Dance Beat Team
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Valentines Day Gala Saturday
Saturday night at Platinum Dancesport became a Valentines Day Gala. Guests were encouraged to dress in theme and the evening began with a sit-down dinner, served in the ballroom. Live saxophone jazz music serenaded the diners and this was followed by local entertainment from three hip hop dancers and salsa from International Dance Studio.
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Friday was good but Saturday was fabulous at La Classique Du Quebec. This time there were tfour feature events - the Amateur Ballroom and the Professional Smooth, Latin and Showdance. Friday the Amateur Latin ruled but this was not the case Saturday night the Professional Latin and the Showdance for us were the headliners.
The Latin started with a healthy quarter-final and when it came to the final there was a very interesting mix of couples. Kamil Studenny & Anna Pelypenko were by far the best when it came to quality and the judges rewarded them and gave them first in all dances. We were very impressed with them, however, not sure what was wrong with them last night but they constantly were losing their footing and nearly hit the floor a few times. That was a little off-putting considering they are such good dancers, nevertheless you could not have awarded them any less even if they fell on the ground that they managed to escape.
Ilya Maletin & Polina Maier placed second in every dance. We were not surprised that they placed second, however, we were quite surprised they did in every dance. We totally enjoyed their dancing but they were not consistent in their work or energy of performance, depending upon when you looked they were either hot or cold. Third was awarded to Maxim Fomin & Alina Litvak in all dances, I could see them being placed second in a number of dances unlike the couple just mentioned they did manage to maintain a consistency on their work.
Fourth went to Francois Pruneau & Justine Rainville 4,4,5,5,4. This was perhaps the most exiting couple to watch in this final. Their energy was always high and they seemed to enjoy their dancing. We were very impressed with their first 2 dances in fact we would not have been shocked if they placed second in these two and also in the jive where we thought they were the best, hands down. Yes, they still have some issues to resolve with their programs but I think this couple have all the ingredients to be number one in the field in Canada. Dmytro & Nina Kovalenko placed fifth overall 6,6,4,4,5, and sixth went to Michael Kudriashov & Milla Sekrets 5,5,6,6,6.
The Professional Showdance was small but everyone in it was quite good. Without question Carlos Zapata & Dora Yaneva took the top place with a new number this time is a space fight, a very interesting concept but from their previous performances I think they could tighten it up a bit more. Kamil Studenny & Anna Pelypenko took second with a very dramatic interpretive rumba, but here too I don’t think their stumbles were planned, it really, truly is disturbing being that they are such lovely dancers and it spoils their picture. This is not something that cannot be fixed with just work and settling on your feet. Dmitry Kuzmenko & Andrea Lynn were third and quite deservedly so. Their lift work was breathtaking, however, they seemed to miss the “why?” There is no purpose to the routine so it tends to look more like an exercise. Last but not least, one of my favorite routines - Andrew & Erin Sniegocki who did a neat routine, with great elements of humor, it is always risky when you do humor because, the appearance is that it is easy and you are hardly working – not as in the face-pulling, constipated, emotional routines.
The Professional Smooth had a strong semifinal round but the quality of dancing was ordinary. Dmitry Ilyushinov & Kateryna Stytsenko took first in all dances, and from where we stood we thought it was an easy win for them. They were one of the few couples that could show some understanding of the style. Kirill Gorjatsev & Daria Zotova placed second overall 3,2,2,2, here we have a couple with great potential. Kirill is probably one of the best Smooth men in America, however, the partnership still needs to grow, it is in a very green stage right now. Third went to Dave Hannigan & Magdolna Toth. Basically it is the same here, the physical awareness is there but the transitions and connections with each other are still quite green for this art form.
The Amateur Ballroom was a little disappointing it was a walk in the park for James Cuttler & Virginie Primeau–Poirier who won all dances. Second went to Fernando Lareu & Nicole Palagashvill who in our opinion were very capable but lack subtlety of movement 2,3,2,2,2. In third place were Brenton Mitchell & Alexandra Sevastianova 3,2,3,3,3. Fourth were Marco Barbera & Rosella Saladino who were fourth in every dance. We were very surprised this couple placed this high, some of their movements and technique looked very green - lots of potential here but we felt it needed to be ripened. We were really surprised when Garpare Romano & Aurora Montalvo placed fifth 6,5,5,5,5. We though this couple was excellent. In some of the dances we could have easily seen them place second, well as you can see art like beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Stefan Badea & Madalina Varlam placed sixth overall 5,6,6,6,6.
It was nice that La Classique Du Quebec awarded Beverly Moore an Achievement Award for her dedication and accomplishments in the world of ballroom dancing. Beverly, as it was announced, has won major events and world championships in all four styles and continues to dance and compete in all major events in North America. We here in Dance Beat want to take our hats off to Beverly Moore as well. Congratulations Beverly, well deserved!
We were a little surprised in how small the Ballroom Pro-Am Scholarships were especially because the couples were of a good level. The “C” had the most entries and this was won by Rosann Bonotto w/Alain Doucet. Second went to Nelly Huang & Vlad Vinogradsky 2,2,2,2,3, third was Vincent Feingold w/Fransiska Yordanova 3,3,3,3,2.
In the “B” division Beverly Moore w/Alain Doucet placed first in all dances. May Lim Chui w/Anton Lebedev were second in all dances and Noriko Keirman w/Erik Pali was third.
The “A” was also a four couple final and here Carol Simmons & Serghei Pogonet were first in all dances. Michelle Yeh & Anton Lebedev were second and third overall was Erica Kwizak w/Pavel Lebedev 4,3,3,3,3.
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Friday night at La Classique Du Quebec here in Montreal, Canada was a terrific night filled with excitement and expectations. Three major events were run all with an excellent amount of couples and excellent dancing, the Professional Rhythm and Ballroom and the Amateur Latin.
All three events just mentioned were terrific but the when it came to results the Amateur Latin trumped all. The obvious winners from Denmark, Morten Loewe & Rosalina Doneva. As expected they took first in all dances, but when it came to second and down the things got a little more shaky. Tall Livshitz & Ilana Keselman from the USA took second in four dances and third in the jive. For us it was all to close to call. From where we stood all three runners up could have easily taken second place, but in the end third went to possibly our favorite of the night Daniils Kutuzovs & Maria Shalvarova from Canada and they placed third in four dances and second in the jive. Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabrielle Sabler from the USA took fourth overall in all dances, and I mentioned previously they too could have easily been in the mix for second position.
Fifth went to Adam Hathazi & Morgana Lakatos-Hayward from Canada who placed sixth in C, S and fifth in the other three dances. Adam & Morgana were also a very capable couple, however, there was a few criticisms from the judges following the competition as to the young lady’s outfit, and yes it only took two steps for the outfit to be quite revealing. Perhaps couples should try practicing in their outfits before going out on the floor. Being over exposed in our opinion is not sexy and detracts form the artistic look they are trying to create. Finally in sixth position was Nikita Malakhov & Nadezda Vlasova from USA. We went from being over exposed to a very charged outfit. It had beads, appliques - in our opinion a little to much going and quite distracting once again detracting from the actual art of dancing.
The Professional Rhythm event was nicely attended with a full semifinal round. In the end for us the top two were very close. It was in our opinion a matter of taste from each judge. Azamat Evgamukov & Kateryna Angelone from the USA, took first overall winning four dances and placing second in the bolero. We liked the unorthodox and raw way this couple attacks the Rhythm dances. Perhaps this might be what attracted the majority of the judges to their style. Second went to what we thought was clearly the cleanest couple in this final, their execution of each dance was perfection - Andrei Svirydzenka & Yuliya Zubava from the USA, but as you will see in the marks the judges were not to convinced - 3,2,4,1,2. For us they lacked the thrill of the unexpected and were perhaps a little too clean for some tastes. In Rhythm, as an old time and revered US Champions and hero “Bobby Medeiros” use to say, “You have to get down deep and dirty.”
Third was awarded to Jean Michel Erole & Larisa Mikryukova from the USA, they placed 2,4,3,3,3. The rest of the placements went to Canada, Dmytro Gurkov & Alexandra Efrenova took fourth 4,3,2,4,4, Simone Zat & Stephany Moujally were fifth in all dances, Dayan Mantecon Roldan & Kyra Kalweit were sixth and Mathieu Casavant & Melanie Martin were seventh.
