Holiday Dance Classic 2018

(5 votes)

Signaling to Explode!

Yesterday at the Holiday Dance Classic, the Professional Smooth was a terrific competition even when the top two dogs in the nation were not in attendance.

So is this a signal that things are about to flare up in the Smoothies world for 2019? What a Holiday that would be!

There are too many things happening at the moment in this style to ignore. The current United States Champions, Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija, just recently lost to the second in command Max Sinitsa & Tatiana Seleverstova at Hollywood Dancesport and then just about a week ago the winners last night, Yegor Novikov & Alexandra Smirnova beat Nick & Vicktorija in Moscow, Russia!

Last night for us Yegor & Alexandra gave a fantastic performance and one that put them on the very top spot of this field, so soft, shaping and moving, that you could hardly keep your eyes away from them, but this was not as easy as we might make it sound. On the floor challenging them was Roman Malkhasyan & Galina Detkina, who as well are super talented and are pushing hard to the point where last night they stole the foxtrot away from Yegor & Alexandra. In looking at the marks, Yegor & Alexandra won three dances with a majority of firsts, but in the foxtrot they lost their grip. Here Roman & Galina won the dance with a huge majority of firsts and left Yegor & Alexandra holding only five first marks in this dance. Perhaps this might just be a signal for them to take a look at their foxtrot and prepare for that tremendous explosion that is about to occur in 2019 within the Smooth world.

Roman & Galina won the foxtrot and placed second in the other three dances, giving them a second place overall finish. Also excellent and placing third in all dances were Sergeiy Samchynskyy & Yuliya Besarab, who with the exception of the tango their scorecard was filled with third and fourth place marks from the judges. Tango was their best scored dance with only 2 fourth plaes and rest thirds. We have to totally agree with the judges on their tango, they have beautiful characterization of this dance that we would even think might challenge the top.

Fourth overall was awarded to Nikolai Pilipenchuk & Sarika Hudson and very deservedly so. In fact as we mentioned in their score column contained a lot of 3rd places marks. From here down for us the final separated and left the last three couples that made it to the final, fighting for the rest of the positions. Radek Wiatrowski & Zhenia placed fifth with these marks 6,5,5,5, Stephen & Elisa McCann were sixth 5,6,6,6,6, and seventh in all dances was awarded to Pavel Lebedev & Dinara.

We must point out a pet peve of ours and that is the desire by so many of this women to eliminate their last name from their existence as if to trying to enlarge their stature when it totally does the opposite. All we have to say now is what Tina Turner once said “when everything is said and done all you have is your last name and I intend to keep mine.”

The Professional Latin was also a terrific competition, and here Andrei Kazlouski & Asta Sigvaladottir took first in all dances, and they took a majority of first in four dances but not in the paso doble where they missed their majority by one first place mark. We thought they were clear winners last night even though we might have to agree with some that felt that it was not their best performance, but as we responded to them they were still good enough to win and most had to agree. Second in all dances was awarded to Artur Tarnavskyy & Anastasia Danilova, with the exception of the cha cha and rumba they only needed seconds or better to be on this position, in their cha cha, and rumba they needed third and better to hold to that second placement.

Third and fourth place as you will see was nearly a tie between Lukas & Simona Alisauskas from Lithuania and Evgeny Likhachev & Maria Levina. Lukas & Simona placed third by one mark 3,4,3,4,3, leaving Evgeny & Maria Holding fourth with these marks 4,3,4,3,4. For us we thought that both couples had a great night but we were totally impressed with Evgeny & Maria’s performance, they have not danced with this much soul in a long time, and for us last night’s performance was good enough to have them on a third place finish but as you can see we were not the only ones feeling that way, there was plenty of judges feeling the same and you can see it in how close the marks were.

Alon Gilin & Anna Oblakova took fifth in all dances and all we can say about their performance at this time was that it has potential, we know it has not been that long since they got together and being a ten-dance couple might take a little bit to get it all settled where they want to be. There is an abundance on talent in this couple and so we for sure expect to see great things from them. It was sad to see that Przemyslaw Modrzynski & Magdalena Zybura from Poland took all sixth places. We know their work might be a little outdated but it was still solid and in our opinion could have been placed a lot higher even a fourth place finish could have been appropriate for this couple in some of their dances.

