7th Time for Arunas in Vilnius
2014 was the 7th annual Vilnius Dance Festival, organized by US and World WDC Ballroom Champion, Arunas Bizokas, in his native Lithuania. Amazingly this event starts just one day after Blackpool finishes and of course, Arunas & Katusha won the Professional Ballroom at Blackpool again this year.
The thought of organizing an event just 1 day after such an amazingly stressful competition is daunting, but just as in his dancing, Arunas seems to take it all in stride. Not only is he the organizer he and Katusha also are the featured performers.
This year we saw competitors in WDC AL Amateur divisions, pro-am competitions, and hobby divisions with competitors from far afield – Australia, Canada, USA, Lebanon, Israel and a host of European countries. Judges hailed from Asia, Europe and North America.
The competition takes place in the Radisson Blue Hotel, right on the river in the charming and historical city of Vilnius. The after party in the spectacular Space Bar atop the hotel with panoramic windows is always a treat. Watch out for a full report and photos in the members’ section soon. And there will be some surprises - (eg. Katusha Demidova competed in the pro-am!)
It’s 1 & 2 Again! Once again USA took both winners and runners-up positions at the Blackpool Dance Festival – Open British Ballroom Championship. Arunas Bizokas & Katusha Demidova won all 4 dances (no VW in Blackpool) and Victor Fung & Anastasia Muravyeva were 2nd in all 4. As always the atmosphere for the final was terrific and the ending was a prolonged standing ovation. Representing England Andrea & Sara Ghigiarelli took 3rd in all 4 dances and it was a great night for Slovenian Reps, Domen Krapez & Monica Nigro who finished ahead of all their closest rivals to take 4th in all 4 dances. With placements of 5,5,5,6, (order of dances in Blackpool is WFTQ) Valerio Colantoni & Yulia Spesivtseva had to be content with 5th place. And in 6th were the popular Chinese team, Chao Yang & Yiling Tan placing 6,-,6,5. As you all know, professional divisions are judged by dance from the quarter-final onwards at Blackpool. Sascha & Natasha Karebey (Germany) placed 6th in the foxtrot. The USA continued to show great form down through the ranks of this competition. Marat Gimaev & Alina Basyuk made all 4 semifinals, cementing their ranking in both the USA and the world. But also making dances into the semifinals were Artem Plakhotnyi & Inna Berlizyeva (W); Denis Kutepov & Lesya Sinitsa (F); Alexander Voskalchuk & Veronika Egorova (F); Andrea Zaramella & Kristi Simmonds (T). As a side note, Australian photographer and Dance Beat contributor, Mark Gadsden, became something of a local hero when he dived into the chilly Irish Sea during the afternoon to save a boy from drowning. I’m sure the temperature was a little lower than his native land – but at least there were no sharks! Don’t forget to join the members’ section of Dance Beat to read the full Blackpool report and special commentary from Barbara Nagrode Ambroz, Giampiero Giannico, Eugene Katsevman and Lindsey Hillier-Tate.
Wow! 4 of the six finalists of the Amateur Ballroom at Blackpool, including the winners, were from Poland. And there was another Polish couple in the semifinal. Some in the audience felt it was a very even final and they loved all the couples – “Any one of them could have won!” Somebody told us.
The winners, retaining their title, were Marek Kosaty & Paulina Glazik and they won all dances. The remaining couples in the final were shuffled a bit since last year. Moving up were Chong He & Jing Shan (China) and also moving up were Sergiu Rusu & Dorota Makar (Poland). Poland also took 4th and 6th, Andrzej Sadecki & Karina Nawrot and Lukasz Tomczak & Aleksandra Jurczak; splitting them in 5th place were Dusan Dragovic & Greta Laurinaityte (England).
"I don't have attitude, I'm just REALLY good!"
US aspirations ended in the quarter-final with two couples making this round – Oskar Wojciechowski & Karolina Holody were 14th and Andres & Veronika End were 17th.
The USA had 4 entries in the Invitational Exhibition, but the winners were previous winners, Craig Smith & Micheline from South Africa who gave a near faultless performance. They received a standing ovation from the audience. Also receiving a standing ovation and the runner-up spot were Shane & Shannon Jensen from the USA. Our Dance Beat award for “most improved” went to the 3rd place recipients, Carlos Zapata & Dora Pashkova (Canada). 4th went to South Africa, Gerhard Van Roohen & Amor Krucer; 5th to Justine Guilmette & Kimerlee Piedad (USA); 6th Ethan & Nikki White (USA); 7th Travis & Jaimee Tuft (USA); 8th Igor Alferov & Alexandra Akimova (Russia). Margaret Burns from the USA was a judge of the division.
This also marked the 2nd year for pro-am dancing in Blackpool. Once again this year, there was a pro-am exhibition. 8 performances were split into two groups. There were six performances from Russia and 2 from China.
Stay On the Floor! It was the same couples in all dances for the Professional Latin at the British Open, but we were really taken aback when after the competition was over, Mr. Marcus Hilton MBE asked the couples once again to “stay on the floor,” but this time it was to read the retirement letter of Sergey Surkov & Melia.
It was a touching moment for all, Sergey & Melia have been a fixture of the Empress Ballroom for a long time, and we were really surprised when Mr. Hilton asked them to perform an honor dance. Now that World War II has been over for a while, are we developing a soft heart on this side of the pond? Never, since we can remember or any other English person of our age can remember, has an honor dance been executed by retiring competitors here at Blackool. (Can anyone else help us here, has this been done before?) Congratulations to Sergey & Melia on their retirement and we wish them the best in their future goals and accomplishments. As the norm Michael Malitowski & Joanna Leunis from England won the overall competition by takig three dances the C, R, P, leaving the left over dances S, J to current WDC World Professional Latin Champions & USA Champions, Riccardo Cocchi & Yulia Zagoruychenko from the USA. Third place went to Sergey & Melia but it was not a clear sweep. Canada’s Maurizio Vescovo & Andra Vaidilaite took two third places from the outgoing couple, but still were placed fourth overall. Fifth went to another fixture and that was Andrej Skufca & Melinda Torokgyorgy from Slovenia they placed fifth in every dance but the jive, this dance went to USA’s Stefano Di Filippo & Dariya who were sixth overall. I know there is total confusion as to who represents who and on some
"Dance for yourself. If someone understands, good. if not, no matter. go righr on doing what interests you, and do it until it stops interesting you."websites they have Stefano & Dariya dancing for Italy but as far as we know they continue to represent the USA, they possibly do most of their studies and rehearsing and competing in Alaska and Wyoming but they do represent the USA.
In the Semifinal Nikolai Voronovich & Maria Nikolishina made two dances In the 24 Sarunas Greblikas & Viktoria Horeva made all five from the USA and Canada had one couple Kamil Studenny & Anna Pelipenko who also made all five dances.
