Holiday Classic 2016

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And a merry Christmas to all!

And so the Holiday Classic, for many the last competition of 2016, came to an end Sunday night with two spectacular professional divisions – the Latin and Smooth.

The Open Pro Latin was literally a “nightmare” for the judges – from the quarter-final. It was extremely difficult to pick the required number of couples for each round and this indecision continued into the final with the judges’ literally scoring the couples all over the place. Only 1 couple received a majority of 1st places in any dance and that was Andre Tarasov & Yulia Kuznetsova in rumba and although they won that dance they were 3rd overall with 3,3,1,2,3. The duel for the top slot ended in a Rule 11 tiebreak and the result went to Andrei Kazlouski & Asta Sigvaladottir with 1,2,3,1,2. This duo have been off the floor for over a year due to injury and it was certainly good to see them back and this result was a great new beginning. Andrei is a powerful dancer and always has great personality on the floor. But they certainly did not convince all judges, receiving 1st to 6th placements in all dances.

With 2,1,2,3,1 Mikhalio Bilopukhov & Anastasiia Shchypilina were the other half of the tie. We found them a little quiet tonight, perhaps it’s time to step it up again to maintain their strong placement from this year’s USDC. Andrey & Yulia were 3rd and we felt they were extremely strong in rumba and paso doble. The next two places were a battle between two of the busiest couples on the circuit, both from New York, Artur Tarnavskyy & Anastasia Danilova and Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin. This time Artur & Anastasia nosed ahead placing 5,4,5,4,5 to Dmitry & Olena’s 4,5,6,5,4. Ivan Mulyavka & Karin Rooba took 6th placing 6,6,4,6,6, but they as all the others, picked up some 1st placements. Incidentally, Ivan & Karin’s studio fellows, Aleksandr Skarlatto & Loreta Kruiksukaiyte were the next couple into the final, missing it by 1 point.

What an interesting this competition this was!

The Open Smooth was a much more settled result although still an excellent event. US Champions, Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija won all dances, 3 with a very strong majority of 1st places. They also won the tango with a majority but it was 9 to 8. Taking 2nd in all dances were Max Sinitsa & Tatiana Seliverstova. Yegor Novikov & Alexandra Smirnova took all the 3’s. The remaining 3 couples were a little closer. Kyle & Allie Spinder took 4th with 4,5,5,4; Roman Malkhasyan & Kat Wagner were 5th 6,4,4,5 and Evgeny Malko & Anna Shahbazyan were 6th 5,6,6,5. Again this was an excellent event.

The afternoon sessions ended with the Open Pro-Am Ballroom Scholarships that were large, high-quality events. The winner of all dances in the Open B was Laura Shooks w/ Alexander Voskalchuk, although she did not have the majority of 1st places in any dance. 2nd place went to a lady who really split the judges. Sabrina Zagolin w/ Youriy Kravets received 1st places and 7th places in all dances and finished with final scores of 2,3,2,3,2. 3rd went to Grace Wang w/ Sergey Kiselev 3,2,3,2,4; 4th Brynda Insley w/ Martin Reinbold; 5th Julia Zhao w/ Denis Kutepov; 6th Bo Chang w/ Giampiero Giannico; 7th Lily Chang w/ Andrii Mykhailov.

Jill Bradford w/ Andrea Stefano won the Open C, but split the dances with the runner-up, Lynn Murrel w/ Alexander Voskalchuk. Jill placed 1,2,2,1,1 to Lynn’s 2,1,1,2,2. 3rd spot in all dances went to Tomoko Shimizu w/ Oscar Pedrinelli. 4th was Sally He w/ Enzo Zappia 4,4,4,4T,4; 5th Jenny Fong w/ Victor Veyrasset 6,5,5,6,5; 6th Annie Chan w/ Christian Radvan 5,6,6,4T,6.

Rebecca Kuhn w/ Andrea Feraci won all dances in the Open A that was a straight final. Runner-up was Askley Kunihiro w/ Oleksiyy Buravenko 2,4,2,3,3 and 3rd went to Jennifer Lin w/ Larry Shi 5,2,5,2,2. 4th Ruhi Pudipeddi w/ Atanas Malemov 6,7,3,4,4; 5th Brenda Dalzell w/ Michael Towliszew 4,3,8,5,6T; 6th Lidia Luzhna w/ Dmitry Levita 3,5,6,8,5; 7th Yingying Chen w/ Slava Stefanov 7,8,4,6,6T; 8th Donna Hung w/ Christian Radvan 8,6,7,7,8.

The competition ended with the now traditional Holiday Classic show that was its usual mixture of comedy and dance. Several of the couples reprised their showcase numbers from Ohio and it was certainly good to see them again. The major comedy relief came from the “Sugar Plum Fairies,” Kosta, Edson & Sergey! Choreography was by JT Thomas and Eugene Katsevman, co-0rganizer, Wendy Johnson was the director.

