Doug Rousar is to the dance world what Phineas T. Barnum was to the Circus!
Spotlight Dance Celebration in Toledo, Ohio for the
New Year’s holiday was an extrAAAvaganza of never ending entertainment and participation!!!
Linda Guetterman & Rick Domalski
Like “The Greatest Show
on Earth” …
Spotlight 2013 is unique!!!
Three days and four nights of
non-stop dancing –
and not a dull moment!
It was an opportunity to see my wonderful Mid-westies
and AAAwesome Canadian dance friends.
Party animals of the Universe!
Happy to report – it is possible to have too much fun. (OOOh – my aching back!)
Tal Shichor & Randy Peters
It wasn’t just a rehash of the other conventions, either.
Doug came up with a whole bunch of new and creative takes on the same old acts …
There was tons of social dance …
entertaining and fresh performances,
the BEST music selection, and
EVERYTHING was always on time and ran smoothly.
(NO backroom brawls, either!)
The MAN should be running the USA – AND the big banks – AND the United Nations.
HELL – Doug could run the planet and what a better world world this would be!
At the outset – I must thank the Rousars for adding the National Anthem to the event kick-off.
Let’s TRY to remember who WE ARE – and that’s NOT – the gun wielding, war mongering, greedy, arrogant people we keep hearing about on the news.
We are the people who built this country on Life – Liberty –
and the Pursuit of West Coast Swing!
Jason Miklic & Sophy Kdep
Check out the talent: Debbie & Angel Figueroa, Matt & Crystal Auclair, Annmarie & Jason Marker, Jason Miklic & Sophy Kdep, Art & Colleen Uspensky, Brennar Goree, Rebecca Ludwick & Kris Swearingen, Taletha Jouzdani, Nino Diguilio & Dawn Lara, Billy Fajardo & Katie Marlow, Billi Marti, Erica Smith, Stephanie Risser, Jeff Mumford & Leah Burkman, Chris & Melissa Moy and Tim Johnson.
My readers from the east coast and southwest need to understand that these teachers TEACH the BEST!
Art Uspensky & Crystal Auclair
Are they the biggest names in the biz?
No – and we don’t care.
They tried a whole lot harder than all those phoney-baloney
Jeff Mumford & Keerstin Whitefield
Sarah Van Drake says these conventions step us up in dance skill.
Well, THIS CONVENTION brought us up a whole flight of stairs!!!
Debbie Figueroa & Mike Conklin
These teachers are not spoiled by success and hopefully they never will be.
LuUuUuVVV that the Rousars give up-and-coming teachers and DJs an opportunity to showcase what they can do.
Jeff Mumford & Rebecca Ludwick
Jeff Mumford made his national teaching debut with Leah Burkman.
California is soooo passé and over-rated!
The talent of the future is coming out of the corn fields!
Indiana Jeff will make his state the next WCS mecca!
Imagine dancing in a crop circle!
Hey Indie Jeff - get Doug to help you start a convention so I have an excuse to check out your state!
Jeff Fraunhoffer & Pam Bennett
Can’t mention everyone and everything but I’ll get to it in the future.
Instead, I wish to memorialize my favorite parts …
and share them with the unfortunate slobs who could not be with us.
Shelly Saxena & John Campbell
We were thoroughly entertained whenever there was a competition or performance – but it wasn’t long before we were up and dancing again.
The music: OMG!!!
My personal fAAAvorite was holding court all weekend –
My other fAAAvorite DJ – Beth Bellamy – was spinning alot (luv this gurl).
And then there was my original fAAAvorite DJ, Tim Johnson, pushing the tunes every time I looked over.
Oh, and it was truly wonderful to hear the sounds of my fAAAvorite DJ, Mineh Ishida!
Marlin Jenkins & Faith Musko
And then there was my new fAAAvorite, Marlin Jenkins, who also recited some impressive original poetry.
This kid loooooks pre-law but don’t let it foooool you!
He’ll be just as successful AND a gooood person!
This event kicks off with the most IMPORTANT part of the entire weekend:
Everyone is getting thru Novice in this region because of the significance placed on the development process.
