CanAm Dancesport Gala 2018

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Le Cabaret…Das Kabarett…The Cabaret

Last night, as the night before, the Professional Cabaret dominated the scene here at the Can-Am Dancesport Gala Championships and this time it was almost perfection in the art of moving.

Vadim Garbuzov & Kathrin Menzinger from Austria who the night before won the “Show Dance” Championship won the “Cabaret” with a majority of firsts from the judges. Their routine was a very dark number with reference to the “refugee” crises that basically is heating the world today. As on the night before they managed to portray a “tragic” story that resonated with all and something we usually would not talk about within our industry of entertainment and dance, but it hit home. Perfectly executed with the right amount of lifts and dance steps as well as a clear storyline it moved the judges to award them first. Funnily enough only two judges were repelled by it and awarded them third place Chuck Danza and Shirley Johnson, the rest awarded them second or better for their effort.

Nearly following suit from the night before the judges awarded second to Luka Milacic – Perusina & Jenaly Saraza-Pacheco. On the night before we felt that their routine looked a little discombobulated with some obvious mishaps. That night most have been a great rehearsal for them because on this night they hit the perfect mark without missing a beat or a step and we must confess that we would not have been surprised had they called them up for first place. It is refreshing to see something out of the box and that is what Luka & Jenaly did this night, very interesting and well executed, congratulations to them. We must point out that they managed to take 2 first place marks out of 11 judges from the winning couple.

Third in this terrific heat went to Travis & Jaimee Tufft who unlike the night before which they obviously thought was “Show dance” night and did more dancing than lifts, this time did more lift material. Their routine as always was perfection, to the point that you never feel they are ever going to miss a lift unless you have seen the routine on a prior competition. Unfortunately for them this night required a thrilling edge where the steps are almost “missable,” and the risk factor or “are they are going to make it” is palpable. For them to win this championship it would have required more conflicting and unexpected steps and this was not possible with this program. Travis & Jaimee managed to take an extra first from the winners to make it a total of 3 first place marks lost by Vadim & Kathrin. Nathan Brouwer & Dena Anne Weiner were a good addition to this final, this couple presented a group of acrobatics that at times left you breathless, on this night this was good but not enough to push ahead to the top. Here we need to see a little more dancing going in and out of the aerial work and to have more of a storyline.

The next two professional events in the program the Smooth and the Latin had two uncontested couples in it, meaning that they were basically untouchable. In the Smooth it was smooth sailing for Travis & Jaimee Tuft who won all four dances with perfect scores from the judges, and in the Latin Ilya Maletin & Polina Maier did the same thing but this time they won five dances with perfect scores from the judges. However, we must point out that in the Latin there was only five couples to this final while in the smooth sixth couples were in the final.

Pavel Lebedev & Dinara Khayrulina placed a strong second overall in the Professional Smooth taking nearly every second available. Taliat Tarsinov was possibly their worst judge he awarded them 4th in all dances. Patrik Derry & Anastasia Trutneva were third in all dances, fourth in all were Vadim Safonov & Alina Safonova, fifth was left for Timor Valdman & Kaitland Shertzberg and sixth went to Mathieu Casavant & Melanie Martin.

In the Professional Latin Elya Gleanz & Amanda Pearl were second in all dances, Han Ly & Crystal Li took all thirds, fourth was Yvan Piwovarov & Irina Khanova and fifth in all dances was awarded to Abelardo Mina & Maggie Gonzalo.

The Can-Am Special Achievement Award was given to Anton Lebedev & Anna Borshch former Canadian Ballroom Champions who according to Mr. Karakis kept their undefeated title for at least 8 years. Anton & Anna danced a lovely waltz and we could tell they have not lost their touch, it was quite artistic in nature and the music complimented their performance beautifully.

A terrific Junior I and II Latin took place this evening and these kids were terrific. The winners Mark Karmalita & Anna Li were very proficient in this style and managed to take a majority of firsts in the rumba and the jive. We were taken aback by some of Anna’s facial expressions. To their teacher we must say that perhaps more concentration should be placed on their body skills than on their facial expressions. We were very impressed with Erik Zhelasko & Michelle Frydman who took second overall and who managed to steal a minimum of 5 first place marks or more in every dance from the winners. We found Erik very cool and collected and for his small stature, he just wanted to get down to work. Michelle complimented him beautifully without any outlandish facial or body actions and at this young age, and almost at any age, this is very welcomed, I am sure by, the judges.

