US National Amateur Championships, Provo, 2015
A Study in Red & White!
Saturday in Provo
Red was a popular color for the ladies last night in the Marriott Center. Although generally not so much in demand for ballroom gowns, there was a lot of red on the floor, including 3 dresses in the final.
As in the Latin the night before, the Amateur Ballroom was danced over 5 rounds before an audience that was larger than the night before. While the ballroom perhaps did not generate quite the excitement we saw in the Latin, it was still, in the words of one judge after the event, “the best overall quality event (in this style) for the past 8 years or so.”
Once again the semifinal was a tough round for the judges, although to us it seemed that the choice for the final six was clearer than in the Latin, although there were perhaps one or two couples that could have also claimed a spot.
The duel for the Championship remained as it was in 2014 – between the two giants (both the gentlemen stand well over 6’) of this division – Andres & Veronica End and Oskar Wojciechowski & Karoline Holody. What made this a little more interesting is that these two have not been head to head since this time last year as Karoline has been recovering from a foot injury. As it turned out tonight, Andres & Veronica were the winners as they were in 2014. Tonight they won all dances and had the majority of 1st places in 4 dances. In the VW they had 8 firsts to Oskar & Karoline’s 7. Andres & Veronica received mostly 1st and 2nd places, only judge Ken Sloan placed them lower, awarding them two 4th places and a 3rd place. Oskar and Karoline also received mostly 1st and 2nd places although they did get a smattering of lower marks and judge Shirley Ballas ranked them 5,4,6,5,6. Although they are of similar stature, these two couples have very different styles and we look forward to more battles throughout the year.
The rest of the final was more closely fought with marks going everywhere. Coming out in 3rd place overall were Luca Balestra & Krizia Balestra 4,3,4,3,3. They stood out as the couple with the most aggressive style in the final (or the competition for that matter), and as expected, we thought tango was by far their best dance. In fact both Igor Litvinov and Ken Sloan placed them 1st in this dance and we can understand why. Ruslan Kalyuzhnyy & Kseniya Sovenko were 4th, 3,5,3,4,4. They are the antithesis to the couple above them showing soft, willowy dancing that fares well in the swing dances.
The newest couple to this division, Angelo Gaetano & Clarissa Morelli were 5th 5,4,5,5,5. We were a little disappointed with their showing in the final. They were stronger the week before at Vegas Open. Perhaps it was the Provo altitude? Closing this final were Marek Klepadlo & Liana Bakhtiarova with 6th in all dances, but certainly in the general mix as they received scores as high a 2nd.
Running opposite the Amateur Ballroom once again was the Junior II US Championship, this time in the Latin style. The result gave us a “switcheroo” at the top. Last night’s runners-up in the Ballroom were the winners tonight in the Latin. Yusif Amsatr & Naomi Spektor won all dances tonight, but only cha cha and paso with the majority of 1st places. We thought they were the best couple tonight. Erik Linder & Rickie Taylor, last night’s winners, took 2nd in all dances. It was also a “switcheroo” for 3rd placed Kristers Smits & Sophie Shvartsman who fared far better in the Junior II than they had earlier in the day in the Junior I. They placed 3rd tonight with 3,3,3,3,4. D’Angelo Castro & Amanda Carbarjeles were 4th 4,4,4,4,3, and gave a more mature performance than we have seen from them in the past. Max Firestein & Nicole Mitchedilidza were 5th, 6,5,5,5,5 and Carter Williams & Anika Baker were 6th 5,6,6,6,6.
Here’s what’s interesting here. Just a few hours before Carter & Anika were the winners of the Junior I placing 1,2,1,2,1, whereas Kristers & Sophie took 2nd 2,1,2,1,2. Obviously it was a different judging panel and these two young and talented couples have very different styles. 3rd in this division were Kevin Filipczak & Elizabeth Gotovsky 3,3,3,3,3. We really liked the mature style of this duo. Another rapidly improving couple, Jonas Terleckas & Ruby Castro were 4th, 4,4,4,4,4. Audence darlings, Tyler Li & Anjelica Lowe were 5th 5,5,5,5,5; Timofei Plekhanov & Dascha Jayne Wright were 6th, 6,6,6,6,7 and Anthony Tedesco & Katya Ivahno-Kalinuka were 7th 7,7,7,7,6.
