Paragon Open Dancesport Championships 2018

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The Latin Paragon!

Here at the Paragon the Amateur Latin Championship is always a “paragon” of quality!

And last night it was no different with some of the best Amateur Latin couples going head to head in a fierce competition. It was almost surreal with the judges all in Halloween garb, many who really went out in their costuming as you will see later in the photos.

The competition began with a full quarterfinal round each round things got better and better and in the final there was lots to see and enjoy. Tal Livshits & Ilana Keselman won the competition and all dances, and yes, they did win every dance with a majority of firsts but not with a landslide as most possibly expected. Tall & Ilana as usual gave a terrific and animated performance always considering the audience and fully acknowledging them and entertaining them as well. But last night for many of us there was some competition and this pushback came from Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabriella Sabler who placed second in all dances, and who managed to steal a number of first places from the winners. For us at least we thought that Pasha & Gabrielle could have easily taken the samba and paso doble, with a little work and confidence we could have two powerhouses within our Latin final in the USA.

The surprise for us was the third place finish of Nikita Vasilenko & Olivia Agranovich who seemed to be a little surprised themselves when picking up the award, they placed 3,3,3,3,4. When you look at the marks you can see that the judges were quite irregular marking them from third to seventh place in every dance, we agree that their dancing was of good quality for this final but we were as impressed with some of the judges, we felt that even a fourth place would have been a little high for them. Nikita & Olivia’s dancing for us was good enough for a fifth place award, for sure not the seventh place some of the judges gave them but that is why Paragon had 13 judges to get an overall result. Third place for us should have gone to Ewoud Fidom & Melanie Weiler who gave an excellent performance but placed fourth overall 4,4,4,4,3, We suppose the art is in the eyes of the beholder on this one.

Artem Zhychuk & Natasha Shevchenko took fifth to our surprise with these marks 7,5,5,6,5, the partnership looks great and very promising but to us they still lack the consistency to be placed this highly, we felt that Misha Finkelstein & Yuliya Ishchak from Canada should have placed fifth or perhaps even higher, their work is a little to clinical still for our taste but very correct, a little more life and spontaneity could help their performance. Seventh overall was awarded to Andriy Besyedin & Amanda Besyedin with these marks 6,7,7,7,7. In conclusion we might have had a result up or down in disagreement with the judges but the one thing we can all agree with is that this Latin Amateur competition was a paragon of performance.

Before we go into the Professional Rhythm and Ballroom we most talk about the Amateur Ballroom. This competition was not as big as the Amateur Latin but it started with a full semifinal round and the quality of the event was excellent. Dan Malov & Stephanie Noon took first overall with these marks 1,1,1,1,2, leaving Samuel Hacke & Katarina Hermanova holding second with these marks 2,2,2,2,1. We must also point out at this time that Dan & Stephanie won the Best of the Best competition at the end of the night and we should say very deservedly so, and we will tell you why when we get to this terrific competition. Continuing with the Amateur Ballroom Alec Zhiwei Zhang w/ Zhuoshi Xie placed third overall with these marks 5,3,4,3,3; Brandon Klavansky & Maria Volski took fourth 3,4,3,4,4; Mathew Keyfets & Sima Sadykhov were fifth 4,5,5,5,5 and sixth was Matthew Harkins & Shannon Julian and they took sixth in every dance.

The Professional Rhythm was terrific. Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin won the competition with a huge majority of firsts from the judges We are sure that Ilya Velednitsky & Mariya Ilchenko wanted to capture this championship and they sure danced well but not enough to put them up over Dmirty & Olena. He seemed to be giving it his all but it was not to be, perhaps another time, keep up the good work! Alberto Cortezs & Jessa Mae Briones placed third with these marks 3,3,4,3,3, and we were hoping to see great Rhythm with their usual natural flavor, but somehow last night’s performance tended to be, not as real with lots of plasticity and poses making it look very unnatural especially Jessa Mae. I was very disappointed in this, we think this lady to be a Rhythm Paragon, but perhaps some of their guides might be steering them in the wrong direction.

Fourth place went to Andrew Escolme & Amy Baker who gave a very correct performance, and although this might keep them in a final this is not going to make them get ahead, perhaps they need to take some of Ilya & Mariya’s energy and sweat, to infuse their performance with a little more energy, and they could easily go far with this. It was sad to se one of our favorite couples, Kristian Sese & Mae Lozada placed fifth and we should possibly add, lucky to be fifth. Their confidence level seems to be getting low and they cannot allow this. Last but not least, we had Mathew Hauer & Anastasia who took all sixths, they are the most improved couple in this final and we cannot wait to see more of this very energetic couple.

