Dance Beat Team
A Study in Red & White!
Saturday in Provo
Red was a popular color for the ladies last night in the Marriott Center. Although generally not so much in demand for ballroom gowns, there was a lot of red on the floor, including 3 dresses in the final.
As in the Latin the night before, the Amateur Ballroom was danced over 5 rounds before an audience that was larger than the night before. While the ballroom perhaps did not generate quite the excitement we saw in the Latin, it was still, in the words of one judge after the event, “the best overall quality event (in this style) for the past 8 years or so.”
Once again the semifinal was a tough round for the judges, although to us it seemed that the choice for the final six was clearer than in the Latin, although there were perhaps one or two couples that could have also claimed a spot.
The duel for the Championship remained as it was in 2014 – between the two giants (both the gentlemen stand well over 6’) of this division – Andres & Veronica End and Oskar Wojciechowski & Karoline Holody. What made this a little more interesting is that these two have not been head to head since this time last year as Karoline has been recovering from a foot injury. As it turned out tonight, Andres & Veronica were the winners as they were in 2014. Tonight they won all dances and had the majority of 1st places in 4 dances. In the VW they had 8 firsts to Oskar & Karoline’s 7. Andres & Veronica received mostly 1st and 2nd places, only judge Ken Sloan placed them lower, awarding them two 4th places and a 3rd place. Oskar and Karoline also received mostly 1st and 2nd places although they did get a smattering of lower marks and judge Shirley Ballas ranked them 5,4,6,5,6. Although they are of similar stature, these two couples have very different styles and we look forward to more battles throughout the year.
The rest of the final was more closely fought with marks going everywhere. Coming out in 3rd place overall were Luca Balestra & Krizia Balestra 4,3,4,3,3. They stood out as the couple with the most aggressive style in the final (or the competition for that matter), and as expected, we thought tango was by far their best dance. In fact both Igor Litvinov and Ken Sloan placed them 1st in this dance and we can understand why. Ruslan Kalyuzhnyy & Kseniya Sovenko were 4th, 3,5,3,4,4. They are the antithesis to the couple above them showing soft, willowy dancing that fares well in the swing dances.
The newest couple to this division, Angelo Gaetano & Clarissa Morelli were 5th 5,4,5,5,5. We were a little disappointed with their showing in the final. They were stronger the week before at Vegas Open. Perhaps it was the Provo altitude? Closing this final were Marek Klepadlo & Liana Bakhtiarova with 6th in all dances, but certainly in the general mix as they received scores as high a 2nd.
Running opposite the Amateur Ballroom once again was the Junior II US Championship, this time in the Latin style. The result gave us a “switcheroo” at the top. Last night’s runners-up in the Ballroom were the winners tonight in the Latin. Yusif Amsatr & Naomi Spektor won all dances tonight, but only cha cha and paso with the majority of 1st places. We thought they were the best couple tonight. Erik Linder & Rickie Taylor, last night’s winners, took 2nd in all dances. It was also a “switcheroo” for 3rd placed Kristers Smits & Sophie Shvartsman who fared far better in the Junior II than they had earlier in the day in the Junior I. They placed 3rd tonight with 3,3,3,3,4. D’Angelo Castro & Amanda Carbarjeles were 4th 4,4,4,4,3, and gave a more mature performance than we have seen from them in the past. Max Firestein & Nicole Mitchedilidza were 5th, 6,5,5,5,5 and Carter Williams & Anika Baker were 6th 5,6,6,6,6.
Here’s what’s interesting here. Just a few hours before Carter & Anika were the winners of the Junior I placing 1,2,1,2,1, whereas Kristers & Sophie took 2nd 2,1,2,1,2. Obviously it was a different judging panel and these two young and talented couples have very different styles. 3rd in this division were Kevin Filipczak & Elizabeth Gotovsky 3,3,3,3,3. We really liked the mature style of this duo. Another rapidly improving couple, Jonas Terleckas & Ruby Castro were 4th, 4,4,4,4,4. Audence darlings, Tyler Li & Anjelica Lowe were 5th 5,5,5,5,5; Timofei Plekhanov & Dascha Jayne Wright were 6th, 6,6,6,6,7 and Anthony Tedesco & Katya Ivahno-Kalinuka were 7th 7,7,7,7,6.
