Ohio Star Ball 2018

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The Best and the Worst!

Saturday we were served such a variety in all aspects of the competition.

The Professional Smooth was an amazing heat with the best of everything, the group competition was better than we’ve ever seen with all the couples offering a unique perspective in this fabulous style we call Smooth, we also saw some energizing Latin and Ballroom championships as well as the Taylor Dayne show of shows!

When it came to the best the Professional Smooth stole the night with some incredible Smooth dancing from a very talented group of “smoothies,” we were not just on the edge of our seats at times but up on our feet for some of the performances. The ballroom was packed for this event and the Smooth competitors did not disappoint. The rivalry between Nick Cheremukhin & Vicktorija and Max Sinitsa & Tatiana Selvirstova was possibly the best we have seen of late. Max & Tatiana having just won the Hollywood Championship against Nick & Viktorija increased the uncertainty and the fact they nearly tied at the US Championships in Orlando, Florida made this event the one competition to keep our eyes on. Even here at Ohio the seat of dance conservatism, where hardly any changes ever happen, we thought there might be a chance, but it was not to be Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija won the competition 3 to 1 with as expected Max & Tatiana taking the tango. We must also point out that Nick & Vicktorija won the three dances with a majority of firsts from the judges and so did Max & Tatiana in their tango. The only anomaly we saw in the marks was that Sarwat Kaluby awarded Nick & Viktorija a fifth place in the Viennese Waltz, we wonder what he saw that we all missed.

For us the competition was totally close and could have gone anywhere, even though we totally enjoyed Max & Tatiana who managed to showcase in every dance an artistry and shared passion no one has yet to have. This we think to be good and bad situation because it could easily be missed in a group setting with some of the judges need more impact to grab their attention (subtlety is not always a good gift). Nick & Vicktorija on the other hand did not miss a beat as always, as if on cue, consistency and correctness were in their favor and on this occasion that was all that was needed to secure the top position in this massive arena.

When it came to the Showdance, Max & Tatiana executed a tango that left us all in awe and on our feet for quite a long standing ovation. Talk about perfect artistry in motion, their tango started with a controversy where Tatiana did not want to go into the floor, so much so that even Brent Mills on music seemed unsure when to press play, Max had to leave the floor to explain to him what was going on (you had to be there to fully understand, and appreciate). This early argument between them set them up for an incredible, passionate tango, one that culminated with a major standing ovation and a first place in the Showdance portion of the program for them. Nick & Viktorija Showdance’s number started with their usual drama of a suffering girlfriend, wife or dance partner, whatever it was as usual the suffering was maintained throughout the routine, unfortunately for them a better and even more improved suffering routine surfaced, this time with Galina Detkina & Roman Malkhasyan, we have to say that although there was lots of drama in this routine they still managed to capture our minds and hearts and that of the judges’ to place second in this challenge, leaving Nick & Viktorija holding third for their Show dance.

When the awards were called you could see the joy of relief especially by Victoria when she and Nick were awarded first place in the group competition. There must have been such a joy that it even overpowered their third place position in the Showdance portion of the competition. The tragedy of this final was the overall third place finish for Travis & Jaimee Tuft who we are sure were hoping for a better return, and all they got was third overall and even a fourth in their Viennese Waltz. As far as their solo was concerned, we felt that it was possibly good enough to place higher but it was not to be on this night the best they got was a fourth place finish even a worse result for them.

Fourth place in the group competition went to one of our favorite couples Yegor Novikov & Aleksandra Smirnova with these marks 4,4,4,3. We have to say that this was the best performance we have seen from them of late and Aleksandra’s hair beautifully pinned up allowing us to see her beautiful neck and shoulder lines clearly completed and complimented their performance, we can obviously see why they judges awarded them third in the Viennese Waltz. Yegor & Aleksandra did a Mowtown “sultry” routine that we would not say was the best but for sure not the worst, and on this night it for certainly did the trick and scored fifth place in the Showdance overall.

Fifth place in all dances went to Roman Malkhasyan & Galina Detkina, and here as always a very interesting performance unfortunately things are still needing some work. Someone mentioned to us at the bar later that evening that perhaps the fact that they are both so brilliant and talented on their own makes it hard for them to gel together quickly. We do hope to see their performance be more fluid, because if they do they could easily place higher or even win. As we mentioned their dramatic and interesting performance was good enough to place them second above Nick & Viktorija.