The Professional Ballroom left a lot to be desired the best of the group was Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova who took first in all dances and who won the waltz with perfect scores from the judges. We were really surprised to see that they did not win any other dances with perfect scores because they were basically, in our opinion, untouchable, but unfortunately for them Elena Tsareva and Anita Smite thought they were not fit to win. With the exception of the waltz they both gave Oscar & Lenka all second place marks. We must point out that they did not get any other second place marks from any other judge in this final, the rest were firsts.

Second on this professional Ballroom heat went to Sergey Izyumov & Oksana Zaver in all dances; third place went to Artem Belmeja & Anna Shevchenko with these marks 4,3,3,3,3; fourth was Ivan Levin & Sasha Basko 3,4,4,4,4; fifth was awarded to Mikhailo Anufriiev & Anna Vietrynska and they took fifth in all dances leaving all sixths to Anton Bilozorov & Samanta Filip.

As we said Dan Malov & Stephaine Noon won the Best of the Best Amateur. They did a great and innovative routine. Congratulations! Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabriella Sabler were second with a basketball themed routine.

One of our favorite couples in the Showdance category, Pavel Cherdantsau & Svetlana Rudkovskaya chose this occasion to announce their retirement from competition. Their humorous and skillfully executed routines will certainly be missed!

The Pro/Am Latin was hugely attended and the Open Scholarships were a great example of this. The “A” went to Sabrina Strasser from Canada with her teacher Stanislav Korchergin taking first in all dances; second was Nicole Pierzchalski w/ Vlad Astafiev and they took all seconds, leaving third for Deborah Tipley w/ Paul Richardson.

The “B” went to Jaqueline Soccadato w/ Delyan Terziev 1,1,1,2,2; second was Sabrina Nirchi w/ Dannie Arbour from Canada 2,2,2,1,2, and in third place was Gaelle Benchetrit w/ Dillon Lehman 3,3,3,4,5.

The “C” was also a good heat and here Lorraine Peoples w/ Genya Bartashevich took first in all dances; Marina Svyatats w/ Alek Vukosavljevic took all seconds and Susan Kulman &Nikolai Shpakov all thirds.

In the Senior Diana Night w/ Nikolai Shpakov took first 2,1,2,1,1; Eva Stelzer w/ Danny Arbour was second 1,2,1,2,2 and Susan Sordoni w/ Francesco Arietta took all thirds.

As we mentioned earlier, the judges went full out in their Halloween gear. One of our favorites was Colin James who was held in a cage by a gorilla all night. Sid Pocious wore armor and Chuck Danza who was an adorable horror nightmare.

Congratulations once again to Andre & Elena for putting on such a fantastic event full of energy, and to Luana Conti for making us feel at home with all her treats and attentions. It was fun and as always a very interesting competition.

A Fabulous Halloween Spirit at Paragon!

"There is magic in the night when pumpkins glow by moonlight!"

Just the right quote to describe this year’s spirit and decorations at the Paragon Open Championships. It is great to see organizers get into the spirit of the holidays, and remind us about the small things in life that should be celebrated. As always they just did not only decorate for a competition that usually falls within or around Halloween, they also go way out with special chocolate gifts for all champions and also, sweets and treats for everyone. However, the treats did not stop there, there were plenty of great dance competitions to placate our dancing palate.

The Professional Smooth was one of these excellent championships we all witnessed last night. Travis & Jaimee Tuft took the championship by winning all dances with a majority of firsts in every dance, and with what we might say was a playful performance, especially from Travis where he played to the audience enticing them with out of character sexy moves towards Jaimee bringing the audience, especially those that know Travis to a chuckle followed by huge applause. As we mentioned earlier they won every dance with a majority of firsts, only two judges awarded them some seconds, Emil Loukhnikov who gave them second in every dance and Inessa Streinikova who awarded them second in the waltz and tango.

Another couple who had a wonderful showing and who we think will be a major part of this style on future outings was Sergiy Samchinky & Yuliya Besarab who placed second in all dances and stole all the first places mentioned before from the winners. Third went to a relatively new partnership of Nikolay Pilipenchuk & Sarika Hudson. The third place marks were not as clear as the couples above but one thing was very clear to all and that is that they will be a couple to be reckoned with, their energy and characterization was terrific. All we have to say is, give them time. It was probably not the result they expected but Aleks Vukosavljevic & Neveda took fourth in all dances. This couple took of last Blackpool by making the final at this very prestigious competition, unfortunately it has been a bumpy road for them since that event. For us last night Aleks & Neveda’s performance was larger than life but that is because they are a proportionately large couple on the floor and when the wing span opens, it covers a lot of territory, but in looking closely there is a lot of perhaps basic details, that need to be tended to solidify their performance in this field.