Who were the “Belles” of the Ball(room)?

Last night at Holiday Classic we saw 3 great events, 2 professional and 1 amateur.

So who were the “belles” of the ballroom? In our opinion the best event last night was the Professional Ballroom that began with a quarter-final and featured some of the nation’s best couples.

The winners tonight were Alexander Voskalchuk & Veronika Egorova. They won all dances, but had the majority of 1st places in only 3, W,VW,F. We were also surprised to see them picking up scores in the lower half of the final in all dances. In fact the individual judges’ marks were very mixed for all couples. 2nd in all dances went to Iaroslav Bieliel & Lilia Gladiuk. They literally had scores ranging from 1st to 6th in all dances. We thought this was a pretty good showing from this tall duo. With 3,5,3,3,4 Vladislav Shahov & Ekaterina Popova took the highly disputed 3rd spot. They also took at least one 1st place in all dances, but also some 6’s. Rudiger Homm & Katya Kanevskaya were close behind with 5,4,4,5,3; Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova were 5th 4,3,6,4,5 and Igor Mikushov & Ekaterina Romashkina were 6th 6,6,5,6,6. This was a fabulous final and as you can see from the scores or a more detailed look at the scrutineer’s sheet, there was little consensus from the judges.

The Amateur Latin also began as a quarter-final and there was a really interesting mix of more seasoned partnerships and brand new duos. One of the seasoned couples took the lead. Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabriella Sabler won all dances with the majority of 1st places including a perfect 11 first places in jive and 10 in paso doble. For us they were never really in doubt. 2nd went to the very new partnership of Nikolai Tarasov & Sarah Nolan 3,3,3,2,2. This is the first time we have seen these two together and it was very impressive. Sarah is originally from New Zealand. Allen Rudman & Svetlana Lisna also were 2nd in two dances but ended up 3rd overall – 2,2,4,3,3. As you can see this was a very close decision. Another new partnership took the last of the 2nd places in rumba – Briant Leytman & Kateryna Kishyna 4,4,2,5,4. We must agree that this lady had terrific leg action in rumba. Edwin Astahovs & Jessica Swietoniowski were 5th 5,5,5,4,5 and David Michalek & Mira Kaspruk (Poland) were 6th in all dances.

The Professional Rhythm had only a semifinal and was the weakest of the three divisions run tonight. Andre & Natalie Paramonov had a fairly comfortable win, certainly with the majority of 1st places in all dances and perfect scores in the rumba and bolero. But we were surprised to see them picking up some lower marks in the other dances. 2nd in all dances went to Aaron & Iryna DeSoto and they had the majority of “2nd or better” scores in all dances. We like them best in the swing and mambo. Riccado Papi & Sabrina Moretti took 3rd with 3,4,3,4,3 edging out Shandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov 4,3,4,3,4. Ryan Lockhart & Danelle Newman took all the 5’s and Kyle & Allie Spinder all the 6’s.

To close the evening, co-organizer Wendy Johnson, coerced all the judges into a short presentation. Some chose to exhibit their skills while others took a more dignified approach!

A long and varied day at Holiday

Friday was a long and varied day of dancing at Holiday Classic.

It began with the pro-am Latin divisions and concluded at night with the Amateur Ballroom and all 4 styles in the professional rising star.

From the judges’ perspective, the pro-am Latin heats were extremely tough to judge owing to the high standard exhibited by all competitors. Congratulations to all! The Open Scholarships concluded the afternoon session and here’s how they came out.

A new pairing to us won the Open A, this was Angelina Euseeva w/ Aleksandr Skarlato. In the end it was a close decision decided by a Rule 10 tiebreak. Angelina placed 2,1,1,1,3. The experienced and always consistent Vera Xu w/ Jakub Zeglin was the other half of this tie placing 1,2,2,2,1. Vera was the only one of the two to have a majority of 1st places in a dance and this was in jive. 3rd went to Joanna Waa w/ Plamen Danailov 3,3,3,3,2. We always appreciate this lady’s great expression. Jennifer Chan w/ Dmitri Mikulich placed 4th 4,4,5,5,4; Shae Mountain w/ Nerida Cortese was 5th 5,5,6,4,5 and Michelle Young w/ Kirill Nikitkin was 6th 6,6,4,6,6. This division began with a quarter-final, unusual for the A age group.

