Professionals Artem and Inna dancing one of their numbers at the Divino Ritmo Grand Ball.
Included below are a smattering of pictures sent to me by close friends, and do not do justice to the other performers that are heretofore not included. PLEASE send me pictures that you would like me to consider posting. I will try to "showcase" other students dancing at the Grand Ball as well as some pictures of guests and family members enjoying the evening's festivities.
There were no less than 900 eyes at this Divino Ritmo event
last Saturday, but no more than two of them were seeing the same thing. Some were there to perform and showcase their
efforts and progress in dance over the last year; some were there as guests and
invited family members to cheer them on; some were curious supporters from
other dance clubs there to enjoy the event, and even some who were were unexpected or thought to be unlikely to attend.
If practice makes perfect, this event has benefited through practice
to perfection for this, its sixth iteration.A thousand moving parts, the elaborate set, slide shows, music with a
fabulous sound system, coordinated spot lights and floor lights, the event program,
the integrated and tightly timed single and group performances, Lucas and
Yanna’s performance, Artem and Inna’s beautiful magical dancing, and the dozens
of helpers staffing every conceivable function to make this years event nearly
Clearly this event has become the premier dance event of the
year, and by some people’s account including some hotel staff, usurping the
Hawaii Star Ball in that distinction.Anyone interested in a spectacularly entertaining evening with a three
course meal, ample time for social dancing to some great DJ music, being
entertained by students and internationally renowned professional dancers and
overall a unique holiday treat that doesn’t happen often in Hawaii, would
thoroughly enjoy the this Divino Ritmo event.This year the guests topped 450!It’s not too early to put in your request for 2015.This event should not be missed!
Of course, as a student of Yanna, my opinion is biased and I
admit that.But I truly believe that
this showcase event takes more than hard work, it takes a true gift and innate
organizational capacity to jell this event together so well.But instead of just providing broad
platitudes, I will make the effort to provide a brief but critical account of
the event citing some positive and negative aspects.
First, the ballroom and outer area was amazingly decorated beautifully
for the event with the theme being “Gangsters and Dolls”.The Sheraton ballroom is arguably one of the
most beautiful in town and to add to this, there were Christmas trees and other
ornaments adorning the ballroom for the holiday season.However, the set was simply incredible!It was truly a labor of love done singlehandedly
by one of Honolulu’s well-known doctors and dance student, Paul Laderta.The time and effort that it required must
have been daunting.Always the gentlemen
and extremely gracious in his demeanor, Paul never wants to call attention to himself,
but he deserves the greatest of compliments, praise and appreciation.Indeed, while not finding time to take
pictures of much else, I focused my attention on trying to capture some good
images of the set.
There were 21 student performances, accounting for most but
not all of the serious Divino Ritmo student pool. It was fun watching students
who you see in the studio working on their routines, trying to perform to the
best of their ability on the big night.It is always fun to watch performances from students representing the
extremes of life, from Uncle Wes (I am of course in this category but I lacked
the ability to observe my performance) to the wonderful keiki dancers. Little
skits flavored the routines done by Maria Handl, the formation team was entertaining
and student performances ended on a cute foursome performance by Yanna, Lucas,
Marie and Paul.My last comment is that
from all the applause that Tomo Sasakawa drew after he performed, it was clear
that he was the most improved performer and deserved such recognition with his
confident flawless “Listen to my Rhythm” solo.
I can’t say enough good about Yanna and Lucas’s professional
performance and I’m glad that they had the energy to perform their exciting,
flawless but nevertheless risky routine (the lifts were not for the faint of
heart) after so many student dances.Indeed, even if I had not been required to dance one dance, the energy,
speed, coordination, and stress of changing into so many costumes to
accommodate all of the student dance routines would have exhausted me!
Ok, a few criticisms.Overall, I think the event was a little long for those early to bed
folks in Hawaii.There were 21 student
performances; this raises the question of whether to limit this number for the
sake of time, and or how to do it.…Which further begs the question of whether the purpose of the event is
to showcase the progress of the students or not…..I won’t pretend to try to
answer this question or to offer any advice.
The awards ceremony could have been shorter, or limited or maybe even eliminated.I could see guests heading to the door
after Act 2 of the student performances, thereby missing the marvelous
professional show that was about to begin, which was truly the highlight of the
evening. This is just my opinion.