Sixth place went to Sergiy Samchynsky & Yuliya Besarab who also gave an excellent performance even though at times we wish they would define their musicality and interpretation a little more on the dances, once they do this it really going to get really challenging in the upper tier of this final. By the way their solo routine was terrific and very cleverly “sweet” would be a word to describe their show, but perhaps it was not good enough for the judges who thought it to be the worst of the group and awarded them sixth place overall. In the judges’ defense we most say that although we have best or worst opinion on everyone’s performance, this group of Smooth dancers were the best of the night and we were so privileged to have been able to witness this competition.

The Professional Latin was the other featured event this final night of the Ohio Star Ball and on this night we have to give the group a qualifying “Best.” Some of the players were terrific while other were a little green, this perhaps was due to the World Professional Latin Championship running at the same time in Blackpool, England, and we know many of our US couples were there to compete. The winners by far were Mikhailo Bilopukhov & Anastasiia Shehypilina who won all dances with a huge majority of firsts from the judges. This couple for us is one of the best Latin couples right now in the USA and with every outing they are getting better and better.

Artur Tarnavskyy & Anastasia Danilova took second in all dances with a majority of seconds as well. Alon Gilin & Anna Oblakova placed third overall with this marks 4,3,4,4,4, as you can see they won third place with only one third on their score card. Lucky for Alon & Anna the other couples might have been given a third as well but they also got worst marks than they did. Francesco & Sabrina Bertini who we would have thought might win some judges’ hearts or at least part of the crowd, placed fourth and this is what they managed to get from the judges 3,4,6,5,3. Ivan Mulyaka & Karin Rooba, Dance Beat’s home couple (Miami) took fifth position with these marks 5,5,3,3,5, and Sasha Altukhov & Cheyenne Murillo placed sixth 6,6,5,6,6.

When it comes to the Latin Showdances the Professional Latin will possibly go as the “worst” of all the Professional Showdances we saw at the Ohio Star Ball this year. All we have to say is that perhaps the couples could have given this challenge a little more thought like the other couples did in the other styles. The winners overall with only 3 first place marks on their score card were Francesco & Sabrina Bertini who did a fast cha cha mix where they tried to showcase fast speed and musicality, all we have to say is that the number “fizzle” out at the end, leaving us wanting more.

Second in the showdance went to Mikhailo Bilopukhov & Anastasiia Shehypilina, doing an “Native American.” The dancing in the number was great unfortunately for them there were too many “Indians” in this final with Cheyenne Murillo & Sasha Altukhov also presenting an this type of number. We can see why Cheyenne & Sasha’s “Indian” number placed third, their dancing was not as good as Mikhailov & Anastasiia and Mikhailov also had a full “Indian” outfit to match Anastasiia. Just foot note couples.

Ivan Mulyaka & Karin Robba placed fourth on their showdance, theirs was like watching “Barbarella” a paso doble to some futuristic sound that included some opera singing, I think the music might have been from the “enigma” album. Things did not improve from here, Artur Tarnaski & Anastasia Danilova did a number where he portrayed a boxer and she the boxer’s assistant and we leave it at that. Last went to Alon Gilin & Anna Oblakova, who did a number that we are almost sure they were not prepared to do, and it looked as if this challenge caught them by surprise, however we were not surprised on them placing sixth in this challenge, even the costumes seemed as a last minute decision.

The Amateur Ballroom was another good thing for this night of competition. As expected Oleksandr Kalenyuk & Olena Ablitsova took first in all dances, leaving all second place to Mikhail Vorobiev & Natalia Kozhevnikova and they too got second in all dances. Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova placed third with these marks 3,3,3,4,3, and Artur Nabok & Michelle Yiu were fourth 5,4,4,5,4. Fifth place was awarded to Alexandr Dubovyk & Rickie Taylor 6,5,5,3,5, and Florin & Natalia Vlad were sixth 4,6,6,6,6.

Continuing with the “best and the worst” the Taylor Dayne show of shows, as far as we can tell from the audience’s perspective was even better than the night before, this time we actually saw Taylor Dayne holding her mic close to her heart as she poured out her top single “Tell it to my Heart.” The best thing for us was the retirement of the current United States Professional Rhythm Champions, Nazar Norov & Irina Kudryashova. The retirement started with a video profile of their lives from their start to this dramatic conclusion.