It’s how people become really good and why they win competitions.
Youth and favoritism are not blamed for failure here. Dancers do not get frustrated and give up (as much).
Jennifer Vaughn performed to “This is a Man’s World” with Matt Auclair who has a 2 year waiting list for new students
(his girls always win everything).
This chick is simply AAAwesome and has the respect of her peers. She beats everyone in Masters frequently, too.
Steven Krieg performed with AAAnnmarie Marker to “Folsom Prison Blues” and it was impressive.
GUYZ out there will be lining up to work with her.
She and Jason are stAAAgeringly good teachers, i.e., technicians.
All of the ProAms were GrAAAnd.
Faith Musko with Jason Miklic – Marina Moeller with Brennar Goree (left) – Matt Auclair with Christy Parker.
I’ve written about them before and will again.
They just keep getting
better and better.
I am soooo jealous!
Phineas reinvented the side-show.
He made the Siamese Twins famous!
Doug has just as unique of a talent to turn competition into a side-show.
Yeah, there were the same Jack n’ Jills and Strictlies in both hustle and west coast swing.
But, also there were Masters J&J, Masters Strictly, Rising Star, Classic, Mixed Bag J&J, Pro Strictly, Pro J&J Routines and Bookends.
Another show starting any minute and lots of dancing in between!
Dominic Bernard & Carolina Amendola
Newcomer Division was certainly changed in the 6 months since Michigan Classic. (Doug’s other event.)
Newcomer is becoming a bona fide division in the midwest.
In half of the country, people are being stopped from entering Novice Division unless they have completed their Newcomer points.
We feel that it is essential to develop basic skills and confidence.
Novice is called “HELL” for a reason.
Most people don’t get out alive.
Besides that, some of us earned the right to dance in Novice and we don’t appreciate people cutting in line. It was appalling to hear that some local teachers had the unmittigated gall to advise their students to commit this egregious act. Shame on them!!!
Good on you Doug Rousar for respecting Newcomer Division …
You‘re a mensch!!!
Joann Podleski & Genieboy
Masters Division at Spotlight was particularly strong. Many of the participants are teachers and have been dancing half their lifetimes.
Age 50 is the new 40! A lot of these people are in better condition than the young kids. We love this division because it is so different and kitschy.
You might get a beginner – and you might get Genieboy!
By the way, Genieboy is practically a fixture on the east coast but he’s not that well known in the midwest. As soon as the guy hit the dance floor, girls were asking me who he was.
Man-oh-Man! Soon, he had the those gurlz swooning!
Jason Marker & Colleen Uspensky
That’s not all!
Doug came up with the best idea ever for a competition.
Forget the Big Top
the Flying Wallendas!
We had Pro J&J
Matt Auclair & Erica Smith
On the first night, the pros drew a partner and developed a routine to be performed later in the weekend.
To avoid any attempt at seriousness, it had to include stuff from videos of classic routines staring the most famous pros!
It was mAAAgnificent and demonstrated the depth of their talent to dance AND ability to entertain.
Brennar Goree & Donna Arvans
There’s even more! ProAm strictlies.
This is the most important category that anyone ever came up with.
They are just beginning to move into the northeast …
by GI-NORMOUS DEMAND! We all get soooo much out of this process and the events make a lot of money.
It’s a WIN-WIN!
Check it out, Larry Hough is working his way thru the Intermediate level WSDC points.
The guy ProAm‘d 3 students (Larry is AAAwesome). Carolina Amendola, won 2nd place in the Newcomer J&J. (left)
There are not enough teachers in Toronto and the entire northeast.The same situation exists in New York.
Please listen – all my readers out west - who are starting to teach. Don’t go to California! We need you here!!!
The Jack n’ Jills are hard. We want to earn our points because that’s the kind of people we are – goal oriented.
LuUuUuved the judges! They can keep a straight face and even be kind. They care and really look at us in every dance – it’s impressive. People do not want to feel like their entry fee is nothing more than an event donation.
We truly felt we were evaluated carefully.