Patrick Plozasj & Anna Kazmarski became double champions here as they also won the US National Youth Ballroom Championship to add to the U/21 Title they already had. Results to follow.
Austin Josen & Nino Dzneladze were the runaway winners of the US U/21 Latin Championship losing only 3 first place marks from a total of 45. We thought they could have been included in the final of the Open Amateur the night before, so we were not surprised by this success. 2nd spot went to Vladisalv Kvartin & Anna Maria Prokopovicova 2,3,2,2,2 and 3rd to the winners of the Youth Latin, Bumchin Tegshjargal & Michelle Klets 3,2,3,4,4. 4th went to Yevgenii Orlov & Marina Yerina 5,5,4,3,3; 5th Ryan Raffloer & Hanna Sverdlov 4,4,6,5,6; 6th Eric Ascione & Grace Anderson 6,6,5,6,5.
The US National Amateur Cabaret Championship is always a highlight, but this year we were disappointed that there were only 4 entries, although all were of good quality. Each of the top 3 couples missed one lift keeping things nice and even! The new champions are Josh David & Kelli Foster who performed a delightful “modern dance” piece with some nicely executed high-risk lift work. The runners-up performed in a more traditional “ballroom adagio” style and again had some well executed lift-work, Benjamin Ralph & Kayci Treu. A previous 2-time champion, Trevor Guthrie now dancing with his wife Emily, was 3rd and they also performed in a “modern dance” vein. 4th were Logan Barnes & Natalie Savage.
For the Pre-Teens it was Latin day. The US National Pre-Teen II Championship went to Alex Sarkisian & Beanna Dzhaniashvilli 2,2,1,1,1. 2nd Easton Brotherson & Rylee Arnold 1,1,2,2,4; 3rd Kristian Alexander Evstigneev & Victoria Sepishvilli 6,4,3,3,2; 4th Matthew Bezzant & Kennedy Miller 4T,6,4,5,3; 5th Griffin Cooney & Josephne Taylor 4T,5,5,5,4,5; 6th Freddie Kleynburg & Elizabeth Shapshal 3,3,6,6,6.
The winners of the Pre-Teen I Latin had also won the ballroom the day before and they were Daniel Novikov & Natalina Chen (The rest of the result coming soon).
Watch out for reports of many of these divisions from our expert Dance Beat contributors. All coming soon in the members’ section. So be sure to subscribe!
A Night with Wow Factor!
Friday night at the US National Amateur Championships (run under license from American Ballroom Company) in Provo was a night to make you go, “Wow!”
The headline event was the Amateur Latin and we had 5 rounds of great dancing. The finalists from 2014 who were here received a by from the first round. Right from the start it was clear that every progression from round to round was going to be a challenge. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the semifinal where it seemed to us and to most of the judges that almost any one of the 12 couples could make the final. In fact we were only one mark away from having a 7-couple final and then one more from an 8-couple final.
But in the end 6 couples were selected. The champions from 2014 were able to easily retain their title winning all dances with a clear majority of 1st places – Ferdinando Iannaccone & Yulia Musikhina. While they were clearly the winners they did not in fact receive perfect scores in any on the dances. The two judges who clearly did not favor them were Valentina Kostenko who scored them 6,6,6,6,6 and Wendy Johnson with 5,5,4,4,4. For the rest they received an occasional 2nd and the rest 1st places. Speaking with some observers after the event, the only complaint we heard about this couple was that they spent too much time playing to the very vocal audience and not enough time dancing.
2nd in all dances went to Pasha Pashkov & Daniella Karagach. They had the majority of ‘2nd or better’ scores in all dances but they also had some detractors on the judging panel, most noticeable were Eugene Katsevman, Ron Montez and Allan Tornsberg who all scored them in the lower half of the final.
It was a good night for Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabriella Sabler who took 3rd overall with 3,3,4,4,4 in a tight race with one of our favorites of the night, Tal Livshitz & Ilana Keselman who scored 4,4,5,3,3. Both of these couples were on form tonight!
In 5th place were Artur Tarnovskyy & Anastasia Danilova (5,5,6,5,5). After a rather lackluster semifinal round, from our perspective, they stepped it up for the final. Closing the final 6,6,3,6,6 were the always elegant Alexey & Vlada Karaulov.
