North American Imperial Championships 2018

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A North American Finish!

To a full and engaged audience, the main part of the North American Championships here in Chicago concluded last night on a very high note, the Professional Ballroom Championship.

We also witnessed a very interesting Professional Rhythm competition as well as a couple of Professional Rising Star events.

In the Ballroom we had the return to the floor of Alexander & Veronica Voskalchuk after Veronika’s elbow injury where they were not able to compete at the US Nationals in Orlando Florida, this past September. Since then they have done one or two events but this was the first time we have seen them dance and they were back in full form winning all dances last night with a majority of firsts from most of the judges. Their tango and quickstep were their weaker dances where three judges marked them third or second, but other than that they only lost one or two marks from the judges in the rest of the dances.

Second overall but not in all dances went to Igor Mikushov & Ekaterina Romanshkina, they took second in four dances and third in the tango. Honestly we have to say that from Igor & Ekaterina down, although all are good talented players, few managed to separate from the group, really stand out and draw our undivided attention to a wow! We find Igor & Ekaterina very capable with a gentle approach to the dances perhaps this might be an issue for them in the tango were they placed third, but in the other four dances it totally works for them. However, as musical and soft as they could be, they do not use this gift to their fullest advantage, for us they go through the motions being careful not to lose a placement.

Another favorite of ours is Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova. Here is another example of what we are talking about, this is perhaps one of the most musical couples on the floor to date, but when it comes to really showcasing this natural gift, it seems to us that they focus on other areas where their strength is not as palpable. And so we continue to see all these very talented couples in a sand box where it is all about posture and impeccable technique. Well guys it is the one who invented the “three step” that will be remembered, the one that added the horse and cart to the waltz, the one who broke the mold and went left instead of right. We must point out that although these two couples were placed second and third their marks varied like an “accordion” getting placements from 4th to second place, meaning the judges are wondering where should I put you? By the way Oscar & Lenka’s scores were 4,2,3,3,3.

Fourth place went to Radu Sterban & Xenia Cletova with these marks 5,4,4,5,4. When we first saw this couple in the field we were not quite taken by their performance, but now their performance seems to be more solid with a little more depth than just a good top line. We all know a great top line will get you quite far these days. Although we are very pleased with this couple’s improvement and performance, and we believe they will go very far, we suggest they read what we just said and take advantage of some great attributes that are out there and have not been explored to the fullest. Step out of the top line box and think “what if?” That is always the gift of every genius and of the best artist in the world, “a what if?” is all it takes. Many fantastic changes have occured in Ballroom dance and all it took was a what if? Radu & Xenia’s marks were 5,4,4,5,4.

Fifth in this excellent final of talented couples went to Richard Tonizzo & Clair Hansen with these marks 3,5,5,4,5, and sixth in all dances was awarded to Stefano DiBrino & Bianka Zubrowska. I am sure many teachers out there are thinking that we are encouraging a “mutiny,” and perhaps we are, this is some of America’s best talent on the floor and someone must make history and take us to another level beyond the “top line,” the talent is all there, we just need a “what if?”

The Open Professional Rhythm Championship was very interesting. Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin won the Championships with a majority of firsts from the judges and with perfect scores in the rumba. Had it not been for Alain Doucet they would have had perfect scores in the cha cha, they would have also had perfect scores in the bolero, but Anik Jolicoeur also awarded them that one second place. This was perhaps one of the best nights we have seen Dmitry & Olena perform, their work was almost faultless. We still think that in the prosses of them getting all their stuff down to almost perfection, they are missing out on the soul of the dances and what they are. With a little more understanding of the roots of the music they could be the couple to watch in the very near future, perhaps they need to pick up their trousers or skirt and walk through the creek and feel what the people felt when writing or singing the song!