The evening concluded with the usual morning after “dinner-breakfast” in the Regency Ballroom, where the top awards were given and we must announce that after a year of competition, this year’s World Dancesport Series Top Teacher and $25,000.00 purse went to Tommy Radon. Second top teacher was Marcio De Souza, and third was awarded to Josh Tillford. The top student World Dancesport Series honor went to Shella Tuck.

Place and Show!

At the Ohio Star Ball for many years now if you “place” in the final of the open professional championships of the Smooth, Rhythm, Ballroom or Latin, you automatically get to do a short and sweet “show.”

This was originally done for the television audience when it was broadcast for the PBS television but nowadays it is an entertaining feature, Friday and Saturday night at the competition. That along with an all-star show at the end of these evenings including singing sensation Taylor Dayne makes the Ohio Star Ball a different and special dance competition.

The first final of the evening was the Open Amateur Latin Championship that started with a quarter final round in the afternoon. In the end six excellent couples took to the floor for this final, and Tal Livshitz & Ilana Keselman won the competition. We must point out that Tal & Ilana won four dances and placed second in the samba, we should also mention that they won the cha cha, paso, and jive with a majority of firsts. However it was not the same in the rumba, they were close and missed the majority by one first place mark, only six judges awarded them first. The winners of the samba placed second on this heat and that was Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabriella Sabler, they also received most of the firsts that Tal & Ilana lost.

From third position down the couples scores’ got a little more varied. Artem Zhychuk & Natasha Shevchenko placed third 3,3,4,3,4; fourth place was awarded to Nikita Vasilenko & Olivia Agranovich 4,5,5,4,3; fifth place went to Andriy & Amanda Besyedin 5,4,3,5,5, and sixth were Ron Garber & Kaludia Petriti and they took sixth in all dances.

The professional championships started with some real Theatrical Solo Exhibitions, there were six couples in this final and this is how they placed Nathan Brouwer & Dena Anne Weiner placed sixth with their usual Superman number, overall they did quite well only a few slip ups were noticed, but nothing major the judges with the exception of Sarwat Kaluby awarded them all sixth place marks. Fifth place was awarded to Douglas Dombrowik & Angel Fox, here the judges fell in line and the majority felt this is where they should place, we also have to agree, although they did some excellent lifts their program was not as organized as some of the other couples. Fourth place was awarded to Zachery Pohl & Ariel Freiich, we thought their number to be well organized and improving all the time, for us it got a little disheveled at the end and this might have caused them to not place higher. Third place went to Clifton Sepulveda & Mar Martinez, we though this was a well-executed routine, possibly the best we have seen from this couple, and in looking at the marks there were three judges that felt the same or better and they awarded them first. However, this song has been used so much in dance in the past that we are sure this might play in the minds of some of the judges, thinking of the previous people to use this song, this might be a good thing or a bad thing for them, after all judges are people too. Second wen to a very seasoned player, Craig Smith & Andrea Harvey, and we have to say we were very impressed with their performance and we would have been just as happy if they would have won. The winners were Alyenendrov Tsorokean & Maria Wheeler and we have seen this couple dance for a while and we have to say that they have moved up the bar in this Cabaret/Theatrical division. Congratulations very well deserved, excellent lift entrance and exits and best of all smooth transitions.

Now to the meat and potatoes of the competition the Professional Rhythm and Ballroom. It was a double whammy for Andre & Natalie Paramonov who won both the Showdance and the group competition in the Rhythm. And we also have to tip our hat to them for doing a Showdance without the now usual comedy shtick we see nowadays. In the group competition Andre & Natalie won all dances with a majority of firsts from the judges. Although they had quite a few firsts in every dance we also noticed that some judges marked them lower than second place. There are a couple that we must point out - Carlos Pabon awarded them 5,6,5,5,5, Linda Dean was another she awarded them 3,3,3,4,5, and there was also Martin Cawston and he gave them 4,3,4,2,5. We must also point out that although we were quite taken by Andre & Natalie’s solo performance some of the judges were not, we can say that because they did not win this dance with a majority of firsts they missed this by one first place mark. But you know what they say nowadays it is all about winning and in the end they won everything! Congratulations!

Danas Jaksevicius & Yuki Haraguchi placed second in all dances and yes, they did take some firsts from Andre & Natalie but if you look at the marks you can see the judges were all over the place with this couple. In their Showdance they did not fair as well as they did in the group competition, in this challenge they fell to third position. Danas & Yuki used some of the comedy now used by many couples but it did not work as well for them as for others, only one judge thought they should be first, David Kloss and three thought they should be second. Third in the group competition went to Ilya Velednitskiy & Mariya Ilchenko with these marks 3,3,3,3,5. As you can see the judges did not like their mambo, even the one judge that gave them a few firsts in the final, Bree Watson, could not bring herself to give them higher than a second place in this dance. The judges also were not happy with their solo performance where they placed sixth, come to think of it we have to agree this was not a good version of Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse.

