Monday, August 27, 2012

Dancing In Paradise: The Dragon Ball 2012 Part One

This blog on Bantay Bata's Dragon Ball at the Pacific Beach Grand Ballroom on August 24 is not gonna be an easy task. There were many volunteers involved in this annual event in making it a successful one. So please stay cool while I unrevel the threads of Dancing In Paradise as I can remember. After all, my main squeeze had squeezed nearly all of my energy by her merciless drive to dance my A**Off that night.

Lani and I got to the Pacific Grand Ballroom mighty early. No one was at the reception table but there were guests milling around the ballroom. Cammy of Dancewares Hawaii was at the entrance of the ballroom with her dance boutique with 10% discount for Bantay Bata ticket holders. Soon, Buffy came to the reception table and checked us in. Inside the ballroom, Sergio Villanueva greeted Lani and me while Calvin Ota was surveying the dance floor to measure the available space for the exhibition Waltz dance that he and Debra were gonna perform in the showcase. The ballroom was half as large as last year's. Another Filipino group occupied the other half and both ballrooms were filled to the brim.

It wasn't quiet 6PM but there was no holding back the sweet music coming from the stage by the Dee Jay Jesse Gonzales. Jesse has a rare talent of mixing canned music with his vocal chords and that made the dance music more extraordinary and appealing to dancing. Of course that got my main squeeze all hyped to start dancing before the floor got too crowded.

Before I move on any further, I gotta thank Paul and Marie Laderta for inviting Lani and me as their guests to this event. Paul and Marie have been prominent mainstays at Bantay Bata events as far as I can remember. They are good and inspiring people for this charity event and have brought their friends from Divino Ritmo Dance Studio to give an exciting showcase performance this year again. Paul and Marie are part of the Directors/Counselors for the Project for Bantay Bata. Paul also holds the distinction of  the Ballroom Creative Designer. The table centerpieces and the colorful Chinese ornaments that decked the inside and outside the ballroom were his creations. In keeping in tune with The Dragon Ball, both were dressed in Chinese costumes.

Okay, I gotta cut to the chase otherwise this blog is gonna take me to Christmas to get it all done. The preshow program opened with welcome remarks by EmCee Eric Barsatan. Representatives from various dance organizations, and Professional dance teachers were introduced.

Bantay Bata is a social welfare program that was first established in 1996 in the Philippines. Since 1996, it has become one of Asia's best child protection and welfare organizations, providing a multitude of integrated programs and services. Its initial intention was to help Filipino children who were victims of abuse. In its continued growth, it became a charitable organization for victimized children in the Philippines on many levels. Its mission is simple: to create and provide a safe, nurturing and loving environment where underprivileged, abused, medically ill, and undeserved children of the Philippines can develop and realize their full potential.

Followed by the welcome remarks was a Hula dance by Marcie Wong. Invocation was said by Iwalani Walsh-Tseu. It was filled with passion for the "project" and appreciation for those who support it. Then the Star Spangled Banner was sung by Anna Davide. Such a lovely and strong voice that echoed throughout the ballroom. The Philippine National Anthem was sung by Deputy Consul General of the Philippines Paul Cortes. A great and strong voice, too. There was a Chinese Lion Dance complete with heavy drumming, a Chinese Lion, and a following of Chinese Kung Fu club members to guide the "Lion" as it moved among the crowd of guests.

The dinner buffet soon followed while general dancing continued. The buffet included some Filipino delicacies. It sure complimented the atmosphere and the other entries.

The Showcase Program was EmCeed by Paul Laderta who did a terrific job introducing each performance with a brief bio of the performers.


Our friends Calvin and Debra Ota opened the show with the International Waltz...but was billed as Slow Waltz. Lani and I felt that it was gonna be a treat for us as well as for the audience 'cause we watched Calvin and Debra more times dancing the Viennese Waltz or the Quickstep at full throttle. I gotta say that the slowdown really showed that they have finesse and absolute control with impeccable technique.

It was a breath of fresh air just watching Ikaika Villanueva, the grandson of Sergio and Renna, and Brandee Nakamura come on the scene lighting up the fire with the Jive. Almost like watching their teachers Sergio and Renna dancing the Jive. It was fast and furious and combined with some hot flashes of spins, dips, and lifts. Ikaika and Brandee are a hot item to watch in future events. 

