Champions' Ball 2019

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Last night the conclusion of the Champions’ Ball was perfection on the floor.

The Pro/Am Open was terrific and the Professional Smooth with the inclusion of Max Sinitsa & Tatiana Seleverstova was amazing. This couple is the incarnation of Smooth dancing itself! What feeling! What amazing flair and talent they have for this style! It is just perfect! But that was not all, the pro/am competitions in the Latin divisions were also astounding with many of our American couples making great strides among many wonderful dancers.

Last night after the opening ceremonies the Professional Smooth and the Open Pro/Am Championships got under way. The Professional Smooth was a full semifinal round a little smaller from what we remembered at last year’s event, but what it lacked in size, it made up in talent. Max Sinitsa & Tatiana Selverstova just back from their stunning win at the Beach Bash in San Diego, California, where they defeated the current United States and World Professional Smooth Champions, Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija, who were also the 2018 Champions Ball winners. Here, Max & Tatiana continued their winning streak and easily won the hearts of the people and were crowned the Open Professional Smooth Champions for the 2019 Champions Ball Open To The World Professional Smooth Trophy. And we can say that form the moment they entered the beautiful floor in this most magnificent ballroom, the audience took to their performance, and everywhere they stepped you could hear the enthusiastic audience screaming and clapping with pleasure!

At the very end of the competition they were asked to perform an honor dance and they did their usual tango “madness” show and left the audience completely amazed, bringing all up to their feet.

We must point out that this night was a night of pure emotional pleasure as well, with former US Champions Slavik Kkryklyvyy & Karina Smirnoff performing a remarkable show in between the heats of competitions. These two couples are what we would consider “walking art” and last night they really gave outstanding performances.

The rest of the Professional Smooth final was quite a treat as well, as a surprise in many cases. The couple that placed second, Aleksej Polovnikov & Olga Shherbina, 2,3,3,2 were good dancers but we are still scratching our heads trying to figure out how they managed to place this highly in last night’s competition. Yes, their work was interesting but in our opinion not good enough to beat the couple that placed third, Nikolai Plipenchuck & Sarika Hudson 3,2,2,3, and as you can see it was a tie between them, possibly broken by a Rule 11 or 10. For us the couples that placed fourth and fifth Nikolaj Fanagin & Julija Burenicheva 4,4,4,5 who were fourth or Vitalij Matusjak & Anastasia Krjukova 5,5,5,4 who were fifth, were simply much better than Aleksej & Olga - from our perspective of course.

We could have easily see Aleksej & Olga in sixth or seventh or even a fifth position but second was a slight shock? That is what it is interesting in ballroom dancing, there is a number of judges and you never know what each judge’s mind is thinking or what they are going to award. As we write this note we most mention, that we have not seen the marks only the placements from last night, all we can offer is the judges that awarded the score who were Michael Bar from England, Didio Barrera USA, Max Kozhevnikov, Russia, Elena Kosovich, USA, Michael Mead, USA, Jonathan Roberts, USA, and Yulia Zagoruychenko USA.

Sixth position was awarded to a couple from St. Petersbur,g Russia, Ivan Bagaev & Juliana Voloshina. But the shock of us all was the seventh placement of Michael Choi & Viktoriya Kleyman who for us danced quite well on this night and we could have seen them place a bit higher. Yes, we found their work a little flat, but their basic work and principles of the Smooth Style were all there. Michael & Viktoriya’s dancing was easy on the eye, there were no obvious mishaps or problems that we could immediately spot. In fact, Ivan & Juliana made some obvious mistakes that we would almost consider awkward, in particular, Juliana.

The Open Pro/Am Latin was a tough challenge for all including we are sure for the judges, but like in the afternoon the win went to Olesja Mihaleva w/ Kirill Voromin with these marks 1,1,2,1,1. In this competition I think the win could have easily gone anywhere in this final. All these lady finalists were very talented. Marina Maksimova w/ Kirill Belorukov 2,2,3,2,5 also had a terrific night, and could have easily contested for at least one dance or two and yes we have to agree her jive left a lot to be desired, more work on the bounce perhaps might be necessary.

