Can-Am Dancesport Gala 2016

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Kamil & Anna Win Closed Canadian Latin

Once again last night, the closed Canadian Professional Championships were run in conjunction with the Can Am Gala Open events.

Kamil Studenny & Anna Pelypenko were the winners in the Latin. They won all dances. The event stated off closely in the beginning with 3 couples sharing the 1st places. Kamil & Anna were still the winners, although they did not have the majority of 1st places. From there they got stronger and won the remaining 4 dances with the majority. The only judge to place them significantly lower was Ralf Lepehne who scored them 4,4,4,3,3. 2nd went to Jean Philippe Milot & Laurence Bulduc 2,2,2,2,3. They actually had the same amount of 1st places as the winners in cha cha and although they picked up 1st’s in all dances, they had some 4ths as well. The third couple definitely in the mix was Ilya Maletin & Polina Maier 3,3,3,3,2. This slick couple is always one of our favorites. The only other couple to pick up an occasional 1st place was the new partnership of Richard Livshitz & Laura Robinson and they were 4th in all dances. 5th were Eyal Gleanz & Amanda Fleising 5,5,5,5,5 and 6th Steve Forrest & Bianca Izzo. This was an all-Canadian final so the result in the Open Cam Am event was the same.

The largest event of the night was the Professional Smooth. Here also a Closed Canadian Champion was decided and it was Dmitry Ilyushenov & Kateryna Stytsenko, the highest placed Canadian couple in the final of the open.

Two of the USA’s top contenders made the trip north for the Open Smooth and the win went to Mazen Hamza & Izabella, 1,2,1,1. Travis & Jaimee Tuft were the other high-profile couple in attendance and they were 2nd with 2,1,2,2. All the dances were scored tightly by the judges. Mazen & Izabella had a small majority in the 3 dances they won. The tango was very close with each couple receiving 6 first places. We were a little surprised that it was the tango that went to Travis & Jaimee as that was traditionally not one of their stronger dances, but as someone commented to me – “their dancing is really evolving lately.” And that’s true! Mazen & Izabella were also very much on form last night. It was a great duel. A Rule 11 tie separated 3rd and 4th, but the result went to Dmitry & Kateryna 3,4,3,4. The other half of the tie and in 4th place were Peter Hahn & Jude Coraldi from California. Kosta Trifunovic & Dinara Khayrulina were 5th in all dances and Canadians, Vadim & Alina Safonov were 6th.

Travis & Jaimee were also the winners of the Open Cabaret. The other two contestants were Canadian and so we also had a result for the Closed Canadian Championship. 2nd in the Open and so Closed Champions were Carlos Zapata & Dora Yaneva who performed their “Exorcist” routine. It was good to see Dora back on the floor following her injury. 3rd in the open and 2nd in the closed went to Luka Milacic-Perusina & Jenalyn Saraza-Pacheko.

James Cutler & Virginie Primeau (Canada) won the Open Amateur Ballroom and lost only 2 first places over the whole competition. Equally secure in the runners-up position were Florin Vlad & Natalia Linda O’Connor (USA). These two couples were well clear. 3rd were Simon Richard & Adriana Izzo 3,4,3,3,4; 4th Michael Rubezin & Nicole Vujanic 4,3,4,4,3; 5th Claude Guay & Ginette Beaulieu 5,5,5,5,5.

Each year the CanAm Gala gives a “Special Achievement” award and this year it went to the one and only Karina Smirnoff – the star of Dancing With The Stars and we think the only lady to make the final of the Open British Championships with 3 different partners. Fellow “Dancing with the Stars” alumni and former partner, Louis Van Amstel was also here as a judge and he led one of his “La Blast” line dances earlier in the evening. He also gave a full La Blast class in the morning.

The Can Am ended as it always does with the “Dancing Beyond the Stars” show assembled by Wendy Johnson. Several of the amateur and professional couples presented numbers and we were pleased that all of them had a special show style piece ready. The much anticipated judges’ routine was as always met with hilarity – perhaps a highlight was Urs Geisenhainer leading Gary Edwards (Ballroom Giant) in a tango to Pitbull’s “Fireball!”

Closed Canadian at the Can Am Dancesport Gala

This year the Can Am Dancesport Gala is also the host of the Closed Canadian Professional Championships.

This is the biggest year for some time for the Can Am, with a large uptick in entries, especially in the pro-am categories. Several of the Scholarship and championship divisions have semifinal rounds. And we think a positive note is that most of this increase is in entries from Canada denoting a rise in popularity for pro-am dancing in the host country. The organizers for the Can Am are John Karakis, Brigitt Mayer, Ann Harding-Trafford and joining the organizational team this year, Linda MacLaggan.

All the open professional divisions this year are being used to determine the official closed Canadian champions. Each division is run as the Can Am Open Professional Championships, but the Canadian couples’ placements are used to determine the Canadian Champions.

In the Ballroom last night all couples were Canadian so the result was the same for both the Open and Closed Championships. Anton Lebedev & Anna Borsche won and this was their 8th consecutive Closed Canadian title. It was almost a clean sweep of 1st places for them, in fact they lost only 2 first places and they were from judge, Paul Holmes in the VW and foxtrot. The runners-up, Richard Tonizzo & Clare Hansen received all the 2nd places plus Mr. Holmes 2 missing 1st places. 3rd in all dances were Steve Forrest & Bianca Izzo and 4th in all, Mathieu Casavant & Melanie Martin.

In the Open Rhythm there were some US couples participating, but the winners were Canadian and so were both the Open and Closed Champions and this was Boris Vdovine & Patricia Estay and they placed 1,1,1,2,1. They had the majority of 1st places in the dances they won, but it was quite close with the runners up Andrei Svirydzenka & Yuliya Zubava from the USA, 2,2,2,1,2. They had the majority of 1st places in bolero. Kosta Trifunovic & Dinara Khayrulina also from USA were 3rd in all dances. This is a new promising 9-dance partnership who won both the Rhythm & Smooth divisions the night before. 4th went to Dwight & Tersa Davis (USA) 4,4,4,4,4 and 5th to Mathieu Casavant & Melanie Martin (Canada) 5,5,5,5,5.

3 couples contested the Pro Showdance and the winners were from the USA. Travis & Jaimiee Tuft received 7 of the 11 available 1st places. 2nd went to Carlos Zapata & Sofia Skvirsky and 3rd to Luka Milacic-Perusina & Jenalyn Saraza-Pacheko

The Open Amateur Latin also took place last night and it was perhaps the most competitive heat of the night showcasing some of Canada’s hot young talent. Winners of all dances were Adam Hathazi & Morgana Lakatos-Hayward. We thought this couple’s dancing was infectious and wonderfully entertaining – clear winners tonight. They did receive clear majorities of 1st places in all dances. Only judge, Paul Holmes dissented, placing them 4th in all dances. 2nd spot went to Nurlan Gallyamov & Celeste Baily and they placed 3,2,2,2,3 but had the majority of “2nd or better” scores in only rumba and paso doble. Their competition came from Dima Chechkin & Yuliya Zakarieva who placed 3rd with 2,3,3,3,2. This was a very impressive young couple, new to us. 4th in all dances were Christopher Navas & Nicole Lerman, 5th in all Michael Rubezin & Nicole Vujanic and 6th in all Leon Tsebro & Elise Magliocchetti.

The venue for the Can Am this year is once again the beautiful Westin Harbour Castle Hotel that is situated right on the shores of Lake Ontario in downtown Toronto.

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