Great Finale for Heritage!
The last night of the Heritage Classic was brilliant closing with a phenomenal show by former world and current Open British Latin Champions Michael Malitowski & Joanna Leunis, who delighted the crowd to a standing ovation at the end of their performance.
Michael was very forthcoming and humble when introducing the last number “I’m still standing” (Jive) where he spoke about the ups and downs of competition and the fun and beauty of it from his own experience “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose” an animated well spoken Michael said to the crowd. This was well received by all competitors from professionals down to the pro/ams who all relate to the ups and downs of competition dancing. “But all is good and part of the experience and with that I dedicate this number to you and to my incredible partner Joanna.” It was magnificent to see Michael be so well spoken with huge professionalism and emotion making us all understand that there is more to learn from dancing and that as hard and as tough as the business can get it is still a wonderful endeavor.
The evening competitions began with Pro/Am Ballroom Scholarships, the best for us this time was the “B” division, this started with a semifinal round and at the end Carole Simmons w/Serghei Pogonet from Canada took the overall prize but not every dance. She placed first in three dances and second on the waltz, tango, and quickstep. The recipient of the VW and Foxtrot and second place overall was Brynda Insley w/Martin Reinbold (2,2,1,1,2), Lisa Berry W/ Rauno Ilo took all thirds, Yanina Kisler w/ Peter Walker placed fourth (4,5,5,4,4), Bo Chang W/ Giampiero Giannico was fifth (5,4,4,5,5) and the sixth place went to Siki Kramer w/Gunnar Sverrisson and they placed sixth in every dance.
"When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor, it's to enjoy each step along the way"
The “C” division was awarded to Lynn Murrell w/Alexander Voskalchuk (1,2,1,1,1), Lisa Lowery who with teacher Radek Wiatrowski had been cleaning up first places in all styles had to console themselves with a second placed finish (2,1,2,2,2). Sally Wiese w/Dimitrijus Sanizas took all thirds, Elena Lee w/Emanuele Pappacena took all fourths, Doug Bailey w/Irina Gorshkova was fifth (5,6,6,5,5) and sixth went to Patricia Redies & Richard Tonizzo (6,5,5,6,6). There were only two competitors entered in the “A” division and Levina Kasmara w/Slava Stefanov took all firsts and Beatriz Colon w/Roman Malkhasyan was second. Out of the two professional events run this last evening the Latin had the most punch and had the best reception form the audience. Ivan Mulyavka & Loreta Kriksciukaityte took all firsts in all dances. Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Shvets all seconds and all thirds went to Sergiy Samchynskyy & Yuliya Besarab. Felipe Gonzales & Kathleen Ilo were fourth (5,4,4,5,4), Hayk Balasanyan & Emilia Poghosyan placed fifth (5,4,4,5,4), and Jake Davies & Alyona Kalinina took all sixths.
The Professional Smooth, for us, had the same amount of entries but less of a punch. Here Kostadin Bidjourov & Erin Marie were first in all dances, Vladimir & Vera Kosarev took all seconds. From here down it all was a bit different Mark Short & Alyssa Kark placed third (3,5,3,3), Dennis Woods & Amber Reich were fourth (4,4,4,5), fifth place went to Andrei & Elena Rudenco, and last but not least in sixth place were Dustin Hall & Angela Oh Park and here they took sixth in all dances. "Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor."
The evening went quite fast for us and that we think it is a good sign. We want to once again congratulate Colin & Joy Hilary for another excellent job in this 2014 Heritage Classic, as I said before this land in the sky is perhaps not the easiest place to get to but the competition is sure worth the drive or the fly to get there. It always delivers a sense of relaxation with the thrill of competition like Mr. Malitowski said during the show, we hope to be able to come and enjoy many more in future years.
Like a Box of Chocolates! Competition ballroom dancing is just “like a box of chocolates” you never know what you are going to get. And this was perfectly proven last night in the results of the Professional Rhythm, Ballroom and Theater Arts/Cabaret.
