US National Rising Star Smooth

John & Diana Berry
Jul 13, 2005
The quarter final round begins and 16 couples taking the floor. The standard appears very high and good qualities are being demonstrated by most all the couples with one exception. I immediately notice that there were quite a few couples that seemed to be struggling with Tango closed body position. I see a lack of understanding of the offset body position, how it is different than the body position for the swing dances, and how the Tango connection is achieved.

The 12 couples making it to the semi-final round were all deserving of their advancement. The final six were also fairly clear cut except that I do feel that Ronald Christy and Erin Bomboy were quite unlucky not be be included into the final. From the first round they caught my eye. They were quite enjoyable to watch, entertaining and exhibiting some original choreography that for the most part was executed well. Hopefully they will keep their originality and continue to improve.

Eddie Alba and Susannah Cuesta were awarded 6th place. 6, 6, 6, 5 I would have placed them MUCH higher tonight. Usually not a couple that is easy for me to find on the floor, but tonight Eddie stood out. For me he was right on, rhythmical and exhibiting a powerful softness that oozed with feeling. Susannah needs to develop more power and attack, as some things come off looking soft or weak. Overall their performance was the only one I could feel like I was actually a part of, a very natural looking, strong, feeling performance, very appealing.

5th place went to John Yates and Emily Marshall 4, 4, 5, 6 This couples best feature is their ability to move big and cover large areas of the floor in just a few steps. From the first bar of music you cannot help but notice them. A little more substance and change up in the performance coupled with the movement would achieve a more appealing overall look. In order to challenge for a higher spot, a slighter frame from John would help. This would help the overall look so as not to distract from the quality of the dancing.

4th place, went to David Hyer and Shelby Rothell with placings of 5, 5, 4, 3 A steady performance but hard to notice them at times.

3rd place, Tibor Kerekes and Rachel Whitney, 3, 3, 3, 4 A well matched couple with great attack in all their dances. Very good over all performance, but sometime shapes were over done to the point that sides broke down. I think the great attack they showed made them appear hard and pushy at times; a change up of power now and again would help. The choreography of the Viennese Waltz did not portray the dance for me, and Rachel's chin came forward and eye line lowered at times. This couple has bags of talent and are good performers. I see a good future for them if they continue to improve.

Placing second in all dances, the runner up position went to Gunnar and Daryll Sverrisson. This couple shows solid technique and a lovely quality of movement, smooth, powerful and clean. They are big movers with good swing and partnering qualities. Gunnar has a very good back line, and they danced three consistent rounds. In order to challenge the winners, they have to find a way to be more unique. The quality of dancing of a winner was certainly there.

And Congratulations to the winners in all dances, Tony Scheppler and JT Damaias. JT's floor personality is infectious drawing you into watching and keeps you watching. I loved the green dress she wore in the first two rounds. It jumped out at you, much like her dancing. In the final, I felt the white dress and Tony in beige subdued the overall appearance of the performance. Tony is a quality dancer that serves as the perfect foil for his partner. He allowed JT the freedom to express and dance to her full capacity, a winning performance from both.

John & Diana Berry are former U.S. Rising Star Standard Champions , Representatives to the World Professional Standard Championships (Quarter-finalists). John is an inductee into the Dancer's Hall of Fame, and 3 times winner of United States Top Teacher.

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