Fourth place in the group competition went to Shane & Shannon Jensen and they took fourth in every dance. In looking at the marks a few judges were really taken by this couple’s performance and they awarded them first in nearly every dance. These judges were Martin Cawston who awarded them 1,1,1,1,2, and Marianne Nicole and she awarded them 1,1,1,1,2. We were very surprised that Shane & Shannon did not do better in the Showdance portion of the competition, this being their forte, but apparently the judges crave the comedy numbers better, so perhaps next time they could wear a “rabbit” being chase by a “coyote” and they would fair better.

Fifth in the Rhythm went to Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin 5,5,5,5,3. Some judges awarded them a few firsts but not enough to make them go higher. Their showdance was a complete success. They played the roles of two very old people and it was apparently good enough for the judges to award them second overall. It was not a very good night for Aaron & Irina DeSoto who placed sixth in every dance, and apparently not cute enough of funny enough for the judges in their solo number they were fifth in this challenge.

Like in the Rhythm pure dancing won both challenges in the Professional Ballroom with Victor Fung & Anastasia Muravyeva taking first in all challenges. But this time Victor & Anastasia won four dances with perfect scores in four dances from all judges and nearly a perfect run if it was not for Giampiero Giannico who awarded them second in the Viennese Waltz.

From here down it was not so perfect for all the other competitors. Rudy Homm & Katia Kanevskaya placed second overall with these marks 3,2,3,2,2, and in looking at their scorecard they got everything from seconds to sixth places in nearly every dance. There solo performance did not go so well, on their scorecard they did not get anything higher than a third place mark and that was from one judge. We have to agree with the judges it was hard to understand the young and old “Elvis” impersonation, or was it fat and skinny? Well, it was hard to put a finger on it literally, only they understood what went on. In this showdance performance Rudy & Katia 6th.

Third overall was awarded to Iaroslav & Lillia Bieliev 2,3,2,3,3, we must point out that they did mange to get enough marks from 3 or higher to secure their third place position. But we were a little stunned that they got some sixth place marks from some of the judges, Ann Harding from Canada was possibly their most consistent sixth place, here are her marks 6,6,6,6,5. They also did not do quite as well this time in their showdance, in this venture they placed fourth overall, a place lower than in their group competition. Only Linda Dean thought their show was worth a first place mark, we also thought it was interesting with Iaroslav holding a very long train that came out of her dress and using it throughout the routine, clever but perhaps not funny enough for this group of judges that seam to want a good chuckle!

Fourth in the group competition went to Vladishlav Shakhov & Ekaterina Popova and they took fourth in all dances. Their score card was a pot pourri of marks from second to sixth place but not one first place was given to them by any judge. In the showdance they got a place lower fifth place and here too they got a variety of marks but no firsts. However, they did get a second from Colin Hilary. Oskar Wojciechowski & Karoline Holody placed fifth overall in the group competition 5,6,5,5,6. Oskar & Karoline opted to do a “Grease” themed number and it was entertaining enough to give them a third place finish in this challenge.

Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova were awarded sixth overall in the group competition with 6,5,6,6,5, and we have to say it was a great night with Oscar & Lenka being one of the few couples that caught our eye over and over and this was due to their excellent musicality and the fact that they seemed to really enjoy their dancing. In the Showdance portion they were a complete hit placing second in this venture, the approval of the judges was noticed on their scorecard where 5 judges awarded them first for this showdance. Oscar wore a princess outfit and Lenka an animal costume. It was cute specially when she used a spray! So the moral of the story is cute and funny wins at the Ohio Star Ball unless you have tremendous dancing to compete.

The World Pro/Am Dancesport Series in the Latin Division took place yesterday afternoon and here there was some terrific Latin dancing in the Regency Ballroom. The “B” World Pro/Am Series Latin Championship went to Missy White w/ Genya Bartashevich and she took first in four dances and second in the jive. Mirra Blinova Thorpe w/ Clement Joly placed second with 3,2,2,2,4, and third was awarded to Sabrina Nirchi w/ Danny Arbur from Canada and here are their marks 4,4,3,3,1. Fourth was Natalia Levashova w/ Denis Medvedev 2,3,4,4,3, fifth went to Brijet Whitney w/ Damir Karaman 5,5,5,6,6, and sixth was Maria Rgopoulos w/ Artur Tarnavskyy 6,6,6,5,5.