As we posted on our bulletin board last night the biggest surprise came in the Rhythm wherein what must have been a very interesting and appealing performance for the judges, Erwin & Iwona Rybczynski overtook everyone and won overall by placing second in cha and swing and winning the remaining 3 dances. Second on this heat went to Max Lototskyy & Sarah Haworth a relatively new partnership that has been winning most Rising Star and Open that I have attended lately, but last night the judges were not sure what to do with them, take a look at their scores (1,2,3,2,5). Third went to perhaps the very favorite to win Vard Margaryan & Sofya Fill (3,4,1,3,4) who I’ve seen in a number of times overtake well-placed and top of the line finalist. But here studying the scoring sheets after the competition was as interesting as the competition itself, in short words the judges marks were all over the place. Fourth in this interesting 7 couple Rhythm final wen to Matthew Hauer & Lauren Schelfhaudt (4,3,4,4,2), fifth was awarded to Romney Reyes & Brook O’Donnel (5,5,5,5,3), Sandor Stefil & Aleksandra Barsukov placed sixth (6,6,6,6,6), and Michael Focannon & Meghan McNash took all sevenths. For the couple that came to our music stand to tell me that perhaps the authentic mambo we played was basically out of time (Cali Pachangero), when dealing with authentic music I advise couples not to rush when you hear the first beat, this is not a timed race where you win if you get there first. I really did not notice them off time but maybe the judges did because you got very low scores on that dance. Moral of the story, pay close attention and listen before you start, if you are having issues finding the beat, let your lady partner lead, I always did. In a separate note Peter and Alexandra Perzhu were scheduled to dance but withdrew in last minute. :( sad for us!
Artem Plakhotnyi & Inna Berlizyeva won the Professional Ballroom over Alexander Voskalchuk & Veronika Egorova in the Professional Ballroom. Artem & Ina’s scores were (1,1,2,2,1), Alexander & Veronika’s scores were (2,2,1,1,2). The most interesting and almost shocking for us while reading the marks was that a few of the judges awarded Alexander & Veronika 6th and even 5th place marks, I wonder if we were all looking at the same event, or were they not wearing their glasses?? :) Third in this excellent final was Egor Abashkin & Katia Kanevskaya and they placed third in every dance. Gianni Caliandro & Arianna Esposito placed fourth (4,4,4,4,5), fifth was awarded to Richard Tonizzo & Clair Hansen (5,6,5,5,6), and last in sixth place was Emanuele & Francesca Pappacena (6,5,6,6,4). It was also refreshing to have an excellent west cost swing couple be rewarded for their unique elements and the perfect execution of their routine in the Pro Theater Arts/Cabaret Championship. The standard in our ballroom field is to award what we are comfortable with and that is Ballroom or Cabaret, over dances like west coast or merengue that are out of the ordinary. Here the judges broke from the usual and gave James Brann & Sayra Vazques their first place marks, second went to Ivan Mulyavka & Loreta Kriksciukaityte and third was awarded to Jake Davis & Alyona Kalinina from England. The pro/am Latin Scholarships were fun but very small with most of them having only 5 couples or less, even the “C” division that up to now has been packed in the other styles, here only had 4 couples. The winner of this was none other than Lisa Lowery w/ Radek Wiatrowski. They won all dances but the Jive, here they placed second. Marguerite Pinard w/Nerijus Jasaitis took that jive and placed second on all the other four dances. Nora Fox w/Plamen Danailov was third and fourth went to Lisa McKee w/Clement Joly. 4 couples also took to the floor for the “B” division of the Pro/am Latin. Here Valeria Chayko w/Stanislav Kochergin won all dances. Letizia DiCarlo w/Mario Droby placed second (2,2,4,2,2), Melanie Gold w/Dandor Stefill were third (3,3T,3,3,3), and in fourth position was Kathy McDonough w/Felipe Gonzales (4,3T,2,4,4,).
