilities that went uncorrected perhaps due to the poor economy and the tendency to put off these kinds of repairs until absolutely necessary.
The Ballroom: was roomy and adequate, the dance floor in its uncut version was of decent quality although there was some rough edges inevitably present in dance floors made up of squares pieced together resulting in slightly uneven seams. It was certainly an advantage to have the entire dance floor to use for all heats rather than the increasingly common practice of cutting the dance floor into an A and B selections to allow for more simultaneous running of heats.
The Competition: From the weight of the competition schedule booklet, it appeared that the competition was slightly smaller than last year; We will not rehash the possible reasons for this, but would rather conclude the obvious….the national economy is still unhealthy and Hawaii is a far and expensive destination for those interested in competing from the mainland who have so many choices to consider almost on a weekly basis. Still it was disappointing not have all of our professional dance instructors in Hawaii really involved in supporting this event, which would partially compensate for the seeming reduction in mainland participation. However, the Hawaii Star Ball is one venue that has a loyal and predictable following from Japan, giving it the unique quality and flavor of an East meets West event held on American soil. There were also entries from the Philippines, China, and Canada.
Highlights: This is not intended to be a comprehensive report. Below are snippets in an abbreviated form, observed as newsworthy over the three days of competition:
- Youth/preteen competitors..............include 10 year olds Ikaika Villanueva & Keilani Kese. Ikaika is the grandson of local instructors Renna & Sergio Villanueva.
- The Top solo was won by Cole Horibe who danced a silver Paso Doble with his Professional Instructor, Yanna Samkova. In addition to Cole's, five other finalist solos were called back for a performance in the evening, which included a "Little Red Riding Hood" fox trot by Ivan John & Nancy Luckie. A notable call-back was Sensei Shinobu Matsuura & Kumiko Ogino's Theater Arts rendition of the "Mask of Zorro."
- The second evening of the competition featured formation performances by 2 local studios: the first was an International Waltz by the Pan Pacific Formation team, coached by Ed Felix. The second was Divino Ritmo Dance's rendition of a medley of Paso Doble, Cha Cha, Salsa, Samba & Viennese Waltz, to the Broadway tune of "Nine," choreographed & coached by Yanna Samkova.
- While mainland participation was visibly lower this year, Professional Dave Watson did bring half a dozen ladies to support this event.
- In addition to their usual bevy of competitors, Divino Ritmo introduced 8 new competitors of diverse ages. Divino Ritmo students all held their own and did their studio proud across the board, not only in the solo category, but in scholarships, and other categories winning 3 overall top student awards. Through students' and teachers' collective effort, Lucas Jaime & Yanna Samkova won Top Teachers as well as Top Studio.
- Kudos also to other local studios such as Dance Appeal & Al Franz who gave their support to Hawaii's only NDCA sanctioned dance competition.
- Frequent competitors & USA Dance Honolulu Chapter's own Anne Ho & Glenn Okazaki took 1st in the Open Amateur International Ballroom category.
Final Note: On a final note, next year is the 20th anniversary of the Hawaii Star Ball, and Geoffrey mentioned that he had something special that he was already planning to celebrate this momentous occasion. You will all need to make it a point to attend, because if you don’t, you will have to resort to learning about it from another one of our blogs which threatens to be "longwinded and boring" at about this time next year ….Aloha…..and until next year.