In the Pro/Am Ballroom Categories there continued to be some surprises in the results leaving some of us nearly gasping for air in some of the categories.

In the “B” division some of the results hit us like a brick, we have never been so wrong in our predictions. Before we continue we must mention that the quality of the dancing was of an extremely high level and that perhaps having so many guest judges joining the panel from other countries, not knowing the US players and as one said “with so little time to absorb what was coming to you,” might have contributed to this phenomenon. This is not always a bad thing, but in some cases we found it a little disturbing and if you follow the pro/am circuit as we do you will see why when you read the marks. The winner of the “B” category was Dana Miller dancing with David Gozzi and she won overall with these marks 3,1,2,1,1. Second went to Brynda Insley w/ Martin Reinbold 2,2,1,2,2; third was Janet Simsic w/ Andrea Stefano 1,5,3,4,4; fourth was awarded to Julie Zhao w/ Denis Kutepov 4,3,5,3,3; fifth went to Elena Aristarhova w/ Vitaliy Denisov 7,4,4,6,5. For us, in this heat the catastrophy was the placement of Sabrina Zagolin w/ Yuriy Kravets in sixth position 6,6,6,5,6. We basically had predicted after the competition ended that this lady would perhaps win nearly every dance or at least place second. Her quality of dance was nearly above the rest in our opinion and she even had the record to prove, having won or placed in every major event in the USA to date. Never in our wildest dreams we would have expected her to be placed sixth nearly across the board, even on a bad day, and this was not it. Seventh position was awarded to Rebecca Kuhn & Andrea Faraci with this marks 5,7,7,7,7. All we can see by the marks is that the judges were really not sure about much. Their scorecards and placements were also all over the place so perhaps that one judge I was having a chat with might have a point after all.

In the “A” category the winner was Jennifer Lin w/ Radu Sterban winning all dances. Wanwan Tang w/ Igor Coloc placed second overall 2,3,2,2,2; third was Vinnie Miller w/ Karlis Treijs 3,2,3,4,3; fourth was Irene Lee w/ Egor Bezukladnikov 5,4,4,3,4; fifth went to Amiee Rae w/ Anton Koukareko 4,6,5,5,, and Jillian Degerness w/ Denis Generalov 6,5,6,6,6.

In the “C” division Jill Bradford w/ Andrea Stefano took first in all dances and we must say with a majority of firsts in every dance. We must agree with this decision, this lady was first class dancing from the word go and we would have been as shocked as we were with Sabrina Zagolin if she would have placed any less than first or second. However, even though this lady won all dances with a majority of firsts we must point out that Kingsley Gainsford from New Zealand awarded her these marks 3,4,4,5,5.

Agnes Mah w/ Julius Seniauskas took second 3,2,2,2,2, and we have to agree with this one as well. Agnes was terrific and a joy to watch. Third was awarded to Mike Brown w/ Anna Oblakova 4,3,4,4,3. It is so great to see two men make this final, we have come a long way from when the women dominated the pro/am arena, and in this event we had another man who placed fifth, Hans Stork w/ Inna Berlizyeva 5,5,3,5,4. Now going back to fourth place Sabrina Lee w/ Fabrizio Cravero 2,4,5,3,5, and in sixth position was Monica Yoon w/ Victor Veyrasset and she took sixth in all dances.

The Senior 1 was also a fantastic championship and one totally worth the mention and here Kyle Brown w/ Sergey Bondarenko took first in all dances. Second went to Kayoko Suzuki w/ Sergey Kiselev and that was in all dances. Third place was awarded to Susan Walter w/ Samuel Pacchini 4,3,3,4; Connie Lam w/ Evgeniy Mayorov was fourth 3,6,8,3; Linda Gill w/ Roman Malkhasyan was fifth 8,5,5,5; Chen Chan w/ Iaroslav Bieliei placed sixth 5,4,6,8; Elizabeth Cramer w/ Yuriy Kravets was seventh 7,8,4,6, and Cathy Chao w/ Serhiy Averkov took eighth 6,7,7,7.