"Let us dance in the sum, wearing wild flowers in our hair..." England’s most promising couple Neil & Ekaterina Jones dropped out of the competition due to a foot injury. From the vendors report: they seem to be happy! They think there are more competitors than last year but attendance as a “fan” or viewer is down from last year. In looking around we do find it a little thinner on the ground, but not enough to cause alarm. The British Open continues to be as healthy as always but we do feel bad for the vendors who have no place to go and are now spread like butter all over the Winter Gardens! Rumors have it that by next year the space occupied this year by many of the vendors will be turned into a Blackpool Museum.
Troels & Ina Repeat in Amateur Latin Troels Bager & Ina Jeliazkova (Denmark) won the first of the “big 4” at Blackpool last night, the Amateur Latin. This was a repeat of their win last year. Last night they won all 5 dances, although, from the sidelines, we felt they have danced better on other occasions, but the judges clearly did not feel this to be the case.
Taking 2nd in 4 dances, but dropping to 3rd in jive were Kirill Belorukov & Elvira Skrylnikova (Russia). We liked their showing tonight, they seemed to have the most energy and attacked their dancing more than the rest of the final. The most improved result went to another Russian team, Nikita Brovko & Olga Urumova (3,3,3,3,2). Leading the US charge were Ferdinando Iannaccone & Yulia Musikhina and they placed 4th (4,4,5,4,4). We are sure they were hoping for a little better. One of our favorite couples of the competition took 5th, Morten Lowe & Roselina Doneva (Denmark) 5,5,4,5,5 and 6th were Klemen Prasnikar & Alexandra Averkieva (Slovenia). Pasha Pashkov & Danniella Karagach from New York placed in the top 12, a great result for them mirroring their result of 2012 and USA also had 3 couples in the top 24, Denys Drozdyuk & Antonina Skobina, Ruslan Aydaev & Valeriya Kozharinova and Tal Livshitz & Ilana Keselman – so this was a strong showing for USA.
"Our biological rhythms are the symphony of the cosmos, music embedded within us to which we dance, even when we can't name the tune." The other event of the night was the Youth (U/21) ballroom and in their first adult Blackpool New York’s Patrick Ploszaj & Anna Kaczmarski took 4th. Many in the audience felt they could have been even higher. The competition was very close through the whole final and Patrick & Anna actually won the foxtrot. Their full placements were 3,4,1,3. The winners (by a Rule 10) were Michael Foskett & Nika Vlasenko (England). They placed 1,3,4,1. The other half of the Rule 10 were Aleksandr Kalenyuk & Olena Ablitsova (Ukraine) with 2,2,3,2. It was great to see NDCA President, Brian McDonald, on the evening panel here at Blackpool, one of very few non-British judges to have ever had that honor.
USA Has 1/2 the Pro RS Ballroom Semi!
Photos by Andrew Miller
USA had 6 couples in the semifinal of the Open British Rising Star Professional Ballroom last night in Blackpool – and 2 couples went all the way to the final. Placing 2nd were Andrea Zaramella & Kristie Simmonds and 3rd were Denis Kutepov & Lesya Sinitsa.
Our semifinalists were: Egor Abashkin & Katya Kanevskaya, Igor Mikushov & Ekaterina Romashkina, Nikita Novikov & Dovile Sutaite and Ronen Zinshtein & Mariam Izmaylova.
The day before (Sunday) saw the conclusion of the Amateur Rising Star divisions. USA’s best results came in the Latin where Tal Livshitz & Ilana Keselman were 2nd – a great result for them. There were also 2 US couples and 2 Canadians in the semifinal. For the USA – Austin Joson & Alexandria Kondrashova and Pasha Stepanchuk & Anastasiya Danilova and for Canada Nurian Gallyamov & Jessica Swietoniowski and Adam Hathazi & Morgan Lakatos-Hayward. Also members go to our photos page to see photos of the North American Dinner - coming soon.
Team Americas Wins Team Match Again
Once again, Team Americas won the International Teams Match at the Blackpool Dance Festival. Congratulations to Arunas Bizokas & Katusha Demidova, Riccardo Cocchi & Yulia Zagoruychenko, Maurizio Vescovo & Andra Vaidilaite and Marat Gimaev & Alina Basyuk – our team members.
We were a little saddened not to see US #2 and world ranked #2 team, Victor Fung & Anastasia Muravyeva not part of the team (especially since Victor, unlike so many of us North American inports, was actually born there). Our team captain was Meryem Pearson of Canada. North American also had some success in the U/21 Latin Championships. Austin Joson & Alexandra Kondrashova (USA) were 4th and Adam Hathazi & Morgana Lakatos-Hayward (Canada) were 5th. Additionally Nurian Gallymov & Jessica Swietonioeski (Canada) and Ron Garber & Lisa Lakovistky (USA) were in the semifinal.
Great Start to USA’s BlackpoolQuest! What better way to start Blackpool week than with a win for the USA. David & Liva Wright placed first in the Open British Senior Ballroom Championship last night in the Winter Gardens’ Empress Ballroom. Almost as good, Sarunas Greblikas & Viktoria Horeva, also representing the USA, took 2nd in the Professional Rising Star Latin. Canadians Kamil Studenny & Anna Pelipenko were 6th in this same event. North American also had semifinalists in these competitions. In the senior, Xingmin & Katerina Lu and Andreas & Jodi Meijer and in the RS Latin, Roman Italyankin & Aleksandra Bokova from USA and Jean Philippe Milot & Laurence Bolduc from Canada
The Crown Jewell of Dancesport
The Crown Jewel of the Triple Crown series of competitions was going on this weekend at the Turnberry Isle Hotel and Resort in Aventura Florida. Gorgeous location, first class service, like all Triple Crown events. I will tell you more at length later, but want to catch you up on the highlights of the comp.
Open Rhythm winners were Nazar Norrov & Irina Kudryashova, it was an easy victory for them, first in all dances. No more ruffled skirt for Irina, she was wearing a new style dress which looked beautiful on her. Also sporting a new look was second place couple, Stephen Smyth & Viktoriya Kleyman. Viktoriya wore her hair down and looked very free. 3rd place to Sandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov. Open Theater Arts went to a newer couple fron NY, Daniel Enskat & Ahoy Wonpat-Borja. Ahoy is a lovely dancer full of grace and lovely to watch, Daniel lifts her very easily but could use some help with movement. Open Showdance was awarded to Kyle & Allie Spinder who have been climbing up lately and very deservedly. They have strong technical skills in Ballroom, a lost art these days, and a clean presentation. They also won the Open Smooth, but came in 2nd in the RS to Sergy Barsukov & Maria Sidnjova. I'll tell you more in this as well later. The RS Rhythm winners were Vicente Martinez & Megan Murphy they won all dances and 2nd place went to Shador Shtefil & Alexandra Barsukov. A fun event took place in the ballroom Saturday night as part of the "Expect the Unexpected" theme of Triple Crown events. A mixed Pro comp where dancers have to try on a new partner and do not know which dance they will be performing. We have seen quite a few interestings partnerships and moves over the past year but last night was a lot of fun watching Sergy Barsukov and Vladmir Kosarev taking turns leading in Bolero and Mambo to go on and win $1,000! You can watch for yourselves ... Always a great weekend with Larry and Dianne Dean, their next competition is Florida State in Sarasota July 29- August 3rd, I won't miss it!