This was the first competition where many of these amateurs danced to the new, slower NDCA tempi. We wonder how they liked them?
The new champions in the US National Junior II Ballroom that shared the billing with the Amateur Latin are Erik Linder & Rickie Taylor who won all dances with the majority of 1st place marks. They have a nice soft style. We were also very impressed with the runners-up, Yusif Amsatr & Naomi Spektor, who were 2nd in all dances. The judges were undecided with this couple as they received 1st to 4th place in all dances. 3rd tonight were Murat Medzhidov & Valerie Dubinsky 3,3,3,3,3; 4th were Kristers Smits & Sophie Shvartsman 4,4,4,4,4; 5th Tyler Li & Anjelica Lowe 6,6,5,5,5 and 6th Daniel Melnik & Maria Volski 5,5,6,6,6.
During the daytime, the premier event was the US National U/21 Ballroom. This resulted in an easy win for Patryk Ploszaj & Anna Kaczmarski who won all dances with almost all the 1st places. The only judge to seriously disagree was Ken Sloan who scored them 3,2,3,2,4. Michael Vorobiev & Sonya Tsekanovsky were 2nd in all dances, Samuel Hacke & Katarina Hermanova were 3rd in all. With 4,5,5,4,5, Florin Vlad & Natalia Linda O’Connor were 4th; Stanislav Pavlov & Sandra Spernacka were 5th 5,4,4,5,6 and Gregory Rybakov & Ellen Anshelevich were 6th 6,6,6,6,4.
Running opposite this U/21 event was the US National Junior I Ballroom Championship. Kristers Smits & Sophie Shvartsmann in their 1st final of two they made today were the winners in all dances and they had the majority of 1st places in all dances. Also in two finals on the day, Tyler Li & Anjelica Lowe took 2nd here with 3,2,2,2,2. Jonas Terlekas & Ruby Castro were 3rd with 2,3,3,3,3. Timofei Plekhanov & Dascha Jayne Wright were 4th, 5,4,4,4,5; 5th Ivan Shneerson & Empria King 4,5,5,5,4; 6th Matvey Korsunkiy & Alisa Kashkeyvych 6,6,6,6,7; 7th Griffin Cooney & Josephine Taylor 7,7,7,7,6.
The Pre-Teen divisions were smaller, but both the US National Championships in Pre-Teen I and Pre-Teen II Ballroom were held today. The winners of the Pre-Teen I were Daniel Novikov & Natalina Chen 1,1,2,1,1. 2nd went to Daniel Shtem & Avital Ayzerov 3,3,1,2,2; 3rd Daniel Evstigneev & Angelica Gloria Groysman 2,2,3,3,3; 4th Eric Kashkeyvych & Daria Andreyev 4,4,4,4,4; 5th Nathan Smith & Jocelyn Osmond 5,5,5,5,5.
Griffin Cooney & Josephine Taylor moved up from their 7th place in the Junior I to win the Pre-Teen II Ballroom, placing 1,1,1,1,2. Runners-Up were Kristian Aleksander Evstigneev & Victoria Sepiashvilli 2,2,2,2,1. 3rd were Gabriel White & Lyubov Morgan 3,5,3,3,4; 4th Dave Firestein & Nicole Shterm 5,3,4,4,3; 5th Freddie Kleynburg & Elizabeth Shapshal 4,4,5,6,7; 6th Andrew Keck & Nicole Ascione 6,6,6,5,6; 7th Sam Peyton & Gem Hersh 7,7,7,7,5.
Xingmin & Katerina Lu were again the Champions in the US National Senior I Ballroom winning all 5 dances with the majority of 1st places. 2nd today were Thomas Yin & Kelly Cheng who also placed 2nd in all dances. 3rd in all were Turtle Brennen & Regina Paregis. 4th Gene Tseng & Hui Zhang 4,5,5,4,4; 5th Denis Kojinov & Jeanette Chevalier 6,4,4,5,5; 6th Lars & Holly Linder 5,6,6,6,6. Lars & Holly also won the Senior II Ballroom Championship.
Winners and runners-up in the championship divisions all received cash from the NDCA to assist in their travel to the WDC Amateur League World Championships that are always held in Paris, France during December.
Stay tuned for more results from the Saturday sessions here in Provo.