The usual Holiday show that started the trend in doing shows on the last night where the judges dance along with the professionals was nearly shot down by the NDCA as Wendy Johnson organizer and for both the show and the competition explained before introducing what should have been a watered down version of what the Holiday Dance Classic used to be. As she explained in her monolog before the show began, she decided to let the judges have a go at the show and if worst came to worst it would at least be entertaining. Well? She hit it right on all counts!

The show opened with Marat Gimaev & Alina Basyuk and Eugene Katsevman & Maria Manusova doing a combined quickstep and samba routine where they changed partners in between and ran around the house bringing the audience to a hardy applause when it all ended. This set the stage for Victor DaSilva who had just walked in the room and was still taking his tennis shoes and socks off when Victor & Hanna Karttunen were called! It all looked and possibly was, quite impromptu, but what took place on the floor brought tears to many eyes and in the end a long and prolonged standing ovation and we must say this was one of the best performances we have seen this well known Cabaret couple! It was amazing!

This was followed by Ray Rivers with Adele Hyland and Phillip Nicholas all from Australia and they did a comedy version of “Waltzing Matilda” and it went down quite well a good act to follow after Victor & Hanna’s cabaret spectacular. This was then follow by the New Zealanders Gainsford Kingsley and Mike Whitson doing a “Hapa” dance, a Maori dance they do before every game of rugby something they are really well known for. This was then followed by JT Thomas, Eddie Simon and Jonathan Roberts. The guys came out as reindeer and danced with JT who was dressed as a grandma and they danced to the well known song, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” This was followed by a rendition of “There’ll always be an England” by Ken Sloan, Patrick Johnson who Wendy introduced as “not such a good husband but a fantastic dancer” bringing the house to a roar and Paul Holmes.

Once the “Queen” was addressed with the England number it was time for mambo mania and the Latin quarter - Tony Meredith and Ron Montes took on to the floor for their mambo duo, they were later joined by Hanna Karttunen who danced with both and applied the final touches.

The rest of the judges opted to just do an introduction with an impromptu dance, and a walk off finishing with all judges on the floor taking a bow.

We must point out that what might have started as a watered down show came out a complete hit. Congratulations to Wendy Johnson for her extremely great effort putting such an entertaining show together, especially dealing with the judges who are not always the most cooperative people.

We also want to congratulate her, Sam Sodano and Mary Murphy for such a fantastic Holiday competition. For many it is always the last competition before the year’s end and it is always such an iconic and relaxed event to finish your dancing year. The after party as usual was a complete hit in the velvet room, with plenty of food and drink as well as a complete dance area if you did not have enough dancing or just wanted to cut up!

Burn Baby Burn!

“The reason for the alarm is being investigated.”

Last night half way through the competition the fire alarm of the “Luxor”, Las Vegas where the competition is being held, went off! Ballroom dancers being used to many distractions, the competition continued without any issues with just the occasional announcement about the alarm. However, the competitors were totally burning the floor, particularly in the Professional Ballroom where there were some terrific competitions going on between the couples.

The Professional Ballroom started with a quarter-final round of competition and from the beginning we could tell it was going to be a terrific event. Before we comment on this event, we must mention that with the exception of the waltz not one of the other four dances was won with a majority of firsts from the judges, this should give you a clue as to how close and how exciting this competition was to watch last night. Iaroslav & Lillia Bieliei won the competition overall but not all dances. They won it three to two by placing first in the W,T,Q and second in the VW,F. For us this was the right position for this couple, their performance was not one to brag about but they gave a good enough performance in every way to earn them this spot. We must also point out that Iaroslav & Lillia were the only couple to win a dance with a majority of firsts and that was the waltz were they took 8 first place marks from the judges.

Second in this excellent competition was awarded to Valdishlav Shakhov & Ekaterina Popova and they were the recipients of the two firsts that Bielieis lost in the Viennese and the foxtrot, in the other three dances Vladishlav & Ekaterin took second place. This was a great result for Vladishlav & Ekaterina who from our perspective could have pushed a little more and maybe just won one more dance, but not on this night, on this night we found their performance very correct but with not enough passion to bring that wall down.

In an interesting turn of events Radu Sterban & Xenia Cletova took third overall with these marks 5,3,3,4,3. We have to say that we were very impressed with this couple’s performance in particular the tango where in our opinion they could have easily won. Our only problem with them was their consistency of work, and we are going to use that old judges’ excuse, it depends as to when you look at them they were on or off and on a night like last night they needed to be on the entire time and not just in pieces. We look forward to seeing them dance again because if our premonition comes true this will be a couple to watch in 2019.