Great Finish At American!
Watch video from SuperShag!
American Star Ball had a terrific finish with a full show that included children, comedy and some wonderful dancing. New choreographer sensation and DJ extraordinaire, Brent Mills, choreographed the ? hour show called the “Rat Pack.”
The show included a few group numbers, including a woman’s number that brought the house down, featuring a group of excellent women dancers lead by Larinda McRaven and if you can believe it, Tibor Kerekes! There was lost of laughter heard down to the lobby, but there was not one drt eye when Beata took to the floor to mambo with the “Three-Legged Men” played by Brent Mills and Mark Brock.
Laughter was not the only feature in this excellent show of shows, a singer was the link between each act and he was fantastic. We have not herd lately a singer be this good with such a difficult repertoires from the original “Rat Pack.” There were a number of dances performed while he sang, some by well-accomplished children and some by some of our ballroom’s best, Shane & Shannon Jensen doing a breathtaking Cabaret performance, Mazen Hamza and Izabella and Travis & Jamie Tuft to name a few of the “who’s who” in these special shows.
On a special note I want to tip my hat to Brent Mills who has proven himself to be not only an excellent DJ who did a terrific job this weekend of dance, but a diamond in the rough when it comes to choreographing and putting a show together. The show was well linked and thought out from beginning to end in other words, not as we often say, “just a list!”
The show was not the only feature this final night of competition, the dinner party held before the evening session began that included a band, was also an event talked about during and after the competition. The flower arrangements rivaled an exclusive wedding. This sit down meal was out of the ordinary, and once again the singer was fantastic.
Speaking of out of this world the professional events this night were also great with some interesting surprises. In the Rhythm, Andrei Svirydzenka & Yuliya Zubava from NY, who earlier in the year we saw win a number of events seemed to be going up and down. In last night’s performance they took third overall (3,4,3,3,4). Misha Vlasov & Vanda Polakova gave an energized and clean performance, rewarding them with first in all dances with a majority of firsts from the judges. Showdance sensations, Shane & Shannon Jensen, took second overall (2,2,2,2,3). As you can see the top three alone made it all worth it. The disappointment for us is these heat was the performance of Matt Hauer & Lauren Schelfhaudt who placed fourth overall (4,3,4,4,2). We were really excited about their progress the last time we saw their performance. However, in this event we can only call it a “walkover” performance and we will explain in the coming issue here if you care. Fifth in all dances were Sasha & Tara Barakov and sixth went to Egor Shalvarov & Alla Profitilova.
The Ballroom competition was also interesting. Here too we have mixed feelings, we felt that Andrei Begunov & Anna Demidova had stepped it up an inch separating themselves from the rest and it paid off, they placed first in all dances. We still think their Tango & Quickstep need a bit of a push but we were happy to see work is being done and they are once again on the move! Second in this heat were Emanuele & Francesca Pappacena (2,2,3,3,2). Here we were a little disappointed with this couple’s performance, they are usually full of energy but last night was the opposite we felt as if they were just going through the motions getting it done, for us they were far away from the mark, hope they get moving again. Third position wen to Ruslan & Katusha Wilder (3,3,2,2,3), here we had a well-studied performance but perhaps too studied and not enough soul. We will give our take on these talented couples here soon in the full overall article. Fourth went to Anton Domansky & Anna Chaldysheva (4,4,5,4,4,), fifth was awarded to Oleksiy Buravenko & Victoria Karzukhina (5,5,4,5,5) and all sixth places in all dances wen to Michael & Diana Malek. The Amateur Latin was also a terrific event and this wen to Nikita Malakhov & Nedezda Vlasova who won all five dances, second wen to Austin Joson & Sasha Kondrashova (3,2,2,2,3) and third was awarded to Taras Savitskyy & Tatiana Seliverstova (4,4,3,3,2). The Pro/Am “B” and “C” Smooth were also excellent events here at the American Star Ball. The “C” division was taken by Alla Neyshtadt w/Erik Pali (1,2,1,1), second went to Helena Kostik w/Mazen Hamza (2,1,2,2), and third was Charlene Proctor w/Mikolay Czarnecki (4,3,4,3). In the “B” division there were 8 couples in the final and top place went to Sue Gershowitz w/Mazen Hamza (2,2,1,1) in a rule 11 decision, second was awarded to Susan Cassano w/Randy Dias (1,1,2,2) and third in all dances was awarded to Angela Morrison & Peter Santiago. We want to congratulate Ilya and Amanda Reyzin for putting together such a terrific weekend of dance, we normally would have been a bit miserable being shipped to another hotel and not being able to be closer to the action 24/7, however, we are thrilled by the fact they were sold out twice. This is great payback for the hard labor these two put out to make sure everyone is happy and to make sure their event goes as seamlessly as possible. Congratulations once a gain to a great addition to the world of organizers, Ilya & Amanda Reyzin! Doubling Up! The American Star Ball in Atlantic City that, taken over by Ilya & Amanda Reyzin last year, has doubled up this year in entries and in attendance, to the point where most of the officials had to be shipped over to the Harrahs Hotel across the street (sold out!). This we are sure is fantastic news for this gracious couple! The two feature events last night on their menu was the Open Professional Smooth and the Open Professional Latin, both well attended with strong semifinal rounds. Out of the two the one with the most prestigious couples in attendance was the Smooth with three US finalists in it. The fight for first place was between Mazen Hamza & Izabella and Peter & Alexandra Perzhu, it was in our opinion very close between them but at the end on paper Peter & Alexandra took the victory walk and became the American Star Ball Smooth winners by tying in the waltz for first place with Mazen & Izabella being placed second in the tango and winning the other two dances. So losing two out of four dances Mazen & Izabella placed second overall. In this year of change in the Smooth this is an important clue as to how it might come out later in the year at our US National Championships. Third in this mix on every dance went to Travis & Jaimeee Tuft. The new partnership of Mikloay Czarnecki & Victoria Malko took fourth in all dances. The partnership looks very interesting to say the least and very promising, we were surprised to see that only a few judges awarded them higher marks but we are sure it will only be a matter of time before they can challenge for higher ground. Serge & Yanina Nelyubov were fifth and Leo Mora & Christina Garced took all sixths.