The Open B also began with a quarter-final and in the final two of the nation’s leading competitors in this division squared off against each other. The win today went to Maria Seragou w/ Dmitrios Damalas 1,1,1,1,2 with Missy White w/ Genya Bartashevitch taking the runner-up spot 2,2,2,2,1. Both were on form and it was a great contest. Also showing well today was Svetlana van Tassel w/ Kirill Nikitkin and she took all the 3’s. All the 4’s went to Cecillia Che w/ Dmitri Mikulich. 5th spot fell to Jennifer Lin w/ Illie Bardahan 6,5,5,6,5; 6th Peggy Fang w/ Daniele Gozzi 5,6,6,5,7; 7th Carrie Steinmetz w/ Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine 7,7,7,7,6.

In the Open C, the scores were spread out around many of the finalists, but when it came down to the result the winner was Rhonda Lynch w/ Stephen McCann 1,3,2,1,1. This was a good result for this lady who has been in the finals for a long time. 2nd place went to the ever competitive Lisa Lowery w/ Roman Malkhasyan 2,1,1,2,4. We thought Marina Svyatets w/ Aleksandr Vukosavljevics danced well all day and was rewarded with a 3rd place finish here 3T,2,3,3,2. Lynn Magnesen w/ Tykhon Zhyukov was 4th 3T,4,4,4,3. 5th spot went to Sherry Dong w/ Dymitri Ilyushenov 5,5,6,5T,5 and Tammy Knight w/ Oleksyii Lytvyn was 6th 6,6,5,5T,6.

The top 3 in the Open Senior Latin were Astrid Rush w/ Ivan Mulyavka 1,1,1,2; Diana Knight w/ Nikolai Shpakov 4,6,2,1; Philippa Zemelman w/ Marcus Johnson 2,5,3,3.

The feature event of the night was the Open Amateur Ballroom. Oscar Wojciechowski & Karolina Holody won all 5 dances and had a clear majority of 1st places in all dances except the foxtrot that they won by 5 firsts to 4. The second spot went to Marek Klepadlo & Zhiting Yang and they were easily 2nd in all dances. The other scores were more spread around. In 3rd with 3,3,3,4,5 were Brandon Keck & Kaylee Christensen. 4th went to Michael Rubezin & Nicole Vuijanik 4,6,4,3,3; 5th Tyler Alder & Makayla Bezzant 5,4,5,5,4; 6th Matthew Horne & Kelsey Weaver 6,5,6,6,6.

The RS Ballroom was a straight final, but the scores were anything but settled. The winners were Yuriy Nartov & Sarika Hudson and they scored 1,1,2,3,2. They were also the only couple to have a majority of 1st places in a dance – the waltz. 2nd went to Andrii Mykhaliov & Anna Bohachova (Ukraine) 2,2,3,2,1. This young couple turned pro in the middle of Ohio Star Ball 2 weeks ago. Winning 2 dances, but placing 3rd were Leonid Burlo & Liana Bakhtiarova 3,4,1,1,3 – perhaps a little unlucky tonight. Radu Sterban & Xenia Cletova were 4th 4,3,5,4,5, Karlis Treijis & Ananstasia Krivosheeva were 5th 6,5,4,5,4; Anatolii Repliuk & Ruslana Mamaysur were 6th 5,6,6,6,6 and Sarosh Ahmad & Zoe Wydrug were 7th.

The RS Rhythm was a more settled result. Ryan Lockhart & Danelle Newman won all 5 dances. 2nd in all 5 were Kyle & Allie Spinder. 3rd went to Daniele Cavallo & Lecia Fazzuoli 3,3,3,4,3; 4th Johnny Bryant & Ksenia Staurich 4,4,4,3,5; 5th Mykhalio Azerov & Tetyana Makarenko 6,5,5,5,4 and 6th Daniel Lee Tran & Daniella Rayzburg 5,6,6,6,6.

Enzo Zappia & Stephanie Betts won all dances in the RS Smooth, both waltzes with the majority of 1st places. 2nd went to Slava Stefanov & Jessica McMorrow 2,3,3,2 and 3rd to Matt Rivers & Maliwan Diemer 4,2,2,3. Shandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov were 4th 3,4,4,5 and the 2nd Rivers brother, Jason, & Elisa Seja were 5th 5,5,5,4. Kosta Trifunovic & Dinara Khayrulina were 6th.

The RS Latin became a fairly tight race between Andrey Voloshko & Kateryna Kyrylenko and Riccardo Pacini & Sonia Spadoni but Andrey & Kateryna took it by 4 dances to 1 with the majority of 1st places in samba and jive. Riccardo & Sonia won the paso doble and were 2nd in the other 4. 3rd in all dances went to Vlad Astafiev & Annie He Xiao. Nikita Tsernov & Anna Oblakova took 4th 4,4,4,5,5; Nicolae Colac & Bella Gubzheva were 5th 5,5,5,4,6 and Danny Arbour & Justine Rainville were 6th 6,6,6,6,4.

It's a "Holiday!"

But it’s certainly no “holiday on the dance floor as we’ve seen some of the toughest pro-am competition of the year so far!