Congrats to the Winners
1. Doug Nofzinger & Katrina Verey
2. Dominic Bernard & Carolina Amendola
3. John Zonicle & Sophia Gutterman
4. Michael Cooper & Marjorie Kyle
5. Stanley Moody & Veronika Doma
Barbara Ellen White &
Brett Stacer (Newcomer Finals)
1. Todd Coulthard
& Catherine Jones (left)
2. Michael Peascoe & Noelle Sereis
3. Richard Falls Jr. & Abby Steele
4. Damon Lampley & Etta Berkland
5. Thomas Clyde & Adriana Harris
Check it out!
Catherine Jones is no spring chicken … and she won 1st place!
Stephanie with Nino Diguilio
Gotta mention about hustle – WOW! The dance is growing in popularity.
Stephanie Risser is sooooo good!
She makes me want to start that up all over again.
It used to be that there were comps but nobody really social danced. Not anymore.
Leaders actually ask which dance we’d like to do and it’s common to see both styles on the social floor.
Why hasn’t Doug invented the parent/child dance-off?
We never tire of watching Matt & Crystal perform.
It’s about time Lily joined the act!
Let’s see Jason & Sophy dance with those two beautiful dolls – and if they are too small to keep up – how about a routine using strollers?
I‘ll bet Rebecca Ludwick can come up with something brillAAAnt to do with Ilyana.
All AAAntonio has to do is be himself with Debbie and Angel to entertain!
Another reason the most spectacular new dancers are coming out of this region is because of Rising Star. Every time I see these performances, I am struck by how special it is to reach these heights. I was quite dismayed to hear that most people in Arizona didn’t even know what Rising Star is.
Hieu Le &
Natalie Gorg – performing their routine to “Unfold” (left) – are in another class entirely.
(Hieu graciously told me he felt lucky just to hold Natalie’s hand).
In the 4 midwest events I’ve traveled to this year, I have watched Michael Saloka & Nicole Zwerlein soar
Chris Edwards & Amy Lee (right) premiered a routine at Cash Bash to “Hazy” by Rosi Golan and choreographed by Jason & AAAnnmarie.
Seeing it 6 weeks later – what a difference!
In Classic Division we again got to see that sizzling routine by Matt & Crystal to …
“If You Don’t Know Me.”
The whole world should
see this one.
Their love comes thru and I am always struck by the tremendous tragedy …
that they are not on Broadway!
Rebecca and Chris performed to“Gold.”
This couple won 5th place in the NASDE tour at the US OPEN.
People (event organizers) are beginning to ask me about Rebecca.
For sure, she is headed for west coast swing stardom.
Rebecca has the same kind of talent as Deborah Szekely.
Deeper – wider – enduring.
Like I keep saying – the gold is not in California – it’s in the Mid-west!
Luuuuuved Bookends – a same gender Strictly.
At Swingin’ New England in November the performances were a bit raunchy. Here, they were good natured fun.
There was a charming piece by Billy Marti and Corey Flowers to “Singin’ In the Rain.”
(I didn’t know Billy could tap dance!)
There was a comical performance by Matt and Brennar - reinventing previously done routines.
It was a parody – and in particular – picked on those qualities that are easy to hillarify.
It was just so well performed that we couldn’t mistake who Matt and Brennar were imitating!
But what is important about this is that we love people who can laugh at themselves!
The Swifter Sisters should have won (in my own opinion). It was a dancing floor mop performance!
I‘m a big fan of Beverly Solazzo (teacher at May I Have this Dance in Chicago).
The reason why this routine was brilliAAAnt …
was because it stood on its own.
We don’t need to know anything to enjoy this one and it should go on Utube!
Tereasa Tomasov & Thomas Falletta
New Year’s Eve was FAAANAAASTIC!!!
People dressed up like it was the Academy Awards. We sat together at dinner and realized how special it is to be out like this instead of home petting the dog.
I am proud to say …
I did NOT have a quiet New Year’s Eve!!!
Was dinner “primo swag”? Well, not exactly.
But, who cares! It’s not the kind of thing that matters.
Afterward, Matt led a “free-style” party so that non-dancing friends and relatives could join in.