In the “A” Division the winner in all dances was Sabrina Strasser w/ Stanishlav Kochernin and we must point out that they won four dances with a majority of firsts in these dances, the only dance they did not get a majority but were super close was the samba. Second in all dances was awarded to Nicole Pierzchalski w/ Vlad Astafiev, this lady stole a few firsts from the winners especially in the samba where she took 4 first place marks from the champions. The only dance where she did not take a first was in the paso doble. Third in this excellent Latin championship was awarded to Deborah Tipley w/ Paul Richardson 4,4,3,3,4; fourth went to Ying w/ Yegor Novikov 3,3,4,6,5; fifth was Meera Mehta w/ Kristijan Burazer 5,5,6,4,3, and sixth was Zoe Antoniou w/ Andre Strinadko 6,6,5,5,6.

There was one terrific gentleman senior championship in the Latin division totally worth a mention and here first place went to Richard Boudreau w/ Inga Sirkaite 1,1,1,1,1. Second was Tom Dukes w/ Iliyana Ilieva 2,2,2,4,3; third was awarded to David Zaleske w/ Irina Kudryashova 3,3,5,2,2; Ram Viswanathan w/ Sarika Hudson placed fourth 6,4,3,3,5, Lawrence Casey w/ Milana Plimer were fifth 5,6,6,5,7, Ronald Morse w/ Yana Mazhnikova were sixth 4,8,8,7,4 , Daniel Kristoff w/ Svetlanta Rudkokskaya were seventh 7,7,4,8,6, and David Werdal w/ Yulia Kornilova was eighth 8,5,7,6,8.

The “C” Pro/Am World Dancesport Series in the Latin division was also terrific and here Deborah Wright w/ Nikolay Voronovich won every dance. Second overall went to Lorraine Peoples w/ Genya Bartashevich 4,2,2,2,2; third was awarded to Sophia D’Angelo w/ Nikolai Pilipenchuk 3,4,3,4,3; fourth went to Marina Svyatets w/ Aleksandor Vukosavljevic 2,3,4,3,6; fifth was Rhonda Lynch w/ Stephan McCann 5,5,5,5,4, and sixth was awarded to Andrea Bennington w/ Ivan Mulyavka 6,6,6,6,6.

The Senior 2 Latin was also excellent and here Susan Sordoni w/ Francesco Arietta won all dances. Edith Springer w/ Erik Pali placed second in all dances, and Priscilla Dahlen w/ Emanuele Pappacena took third overall 3,3,4,3. Ram Viswanathan w/ Sarika Hudson were fourth 4,4,3,5, Lawrence Casey w/ Milana Pliner were fifth overall 5,5,5,4, and sixth went to Wilma Young w/ Werner Figar and they got sixth in all dances.

The Show of Shows featuring Taylor Dayne and dancers went well. A few former champions were featured. This show followed the competitions and Taylor sang some of her more prominent tunes, with some backup from dancers. She also had a very busy schedule doing a meet and greet earlier on the day. Two of our favorite blasts from the past Nick Cotton and Maria Hansen’s legendary Toilet Paper routine and another look at Andrew Phillips and Kasia Kozak.

Today we should continue in Battell Hall with more exciting competition, showdances, and the show of shows, part 2, once again featuring Taylor Dayne, and we will have it all for you here tomorrow.

Smooth Operators!

Yesterday in the late afternoon and into the earlier part of the night the “Best of the Best” competitions were finally decided after an entire year of competitions around the US, with couples challenging each other to compete for the privilege of representing their competition at the Ohio Star Ball with an exhibition.

And Smoothly we then sailed into the Pro/Am and Amateur World Dancesport Series Smooth Championships, where some very skilled dancers challenged each other, to finish after midnight in the Regency Ballroom

To begin with, we must start with the “Best of the Best” and the best solo exhibitions we witnessed during this long prosses of elimination. The Best of the Best shows began with the bronze division and after many pages of 1:30 minute showcases, including some that went over the time, Celine Liu with Evgeny Likhachev won the Bronze World Dancesport Series Best of the Best competition. The Silver division was a little controversial after the award was presented to a couple it was announced later that there had been a major computer error and that we had a new winner and this was Kim Farrara w/ Marek Gabor. In the Gold everything went smoothly, so smoothly that we got down to the naked truth “literally”, and we mean very little material was used on this costume. Missy White who won the gold, sported a little black lace neglige and her teacher, Genya Barteshevich, wore nothing on top. It was suggested by the MC that when they danced an honor dance in Battell Hall, during the show tonight, they should probably wear some clothes.