Fingers find their way to the keyboard with a life of their
own typing thoughts from the heart.Just
thinking about my latest trip to London, and certain parts of Italy starting from
Milan.Sitting in Business Class –
trying to rationalize the exorbitant expense even purchased as an upgraded fair
– and happy that I’m finally on my way back home having successfully accomplished
the goals that I set out as I imagined the trip’s evolution several months
back.Maybe I’m in a good mood because
for some reason as we wait to take off, Delta is playing Hawaiian Christmas
music – Mele Kalikimaka.Maybe they know
that I’m from Hawaii and they are playing specifically for me….ha ha… nevertheless
it’s a good omen for a safe trip.
Having written about my time in London, I will focus on my
time in Italy.Fortunately, I was travelling
with someone who will remain unidentified by her choice but who happily spoke
This was not my first trip to Italy (not even my second),
but I have been longing for this one for many decades. This was not the Rome,
Florence, and Venice trip that most would envision.I wanted to go to some small towns and villages
for some beautiful sites, hear the music of the language spoken, taste the home
made pasta and pesce and wine at quaint and charming local restaurants, feel
the cobblestones under my feet, and sense the aura and community of these
close-knit protected villages and towns – living within the confines of solid
stone built structures - built for another time and another people, but
nevertheless adapted with taste, dignity and imagination for the present.
Most of the places that I visited I did not know existed
before this trip, and thanks goes to my travel companion for my wonderful
experience.She left with one last day
for me to travel into Milan from the Moxy airport hotel that I was staying at,
so I’ll intersperse a few words about Milan here and there.
Of the towns that I experienced (or remembered), Pavia,
Cremona, Bergamo and Bellagio, Cremona and Bergamo stand out.Bellagio was beautiful but a little too
touristy for my taste. There was another town we stopped for some tea and
coffee and a pleasant drizzly walk through the shopping street downtown.Unfortunately, I do not remember the name but
it rhymed with placenta, so I will forever remember it as Placenta.Which reminds me of another nearby town that
sounded like “Pissonyou”.
Modern buildings sit peacefully next to those built
centuries ago, blending in as well as an extended family with generations
living under the same roof.The new was
not overpowering or intrusive but melded in, while not subjugating or
trivializing or towering over the historical monuments of the past for
profit.It seems that, for better or
worse, Italy respects Italian history more than its share of self-serving
corporate and entrepreneurial predators.
The truth is that I would only be paraphrasing some other account
of history, so I won’t bother to try to impress.But I was patently impressed, for every
building that was more than a hundred years old looked like it was some
impressive historical site that demanded understanding and recognition. Built on beautifully carved stone and
perfectly blended mortar, the permanence and security that it exuded and
personified was the guiding light of life in these communities. Contrast this
with the flimsy plastic and feeble construction of modern day communities,
erected instantly, prefabbed for efficiency of construction, cost and appeal
while emulating its inhabitants, here today and maybe gone tomorrow….as surreal
as the internet, the smoke and mirrors of modern day existence.
About the only thing I didn’t like in Italy was the
cigarette smoking.At least the US has
done one thing right.It looks like
Italy did not get the memo on how awful smoking is for your health.And despite the fact that no one is allowed
to smoke indoors, the outdoors do not protect you from the stench and poison of
exhaled smoke that permeates the air and your senses from 10-20 feet away.It seemed like everyone smoked in Italy….sad,
There were an endless number of beautiful squares or piazzas
to walk around in every town.And of
course, each major town had its own Duomo, denoting the center of town’s
cathedral.Some were hundreds of years
old and some took hundreds of years to complete like the one in Milan. All were
unique and beautiful.Watchtowers,
government buildings, museums and other historical sites were everywhere.I would have had to study each town’s
architecture to fully appreciate its history.
As mentioned above, the Duomo in Milan was magnificent to
say the least.The 5th largest
cathedrals in the entire world, built carefully over almost six hundred years,
it is truly a labor of love.Walking
around it you can see the scaffolding surrounding certain parts attesting to
the continuous need and unrelenting commitment for renovations.Now I do not say this glibly, the Milan
Cathedral rivaled the Taj Mahal in terms of magnificence and beauty.I was overwhelmed with emotion trying to
capture the essence of this superlative building, with little time to do
so.I could have spent a few more hours
there, or more.One very strange carved
out sculpture near one main entrance is shown below which might be a soldier
holding a decapitated head with the unfortunate laying draining blood into the
street with the exposed dissection fully in view.This gruesome scene seemed totally out of
place as imbedded in this magnificent house of God.But it also reminded me of the recent (and
not so recent) beheadings of Americans and Brits at the hands of the Muslim
radicals.It made me truly wonder where this
gruesome obsession with such acts of cruelty has their origin?
