Monday, March 29, 2010

10 Year Old Wins Dance Essay Contest

10 YEAR OLD WINS DANCE ESSAY CONTEST! was submitted by Rita O'Conner. The Valley Isle has gotta be proud that one of their young native sons has won this contest and found the passion for ballroom dancing..

Maui, HAWAII –Private Image Dance Studio sponsored a "Love Of Dance" essay contest (with three different topic options) to keiki & adults of Maui. Judges (from the mainland) chose Maui youth Sol Singer, age 10, as the winner of this year's contest! Sol received a gift certificate for a private dance lesson with Dance Professional Rita O'Connor, NDCA. Sol has been involved with the Ballroom & Latin Dance Program of South Maui Parks & Recreation Community Classes for less than a year!

Here is his winning entry:
"I love to dance. It is fun. Merengue is my favorite because I can do all these creative, complex moves with a simple step. East-coast Swing has some nice moves too. I look forward to learning new steps and hot dances at class. As I hear that music, that rhythm - I am overcome with the urge to dance. My feet start to heat-up with anticipation as I eagerly make my way to the dance floor. 5-6-7-8 DANCE! I am instantly filled with happiness. Everyone should learn to dance, especially my mom and dad who I love dearly. If I win the essay contest, I choose to gift the private lesson to my parents. In this way, I can share my passion for Ballroom Dancing with them."

ILIMA Ballroom Dance Club 27th Anniversary Ball

Got all duked up for the Ilima Ballroom Dance Club 27th Anniversary Ball at the Palladium last night. Got my ticket and got my girl Lani to the Ballroom a little after 5PM. A lot of parking space available but there were busy people at work upstairs in the kitchen as they prepared the evening snack of turkey (or was it chicken?)sandwich, fresh lettuce salad topped with dressing, and a good serving of sliced peaches. Diane Wong, President of Ilima Dance Club was there pitching in with the kitchen crew. There were the early dancers in the foyer chomping down their meal as they waited to enter the Ballroom. JoAnn and Betty at the reception table greeted us with a smile.

Dance music was already playing and a few dancers getting warmed up for the evening of dancing and the Showcase. Lani and I have been to a few dances hosted by clubs that teach only the International style. So we had expected, like the other clubs, to be only International style tempo. But not so with Dr. Wong's selection of dance music....slow tempo Waltz but the Foxtrot, Jive, Tango, West Coast Swing, Cha Cha, Mambo, Rumba, etc. were in tempo with the International and American style. There was also Merengue which is rare. Thanks, Dr. Wong! And also thanks to the Setup Crew (Club members and Ronald Kim & Robert Lai).

Now to the main event. EmCee for the event was Roger Izumigawa, a well known celebrity in the dance community, who kept the audience in tuned with the Dance Exhibition part of the program. Club President Diane Wong gave a Welcome message. Then Roger acknowledged the Presidents of Aiea Ballroom Dance Assn. (Deanie Bates), Aloha Dance Club (Gladys Lee), Friends of Ala Wai Dance Academy (Warren Mitsunaga), Gardenia Dance Assn.(Ivan John), International Ballroom Dance Inc. (Chris Jay), USA Dance Honolulu Chapter (Glenn Okazaki), and Pan Pacific Ballroom Dance of Hawaii (Rudy Luat) who attended as Ilima's guests. Also acknowledgement went to Herbert Omizo & Annie Furguson and the many individuals that helped with the ticket sales.

The Dance Exhibition started with Kay Yahiku & Warick Sargent dancing the International Foxtrot. There were some lifting in the dance as Warick twirled Kay about shoulder height that wooed the audience.

Nice moves by Hami Draper & Tom Sutton as they danced their interpretation of the International Cha Cha. We hope to see more of this couple in other showcases.

Aileen & David Hashimoto soon followed with the International Tango. Lani and I thought that David had full control of the dance as he masterly lead Aileen in the dance of passion.

Now every dance showcase has a THRILLER or two. But I gotta hand it to Charlotte & Edwin Bugarin for their performance of the International Cha Cha. They were there to entertain and please the audience with their terrific expertise in showcase dancing. In fact they were the only dancers who performed in the middle of the large dance floor so everyone could see and enjoy their performance. That's akamai Exhibition Dancing!

