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'Baby' Handl has found success in 3 mainland dance contests


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POSTED: Saturday, May 23, 2009

Maria "Baby" Handl had no idea that when she joined a dance class she would wind up winning mainland dance contests with her instructor-partner, Lucas Jaime. She had been dancing socially until Jaime and his wife, Yanna Samkova, gave up their dance studio in New York and moved here last year. The Jaimes started the Divino Ritmo Dance Company here, and Baby joined last fall. "I started dancing to get exercise and lose weight," she said. But she was much better than she thought. She says that Jaime "makes me do things I never thought I could do." (The photo above shows that.) The Jaimes took her to Las Vegas to compete in a dance contest, and she and Jaime won the standard, smooth, Latin and rhythm categories. He competes in other categories with his wife. Baby and Jaime's winning ways followed in New Orleans and Philadelphia competitions. Is "Dancing with the Stars" next? The Jaimes' students will be showcased Nov. 21 in the Sheraton Ballroom ...

Baby is the widow of Richard Handl, who managed the Kahala Hilton in 1970-73 and was president of Hilton International properties in Asia, Pacific and Australia from 1973 to 1998. After retirement, he did consulting for the Halekulani. Baby also has impressive credentials. The former high-fashion model is a former Miss Philippines and won the Queen of the Pacific title in Australia. She was named the Philippines' Model of the Year for three years. She is the mother of two sons, Dominic and Marc Handl. Baby is with East Oahu Realty. She marked her birthday yesterday. She says it was her 21st. Ho-ho. Friends helping her celebrate included Joan Bickson, Jean Ariyoshi and Julie Honda. Julie and her husband, Fred, a retired GM of the Halekulani, are departing Wednesday for Colorado where they will make their home ...

Mike Leineweber, an architect who worked on the new Halekulani years ago, attended the hotel's 25th-anniversary party May 8 with his wife, Spencer. Their daughter, Elza Lathrop, spearheaded his 64th-birthday party May 6 attended by 15 family members at Auntie Pasto's on Beretania Street. They sang him the Beatles' hit "When I'm Sixty-Four." Quite appropriate ...

Singer Mihana Souza and 101-year-old Bill Tapia will be in the Big Apple next Saturday to take part in the New York Ukulele Festival. "Bill has not been in New York for 70 years, and he's excited as a 10-year-old," Mihana said ... Musician-composer Zanuck Lindsey is on tour in Japan with the Japanese pop music band Exile. He expects to return Sept. 1. Before departing he said they would be playing large arenas ...