Building Up Steam!
The United States National Amateur Championships in Provo, Utah are building up steam with great dancing and fabulous competition!
Last night at the BYU Marriott Center Sports Arena the competition began to heat up with the United States National Amateur Smooth Championships. After a number of rounds the competition came to a finish with six couples in the lead. The competition was hard fought and the winners, Trevor & Emily Guthrie, won all dances, however, they did not win any dance with a majority of firsts. The closest they came to a majority of firsts was in the foxtrot and Viennese Waltz where they took 9 firsts out of the 19 judges assigned to this task. Their two worst marks came from Igor Litvinov and Erminio Stefano. Igor awarded them a sixth in the foxtrot and Erminio a sixth in the VW, but their overall lowest scores were awarded to them by Rita Algarra who awarded Trevor & Emily all fifths and a fourth in the tango.
Collin Williams & Ashley Nixon were the runners-up overall but not in all dances, they placed second in the foxtrot and VW but third in the waltz and tango. Their worst marks came to them from Erminio Stefano who placed them sixth in three dances but when it came to their VW he thought they were the best by far and awarded them a first. Third overall was awarded to Aaron Holmes & Katelyn Holmes. Here the judges were very undecided they awarded them 4th in the waltz, 2nd in the tango, and third in the other two dances.
Charlie & Emily Roberts were fourth overall placing 2nd in the waltz and fourth in the other four dances. In looking at the marks we are not really sure the judges knew what to do with this couple. In the waltz their best overall performance, they got a potpourri of marks from first to sixth place, that was a tremendous variety. In the tango five judges though they should have won that dance and awarded them five firsts, their foxtrot was the only dance where they only got one first.
Fifth overall went to Sterling & Nicole Stolle and they placed fifth in every dance, and in sixth position was Adam Coker & Kyla Zenger and they took sixth in every dance.
So far this afternoon, a highlight has been the US National Youth Latin Championship an event that started with over 80 couples. The final was great and had the judges in a quandary.
The winners were Bumchin Tegshjargel & Michelle Klets and they won all dances but not all judges agreed. They had the majority of 1st places (5) in the jive only. In the samba they only received 1 first place but still won the dance. Nadia Eftedal and Mary Murphy, were the two judges who scored them in the lower half of the final.
All the seconds went to Mike Monokandilios & Sophia Brodsky. They had some 1st places in all dances – the most in samba and jive (4), but again they had some judges scoring them in the lower half of the final. 3rd spot in all dances went to who we had considered the favorites going into the event, Kinsley Lin & Michelle Yiu. But this was not their day from the judges’ perspective. 4th fell to Jacob Murillo & Sydney Tormey 4,4,4,5,5; 5th to Eric Ascione & Grace Anderson 5,5,5,4,4; 6th Robert McShinsky & Peyton Munson 6,6,6,6,6.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the exciting US National Amateur Latin and much more!
A Lot of Everything!
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Saturday offered a lot of everything at Vegas Open – a lot of great dancing, a lot of people and a lot of partying!
The vibrant night session featured the 4 open professional divisions and 2 open amateur. We saw US champions and finalists in almost all of the divisions. It’s hard to pick a “best of” so let’s just look at them in order of performance. All pro divisions were semifinals.
First up was the ballroom – now called the Brian Puttock Award in memory of the much loved US Icon who passed away last year. Sue Puttock was there to judge and present the award and the organizers of the Vegas Open also presented her with an achievement award.
Artem Plakhotnyi & Inna Berlizyeva won all 5 dances and had a clear majority of 1st places in all dances. Also clear was the runners-up position that went to Mikhail Avdeev & Olga Blinova who had the majority of ‘2nd or better’ scores in all dances. Perhaps the most interesting race was for 3rd place and this went to Iaroslav Bieliel & Olga Tsikalyuk who scored 4,4,3,3,3. They had scores all over the board including all 7th placements from 2 judges, Jennifer Booth and Mark Weiss. We really liked their performance tonight, but were startled by the announcement following the results (see below). The other half of this race was Andrew Begunov & Anna Demidova who placed 3,3,4,4,4. They received 1st placements in all dances (unlike Iaroslav & Olga who received no 1st placements). One judge, Sharon Savoy, placed Andrey & Anna 1st in all 5 dances. 5th in all dances went to Oscar Pefrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova; 6th were Richard Tonizzo & Clare Hansen 6,7,6,6,6 and 7th, Stefano DiBrino & Bianka Zubovska
Watch out for Igor Litvinov’s report on this division in Dance Beat soon.
