Every year, The Open is a showcase for swing dancing – what it is, what it has been, and what it can be – and this year’s event was no exception. We talked about Deborah’s experience competing at The Open, how much we admired Benji and Nicole’s Showcase routine, and our reactions to his retirement from routine divisions. We also discussed the different showpieces at The Open, what we liked in the Classic division routines, and the different trends in costumes (unitards! tunics!) and choreography (walk offs and hands on mouths). Of course, we also looked at judging at the event, in particular the issue of swing content (and swing aesthetic) and we got into a debate about NASDE’s decision to degender the routine divisions (though we agreed that “degender” isn’t the right term). Take a listen and let us know your own thoughts!
NASDE Rules (including Statement of Swing)
The Open Rules [PDF]
Benji Schwimmer’s retirement from routines
Dawn Hampton discussing the feeling of the music
Benji Schwimmer & Nicole Clonch
Myles Munroe & Tessa Cunningham Munroe
Glenn Ball & Florencia Diaz
Semion Ovsiannikov & Maria Elizarova
Jesse Dickson & Lannie Sullivan
Thibault Ramirez & Estelle Bonnaire
Tony Schubert and Larisa Tingle Schubert
Jakub Jakoubek & Emeline Rochefeuille
More routines to come as they become available online…
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Now more than ever I can’t wait to see videos of some of the Open routines.
I agree that new divisions need to be created to accommodate non-traditional sex roles. I agree with Deborah that a female male partnership dances differently from female to female and male to male if all were to dance to the same song. The reason that there is no conflict in other sport/art/dance forms is because non-traditional sex roles are just that = non-traditional and are not allowed with traditional. If preservation of an art form is imperative then the traditions need to be observed. That doesn’t mean that another division couldn’t be added to represent a non-traditional format.
I can’t wait to see a collaboration of the Champions to designate standards. Maybe now that Benji is retired? Brandi / Deborah / and the others who have dominated the Champion division for so long now are the ones to collaborate and set definite, non-negotiable standards for Classic, etc. Even though what we love (and what we hate) about West Coast Swing is the diversity and the fact that there are no set standards, in order to preserve the historical criteria (stretch before redirection, double and triple rhythm, slot) someone who can best teach/perform those things based on awards received should be the ones that set the standards. Not all can make it to the top. So the top has to step up to the plate and take responsibility for the preservation.
Mario, Mary Ann, Schwimmers, Deborah, Robert, Brandi, Van Drakes, Kellese, Jordan, Tat, blah blah blah. These have dominated the Champion divisions for YEARS. I vote for them to give us the standards … the most common denominators that they ALL can agree on.
Love you guys, Eric and Deborah. Thank you for everything you do.