This 10 year old Hip Hop dancer came from the Philippines and my guess is that he performed in last year's Bantay Bata, also. Pretty cool moves coming from one so young. Noah along with his dad (Jim) and mom (April) sat at the same dinner table with Lani and me. Got to learn that Noah was raised in an orphanage in the Philippines and was later adopted by Jim and April when they visited the orphanage.
Who said that Swing dancing was only for the kids? Ed and Remy came on all fired up with the East Coast Swing and kept the heat on all through the dance. It was good to see these two senior teenagers burn the floor without any hint of fizzling out.
Tango Cha Cha Medley was performed by Mercedes Johnson and Professional Lucas Jaime. And it was entertaining, vigorous, and in the illustrious manner that Lucas reveals a story in this performance There was passion of love and hate in the Tango, and much fun in the Cha Cha.

With the end of Act One, General Dancing continued for 15 minutes with Jesse and son Jesse Jr. playing and singing hot swing and romantic Latin music. The dance floor got plenty crowded and everyone were having fun dancing to the music.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing

Lani and I were pretty apprehensive going to our first teaching assignment for Dance Magic 808 at the Salt Lake District Park this past Tuesday night in the Aliamanu area. Our thoughts were "How can we get the students who are very experienced dancers HOOKED ON SWING?" Freeway driving was a breeze but parking was at a premium at the district park which judging by the number of cars searching for a parking space that the park was very much in use by that community. Fortunately, we found a space at the far end of the parking lot. The long walk to the gym building sure taxed our legs but it was a good warm-up for us.

Most of the students who were in Joshua's Bolero dance class during the previous four weeks were there when the class started at 6:45 and that was enlightening for Lani and me. We were gonna be there for only two Tuesday nights so Lani and I decided to cut to the chase and teach a couple of steps that would be easy to learn in the East Coast Swing aka Triple Time Swing. After reviewing the basic timing, footwork, holds, body positions, and how to lead (for men) we swung into the meat of the dance lesson..first the "peek-a-boo".  The timing was different from the normal "triple step, triple step, break step" but the students picked up the pieces with the music that they were ingrained with the "pee-a-boo" and dancing the steps with ease. Styling was another important area that Lani and I teach and emphasize in all our dance classes because in our thoughts the whole of the human body is alive and should show passion of the dance. Teaching the "sliding door" came next and Lani and I saw that it was easier for the students to learn because the timing was the same as the "peek-a-boo".  Before the 45-minute session was over, the students were in tune with the music and swinging in style to the jazzy beat of Sweet Home Chicago.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

IBDI 51st Anniversary Ball

WOW! 51st Anniversary for IBDI. One would think that over half a century of tutoring and providing a venue for social dancing in our community would be a very long journey for IBDI and for that matter for the other dance organizations that have surpassed the middle marker of 50 years. But then this is Hawaii and being the smallest state in our great USA, Hawaii (I believe) have the most dance clubs per capita in the nation. And there's no rivalry among the different clubs as witnessed by the attendance of members of different dance clubs at other dance club functions. There's an abundance of ALOHA here and I gotta say, "Lucky you live in Hawaii!"

Got a little late start getting to the Palladium and although Lani and I had tickets for the bento, we were a little bushed from too much yard work and activities during the past days. Tough decisions had to be made. You know da kine....whether to forget the bento and go late to the dance or go pick up the bento early and go on home.  With a dancing bug in my main squeeze Lani, we found ourselves at the Palladium and none too late for our bento. General dancing was in full swing in the ballroom. Breaded chicken steak and barbecue meat on a bed of white rice with pickled veggie had to wait till we got home to dig in the ono entries.

Friendly faces were at the reception table with smiles. Couldn't miss the capturing beaming grin of Dana Morey who has been at that station at all IBDI events as long as I can remember. But this time there were new faces with her......Arnold Lee and Lillian Araki....Paul Araki came later.

Music DeeJays for the evening was Henry Lee and Jane Umeda who spun a variety of good dance music. I'm glad they were able to play a Bachata music and also for a Merengue.

EmCee for the evening's program was IBDI Prez Chris Jay who gave a welcome speech and announced the names of the representatives from the other various dance organizations including the professional dance teachers/owners of  a  dance studio who were in attendance. Recognition and awards were given for their long time association and solid volunteering work with IBDI.....the gracious and lovely Grace Nohara, and 30 plus year veteran Auditor Paul Araki. Also noted for holding the record of selling the most tickets for countless number of events were Annie Ferguson and Herbert Omizo (Herbert was not present).