The one couple we were very impressed with because of their creativity and innovation was Andres & Veronika End. Their talent and creativity have absolutely no “end,” and we wish more couples would experiment a little more with the choreography, musicality like they do, because this is a style that at times, unless the couples are of excellent quality, could be quite boring to put it lightly. Unfortunately, for them the work has to have the same quality of movement as the very top if not they will be fighting a no win battle. In last night’s performance some of the quality of movement was a little questionable when doing some of this interesting material, for example in the Viennese Waltz when doing the closed changes they tended to look more like bumper cars than smoothly we go! It is quite a shame the work still has some bumps in it because if all is done right they could have easily rivaled the Bielieis and we would all be experiencing some interesting moves in future competitions for this style. These were Andres & Veronika’s scores 3,4,5,3,4.

Another excellent couple that we were keeping our eye on but in the end fizzled out slightly was Andrii Mykhailov & Anna Bohachova and they placed fifth with these marks 4,5,4,5,5. They still were an excellent addition to this terrific final. In sixth position were Serhiy Averkov & Olena Barna and they took sixth in all dances. This was an excellent competition to witness and perhaps the best so far in this weekend of dancing. We look forward to tonight and we hope another will be as interesting as this one was for us.

The Professional Rhythm Championship also had some interesting competitions, with the current US Champion Nazar Norov & Irina Kudryashova retiring at the Ohio Star Ball, it was interesting to see who is stepping up to the plate to fill their shoes. In this competition Andre & Natalie Parmonov moved up to first position by one dance, yes, they took second in the swing and mambo but first in the cha cha, rumba, and bolero assuring them a first overall in this championship. Losing by one dance were Danas Jaksevicius & Yuki Haraguchi with these marks 2,2,1,2,1. We must point out that the dances that Parmonovs won, they won with a majority of firsts. Danas & Yuki also won their swing with a majority of firsts, but for both couples the mambo was not as secure. Here both couples took 6 first place marks leaving 3 up for grabs, Yuki & Danas had to rely on second or better to win this dance.

A solid third in all dances was awarded to Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin. From here down things got a lot more varied, Kristijan & Anja Burazer placed fourth 4,4,5,4,6; Toshko Kondov & Kristine Dobson were fifth 6,5,4,5,5; Anton Tregunov & Ashley Sanchez were sixth 5,6,6,6,4 and seventh was left in all dances to Tomas Vasicek & Vitalija Tyrmova.

The Amateur Latin was another feature event last night here at the Holiday Classic. It was also a huge event in size commencing with a first round of competition. In the end Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabrielle Sabler won overall by placing first in four dances and second in the paso doble. The dances they won, they won with a majority of firsts. Second overall and winning the paso doble went to Nikolai Tarasov & Sarah Nolan, they took second in the rest of the dances. Where we stood there was a group of Australians standing and so we should say they were also a hit from down under.

Third in all dances in this Amateur Latin Championship went to Casey & Kayci Treu, but from here down like in the Rhythm things things got a little more varied. Miroslav Randelovic & Dakota Pizzi placed fourth 6,5,5,4,4; Erik Linder & Shelly Meshkausk were fifth 5,4,6,5,5 and Jason Lozin w/ Mariia Baikova were sixth 4,6,4,6,6.

Today we expect to finish the Pro/Am Ballroom Scholarships and the conclusion of the Holiday Dance Classic with the Professional Smooth and Latin. Stay tuned, we will bring all this to you tomorrow here on Dance Beat.

Holiday Brightens the Latin Spirit!

The Holiday Dance Classic has been great so far and yesterday it was the turn for the Pro/Am Latin to shine.

And it sure did with some incredible heats in both attendance and in quality. From C to shining A’s took to the floor and they all fought hard until we had a result and this is how it all stood at the end in the Open Scholarships.

The “C” division was one of the most contested heats with these ladies so prepared it made us all have a little envy - their bodies are all in great shape and sculptured like a fine painting, and many had great feet and legs, with some excellent basic work, making us think this could not possibly be the “C,” but they sure were and they looked great! The winner overall and when you see the marks you will understand we are talking overall here was Rhonda Lynch w/ Stephan McCann but they only won two dances out of the five, here are their scores 3,2,4,1,1. We are happy to see this lady come ahead of the competition, we have seen her work very hard from Bronze to this level of dancing and this win was very well deserved.