The Latin was a very difficult heat for the judges even though we had a favorite it was not clear. First to sixth place made you look from dance to dance. It is times like this where the skill as a judge is really needed. In the end by winning three out of the five dances Hayk Balasanyan & Emilia Poghosyan won the Professional Latin Open division (1,2,1,2,1), Jean Paul & Lana Rossi took second overall (2,1,2,1,2). We are sure this was a disappointing result for this couple but in all honesty they too were in these difficult mix of placements. Third was awarded to Dmyto & Nina Kovaletko (3,3,4,3,3). Fourth went to Vencenzo Minieri & Rosaria Vovone (4,4,3,4,4), fifth in all dances was Serge & Yanina Nelyubo, and sixth was awarded to Werner Figar & Shimkiri. The Open Professional Showdance went easily to Shane & Shannon Jensen and second was Travis & Jaimee Tuft. The Amateur Ballroom was also quite exciting with a healthy semifinal round as well and some excellent dancing. First was awarded to Oskar Wojciechowski & Karolina Holody and they placed first in every dance and from our opinion there was no challenge against them. Second overall was Taras Savitskyy & Tatiana Seleverstova (3,2,2,2,2) from our point of view it was much closer between them and the third place Marek Klepadlo & Liana Bakhtiarova (2,3,3,3,3). Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova took fourth (5,4,4,4,4), fifth was Daniel Vesnovskiy & Emily Thorp (4,5,5,5,5) and in sixth place was Sam Brandt & Sabrina Yakubovich who took sixth in all dances. In the pro/am divisions the “B” and “C” Ballroom had the most entries and they were excellent events the “B” was won by Carol Simmons w/Serhgei Pogonet (1,3,2,1,1), second was Kako Matsumoto w/Erik Pali (3,1,1,2T,2) and third went to Elena Lee w/Emanuele Pappacena (2,2,3,2T,2). The “C” Ballroom division was taken by Elena Lee w/Emanuel Pappacena and they won every dance, second was awarded to Sue Gershowitz w/Nikolai Pilipenchuk (2,2,2,2,2) and third was Judy Marx w/Ihor Kravets (5,3,3,3,3). Tonight we will see the professional Open Rhythm and Ballroom and we are expectating a fabulous show by the Rat Pack - Ilya Rezin, Mark Brock, Brent Miles and Gary McDonald. We called it the (Meat Rack) lol We are looking forward to this interesting happening.
In a rare occurrence, the winners of all 4 professional divisions won almost every dance of their respective categories with the majority of 1st places. So congratulations to Ivan Mulyavka & Loreta Kriksciukaiyte (Latin), Travis & Jaimee Tuft (Smooth), Sergiy Samchynskyy & Yuliya Besarab (Ballroom) and Andre & Natlalie Paramonov (Rhythm). The only exception was the Ballroom where Sergey & Yuliya lost the waltz to runners-up, Martin & Liene Reinbold. Sergey & Yuliya still had more 1st places in that dance, but not the majority and strangely, to us, they had some 6th placements in this dance.
Runners up in the Latin, all dances, were Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Shvets. Their closest dance to the winners was jive, where they had 6 first places to Ivan & Loreta’s 8. Sergey & Yuliya were 3rd in all dances and we thought this was some of the best Latin work we have seen from this consummate 10-Dance couple. With 4,4,4,5,5, SergeyKorshunov & Michelle Hafle took 4th, 4,4,4,5,5, Jake Davies & Alyona Kalinina were 5th, 5,5,5,4,4 and Riccardo Papi & Sabrina Moretti were 6th.
"It's the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance."
Travis & Jaimee were well clear in the Smooth, based on the judges’ scores. The runners-up were Sergey Barsukov & Maria Sidnjova and they certainly had their supporters in the room with their powerful style of Smooth dancing. Valdimir & Vera Kosarev were 3rd in all dances and their scores from the judges ran the gamut of 1st to 6th in all dances. Stephen Smyth & Viktorija Kleyman took 4th in all dances and in a reverse of the RS results, Ben & Cheryl Seifert moved ahead of Dennis Woods & Amber Reich although the two couples tied in the waltz.
Andre & Natalie had strong majorities in all dances. The closest race came in the mambo, but they still had 9 first places to the 4 of the runners-up, Mikhail Vlasov & Vanda Polakhova who were 2nd in all dances. We found the remaining places a little hard to call, but here is how it worked out. Ivan Dishliev & Marieta Nedyalkova (4,4,3,3,3); Shane & Shannon Jensen (3,3,4,4,4); Maksym Lototskyy & Sarah Haworth (5,5,5,5,5); Shandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov (6,7,6,6,6); Stephen Smyth & Viktoriya Kleyman (7,6,7,7,7). Despite losing the waltz on ‘2nd or better’ scores, Sergey & Yulia came back strongly and had large majorities in the other 4 dances. We agree with the judges that Martin & Liene’s best dance is the waltz and for us they were clearly unchallenged as the runners-up. The judges’ scores were very mixed for the remainder of the couples who finished in the following order: Oleksiy Buravenko & Victoria Kazukhina (4,3,4,3,3); Gabor Seres & Mariya Vysotskaya (3,5,3,4,5); Vladimir Triazin & Alicia Gruttadauria (5,4,5,5,4); Dmitry Solomakha & Gabriele Sevillano (6,6,6,6,6).
Watch out for reports by Mark Brock (Rhythm), Shirley Johnson (Latin) and Pat Traymore (Smooth) all coming soon to Dance Beat.
"People have asked me why I chose to be a dancer. I did not choose. I was chosen to be a dancer, and with that, you live all your life." The last event of the competition was the Pro Showdance and Shane & Shannon Jensen wowed the crowd and the judges to take this division with 11 first places out of the fifteen. Andre & Natalie Paramonov took 2nd and Travis & Jaimee Tuft, 3rd. During the day it was international day for the pro-ams. In the ballroom, the B was the largest division and Jill Bradford w/ Gert Roslender won all 5 dances. 2nd went to Brynda Insely w/ Martin Reinbold again in all dances, and 3rd in all was Noriko Keirman w/ Eric Pali. Sally He w/ Enzo Zappia won all dances in the C, followed by Rick Brooks w/ Shalene Archer (2,3,2,3,4) and Jennifer Donnell w/ Martin Reinbold (4,2,3,4,2). There were only 2 contestants in the A and it went to Galina Livitina w/ Jari Muller (1,2,1,1,1) over Lauren Klaus w/ Ben Ermis (2,1,2,2,2). Galina won the Best of the Best Challenge. In the Latin Open Scholarships it was a good day for teacher, Clement Joly whose students took 2 of the divisions – Dasha Hemrick (A) and Mirra Blinova (B). Both ladies won all dances and were both very impressive. 2nd in the A was Maria Seragou w/ Dimitrios Damalas and 3rd, Madeline Geiger w/ Enzo Zappia. In the B Melanie Gold w/ Shandor Shtefil was 2nd and Peter See w/ Olga Kormanovskaya was 3rd. Suzanne Saperstein w/ Ricky Bentzen took the C division (1,1,2,1,1). Sally He w/ Enzo Zappia as 2nd, and Barbara Willis w/ Rainier Rics was 3rd. A Hot Night of Rising Stars All 4 styles of Pro Rising Stars were contested last night at Atlanta Open and all gave the judges some tough choices.