The Ballroom was perhaps not as exciting for us as the Rhythm was but it was still an excellent semifinal. US’s Marat Gimaev & Alina Basyuk placed first in all dances. The surprise for us was the second place finish of Gaetano lavarone & Emanuela from Italy who placed second overall 2,2,2,2,3. Gaetano & Emanuela were both very capable but could have easily been overtake by the Canadian Ballroom Champions, Anton Lebedev & Anna Broshch who although a little heavy at times, still had the power and swing to get our attention. But in the end Anton & Anna placed third in four dances but stole the quickstep away from Italy.
Ronen Zishtein & Mariam Izmaylova from USA took fourth overall 4,4,4,5,5. It most have been a disappointing result for Richard Tonizzo & Clair Hansen from Canada, who were fifth 5,5,5,4,4, and sixth was awarded to former Senior World Champions Volker Schmidt & Ellen Jonas from Germany.
In the Pro/Am it was Rhythm day and in the Rhythm World Dancesport Series the competitions were great especially in the “B” division where Canada’s Rhea Arida w/Volvick Edouard who took first in all dances. Faye Diamantoudi w/Tony Santana were second 2,2,3,2,2, and third was awarded to Tabuja Tharani w/Adrian Persad form the USA 3,3,4,3,4.
The “C” was only a four couple final but worth a mention. Lily Di Gregorio w/David Rodriguez placed first overall but not in all dances 2,1,2,1,1. Pascale Navarro w/Tony Santana was second 1,2,1,2,2, and third went to Louise Vignoul w/Simone Zat 4,3,3,3,3.
The “A” was only a three couple final and here the scholarship went to Nathalie Vuong w/Volvick Edouard who took first in all dances leaving second to Astrid Pacher w/Christopher Panasuk and they took all seconds and in 3rd Sophie Labelle & Dayan Mantecon Roldan.
It was a lovely evening, the MC’s managed to keep the pace going and upbeat until the end and we cannot wait for tonight when the Professional Latin and Smooth will be presented along with the Amateur Ballroom.
A Summer Night’s Dream!
With so much white snow blanketing the city of Montreal and with a winter wonderland decorating the ballroom it all seemed like a summer’s night dream here at La Classique Du Quebec! The Hilton Bonaventure continues to be a perfect venue for a ballroom event. The hotel sits atop an 18-floor structure, but the natural trees, fountains, walkways all surrounded by a small pool where ducks play make you feel as if you are in a winter wonderland.
The competition in the beautiful, natural ballroom one floors below the hotel is perfect and this time as we walked in, we could not help but take a breath as we admired the simple but beautiful decorations that enhanced the ballroom - the white materials, the fresh flowers, the dry white painted willow trees, the new and improved logo that is placed just right allowed the light to reflect a much bigger version on the curtains behind. All this in a very simple manner, yet beautiful with subtle accents and a touch of class, makes for us La Classique Du Quebec 2015 a perfect winter wonderland.
The competition inspired and complimented by the excellent acoustics of this ballroom made all the events interesting in this beautiful ballroom. The Pro/Am Smooth Scholarships were great. The largest entry came in the “C” division, where World Dancesport Series winner Beverly Moore dancing with Alain Doucet continued to take the lead and won all dances, second in this category went to Josee Dubuc w/ Christopher Panasuk and they placed second in all four dances, leaving third to Jan VanDuyn w/ Joe Born and they placed 4,3,3,3.
The “B” division had also a six-couple final but apart form the wining couple it was not very clear as to where everyone placed. Nadia Sicilia w/Christopher Panasuk took first in all four dances, Rhea Arida w/Volvick Edouard took second overall but not in every dance 2,3,2,3, this tie breaker must have been resolved by a rule 10 or rule 11, giving Brina Lewin & Tony Santana an overall third placed 3,2,3,2.
The “A” Division was only a four-couple final but with some good talent. Nathalie Vuong w/Volvick Edouard won all dances, a clear second place overall went to Astrid Pacher w/Christopher Panasuk, and third was Jessica Vane w/Sharon Levit who tied in the waltz for 3rd place with Martin-Luc Girard w/ Jessie Mineau who were fourth overall. Jessica & Sharon placed third in the other three dances and Martin & Jessie placed fourth in the other three dances.
The Pro/Am Grand-Slam showdance was also a feature this evening and the winning couple was Carlynn Rees dancing with well-known Cabaret dancer Carlos Zapata. Second was awarded to Jacquie Smith w/Rafael Steyners and third went to Costance Buki w/Dayan Mantenco Roldan.
The Amateur Senior 2 Latin was a five-couple final but one good enough to need a mention. Luc Lavigne & Josee Latulippe took first overall 1,1,2,1,1, Roger Korsiak & Holli Hornline took second 3,2,1,2,3, and third was awarded to Pierre Legault & Lyne Villeneuve 2,3,3,3,2.
The evening concluded with a show by US Professional Latin Champions and WDC World Professional Latin Champions, Riccardo Coccchi and Yulia Zagoruychenko. It was well received and a good ending to the first day of competitions here at La Classique Du Quebec.
Professionals Rule at Maryland
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This year Maryland Dancesport Championships were adequate when it came to pro/am and amateur dancing but when it came to all the professional heats, Maryland “ruled!” All four professional styles were full, if not by number of couples by quality.
The most interesting professional event for us was the Professional Latin where we had what we consider a very thought provoking result. Going from past performances we expected as usual the favorite to win. For us this favorite was Roman Italyamkin & Alexandra Bokova. However, this was not the case this time they took second in all dances but the paso doble where they placed first. The overall winners of this championship were Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Shvets who won all dances but the paso where they placed second.
You would have thought from what I just mentioned that the competition would have been close, however, it was not. Dmitry & Olena won all four dances with a full majority of firsts from the 13 judges present, the only dance where it was a bit closer was in paso. We do have to point out that in our opinion this couple looked quite sharp and very prepared. Let’s say we were not surprised by their win. Roman & Alexandra did a wonderful job as well and in our opinion could have won easily but needed to put a little more distance between them and the wining couple by producing a more creative performance. Dmitry & Olena were way ahead of them when it came to speed and power, so what Roman & Alexandra needed here to maintain their position was to focus on the creative aspect of the dances and the woman/man relationship that both these two couples sometimes lack.
The rest of the final was also excellent third went to Dmytro & Nina Kovalenko, fourth was awarded to Kharyton & Anastasiya Khomenko 5,4,4,4,4, fifth went to Vlad Astafiev & Jenya Didenko 4,5,5,5,5, sixth was Zsolt Katona & Timea Potys and they took sixth in all dances and all sevenths were awarded to Denis & Amanda Satonin.
The Professional Ballroom was also great. Here we had three couples really fighting for first place but in the end of this excellent final only one could take the prize home and that was Andrei Begunov & Anna Demidova. At first we were a little concerned for this couple since the last performances we have witnessed left us wanting more, but we must say that on this outing they took the “bull by its horns” and made tamed him. Andrei & Anna were moving, dancing and telling us “we are the best.” Andrei was very musical and Anna followed and responded to his every move and call, our congratulations to this very talented couple who won all dances with a huge majority of firsts from the judges. Second went to another excellent couple, Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova who took second in four dances and third in the tango. 2nd in tango went to Gianni Caliandro & Arianna Esposito and we totally have to agree with this, their tango was very musical and sharp. We were not surprised that they even took a few firsts from Andrei & Anna.
The second part of this professional Ballroom final is also worth a mention. Oleksiy Buravenko & Victoria karzukhina placed fourth in all dances, Jan Don & Adele Jang Don took all fifths, leaving all sixths to Dmitriy & Gabriela Solomakhan.
The Professional Rhythm also had a great entry and here Azamat Evgamukov & Katerina Angelone took the lead by winning three dances and placing second in the rumba and bolero. We have to say that at first we were not sure where this competition was going to end up, the other couples too looked great in the semifinal round, however, for us in the final especially after the swing was danced, Azamat & Katerina were in a league of their own. Second was awarded to Shane & Shannon Jensen and they were the winners of the rumba and swing. They had a very clean performance but needed the heartfelt performance that Azamat & Katerina gave us today in order to win. Third in every dance was Shandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov, this couple in our eyes has made a great strides in this style and we are happy they are being rewarded.