Second overall in this “C” division went to Ada Fung w/ Andrei Kazlouski with these marks 2,1,3,2,4, as you can see this lady although she gained a first in the samba had very varied scores on the other four dances. We loved the clarity of her work and the fact that the routines were simple and easy to understand. Third place wen to Marina Svyatets w/ Aleksandar Vokosalvejic, this lady won the cha cha and we can see why, this lady has also very clean and understandable routines. Her marks varied after the cha cha and here they are 1,6,2,3,2.

Fourth place in this heat went to Rebecca Wong w/ Kamil Studenney from Canada 4,3,6,5,3, this lady like the majority of these ladies has been doing this for quite a long time and we can see it in the quality of their performance. Fifth place was awarded to Tasha Romero w/ Mykhalio Bildpokov 6,5,1,4,6; Sophia D’Angelo w/ Nikolai Pilipenchuk took sixth 5,4,5,6,5, this was not a very good result for this lady who in the past has done a lot better in this category. Her talent is endless, this lady can do anything she wants but you have to have a very strong foundation to walk away with it every time. And in seventh position was Sherry Dong w/ Dmitry Ilyushenov (Canada) taking seventh in all dances.

The Open “B” Latin was also excellent and this category went easily to Tina Broccole w/ Andrei Kazlouski who won all dances, four with a majority of firsts. The rumba was the only dance where she missed the majority by one first place mark but she still won this dance with third or better marks from the judges and three first place marks in this rumba column. Second overall because she did not place second in every dance went to Irma Tan w/ Alex Nashev 2,2,3,4,2. As you can see the judges were a little rough on her in the paso doble, in this column she got marks from 7th up to even one first. Third was awarded to Gaelle Benchetrit w/ Dillon Lehman 3,4,2,2,3; fourth went to Colette Marotto w/ Igor Ustymovych 4,3,5,3,4; Vygante Lane w/ Auris Petrulevicius placed fifth 5,6,4,6,5; Peggy Fang w/ Kirill Nikitin was sixth 6,7,7,5,6 and seventh was awarded to Tiffany Miller w/ Daniel Vasco 7,5,6,7,7. As you can see the by the variety of marks, it was not an easy heat for the judges to mark, we think it’s that the couples were very close in performance and style.

The “A” Open Scholarship was also a terrific event with 6 very talented ladies in this final, the overall win on this category went to Vera Xu w/ Jakub Zeglen 2,1,2,1,1, and we have to say this lady has really improved and for us she now manages to separate herself form the rest of the final. However, on paper this was not the same, she did not win the cha cha or the rumba she placed second in these two dances, she did win the rest of the dances. We also have to point out that she did not get the majority of firsts in any of the dances, she was close in the three dances she won she was just missing one mark to get a majority, so she had to rely on 3rd and sometimes fourth and better to win.

Second wen to another very talented lady Angelina Evseeva w/ Aleksandr Sharlato with these marks 1,2,1,2,2, as you can see by her final marks that she won the other two dances Vera placed second in. Third in this terrific heat and in all dances was awarded to Deborah Tipley w/ Paul Richardson. Fourth place went to one of the few men to reach a final on this weekend of dancing Derrick Van Adrighem w/ Hope Jackson and they placed fourth in all dances. We thought this gentleman was possibly deserving of higher placement, he had tremendous rhythm to the point that some of the judges might have mistaken him for the pro on the partnership due to the judges not being used to seeing a man in this high level final. Fifth place in all dances went to Jaime Berkland w/ Roman Italyankin and in sixth place was Lori Ebinger w/ Tabish Romario.

