Champions Ball 2018

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Spectacular is the only word we could use to describe the final night of the Champions’ Ball, in Moscow, Russia.

Last night the competition featured the Open Latin Pro/Am Championship, the entertaining Caribbean Mix that includes a mixture of social fun dances such as the merengue, salsa, bachata, etc. and also what could only be defined as a historical moment for Russia’s Ballroom dancing, the first Open Professional American Smooth Championship on Russian soil.

The evening once again began with the dance group showcasing the figures with lighted costumes as on the previous night and the dance parade immediately followed. Once the presentation of the adjudicators was over the competition began. First to come was the Open Pro/Am Latin, with a full quarter-final round, then immediately after the Open Professional Smooth began. 15 couples took to the floor for this semifinal round of the first ever Open Professional Smooth Championship in Russia, and many of the couples were from the home country but some traveled from China, Japan, England and the United States Of America.

We were pleasantly surprised with the quality of work of the couples from outside the United States, as usual there were many different styles, at times the floor got a little congested with some of the couples not as used to performing this open style with many couples running about doing open free work, but there were never any traffic jams or accidents that we noticed. In the end all couples from the USA made the final and the Champions’ Ball title went to the United State’s Nick Cheremukhim & Viktorija Barashina. They won all dances in a way totally separating themselves from the rest as you will see in the picture, even their costumes set them apart, Nick wearing a light grey suit and Viktorija a light green dress that with the excellent lighting of the room, looked aliveand caught everyone’s eyes including the judges. We must also point out to the international fans of Smooth dancing that Nick & Viktorija are the current World and US Smooth Champions.

Second in all dances went to Travis & Jaime Tuft who wore white for this occasion and who later demonstrated a beautiful cabaret routine as you can see by the pictures. Travis & Jaime are also world and US finalists and so the second place marks in all dance were totally expected. Third overall and also dancing superbly was another former US finalist, Evgeny Malko & Anna Shahbazyan who placed third and danced with a skill and soul that we have never seen before. We believe this to be their final performance before stepping away from the competitive dance floor and moving on to other goals. Our congratulations to them and we are sure you will both continue to accomplish many other goals and will contribute greatly to this industry we all love - ballroom dancing.

Fourth place went to England’s Craig & Eugenia Shaw. When it comes to moving together this couple were above the rest. However, Smooth is all about transitions, storyline and musicality and here for us this couple lacked the free range required in this skill to challenge the very top. More attention has to be paid to the transitions between closed and open work and you have to pour your heart out when it comes to interpreting the complex music of Smooth dancing.

The home favorite were Ivan Bagaev & Iuliana Voloshina from St. Petersburg, Russia who placed fifth. Their fan base was as determined as the couple performing. If we did not notice Ivan & Iuliana because of their dancing, the audience were there to make sure we all did and they did not disappoint. We thought Ivan & Iuliana to be very skillful in this new style here in Russia. We are sure that with a little bit of work they can for sure easily be in the mix with the couples just mentioned. We must also point out that Ivan & Iuliana placed fifth overall but not in every dance. They tied for 5th in the waltz, took 7th in the tango and fifth in the other two dances. 6th overall went to Artem Merenko & Tatiana Voilokova, they tied for 5th with Ivan & Iuliana in the waltz, took sixth in the tango & Viennese Waltz and seventh in the foxtrot. Seventh overall was awarded to Vitalii Surman & Mariia Orlova with these mark 7,5,6,7.

It is important to note that the enthusiasm that this excellent final generated from the audience was remarkable and full evidence that the American Smooth style of dancing is in Russia to stay, and we can expect many more championships to be held here in Russia. Further prof that the American Style of Smooth dancing is here to say is the fact that Olga Krasnyanskya along with her teacher, Eldar Dihagovou, have taken up the challenge to dedicate a huge part of their time, money and effort to educate and bring the well knownn Smooth experts, present and past champions in a congress to lecture and teach the art of Smooth dancing to all Russian dancers. This philanthropic effort, is an honorable cause and one that will affect many dancers both in the USA and in Russia in a very favorable way for years to come.

The Open Pro/Am Latin Championship as we mentioned started the evening competitions and as we referenced earlier it started with a huge quarter-final round. The quality of these Pro/Am dancers was amazing and even to cut from one round to another most have been very difficult for the judges. Last year’s Latin Pro/Am Champion, Svetlana Mukhametshina dancing with Aleksandr Chesnokov kept her Champions’ Ball title by winning four dances to one, meaning she won four dances and placed second in the Paso Doble.