The Smallest of the Pro/Am Latin scholarships was the “A” here only 3 couples competed but it was certainly worth a mention, all ladies competing were terrific. Dasha Hamrick w/Clement Joly won all dances and we must point out that Dasha also won the 10-dance Scholarship and the Youth event run earlier in the evening. Sabrina Strasser w/Stanislav Kochergin from Canada took all seconds and third position wen to Beatriz Colon w/Roman Malkhasyan.
Besides the unpredictable marks the dancing was all worth the ticket. The Professional Ballroom was fabulous with plenty of moments to make your breath pause, the Rhythm was a little even between the couples but they were all excellent and of good caliber not one finalist was out of place. Congratulations to the organizers on a wonderful night of excellent dancing.
A Smooth Day and Fun Night at Heritage! It was a fun and Smooth day yesterday here at the Heritage Classic. The Smooth scholarships were excellent. So far, for us, the “C” divisions have out done themselves and yesterday was no different. As in the night before Lisa Lowery w/ Radek Wiatrowski won the “C” division, with challenge form Lynn Murrell w/Peter Perzhu who placed second. Hope Huber w/Troy Baeten were third (3,3,4,4), Gracelyn Tuoti w/Andrei Abrashin took fourth (6,6,3,3), Susan Haynes w/Slava Stefanov were fifth (5,4,5,5) and Carolyn Woodruff w/Alosha Anatoliy placed sixth (4,5,6,6). In the Smooth “B” division Lisa Berry w/Rauno Ilo took the prize home, second was Christina Donelson w/Peter Perzhu and third was Darla Davies w/Jim Maranto. Diana Best w/Alosha Anatoliy placed fourth, Elain Whitford W/Yuriy Simakov were fifth and Dana Sampaleanu w/Aleks Nashev took sixth.
The “A” division was the smallest in entry but not in talent and here Maria Papakonstantinou w/ John King took first, Anna Ord w/Prageeth Hettiarachchi took second (2,2,2,4), Ekaterina Galperina w/Rex jones was third (3,3,3,2), and Rachel Peppard w/Darian Chancellor placed fourth (4,4,4,3).
In the 9 Dance Maria Papakonstantinou w/John King won all dances and took the trophy home, Darla Davies w/Jim Maranta placed second in all dances but the VW where she took third and third place was awarded to Shari Oxman w/Roman Malkhasyan.
Three professional divisions were decided this night as well and the RS Professional Latin went to Jake Davis & Alyona Kalinina from England who placed first in all dances but the samba, here they took second. The first place in the samba went to Felipe Gonzalez & Kathleen Ilo who were second in all the other four dances, third wen to Kirill Nikitin & Jenya Kanchukova. There was a seven couple final in the RS Professional Ballroom and Smooth. The Ballroom Rising Star belonged to Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova who placed first in all five dances. Second in all dances wen to Mechyslav Pavlyuk & Gemma Arnold, and third was awarded to Oleksiy Buravenko & Victoria Karzukhina (4,3,3,3,3). The Professional Smooth was awarded to Adrian & Hannah Dydynski and they too won all dances, second went to Andrei & Elena Rudenco and third in all dances was awarded to Dennis Woods & Amber Reich. I must congratulate the organizers, Colin & Joy Hilary for their organization skills, everything is like clockwork. And on a personal note, I cannot, have enough of this wonderful resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, the days have been so beautiful I can almost spend all day staring at the picturesque view just outside my window and the grand balcony just outside the main lobby. For those of you that are missing it this year for whatever reason, the hotel has been given a facelift. There is the old main bar in the lobby and a new one by the restaurant. The registration desk has been removed and it is a welcome site, the lobby is grand and more spacious with its two gigantic fireplaces alight at once. Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m not one to be attached to the old, but this grand hotel is a very special place and I am glad that it has become a tradition within our ballroom community. I know for many of us is a bit of a hustle getting here but it sure is worth your while, a perfect human nest within “the land of the sky,” Asheville.