What a great idea!!!
Besides, we couldn’t dance in heels and dresses so we might as well Wobble!
Also, people formed a circle in which people just did about anything.
Freedom! Lily ran back and forth.
The local “Sex in the City” WCS gurlzzzz wowed us!
Everyone just let down their hair and relaxed.
Liz McB, Larry Hough, Tal Shichor and Joanna Swanson
The stroke of midnight
held desert and champagne.
We toasted to wonderful memories and looked forward to MORE in 2013!
Andre Danis & Joanna Swanson – 1st Place Strictly Hustle
Special thanx to Joanna Swanson for turning me on to this region.
The east coast is great but I was frustrated and could not improve my dancing. Not only did I find wonderful teachers in the Mid-west but I found a BRAVE new world.
Doug’s events are not the only ones in the Mid-west. (But – they might be the best!)
The region holds quite a bit of opportunity to grow dance skills, make wonderful friends - and have more fun than anywhere else!
We get taken care of in the Mid-west, too.
Midnight buffets come with the pass.
Saturday night we had breakfast and it was really good. Sunday night was a desert buffet.
People thought it was going to be more breakfast and were disappointed.
It isn’t that they wanted breakfast – it’s that they are used to this idea and are too busy for a sit-down dinner.
So people only snacked and depended on the midnight meal. Pizza would have been perfect.
We need protein, not sugar. But – something different. (Chinese? Mexican?)
Another feature of this event that is highly appreciated and makes sooooo much sense is daily awards. Instead of a marathon of results at the bitter end that go on ad nauseum, we got the results the same day.
And Doug posts them right away too. That’s organization!
Doug and Lori heard all about the hotel issues …
so don’t let horror stories stop you from attending the event.
Packing for this convention might require preparation for an extended Artic expedition!
This place is all glass and there are cracks in the doorways letting in enough cold air to make it feel like Siberia.
The staff tries to their best and has a great attitude but – clearly – the manager must have just transferred from Stalag 17!
Bring lots of extra sweaters and maybe glue some suede to your heaviest winter boots so you can dance with getting frostbite on your toes!
(I’m kidding, the hotel has been bought and will undergo rennovation.)
The good part is the ballroom space and dance floor was mAAArvelous.
The stage curtain is WHITE makes people look and feel good.
Downtown Toledo is not a bad place and there are fast food places and shops nearby.
It would be useful to have a map and/or list.
Transportation arrangements from the Detroit airport to downtown Toledo (40 minutes away) became a valuable part of the whole experience.
It was my privilege to be picked up by - Melissa Rollins – who is a makeup artist and local pro (and Doug’s dance partner).
The girl is beautiful outside - AND inside!
It was heartwarming to see her beautiful home and meet her wonderful husband, lovely daughter and charming son.
The best part – for me – was meeting the rabbit and dog!
We also drove in with Angel and
I am AAAwe-Struck to report that Angel is a full-fledged Puerto Rican cowboy!
Wonder how long it will take for him to get a twang in his voice?!
Luuuuuv these two and it was a pleasure to catch up.
Once upon a time, Angel was part owner of Stepping Out in New York City.
That’s where I learned to dance and to this day - everywhere I go - people lament to me about those wonderful days and how we learned everything important from him . . . REALLY .
People have said that to me with tears in their eyes.
The ride back to the airport was courtesy of Divy Ravindranath.
This guy is moving to California, which is lucky for me because I’m out west a lot.
We rode with Bryan Jordan and his lovely wife, Catrinel, who actually hails from Romania.
Bryan is director of Swingapalooza near Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
I really didn’t know much about Bryan but I did notice how friendly and helpful he was on the dance floor.
Most people don’t get to other regions – I’ll have do some investigative reporting!
Flying during the holidays is risky … but worth it to me because of the wonderful Canadians who always make me feel included – as well as my happy experiences in the Mid-west.
Danielle DiMartino, Donna Arvans & Me
And I spent the holiday with my dear friends – girls I never would have met in New York City.
Hey – Doug and Lori,
I‘ll be seeing you guyz at every Mid-west event I can get to!