We have been major fans of Ms. Mukhametshina for a number of years, however in this outing we have to disagree with the judges’ decision, we found that Darian Pechatnikova dancing with Mikhail Efinov who placed second overall, could have easily been the winner on this night. Daria’s only suspect dance for us this evening and as you will see from the marks was the Rumba where she placed fourth overall and yes we must agree with this rumba placement. In the rumba, Daria needs more elegance and isolation in order to make more of an impact, however, in the rest of the dances we found Daria to be a “spitfire” with great energy and rhythm. Daria took first in the paso, 4th in the rumba and second in the remaining dances. Perhaps a little wild at times but we really enjoyed her performance.

Third overall was awarded to Olesia Mikhalev w/Kirill Voronin and they took third in four dances and fourth in the paso. This was also a lady with great talent and who was very correct in her performance. Unfortunately, on this night she really needed to go that extra mile to go up to the top, especially with the two exquisit ladies ahead of her. Correct was not good enough in this final to reach the first place goal. One of our favorite ladies in this heat placed fourth overall, Elean Okulova w/Egor Petrov 4,4,2,3,4. I love this lady’s lack of fear - she just goes for it. We think some of her moves could be slightly cleaner but we love her natural movement and mind body connection that she naturally has.

Fifth place went to Maria Maksimova w/Kirill Belorukov with the scores of 5,5,6,5,6. We did not have this lady very high. Yes, like the other ladies in this final she has lots of talent but you can see she still has to develop her performance that at times tends to look a little hesitant with very little punch. I am sure in the future with more work she will challenge the other ladies. You could tell her inexperience because in the “paso doble” when the second highlight hit, she expected for the dance to end and was not able to go on from there over the insistence of her partner Kirill. On this very high level of Pro/Am dancing you really should train for this, because in order for the judges to do their job they need a little more time than the minute ten where the second highlight hits. We are a little surprised that she placed fifth in the Paso, after that little blunder, but perhaps some of the judges might have already sent their marks in.

Ekaterina Stukova w/ Matteo Cossu placed sixth with these marks 6,7,5,7,5. Katerina is a very experienced dancer, and always produces excellent quality of movement. We can see by the marks that the judges might not know exactly where to place this lady. Her work has a lot of quality but once again on a final of this stature you really need to break down the door and give us all you’ve got, in other words go for broke! If it is too much we are sure your coaches will keep you posted. Natalia Sviridenko w/Roman Kovgan placed seventh overall 7,6,8,6,7. We really enjoyed this lady in the semifinal round. Once we moved on to the final we found her a little timid, making her teacher overpower her performance slightly, I think this might just be a matter of practicing full out at all times, especially when doing rounds for stamina. In eighth position was Marina Dzasokhova w/Ivan Statcenko from Monaco 8,8,7,8,8. We have always enjoyed this lady’s performance, but on this final she seamed a little tight throughout her upper body and she seemed not to stand up especially in this very high-ceilinged room.

We would like to mention 2 US ladies that had strong performances. Deborah Wright w/ Nikolai Voronovich made it to the semifinal round of this Open Latin Championship. And in the afternoon, Sophia D’Angelo w/ Nikolai Pilipenchuk placed 4th in the Open C Championship.

The Caribbean Mix it’s always a hit here at the Champions’ Ball after four dances where they placed first in three and second in the merengue, Elena Potapova w/Dmitrii Samovov won the Caribbean Mix Championship. Second in this fun competition went to Nina Obukhova w/Kirill Kirilenko wining the merengue and placing third in cha cha, second in the bachata and third in the salsa. Third went to Irina Birg w/Sergei Botia with this marks 3,2,3,2.

The open Argentine tango also took place this evening and this went to Olga Torgan w/Maksim Gerrasimov who placed first in the tango, tango waltz and second in the milonga. Second overall was awarded to Olga Mokrushina w/Vadim Kaitukov and they placed third in all dances.

2 US professional couples performed shows also tonight. Riccardo Cocchi & Yulia Zagoruychenko in Latin and Travis & Jaimee Tuft in Cabaret.

With this the Champions’ Ball 2018 came to a close, we want to congratulate the organizing committee under the direction of Mr. Alexey Mindel and Mr. Mikhail Sporykhin whose attention to detail is amazing and also to all the people that kept us on time and ready for the action.

A Champions’ Ball fit for a King!

Last night was the opening night of this magnificent 2-day Pro/Am Championship.

The celebrations began with an opening of “Olympic” proportions, the light show of what seamed to be warrior samurais was fantastic and as usual out of this world! While the British celebrated their Queen’s 92nd birthday in England, here at the Crowne Plaza, Moscow World Trade Center as we mentioned we had a celebration fit for a “King.” No other Pro/Am competition in the world spends so much effort time and resources to make it a magnificent experience for all competitors, one that could rival any professional event around the world, just take a look at all the pictures.