Great “C” at the Heritage Classic! Last night’s feature events were the Pro/Am Smooth Scholarships and the Professional Rhythm. Of all of them, our favorite was the Pro/Am “C” category where three excellent ladies fought hard for the honor of being number one. "There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them"
The first place honor went to Lisa Lowery with professional, Radek Wiatrowski who kept her composure and did what she had to do with out ever being of the age, they won all dances. Quin Bommelje w/Mikhail Vlasov placed second but as you can see by the marks it was not an easy second to have - 4,3,2,2,2. Third in this mix was another terrific player and this was Lynn Murrell w/Peter Perzhu (2,2,3,3,4), fourth went to Gracelyn Tuoti w/Andrei Abrashin (5,5,4,4,3), fifth was awarded to Darla Davies w/Jim Maranto (3,4,5,5,5) and last but not least in sixth place was Michelle Kirby w/John Moldthan. "Eat, sleep, breath...Dance" The competitions were excellent but with this lovely weather there was plenty to do outside. I went for a walk and I saw plenty of people exploring the resort. The welcome cocktail party overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains was beautiful and fun. But lets not forget why we are here, there were other competitions that were as challenging as the Smooth Pro/Am C Division and are worth a mention. The “B” Pro/Am Smooth was also excellent but with less couples entered, only four couples took to the floor for this final and Caci Torres w/Eddie Rivera won this challenge (2,1,1,2,1), Second in this B category was Mieko Okumura w/Zeki Mavilyildiz (1,2,2,1,2), third went to Diana Best w/Alosha Anatolly, and fourth was awarded to Annick Desjardins w/Yuriy Simakov. "Dance first. Think Later. It's the natural order"
The “A” division was also interesting and here we had an 8-couple semifinal and once in the final the winner of this by far was Maria Papakonstantinou w/John King. Second in this A division was Jessica Sweeney w/Jeremy Pilling , third went to Lauren Watkins w/Michael Neal. Fourth in this same A event was awarded to Jacey Warren w/Joe joe Hasson (5,4,4,4,6) and fifth was awarded to Anna Ord w/ Prageeth Helttiarachchi (4,5,5,5T,5), leaving sixth to Ekaterina Galperina w/Rex Jones (6,6,6,5T,4).
The Professional Rising Star Rhythm was also another feature event of this night but unlike some of the Pro/am events it did not have a punch. The couples were all of an excellent level and perhaps that was the problem each one of them could have some kind of claim to top place. The new partnership of Max Lototskyy & Sarah Haworth won all dances, Erwin & Iwona Rybczynki took second. Romney Reyes & Brook O’Donnell placed third (3,4,3,3,3), Kurt Roberts & Anneliece Velasco placed fourth (4,3,4,4,4), Sandor Stefil & Aleksandra Barsukov were fifth and Timothy Polaschev & Katherine Hutchinson took all sixth. "Dance is music made visible"
Snowed out! But electrifying finish for Superstars!
The last night at the Superstars Championships was terrific with great dancing.
The Professional Latin was run and the winners, Ivan Mulyavka & Loreta Krisciukaityte, won all dances but the cha cha. The cha cha was taken by China’s Ray Zhang & Rosa Ren who were very clean in their approach. The Professional Smooth was also a great event with excellent couples, but here, Peter & Alexandra Perzhu took all dances and in our eyes were the best of the group. The Showdance and Cabaret was also a fierce event. Five couples took to the floor but here the honor of being the best went to Shane & Shannon Jensen who took all first places but one from the judging panel. "We dance around in a ring and suppose, but the secret sits in the middle and knows"
As you can see, the competition was excellent throughout the night but the closing event the “Anything Goes Showdown” was excellent showcasing all the champions from the Open Professional competition throughout the weekend of dance. And in a rare occurrence there was an unbreakable tie between Shane & Shannon from the Cabaret and the winners of the Open professional Rhythm Emanule Pierre-Antoine & Liana Churilova. The third place honor, in this case there was no second place, went to Ivan & Loreta the Open Latin champoions. Fourth was awarded to the Smooth Champions, Peter & Alexandra and fifth went to the Open Professional Ballroom Champions, Alexander Voskalchuk & Veronika Egorova. "Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything than isn't music."