Second in all dances was awarded to Aaron & Irina DeSoto. This was also perhaps the best we have seen from this couple, their connections and commitment to one another are terrific. Unfortunately for them, in order now to get ahead being together in rhythm is not good enough, they need to move beyond their choreography and tackle the road ahead with open minds and be ready to take an opportunity to push ahead. We must also point out that all the firsts lost by Dmitry & Olena went to the DeSotos.

Jan & Adele Don placed third in all dances, and in the bolero and swing they stole some 2nd places from the DeSotos. On this occasion we found Jan & Adele a little quiet and hard to find, when we did find them their dancing was clean and worthy of the third placement, but lacked the rhythm and understanding of every dance history and chemistry. We were a little surprised to see that Senzo Makhye & Agneszka Strojek placed third, we felt that with this very improved and musical rhythm they have discovered, they could have placed at least a placement higher on this day. Senzo & Agneszka took fourth with this marks 5,4,4,4,4.

David Nyemcheck & Maysen Wilder took fifth overall 4,5,5,5,5. We really like this partnership and they have a special something that could help them get far. However, at the moment it is all a very localized experience and so they are not projecting or completing some of their movement. We think that perhaps they should focus a little more on the meat and potato part of the style and leave some of those cute moves to be added in the future. Sixth place in all dances went to Nicolas Rodriguez & Paulina Struck.

The Professional Rising Star Smooth was run this same evening and like the night before with the Open Smooth it had a terrific entry. The winner in all dances were Vitalii Kaliuzhnyi & Talia Barrington, second was awarded to Vladyslav & Brianna Nalyvaychuk 2,2,2,4, leaving third to Pavel Lebedeb & Dinara Khayrulina with these marks 3,3,3,2. Maksim Leonov & Anastasia Zuchenko took fourth 4,4,4,5, Nick Haklin & Sarah Ford placed fifth 6,5,5,3, leaving sixth to Kevin & Michelle Camaratan with these marks 5,6,6,6.

The Professional Rising Star Latin also took place this night and the winners were Malachi Osai & Freda Chan 1,1,1,2,1, second went to Aleksei & Elena Minaev and they placed 3,2,2,1,2, leaving third to Danielle Fulvi & Veronica Criscione and they took 2,3,3,3,3.

Arunas Bezukas & Katusha Demidova 10-time World Professional Ballroom Champions and organizers of the North American Championships gave us another performance this time finishing with a very innovated tango “I’m A Survivor” bringing everyone to their feet, and with this the North American Championships concluded and we headed to an after party were we all had food and enjoy ourselves to early morning hours.

The pro-ams danced 2 styles during the day, Smooth & Latin. The Open Scholarships in the Smooth were the strongest divisions. The winners were: Lisa Lowery w/ Radek Wiatrowski (C), Celia Chou w/ Erminio Stefano (B), Frances Manning w/ Eric Koptke (Sen), Joan Smith w/ Anton Lebedev (A)

Let it Snow!

We arrived Wednesday, November 7th at the North America Championships in Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort.

It was a beautiful, clear day, as is the one we are experiencing today. In fact if it wasn’t for the fact that we had coats on, we could have been on a golf course in Florida. In fact, a number of attendees including Mr. Gary McDonald played golf already. The night came and we headed for the ballroom for the nightclub session. The next morning when we all woke early in the morning ready for the Rhythm session and we opened a window all around us as far as the eye could see it was all snow as white as Christmas and it kept snowing for most of the day!

This was okay for most of us since we came all this way for the North American Championships in the ballroom headed by the new organizers, Arunas Bezukas & Katusha Demidova. The afternoon sessions with the Pro/Am Rhythm and Ballroom went smooth as can be and the evening session showcased some excellent dancing. The Open Professional Smooth was possibly the best heat with a full semifinal round and some terrific dancing in sight.

