Open Pro-Am Smooth Scholarships

Jennifer Foster
Jul 15, 2002
At this years Emerald Ball, all the scholarship events were HUGE! There was plenty of good competition and it was not an "easy win" for some of the champions. That, I think, says a great deal for both the instructors and their students!

I covered three scholarships in American Smooth. In general, I was impressed by the use of more interesting choreography to express body actions, feeling and depth. My only overall criticism was that dance frame wasn?t used often enough by a number of the competitors. I noticed the transition from open to closed frame was particularly a trouble spot for many. This would be a bit of a distraction from the really beautiful dancing I was seeing. It is not to say that the dance hold had to be a traditional closed dance hold, but whatever the variation on the position, I was looking for more a cohesive relationship.

These are the results and a few thoughts on our finalists in three events:

Open Senior Pro-Am Smooth
This was a quarter final with 18 original competitors

6th place; Judith Nelson and her instructor, Enrique Curi, Sarasota, FL. I liked this lady?s expression. She really has fun out on the dance floor, which I found to be a refreshing emotion to observe.

5th place; Fran Kirsch and instructor, Eddie Ares, Kennesaw, GA. Fran is always a very smooth dancer. She has a nice performance quality about her because she seems relaxed. Sometimes the middle of her turns need more speed.

4th place; Jim Clarke and his instructor, Josie Lopez, Las Vegas, NV. Jim is a wonderful dancer. What really stood out were his big arm positions, very well matched to Josie. He moved through the center of the floor more often than anybody, which was an advantage.

3rd place; Jeannie Bernstein and instructor, Jim Maranto, Phoenix, AZ. Jeannie is a tiny lady who could, at times, be pulled off her feet. I thought she did very well with challenging choreography.

2nd place Teacake Trachoma with instructor, Nigel Clarke Santa Barbara, CA. She is a lovely dancer who "has it all." She has one of the best dance frames on the floor and was easy to watch because of her grace and poise.

1st place; Kay Ford and instructor, Robert Kubis, Saline, MI. My winner for the day. Kay stood out, moving easily over the floor in all dances. She has a good sense of weight transfer and balance.

Open Pro-Am 'A2' Smooth
This was a quarter final with 29 original competitors.

6th place; Rebecca Kirby with instructor, John Abrams, Milwaukee, WI. Very good at strong and sharp actions, Rebecca expresses herself well. She could add more supple movements at times to create better contrasts in her dancing

5th place; Pamela Parker with instructor, Eddie Stutts, Houston, TX. Pamela ?s performance was good overall, but she appears to lack confidence when she lowers her eyes and her energy level. She has the ability to cover the floor, which she did especially well in the semifinal.

4th place Sue Eldred with instructor Jim Maranto, Phoenix, AZ. Sue danced stronger in the final than in previous rounds. When apart from Jim, she slows down a bit, especially during turns. It seemed she was not as comfortable on her own as with partnership, however, she had one of the best dance frames out there.

3rd place; Elaine Sheresky with instructor Victor Russu, Baronial, NY. Elaine has great control and times her movements well, partnering Victor with ease. She fills the frame and connects well, too. I enjoy her dancing very much and have seen her many times . My suggestion would be to stretch some movements more, perhaps more up than out, for extra dimension.

2nd place; Mary Sue Schwartz, with instructor, John Berry, Scottsdale AZ. This is a very agile lady! John has her doing incredible things in their complicated and exciting choreography. It is apparent she knows what she needs to do. I couldn?t help but watch her. At times she has long passages of material in closed frame, which quiets things down not only in contrast to the other material she presents, but in contrast to the other competitors. However, she easily could have been my winner!

1st place; Pam Butler with instructor Jonathan Roberts, Campbell, CA. Pam did a beautiful job and was sure of what she was doing. Most everything she does is quite graceful. Her demonstration of accurate footwork, proper frame, and also the understanding of movement and choreography have made her a champion a number of times this year, and certainly on this day, too. Congratulations, Pam!

Open Pro-Am 'A2' Scholarship
This quarter final originally began with 16 competitors.

8th place; Heather Pfisterer with instructor Jeffrey Garza, Orange, CA. Heather is a soft, elegant dancer who was not as "showy" as many of the others. She may need more contrast in her actions and choreography to be in a higher contention.

7th place Shannessy Hakola with instructor Jim Maranto, Phoenix, AZ. This is a lady with presence! Her choreography was not overly complicated, but she really covered the floor and moved in sync with Jim. With each round she became more expressive and confident.

6th place; Barbara Moore with instructor Donald Johnson, Campbell, CA. Barbara has great control and finesse in her dancing. I felt she could handle more varied choreography to create the kind of dynamics and expression that may garner higher placements in the future.

5th place; Leah Turner with instructor John Berry, Scottsdale, AZ. I noticed Leah early on, and was impressed with her suppleness and good movement. Some of the "tricks" were getting crowded because she needs to remain stretched and not let her weight rest onto John. She has a beautiful neck, but needed to stretch her upper back more, especially when going from open position to closed frame.

4th place; Pamela Parker with instructor Eddie Stutts, Houston, TX. Pamela stands out because she moves so powerfully. Her dancing has ever evolving moves and she handles them with ease. When she isn?t sure of something it tends to show in her upper body because it becomes too relaxed and her focus drops.

3rd place; Heather Fields with instructor Jason Kaye., Houston, TX. The first time I saw Heather dance was last Fall and I couldn?t take my eyes off of her! She is a wonderful dancer and she gives so much in her performances. I thought it would be better to refrain from too many "avant-garde" movements because I wanted to appreciate Heather?s dancing in a more simple manner. I didn?t think she needed so much. Sometimes there can be more maturity in simplicity and controlled movements.

2nd place Pam Butler with instructor Jonathan Roberts, Campbell, CA. Pam gave another outstanding performance here. She did particularly well at sustaining length in her movements and incorporating additional body actions, highlighting and giving dimension to her dancing.

1st place; Nancy Senner with instructor Eddie Ares, Kennesaw, GA. I guess what you?ve got here is the "full package!" Everything was moving and evolving and then it shifted to gentle, smooth and supple and then "BAM!" They hit a strong, commanding line! Nancy shows she can create the kind of variety a champion needs in order to be on top. Her performance was gutsy and daring, yet she was very feminine and she and Eddie were able to show a man/woman relationship in each dance as though the choreography was secondary. Congratulations, Nancy!

Jennifer Foster is a studio owner in Minneapolis and has been a US finalist in American Rhythm and Cabaret, as well as a three-time US Theatrical Champion.