As a finale, there was an International SURPRISE Dance. It started as a skit with three guys arguing (Nancy Luckie impersonated as a guy) with no audio. Almost like watching the first black and white movie of the early 1900's. A lot of animation going on by Don Smith as Ivan John (dressed like a drag queen) enters the scene. A little confusing of what's going on at first but as the story unveils, Ivan John teaches the three guys (sorry I didn't get the name of the third guy but I'm guessing it was David Mayman) how to dance the International Tango. Maybe that's what the argument among the three guys were about. Anyway, Ivan got to dance with the three guys. No more arguments...just entertainment that got the audience a belly full of laughter. (I couldn't get a good photo of the group of Ivan John, Nancy Luckie and Friends but you can view Ivan John all decked up sitting on my friend Calvin Ota's lap in one of the photos).

So it turned out to be any evening of fine dancing and an entertaining showcase by the Exhibition Dancers. This photo pictures some of the dancers that were happy to be at the Ball. Hopefully, someone will remember to turn up all the lights in the ballroom when there is a Dance Exhibition. After all, the beautiful costumes and the expressions on the dancers' faces and eyes are 50 percent of the performance.
(Left click on photo to zoom in).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

St. Paddy Dance Party @Star-Struck Studio

"BRRRRRR! Baby, It's Cold Outside". It was a cold and breezy night last night. You know....da kine night bettah to stay in a warm and cozy home with a hot cup of java. But Lani and I were invited to the St.Paddy's Dance Party at the Star-Struck Studio. Couldn't disappoint the hosts John and Alicia Aros after saying that we'd be there. Lani and I got to the studio before eight. Salsa music was playing but only a handful of John and Alicia's students were there. We were greeted by John and later by Alicia as she entered the mini ballroom. Their two lovely children with their nanny were there also to enjoy the festivity.

As more students trickled into the studio, John and Alicia got the party started by demonstrating the Foxtrot and then had everyone on the dance floor to dance the Slow-Slow-Quick-Quick steps. The party got warmed up when more students came in. There were light refreshments and puu puus at the bar. For the adventurous dancers, there were Napa Valley nectars and the brews from hops.
It was a dance party so John and Alicia availed themselves to dancing with their students the Foxtrot, Waltz, Swing, Cha Cha. Tango, and the Hustle. And the students enjoyed that. I got to enjoy dancing with Alicia, too...the East Coast Swing and the Merengue. Had a few dances with one of their students, also. It was an enjoyable night for Lani and me as we danced the Waltz, Cha Cha, Swing, Rumba, and a bit of Tango before the music ended.

We met and talked to nearly everyone at the party. Most if not all were new to ballroom dancing but they were a friendly bunch just like the hosts John and Alicia.
The night had turned from "BRRR! Baby It's Cold Outside to Heat Wave" and was well worth braving the cold and breezy weather.
Star-Struck Studio hosts student parties at least twice a month and are listed on their Website

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Latin Festival 2010

WOWEE! What an entertaining event it was at the Latin Festival this past Friday. Lani and I brought some of our dance students to the Big Dance. It was the first time for all of them to dance at the Palladium. We could see in their eyes the excitement of seeing so many dancers on a large scale floor. The Exhibition Dancing and the Mock Competition thrilled them moreso. Did they get to social dance? YES they did! But I think I'm getting a little ahead on this blog. Lani and I got to the Palladium a little before 5PM but we weren't the only ones. There were other dancers waiting in the foyer while the showcase performers and competition dancers were practicing their routine inside the ballroom. Bento was served while we waited to enter the ballroom. Light but not bad for 8 bucks including admission...rice, chicken katsu, hot dog, a piece of daikon, and a mini Okinawan doughnut. Coffee, juice, and water was enough to quench the thirst. I gotta thank the kitchen crew for doing such a good job in distributing the bento and serving those delicious cookies as refreshment from Old Aala Bakery. (Sorry I didn't get a photo of them).

