NICHOLAS SMALL-WARNER and partner Kim Wiggins’ panache and poise, flair and finesse, twists and turns, spins and swirls, dips and lifts, crowned them king and queen of the Strictly Latin 2012 Dance Competition.
Held last Friday night at the Wildey Gymnasium, the five-hour event saw the duo pulling out the stops to take the coveted Annette Byer Solo Division trophy with the cha-cha. They also won the Adults Advance category, which had five dances, and had patrons on their feet applauding and whistling.
Coming off a big win at Blackpool in London where they were first in the Novice Under-35s Latin and third in Ballroom at the Champions of Tomorrow competition, Small-Warner and Wiggins last won both in 2010. Last year winners were Glen Burnett and Danaa Linton who did not compete this year.
In the Annette Byer category, Small-Warner and Wiggins incorporated many genres of dance in their routine and many should have recognized that they ended the dance the same way they started it.
From the start of the competition with the Under-12s, dancers sought to outdo each other. From sequins to ruffles to lace, the eye-popping colours and designs of the costumes stood out under the lights strategically placed at the four corners of the dance floor.
Combining traditional South American, Spanish and Cuban music with mixes from the Mission Impossible soundtrack, LMFAO Party Rock anthem and other dance rhythms, the glamorous costumes of each duo showed that extra care was taken with the presentation.
The yellows and blues, reds and neon greens, sequins and feathers were used to make the dancers stand out for judges and lent to the amazing, spectacular dance routines. The crowd appreciated the effort the dancers put into their routines and boosted the confidence of the favourites through catcalls and whistles.
In the Youth Intermediate category with the cha-cha, samba, rumba and jive routines, Kara Cutting and Ross Harris had no competition since they were the lone entrants. Dancing the same four pieces in the Juveniles Advance were winners Rashaad Wickham and Chante White.
The Juniors Newcomers with three dances – cha-cha samba and jive – saw Roland Bennett and Tamara Trotman taking first place. In the Juniors Advance, Shane Alleyne and Shelly Forde came first with Emar Edwards and Jachrisse Sibblis taking second spot.
The showdown came in the second half. Small-Warner and Wiggins, along with well known names like Glenford Defrietas and Shelly-Ann Alleyne, Kamar Beckles and Keisha Cordieu, Mark Burgess and partner Kathy-Ann Patrick, Naam Thomas and Jessica Knight danced the sensuous samba, the charismatic cha-cha, the riveting rumba, the joyous jive and the palpitating paso doble, treating patrons to a breathtaking display of talent and emotion.
Some regular facess, missing in previous competitions were back, but danced with different partners in different dance categories. Randy Payne came fourth in the One Dance Rumba with Tracey Branch and second in the Salsa Open with Kareen Blackett. Small-Warner came first with partner Kiesha Griffith in the Salsa Open.
The dynamic duo Defreitas and Alleyne, who was recovering from an injury, came second in the One- Dance Samba, and fourth in both the Adults Advance and the Annette Byer Solo.
In the Adults Intermediate and One Dance Jive, Beckles and Cordieu – the darlings of the dance floor – sashayed off with first place in both. Christian Lucas and partner Tanisha Nedd came second in the first category and Naam Thomas and Jessica Knight second in the One Dance Jive.
Thomas and Knight had more good showings, placing third in the Annette Byer Solo, the One-Dance Rumba, the One-Dance Samba, and the Adults Advance.
Burgess and Patrick had to settle for second place in the Annette Byer category and fifth in the Adults Advance. Burgess made a big boo-boo by cutting through the hold of Thomas and Knight and then having words with him afterwards.
When the winners of some categories were announced, some in the small crowd booed and there were a lot of murmurs. One disgruntled patron said the judges’ biases were being seen more and more each year.
Robert Boyce, president and chief instructor of the Jahbulani Dance Club, said the judges were drawn from different clubs and it was expected that they would judge fairly in the interest of the the development of the art form.
“There are eleven judges and five used per dance category. There are no excuses for a judge to rate their own students,”?Boyce said, adding thate said it was very costly to bring in overseas judges, as they did one year.
Held each year by the Jahbulani Ballroom Dance Club, the Strictly Latin dance competition is an opportunity for entrants to showcase what they have learnt over the past dancing season and to move up in categories, which means that each dancing duo must have placed at least four times between first and third in a year of competition or at least two wins to go clear.