Monday, March 4, 2013

Heritage Dance Classic

The Heritage Dance Classic was held this past weekend at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina.
This event is one of the most popular and top events in the USA. (I was Chairman of Judges for several years until I retired).
Once again Hawai'i was well represented by Divino Ritmo Dance (Lucas Jaime and Yanna Samkova) with students (David Easa, Marie Laderta and Edward Nishimoto).

This report was submitted to me by David Easa and the photographs by Marie Laderta.

Marie, David, Edward, Lucas, Yanna

Heritage Classic 2013

I am writing this report on the plane returning back home to warm Hawaii. The event was held at the Grove Park Inn, site of the Heritage Classic in Asheville, North Carolina. Even though it was not that cold for most of our stay in Asheville, a fine cover of delicate snow graced the ground on the last two days of the event, which was a special treat for all of us.

By now, those interested in the details of the competition   probably have looked them up on the website.  They will find Divino Ritmo student distinctions displayed in the Winners Circle.  Both Marie Laderta and I won top solo female and male awards and we were in the top twenty overall Dancesport series - student category.  Edward Nishimura was the third student who attended the competition, only his second outing to the world of mainland dance competitions and did very well.  Lastly, Divino Ritmo Dance Studio also received a beautiful appreciation plaque by the organizer of the Heritage Classic.

Besides competing, Edward was fascinated by various tales of ghosts that inhabited the Grove Park Inn.  He was  also enamored with the beauty and majesty of the Biltmore Estate, a short drive from the Grove Park Inn.  Asheville is an eclectic town filled with artists, musicians, artisans of varying sorts, and a list of sumptuous restaurants that is clearly out of proportion to the population base of the city.  Green and beautiful open landscapes and forests surround the city.  This was incentive enough for it being the site of filming of the movie, “The Hunger Games”.

The Grove Park Inn is special for me, the reason that I have attended this competition three years in a row.  It reminds me of my previous life in the South.  It reminds me of my wife of 25 years who was born in North Carolina.  It reminds me of the person that I was, and the young family I had. It also reminds me of the person that I no longer resemble.

The Heritage Classic offers packages to purchase for the competition.  What is included is transportation from the airport to the hotel, two meals a day served buffet style, a reception at the beginning and another one at the end each with two complimentary drinks, a few goodies here and there, and an outpouring of southern hospitality that is unmatched anywhere in the country. 

At the buffet, I particularly loved the southern style green beans, while cloaked with the illusion of healthiness, it was simmered in bacon, butter and probably other fatty sauces as well..yummmm.  I liked equally well a cheesy cauliflower casserole, reminding me of one that my wife cooked for our family decades ago. An assortment of meats, chicken, fish, and little houses of desserts rounded out the menu, all of decent quality.
Marie Laderta, David Easa, Yanna Samkova, Edward Nishimura 
 We all had fun during the competition.  Medium sized plus by mainland standards, there was enough competition, but the ballroom was not cluttered to the hilt with ballroom dancers waiting to take the stage and perform their routines.  There was ample time to talk, make new friends and enjoy the moment.  Of course, Marie, extroverted as she is, made the most new friends.  By the end of the week, she knew everyone on a first name basis.  I was even introducing myself around and having a grand time, sharing stories with other dancers of roughly in the same age category, unlikely as this might sound.
Marie Laderta with Lucas Jaime

Marie was beaming on the dance floor, and did very well with lots of competition that she managed well.  Clearly the B1 Woman’s Division is the most competitively contested. Edward’s moment came when he was doing his solo routine with Yanna, which I liked very much.

I had my moments as well. Unfortunately, while I arrived in Asheville happy and healthy, I overdid my stretching warm up on the first day pulling a groin muscle.  The muscle got tighter and tighter, and finally showed it ugly face with stabbing pain during my only international Viennese Waltz. To be sure, I had to scratch the next scheduled Viennese Waltz to avoid aggravating it further. 

The muscle pull definitely affected my ability to perform but I won’t make excuses for myself.  For the most part, I had to suck it up.  I thought about getting a massage to reduce the tightness but I later recanted considering the location of my injury, and the growing embarrassment that I would feel.

Yanna never knows what to expect when she competes with me.  Actually, I never know what to expect myself. I had a lot of new routines to contend with, most notably in American Smooth. This was the first time that I ventured into the world of silver and it was exciting and rewarding. But I also experienced a few missteps along the way.
David Easa with Yanna Samkova

For some reason, on more than one occasion, starting the dance heat posed the most difficulty.  Standing there like a statue, Yanna tried to get me to budge forward as I fought back her back lead. When the tug-of-war finally resolved, I was able to complete the routine without further difficulty. I was relieved that I was able to put this bad start behind me.  Happily, with few exceptions, I remembered the rest of my steps.

The last evening, after completing all of my dance heats minus the one Viennese Waltz, I was constrained by the persistent stabbing groin pain. It felt like I was walking with a knife stuck deep into my groin, sapping the joy of the remainder of the last evening. I decided on a plan to salvage it. Filling up with enough wine to numb the pain, I donned my dance shoes, went to the buffet dinner dance, had more wine, braved up enough energy to dance a bunch of social dances, drank more wine, laughed and blustered naughtily, and somehow made it through the evening festivities without passing out and embarrassing the rest of the Divino Ritmo contingency. It was well worth the effort.  The professional show and competition was excellent.

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