Another lady that was lovely and could have easily taken a few firsts from the winner in our opinion was Elena Okulova w/ Egor Petrov 4,5,1,3,4, who placed third overall. This lady was amazing and I am sure the judges were all torn with this decision - you can see it by the marks you just read. Fourth went to who we believe to be a previous winner of the event, Svetlanta Muhametshina w/ Andrej Kiselev 3,4,4,4,3. On this outing Svetlanta left a lot to be desired including her posture, more training is possibly required in order to maintain the excellent level in this field with this many very talented ladies.

One of our favorites was Darya Pechanynikova w/ Mihail Efimov 5,3,5,5,2. This lady seems to have an endless amount of talent and best of all, confidence. Unfortunately, at the moment her technique could be a little questionable at times, her middle, or what some would call her center, can get a little loose and sloppy. This is not something that cannot be fixed, but it does need fixing. With work on a stronger basic background this lady could claim this title almost immediately. Another favorite of ours is Marina Dzasokhova w/ Ivan Stacenko 6,6,6,6,7. We think the work here has been a little lax of late. We know it is hard to keep up the work to be able to reach the top and it is okay to be in this position, but in order to challenge, all we can say is it needs to be revamped and attack a little more. The beautiful shape and form is all there, it just needs to stepped up.

From here down the ladies were of great standing but did not have the experience to challenge the top. Seventh in this amazing final went to Alena Ivanova & Nikita Brovko 7,8,7,7,8, and eighth position was awarded to Oksana Djushko w/ Evgenij Kuzin 8,7,8,8,6. We must also point out for our American audience that three US couples made it through the first round of competition Deborah Wright w/ Nikolay Veronovich, Sophia D’ Angelo w/ Nikolai Plipenchuck and Andrea Bennington w/ Ivan Mulyavka. However, going into the quarter Deborah Wright and Andrea Bennington moved up and we are happy to report that Deborah and Andrea made it all the way to the semifinal. We have to point out that we were very proud of our ladies. This was a tough crowd to be in. It was hard for everyone, including the judges. These were not easy decisions to make so they should all be pleased to even make the first round of competition. If we spotted one couple that was a little “off” we would say, this is perhaps the hardest event we have seen in the Latin since all the years we have been coming and the standard was so high, it was very professional.

Having said all that, the US overall had a fantastic run at this year’s Latin Pro/Am Championships. In the “C” divisions Sophia D’ Angelo w/ Nikolai Pilipenchuk placed third overall 3,6,3,4,4,3, if you see a sixth score is because as we mentioned in our commentary yesterday, all pro/am championships have to include a basic dance chosen on the spot. I think this is brilliant for the judges to actually see what the levels and qualities are and also for the students because they need to stay on top of their basic work. We have yet to meet a brilliant dancer who does not stay working on basics, this is what develops your dancing this is what truly separates you from the rest and gives you the edge to perform at the grates level of the land. Great decision by the Russian National Council.

In this same “C” division we also have to tip our hats out to Andrea Bennington w/ Ivan Mulyavka from the USA 2,2,2,2,2,1 who took second overall and in our Opinion could have won the competition, but unfortunately last year’s winner’s Marina Kal’ Chenko who is a lovely dancer herself, won the event again, and is a little tough to beat. Her technical merit is of high standard, we still think Andrea had a good chance and did beat her in the jive.

In the B Division, USA’s Deborah Wright made the strong final and placed 6th with scores of 6,6,7,6,6,6. Svetlanta Muhametshina won this division.

With this the Champions’ Ball concluded and we go home and to the Emerald Ball, where we will probably see many of these ladies battling it out again. The Champions’ Ball is a fantastic event, one that gives great care to Pro/Am dancing and for that reason alone we should always be here to see what else the future holds for this fantastic event.

Cha Cha, Tango, Rumba - Zumba?

Zumba? Absolutely, last night after all was said and done for the Pro/Am Ballroom, Smooth and Professional Latin event, the entire setup was turned upside down to accommodate 1000 “Zumba” dancers that showed up for the biggest Russian ever gathering of Zumba dancers on record until today.

It was amazing how fast they were able to turn the ballroom around to accommodate all these people, but what was more amazing was the energy in the room, it was electrifying as well as fun, with many of our officials joining in. This was all fantastic and worthy of this news “bulletin,” but the real news for us in the ballroom industry was how fantastic the Pro/Am and professional competitions went off at the Champions’ Ball last night.  See this live here!