Fifth place went to Igor Afonkin & Meghan Anderson, who gave an excellent performance last night, perhaps the best we have seen, and sixth place was awarded to Enzo Zappia & Stephanie Betts. We uost point out that all couples in all placements took that position in every dance, there was no variables.

The Professional Latin was also a fantastic competition with some of USA’s best on the floor. We were not surprise should we say with the outcome of the competition, however, the winners, Dorin Frecautanu & Marina Sergeeva from Moldova, who won all dances left us wanting a lot more than just more! They were the easy winners with a majority of firsts from the judges in every dance. However, we must point out that the dissenting small group of judges, did not hold any punches, if they did not mark them first they gave them third fourth or fifth but nothing in between. Didio Barrera was the kindest of the dissenting group he awarded them all fourths but the jive where he awarded them fifth. On this panel of 13 judges there were four dissenting judges in total: Mr. Barrera, Steven Knight, Sam Sodano, and Diana McDonald. So was this a case of the “Naked King” or did these experts got it wrong? We presume you had to be there to know.

Second in this final and in all dances and our favorite of the night being this the best performance we have seen from this couple as of yet, was Andrei Kazlouski & Asta Sigvaldadottier, and they also picked up all the first place marks that Dorin & Marina lost. We loved Asta’s new fresh short hair look and Andrei’s very charismatic performance. Third in this excellent final went to another favorite couple of ours, Mykhailo Bilopukhov & Anastasiia Shchypilina and they took third in all dances. Fourth in all dances was awarded to Artur Tarnavsky & Anastasia Danilova; fifth in all went to Ivan Kudashev & Kesenia Sokolova; sixth was Vesko Matakov & Andrea Mariscal and seventh went to Dariusz Horvath-Krol & Alisa Zosin.

The Professional Cabaret was terrific and here we saw a new and improved “Dali” routine from Mykhailo Azarov & Tetyana Makarenko who won the competition with just enough judges to call it a majority but not a landslide. We have to say that the routine was super improved costume and all, the Clock placement before getting fully on the way was an excellent addition and we are very glad they have improved the routine rather than change it. The “Tan” number for us was not hitting the mark. Second overall went to Travis & Jaimee Tuft and they took any firsts that were not allocated to Mykhailo & Tetyana. Their number was perfection for us but in a way lacked the intensity, of will they make it that the other couple had. Perhaps they, Travis & Jaimee, need to reach out of their tool box and find something more unique in music and character to break the mold they are in.

Third went to Ivan Kudashev & Ksenia Sokolova with their well known Gipsy dance that brings the eastern countries to their feet. We wish we could say that it does the same for us, but we must say it is well executed. Fourth were Nazar Batih & Mariko Cantley - talk about getting out of you tool box, great job in this excellent Ballroom showdance, it is unfortunate that they are competing with people who can do so many lifts, but they are on top of our list as far as Ballroom Showdance is concerned. Fifth went to Douglas Dombrowik & Angel Foz and sixth were Vincente Antonelli & Stephanie Falciano.

It has been two days of Pro/Am competition with the Ballroom Smooth and Rhythm completely finished. We must point out who won some of these excellent categories. Olivia Zettergren w/ Mazen Hanza won the “A” Open Smooth; Celia Chou w/ Erminio Stefano took the “B” Smooth; Lisa Lowery w/ Radek Wiatrowski won the “C” and Sandy Finley w/ Mikolay Czarnecki won the Senior.

In the Pro/Am Rhythm Scholarships, Levina Kasmara w/ Gleb Makarov won the A; Jennifer Hoffman w/ Dave Hannigan took the “B”; the “C” went to Marcy Garson w/ Ilya Reyzin, and the Senior was awarded to Lois Fein w/ Aleks Vukosavljevic.

The pro/am Ballroom scholarships had the most entries and here Jen Mo w/ Stefano DiBrino won the “A”; Carol Simmons w/ Serghei Pogonet took the “B;” the “C” was awarded to Sally He w/ Enzo Zappia and in the Senior Linda Dillman w/ Arturas Misurenkovas took the scholarship.

Our congratulations to Andrei & Elena for doing such a fantastic job and for the care they give all your staff and all your officials.

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