The Best of the Best competitions were great but we also had some major sparks in the Pro/Am and Amateur Smooth divisions this same evening. The Open Amateur Smooth Championship was a 5-couple final but it was full of talent couples and it kept our attention until the very end. Robert McShinsky & Serena Keck won the event and every dance and from our perspective this was a well-deserved position for this young couple. Second overall was awarded to Charles Lloyd & Hanna Weiss and they took second in every dance. Third overall was awarded to Justin Chiou & Hannah Bundus 3,3,4,3, fourth was awarded to Thomas Kyle w/ Heather Slater 4,4,3,4, leaving fifth to Drew Asher w/ Angeleena Wheatley who took fifth in every dance.

The Seniors continued to reign this night, but this time in the Smooth divisions with enough couples to run three complete senior divisions, the open Senior 3 dance, the Senior 1 and Senior 2 World Dancesport Series Smooth Championships. We must also point out that the Senior 1 started early evening with 37 seven couples entered, a fantastic number for this division, and this Senior I World DanceSport Series Championship went to Linda Gill w/ Roman Malkhasyan winning all dances. Although Linda won every dance she never got the majority of firsts in any dance, the most firsts she got was in the tango where she gathered 4 first place marks. In other words, she had to depend on “second or better” marks to win the dances. There are no words to describe how happy Linda was to secure this position, a surprise she was not expecting.

Second in this championship went to a very seasoned player and one that has won this honor in a number of division here in the same Ohio Star Ball in past years, Beverly Moore w/ Alain Doucet. She placed second in three dances and fourth in the Viennese Waltz. Third position in this final went to Kristi Nadvornik w/ Mayo Alanen with these marks 3,3,3,2. We were actually a little shocked to see this lady place this low in this competition, from where we stood this lady had everything to challenge the very top in this division. Fourth overall was awarded to Diana Best w/ Alosha Anatoliy, another excellent player in this competition and one that is a joy to watch as are many of these front runners. Fifth in all dances place went to Connie Caruso w/ Kamil Urbaniak and sixth was awarded to Julia Wang & Aaron Talbert.

The Open Senior 3 dance was an easy win to Penelope Rostad w/ Nikolay Karchev wining all three dances with a majority of firsts in all dances. Second wen to Lyn Riddle w/ Sergiy Samchynskyy in all dances and third place was awarded to Julia Wang w/ Aaron Talberg. Fourth place wen to Betty Seagull w/ Gage Clark 4,5,4, Joan Page w/ Gunnar Sverrisson was fifth 5,4,5, and sixth in all dances went to Anna Goldstein w/ Andrey Gergel.

The Senior 2 World Dancesport Series Championship was awarded to Sally Hess w/ Darius Mosteika placing first in all three dances. JoAnn Yates w/ Sergey Vasilyek was second 2,2,3, Susan Sordoni w/ Francesco Arietta was third 3,4,2. Fourth was awarded to Annie Crane w/ Maksym Sidak 4,3,4, Feminia Mac w/ Vladimir Popov was fifth, Edith Springer w/ Erik Pali took sixth in all dances, Ram Viswanathan w/ Sarika Hudson was seventh and Phil Schaenman w/ Daria Zotova placed eighth.

The rest of the World Pro/am Smooth Dancesport Series Championships were excellent and well attended. The “A” was one of them and here Natasha Namen w/ Aleksandr Skriptsov won overall by placing first in three dances and second in the waltz. We totally agreed with this judges’ decision Natasha was perhaps the most fluid competitor in the group and she made you notice her from the start. Second overall went to Brittany Falconer w/ Peter Walker, another excellent lady in this final, we are totally not surprised by Brittany’s win in the waltz, she was great from the word go. It is such a shame that two first places could not be offered because she too deserved a first place in this heat.