The evening started with an incredible drumming group that rivaled any act in “Las Vegas,” and as always with the style of the Champions Ball after 5, 8 minutes the act was over leaving you wanting more and the parade of competitors began commencing with the Pro/Am Open Scholarships competitors and ending with the professionals and the judges all coming down the middle staircase of what we would describe as a perfect stage for “Lady Gaga, Madonna, or the Rolling Stones.” The lighting and staging alone is totally worth the long trip, but the competition is not far behind with some of the best Pro/Ams and professionals the world has to offer.

The Professional Latin Championship started with a full semifinal round and in the end 8 couples were called for the final, this must have been a difficult decision for the judges. In the end the best for us, the judges and the audience were Kirill Belorukov & Polina Teleshova from Russia, who won all dances and capture everyone’s attention. On a side note we have to say that we have always been a fan of Kirill in particular, and we have followed his carrier for years, but last night he and Polina were on fire leaving no room for escaping their grasp and not admiring their incredible performance, so rhythmical and so precise! Second overall in this excellent heat was awarded to Pavel Zvychayny & Oksana Lebedeva from Germany, they too were terrific to watch but did not have as solid a performance as winners as you will see from their marks, the judges also had some doubt 2,3,2,2,2.

The rest of this Professional Latin final was quite good but obviously not as proficient as the last two mentioned. Nikita Brovko & Olga Urumova from Russia took third overall 3,2,3,3,3, Kirill Voronin & Tatyana Kosenko were fourth in all dances, fifth overall was awarded to Anton Semenov & Valerya Semenova from Estonia, 5,6,5,6,5, and sixth were Vitalij Didenko & Viktorija Vershinina from Russia 6,5,6,5,6. Seventh position was awarded to Dmytro Vlokh & Violetta Kitaeva from Ukraine, 7,7,7,8,8, and eighth place went to Pavel Troshichev & Olga Zalivalova from Russia.

The USA did quite well last night in the American Smooth Open category this evening. Sophia D’Angelo dancing with Max Sinitsa placed second in all dances. The winners and for us fairly so were Dar’Ja Pechatnikova w/ Mikhail Efimov from Russia, and they took first in all dances. It is interesting that from the earlier rounds of this competition all competitors had to dance a compulsory basic foxtrot, this was perhaps not the best for Sophia our US representative but she made up in the open categories where from our opinion she did manage to shine. Third in this excellent heat went to Marija Grigor’eva w/ Aleksej Shershnev and they placed third in all dances.

Fourth in this Open Smooth Championship went to Alena Remizova w/ Aleksandr Sergeev with these marks 4,4,5,5; fifth was Marina Kal’chenko w/ Kostantin Jacenko 5,5,4,6; sixth went to Jella Chistjakova w/ Ivan Bagaev 6,6,6,4, and last but not least, seventh position was awarded to Marina Isaeva w/ Sergej Miheev and they took seventh in all dances.

We must point out that Sophia D’Angelo won the “B” Smooth in the afternoon.

In the iconic Pro/Am Ballroom competition that is usually the main feature for this evening the competition was fierce and here an eight-couple final were called. The winners in all five dances for the judges and for the majority of the audience were Irina Agaleckaja w/ Aleksandr Zhiratko from Russia and they placed first in all five dances. Second in all five dances was also an entry from Russia and that was Natal’Ja Halkturina w/ Evgenij Sveridonov, and third in all was Anastasija Usanova w/ Ivan Novikov. Come to see it, all eight finalists were from Russia, and so in fourth place overall but not in all dances was Julija Pogrebinskaja w/ Evgenij Pavlos, 4,5,4,4,6; fifth position was awarded to Ekaterina Zhukova w/ Artem Terehov, 5,4,5,5,4; sixth place went to Ekaterina Osadchaja w/ Aleksej Usanov, 6,6,6,6,5. Seventh in all dances was awarded to Ol’ga Kichatova w/ Evgenij Nikitin, and eighth place went to Elena Gluhovskaja w/ Ivan Varfolomeev.

Last night we saw an impressive Argentine Tango show, but not just any show, these were the World Argentine Tango Champions, Dmitry Vasin & Sagdiana Khamzina, and they were absolutely amazing. We have not seen a tango show this great in a long time, not even “Tango Pasion” or “Tango Argentina” showcased a couple of this magnitude. Go here to see them. And with this the first night of the Champions’ Ball came to a close, at the Crowne Plaza, World Trade Center, Moscow.

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