We’re into the 3rd day of Holiday Classic 2016 here at the Tropicana Resort on the Las Vegas Strip and we’ve seen all the pro-am divisions in Rhythm and Smooth and the Latin is on the floor right now. The Open Scholarships, as one would expect in this size event, are extremely competitive.

First up were the Rhythm divisions. Marinda James-Heskett w/ Jeremy Pilling won the Open A taking all dances with the majority of 1st places. Taking almost all the 1st placements that Marinda did not receive was the runner-up Levina Kasmara w/ Gleb Makarov 2,2,2,2,2. Gleb received an injury in the Dancesport Series of this same division and was unable to complete the last dance, but he seemed fully recovered and bandaged in this event. 3rd place went to Michelle Young & Scott Koogle 4,3,3,3,3; 4th to Jessica Love w/ Tony Delgado 3,4,4,4,4 and 5th to Kate Lingamfeller w/ Aaron Lumpkin. This was a straight final.

Erin Hall w/ Steve Vasco won all dances in the Open B, all with the majority of 1st places and a perfect score in the Bolero. With 2,2,3,2,2, Joanne Tatem w/ Mariusz Zakrzewski took 2nd with her usual determined style. Keri Sitrik w/ Decho Kraev was 3rd overall scoring 3,3,2,3,3. Puneh Adabkhah w/ Erik Cyr was 4th 5,5,4,4,4 and Heidy Kellison w/ Sean Tamashiro was 5th 4,4,5,5,5. These ;ast two ladies have very different styles. Thara Salamone w/ Jim Maranto was 6th 7,7,6,6,6. We felt she could have placed higher. Closing this excellent final was Beatriz Colon w/ Donovan Dominguez 6,6,7,7,7.

The Open C was the largest division and was in the end mostly a contest between two ladies for the win. Taking all dances tonight was Lisa Lowery w/ Roman Malkasyan who seem really back on form. 2nd in all dances was Lynn Magnesen w/ Vard Margaryan. Both these ladies were of a very high standard. With 4,5,3,3,3 Yuriko Shimamoto w/ Steve Vasco took 3rd spot overall. Jennifer Marre w. Plamen Danailov was 4th 3,4,4,4,5. Monica Broch w/ Kris Suakjian took 5th 5,3,6,5,6 and Nancy Rapoport w/ Sergiy Shapoval were 6th 6,6,5,6,4.

The top 3 in the Open Senior were 1st Leslie McLeod w/ Melbin DeLaCruz 1,1,2,2; 2nd Luna Viva w/ Krisjian Burazer 2,2,1,1; 3rd Diana Best w/ Alosha Anatoliy 3,5,3,3.

Last night it was the turn of the “Smoothies” and the open events were every bit as good. Winning the A in great style was Brittany Falconer w/ Peter Walker 1,1,2,1. Brittany received perfect scores in the tango. Pushing the winner hard and taking the foxtrot was Irene Lee w/ Nick Cheremukhin 2,2,1,2. Levina Kasmara, this time dancing with Slava Stefanov, took all the 3’s. One of only two gemtlemen to place in an Open Scholarship, Jarrett Pellicane w/ Melanie Sandvig was 4th in all dances. 5th in all was Melissa Loble w/ David Moon and 6th went to Sydney Catran-Whitney w/ Julz Toker. They are from Singapore.

Celia Chou w/ Erminio Stefano won the Open B taking all 4 dances with a large majority of 1st places. Taking 2nd in all was Joanne Smith w/ Christopher Sochnaki – a new and promising pro-am pairing. 3rd in all dances went to Joanne Tatum w/ Mariusz Zakrzewski. This must make Joanne one of the strongest 9-dancers in the country. Yuko Taniguchi w/ Mariusz Olzewsky was 4th 4,4,5,4; Thara Salamone w/ Jim Maranto was 5th 5,6,4,6 and Zlata Clark w/ David Moon was 6th 6,5,6,5.

Lisa Lowery was again victorious in the Open C, taking all dances – the VW with perfect scores. Once again Lynn Magnesen took 2nd, this time with Thykhin Zhyukov but this is not her strongest style and her placements this time were 4,2,2,3. Closely following was Sherry Dong w/ Dmitry Ilyushenov 2,3,4,2. Hope Huber w/ Eddie Stutts was 4th 3,4,3,4 and as you can see was also in this mix. Darla Davies w/ Jim Maranto took all the 5’s and Lance Smith w/ Tone Jacobsen was 6th in all.

The top three in the Open Senior were Sara Switzer w/ Shandor Shtefil 1,1,1,2; Diana Best w/ Alyosha Anatoliy 2,2,2,1 and Sue Gershowitz w/ Mazen Hamza 3,3,3,3.



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