Patrick Plozasj & Anna Kazmarski became double champions here as they also won the US National Youth Ballroom Championship to add to the U/21 Title they already had. Results to follow.
Austin Josen & Nino Dzneladze were the runaway winners of the US U/21 Latin Championship losing only 3 first place marks from a total of 45. We thought they could have been included in the final of the Open Amateur the night before, so we were not surprised by this success. 2nd spot went to Vladisalv Kvartin & Anna Maria Prokopovicova 2,3,2,2,2 and 3rd to the winners of the Youth Latin, Bumchin Tegshjargal & Michelle Klets 3,2,3,4,4. 4th went to Yevgenii Orlov & Marina Yerina 5,5,4,3,3; 5th Ryan Raffloer & Hanna Sverdlov 4,4,6,5,6; 6th Eric Ascione & Grace Anderson 6,6,5,6,5.
The US National Amateur Cabaret Championship is always a highlight, but this year we were disappointed that there were only 4 entries, although all were of good quality. Each of the top 3 couples missed one lift keeping things nice and even! The new champions are Josh David & Kelli Foster who performed a delightful “modern dance” piece with some nicely executed high-risk lift work. The runners-up performed in a more traditional “ballroom adagio” style and again had some well executed lift-work, Benjamin Ralph & Kayci Treu. A previous 2-time champion, Trevor Guthrie now dancing with his wife Emily, was 3rd and they also performed in a “modern dance” vein. 4th were Logan Barnes & Natalie Savage.
For the Pre-Teens it was Latin day. The US National Pre-Teen II Championship went to Alex Sarkisian & Beanna Dzhaniashvilli 2,2,1,1,1. 2nd Easton Brotherson & Rylee Arnold 1,1,2,2,4; 3rd Kristian Alexander Evstigneev & Victoria Sepishvilli 6,4,3,3,2; 4th Matthew Bezzant & Kennedy Miller 4T,6,4,5,3; 5th Griffin Cooney & Josephne Taylor 4T,5,5,5,4,5; 6th Freddie Kleynburg & Elizabeth Shapshal 3,3,6,6,6.
The winners of the Pre-Teen I Latin had also won the ballroom the day before and they were Daniel Novikov & Natalina Chen (The rest of the result coming soon).
Watch out for reports of many of these divisions from our expert Dance Beat contributors. All coming soon in the members’ section. So be sure to subscribe!
A Night with Wow Factor!
Friday night at the US National Amateur Championships (run under license from American Ballroom Company) in Provo was a night to make you go, “Wow!”
The headline event was the Amateur Latin and we had 5 rounds of great dancing. The finalists from 2014 who were here received a by from the first round. Right from the start it was clear that every progression from round to round was going to be a challenge. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the semifinal where it seemed to us and to most of the judges that almost any one of the 12 couples could make the final. In fact we were only one mark away from having a 7-couple final and then one more from an 8-couple final.
But in the end 6 couples were selected. The champions from 2014 were able to easily retain their title winning all dances with a clear majority of 1st places – Ferdinando Iannaccone & Yulia Musikhina. While they were clearly the winners they did not in fact receive perfect scores in any on the dances. The two judges who clearly did not favor them were Valentina Kostenko who scored them 6,6,6,6,6 and Wendy Johnson with 5,5,4,4,4. For the rest they received an occasional 2nd and the rest 1st places. Speaking with some observers after the event, the only complaint we heard about this couple was that they spent too much time playing to the very vocal audience and not enough time dancing.