Fourth were Andrei Svirydzenka & Yuliya Zubava and they took fourth in every dance. We found their performance very clean as well and we were a little taken aback, since we were almost certain they might take a place higher, this goes to show all that just giving a squeaky clean performance is not enough. Fifth in every dance were Stephen Smyth & Viktoriya Kleyman, and finally in sixth place were Tamas Kordos & Mariya-Kristina Shurupova.
The Professional Smooth also was terrific and here it was an easy road for Mazen Hamza & Izabella Jundzill who won all dances with a majority of firsts in all. Travis & Jaimee Tuft placed second overall and the new partnership of Michael Choi & Erin Marie placed third in all dances. We must mention how impressed we were with this new duo, who did not look new at all. It looked as if they have been working for quite sometime, I wonder what it will be like a year from now?
Fourth overall went to Kirill Gorjatsev & Daria Zotova 4,4,4,5, here we were not to clear at some point you look at them and you think they would be in the top two the next moment everything would fall apart. Simple things like posture and holding form. Stephen Smyth & Viktoriya Kelyman placed fifth overall 5,6,5,4, Sergey Smolin & Anna Tomasini were sixth 6,5,6,6, and seventh went to Shandor Shtefil & Alexandra Barsukov and they took seventh in every dance. We most conclude this category by saying that the standard and quality of this style was very high, in the semifinal round there were at least two couples that could have easily made the final and they did not.
The Open Amateur Latin was a four-couple final but all couples were very capable. Here Stanishlav Engelgardt & Tatiana Vasilyeva placed first overall 1,2,1,1,1, Mircea & Ana-Maria Cernev took second overall 2,1,2,3,3 and Eric Groysman & Shelby Joe Cole took third 3,3,3,2,2, and fourth was Raphael Matlis & Jamie Dorotov.
The show concluded on a high note with a quick but excellent show choreographed by Diana McDonald. Some of the champions presented some of their numbers and a few of the couples from the Northeast filled in with the group numbers.
The high definition screen in the ballroom was magnificent and very appealing to the audience’s eye. Congratulations Amanda & Ilya for a terrific Maryland Dancesport, 2015.
Maryland a Fab Rising Star Night!
Last night the Rising Star competitions were fabulous here at the Maryland Dancesport Championships, all finals were full and the quality of the dancers was quite high.
The evening began with the Professional Showdance and so before we talk about the Rising Stars we’d like to mention this excellent event. 5 couples took to the floor to do their solo and with no surprise Shane & Shannon Jensen took the top prize, quite easily from where we stood. Shane & Shannon looked totally ready and their new number of “I Who Have Nothing” and it went down with perfection. Second in line was Brandon Baker & Chelsea Cherie. We felt that the level of difficulty was tremendous but they lacked clarity in the execution. We felt that they looked quite strained at times and in one of the nail biting maneuvers they even lost their footing getting a clear wobble in their program. However, the judges must have missed this or were totally taken by the difficulty of the choreography they placed second comfortably with only 3 judges placing them lower than third place.
We were quite taken by the 2 other Showdances that should also be mentioned. Leo Mora & Christina Garced did an interesting “smooth” style routine, and who placed third overall. The other routine we most mention before going into the rising Star events was that of Jonathan Chen & Nadine Messenger who did an energetic mambo.
The largest entry was in the Rising Star Rhythm where a full semifinal was run. Shandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov won every dance with at least half the panel marking in their favorite. They did manage to take some low scores, their worst marks came from Paul Holmes who awarded them three 4ths and two 3rds. Stephen Smyth & Viktoriya Kleyman placed second overall but their marks varied from second to fourth place and even a fifth form a number of judges, their worst marks were in the mambo, 3 judges awarded them fifth in this dance.
For us the Rhythm was a little divided with some couples doing what we thought to be Rhythm style and others just some kind of Latin. Tamas Kardos & Mariya-Kristina Shurupova placed third overall and here the Latin training for us was very present, they had excellent skill but could use some old fashioned Rhythm skills to be complete. Fourth overall also went to another very talented couple but they too for us had perhaps a little too much Latin influence, and they placed fourth in four dances and fifth in the rumba.
In our opinion fifth and sixth had more Rhythm ingredients in their dancing, however, perhaps their work is still a little green to place higher. Jonathan Chen & Nadine Messenger placed fifth 6,6,5,5,4, and Edson Jeune & Nina Guezo took sixth 5,4,6,6,6.
The Professional Rising Star Ballroom was perhaps the smallest heat overall with only five couples entered and here and the clear winner to all was Jang & Adele Don winning all five dances, the VW with a perfect score. In a couple of the other dances they had a few judges awarding them a few seconds, and we can see that although they too were our favorite, sometimes their power and over the top style made them a little wobbly. Second overall wen to Dmitriy & Gabriela Solomakha and they took second in every dance, for us this couple had a very soft casual style but overall did not have enough power to support their well held top lines. Third were Kharyton & Anastasia Khomenko 3,4,3,3,3, fourth was Sergey Izyumov & Ellen Porter and fifth were Corey & Kayla Girard.
The Rising Star Latin had a full six-couple final and here Dymtro & Nina Kovalenko took first in all dances, we felt that all the top four couples were very close in skill but we are not surprised with their win. Kharyton & Anastasia Khomenko placed second overall and they too were quite excellent but when you looked at the marks any of these couples could have shared any of the top placements 2,2,3,3,3. Third was awarded to Jang & Adele Don and they too had a variety of marks but in the end here were their overall marks 3,3,4,4,4. We quite liked Vlad Astafiev & Jenya Didenko, in fact we would not have been surprised had they placed higher or taken a dance or two, however, at the end of the day they took fourth overall 3,3,4,4,4. Fifth were Zsolt Katona & Timea Potys fifth in all dances and sixth was Denis Satonin & Amanda Satonin.
As I said all Rising Star events were great here last night and the Professional Smooth was no different. Here Sergey Smolin & Anna Tomasini were the overall winners taking all four dances. We were surprised to see that they got quite a potpourri of marks all the way down to sixth place. For us they could have been second but never less. Second went to Stephen Smyth & Victoriya Kleyman and they took second in every dance. Third in every dance went to Shandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov, again they too shared in all the marks from sixth to first place but we were quite surprised they placed so high in this style, especially in the waltz where close to the beginning the lady fell to the ground and as we all follow their performance, from our perspective could not recuperate but they even got a couple firsts.
Fourth overall was awarded to Aaron Talbert & Angela Maughan 4,4,4,5, this couple had the most energy of all and could definitely move, however more attention should be paid to detail in order to place higher. Fifth overall was awarded to Leo Mora & Christina Garced 6,5,5,4, we were quite surprised that this couple placed so low, we could see that they could at times look a little heavy on their feet but, their shapes and transitions are in many ways better than some of the couples on top of this list. Sixth were Christopher & Jenny Sochnacki 5,6,6,6.
Tonight are the open events and it promises to be a terrific evening judging from the Risings Stars last night.
Sunday Biggest Day at City Lights
With pro-am Latin, junior, amateur and professional divisions, Sunday was the busiest day at City Lights beginning at 7:00 AM and continuing through the evening session.
The highlight of the day, we thought, was the Open Pro Ballroom. This was won convincingly by Mikhail Avdeev & Olga Blinova who dropped only 3 first places, all from Giocomo Steccaglia. With 2,2,2,3,2, Igor Colac & Roxanne Milloti tokk the runners up spot. However, they had the majority of ‘2nd or better’ scores in only tango. For us they were a clear 2nd, but not for all it seemed. Third went to Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija 3,3,3,2,4. Incidentally they received Giocomo’s 3 first places and certainly showed touches of brilliance. A new couple to us, Christian Radvan & Kristina Kudelko were 4th with 4,4,4,4,3. They are a clean and easy moving couple who we think will be a great asset to this division. Michael Towliszew & Tiffany Fung took all the 5’s. We thought waltz was their best dance today, although some judges had them in the top half of the final in all dances. Closing the final were Evgeniy Mayorov & Olga Lisovskaya who certainly looked at home and challenged in all dances.