This Junior event had also three more couples and they are for sure worth the mention. Thomas Zinger & Sarah Stolarsky who took third in every dance, Pavel Ivanov & Katerina Novotarka who placed fourth in every dance and Alisher Kulzhabayen & Lauren Shligold who were fifth.

Early in the evening at the lakeside banquet we celebrated the birthday of judge, Stephen McFerran.  The Cuban musician trio helped!

Our congratulations to Brigit Mayer, John Karakas, Ann Harding and Lisa McLaggan for putting on such a classy event here in Toronto at the best time of the year and in such a beautiful place for Canadians and the world to enjoy.

50 Shades of Grey!

Last night the Can-Am Dancesport Gala began with a bang, an excellent Show Dance professional competition where all couples were of terrific quality.

The winners Vadim Garbuzov & Kathrin Menzinger from Austria stole the night with their excellent performance of “50 Shades of Grey,” a routine that true to the movie and book started very sexily and edgy with the lady in a blindfold. It is important to mention that the winners here did not get the most firsts overall but their marks were all good enough to place them first.

To shed some light on how interesting this Show Dance competition was, the couple with the most firsts (5 in total out of 11 judges to be precise) Travis & Jaimee Tuft, did an excellent Showdance number that we figured might take first or second actually took third overall. Yes, you read it right! Luka Milacic-Perusina & Jenalyn Saraza-Pacheco took second with what we consider to be a cabaret performance of death defying lifts and tumbles. So are the majority of judges in need of invigilation? Could they not see that “A” it was mostly a show “dance” emphasis on the “dance” part, competition, since all the other couples did some “recognizable” dance of some sort. “B” and our most interesting point, is that for us in the peanut gallery, their routine was intricate, filled with dramatic stuff but was more scary than well-executed. We could see them perhaps being third or fourth but second? To recap, Garvbuzov & Menzinger got 3 firsts and Milacic & Saraza got 3 firsts out of these 11 judges.

The fun does not end here, a clear fourth overall in this excellent Show Dance competition went to Patrick Derry & Anastasia Trutneva, who did a solid Smooth showdance and fifth was awarded to Julius Solano & Laurent Stephenson.

There was another magnificent competition here this night and it was the Open Amateur Latin competition. This was a five couple competition and all five couples were amazing. The clear winners to all including the majority of the judges were Adam Hathazi & Morgana Lakatos-Hayward who won all dances with a majority of firsts. We were really surprised when looking at the marks that Adam & Morgana did not win any of the dances with perfect scores, the closest was the samba where only one judge awarded them a second place, in the other dances they lost 2 to 3 marks. Their worst judge overall was Taliat Tarsinov who awarded them all seconds but in the cha cha where he awarded them a third place.

Second in this terrific Amateur Latin Championship and in all dances went to Michael Finkelstein & Yulia Ishchak, this was also a very good couple but when it came to their work many of the attendees felt that their work was not as together as Adam & Morgana’s, at any moment one tends to be better than the other and this we agree might have something to do with the clear second place overall of this couple. Third was awarded to Idan Daich & Rumi Dolmaya who placed third in all dances and who earlier won the 16+ Amateur Latin Championship. This is a couple with unlimited talent and incredible possibilities, their work is still not mature enough to perhaps challenge the top two just mentioned but we can see them getting there in a very near future. What we like the most of Idan & Rumi is their endless possibilities for innovation, their work is very different than the top two and this can be a major asset in their future, but they must mature their work without losing their spirit.

Fourth overall in this terrific amateur event went to Alex Maslanka & Christine Budniak with these marks 4,4,4,4,4. This is a couple that has everything in place including lots of talent but are still in the box. All we can say here about Alex & Christine, is you must get out of the box and explore the possibilities, take example from the “50 shades of grey” and how they turn this into a story and a routine. In fifth position in all dances were Michael Rubezin & Elise Magliocchetti, we must say that although they seemed to do the work, it is still green in a lot of the basic movement and understanding. Compared to the other couples they are still struggling a little.