In the Senior 1 category 8 ladies were called back for the final and here Vera Gutierrez–Clellen w/ Danas Jaksevicius won all dances and in 3 of these dances she won with a majority of first from the judges. Second was awarded to Susan Lunson w/ Cristiano Callegari 2,3,3,3, and third was taken by Vanessa Wilson w/ Andrey Tarasov 8,2,2,2, as you can see this lady had a major climb after the cha cha? Perhaps they need to really take a close look at this one dance. Fourth place in this Senior 1 went to Philippa Zemelman w/ Marcus Johnson 3,4,5,4; Donna Stone w/ Andre Paramonov placed fifth with 4,5,4,7. Sixth and seventh place was a tie between Ibis Wu w/ Mikhailo Bilopukov 6,6,7,5, and Evelyn Landen w/ Daniel Vasco 5,7,6,6, in the end after a (Rule 11) decision, Ibis placed sixth leaving Evelyn taking seventh. Eighth place overall went to Avra Pirkle w/ Vaidas Skimelis 7,8,8,8.

The Open Amateur Ballroom started with a quarter-final round and in the end 6 couples were called back. Mikhail Vorobiev & Natalia Kozhevnikova won all dances with a huge majority of firsts in all dances form the judges. For us it was a lot closer than that between first and second place, but we were not judging and so second place was awarded to Alex Dubovyk & Rickie Taylor who placed second in all dances. Third place in all dances went to Stefan Badea w/ Madalina Varlam from Canada. Fourth was Casey & Kayci True in all dances and fifth overall was awarded to Jaren Hopkin w/ Carli Treu Ralph 6,5,5,6,5 and sixth went to Brandon Keck w/ Savana Francia 5,6,6,5,6.

Last night we also saw all 4 styles of Professional Rising Star. The 2 American Style divisions were by far the largest with a semifinal in the Rhythm and a quarter-final in the Smooth. Winners of the Rhythm were Tomas Vasiek & Vitalija Tymova 1,1,1,1,2. They had the majority of first places in rumba and bolero. 2,2,2,2,3 gave David Nyemchek & Maysen Wilder the runners-up position. The winners of the mambo were Antonio Nunuz & Ksenia Kaskina and they were 3rd overall with 3,3,4,4,1. 4th Artem & Ginny Rae Shiller 5,4,3,3,4; 5th Luis Grijalva & Hadas Fisher 4,5,5,5,5; 6th Vuk Stefanovic & Lansa Mikryukova 6,6,6,6,6; 7th Oliver Dominguez & Geirgina Lerma.

Igor Afonkin & Meghan Anderson were the winners of the RS Smooth and they won all dances but only had the majority of first places in the tango and VW. We thought they were a little clearer than that. 2nd and 3rd spots were separated by a Rule 11 tiebreak and 2nd fell to Stephen & Elisa McCann 3,2,3,2 and 3rd to Dmitri Zavialov & Katt Baumgartner 2,3,2,3. 4th Maksim Leonov & Anastasia Zhuchenko 4,4,4,5; 5th Pavel Lebedev & Dinara (Canada) 5,5,5,4; 6th Nikolay Kralev & Julianne Daniells 6,6,6,6.

5 couples contested the RS Ballroom. Oreste Alitto & Valeria Belozerova were the winners 2,1,1,1,1. From Canada, the runners-up were Alon Gilin & Anna Oblakova 1,2,2,2,2. 3rd Mikhail Babenko & Kateryne Staritenko 4,3,3,3,3; 4th Woodrow Wills & Neil Petkova 3,4,4,4,4; 5th Oleg Teleha & Michelle 5,5,5,5,5.

There were just 4 couples in the RS Latin and the win went to Poland, Przemyslaw Modryzynski & Magdalena Zybura and they won all dances. 2nd were Umario Diallo & Tessa Marie 2,3,2,2,2; 3rd Rhett Grant & Shelby Wadsworth 4,2,4,3,3; 4th Denis Podolsky & Oksana Kalinuka 3,4,3,4,4.

Santa Claus made an appearance in the ballroom last night. We never realized he was so tall, most of his photos don’t do him justice!

Great Smooth at Holiday!

Yesterday was Smooth day all day long, and it did not disappoint.

The quality of the dancing was perhaps some of the best we have witnessed from Bronze to Gold and the Open Scholarships categories. The Open Scholarships were danced at the end of the evening and even when the place was not as full as it was during the day, the dancers did not disappoint.