"You are unique, and if that is not fultilled, then something has been lost."
The largest and first division on the floor was the Rhythm that began with a semifinal. This resulted in a fairly comfortable win for Max Lototskyy & Sarah Haworth in all dances. They had the clear majority of 1st places in all dances except mambo. The runners-up were last week’s winners from Emerald Ball, Standor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov. They were 2nd in all dances but received an equal amout of 1st places in the mambo. Third place went to Romney Reyes & Brooke O’Donnell, 3,4,3,3,3. All three of these couples are from Florida. Next up was the Ballroom and here there were only 3 couples and apparently a very confused judging panel. All three couples received 1st places in all dances. The only dance won with a majority was the tango. The final places were, 1st, Gabor Seres & Mariya Vysotskaya (1T,1,1,2,2T); 2nd, Oleksiy Buravenko & Victoria Karzukkina (1T,2,2,1,2T); 3rd, Dmitry Sololmakhia & Gabriela Seviliano (3,3,3,3,1). Sergey Barsukov & Maria Sidnjova were easy winners of the RS Smooth. They lost a total of only 3 first place marks. Fairly secure and with 2nd in all dances were Stephen Smyth & Viktoriya Kleyman and 3rd in all were Dennis Woods & Amber Reich. The Latin was a strong event and in this Jake Davies & Alyona Kalinina were the easy winners of all dances. With the majority of ‘2nd or better’ scores in all dances, Riccado Papi & Sabrina Moretti were the runners-up and taking 3rd in all dances it was Gene & Elena Bersten.
The pro-ams danced Rhythm today. The Open Scholarships were smaller than in the Smooth the day before, but nevertheless, the standard of dance was very high. The A divisions especially was very strong, bringing out some of the nation’s best. Taking the top spot was Natalie Crandell w/ Decho Kraev and Natalie won all dances. 2nd in all today was Maria Papakonstantinou w/ John King and 3rd in all, Kia Malone w/ Eddie Rivera.
The B had only 2 contestants, but again they were two of the best. Giovanni Fortezza w/ Jolanta Mosteika won all dances and 2nd went to Donna Sprano w/ Evgeny Dyachecnko. The C was the largest group and in this Evgeny moved to 1st place with his student, Cathy Fulham (1,1,1,3,1). 2nd spot fell to Quin Bommelje w/ Michael Neil (2,2,2,2,3) and 3rd to Lynn Murrell w/ Peter Perzhu (3,3,3,1,2).
Giovanni & Jolanta won the Best of the Best Challenge. The evening ended with a celebration for Marianne Nicole who turns the grand 60 next week.
DOWNtown but Upbeat
Atlanta Open 2014 The Atalnta Open got under way yesterday in the beautiful Hyatt Regncy. This is a great competition venue, situated in the heart of downtown Atlanta and with a wonderful, large ballroom and comfortable accommodations.
"When you do dance, I wish you A wave o' the sea, that you might ever do Nothing but that."
Yesterday was Smooth day and it was pro-am Smooth heats all day long. All three of the Open Scholarships were strong events. The A was won by Maria Papakonstantinou w/ John King (1,1,1,2). This lady is relatively new to this style and is certainly improving every time. We would like to see a little more floor coverage as there is a lot of stationary material. 2nd today was a former World Pro-Am Champion in this division, Laurie Meer, now dancing with Ian Folker (2,2,2,1). We could have seen Laurie a little closer in the scoring. Pamela Bolling w/ Ben Ermis took 3rd (4,3,3,3); Galina Livitina w/ Jari Muller was 4th (3,4,4,4) and Anita Fong w/ Jorge Morales was 5th.
Lynn Shanahan w/ Darius Mosteika won all dances in the B overtaking Wende Stambaugh w/ Ben Ermis who placed 2,2,3,3 and Donna Sparano w/ Evgeny Dyachenko (3,3,2,2). In the single dances earlier in the day, the results between these three ladies were more mixed. Jennifer Donnell w/ Rainier Rics was 4th.
The C was the largest of the 3 open scholarships and in this Lynn Murrell w/ Peter Perzhu was the winner in all dances. Taking all the 2nds was Carolyn Woodruff w/ Alosha Anatoliy. With 3,3,3T,4, Amy Hardy w/ Valery Ganiev was 3rd and close behind with 4,4,3T,3, Debra Hendrikson w/ Christian Lange. Barbara Harris w/ Rainier Rics was 5th (5,5,5,6); Pat Biggers w/ Timmy Merz was 6th (6,6,7,5) and Radhika Unnithan w/ Yusemi Cruz was 7th (7,7,6,7).
The Scholarship divisions were used to select the contenders for the Best of The Best Challenges and in the Open division the winners of the B, Lynn Shanahan w/ Darius Mosteika was the overall winner and will represent Atlanta Open in this division at the Ohio Star Ball, Best of the Best finale.
25 Shades Of Green!
Last night was the culmination of the 25-year anniversary of the Emerald Ball under the direction of Wayne & Donna Eng and it all ended with a lavish celebration made for a king! The grand show “25 Shades of Green” was produced by Tomas and Izabella Lewandosky and sponsored by long-time friend and ballroom philanthropist, Mrs. Josie lee. The 25 Shades of Green presented a showcase of singing and dancing with many world and US finalists in attendance. It started with a film that took us on a journey through the world of dancing, shown on the giant high-definition screen, center stage at this year’s Emerald Ball. This screen also served as the main backdrop throughout the show complimenting every performance. The biggest cheer and standing ovation came to a young lady who was fantastic and who brought the house down with an astronomical solo performance, we have seen the best ballroom dancers but this young lady’s solo gave us reason for pause! The after party was also made for a king. The lobby restaurant was closed and there was food, drinks and music to your heart’s content. All this was only fitting for this excellent 25 (silver) year anniversary for Wayne and Donna Eng and as Wayne put it in a question I asked, “There are my children, there is Donna and there is the Emerald Ball, it is a big part of our lives.” See photos from the after party in our photo gallery.
The professional competitions earlier in the evening were also befitting this 25 years of success. The Professional Ballroom unlike the Rising Stars a few days before redeemed itself and when it came to the final it was a delight. Victor Fung & Anastasiya Muravyeva, second in the World and the US, danced with tremendous finnesse and won almost every dance with perfect scores, the only dance where they got one second was in the tango and that was awarded to them by Valentina Kostenko. The recipient of that one first from Valentina was the runners-up, Artem Plakhotnyi & Inna Berlizyeva who placed second in every dance and third went to another excellent couple who stole a few seconds from Artem & Inna and that was Denis Kutepov & Lesya Sinitsa (3,3,3,3,4). Fourth place wen to Egor Abashkin & Katia Kanevskaya (4,4,4,4,3), fifth place was awarded to Gianni Caliandro & Arianna Esposito they were fifth in every dance. In sixth place were Nazar Baith & Mariko Cantley (6,7,6,7,6) and in seventh place were Igor Colac & Roxane Milott (7,6,7,6,7).