There was a Professional Ballroom that concluded this fine evening of dancing. Unfortunately for us watching, but fortunately for them it was all about Richard Tonizzo & Claire Hansen who won every dance but the Viennese waltz with perfect scores from all judges. The reason we say unfortunately for us was that we could not just watch them and enjoy a good show because the other couples were still there and many of them still needed some polishing. Before we go on with this final we must say that the only second place mark that Richard & Claire got was awarded by Tatiana Vainer, it was in the Viennese waltz.

Taking second in all dances in this Professional Ballroom Championship were Yvan Piwovarov & Irina Khanova, they perhaps moved around the floor with the most comfort for all even for the judges who awarded them the majority of seconds in all dances. From our perspective from here down it really depended upon when you were watching the couple. The judges produced this result: Evgueni Chaoulski & Sarah Schilling took all thirds, Dmytro Startsev & Natalia Laskowiecka placed fourth with these marks 4,4,4,4,5, Han Ly & Crystal Li were fifth 5,5,5,5,4, and Mathieu Casavant & Melanie Martin were sixth in all.

A Professional Rhythm event also took place and here Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin were basically uncontested winning perfect scores in all dances from all judges. Julius Solano & Laurent Stephenson took second in all dances with a huge majority of second places, only a handful of judges marked them lower than second. The thing for us is that Julius & Laurent have all the choreography down and all the right moves but they never finish anything and run through the music sometimes looking almost out of time, the beats have two parts to them and we must use all not just half and take off. Third in this Rhythm heat went to Ole Olavide & Bei Bei Deng with these marks 3,3,3,4,3, and fourth were Mathieu Casavant & Melanie Martin with these marks 4,4,4,3,4.

Back on the Lake!

We are once again back to the CanAm Dancesport Gala and Dancesport Championships. 

This year we are back on beautiful Lake Ontario and at the Westin Harbor Castle, with incredible views and great accommodations. With the exception of the ballroom you can be anywhere in the hotel and whether it’s a city view or a lake view or a partial view, you are guaranteed to see a picturesque sight out of every window.

It is great if you come to enjoy the excellent weather here in Toronto but there is so much to do here in this piece of paradise, you can walk, run, swim or just sit by one of the many cafes on the shoreline and look at the happenings on the lake. It is always an incredible sight. If you feel more adventurous as many do and if you have never experienced it you can go to the Niagara Falls and take a breathtaking look, it is sure worth the trip and is only an hour or so away from the city.

In the meantime at the competition last night we saw all the Rising Star Events and although they were not huge in attendance it was all good enough to get the audience going. The Professional Rising Star Smooth was very interesting and here Patrick Derry & Anastasia Trutneva won all dances. Vadim Safonov & Alina Safonova took second in all dances and Timor Valdman & Kaitland Shertaberg were third.

In the Professional Rising Star Latin Eyal Gleanz & Amanda Pearl won all dances, Han Ly & Crystal Li took all seconds and Alberto Mina & Maggie Gonzalez were third.

The Ballroom was won by Dmytro Startsev & Natalia Laskowiecka. 2nd were Han & Crystal Li and 3rd Mathieu Casevant & Melanie Martin. In the Rhythm Julius Solano & Lauren Stephenson were the winners – the only professional couple from USA to compete last night. Mathieu & Lauren were 2nd.

Rhythm was the name of the game yesterday all day in the Pro/am categories and it is great to see how many people are doing American Style Rhythm in Canada. The Pro/Am Open American Rhythm Scholarships was well attended and in the “C” we had a seven-couple final. Martin Cote w/ Alina Safonova won all dances; Faye Mattachione w/ Timor Valdman took second 2,2,2,2,3 and third was awarded to Lori Greco w/ Patrick Derry 3,3,3,3,2.

In the Pro/Am “B” category the winner was Alicia Hawryluk w/ Dmytro Gurkov in all dances, second was Jackquie Smith w/ Joan Roca Fabra with these marks 2,2,2,3,2, and third went to Patti Collins w/ Patrick Derry 3,3,3,2,3. The Senior I was also greatly attended and here Faye Mattachione w/ Timor Valdman took first with these marks 1,1,2,1; second was Jackie Rooney w/ Sharon Levit 2,2,1,2, and third was Lori Greco w/ Patrick Derry and she took third in all dances. Taylor McGraw w/ Timor Valdman won the “A” and Margie Juanillo w/ Matt Hauer won the Senior 2.

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