The “C” category was magnificent with some terrific dancers on the floor the, the final was a 6 couple final with some interesting dancing and interesting results just as the previous night in the Rhythm divisions. In this competition the “C” division this time went to Lisa Lowery w/ Radek Wiatrowski and they won all dances, but not all dances with a majority of firsts. In the waltz and foxtrot Lisa missed the majority by one mark. On this night we totally have to agree with the judges, we noticed Lisa from the first round on and the color of the her dress a soft pink was complimented by the lighting in the ballroom.

Second in all dances went to Sophia D’Angelo w/ Max Sinitsa, a lady that has also won this division in the past. By looking at the marks you can tell that Lisa and Sophia nearly started with the same amount of support form the judges, they both got 4 first places each in the waltz, and Lisa won by getting the majority of second or better marks with nothing lower than a second place in her waltz column. Once we got to the tango the support for this lady dropped, she only received one first place in the tango and Viennese Waltz depending on second or better marks to stay in this second position finish. In the foxtrot we most point out that she got 2 first place marks.

You must be wondering where the other first places went? Well, they went to Sherry Dong w/ Dmitry Ilyushenov who placed third overall with these marks 4,3,3,3. She took two firsts in the tango, and one in the foxtrot and Viennese Waltz. Fourth place overall went to Karence Chan w/ Paul Cloud 3,5,4,4. Karen also took part in the first place distribution and she got 3 first places in three different dances, one in the waltz, one in the foxtrot and one in the Viennese Waltz. Darla Davies w/ Jim Maranto was 5th 5,4,5,5 and 6th was Nancy Rapoport w/ Sergei Shapoval 6,6,6,6.

The “B” Division was also full of quality and here Celia Chou w/ Erminio Stefano won all dances. Celia won all dances with a majority of firsts and nearly perfect scores in the Viennese where only one judge abstained from giving her first and this was Ron Montez, who awarded her 4th in every dance. Second place overall was awarded to Selene Steelman w/ Travis Tuft 2,3,3,2, and we must point out here that Selene got all the first place marks from Ron Montez. Third was awarded to Joanne Smith w/ Anton Lebedev from Canada 3,2,2,3 and as you can tell it took a (rule 11) to break this tie, but in the end Joanne placed third overall, we must also mention that Joanne in the past has won this category a number times with a different partner.

Fourth overall in the this excellent “B” division was awarded to Thara Salamone w/ Jim Moranto 6,4,4,4; fifth went to Patricia Schneider w/ Slawek Sochacki 4,6,5,5, and sixth was Nichelle Kennedy w/ Alexs Nashev 5,5,6,6.

The Senior 1 division was excellent and here we ended up with a seven-couple final. The overall winner was Linda Gill dancing with Roman Malkhasyan with these marks 1,1,2,1. The three dances Linda won she did with a majority of firsts, and even in the dance she lost, the foxtrot, she managed to get 3 first place. The winner of the foxtrot and placing second overall was Elizabeth Cramer w/ Yuriy Kravets 2,2,1,3. The foxtrot she won with only one first place mark to her column, she had to depend on second or better marks to win this dance. In this same heat it was a disappointing third place finish for Diana Best w/ Alyosha Anatoliy 3,3,3,2. We were a little surprised with this low score for Diana, we really enjoyed her performance and were expecting her to do better in this heat.

Fourth was awarded to Kathy Steward w/ Mayo Alanen 6,4,4,4; fifth went to Janice Eggert w/ Mariusz Zakrzewski 5,5,5,7; Liz Conklyn w/ Darousz Michalski was sixth 4,7,6,6, and seventh was awarded to Sue Gershowitz w/ Mazen Hamza 7,6,7,5.

The “A” division was perhaps not as thrilling as the last three mentioned but it was still and here we had just a five-couple final. First place was awarded to Maddie Berkley w/ Mariusz Zakrzewski wining all dances. Second went to Irene Lee w/ Egor Bezukladnikov; third was awarded to Veronika Kireyko w/ Daniel Vasco. Kendra Bunting w/ Arko Beybutyan took fourth and Brent Wallace w/ Alessia placed fifth. All couples got the same placement in every dance as Maddie w/ Mariusz did with their first place win.

Tonight the Professional Rising Star events will begin and today we will also see the Pro/Am Latin Scholarships come to a conclusion.

Happy Holidays!

