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The Professional Smooth competition started with a healthy semifinal round and from the audience’s point of view the top three couples seduced us from the word go. Mazen Hamza & Izabella won all dances and took the prize home with the majority of firsts in all dances. Pat Traymore and Paul Huston were the only ones to not fall under their spell and awarded them third place marks, Pat in every dance and Paul in all but the waltz.
Our favorite couple and one that seduced us to the brink, placed second overall Max Sinitsa & Tatiana Seliverstova who took second in all dances. The work is still a little bit rough around the edges making it almost look awkward at times, but it is so unique and passionate that perhaps, as did some of the judges, we might have even given them first in a couple of dances, especially the tango. A few of the judges did fall to their spell especially Elena Kryuchkova who awarded them first in all dances. However, some of the judges might have been put out with the seduction. Paul Huston for one gave them a 4th in the waltz, Marianne Nicole awarded them a 5th in the VW but two firsts in the tango and foxtrot, and then there was Irina Sarukhanyan who gave them a 3rd in the waltz and a 4th in the foxtrot, one thing is for sure, by looking at the marks the judges had to really think and earn their money in this heat.
Third place went to another seductive couple, Jean Paul & Lana Rossi. From where we stood, especially in the Rhythm (they are a 9 dance couple) they were giving some of the audience heart palpitations and yes they won the Rhythm but they came a little short in the Smooth with a third place overall 3,4,3,3. Fourth in the Smooth went to another very accomplished couple Kris Suakjian & Briana Haft, 4,3,4,4 who danced quite well but did not manage to move the judges higher on their favor. Fifth place were Mykyta Serdyuk & Anna Krasnoshapka and they were fifth in every dance, sixth were Ilya Abdullin & Tara Barakov, and in seventh position were Matt Rivers & Maliwan Diemer.
As we just mentioned Jean Paul & Lana Rossi won the Professional Rhythm in every dance and had some of the audience going, but to our surprised when we looked at the marks Jean Paul & Lana only won the two dances with a majority of firsts, the cha cha and the bolero, the other dances were won with first or better. Mykyta Serdyuk & Anna Krasnoshapka took second overall 3,2,2,2,2, and Shandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov were third 2,3,3,3,3. Ilya Abdullin & Tara Barakov were fourth 5,4,5,4,4, Andrei Svirydzenka & Yuliya Zubava were fifth and sixth went to Jonathan Green & Rachel Grumblatt.
The Professional Ballroom for us was divided with upper and lower tiers, two couples stood out from the beginning and they were awarded first and second. Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova for us and the judges were the clear winners and they won with a majority of firsts in all dances. Emanuel & Francesca Pappacena took second in all dances and for us they were quite clear in this position, only a handfull of judges awarded them anything less than second. From here on for us and for the judges was not as clear Anatolii Repliuk & Ruslana Mamaysur who we thought would be a lot lower on the scale took third overall 3,4,3,4,3, Oleksiy Buravenko & Victoria Karzkhina who we thought could have easily placed third lost it by a dance and a ?, and placed fourth overall with the scores of 4,3,4,3,5. Kharyton & Anastasiya Khomenko were fifth in all dances but the quickstep where they placed 4th. The only clear placement in the lower tear was sixth, Manuel Trillo & Anna Belyavtsena who took sixth in all dances and Nenad Pavlovic & Anastasia Barhatova who were seventh.
The Professional Latin was also very interesting Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Shvets Nikishkin won four dances and took second in the Paso. Out of the four dances won only in two did they have a first majority and they were the cha cha and jive. We felt they were the secure winner, the work was very precise and solid. Second and possibly a favorite of the audience were Artur Tarnavskyy & Anastasia Danilova placing second in four dances and stealing the paso from the overall winners. With the exception of the rumba for us this couple was entertaining but at the moment unable to cross the finish line clearly. Their ideas are brilliant and we are sure in a future not too long from now, with work it will all fall into place, however on this night we totally agreed with the judges on a second place finish.
The sad moment in this excellent final was the third place solid finish of Roman Italyankin & Alexandra Bokova who placed third in all dances, we said sad because although Roman & Alexandra are excellent Latin dancers, they have been able to continue their steady climb to the top. Roman & Alexandra are both brilliant dancers but lack some creativity in their work, in this business once you reach the top layer you need to start owning it, meaning show some individuality that would take you stand out from the masses and separate you from the crowd. The two top couples in this final have shown us some of this, whether we reward the couple or not is unimportant at this level we need to separate the rising from the best and individuality plays a huge role at a high level of performance.
Speaking of individuality a couple that has a lot of it although could use some of the quality of the last couple mentioned is Riccardo Pacini & Sonia Spadoni who placed fourth overall. They are so different that they are hard to miss from the word go and in this final it was no different. With some hard work we see this couple as a future contender for higher placement. As you will see things got murkier when it came to fifth and sixth position. Aleksndr Lushnov & Maria Bavyko placed fifth overall 6,5,6,5,5, and Kharyton & Anastasiya Khomenko were sixth 5,6,5,6,6.