The Open Pro Rhythm also had clear winners, this time Donovan Dominguez & Rose Dimov who won all dances and also dropped only a total of 3 first places. We thought they were never really challenged. For us the closest race was for 2nd between Christopher Wayne & Juanita Simanekova and Richard & Marianne Myers. Christopher & Juanita took it with 2,2,2,2,4 to Richard & Marianne’s 3,3,4,3,3. Also in this mix and taking the 2nd spot in mambo were Jeremy Babagay & Carolyn Barreno who placed 4,4,3,4,2. Daniel Lee Tran & Taylor Elizabeth Kinney were 5th in all, CJ & Jenny-Lynn Gomez were 6th in all and Guillermo Ceballos & Deborah Perez were 7th.
The two Open Amateur Scholarships also produced two good finals of young, up and coming dancers. The Latin was won by Bumchin Tegshjargal & Michelle Klets who won all dances. They had the majority of first places in all dances. 2nd went to Danya Rubashevsky & Anastasia Vysotska. They placed 2,2,3,2,3. They rather polarized the judging panel, receiving scores from 1st to 6th in all dances. Umar Diallo & Natasha Zrazhevskaya were 3rd with 3,3,2,3,2. This was the best we have seen from this duo, although we were a little distracted by Natasha’s free flowing hair, combined with her very busy dress. There was just so much going on! Mikhail Vorobiev & Sonya Tsekanovsky were 4th, 4,4,5,4,6; Rhett Grant & Yelena Vayn 5th, 6,5,4,5,4; Christian Solares & Whitney Myers 6th, 5,6,6,6,5.
Marek Klepadlo & Liana Bakhtiarova won all dances in the Amateur Ballroom Scholarship and had the majority of 1st places in all dances. Ruslan Kalyuzhnyy & Kseniya Sovenko were 2nd in all dances and Mikhail Vorobiev & Sonya Tsekanovsky were 3rd in all. The judges stayed in agreement as Dmitry Vorobiev & Sofie Elliott took 4th in all dances. Turtle Brennen & Regina Pareigis were 5th with 5,5,6,5,7; Christian Solares & Whitny Myers were 6th, 6,6,5,7,5 and Sebatian Lowe & Anastasiya Zaytseva were 7th, 7,7,7,6,6.
City Lights was up in entries this year and the new venue, the Fairmot San Jose, is a fabulous hotel. This is a good event to put on your 2016 calendar and by the way, temperatures were in the 60’s and 70’s – not bad while much of the country was freezing!
The “California Dreamin” show at the City Lights competition last night was very unique to say the least. Victor Fung & Anastasia were the headliners but throughout the show we saw appearances by Dr.Phil!
Yes! You heard it right - Dr. Phil, Donald Trump, Regis Philbin from “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” and Howie Mandel had their say at last night’s show. During the “Deal or No Deal” part of the show Shawn Brunel opened the right briefcase and won a seven-day cruise in Hawaii!! How is that for a professional show! In between of course we had wonderful appearances by Victor & Anastasia and other couples including a number of the “old” judges who got up there to cut-up and do something. The show was wonderfully put together in the style of Brent Mills who continues to impress us with his hidden talent.
Victor & Anastasia’s numbers were super satisfying to the demanding Californian crowd who almost always have to be prompted to clap. Their biggest conquest was in the tango where they got a full standing ovation and many who stayed clapping until they decided to leave the floor. Another hit was 7 year old ??? and his mother Alla, who went “Surfin’ USA.”
The evening basically had two competitions scheduled the Professional Open Smooth and the Professional Open Latin. Nick Cheremukin & Viktoria as expected took first in all dances in the Smooth with nearly perfect scores, they took only a few seconds in each dance and one third in the tango from Tomas Atcocevicius. The rest of the final was also excellent and worthy of a mention. Kris Suakjian & Briana Half place second in all dances and they gave a performance of a lifetime we thought, this couple made us look from the very start, this is total momentum if they continue like this we can see them standing up on the top sooner than expected. Adrian Dydynski & Hannah Dydynski placed third overall 3,3,4,4 but as you can see not in every dance, here we found their performance to be qualifying but not a fighting performance to reach the top or impress a sophisticated audience.
Well-known Smooth competitor, Anna Shahbazyan who has not danced for quite some time, took on to the floor with new partner, Evgeny Malko, and they placed fourth overall 4,5,3,3. Evgeny & Anna had some interesting moves - some looked very promising but others a bit green, perhaps paying a little more attention to transitions might help, but please keep the confidence going you looked as if you were aiming for the highest mountain, and we sure liked that. Fifth were Mariusz Zakrzewski & Lynnsay Ray, the night before these couple got everyone’s attention but on this night they were a little lost in the shuffle. The energy level of some of this couples surpassed any subtle movement they might have been trying to do, better luck next time 5,4,5,5. And finally in sixth position were Slava Stefanov & Jesssica McMorrow-Stefanov 6,6,6,6.
In the open Latin we had a 7-couple final, but was there more stomping than dancing going on? Roman Italyankin & Alexandra Bokova took all five dances and the prize home, however, it was very close. They also were awarded quite a number of seconds and even some thirds if you look at the marks. For us it was clear that Roman & Alexandra were quite prepared with strong powerful performances that at times dwarfed their opponents. But we must point out that the audience’s heart did not go out to Roman & Alexandra, it went to the couple that placed second, Mykhallo Bilopukhov & Anastasi Shchyoilina from the Ukraine who just the night before won the Rising Star Latin, but here they placed second overall. We have to say that on this night some of their subtle movement ended up looking like mistakes. The other, stronger couples took plenty of attention away from them, this is something this very talented couple should work at.
Third overall went to Pavel Balykin & Meagen Mendoza, for us there was lots of energy but unlike the last couple mentioned, no subtlety at all, just serve it and eat it style. For us followers of Latin dancers we need a little more cordon bleu culinary style when it comes to the couples’ programs for us to move our pens higher. Fourth were Igor Colac & Roxan Milotti. We found Igor & Roxanne looking quite healthy from the holiday and although it looks quite good perhaps it slowed down their physical performance in certain movements especially in the athletic rumba. We still thought they could have placed a little higher than fourth.
Fifth was Arjom Shmigeljuk & Oxana Kashkina 5,5,5,6,5, sixth went to Dennis Sy & Mae Lozada 6,6,6,5,6, and in seventh position, Zsolt Katona & Timea Potys seventh in all dances.
We have to say that there was more emphasis this time to dancing than to stomping, we did notice a few stomps especially in the paso but we were pleasantly surprised that couples have actually found other things to do. Congratulations to all of you that did not stomp!
We also want to congratulate the organizers. The competitions were short and sweet and everyone managed to go either to the lobby where a full band awaited or to the after party in the ballroom where Brent Mills and his band struck up the tunes.
City Lights Rising
Last night in the beautiful ballroom of the fabulous Fairmont Hotel, City Lights was all about the Rising Stars. All four styles took to the floor in Rising Stars and although it was a small affair with only finals in all categories it was well run and the couples did a job good enough for a mention.
The biggest entry was in the Rising Star Rhythm. Here we had a complete final of six couples. Christopher Wayne & Juanita Simanekova from Tennessee were the winners in all dances. They gave a very consistent performance, with fairly good presentation of bodylines. Jeremy Babagay & Carolyn Barreno in our opinion gave the only challenge with an excellent natural rhythmic action, but in the end Christopher & Juanita had a more complete package, and so Jeremy & Carolyn had to settle for second in all dances. Third went to Daniel Lee Tran & Taylor Elizabeth Kinney and they placed third in all dances.
The Rising Star Smooth was quite exciting with Mariusz Zakrzewski & Lynnsay Ray in the lead and from our perspective an excellent performance far superior to the rest. They of course won all dances. It was also great to see them win with the complete dress still on, at Holiday Dancesport this couple got tangled in their dress and half of it had to be scissored off of her body. Not far behind with a well-executed performance was Slava Stefanov & Jessica McMorrow-Stefanov. They took second in every dance, with a little more pizzazz they could have easily challenged. Third was Peter Hahn & Jude Coraldi placing third in all dances.