As we entered the ballroom, we were greeted by Ivan John (President), David Mayman (Vice President), Rose Loui (Treasurer), Gayle Kawahakui and Nancy Luckie (Directors) at the Reception Table.

Before I go any further, let me introduce to you some of the members of Hawaii Gardenia Circle that made this event an enjoyable one...the EmCee, the Event Organizer, and the DeeJay.
General Dancing continued from 5:30 to 7:45. Then there was a Horse Shoe Dance before the Exhibition Dancing part of the program. I gotta note here that some of the big names in professional ballroom dancing attended this affair..Geoffrey Fells (Lani and I had a small chat with him. Hope his right leg heals real soon), Christopher Bayot, and Albert Franz.

Richard and Lynn Nakamura opened the Exhibition Dancing with the International Quick Step. These two dancers from Dance Aliamanu always amaze Lani and me with their energy and quickness in their footwork. Running on high octane and they are always a crowd pleaser.

The Night Club Two Step followed immediately by Joshua Manzano and Jill Tengan from Dance Aliamanu. They are the youngest dance instructors for the club and are going places. Very nice showcase moves and technique and very enjoyable to watch.

Concluding this part of the Exhibition Dancing were Dr. Michael and Trudy Uechi who danced an impeccable International Waltz and Foxtrot Medley. Very disciplined posture and footwork as they flowed smoothly throughout the entire ballroom floor.

More General Dancing followed before the Mock Competition. The Mock Competiton consisted of the Cha Cha, Samba, Rumba, Mambo, Jive, and Paso Doble.

The Parade of Latin Festival competition dancers opened the program in style with introduction of the dancers by the EmCee.

Participating in the mock competition were Robert Schiff, Rosy Schiff, Patrick Stanley, Geraine Luna, Lyn Sodaria, Gene Peles, Karin Peles, Tom Collins, Hana Yin, Daniel Ng, Stephanie Yueg, Calvin Ota, Debra Ota, Joshua Manzano, Jill Tengan, Edwin Bugarin, Charlotte Bugain, Renna Villanueva, Gordon Wong, Sergio Villanueva, Jana Makasobe, Stacie Jo Stanley, and Rosy Thomas.

The Latin mock competition was the best I've seen at the Palladium. It was HOT! HOT! HOT! as the dancers sizzled with every dance. The costumes the contestants wore were striking and added color to the dances. Since Latin dancing is a spot dance and doesn't do much travelling (except maybe the Samba), Lani and I could only see the dancers at our end of the ballroom. Did the dancers dance with passion in the Rumba? Was there a fierce matador in the Paso Doble? Were the dancers enjoying the dance? Did they dance to entertain the audence? Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! We were fortunate to have some of Hawaii's most talented dancers display their ultimate skills in the Ballroom and Latin dancing for one evening. Hopefully these talented dancers will be invited to next year's Latin Festival. This was an evening of fine dancing and extraordinary entertainment organized by Hawaii Gardenia Circle. Bravo!


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Hawaii Gardenia Circle's Latin Festival

Aloha Students of Dance. The Latin Festival hosted by Hawaii Gardenia Circle is a couple of Fridays away. It promises to be a ....... well let me have Marie Laderta give you a picture of what's gonna happen at this fun filled event.......

A Note From Marie Laderta:

Promising to be another fun-filled event on Friday, March 12th at the Palladium, the new leadership of Hawaii's Gardenia Circle has worked with new enthusiasm to provide us with a social dance which not only promises to entertain, but also provides a good opportunity for local dancers to practice their dancing in a simulated competition environment, all without the stress of a real competition! So, whether you end up participating in the mock competition or not, whether you just want to go there for some general dancing and fellowship, or just to support the mock competitors, it is expected that you should come away from it having some fun.

Join new Board members, President Ivan John, VP David Mayman, Secretary Don Smith,
Treasurer Rose Louie, Directors Nancy Luckie, Gayle Kawahakui & Reggie Gascon for an
energizing evening! As a prelude to the mock Latin competition, solo performances which include International Standard as well as American Smooth will also grace the floors of the majestic Palladium.