General dancing continued till about eight bells. Then everyone got back to there seats awaiting the call for the first performance to start the showcase.

Amid the drum beat and colorful clad costume came Sergio in the middle of the ballroom with a wind instrument and a rattan basket. As he blew a tune on the flute a cobra like snake wiggle its way half way out of the basket just like a scene from the Arabian Nights. Good eye-catcher to draw attention what is to follow. Then at the far end of the ballroom appeared Renna in all her beauty looking like a princess in her colorful costume. Ballywood Samba was their number and it was hypnotic, electrifying and exciting as all performances this couple have been in.

Another great dance performance by the combined IBDI and Dance Magic 808 Formation Dancers. It was a perfectly choreographed by Richard and Lynn Nakamura of the International Waltz. It was smooth and very well controlled and no two lady's gown were alike in color and style which made the performance appealing to watch.

Professional dancers Joe Shorba and Ellen Ostler came on strong and fast moving with their variations of the American style Swing. Their performance was entertaining and energetic that displayed a variety of lifts and drops, and with happy facial expressions that made it enjoyable to watch.

Long time IBDI dance instructors Ed and Matilda Felix who have been in the showcase circuit numerous times for IBDI and other dance clubs danced a blockbuster International Foxtrot. This couple has always performed with precision and brilliance and tonight they once more displayed their expertise in the art of ballroom dancing.

That concluded the program and now it was time to chow down the Anniversary cake outside the ballroom while general dancing continued. Mustn't forget to recognize the guys and gals who served the cake and bentos, too. They are as much the hard working volunteers that make up this wonderful dance organization.
 My thanks to Charlene Jay for sharing some of the photos that appear in this blog.    
(Left click on photos to zoom in).

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hasta La Vista, Joshua!

 Last night was  more of an Appreciation Night to thank Joshua Manzano for sharing his expertise in teaching dancing to the members of Dance Magic 808 during his short stay in the islands. Lani and I left Hawaii Kai and took the scenic route to Salt Lake District Park. Hit a little snag on the H1 but traffic started to flow smoothly when the three lanes grew to four lanes  going westbound. When we got to the district park, most of the students were already practicing the Bolero steps they had learned from Joshua the  previous weeks.

Joshua was delayed in coming because he wasn't feeling well, so Dance Magic 808 dance instructors Ed Ho, Veronica Munez, and Stephanie Shimizu took control of the class and reviewed and demonstrated the Bolero steps.

The second period soon followed and Ed and Veronica led their class in the Salsa with a review of previously taught steps and then introducing a new variation  called the Windmill.

 Joshua arrived shortly and was presented with a "thank you" card and monetary gift by Roxanne in behalf of the Dance Magic 808 members.  The card was filled with words of well wishes and signed by members of Dance Magic 808.

I had to take a picture of the "farewell and good luck" cake. (Caught Eileen trying to lift the cake so everyone could see it). What a trooper she is!

Ann also presented Joshua with more gifts that looked like music CDs.

Eileen did a good job cutting the cake in squares while Ann and Stephanie served the cake to the members.

  Since it was the last session for Joshua to teach the Bolero before he leaves to go back to pursue his college education at the university in Las Vegas, he and Stephanie demonstrated with music all the steps he had taught the students in the Bolero.

Starting next Tuesday, Lani and I will be filling in for Joshua's last two weeks with the East Coast Swing.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

IBDI 4th Term Begins

The International Ballroom Dance Inc. began their 4th Term schedule of dance classes last night at the Palladium. Lani and I got to the Palladium just as the new BACHATA dance class by Ed Ho and Veronica Munez started. Lani  and I were curious about this Dominican Republic dance that we had heard so much through the grapevine. And also because the Merengue that we were going to teach was originated from the Dominican Republic. We weren't the only ones curious about the BACHATA because the Ewa Ballroom was pretty full with student dancers. Ed and Veronica taught a series of basic steps with some underarm turns for both the gals and the guys. They did a good job teaching that made the BACHATA look and felt like a fun dance.