The Ballroom was also a good heat with two good couples leading the way. Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija and Cristian Radvan & Kristina Kudelko. The night went to Nick & Viktoria who won all dances, but in our opinion it could have easily gone to Cristian & Kristina who placed second in each dance. On experience you could see why Nick & Viktoria won but when it came to the style itself we found it a little heavy making it look as if they were breast-stroking in water. Third in this heat was awarded to Jonathsn Atkinson & Lorena Bravo but only in three dances.
The Latin was the smallest of the Professional Rising Star heats this one had only three couples, however it was a pleasure to see Mykhailo Bilopukhov & Anastasia Shchypilina from the Ukraine, who won all dances with perfect scores and really enthralled the audience with their interesting choreography and musicality. Second was Artjom Shmigeljuk & Oxana Kashkina. And third was Zsolt Katona & Timea Potys.
With this the short evening came to a close, and as the week progresses we are expecting longer days and bigger heats.
All the ‘1’s?
It was a busy night Saturday at Nashville Starz with 5 open professional divisions, pro-am scholarships and the awards for the Dancers Cup Tour.
In the multi-dance professional divisions, most of the winners won by placing 1st in all dances.
The largest of the divisions was the Smooth that began with a quarter-final. Some last minute cancelations meant that there was no first round as scheduled. In fact 2 high-profile couples had to withdraw due to a family emergency – Mazen Hamza & Izabella Jundzill and Max Sintisa & Michelle Officer.
Reigning US Champions, Peter & Alexandra Perzhu, won all dances and lost a total of only 4 first place marks out of 60. We also thought they gave a strong performance. With 2,2,2,3, the fast-rising Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija were the runners-up. They received mainly 1st and 2nd places with only judge, Valentina Kostenko, seriously dissenting and placing them 5,6,6,5. Travis & Jaimee Tuft took 3rd in 3 dances and 2nd in the VW. They were also the winners of the Showdance division. Kyle & Allie Spinder took all the 4’s, Adrian & Hannah Dydynski all the 5’s and Vladimir & Vera Kosarev all the 6’s. Watch out for Slawek Sochaki’s report on this division.
Andre & Natalie Paramonov easily won the Rhythm, losing only 2 first place marks out of 60, both in the mambo. The new partnership of Andrei Abrashin & Mariia Gavrylova were 2nd, 2,2,3,3,2. It was great to see this former US 9-Dance Champion back on the floor. The middle of this final was very mixed. Andrei & Mariia had the majority of 2nd places only in cha cha. 3rd went to Shandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov 3,3,2,2,3 – as you can a close finish. 4th were Donovan Dominguez & Rose Dimov 4,4,4,4,4 and 5th Maksym Lototskyy & Sarah Haworth 5,5,5,5,5. This was a reversal of the placements from the RS. 6th spot went to Christopher Wayne and Juanita Simanekova. Terry Sweeney will report on this division soon.
Oskar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova won the Ballroom and had strong majorities of 1st places in all dances. This was the only straight final of the night. 2nd in all dances were Martin & Liene Reinbold, 3rd in all Dimitry Solomskha & Gabriela Solomakha, 4th in all Dumitru & Cristina Turcan and 5th, Manuel Trillo & Nelly Mustafayeva. Interestingly Manuel & Nelly competed in all 5 pro divisions tonight.
The Latin resulted in a good win for Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Shvets who placed 1,1,2,1,1, but had the majority of 1st places in the 4 dances they won. They beat out Roman Italyankin & Alexandra Bokova who won the rumba, although not with a majority of 1st places, and placed 2,3,2,3 in the other 4 dances. Certainly in the mix were 3rd placed Evgeny Likachev & Maria Levina who were 3rd with 3,2,3,3,2. All the 4’s went to Sergiy Samchynskyy & Yuliya Besarab; 5th in all were Ryan Lewis & Tessa Marie and 6th were Vlad Astafiev & Jenya Didenko. This event began with a semifinal.
The Open Scholarships in both the Ballroom and Latin were also on tonight. The Ballroom divisions were much larger. The B was won by Jill Bradford w/ Gert Roslender, 2nd was Brynda Insley w/ Martin Reinbold and 3rd, Miwa Rifu w/ Peter Minkov. Galina Livitina w/ Jari Muller won the A, 2nd went to Pamela Bolling w/ Ben Ermis and 3rd to Ming Wang w/ Shalene Archer.
As Nashville Starz is the concluding event of the Dancers Cup Tour, the overall winners from 2014 were announced. It was 2 in a row for top Female Student, Lauren LaPointe, and her instructor, Louis Bar who won Top Teacher. Both were winners in 2013 also. Top Gentleman Student went to Gary Freidman with his teacher Angieszka Strojek, who placed 4th in the top teacher awards.
The Top 3 in all divisions were: Gentlemen – 2nd Lawrence Mitchell, 3rd Robert Hunt. Ladies – 2nd Sophia D’Angelo, 3rd Darcy Adamczak. Teachers – 2nd Shalene Archer, 3rd Gary Dahl.
Smooth Day in Nashville
It was a Smooth day in Nashville yesterday for the pro-ams and we felt the level in the Open Scholarships was generally a little higher than in the Rhythm the day before.
The Professional Smooth Rising Star was also among the strongest of the 4 pro divisions run. The Open A division was won by the nation’s leader in this style, Melonie Krumer w/ Max Sinitsa and she won all dances. There was a little shuffling of positions from here down with Christina Donelson w/ Peter Perzhu moving up the ladder to take the runners-up spot placing 2,2,3,2. Another experienced finalist, Elizabeth Rocco w/ Eric Hudson, placed 3rd, 4,5,2,3. We were a little surprised by her lower placements in the first 2 dances. Aiyesah Dey, now dancing with Mayo Alanen, placed 4th overall with 3,3,4,4 and listing from NY. Stefan Tuomanen w/ Michelle Officer was 5th, 6,4,5,5. Stefan also won the Open 9-Dance. Ran Wei w/ Mikolay Czarnecki was 6th, 5,6,6,6 and Marcy Garson w/ Mazen Hamza was 7th.
The B Division was also strong and marked the return of Daniella Koren now dancing with Greg Fidurski. Daniella won all dances. 2nd went to Mary Lemmer w/ Tomas Milenicki 2,2,4,2. Wende Stambaugh w/ Ben Ermis took 3rd, 3,4,3,4; Mariana Lvoff w/ Vladimir Kosarev 4th, 5,6,2,3; Hope Huber w/ Troy Baeton 5th, 4,3,6,5; Helena Kostik w/ Mazen Hamza 6th, 6,5,5,6.
Both of the American Style RS events began with semifinals. The Smooth was won by Adrian & Hannah Dydynski and they won all dances, rightly so we felt. 2nd went to a newer team, Peter Hahn w/ Jude Coraldi and they placed 3,2,2,2. Mark Short w/ Alyssa Kard took the 3rd spot, 2,3,4,3.
Shandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov won a strong Rhythm division, placing first in all dances. They also placed 4th in the Smooth, the first time we have seen them compete in that style. 2nd in all dances went to Donovan Dominguez & Rose Dimov and 3rd in all were Maksym Lototskyy & Sarah Haworth.
The international style divisions were both straight finals. Vlad Astafiev & Jenya Didenko won all dances in the Latin looking the best we have seen from them. 2nd went to Zsolt Katona & Timea Potys 2,2,2,2,3 and 3rd to Srdjan Mikuljan & Carolina Avila 3,3,3,3,2.
Only 2 couples contested the Ballroom and the division went to Dimitriy & Gabriella Solomskha 2,1,1,1,1 over Dumitru & Cristina Turcan 1,2,2,2,2.
In true Nashville style, the evening ended with a country cook out in the ballroom. An all day was country western wear for spectators and officials alike.
Nashville Starz over 6500!
First comp of year for many
With over 6,500 entries this year, Nashville Starz, organized by David Hamilton, is proving a popular “first stop” competition for many. It’s underway right now. It is also the concluding event for the 2014 Dancers’ Cup Tour. Ultimate winers will be announced on Saturday.