At the conclusion of the presentation for this division Olga Tsikalyuk announced her retirement from professional competition, we were somewhat surprised to see her go, but wish her all the best in her future endeavors.
Next up was the Rhythm and here we had an obvious form winner in Andre & Natalie Paramonov and they did indeed win all dances with the majority of 1st places. The closest race was surprisingly in the bolero, what we consider one of their better dances. In this dance they had 9 first places out of a possible 16. The couple pushing them the hardest was Danas Jaksevicious & Yuki Haraguchi who were US finalists in 2013 but were off the floor throughout most of 2014. They were 2nd in all dances and had 5 first places in cha cha, swing and bolero. 3rd, with 3,3,4,3,3, were Ivan Dishliev & Marietta Nedyalkova. They received two 1st places marks, both from Ken Sloan. Riccardo Papi & Sabrina Moretti were 4th, 4,4,3,4,4. We thought this was a particularly relaxed and rhythmic performance from these two. Aaron & Iryna DeSoto were 5th, 5,5,5,6,5, and Ryan Lockhardt & Danelle Newman were 6th, 6,6,6,5,6.
Carolina Orlovsky-Telona will have a report on this division.
The only reigning US Champions in attendance were Peter & Alexandra Perzhu in the Smooth and they were the easy winners taking the vast majority of 1st places in all dances, 14 out of 15 in the waltz. The only other couple to take some firsts were Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija who were 2nd in all dances. Kyle & Allie Spinder took 3rd in all dances and Evgeniy Malko & Anna Shabazyan were 4th in all, the latter couple looking measurably more together since we last saw them. 5th in all dances went to Mariusz Zakreski & Lindsay Ray whose energetic performance was softened somewhat since we last saw them. 6th in all dances went to Peter Hahn & Jude Coraldi and 7th were Kyle & Christina Campbell.
Elizabeth Knoll will have the full report for Dance Beat.
We had another easy winner in the Latin. Andrey Tarasov & Yulia Kuznetsova showed us their crisp, accurate dancing to take the overwhelming majority of 1st places. Only 1 judge, Sharon Savoy, demurred, placing them 5,5,5,5,2. The partnership of Sasha Althukov & Cheyenne Murillo were 2nd in all dances. It is amazing to think that this young lady was so recently dancing pro-am. Well done! Sergiy Kvashyn & Olga Ginzburg were 3rd in all dances and really gave a great performance. This man has such a lithe and rhythmic body. One judge, Chantal Leclerc, placed them to win 1,1,1,2,1. 4th in all dances fell to Pavel Balykin & Meaghan Mendoza; 5th were Simeon & Kora Stoynov 5,6,6,5,5 and 6th, Maxim Kapitanikov & Natalia Fridmanovich 6,5,5,6,6.
Giocomo Steccaglia & Melissa Dexter will report on this division for Dance Beat.
The Open Amateur Ballroom gave us a good competition for 1st place. NDCA US Champs, Andres & Veronika End held on and won all dances but they were pushed hard by recent immigrants, Angelo Gaetano & Clarissa Morelli in waltz where both couples took 4 1st places and by Marek Klepadlo & Liana Bakhtiarova in the foxtrot. Angelo & Clarissa were 2nd overall 2,2,2,3,2 and Marek & Liana were 3rd overall, 3,3,3,2,3. Ruslan Kalyuzhnyy & Kseniya Sovenko were 4th in all dances, 5th went to Jonathan & Hannah Baily 5,6,5,5,5 and 6th Tyler Wilson & Annie Seeley 6,5,6,6,6.
For us on the sidelines, the Amateur Latin was the hardest to call, but the judges had fairly clear winners. Francesco Bertini & Sabrina Hanzi won all dances, all but rumba with a majority of 1st placements. 2nd in all dances were Ron & Liza Garber. With 3,4,3,3,3, Andrey Voloshko & Kateryna Kyrylenko took 3rd. We had never seen this couple before. They started very strongly in the semifinal but faded somewhat in the final. 4th were Teleryck Iankiev & Natella Devitskaya 4,3,5,5,4. We were a little surprised at those 5th placements for this couple. 5th were Stepan Yeritsyan & Nadia Kyrylenko 5,5,4,4,5 (Nadia also competed as a pro-am) and 6th, Trevor & Emilie Guthrie.