The second period found Lani and me at Jim Prado's FOXTROT II dance class at the Diamond Head Ballroom. It was pretty much full with dance students, also. Jim taught FOXTROT I during the last term and this new class was a continuation to the Intermediate level. Our first night's lesson consisted of the Progressive Step, the Left Turns, and the Right Turns with all ending with CBM. We enjoyed Jim's class as we did years ago when he had a dance class in the Pearl City area. He still have that special way of making learning to dance fun.

The third period started at 8:10 for Lani and me to teach CLUB MERENGUE at the Ewa Ballroom. We weren't sure if we were gonna have any students in our class since Merengue was taught a while back by our dancing friends Sergio and Renna. They are both excellent teachers and following them was gonna be a tough act. I'm not sure how many students were there for the Merengue but it was enough to have two rows of couples stretched from one side of the ballroom to the other side. I gotta thank Joella for playing the music. She was on cue all during the period. Also many thanks to my son, Dean who served as Teacher Assistant in this class. He bounced around as a partner to the ladies who came without a partner. I think Lani and I did pretty good this first lesson teaching the basic link steps of Forward and Back, Side Rocks, Rotations, and Separations with strong emphasis on the Latin dance hold and Latin movements; and lastly the Spiral.

Three other dance classes were going on in the International style at the same time. The above three were the only ones that Lani and I were involved with.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

American Tango Variations Workshop

First group to demonstrate the Tango Variations

American style Tango hosted by Dance Magic 808 got a big lift this past Saturday at the Palladium. Thanks to Dance Magic 808's  Dance Instructor Joshua Manzano and assisted by Gayle Kawahakui. The session was divided into three segments that ran from 1 o'clock to 3:30 with short breaks in between that gave the students time to jell on the intermediate level new steps. I thought the whole workshop was filled with innovations that were bold and golden. After all, who would think of including a touch of Quickstep, Viennese Waltz, and Samba into the variations. To Lani and me, it was a fresh air approach to the American style Tango. There were a lot of dancers of the International style attending this workshop and they sure took to the variation like sweet candies. Joshua taught techniques using the arms and footwork which spiced up the Tango, also.
Second group to demonstrate the Tango Variations

At the closing of the workshop, Joshua asked the students  to demonstrate what they had learned. That done, then Joshua and Gayle danced the Tango variations complete with all the techniques. It was a excellent display to get into the spirit of American style Tango variations.
(Left click on photo to zoom in)

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Nifty 50s/60s/70s Oldies Bash Sock Hop SOLDOUT!

Aloha Frank,
If you would be so kind to mention in your Blog:
"We are extremely pleased and excited to announce that as of July 10th, 2012, Nifty 50s/60s/70s Oldies Bash Sock Hop 2012, being held on Friday Nite, Oct. 19th, is completely SOLDOUT! This years complete sellout date of July 10, 2012, has broken last years early sellout record of Aug. 4, 2011. We obliterated that record by a full month and now stand completely soldout a full 3.5 months in advance of our event date of Oct. 19. 2012. With this record early sellout we have also broken our paid registration record (guest attending), previously set in 2011, last year!
For the over 800+ who will be in attendance this coming Oct. 19th, you are in for another fabulous, authentic evening of Classic Golden Oldies, Rock 'n Roll, Cruisin' Classics which ONLY this dedicated, hard working group of volunteers knows how to put on! Can we put on a show, OR CAN WE!!!
For those of you who are joining us this year, welcome and get ready for another great experience of recreating authentically those Innocent, Love and Romantic times we all grew up with over 55 years ago! We have another exciting evening planned for you "Senior Teenagers" and of course you'll have to be there to experience what surprises we have in store for you! There is much Anticipation, Anxiety and Excitement in the air for our 6th Annual Nifty 50s/60s/70s Oldies Bash Sock Hop 2012 as we continue to Raise the Bar! These are singular reasons why this wonderful group of volunteers continues to Thrive and Prosper!
For the many of you who I have the unfortunate job of having to turn away, my sincerest apologies! You are really missing out on a Magical Evening, as many of those who have attended will attest to! So, for whatever reasons, why you could not or did not pay and register, don't miss out on next years Nifty 50s /60s/70s Oldies Bash 2013! Remember, its First Come, First Served!

EMAIL: Or Phone: (808) 239-5360 and provide Wendell Kwan with your Full and Complete Contact Info, NOW, so that you WILL be one of the first to be contacted about next years event! Don't wait, contact Wendell Kwan asap!
See you all on Oct. 19th, 2012!
Wendell Kwan