Yesterday it was pro-am Rhythm all day with some very large heats, particularly in the bronze and beginners levels. 2 open Scholarships concluded the evening session, the largest was the B that began with a semifinal.
The winner tonight, as at Ohio and USDC, was Giovanni Fortezza w/ Jolanta Mosteika. Giovanni won 4 dances and placed 2nd in the swing. Perhaps this was not his best verall performance that we have seen, but he was for us still the clear winner. Taking 1st in the swing and 2nd in the other 4 dances was another very experienced competitor, Kathy Howell w/ Martin Cawston. With 3rd in all dances, Lucinda Poston now dancing with Jermey Gatlin was overall 3rd. It was good to see this talented lady back on the floor. 4,5,4,4,6, gave Marcy Garson w/ Mazen Hamza 4th place overall. Mariana Lvoff w/ Vladimir Kosarev was 5th, 5,4,5,5,4 and Ceci Torres w/ Eddie Rivera was 6th 6,6,6,6,5.
Kia Malone w/ Eddie Rivera won all dances in the A, showing her customarily exuberant style. Stephan Tuomanen w/ Michelle Officer was 2nd in all dances and Jeff Kissell w/ Anne-Marie Patterson was 3rd.
We also celebrated, Chairman of Judges, Leroy Walter’s birthday.
It is with sadness that we report the death of Julius Kaiser in Hungary last week.
The Harvard Ballroom Dance Team will be holding a memorial for Julius Kaiser, the team's beloved founding coach, during the Harvard Invitational Hanlon-Ford Gala at 9:00pm on Saturday, April 11th at the Boston Hynes Convention Center. Alumni will share their memories of Julius and his unique and generous contributions to the Harvard Ballroom Dance Team and the greater ballroom community.
The memorial will end with the first ever annual Julius Kaiser Award, given to a competitor with great team spirit and who brings people together, just as Julius spent his life doing. After the memorial will be the finals rounds of the Open Amateur Championship events and a show by Morten Lowe and Roselina Doneva.
Memorial for Julius Kaiser
Boston Hynes Convention Center
900 Boylston St, Boston, MA
Originally from Hungary, Julius was very influential in the early days of international style dancing in the USA. He was active in both the US Imperial Society and in the Arthur Murray Chain, well known for his sense of humor and happy disposition. He was awarded the NDCA Hall of Fame Award in 1997.
The following comes from that time:
The following are some tributes from FaceBook:
January 18 at 1:14pm
Loved julius....my first ever coach also!
January 18 at 1:53pm
I took many years with Julius an hour two hours a week every week I learned a lot of things god bless you
January 18 at 3:44pm
Rest in peace, Julius. He was such a valuable part of our industry. A true icon of the dance business.
January 18 at 3:54pm
Great person, never forget how he help us at the beginning of our career and took us in his Boston apartment for coaching. Many blessings Julius as you are in my thoughts....wayne & donna
January 18 at 4:34pm
I always had a great love for Julius, he was a wonderful friend and colleague, We spent so much time together, I'll miss you you.
January 18 at 6:00pm
He was brilliant and and so giving a human being and talent. RIP
Carole Clark LaValle Foland
January 18 at 6:30pm
Always smiling. Just makes you Happy looking at him.
Gigi LaValle Foland-Sida
January 18 at 7:00pm
I remember him from when I was little. RIP Julius
January 18 at 9:16pm
Such a dear and brilliant man,,,,,his legacy continues in all he knew and trained. RIP my friend.
John P Nyemchek
January 19 at 9:19am
Yes a great man and a mentor and a happy spirit I will miss him
We regret to report the death of Pete Taylor on December 16th. Pete had been ill for some time.
Pete Taylor was a pioneer on the American Dance Scene holding a variety of positions within the Fred Astaire Dance Chain including National Dance Director.
He was also a co-organizer of the American Star Ball and New Jersey Open Dancesport Championships until his illness.
Dance Beat sends our sympathy to his family and many friends within the dance community.
The culmination of the Holiday Dance Classic was as usual the spectacular, now iconic, party after the competition in the Havana Club. It was a major success with everyone dancing, feasting and socializing. Nothing quite beats this dynamic ending of the 2014 Holiday Dance Classic Championship.
The well-known show in the ballroom prior to the party was memorable to say the least. The theme was very simple - down to the music where the basic sounds of drums and wood boxes accompanied every tune, making it all sound rich yet simple. Brent Mills led the percussion ensemble that also included judges Sarwat Kaluby and Ron Montez.
It was a delight to see Ray Rivers dancing with his entire family, the music from “Strictly Ballroom” was full and very complimenting to the Australian feel of the dancing number. It was also nice to see US icon, Melissa Dexter, dancing a very musical number to percussion only with Italian Champion and partner in life Giacomo Steccalia. The numbers from the Brooklyn DanceSport were excellent and full of life. It was also terrific to see Eugene Katsevman & Maria Manusova join in for their last number.
The show as usual, was cleverly put together by Ms. Wendy Johnston who had her hands full this weekend with this task, and all her family present including her new favorite love and addition to her family, grandson “Theo.”
It was a short and sweet evening with only two dance competitions the Professional Latin and the Professional Smooth. In the Professional Latin Andrey Tarasov & Yulia Kuznetsova took first in every dance but only in the cha cha did they manage to get the majority of firsts. In the rest of the dances they relied some on the seconds or better. A number of judges marked them fourth, fifth and even a few sixths. We in Dance Beat felt the competition did not really have such a clear ending, all couples were of excellent caliber but not one really stood out as the best in the field. Second overall went to possibly our favorites of the night, Vitalii Proskurin & Evgenia Shatilova who took second in every dance. Third was awarded to Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Shvets 3,3,5,6,3; fourth went to Roman Italyankin & Alexandra Bokova 5,4,3,5,4; fifth was awarded to Gunnar Gunnarson & Marika Doshoris from England 4,5,4,3,5 and in sixth position were Evgeny Likhachev & Maria Levina 6,6,6,4,6.
In the professional Smooth Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija gave an outstanding performance and one every dance, three with the majorsity of first from the judges and second or better in the VW. Mazen Hamza & Izabella took all seconds. We are sure this to be a very disappointing finish for this couple considering that a few years back they were so close to reaching the top. Third in all dances went to Travis & Jaimee Tuft. Fourth was awarded to Max Sinitsa & Michelle Officer. We are sure that they too were hoping for better results. Unfortunately from the sidelines the work did not look complete and it was quite shaky at times. We are sure that if we could see this so could the judges. They placed 4,4,4,5. Fifth went to Kyle & Allie Spinder 5,5,5,4, and sixth was awarded to Kris Suakjian & Briana Haft and they took sixth in every dance.
The pro-ams concluded their week with the Open Ballroom Scholarships that were perhaps the best pro-am events of the week. The B and C divisions were especially strong.
The winner of the A, the smallest of the divisions, was Anna Lucero w/ Ikaika Dowset. Anna placed 1,2,2,3,1. As you can see the judges were not in total agreement on this heat. 2nd went to Grace Wang w/ Mikhail Avdeev, 2,3,1,1,3 and 3rd was Rebecca Kuhn w/ Andrea Faraci 3,1,4,2,4. 4th, Sabine Blyth w/ Giacomo Agrello 4,4,3,4,2; 5th Irene Lee w/ Nick Cheremukhin 5,6,5,5,6 and 6th Aleksandra Kurashko w/ Denis Generalov 6,5,6,6,5.
Almost all the top players were here in the B making for some tough choices for the judges from Semi to final. We saw several ladies who could certainly have been at home in the top six left in the semi. The winner was Celia Chou w/ Erminio Stefano and Celia won all 5 dances. Beverly Moore added a runner-up finish to her two previous wins here at Holiday placing 3,2,2,2,2. Julie Zhao w/ Denis Kutepov took 3rd, 2,3,3T,3,3. We really liked Julie today and thought she was going to really challenge for the top spot. But the final was perhaps not her strongest round. Brynda Insely w/ Martin Reinbold also had a good day and was rewarded with 4th place, 4,4,3T,4,4. Michelle Peng w/ Mikhail Avddev was 5th 5,5,5,5,5 and Bo Chang w/ Giampiero was 6th 6,6,6,6,6.