Third in this “A” heat went to Olivia Zttergren w/ Mazen Hamza 3,4,3,3. In a surprise entry not expected in this division, Sophia D’Angelo w/ Max Sinitsa placed fourth overall 4,3,4,4. We said surprise because this lady usually enters the “B” or even the “C” category and not the “A”. Fifth in all dances was awarded to Kailee Donovan w/ Gunnar Sverrison, and sixth overall was given to Rebecca Mandell w/ Marko Urosevic 6,6,7,6, leaving seventh to Nichelle Kennedy w/ Aleks Nashev 7,7,6,7. We must also point out how difficult the decisions in this final must have been for the judges, not one of this couples got a majority of firsts in any dance.

The “B” category was also quite good and here the win went to Celia Chou w/ Erminio Stefano placing first in all dances. Celia won three dances with a majority of firsts from the judge, but in the Viennese Waltz she had to rely on “second or better” marks to win. Celia did lose 3 or 4 first place marks in every dance and her worst judge was former US Professional Smooth Champion David Hamilton, who awarded her 4,5,4,5. Second in all dances was awarded to Selene Steelman w/ Travis Tuft, third overall went to Amanda Levine w/ Morten Jensen with this marks 3,3,3,4, fourth was awarded to Patricia Schneider w/ Slawek Sochacki 4,4,4,3, fifth overall went to Stacy Tilford w/ Josh Tilford 5,6,5,5, and sixth was Laurie Meer w/ Kirill Gorjatsev 6,5,6,6. We were a little shocked to see Laurie place so low, we really thought she would at least make it to the top three in this, but we were not judging, just watching.

The “C” division of the World Pro/Am Smooth Dancesport Series went to a very seasoned player and one that has won this competition a number of times, Lynn Shanahan w/ Darius Mosteika. Lynn won all dances with a majority of firsts from the judges. Lynn’s worst marks in her tabulation column came from David Kloss who awarded her 4,6,6,5. Second overall was awarded to Meredith Kaplan w/ Sergey Vasilyev 3,2,2,2, and third went to Sherry Dong w/ Dmitry Ilyushenov 2,3,4,4. As you can tell the judges were having a hard time placing these last two couples than Lynn. Rose-Ann Lynch w/ Kirill Gorjatsev placed fourth 6,4,5,3, fifth went to Angela Fuller w/ Sasha Tsyhankov 5,5,3,6, and sixth was awarded to Charlene Proctor w/ Mikhail Zharinov 4,6,6,5. As we mentioned earlier, take a look at the very varied marks from the judges in this final. We have to say that perhaps the ladies in this category were very close in talent and performance.

The World pro/Am Dancesport Series Nine dance also came to a conclusion last night and here one more time the “A” went to a man Stefan Tuomanen w/ Michelle Officer with this marks starting with the Smooth into the Rhythm dances 2,1,1,1,1,1,2,2,2,1. Abigail Montalbo w/ Slash Sharan placed second 5,3,5,4,2,2,1,1,1,2, and third was awarded to Gabriella Pumo w/ Steve McGrath 3,4,3,3,4,4,3,4,5,3. The “B” category had a fantastic win by Angela Fuller dancing with Sasha Tsyhankov who nearly had perfect scores in every dance, the only dance where she got a second was in her foxtrot, second overall went to Irene Wong w/ John Campbell 3,3,1,2,2,2,3,2,5,2, and third was awarded to Leanna Wenderoth w/ Kirill Gorjatsev 2,2,3,3,4,5,5,4,4,3.

Today we have two ballrooms going the Regency Ballroom and Battell hall, the professional competitions will begin today and we expect to see Taylor Dayne live in full show mode in Battell Hall. We will bring you the highlights tomorrow here in Dance Beat covering the Dancesport news for generations.

The Senior Class Rocks!

The Senior or, “older adults” should we say, last night rocked the house at the Ohio Star Ball.

The Senior 1 division was the largest of all the scholarships with a huge quarter-final round and when it came to dancing, there were no “seniors” out there to be seen. We got great dancing, fabulous energy and fit artists.

The winner of the Senior 1 World Dancesport Series Rhythm division, Diana Best dancing with Alosha Anatoly, is a perfect example of our last statement. And we must also add that the top three in this division were fantastic and it would not have surprised us if any one of them had wound up the champion in this division. The rest of the final too, the ladies were fit and totally ready for this challenge and we would say that a few of them could have been placed higher here too.