Charlie Brown once said, “It’s not what’s under the Christmas tree that matters, but who’s around it” and that is so true here at the Holiday Dance Classic in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The iconic holiday competition, now bigger than ever has began with the pro/am Rhythm competition yesterday, and with a day so packed with entries that the awards had to be given at an awards center.

The competition is also known for its very varied panel of judges creating an excitement about who might place where and there is never a dull moment nor business as usual. Last night in the Pro/Am Rhythm Scholarships we had some very interesting surprises with different people moving up the ladder, and as a bystander said, “if most competitions had this feeling of not knowing who will place where, we would probably have had television a long time ago.”

The Pro/Am “C” Rhythm division was one of these scholarships that had some interesting results. The winner in all dances was Ana Capo w/ Luis Lopez. Although Ana won all dances she did not win any dance with a majority of firsts, only in three of the dances she came close to getting a majority and that was the swing, bolero and mambo where she got three first place marks out of 7 judges. You could tell that Anna was quite surprised and excited by her win. We congratulate Anna on this great win. Second was awarded to a very seasoned player, Darla Davis dancing with Jim Maranto and she placed second in three dances and third in the mambo, leaving third place to Cecilia Torres w/ Eddie Rivera with these very varied marks - 3,4,3T,6,2.

As you can tell from Cecilia’s marks things got harder for the judges after third place. Nancy Rapoport w/ Sergiy Shapoval placed fourth 4,5,3T,4,4; Monica Brosh w/ Kris Suakjian was fifth 5,6,6,3,5; Gail Komar w/ Serhiy Komar took sixth 6,3,5,5,6, and seventh in all dances was awarded to Steve Takata w/ Harmony Munroe.

The “B” Category was also a terrific competition, we were very impressed with the quality of this ladies, in particular the top three. Nichelle Kennedy w/ Alex Nashev won every dance, and unlike Ana in the “C” she won a number of the dances with a majority of firsts. Only in the rumba she had to rely on second or better to win the dance, here Nichelle only took three first place marks total. Kacey Warren w/ Jean Michael Erole took second in all dances and this was also a terrific lady to watch, in fact nearly all the first places that Nichelle won went to Kacey. Third place overall went to Thara Salamone w/ Jim Maranto, here is another lovely dancer, but unlike the last two mentioned in this “C” division, she did not get third in all dances, these were her marks 3,3,3,4,5.

From fourth place down things got a little more varied with the marks, fourth place was Lara Feldman w/ Tony Santana 4,5,4,3,3; fifth place went to Cindy Wang w/ Steve Vasco 6,6,5,5,4, leaving sixth place to Yumie Honkura w/ Daniel Lee Tran 5,4,6,6,6.

The “A” division was also quite interesting with two fantastic front runners Veronika Kireyko dancing with Daniel Vasco and Levina Kasmara w/ Gleb Makarov. In the end Veronika with Daniel took first place with a majority of firsts in all dances, although we felt that this might be a tossup between these two ladies due to such a varied panel, we were quite happy to see Veronika win. This lady has incredible talent almost at a professional level, excellent job Daniel. Second overall went to Levina w/ Gleb and they took second in all dances and were the receivers of the few first place marks taken away from Veronika. Although this was only a three couple final it was mighty and concluding this excellent competition, third place wen to Kandra Bunting w/ Arko Beybutyan, taking third in all dances.

The Senior 1 was also a fantastic competition that started with a huge quarter final round and here there were also some surprising results. The winner overall by placing first in two dances and second in the rumba, and third in the bolero was Leslie McLeod w/ Melbin De La Cruz. This lady is a little powerhouse and she made us take notice and push her up to the top in this competition reversing some of the other competitions in the run-up to this event. Second was awarded to Evelyn Lamden w/ Daniel Vasco 2,1,3,2, and third went to a lady that has won this division a number of times Diana Best w/ Alyosha Anatoly with these marks 4,4,2,1.

Three other excellent ladies closed this final with also varied marks - Sharyn Mathieu w/ Decho Kraev 3,3,6,4; Lois Fein w/ Aleksandar Vukosavljevic 5,5,4,5 and sixth overall was awarded to Barbara Rolison w/Andrei Padivakhin. We must also point out that in this heat like in the “C” division not one lady got the majority of firsts.

Today is a Smooth day here at the Holiday as we move towards the conclusion of the 2018 Holiday Dance Classic.

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