If you buy your ticket now it is only $8 (with bento!), or if you wait to get it at the door it is still a reasonable $10. Save the date: Friday, March 12, 2010. For tickets, please call Gayle at 223-8052.

Monday, March 01, 2010

IBDI Inaugural Ball 2010

I guess many of those who bought tickets to this past Saturday IBDI Inaugural Ball at the Pacific Beach Hotel were in suspense whether the Tsunami was going to hit Waikiki or not. Well Lani and I waited till 3PM for the alert to fade away which it finally did. We headed to the Pacific Beach Hotel there about 5PM. A little early. No one was at the Reception Table, so we went moseying down to the shops to kill some time. Found a shop selling things at reduced price because it was going out of business and Lani wanted to try out her bargaining skills that she acquired on our trips to China. Yep! she got what she wanted at the price she bargained with the proprietor.

By the time we got to the Ballroom on the 7th floor, the lobby was filled with dancers. The "front line" reception table friendly workers were already busy collecting tickets and directing the dancers to their assigned tables. It was nice to see Dana Morey who with her late husband were students of Lani and me. Our first stop in the Ballroom was to wish our friends Calvin and Debra Ota the very best in the Paso Doble exhibition.

There were many dancers in attendance who Lani and I knew from way back when we were teaching for IBDC (now IBDI). General dancing was in full swing to the enticing music from the collections of Henry Lee with the assistance of Jane......not only International tempo music but a good number of American tempo also. General dancing went on for about an hour before the first wave of dancers were ushered to the buffet line. Emcee for the evening was Kay Yahiku who handled the podium with humor and a big voice. Renna Villanueva gave the invocation....then it was dinner time. (No need to hash over the buffet menu 'cause anyone who has attended functions at the PBH knows the entries are ono ono).

After dinner, the IBDI new officers for 2010 were introduced, and then installed by Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle. Here's the line up: President: Christopher Jay, 1st VP: Grace Nohara, 2nd VP: Steven Sambrano, Secretary: Marsha Ninomiya, and Treasurer: Paul Araki. Board of Diectors: Shirley Igarashi, Arnold Lee, Edward Matsuda, Dana Morey, Anna Omizo, and Fred Tsuda. A President's Message by Christopher Jay followed and then a VIP dance and a SnowBall (aka Ice Breaker) before the Exhibition Dance. Somewhere sandwiched in between was the calling of lucky numbers for door prizes and the winner of the table centerpiece.

About 9 o'clock, Calvin and Debra Ota opened the Exhibition program with the Paso Doble choreographed by Albert Franz. Calvin wore a black Latin outfit and Debra dressed as a Flamenco dancer. It was what Lani and I had expected to see as Calvin and Debra scorched the dance floor with the inspiring passion, power, and strength of a matador facing a raging bull with his cape. And Debra as the "cape" shared with the required high level technical ability. A touch of Flamenco dancing and styling and the dance well performed by two seasoned dancers made it a terrific and exciting performance to watch.

What was billed on the agenda as Latin Medley by Dance Appeal Troupe (comprised of 13dance performers) did not happen but there was fire...Latin Fire.. in the performance danced by Sergio and Renna Villanueva. Boy, they were hot to trot as they covered the entire length of the dance floor with a medley of ballroom and broadway dancing. The blond wig together with the silvery costume that Renna wore sure gave substance to their performance. Dynamite and very entertaining performance by Sergio and Renna.

The International Waltz by Thomas Nakamura and Stephanie Uechi concluded the Exhibition Dance part of the program. Lani and I have seen Thomas dance in exhibitions and socially but this night, he performed superbly and smooth as butter with a lot of control. And as for Stephanie, the beautiful lines she displayed in her dance shows a lot of strength in her movements. A top notch International Waltz performance by Thomas & Stephanie and very enjoyable to watch.

The Hustle by Lucas Jaime & Ellen Osler, and the International Tango by Steven Sambrano & Shirlene Yuen never materialized. Maybe we'll see the performances at next year's IBDI Inaugural Ball.

The program as a whole was well organized. It moved along smoothly which allowed more general dancing. The night was still young and general dancing continued till closing. (Left click on photos to zoom in).