The daytime Saturday at Maryland was filled with pro/am events in the Smooth and Latin categories. One event that is totally worth a mention was the “C” Smooth Scholarship and here Michaela Puno w/Slava Sergiev won the event, placing first in all dances. Second in this excellent Smooth competition was Annette Burden w/Bill Graner and third went to Sheila Cosby w/Gabor Seres.
My congratulations to Ilya & Amanda Reyzin for putting on such a lovely event for us all. The after party last night was a blast with the “kareoke” and photo gallery machine. Congratulations on this excellent two-day event of interesting competitions and we look forward to it in future years to come.
Rising the Maryland!
Last night at the Maryland Dancesport all four of the professional rising star divisions were run and it was a fast paced night of entertainment. The Professional Rising Star Smooth and Rhythm had the most entries, both with healthy semifinal rounds.
The featured shows began with the Professional Smooth and here Mykyta Serdyuk & Anna Krasnoshapka won all dances. For us they seemed like the right choice of the night, however, when it came to the other positions things did not come out as we expected. Second were Shandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov who placed second in all dances. We were happy to see this couple on the floor once again this year, however, we felt them to be a little sluggish and perhaps needing to fully reenter and engage the style. We know they are a 9 dance couple and if only doing one style is hard, 2 styles is very difficult and no matter what people say the holidays always take a slight toll on one’s dancing - we know this by experience!!!
Third overall in the Pro Rising Star Smooth in all dances were Ilya Abdullin& Tara Barakov, Mat Rivers & Maliwan Diemer was fourth, fifth went to Aaron Talbert & Angela Maughan and sixth in all dances was awarded to Gabor Seres & Rebecca Gentry.
The Professional Rhythm was also well attended and here we too had a full semifinal round. We felt that this competition might have been harder for the judges to find the top “dog”, because the couples were so close in quality. However, at the end of the day Ilya Abdullin & Tara Barakov placed first in all dances. We were not surprised that they won all dances, however, for us the difference between them and the other couples was not a huge gap. Second overall went to Joanthan Green & Rachel Grumblatt taking second in all dances. Third was awarded to Slash Sharan & Rachel Sayotovich, 4,3,3,3,4. Here we were a little disappointed with their performance especially from Slash’s part of the deal. In the past with other partners he seemed to stand out from the crowd and on this occasion they were very difficult to find, and once found placed. Fourth place went to Jonathan Chen & Melissa Keller 3,4,4,5,5. We were very exited to see this couple last night it seems that every time we see them they continue to progress and get better and better. We felt that perhaps they could have been a little higher, in second position. Fifth place was awarded to Christopher Wayne & Juanita Simanekova, 5,5,5,4,3. A good performance for this couple but they go in and out, depending as to when you are looking at them - they are either brilliant or just going through the motions. Perhaps a little more rehearsal should be added to even their work. In sixth place in all dances was awarded to Alexander Zarek & Julia Vaysfeld.
There was four couples entered in the Rising Star Professional Latin, but in our opinion all four couples were worth the ticket. Riccardo Pacini & Sonia Spadoni won all the dances and were the best by far in our eyes. Kharyton & Anastasiya Khomenko placed second in all dances and for us too they were very deserving of this placement. Third position was given to what we think is a new import Aleksandr Lushnov & Maria Bavyko. They placed third in all dances and for us this couple was a mixed bag of interesting, unique and at times not very good. Aleksandr is a very rhythmical dancer, however, it can become a little overpowering making perhaps Maria hold back some. What we thought had a little humor was when they presented the award - Aleksandr’s face could not disguise his disappointment. This facial interpretation could be described as we just did but it could be construed as many other things as someone mentioned to us at the party - “did he really think he was the best??” Being new to this scene I hope they understand that here in the USA it’s all on the night and perhaps they should learn a very special expression here in America - “Don’t count the eggs before they are hatched.” Fourth in this Latin competition went to Zsolt Katona & Timea Potys and they took fourth in all dances.
The Professional Ballroom had the least amount of entries - two couples in total and here Anatolii Repliuk & Rusland Mamaysur won the event and all the dances. For us Anatolli & Rusland were very talented but with some major “ifs” - like their posture and dance position. Both were so extended it reminded us of the American Smooth in the 70’s when both partners used to pull way back from one another. We do think they have great potential and we look forward to seeing some of this very daring progressive work in future outings but hopefully with a little more control and better presentation. Second in this heat went to Kharyton & Anastasiya Khomenko.
During the day it was fully packed with pro/am dancing in the Ballroom and Rhythm categories. In the Ballroom the “C” division is totally worth a mention. It was an 8 couple final and winning all dances was Betty Yeh w/Enzo Zappia, second was Denise Layfield w/Emanuele Pappacena and third was awarded to Laura Solomon w/ Oscar Pedrinelli.
The “C” division in the Rhythm was also terrific and here 5 couples entered and the Maryland Dancesport scholarship went to Joan Goddard with Chris Johnston winning all dances. Second was Janice Stanton w/Clive Phillips and third was awarded to Sandy Buckholz w/Jonathan Green.
Tonight we look forward to the professional open events and some excellent pro/am Latin and Smooth scholarships. Tune in tomorrow to see what happened tonight.