As always and as you can see by some of the pictures, the ballroom was decorated beautifully in the style of Mr. Chapman, the leading force at the Superstars. It was unfortunate that over 1000 entries had to be scratched or withdrawn due to the snowstorm that swept across the northeast before and during the Superstars. However, the organizers spared no expense to make you feel at home and to make sure that everyone was entertained. It was also great luck that Delyan Terziev & Boriana Delcheva, the featured act at this year’s Superstars, managed to catch one of the last flights out of New York and gave us two wonderful shows, Friday & Saturday. "Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor" New Partnership Takes RS Rhythm at Superstars The new partnership of Maksym Lototsky & Sarah Hayworth were the clear winners of the RS Rhythm. From the semi into the final, they showed a great sense of musicality and awareness for each other and went on to win all dances. The competition was a little tougher between 2nd and 3rd place. Shane & Shannon Jensen came in 2nd (4,2,2,2,3) over Stephen Smyth & Victoryia Kleyman (3,3,3,4,4). In our opinion, Victoriya had an overall stronger presence and that might have swayed some marks in favor of that couple. Only 1 point made the difference between 3rd and 4th place, Tamas Kardos & Mariya-Khristina Shurupova made their impact by taking 2nd position in CC and Mambo making this a very exciting final to watch. The RS Ballroom had 2 couples enterered. The winners in all dances were Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova over Matt Rivers & Maliwan Diemer.
WDSF Back in US Territory
After years of absence from the USA, the WDSF (World Dancesport Federation), an official body for Dancesport in the world and a member of the IOC, is finally back in the USA.
Two WDSF events were run this past weekend of dance at the well-known Manhattan Classic (The Mac) Championship in Manhattan, New York City, organized by USA Dance, the WDSF affiliate in the USA. The events were run in the beautiful Grand Ballroom of the Manhattan Center and it was fully packed and with audience coming to support the athletes participating.
The most supported event and the more exciting of the two was the WDSF Junior II Open Championship Latin. Here we had a full semifinal round and the couples fighting for the opportunity and the title were excellent down to the semifinal. Kristers Smits & Sophie Shvartsman won the event by tying for second in the samba, placing first in the cha cha, paso and jive and third in the rumba. As you can see by the marks, the judges could not make up their minds. Matthew Kheyfets & Vanesa Falisova placed second by taking the samba and rumba from Kristers & Sophie, placing second in the cha and jive and third in the paso. Third place was awarded to Dennis Mateev & Valerie Dubinsky. They tied for second in the samba were fourth in cha cha and rumba and tied for fourth in jive. Joshua Lishnevetsky & Angela Gerzberg were fourth (5,3,2,5,3); fifth went to D’Angelo Castro & Amanda Carbajales (4,5,5,7,4.5). In sixth place were Levy Agaronnik & Simona Vigodner (6,6,7,6,6,) and last but not least in seventh position was Kamil Falkowski & Alexis Turko (7,7,6,4,7).
The placements in this competition will award this couples a certain amount of points for the WDSF world ranking system, placing them on an equal footing with other athletes around the world from South America to Europe, Africa and Asia. It is great to see that now all aspects of ballroom dancing are being represented in the USA and the promotion of ballroom dance, whether as a sport or as an art or social form, continues stronger than ever in this the land of the free.
The Standard WDSF Junior II Championship was not as well attended but the quality was also excellent. Here Dennis Mateev & Valerie Dubinsky placed first in every dance and were the clear winners. All seconds wen to Kamil Falkowski & Alexis Turko, and third were Matthew Kheyfets & Vanesa Falisova. Fourth went to Christopher Kantorosinski & Anna Jonczyk (5,4,4,4,4) and fifth was awarded to Denis Smotrov & Karina Mirochnik (4,5,5,5,5). Congratulations to all the couples for being the first to earn their points in this Dancesport arena and also to USA Dance for running two successful Championships. This was the first WDSF event they had hosted since the World Latin Championship in 2010