Roman Malkhasyan & Galina Detkina won the event with a huge majority of firsts from most of the judges in all dances. Only three judges dissented from this decision - Alain Doucet from Canada with the scores of 2,1,3,2, Didio Barrera who awarded them 2,1,2,1, and Kristiina Ilo who awarded them a second in the foxtrot. Although we are not surprised with the majority decision for Roma & Galina we could see how these three could easily dissent. Roman & Galina seem to be still having a little problem bringing the audience to their performance, they tend to be into each other with some interesting but complicated moves that sometimes detaches them as well from one another. We think them to be on the right track and with just a little more maturity they will soon be fighting for the top position in the land.

Second in all dances went to Slava Kostianets & Valeriia Kostianets, who from what we could tell were a little disappointed with their position. In looking at the marks we could say that Slava & Valeriia placed second as some would say, by the skin of their teeth. On their scorecard they had placements from second to fifth position. We are still great fans of this couple and we can say that perhaps the judges are a little too harsh on this couple. We loved the ariness and softness this couple produces in their dancing. They had a few traffic issues in a few dances but overall we think that with this easy style they could have challenged the top in at least a few dances. Jan & Adele Don took third overall and in looking at their scorecard we can see they stole a number of seconds from Slava & Valeriia. For us Jan & Adele are quite efficient with their work, it is usually clean and easy to understand, however, we feel they still are not able to create a style of their own, one that would challenge the top. Pavel Lebedev & Dinara Khayrulina from Canada placed fourth with these marks 4,5,4,4, Maksim Leonov & Anastasia Zuchenko took fifth 5,4,5,5, and Kevin & Michelle Camarata 6,6,6,6.

The Open Professional Latin was won easily by Alon Gilin & Anna Oblakova from Canada, placing first in all dances. Alon & Anna won cha cha, samba, and paso doble with perfect scores from the judges, in their rumba and jive they had a few judges dissent. In the rumba Alain Ducet and Tatiana Vainer awarded them second, in the Jive Ilya Ifrainov and Didio Barrera awarded them second place. Second in all dances was awarded to Dmitrii Chopenko & Valeria Khrapak, and in looking at their scorecard they got a majority of seconds in all dances. Third place went to Osai Malachi & Freda Chan 3,3,4,4,3, Aleksei Minaev & Elena Minaeva took fourth 4,4,3,3,4, and fifth in all dances went to Danielle Fulvi & Veronica Criscione.

There was also an interesting Amateur Ballroom Championship with two very talented and high level couples going head to head, Alex Dubovyk & Rickie Taylor and Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova. In the end it just came down to one dance with the winners being Alex & Rickie with these marks 2,2,1,1,1, and second being awarded to Samuel & Katerina with these marks 1,1,2,2,2. As you can see it was very close. At the moment our preference tends to go with Samuel & Katerina but are totally okay with Alex & Rickie taking the Championship home. These are two beautiful and talented couples who are joining a now very talented group of Amateur dancers in the USA. We must also point out that Yuliy Sannikov & Maria Zhukovskaya placed third in all dances, Alan Burns & Kelly Batchelor were fourth in all and Brian Noon & Erinn Seifer placed fifth.

A Rising Star Rhythm was run and the winners were Senzo Makhaye & Agnieska Strojek, second was awarded to Sergio Sanches & Rachel Sayotovitch, and third was awarded to David Nyemchek & Maysen Wilder.

Katusha Demidova & Arunas Bezukas treated us to two dances before the awards and they were very gracious with the audience and participants thanking them for being there and for their support.

Of the pro-am divisions, the Open Ballroom Scholarships were particularly good. The winners were Kyle Brown w/ Sergey Bondarenko S1, Maria Filia w/ Kamill Urbaniak S2, Carole Simmons w/ Sergei Pogonet B, Jill Bradford w/ Andrea Stefano C, Jennifer Lin w/ Radu Sterban A

It is a beautiful and clear day today, the same as when we arrived here to Chicago, it is great to see the sun and we look forward to a fun day of pro/am Latin and Smooth dancing, and whatever interesting competitions and surprises we get to see tonight.

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