The Professional Rhythm was also huge in entries and talent. Emanuel Pierre Antoine & Lianna Churilova won every dance and took the Emerald Champions title home. They won all dances with a huge majority of firsts from the judges. Nazar Norov & Irina Kudryashova continue to enthrall the audience with their charisma and they took second in every dance. The new Smooth Emerald Champions, Peter & Alexandra Perzhu, placed third in every dance. As you will see from here on the judges were not as definite. Vard Margaryan & Sofya Fill placed fourth overall but not in every dance (5,5,4,4,4). Mikhail Vlasov & Vanda Polakova were fifth but manage to take two fourths (4,4,5,5,5). Ilya & Mandy Velednitsky were sixth (6,7,6,6,7), and seventh went to Roland & Katie Guillen (7,6,7,7,6). There were 12 entries for the Open professional Showdance category but lucky for us (and for the schedule) three pulled out and only 9 took to the floor. I say lucky because even though the couples all looked prepared and there was no major fiasco on the floor while all eyes are on these solo performances, for us there was a lack of story telling and composition. In other words you can’t just make a link of every trick and step you do well, chain it together and throw some music at it. But perhaps we are a little tired and cranky being this was near the end of a long week of dancing and we are just being a little too critical. However, we most say that some of the lift work was out of this world with some amazing tricks that required not only strength, but also timing and coordination. One couple that demonstrated all this and more was Justin Guilmette & Kimalee Piedad and they won the heart of the judges and audience and took the cup home. Clyde Harris & Summer Elkin placed second and third in this 9-couple final was Jamie Black & Robin Ray. Out of the two amateur events the Ballroom was our favorite with at least three terrific couples in the final. Andres & Veronika End won and demonstrated that this style can have life and lots of creativity in it, to the point as I said before that might be considered by some hard liner as “WDSF inspired.” On the classy side with fine movements and very “WDC style” in this final we had Marek Klepadlo & Liana Bakhtiarova who placed second in every dance. And somewhere in the middle a beautiful couple to watch with excellent smooth transitions was Ruslan Kalyuzhnyy & Kseniya Sovenko and they placed third in every dance.
"A star danced, and under that was I born." In the Open Latin Amateur for us there was only one clear winner from the beginning and that was Ferdinando Iannaccone & Yulia Musikhina and they took first in every dance with also a huge majority of firsts from the judges. Although there was no question in our minds that they would ultimately will win every dance we still had to look at the scores and we were surprised to find that at least one judge in every dance abstained from awarding them a first, this is quite normal. However, the fact that one judge awarded them 2 fifths made us almost chuckle over our breakfast this morning. Valentina Kostenko awarded them a fifth in samba and rumba. In this same heat Phillip Kudryavtsev & Ashley Goldman placed second (2,2,3,2,2) and Briant Leyman & Nino Dzneladze took third (3,3,2,3,3). We understand that this was Phillip & Ashley’s last competition together as Ashley is going to concentrate on her academic studies. The Pro/Am Latin scholarships were run in the afternoon and they were excellent, The “A” went to Cheyenne Murillo w/ Sasha Altukhov and they took first in every dance, second was awarded to Michael Roberts w/ Milana Pliner (2,3,2,2,2). This was the best finish from a man in this year’s open scholarships. Third went to Maria Ceva w/Lubomir Asenov (3,2,3,3,3). In the “B” Tina Broccole w/Delyan Terziev won all dances. Hilda Li w/Roland Michtchenko placed second (2,2,2,3,2), and third was awarded to Marialisa de Gasperis w/Kamil Studenny. The “C” division was very contested as usual and here Lisa Lowery w/ Radek Wiatrowski placed first in every dance, meaning two former Pro/Am World Latin Pro/Am “C” Champions, Beverly Moore and Joan Goddard had to settle for second and third with Beverly w/Alain Doucet taking second (3,2,3,2,3) and Joan w/Chris Johnston placing third (5,3,2,3,4). Today we have a full day of children, showcases and odds and ends. It is Wayne and Donna’s dream to have in the future three days solely dedicated to youth and children. We believe his dream will come true sooner or later. Today the ballroom started bright and early at 7AM and it is going till 9PM. Not to far away from that wish of theirs! Congratulations Wayne & Donna Eng in this your 25th year, we hope to see all your dreams come true.
Watch action video and interviews from Emerald Ball now on our video page. (Content provided by SuperShag)
A Day at the Races!
In a very split race Peter & Alexandra Perzhu clearly defeated Mazen Hamza & Izabella.
Watch action video and interviews from Emerald Ball now on our video page. (Content provided by SuperShag)
Yesterday at the Emerald Ball it was a day of interesting races in the Professional Smooth and Pro/Am Ballroom Scholarships. Last night Peter & Alexandra won all dances in the Professional Smooth but only in the foxtrot did they have the majority of firsts. In the other three dances it was “1st or better” marks that gave them the victory. Mazen & Izabella took second in all dances but not with the left over firsts. They were awarded some firsts but mainly had to rely on “2nd or better” to maintain the second placement in all dances. To make this race even more interesting Mikhail & Galina Zharinov were thrown into the mix and also shared in the first place frenzy, stealing some firsts as well from the two top couples. However, when all was said and done Mikhail & Galina were clearly third in all four dances.
Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija took all fourths and here Viktorija was clearly unhappy with this result or just too focused on her race to “smile” when picking up the award, no curtsies or silly polite “how happy I am to get this.” Led by her happy partner Nick (who did seem happy), she just headed to the presenters and collected their fourth place award and lined up. Fifth went to Travis & Jaimee Tuft who we can almost swear also sported a minute glimmer of disappointment when their result was called. And finally, just happy to be there, Kris Suakjian & Briana Haft were sixth in all dances. This was an excellent event and we must tip our hat to all the couples. It was clear in the semifinal round that this race was not going to be an easy walk in the park for all involved. Many great couples were left out of this elite final. However they must all know that this was a fabulous competition and one they should have all been proud to be in.