The C was the largest division danced over 3 rounds. The battle for first came down to a 3 dance to 2 win for Lynn Murrell w/ Alexander Voskalchuk 1,1,2,1,2 over Jill Bradford & Gert Roslender 2,2,1,2,1. Tammy Knight w/ Artem Plakhotnyi was 3rd although placed 4,4,4,3,4 – one of those weird Skating System results! 4th went to Paige Riffle w/ Iaaroslav Bieliel 3,3,5,4,5; 5th Hye Kyong Park w/ Linas Korieva 5,5,3,5,3 and 6th Deborah Errico w/ Dariusz Michalski 6,6,6,6,6.
As we mentioned earlier the evening was short and sweet, a perfect finish some great dancing, a fun Holiday show and a fabulous party. Who can ask for more? We are looking forward to 2015 as we have done for the past 25 years!
More Than Just Rhythm at the Tropicana!
Last night at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino the dancing was fabulous, the Professional Rhythm was one of the feature events but there was more, the Amateur Latin was hot and the Professional Ballroom was also excellent and we had a few surprises in the Professional Cabaret division.
The evening began with a healthy quarter-final in the Professional Ballroom, and we must say that down to the semifinal the couples were all of great quality. Artem Plakhotnyi & Inna Berlizyeva had no problem capturing the Championship. They won all dances with a majority of firsts. However, there were a few judges that would disagree in particular the judge from Australia, Phillip Nichols who awarded them four 3rd and a 4th and Pat Traymore who was not far behind and also awarded them low scores a 4th in the tango, 3rd in the waltz and 2nd in the other three dances.
Second in all dances also went easily to Mikhail Avdeev & Olga Blimova who also got some interesting marks from some of the judges. Their worst marks also came from the Australian judge who awarded them 2, 6th in the VW and Quickstep and 4th in the other three dances. Alexander Voskalchuk & Veronika Egorova also had an easy third place finish in all dances. But from fourth down the judges were a little less decisive. Fourth went to Iaroslav Bieliei & Olga Tsikalyuk and they placed 4,5,5,4,4, fifth was awarded to Andrey Begunov & Anna Demidova 5,4,4,6,5, and sixth was awarded to the new partnership of Ruedeger Homm & Katia Kanevskaya who for the moment seemed to be representing Germany, 6,6,6,5,6.
The battle for superiority in the Professional Rhythm continues here at the Holiday Classic but this time the battle was between Nazar Norov & Irina Kudryashova and Andre & Natalie Paramonov. Both last couples mentioned were in great form but in the end Nazar & Irina took the Championship title home by placing first in all dances with a majority of firsts in all dances. When looking at the marks we noticed that Nazar & Irina got all firsts or seconds with just an occasional third in two dances. Andre & Natalie placed second in all dances with a majority of seconds and some firsts, a third and even a fourth, both from Ms. Pat Traymore.
Third overall was awarded to Shane & Shannon Jensen who placed third in all dances. Fourth went to Donovan Dominguez & Rose Dimov, but here things got a little more complicated. Donovan & Rose placed fourth in three dances and fifth in the cha cha and mambo. Fifth overall was awarded to Shandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukova 4,5,6,6,4, and you could tell by the judges marks that they could not make up their minds. Personally the Dance Beat Team thought they could have easily placed higher, they had great energy and terrific Rhythmic form. And sixth was awarded to Ivan Dishliev & Marieta Nedyalkova 6,6,5,5,6.
The Professional Cabaret was excellent and this went to Travis and Jaimee Tuft, We thought their routine looked very secure and rehearsed tonight and deserving of the first place. Second was awarded to possibly the favorites going into the competition, Shane & Shannon Jensen. It was a tight finish with 6 first places going to the Tufts and 5 to the Jensens, however, we have to agree with the decision. The runners-up looked a little unusually shaky. Third went to Egor Shalvarov & Alla Profatilova and clearly this was their position with a comedy routine that was excellent and always brings the house down. In fourth position were Ivan Berkovic & Dena Weiner, here there was some life challenging lifts, unfortunately we all kept praying for them - not something that would give you points in our opinion.
The Adult Amateur Latin was also excellent and out of this world. Here the night went to Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabrielle Sabler and they placed first in all five dances. Pasha & Gabrielle’s worst marks came from Graham Oswick from England who awarded them 3 thirds in the cha, samba & paso. Second overall wen to Artur Tamavskyy & Anastasia Danibva and they placed second in 4 dances and third in the jive. Artur & Anastasia’s work was very interesting, not sure all judges would be taken by their interpretation but we in Dance Beat thought it was very unique and clever. Francesco Bertini & Sabrina Manzi were third overall 3,3,3,3,2. Here was a no nonsense Latin performance, just lots of rhythm and musicality. Had they broken the mold a little bit, we think they could have easily place much higher.
Fourth in this excellent Amateur heat was awarded to Eugeny Raev & Patrycja Csolak who took fourth in all dances. Fifth went to Stanishlav Engelgardt & Tania Vasilyeva 6,5,5,6,5, and last but not least in sixth place were Jason Dai & Sasha Nissengolts 5,6,6,5,6.
Although it was a difficult night on the floor for the judges we are sure, it was a terrific night of dance for the audience and for the prestige of the Holiday Dance Classic that continues to be the number one location to finish the competition year. Congratulations to the organizers!
Unexpected Xmas Story!
Last night there was an unexpected Xmas story at the Holiday Dance Classic, in the Professional Rising Star ranks.
It had been a wonderful full day of Pro/Am Latin, where like all the other days past we were able to witness some terrific Pro/Am scholarships. All the divisions down to the senior levels had been extremely good. The afternoon concluded with the prize presentation for the Open Scholarships.
We saw our first gentleman winner in the Open A Latin, Jacub Tsai w/ Yulia Kuznetsova. It was a tight race however, with Jacob placing 1,1,2,3,3. Second went to Sabrine Strasser w/ Stanislav Kochergin 2,2,3,1,2 and another of the 1st places went to Vera Wei Xu w/ Jakub Zeglin who scored 4,3,4,4,1 to take 3rd overall. 4th spot fell to Saina Hadden w/ Daniele Gozzi 3,4,5,2,4. And the last of those elusive 1st places went to Tanya Durbin w/ Marcus Johnson 5,5,1,5,5 for a 5th place finish overall. 6th was Zoe Antinou w/ Andre Strinadko.
Maria Seragou w/ Dimitrios Damalas was the winner of the Open B scoring 2,1,1,3,2. Svetlana Van Tassel w/ Andrey Tarasov took the runner-up spot with 1,1,2,1,1 and Nathalie Belanger w/ Genya Bartashevich was 3rd, 3,3,2,1,3. From here down the judges were more decide in this 8-couple final. 4th Marialisa De Gasperis w/ Kamil Studenny 4,4,4,4,4; 5th Anna Poberetsky w/ Andre Strinadko 5,5,5,5,6; 6th Kim Porter w/ Tomasz Wlodarski 6,6,6,6,7; 7th Khong Pham w/ Jessie Mineau 8,8,7,8,5; 8th M’Balia Tagoe-Guzman w/ Nikolay Voronovich 7,7,8,7,8.
Beverly Moore w/ Alain Doucet became our 3rd repeat winner as she added the Open C Latin to the Open C Smooth she won the day before. Beverly placed 2,3,2,1,1. 2nd place went to Rhonda Lynch w/ Stephen McCann 1,1,3,3,2 and 3rd was Tammy Knight w/ Oleksii Lytvyn 3,2,1,2,3. Again, the second half of the final was more decided. Linda Zhao w/ Jean Paul was 4th, 4,4,4,4,5; 5th Deborah Leibow w/ Slava Gorbunov 6,5,6,5,4; 6th Iris Chiang w/ Evgeny Nazarov 5,6,5,6,6.
So “twas the night before Christmas” – well not exactly and in fact plenty was stirring!
The first of the Rising Star events was the Professional Rising Star Ballroom. This event started with a quarter final round and Vladimir Shakhov & Ekaterina Popova were the clear victors winning all dances. Second went to Stefano DiBrino & Bianka Zubrowska and they placed 3,2,2,2,2. Yuriy Nartov w/Sarika Hudson were third overall 2,3,3,3,3.