Cremona was a true delight.Easy to get to, without having to navigate the endless outskirts and
traffic, we found our way easily to the Violin Museum.Dozens of perfectly preserved Stradivari
violins, violas, and some funny looking origins of such were on display at this
well laid out museum.Serendipity also
gave us the opportunity to witness a violin audition at the museum. The
musician was a young woman in her late teens – early twenties, stunning not only
for her beauty but also for the caricature she portrayed.So taught was her frame and her movement, so
strong was her core, and so precise was her violin bow motion and fluidity, she
looked alarmingly mechanical and wooden but her violin mastery was spectacular.
What a pleasant surprise.
So many places to eat, each one outdoing the next for charm
and food selection and quality.Prices
were reasonable by American standards.Thank God for the strengthening dollar (and the weakening Euro) – now a
dollar will buy you 0.8 Euros, the best it has been in years.I have to also confess that I have never met
a white wine in Italy that I didn’t like.Funny named brands from all over the region, it didn’t matter; all were
very pleasant and palatable, and we never paid more than $25/ bottle.The
European waiters and waitresses possess a more refined approach to serve you,
not forcing themselves and their comments on you, not introducing themselves to
you with names you will never want to remember, and not interrupting your
conversation or abruptly hoisting away your plate even before you have
finished…..and as importantly, before whomever you are eating with is
finished.Not once did a waiter in
Europe ask me if I was still working on
my food.I suppose eating in many US
restaurants is work; it is not so in Italy, it is PURE BLISS. And no one in Europe expects a big tip, and no
one seems offended or disappointed when they don’t get one.
Italy is filled with Italians, with some foreign immigrants
visibly interspersed selling their wares (such as umbrellas) on the
street.(I remained wet having lost my
Hawaii born umbrella in the airport transit bus, not wanting to fork out money
that would showcase my shortcomings) But everyone in Italy is kind, gentle, and
boisterous at times but in a quiet way, never imposing or outrageously
loud.It was such a shock when on our
next to the last day in Bellagio, a small group of Asian tourists (I won’t say
any more) were walking from the opposite direction exchanging comments among
one another at a punishing decibel level.I have experienced this before, but usually in communities where it
blended into the street.In Italy, it thundered
like the bellow of an emergency broadcasting system.And it punished the otherwise calm and quiet
and serenity of the street as if it were being violated.
I could live happily in Bergamo; a truly lovely town with a
walled off old town overlooking the sprawling new.The continuous mist of rain that we
experienced for the entire week did not dampen our enthusiasm for exploring and
shopping and finding new places to eat and visit.The temperature was crisp and the droplets of
wet gently bounced off our jackets.In
late November, few tourists were in Bergamo, as I can only recall a few Americans
speaking English in the three days we spent there.It is indeed a plus to experience the local
people and culture, and not have to fuse into the masses of tourists crowding
into places of interest.
And after my travel companion left for home, on my last day,
I managed to find my way to Milan by train and back.But the day in Milan was mainly spent getting
lost in this highly complex city with multi-directional streets emerging like
broken spokes from the Duomo, admiring the Cathedral and the Galleria and
getting soaked trying to pretend I wasn’t getting soaked after forgetting my
umbrella on the airport transit bus.And
I really didn’t like having to speak English after all of the Italian that my travel
companion was capable of. But clearly, I had no choice in the matter.
In summary, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Europe, both
England and Italy.There is nothing
more really to say. Life is short; take
some risks.Fulfill your dreams.
Which leaves me to relay one last telling experience.I did in fact freak out on the day before my
travel companion left for home.Driving
from Bergamo to Bellagio was a harrowing experience.It was also a narrowing experience!!Tapered winding country roads along the lake,
dozens of stop and go maneuvers where the road was too contracted for two cars
to comfortably pass each other, and aggressive Italian drivers who blow their
horns without too much provocation and who tailgate you dangerously close as a
matter of custom did play havoc on my nerves.What I was also freaking out about was the need to drive out of Bellagio
that same day to reach Como and the comfort of the autostrasse before it got
dark which is very early in Italy in November.
Anyway, despite worrying about what never happened, we
reached civilized driving conditions only to get lost driving to the airport, ironically
without the comforts of a well lit highway, having to find our way along a
lonely, misty, and foggy country road on the outskirts of Milan - where we would
spend our last few nights.And I was so happy to return the intact
rent-a-car to Budget, pay the bill and no longer worry about the
semi-treacherous conditions that I had heretofore navigated.Drinking a glass of wine at the hotel, I
overheard another guest telling the story of his car accident and his
obligation to pay 1,000 Euros because of the minimum coverage option that he
had chosen, the same minimalist coverage that I had chosen as well.At least he was alive to talk about it, but
he didn’t seem too happy.
Life is full of adventure for the taking; risks are taken
even when trying to avoid them as much as when facing them straight on.