2nd in all dances went to Pasha Pashkov & Daniella Karagach. They had the majority of ‘2nd or better’ scores in all dances but they also had some detractors on the judging panel, most noticeable were Eugene Katsevman, Ron Montez and Allan Tornsberg who all scored them in the lower half of the final.
It was a good night for Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabriella Sabler who took 3rd overall with 3,3,4,4,4 in a tight race with one of our favorites of the night, Tal Livshitz & Ilana Keselman who scored 4,4,5,3,3. Both of these couples were on form tonight!
In 5th place were Artur Tarnovskyy & Anastasia Danilova (5,5,6,5,5). After a rather lackluster semifinal round, from our perspective, they stepped it up for the final. Closing the final 6,6,3,6,6 were the always elegant Alexey & Vlada Karaulov.
This was the first competition where many of these amateurs danced to the new, slower NDCA tempi. We wonder how they liked them?
The new champions in the US National Junior II Ballroom that shared the billing with the Amateur Latin are Erik Linder & Rickie Taylor who won all dances with the majority of 1st place marks. They have a nice soft style. We were also very impressed with the runners-up, Yusif Amsatr & Naomi Spektor, who were 2nd in all dances. The judges were undecided with this couple as they received 1st to 4th place in all dances. 3rd tonight were Murat Medzhidov & Valerie Dubinsky 3,3,3,3,3; 4th were Kristers Smits & Sophie Shvartsman 4,4,4,4,4; 5th Tyler Li & Anjelica Lowe 6,6,5,5,5 and 6th Daniel Melnik & Maria Volski 5,5,6,6,6.
During the daytime, the premier event was the US National U/21 Ballroom. This resulted in an easy win for Patryk Ploszaj & Anna Kaczmarski who won all dances with almost all the 1st places. The only judge to seriously disagree was Ken Sloan who scored them 3,2,3,2,4. Michael Vorobiev & Sonya Tsekanovsky were 2nd in all dances, Samuel Hacke & Katarina Hermanova were 3rd in all. With 4,5,5,4,5, Florin Vlad & Natalia Linda O’Connor were 4th; Stanislav Pavlov & Sandra Spernacka were 5th 5,4,4,5,6 and Gregory Rybakov & Ellen Anshelevich were 6th 6,6,6,6,4.
Running opposite this U/21 event was the US National Junior I Ballroom Championship. Kristers Smits & Sophie Shvartsmann in their 1st final of two they made today were the winners in all dances and they had the majority of 1st places in all dances. Also in two finals on the day, Tyler Li & Anjelica Lowe took 2nd here with 3,2,2,2,2. Jonas Terlekas & Ruby Castro were 3rd with 2,3,3,3,3. Timofei Plekhanov & Dascha Jayne Wright were 4th, 5,4,4,4,5; 5th Ivan Shneerson & Empria King 4,5,5,5,4; 6th Matvey Korsunkiy & Alisa Kashkeyvych 6,6,6,6,7; 7th Griffin Cooney & Josephine Taylor 7,7,7,7,6.
The Pre-Teen divisions were smaller, but both the US National Championships in Pre-Teen I and Pre-Teen II Ballroom were held today. The winners of the Pre-Teen I were Daniel Novikov & Natalina Chen 1,1,2,1,1. 2nd went to Daniel Shtem & Avital Ayzerov 3,3,1,2,2; 3rd Daniel Evstigneev & Angelica Gloria Groysman 2,2,3,3,3; 4th Eric Kashkeyvych & Daria Andreyev 4,4,4,4,4; 5th Nathan Smith & Jocelyn Osmond 5,5,5,5,5.
Griffin Cooney & Josephine Taylor moved up from their 7th place in the Junior I to win the Pre-Teen II Ballroom, placing 1,1,1,1,2. Runners-Up were Kristian Aleksander Evstigneev & Victoria Sepiashvilli 2,2,2,2,1. 3rd were Gabriel White & Lyubov Morgan 3,5,3,3,4; 4th Dave Firestein & Nicole Shterm 5,3,4,4,3; 5th Freddie Kleynburg & Elizabeth Shapshal 4,4,5,6,7; 6th Andrew Keck & Nicole Ascione 6,6,6,5,6; 7th Sam Peyton & Gem Hersh 7,7,7,7,5.