The Pro-Am Open Scholarships closed the afternoon session and were some of the strongest pro-am divisions of the week. Sincha Sincahoen w/ Max Sinitsa won the A. Division 1,1,1,2. 2nd and 3rd in this division were decided by a Rule 10 tiebreak. Kelly Morikawa w/ Jonathan Atkinson was the runner-up with 4,2,3,1 over Natalie Rezai w/ Slawek Sochacki 2,3,2,3.
Joanne Smith w/ Sharon Levit was the easy winner in the B, taking all dances with clear majorities. 2nd was Joanne Tatum w/ Mariusz Zakrzewski 2,2,2,2 and 3rd, Susan Haynes w/ Sergey Nekrasov 3,3,3,4.
Rising star, Sophia D’Angelo w/ Ilya Reyzin won the C taking all dances with clear majorities. 2nd was Sue Eldred w/ Artem Plakhotnyi 3,3,3,2 and 3rd Charlotte Carey w/ Kostadin Bidjourov 4,2,2,5.
In a tradition begun last year, the evening concluded with a rowdy party featuring Brent Mills, Mark Weiss, Eddie Melendez and organizer Mikal Watkins in an all star band for dancing and singing. Paul Holmes even led the ensemble in a British version of “Ride Sally Ride.” Perhaps the open bar lent tune to his vocals?
This was the biggest year so far for the Vegas Open and we’re sure it will only continue to grow if today’s extravaganza is any indication!
Dancesport’s Busiest Day!
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In what we think may be the busiest day at a dancesport competition so far in 2015, Vegas Open began at 7:00 AM yesterday with barely a break until the end at around midnight. It was pro-am rhythm day and it was certainly all about rhythm yesterday. With many quarter-final and semifinal rounds at all levels.
For the professionals we switched to the international styles for the Rising Star divisions. Vlad Shahov & Ekaterina Popova were the winners of the Ballroom, taking 1st in all dances. They had the majority of 1st places in four dances but a couple were closer than we might have thought. They won the waltz 6 to 4 and the QS 7 to 5. There were 13 judges. They had mostly 1’s and 2’s but did pick up 5th place in all dances from judge, Linda Dean. Stefano Di Brino & Bianka Zubrovska were 2nd with 2,2,3,2,2 and they were the couple that took the majority of the 1st places not given to the winners. Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija were 3rd, 3,3,2,3,3, and they had 1st places in all dances except the QS. 4th were Christian Radvan & Kristina Kudelko 5,4,5,4,4; 5th Oleksiy Buravenko & Victoria Karzukhina 4,5,4,5,5; 6th Slava & Valeria Kostaniets.
Sasha Althukov & Cheyenne Murrillo were the easy winners of the Latin with a perfect score of 13 first places in the jive and samba and almost all firsts in the other dances. It was a much closer race for second resulting in a 3 to 2 decision. Maxim Kapitanikov & Natalia Fridmanovich were the victors placing 3,3,2,2,2 over Simeon & Kora Stoynov with 2,2,3,3,3. With 4,5,4,4,4 Oleksiy & Carley Lytvyn were 4th. Artjom Smigelju & Oxana Kashkina were 5th 5,4,6,6,5; Kirill Nikitin & Jenya Kanchukova were 6th 6,6,5,5,6 and Artyom Klimenov & Giulia Nuzio were 7th.
Kyle & Allie Spinder won the Open Pro Showdance.
The Open Pro-Am Scholarships were danced in the evening session. In the B, Elena Cormio w/ Edwin Torres won all 5 dances. 2nd went to Anush Boyajian w/ Mariusz Zakrzewski 2,2,2,3,2 and 3rd to Bernadette Straatsman w/ Felipe Telona Jr. 3,4,4,2,3.
Sophia D’Angelo w/ Ilya Rezin did a great job to win all dances in the Open C. 2nd place fell to Nancy Rappoport w/ Sergey Shapoval, again in all dances and 3rd went to Pat Bodin w/ Antonio Conde, 3,4,3,3,4.
