Saturday, November 01, 2014

Dance Aloha Ball @Kona, Hawaii

Hi Frank:
We just returned from an eventful and fun competition in Kona run by Ballroom giants Ron Montez & Tony Meredith. We would like to share our experience with your readers and the dance community. Appreciate your kokua in posting this with our photos. Mahalo. Marie
Dance Aloha Ball
by Marie Laderta & David Easa

Together with our teachers, Lucas & Yanna, and about 30+ other dancers, dancer parents and family made the pilgrimage to Kona this past weekend, some to compete, and others to cheer for us, at Kona's first ballroom competition ever, the Aloha Ball.

David Sets the Stage for our Story:
The Sheraton Kona is the new name for the previous Kona Surf Hotel that I loved in the 80's when I traveled frequently to Kona to teach the local medical providers basic skills of newborn resuscitation. It is set on a glorious stretch of beach; the ocean spreads endlessly as it surrounds the resort truly providing a sense of paradise.

Marie's Memories of Nostalgic Times:
Coming off the upper road in our rental van, as soon as I set eyes on the Keauhou Sheraton, I recognized it immediately, and felt a funny tingling inside of me as I was transported to times gone by when I used to come here with my honey Bunny .It was like stepping into a stage set of old Hawaii when there was no hurry other than to stop to take in the breeze from the ocean and smell the plumerias.

The Welcome Reception:
The event organizers “Ron Montez and Tony Meredith greeted us at the ocean front reception. Finding our way to an open terrace through the Rays on the Bay Restaurant, we finally got to enjoy a few glasses of wine and modest pupus, followed by a Divino Ritmo dinner - before fatigue set in as the night begged for closure, in anticipation of the historic monster one-day dance competition in Kona, Hawaii.

The Day of the Comp:
The next morning revealed that while the competition dance floor may have been late in arriving and in the
end a little less than optimal, there was truly no difficulty in navigating the dance floor. Indeed, the size of the competition matched the size of the dance floor very comfortably. The competition finally started, promising a long day for some of us, including some with multi-dance events scheduled till 11 PM.
Everything fell into place and students and professionals and amateur couples got in the groove and to the business of the competition. Divino Ritmo had a huge following of students, and others from Honolulu and other neighbor islands communities had solid representation in the crowd. Many just there as spectators, nevertheless, a happy and friendly crowd of supporters all rooting us on, saying nice things to us about our dancing and overall having a good time. It was also nice to see some of our best Honolulu amateur couples competing against one another; the quality of the dancing was indeed quite excellent. And there were several spectators who attended both Hawaii competitions who commented that the quality of the dancing was at a higher level in Kona.
In the end, Divino Ritmo students did very well. David joked to Yanna that he handed her the only second place heat of her day, all others being first although many of course were uncontested heats as you might expect in a smallish competition. Superman Lucas survived nearly an astounding 300 heat entries!!! He remained on the dance floor the entire day without leaving.  How he had time to eat or have time for a bathroom break is still a mystery.
The competition finally over, student awards were announced and top teacher and studio awards followed.  As expected, Lucas received the number one top teacher award and Yanna was 4th. Of course, Divino Ritmo was #1 studio. Wow, that was a lot of work in one day! Moreover, it is important to mention how much of an opportunity this was for Honolulu students who generally cannot afford the luxury of participation in mainland competitions including a bunch of young keikis competing for the first time. The age span of the dozen or more students competing with the Divino Ritmo professionals spanned almost 60 years!
The professional show included a youthful highly elaborate formation exhibition. This was such a complex presentation, done with precision and originality that it was arguably the most interesting formation choreography that many of us have witnessed. There was also a cute cha cha done by a group of male professionals including the event organizers that was fun to watch.
Finally, it seemed like everyone we talked to, Divino Ritmo students, students from other studios, bystanders and visitors from the neighbor islands and elsewhere were all positive about their experience. And most were delighted by their performance during the competition. The four front row tables occupied by Divino Ritmo students afforded us an optimal view of the action unfolding before our eyes. For being the first year, the competition worked remarkably well, and we believe that everyone enjoyed it very much. We can be included in this group.

Concluding Thoughts:
Marie: A fellow competitor recently asked me what I liked about the comp. Here's what I said: I liked that the Aloha Ball comp felt "personal." I did not get that sense of being lost in a sea of people. I also liked the hotel, ambiance, food & drink. It brought back nostalgic feelings of old Hawaii. Even the luau and the brief downpour created memories for can help, it's the weather. They may need to consider a tent next year, but it was fun being under the stars and a little rain will not stop me from coming back...I also enjoyed the workshops and the coaching. Fun, fun, fun, and a lot of good technique and advise. So...yes, I definitely had a good time and can't wait to do it again.

In closing, some personal thanks:
To our teachers, Lucas & Yanna, to our friends and fellow dancers who either competed or watched, thank you for being with us in Kona. From Marie to her husband Paul - thank you for holding my hand. And to Ron Montez and Tony Meredith, Mahalo for bringing the Aloha Ball to Kona, and we can't wait to see you next year!