We wish we could say the same for the Professional Latin. Here like an “old marriage” nearly everything went as usual including the dancing. Roman Kutskyy & Anna Kovalova were clearly the winners in every dance from the start and yes they won every dance with a huge majority of firsts. Nikolay Voronovich & Maria Nikolishina, who for us sported a questionable dress and hairdo, were clearly second in every dance (we are not sure their look helped their cause). The surprise in this race was the demotion to fourth place of US finalists, Ivan Mulyavka & Loreta Kriksciukaityte (3,5,4,3,4), and the elevation of Andrey Tarasov & Julia Kuznetsova to third place (4,3,3,4,3). This maneuver was totally unprecedented from judges who we suppose were not missing any punches! Their hard work must have paid off! Interesting! We will have our take on all this mater here soon if you care. And finally in fifth position were Vitalii Proskurin & Evgenia Shatilova (5,4,6,6,5), and in sixth place Evgeniy Likhachev & Maria Levina (6,6,5,5,6).
"I was born from a boombox. My heart is a dancer."
The Pro/Am Ballroom also gave us an interesting start to the evening. The most interesting race for many different reasons was that of the “B” category. Here two strong long-time rivals took to the floor. Former World Pro/Am Ballroom “B” Champion, Beverly Moore from Canada partnered by Alain Doucet and Celia Chou partnered by Erminio Stefano. The atmosphere was so thick with anticipation when the awards were presented that we could have cut it with a knife. Continuing to stamp her hold on her first place position this time was Celia Chou winning all five dances and we must add that all dances were won with the majority of firsts. However, Beverly, from the judges’ perspective, was not able to challenge Celia. This time she had to be happy with just a third place overall. However, as you will see she did manage to take second in a dance and two thirds (3,4,2,3,4). Getting ahead of Beverly this time was Lily Chang partnered by Sergei Kiselev (2,2,3,2,3). As you can see she did get a second overall but in two of the dances she placed third. As devoted fans of the pro/am competitive scene we most point out that although Celia & Beverly are two excellent competitors and worthy of their titles and accomplishments, in all honesty, our very favorite this time around and one that had we been judging might have placed first on our pads, was Lily Chang. On this occasion Lily danced with freedom with great grace, musicality and flair. Our congratulations to these three fabulous ladies for giving us an incredible final to watch.
Not to be forgotten or left out of the mix, were the other three competitors who were also excellent and worthy of being in this prestigious final. Ling Ma w/Edgar Gasjuns who was fourth (6,3,4,4,2), Bo Chang w/Giampiero Giannico who placed fifth (4,5,6,5,5), and Michelle Peng w/Mikhail Avdeev who has tremendously improved from previous performances, placed sixth (5,6,5,6,6).
We were very surprised that our choices for first in the “A” and “C” were almost made a reality. In the “A” Jennifer Lee w/ Serghei Pogonet who was a delight to watch on this occasion, took first overall (3,1,3,2,1) and our very favorite to win who also impressed us with her skill on this outing, Jenika Kalish w/Raffaele Sabato were second overall (2,4,1,1,3). We will have full reviews on all these pro/am scholarships as well, so stay tuned. Third went to Vinie Miller w/ Anton Koukareko (4,2,2,3,2). Ani Mkrtchyan w/Nick Cheremukhian was fourth (1,5,5,5,4), Anya Lucero w/Ikaika Dowsett was awarded fifth (6,3,4,4,5) and sixth went to Rebecca Kuhn w/Andrea Faraci (5,6,6,6,6).
The “C” division was also great and here Hye-Kyong Park w/Linas Koreiva was first (1,1,1,1,2). Second went to Connie Edmonds w/Samuele Pacchini (2,3,2,2,1), third was awarded to Tammy Knight w/ Artem Plakhotnyi. Beatrice Wang w/Giampiero Giannico was fourth (5,4,3,4,5), Paige Riffle w/Leonid Burlo placed fifth (4,5,5,54) and Deborah Errico w/Dariusz Michalski took sixth in every dance.
"You most have chaos within you to give rise to a dancing star."
As you can see this was a very memorable day at the Emerald Ball with some fantastic races. However, the most important contest was the one being judged by you, the fans of ballroom dancing. A few days ago we predicted that the Smooth would be a terrific event and so we wanted to bring you into the mix. We asked you to vote for your favorite Smooth couple in a poll here on Dance Beat’s website. In this important and nail-biting race we are proud to announce that after three full days of voting (to the point that we surpassed our polling limits and we had to increase the amount of people allowed to vote a few times) we finally have a decision and the peoples’ choice for their favorite couple and winner of a 1-year subscription to Dance Beat’s members’ section is David & Natalie Schulz. They had 48% of the votes.
Watch action video and interviews from Emerald Ball now on our video page. (Content provided by SuperShag)
Yesterday the Emerald Ball Championships was about the Professional Rising Stars and the Pro/Am Smooth Scholarships. The RS Latin and Smooth had the largest entries followed by the Rhythm and with a final round only, the Professional Rising Star Ballroom.
All the events had excellent professional couples with a huge amount of talent, and in nearly all the events the top placements were hard fought. In the Latin there was a first round and when it came to the final we are sure the judges were hard at work. The Rising Star Latin winners, Vitalii Proskurin & Evgania Shatilov, had an easy win in the cha cha with a huge majority of firsts, but in the other four dances it was an uphill battle with some of the judges even awarding them some fourth place marks. Second in this very indecisive heat was Evgeniy Likhachev & Maria Levina, placing second in all dances. Third was awarded to Oleg Astakhov & Olivia Wesolowski (4,3,3,3,4), this was perhaps our favorite couple, the lady is a dream when it comes to Latin dancing and we were for certain they would be in a top placement. Pavel Balykin & Meagan Mendoza placed fourth (3,4,4,4,3), Ryan Lewis & Tessa were fifth in every dance and Maksym Kapitanchuck & Elena Krifuks were sixth.
The Smooth Rising Star was also a good fight to the finish with Kyle & Allie Spinder taking first overall (1,2,1,1) but here too it was a strong fight. Kyle & Allie did manage to win the foxtrot with perfect scores and a strong finish in the W and VW with only one judge awarding them second in each dance. The tango was a different story here they had to settle for second place to the runners-up Sergey Barsukov & Maria Sidnjova (2,1,2,2). Third was awarded to Adrian & Hannah Dydynski, fourth went to Slava Stefanov & Jessica McMorrow who placed fourth in every dance. Fifth place was awarded to Radek Wiatrowski & Sonia Ragan (5,6,6,5), and in sixth place were Ben & Cheryl Seifert. Possibly one of our favorite up and coming couples was Adrian & Hannah, who bring to the floor a much needed subtlety to the style, we are looking forward to seeing this couple grow and hope they maintain this unique quality to their performance, and we are confident that soon they will be challenging for higher ground.
"There are times when the simple dignity of movement can fulfill the function of a volume of words."
The Rhythm was won by Shandor Shtefil & Alekasandra Barsukov (2,1,1,1,1), second overall were Max Lototskyy & Sarah Haworth (3,2,2,2,3). For us it was close between these two couples, however, when you see it on paper it was not. A little disappointed in one of our favorite up an coming Rhythm couples, the new partnership of Donovan Dominguez & Rose Bauer-Dimov (1,4,3,3,4). We are usually quite fans of both but last night it did not look as strong as we expected and it seems the judges agreed. But there is great potential here! Tamas Kardos & Mariya Khristina Shurupova were fourth (4,3,5,4,2), Kurt Roberts & Anneliece Velasco were fifth (5,5,4,6,5) and in sixth position were Tommy Belmontez & Jessica Holty (6,6,6,5,6).