A very strong Nadia Kireyko w/ Daniel Vasco won all dances in the A followed by Jessica Sweeney w/ Jeremy Piling with all 2nd’s. 3rd in all was Nicole Huerta w/ Edwin Torres.Today is all about the Smooth for the pro-ams with another 7:00 AM start and tonight we look frweard to all the Open Professional and Amateur divisions.
Vegas Open over 8,000
This year’s Vegas Open is the largest in its history with over 8,000 entries. The event began with the international styles – both ballroom and Latin – for the pro-ams. This was truly a full day of dancing.
The largest of the open scholarships in both styles were in the C divisions. The C Ballroom was the tightest event but the winner overall was Sally He w/ Enzo Zappia 3,2,2,1,1. Close behind was Deborah Errico w/ Dariusz Michalski 1,3,1,2,3. Taking the last of those 1st places and 3rd overall was Annie Chen w/ Denis Kutepov 4,1,3,3,2. Marina Sanchez Torres w/ Andrea Faraci was 4th, 2,4,4,4,4; Jeanine Cutter w/ Giocomo Agrello was 5th in all and Charlotte Carey w/ Kostadin Bidjourov was 6th. This began as a semifinal.
The A and B Ballroom divisions were both straight finals. Vinnie Miller w/ Denis Kutepov won all dances in the A. Runner up, also in all dances, was Irene Lau w/ Mikhail Avdeev, 3rd went to Chritine Yang w/ Mariusz Zakrzewski 3,3,3,4,3 and 4th to Jenica Kalisch w/ Raffaele Sabato 4,4,4,3,4.
Michelle Peng w/ Mikhail Avdeev won the B, placing 2,1,1,1,1. Erika Hristova w/ Artem Plakhotnyi won the waltz and was 2nd in the other 4 to take 2nd overall. Laura White w/ Andrea Faraci was 3rd 4,3,3,3,3; Joyce Lo w/ Guennadi Iakounine was 4th 3,4,4,4,4 and James Coltharp w/ Olga Chekhova was 5th.
In the C Latin Rhonda Lynch w/ Stephen McCann was a comfortable winner in all dances. Debbie Wright w/ Mark Baker took 2nd with 2,2,3,4,2. Sally He w/ Enzo Zappia added a 3rd place here to go with her win in the Ballroom, placing 3,3,2,2,3. 4th was Michael Roybal w/ Carly Lytvyn 4,4,4,3,4; 5th Janet Shemanske w/ Genadi Lulchev 5,5,6,5,6; 6th Olivia Hudson w/ Marcus Johnson 6,6,5,6,5.
Saina Hadden won all dances in the A, the smallest open scholarship of the night. 2nd went to Brittni Gonzalez w/ Ivan Dishliev 3,2,2,2,3 and 3rd to Vera Xu w/ Jakub Zeglin 2,3,3,3,2.
Cindy Mishlove w/ Vartan Zakhariants won all dances to take the B Latin. Colette Marotto w/ Oleksil Lytvyn was 2nd in all dances and Jennifer Chan w/ Denis Podolsky was 3rd in all. Joyce Lo w/ Guennadi Iakounine was 4th 4,4,4,4,5 and Olivia Hudson w/ Marcus Johnson was 5th 5,5,5,5,4.
There were also 2 Rising Star Professional events, both in American Style and both starting with semifinals. Aaron & Iryna DeSoto had a fairly easy time with the Rhythm, winning all dances with a clear majority of 1st places. We agreed with the judges that they were easily the best. 2nd spot went to Slash Sharan w/ Meghan Anderson 2,2,2,2,3 and 3rd to Jonathan Green w/ Rachel Neilson 3,3,3,3,2.
The Smooth was a little closer but the winners were Mariusz Zakrzewski & Lynnsay Ray, home town favorites. They won 3 dances and placed 2nd in foxtrot. They had the majority of 1st places in the 3 dances they won. Winners of the foxtrot were Adrian & Hannah Dydynski and they placed 2nd in the remaining 3 dances. 3rd spot in all dances fell to Slava & Valeria Kostaniets.
Today is even busier than yesterday with the pro-am Rhythm heats beginning at 7:00 AM and continuing throughout the day.
Are You “in love” with Platinum?
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.