U.S. National Professional Rising Star American Rhythm

Wendy Johnson
Jun 30, 2003

Article reprinted with permission from Dance Beat Magazine

This is an event I am hesitant to critique as it is difficult for me to find anyone really dancing what I think the style is about. I would love to see a couple base their American Rumba on a "box step" instead of dancing a "half baked" version of Bolero or International Rumba. Mambo has become lines and shaking ones "whatever." What happened to Swing being a fun, rhythmical dance based on a swing basic. I am not a fan of cute steps either in Jive or Swing and am constantly annoyed by couples wasting precious dancing time doing nothing but working the audience or spending time being "cool."

Now on to my critique! From a quarter-final round of eighteen couples, the field went to a twelve-couple semifinal and a six-couple final.

6th. Fonzie Zapata & Kelly Bowser. If there was an award for "shimmying," Fonzie would win! These are two talented, bright little dancers who need to work on the character of each dance to produce a more interesting performance.

5th. Edgar Osorio & Lori Putnins. Edgar & Lori have a great look on the floor and I think with time could be an interesting couple to watch.

4th. Andrei & Anastasia Abrashin. I loved Anastasia's dress and shoes to match. This was a good night for them, and I felt they could have placed igher.

3rd. Juan de Dios Garcia & Cari Jo Melgoza. Juan needs to tidy up his feet. I think if Cari Jo could improve her posture and stand up more, the height difference would be more balanced.

2nd. Felipe & Carolina Telona. I like Felipe in his tuxedo outfit. They are a very attractive couple who I expect to be more rhythmical than they actually are. Work on the rhythm and character of each dance rather than tricks and choreography.

1st. Brian Jolly & Kristina. They are a beautiful looking couple, talented, but somehow lacking in the basic concept of each dance. More attention to rhythm and basics coupled with their great look would produce a performance with more depth.

The talent is everywhere in this division but often it seems to go in direction not based on what the dances are about.

Wendy Johnson is a former New Zealand Champion and a well-known choreographer of dance shows. She is a co-organizer of the South West Regional and Holiday Classic Championships.