Xingmin & Katerina Lu were again the Champions in the US National Senior I Ballroom winning all 5 dances with the majority of 1st places. 2nd today were Thomas Yin & Kelly Cheng who also placed 2nd in all dances. 3rd in all were Turtle Brennen & Regina Paregis. 4th Gene Tseng & Hui Zhang 4,5,5,4,4; 5th Denis Kojinov & Jeanette Chevalier 6,4,4,5,5; 6th Lars & Holly Linder 5,6,6,6,6. Lars & Holly also won the Senior II Ballroom Championship.
Winners and runners-up in the championship divisions all received cash from the NDCA to assist in their travel to the WDC Amateur League World Championships that are always held in Paris, France during December.
Stay tuned for more results from the Saturday sessions here in Provo.
Building Up Steam!
The United States National Amateur Championships in Provo, Utah are building up steam with great dancing and fabulous competition!
Last night at the BYU Marriott Center Sports Arena the competition began to heat up with the United States National Amateur Smooth Championships. After a number of rounds the competition came to a finish with six couples in the lead. The competition was hard fought and the winners, Trevor & Emily Guthrie, won all dances, however, they did not win any dance with a majority of firsts. The closest they came to a majority of firsts was in the foxtrot and Viennese Waltz where they took 9 firsts out of the 19 judges assigned to this task. Their two worst marks came from Igor Litvinov and Erminio Stefano. Igor awarded them a sixth in the foxtrot and Erminio a sixth in the VW, but their overall lowest scores were awarded to them by Rita Algarra who awarded Trevor & Emily all fifths and a fourth in the tango.
Collin Williams & Ashley Nixon were the runners-up overall but not in all dances, they placed second in the foxtrot and VW but third in the waltz and tango. Their worst marks came to them from Erminio Stefano who placed them sixth in three dances but when it came to their VW he thought they were the best by far and awarded them a first. Third overall was awarded to Aaron Holmes & Katelyn Holmes. Here the judges were very undecided they awarded them 4th in the waltz, 2nd in the tango, and third in the other two dances.
Charlie & Emily Roberts were fourth overall placing 2nd in the waltz and fourth in the other four dances. In looking at the marks we are not really sure the judges knew what to do with this couple. In the waltz their best overall performance, they got a potpourri of marks from first to sixth place, that was a tremendous variety. In the tango five judges though they should have won that dance and awarded them five firsts, their foxtrot was the only dance where they only got one first.
Fifth overall went to Sterling & Nicole Stolle and they placed fifth in every dance, and in sixth position was Adam Coker & Kyla Zenger and they took sixth in every dance.
So far this afternoon, a highlight has been the US National Youth Latin Championship an event that started with over 80 couples. The final was great and had the judges in a quandary.
The winners were Bumchin Tegshjargel & Michelle Klets and they won all dances but not all judges agreed. They had the majority of 1st places (5) in the jive only. In the samba they only received 1 first place but still won the dance. Nadia Eftedal and Mary Murphy, were the two judges who scored them in the lower half of the final.
All the seconds went to Mike Monokandilios & Sophia Brodsky. They had some 1st places in all dances – the most in samba and jive (4), but again they had some judges scoring them in the lower half of the final. 3rd spot in all dances went to who we had considered the favorites going into the event, Kinsley Lin & Michelle Yiu. But this was not their day from the judges’ perspective. 4th fell to Jacob Murillo & Sydney Tormey 4,4,4,5,5; 5th to Eric Ascione & Grace Anderson 5,5,5,4,4; 6th Robert McShinsky & Peyton Munson 6,6,6,6,6.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the exciting US National Amateur Latin and much more!