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Showcase Division Champions
For the 2002 US OPEN, Benji and Heidi chose a song that held very special meaning to them. Mary Mary's "In the Morning" assures the listener that regardless of the challenges that life brings your way, "you'll be alright..... the sun's gonna shine..... just wait for the daylight". With their impending 2-year retirement as Benji leaves to serve a Mormon Mission in Mexico, the lyrics became the fuel that powered their dancing.
They began their routine by dancing to a slow-tempo version of the song in order to demonstrate fundamental dance skills - timing, footwork, teamwork. As they were coasting along, though, Heidi suddenly bolted into a handspring, vaulted up toward Benji's shoulders, wrapped her legs around his neck, and then hung on for dear life as he proceeded to rotate her up, down and around on four consecutive beats of the music. But that was only the FIRST of a litany of mind-boggling moves.
Just a few moments later, after dancing a few measures of very stylish patterns, Benji did a full backbend to within four inches of the floor, which completely amazed everyone in the room. That action led to an interlocked cartwheel sequence where Benji rotated Heidi a half revolution to his left, then abruptly reversed direction and - while being completely inverted to each other - proceeded to rotate three full turns to the right with their legs serving as spokes of this dual "human wheel". It was fabulous! The audience roared its approval. But it was still only a hint of what was ahead.
The next chapter of this choreographic cocktail was highlighted by an amazing triple back-spring sequence with Benji and Heidi's bodies interlocked and inverted once again. The audience couldn't believe their eyes! And while that really set the crowd on fire, little did they know that the BEST move was yet to come. You had to be there to truly appreciate it.
Upon completion of their final dance pattern, Benji hoisted his agile partner to his shoulders, raised her high above his head and continued to rotate his body two full revolutions. All the while - in the "funnel" of this tornadic movement - Heidi was busy curving her very flexible body into a circular shape by reaching around and grabbing her ankles, despite all the forces of momentum working against her. Unbelievably, she had managed to form a "closed ring" while being rotated horizontally more than 6 feet in the air.
Now, the "moment" was at hand. Only one BEAT left. Only one MOVE left. Only one CHANCE left to finish their "farewell routine" with an exclamation point. And now, only GRAVITY and FRICTION could stand in the way of success, satisfaction and greatness.
Boom! The final beat sounded. As it did, Benji released his partner - now floating for a millisecond like a wonderful "halo" above his head - and let her drop like a ring around the cylinder of his body. As his arms went UP, Heidi went DOWN. She was in FULL free-fall. A frightening thought! An even more frightening EXPERIENCE for the person doing the falling!! Then, as she slid past his shoulders, past his waist, and down to his knees - which had widened for his ending pose - Heidi's descent ended, and so did the song.
Both dancers let out an enormous smile. No more music, no more practice, no more doubt. It was over. They did it! They completed one of the most difficult moves in International Exhibition Dancing - the famed "donut drop" - and they really nailed it. It was flawless.
Instantly, the audience exploded, rose to their collective feet and honored Benji and Heidi with a thunderous ovation. Then, after over a minute of non-stop applause, the stands began rumbling. As the exuberant couple exited the floor, the crowd roared even more and began clapping rhythmically. They wanted a "curtain call". Well, they got it.
We congratulate Benji and Heidi on their back-to-back US OPEN Showcase Division Championships and wish them much luck till March, 2005, when they return to resume their wonderful "Dance Odyssey". In the meantime, they need only remember the words of the very song they danced to...
"In the morning, you'll be alright.
In the morning, the sun's gonna shine.
In the morning, no clouds in the sky.
When it's dark in your life, just wait for the Daylight..."