Diana Best, the judges’ candidate for the front-runner, did not win any dances with a majority of firsts, but she did win 2 dances – 2,1,2,1. Second in this terrific Senior 1 Rhythm Championship went to Leslie McLeod w/ Melbin De La Cruz with these marks 1,3,2,4. All we can say about this lady is she is a “spitfire!” She has tremendous energy and is very rhythmical. Unfortunately for Leslie her marks in the rumba and bolero, especially in the bolero as you can see, were not in her favor. Third place in this excellent final went to Kelly Akol w/ Jeremy Pilling 6,2,3,3, proving what we have said that these ladies were on fire last night. Fourth overall went to Lois Fein w/ Aleksandor Vukosavljevic 3,4,4,5; fifth was Hope Huber w/ Eddie Stutts 5,5,5,2, and sixth was awarded to Luna Vida w/ Kristijan Burazer 4,6,6,6.

The rest of the World Pro/Am Rhythm Dancesport Series started with a semifinal rounds and many of them were also excellent. The “C” Division was one of these terrific competitions. Lynn Magnesen w/ Tykhon Zhyvuov won this division easily from our perspecitve and that of the judges who awarded her the majority of firsts in every dance. The rest of the final was also quite good and down to third place was very clear for the judges. Angela Fuller w/ Sasha Tsyhankov took second in all dances and Cheryl Lysik w/ Shandoe Shtefil placed third in all dances. From here down things got a little murkier. Janice Stanton w/ Clive Phillips took fourth overall 5,6,4,4,6, as you can see her marks were all over the place indicating the judges had a harder time placing this lady. Marcy Garson w/ Ilya Reyzin was fifth 4,4,6,6,5, and the most excited finalist in this heat who was jumping for joy when she was included, Cecilia Torres w/ Eddie Rivera was sixth, although only in one dance 6,5,5,5,4!

The “A” World Pro/Am Rhythm Dancesport Series started also with a semifinal round and here Marinda James – Heskett w/ Jeremy Piling won the competition hands down with a huge majority of first from the judges in every dance. We totally applaud this decision she was also the best by far in this division from our point of view. We cannot say the judges felt the same for Abigail Montalbo w/ Slash Sharan who placed second overall with this marks 2,2,3,2,3. With the exception of the rumba, this lady had to depend on “fourth or higher” marks to secure her second placement in the cha cha and bolero. A newer face to us placed third overall and this was Jailene Espinosa w/ Eddie Rivera and she placed third 3,3,2,4,2. Fourth fell to Levina Kasmara w/ Gleb Makarov 4,5,5,5,5. Fifth place went to Pooja Himovich w/ Kristijan Burazer with this marks 5,4,4,6,6, and sixth was awarded to Mariel Viggers w/ Josh Tilford 6,6,6,3,4. As you can see by all the marks from second to sixth place was very contested and the judges had a very hard time making up their minds where to place these couples. We have to take our hats off to the judges and we have to agree that with the exception of first place this was a very difficult decision in all placements.

The “B” division was also very interesting and here once again like year after year a man took the honor of being the World Pro/Am Rhythm Dancesport Series Champion and that is Giovanni Fortezza w/ Jolanta Mosteika placing first in all dances once again with a huge majority of firsts from the judges. In looking at the marks as we said Giovanni had a majority of firsts from the judges, however, we were very surprised to see that any of the judges dissented. On last night’s performance Giovanni in our opinion had the lead from the start of the competition, there was not a single competitor that could have surpassed his performance. Giovanni’s work was clean and easy to read, and stood out from the word go in these final. We were surprised to see the same three judges mark him down in every dance - Andrew Phillips who awarded him 3rd in every dance, Ron Montez who also followed suit and awarded him third in every dance and Sveta Daly who really surprised us awarding him 5th in four dances and fourth in the cha cha.

In this same “B” division second in all dances and well deserved in our opinion wen to Nichelle Kennedy w/ Aleks Nashev. We must point out that any of the firsts that Giovanni lost went to Nichelle and we are not surprised. Nichelle was not as consistent as Giovanni but an excellent player in this final. From here down things as you will see once again got a little murky. Third overall was awarded to Kelly Lakas w/ Evgenii Grytsak 3,4,4,5,3; fourth place went to Mytia McNeil w/ Damir Karaman 4,3,3,6,4; fifth was awarded to Irene Wong w/ John Campbell 6,5,5,4,6; Tracy Hannon w/ Lurii Kora placed sixth 7,7,7,3,5 and Andi Wolff w/ John Holzworth was seventh 5,6,6,7,7.

With this the World Pro/Am Rhythm Dancesport Series came to a conclusion and tonight we should see the Smooth division at work and we expect it to be exciting and full of surprises.



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