Yesterday we began with the American “Smooth” divisions - the American style that has taken the world by storm and is beginning to set roots all over this globe, Japan, China, Hong Kong and of course, Russia. This wonderful phenomenon of American style “Smooth” dancing, is something that from what we can see from yesterday’s participation is becoming quite a trend here in Moscow, Russia and around the world. The Smooth scholarship concluded around 1PM in the afternoon and we awarded the C, B and A divisions leaving the Open Championship for the evening session. Immediately following the Smooth divisions the Pro/Am Ballroom began and the same as the Smooth the Open Championship was run and concluded in the evening session.

The “Samurai” light performance mentioned at the beginning of this article, was the opening for the evening session and the Open Pro/Am Championship divisions. This evening Championships included the Open Pro/Am Smooth, Open Argentine Tango divisions, also the main event the Open Pro/Am Ballroom Championship that started with a full quarter-final round and an excellent addition to complete this night of Pro/Am dancing, a Professional Latin competition where we had the pleasure to see three world giants - the US and WDC World Professional Latin Champions Riccardo Cocchi & Yulia Zagoruychenko, also the current Russian Latin American Champions, Kirill Belorukov & Polina Teleshova and the German counterparts, Pavel Zvychayny & Oksana Labedeva. This was a great addition to this excellent night of Pro/Am championship Ballroom Dancing.

As we just mentioned the Open Pro/Am Ballroom started with a healthy quarter-final round, finishing in the end with an 8-couple final. Last year’s winners Nadezhda Solzhenitcyna w/Sergei Konovaltcev took first in all dances and for us they were in a class or their own. Nadezhda is very pliable and follows Sergei without hesitation or thinking, a wonderful quality to have. Second in this terrific final and in all dances went to Irina Agaletckaia w/Aleksandr Zhiratkov, here is another very talented lady who with a little more playfulness in her follow for us could easily challenge the very top. These two ladies made this competition totally worth the time to observe, they are both great Ballroom dancers with magnificent partners.

From third position down we think things got a little more difficult for the judges, the difference between the ladies was nearly nill and all gentleman partnering them were also of great level. Third in all dances went to Ekaterina Zhukova w/Artem Terekhov, fourth in all was awarded to Anastasiia Usanova w/Ivan Novikov. This got a little more murky from fifth place down to 8th place, Natalie Khalturina w/ Evganii Moshenin was fifth with these marks 6,5,6,5,5; Marina Medvedeva w/Fedor Isaev took sixth 5,7,5,6,6; Natalia Krapil w/ Ivan Varfolomeev was seventh 7,6,7,7,7 and eighth in all dances went to Ekaterina Osadchaia w/Aleksei Usanov. This was an excellent final one that we are sure the judges had a hard time finding from such great quality dancing.

It is interesting to note that here in the Champions’ Ball the majority of the judges are very accomplished when it comes to competitive dancing. We have an endless count of world and British champions as well as the world Smooth Champions in attendance. This is nearly the who’s who of Ballroom judges.

The Pro/Am American Smooth was not as populated as the Ballroom but it too was an 8-couple final. This competition went to Elena Remizova w/Aleksandr Sergeev who took first in all dances. Second overall went to Ella Chistiakova w/Ivan Bagaev with these marks 2,3T,2,3; third was awarded to Vasilia Astrakhan w/Vitalii Surma and they placed 5,2,4,2. Fourth and fifth place was also quite divided in the end Elizaveta Trishina w/Denis Zharkov took fourth overall 3,3T,3,4; Elena Levitckaia w/Anton Klendii was fifth 4,5,5,5; sixth was Nadezhda Tatianenko w/Dmitrii Kuzmin and she took sixth in all dances; seventh in all went to Elena Strizhko w/Konstantin Moshinskii, and eighth was Tatiana Alekperova w/ Aleksei Eliseev and they took eighth place in all dances.

We remember when the Champions’ Ball first started offering Smooth, we also remember bringing some music to help with the event, and it is now so rewarding to see how far Russia has come along in this style. Tonight they are having the first Professional Smooth competition, and we understand they have over 15 couples entered, we so look forward to seeing this event and reporting to you as to how much progress Russia has had in this interesting American Smooth style of dancing. We also understand that Monday they are having some lectures on American Smooth for those that have some interest featuring US and World Smooth Champions Jonathan Roberts, Lena Kosovitch and Peter Perzhu. We also will take a peek and tell you how it all unfolds.

Yesterday was also time for Pro/Am Tango Argentino, a very big part of the Champion’s Ball. The Open Championships had some excellent dancing and here the winners were Elena Ramizova w/ Aleksandr Sergeevand she won all dances. Second was Olga Mokrushina w/Vadim Kaitukov who placed second on all three dances, and third was awarded to Kseniia Rubina w/Sergei Kurkatov who was also third in all dances.

Tonight we will see the Open Pro/Am Latin Championship and for the first time in the history of Russian Ballroom dancing, the awaited Open Professional Smooth Championship, and we will have it all for you here soon!


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