The RS Rhythm also started with a quarter and here Shandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov were declared the overall winners by winning four dances and placing second in the swing. The swing went to Riccardo Papi & Sabrina Moretti who placed second in the remaining dances. Third in this Rising Star event was awarded to Eddie Rivera & Meghan McNash, and they took third in all dances.
As an intermission, like in every good Xmas story, we had an excellent Amateur Ballroom event. Here the clear winners for us and for the judges were Andres & Veronika End who won all dances. Second was awarded to Marek Klepadlo & Liana Bakhtiarova and they placed second in all dances, leaving third to Angelo Gaetano & Clarissa Morelli who took all thirds.
But all did not end with the Amateurs, the second part of this Professional Rising Star evening, as if it was properly orchestrated had for us the most exiting two finals of the night - the Pro Rising Star Latin and Smooth. In the Latin we had a well-known Pro/Am dancer, Cheyenne Murillo, dancing for the first time as a professional. This transition from Pro/Am to professional is not unusual, we’ve had plenty of those in the past. However, it was as always very unexpected especially since Cheyenne’s transitional partner continued to be her Pro/Am teacher who is now her partner, Sasha Altukhov. We must say that this was an excellent transition since they won the Rising Star competition by taking first in four dances and second in the samba. In some ways we could say that their performance was still a little green but full of energy and to most judges, a winning performance. We are sure that this green performance will ripen into a fabulous combination for years to come in the open level.
Second in this Professional Latin Rising Star heat wen to Simeon Stoynov & Kora Stoynova who won the samba and placed second in the other four dances. We must also say that this was perhaps the best performance we have seen from this couple so far. And finally in third position were Adam Katona & Bella Gubzheva and they placed third in all five dances.
Our Xmas story concludes with a fantastic end in the Professional Rising Star Smooth category where six very talented couples were called for the final all looking beautiful and in good form. In the end Slava Stefanov & Jessica McMorrow from Washington, placed third in all dances, leaving the second place position to a Canadian couple who not long ago were one of Canada’s finest Latin couples and who just about six months ago decided to take on this Smooth challenge, Dmitry Ilyushenov & Kateryna Stytsenko, they placed second in three dances and first in the foxtrot. Dmitry & Katerina were lovely last night and well deserving of their placement, however, we should never know what would have happened if the new Rising Star Smooth Champions, Mariusz Zakrzewski & Lynnsay Ray had not had to miss their foxtrot due to a costume malfunction – to say the least! Yes you heard it right, this is not a story this is the truth. During their excellent performance he or she got caught in the dress - he fell down and she was so tangled up in the dress she could not “tango on” (to quote Al Pacino) A tug-of-war began between her and the desperate audience that were trying to pull her out of her entanglement. At one point several people were tugging and trying to cut her out of her dress to the point that she began to cry knowing her foxtrot was nearly over. The music man tried going a little longer but it was no use, her dress half torn off, won the night. In the end a bystander showed up with some scissors and Lynnsay was released but it was too late, she only danced about a quarter of the foxtrot apparently good enough for the judges who awarded her second overall. Only one judge felt compelled to award these lovely dancers a first place mark and that was Toni Redpath and so their marks in this dance varied from first to last.
After this unusual struggle was over, the lady returned with more than half her dress gone but graciously they continued and not only won the VW but won the competition overall, giving us all an unforgettable Xmas story to tell about the Holiday Classic last night. You could feel the emotions from the judges and down to the audience when they were called out the winners overall. It was great for all present and a night that I was glad to witness from beginning to end.
At the end the celebrations continued in our little suite where all the conversation one way or another went in that direction. So even the mice were all running around feeling great about the judges, the audience, the competitors and even the organizers who worked very hard to put this excellent Holiday competition together for us all to enjoy.
The Holiday Went Smoothly!
Yesterday it was a full day (and we do mean full – 7 AM – 11:45 PM), of pro-am Smooth dancing here at Holiday Classic. As usual the culminating events were the Open Pro-Am Scholarships.
Interestingly we saw 2 repeat wins from the day before’s Rhythm scholarships – Brittany Winek w/ Eric Hudson was again victorious in the A division as was Susan Sidman w/ Gleb Makarov in the B.
Brittany won all dances in the A with a slim majority of 1st places in all dances. Irene Lee w/ Nick Cheremukhin was 2nd in all 4, but surprisingly did not pick up many 1st place marks from the judges. Kelly Morikawa w/ Jonathan Atkinson was 3rd 3T,3,3,3. 2 judges of the 7 awarded Kelly 1st place in the VW – the most received by anyone other than the winner. Jacqueline Bequette w/ David Estrada was 4th, 3T,4,4,4; Matt Chambers w/ Lorena Bravo 5th in all dances; Alexandra Weiss 6th in all and Jennifer Williamson 7th in all.
Susan had no trouble winning the B, she received every available 1st place mark but 1. Congratulations! Joanne Tatum was the runner-up in all dances and she received every 2nd place mark except for a 1st place from Jim Maranto in foxtrot. 3rd in all dances was Zhuojing Liu w/ Gene Bersten, 4th in all Victoria Chiang w/ David Estrada and 5th in all Jeff Kissell w/ Anne-Marie Patterson.
Beverly Moore w/ Alain Doucet was the winner of the C division, the largest of the Open Scholarships danced over 3 rounds. Beverly placed 2,1,1,1. The 1st in waltz went to Sue Eldred w/ Artem Plakhotnyi, 1,2,2,2. The next three places were the tightest contest. Janice Smith w/ David Weise took the 3rd spot, 3,3,4,3. Michael Roybal w/ Inna Berlizyeva was 4th, 4,6,3,4; Monica Broch w/ Kris Suakjian was 5th, 5,4,5,5 and Diane Best w/ Alyosha Anatoliy was 6th.
Today is another busy day with the pro-ams moving on to the Latin style plus some professional divisions begin.
Vegas has Rhythm!
Last night the day and a half of Rhythm competitions concluded with the heavily contested Open Pro/Am Rhythm Scholarships. Every heat from beginning to end had quarters, semis and even 8-couple finals.
The “A” categories were very contested but only five couples made it to the final of this fully energized contest and in the end Brittany Winek partnered by Eric Hudson took first in all dances. Nicole Huerta w/Edwin Torres took all seconds and Ann Shaw w/Daniel Lee Tran was third in every dance. Fourth and fifth places in this category had more competition. Here Paula Darlas w/Sean Brunell took fourth in four dances and placed fifth in the swing, leaving Alexandra Weis with the swing fourth but fifth in the other four dances.
The most challenging Rhythm Scholarship was the “C” division where Nancy Lam w/Alexander Ivanov won overall. In this heat Nancy won four dances and placed second in the swing. Nancy Rapoport w/Sergiy Shapoval won the swing but was not as consistent as the winning lady in the other dances. Nancy placed second in the C,R,B and third in the mambo. Third was even more contested, here Heather Petros w/Fonzie Zapata took third overall but her marks were all over 4,4,3,3,2. Dana Voigt w/Randy Wilson placed fourth 3,6,4,4,4, leaving Evelyn Lamden w/Daniel Vasco holding fifth 5,5,5,6,5. Sixth in the overall event was awarded to Diana Best w/Alosha Anatoliy and these are her scores - 6,3,6,5,6.
The “B” division decision was not as divided. The two ladies on top got the judges attention. Here Susan Sidman w/Gleb Makarov won three dances and placed second in two, the rumba, and mambo. M’balia Tagoe-Guzman w/Mariusz Zakrzewski was second overall but managed to steal the two firsts from Susan, placing 2,1,2,2,1. From here down every placement was clear. Jacqueline Bequette w/Daniel Lee Tran was third in all dances, Bernadette Straatsma w/Felipe Telona Jr, got all fourths, Sandy Overly w/Adrian Lomeli took all fifths and Jeff Kissell w/Anna-Marie Patterson placed all sixths. Tonight the scholarships continue but this time in the Smooth categories, we are looking forward to some excellent dancing and interesting results.
The Holiday Dance Classic here in Las Vegas, Nevada continues to be one of our favorite events of the year and on that note the dancing calendar for 2014 finishes for many, leaving us wanting more, a wonderful trampoline and transition to 2015.