As we said earlier the Professional Rising Star Ballroom was only a seven-couple final making us wonder what happened to Ballroom??? Is Smooth the new Black or is dancing together without letting go no longer appealing? Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova took first in all dances, Evgeniy Mayorov & Olga Lisovskaya all seconds and third was awarded to Slave & Lara Kostianets. The Pro/Am Scholarships in the Smooth were excellent in the afternoon. The “C” division had a huge amount of entries with a strong first round of competition. The winner of the “C” was Robin Kencel w/Sergey Vasilyev and she won all dances, second in this very strong fight went to World Pro/Am Smooth “C” Champion Beverly Moore w/Alain Doucet from Canada and they really took a beating as you will see from the marks (3,2,3,2), and third was awarded to Lisa Lowery dancing with Radek Wiatrowski (2,3,2,3). Lynn Murell w/Peter Perzhu was fourth (4,4,5,4), fifth went to Sue Eldred w/Artem Plakhotnyi (5,5,4,5), sixth was awarded to Paige Riffle w/Alex Zagrean, who by the way was perhaps the most improved lady of the final in our eyes, and seventh was awarded to Monica Broch w/ Kris Suakjian (7,6,6,7). So who was tired and who pushed back? Who did what they always do and who got ahead of whom? We will have these reports from these very exciting events here soon in our next issues of Dance Beat, so stay tuned. The “B” was the second largest event of the afternoon and we ended up with six very talented ladies. Joanne Smith w/Sharon Levit from Canada was for us unmistakably the best from the word go. Her use of body in this skill was like no other in this final. Funnily enough, the judges did not feel the same way. If you notice, by the marks (1,2,1,2). Second in this terrific heat went to a very experience competitor Susan Sidman w/Gleb Makarov (2,1,3,1), and Aiyeshas Dey with Eric Hudson placed third (3,3,2,3). Christina Donelson w/ Peter Perzhu took all fourths, Joanne Tatem w/ Mariusz Zakrzewski was fifth (6,5,6,5), and Monica Broch w/Kris Suakjian took sixth (5,6,5,6). The “A” division had a strong semifinal round and in the end six talented young ladies were called for the final. Brianna Yadgir w/Chris Germain won the competition (2,1,1,1). Christina Diaz w/Kris Suakjian placed second overall (1,2,3,2) and Sirinda Sincharoen w/Max Sinitsa was third (4,3,2,4). Irene Lee w/ Nick Cheremukhin placed fourth (3,4,4,3), Sara Jess w/Thomas Mielnicki was fifth (6,5,5,5) and sixth was awarded to Shelby Hafen w/Sergei Shapoval (5,6,6,6). So far - no glitches everything has run as well as expected! Tonight the open professional events will begin and the pro/am ballroom scholarships should be on the way.
It All Starts with Rhythm!
The Emerald Ball Dancesport Championships started early Tuesday afternoon with the Rhythm categories which ended late Wednesday afternoon with the Pro/Am Open Rhythm Scholarships. This year the organizers, Wayne and Donna Eng, added extra time to fit the thousands of entries their competition now enjoys and we are sure it was well appreciated by the competitors giving them a little more time to be judged and from time to time, a comfortable awards break for the hard-working Pro/Am teachers.
The feature events yesterday were the Open Pro/Am Rhythm Scholarships. With the exception of the “A,” all categories enjoyed first rounds. In the end the “C” and “B” categories were six-couple finals and the “A” division a five couple final.
In the “C” division Lisa Lowery with partner Radek Wiatrowski was unstoppable wining every dance with the majority of firsts in all. Former World and US Pro/Am Champion, Joan Goddard w/Chris Johnston, took seconds in every dance and Lynn Murrell with teacher Peter Perzhu placed third overall (4,3,4,3,3). Quin Bomelje & Mikhail Vlasov were fourth (3,4,3,4,4), Kathy Trice w/Radomir Pashev placed fifth (6,6,5,5,5) and sixth went to Monica Broch w/ Kris Suakjian (5,5,6,6,6).
The “B” division was also quite exciting. Here Aiyesha Dey w/Eric Hudson took first place overall but not in every dance (2,1,1,1,2), Seasoned player Susan Sidman w/Gleb Makarov was awarded second overall and they took a few firsts (1,2,2,2,1), and third overall went to M’Balie Tagoe w/Mariusz Zakrzewski (3,5,3,5,3) perhaps our favorite lady of the night. Fourth was awarded to Dianne Dale w/Luis Detling (4,3,4,4,4), fifth went to Kelly Wain w/Gunnar Sverrisson (5,4,5,3,5) and sixth was Cindy Wang w/Steve Vasco and they place sixth in all five dances.
As we mentioned before the “A” category had only a semifinal and in the end five ladies were called back. Nadia Kireyko partner by Daniel Vasco won and was perhaps our favorite of this heat with a natural feeling for this style. Chastity Smith w/Eddie Ares placed second in every dance and Jessica Sweeney w/Jeremy Piling took all thirds. Fourth was Kelly Wain w/Gunnar Sverrison and fifth was Nicole Huerta w/Edwin Torres and they took all fifth.
With a new ballroom at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport we think Emerald Ball has another 25 years to come. We want to congratulate and wish Wayne and Donna Eng a happy Silver Anniversary and wish them many more!
“A” is for Audience! “A” is for Attitude! “W” is for Wonderful!”
The WI State – Saturday! It’s hard to find a better Saturday night at a competition than the one every year at Wisconsin State. That’s why it is always sold out. Literally! I overheard the front desk telling a disappointed audience hopeful – “We might be able to find you one seat!” And the audience is loud and appreciative – great for the dancers, just ask them!
"We should consider everyday lost in which we don't dance."
The night featured all 4 open pro events and a great show – yet didn’t run too much over 3 hours. First on the floor was the Rhythm semifinal and it promised great things with a head to head conflict between 2 of the nation’s best – Andre & Natalie Paramonov and Nazar Norov & Irina Kudryashova. In the final analysis Andre & Natalie took it 3 dances to 2 – 1,1,2,1,2. 6 to 3 was the order of the day for the judges. All dances were won by a margin of 6 first places to 3 with the exception of mambo that Nazar & Irina took 8 to 1. But let’s not write off the rest of the final. Shane & Shannon Jensen took 3rd in all dances, Erwin & Iwona Rybscyznski were 4th (4,4,4,5,4); Jonathan Chen & Nadine Messenger were 5th (5,5,5,4,5) and Dustin Donelan & Kirsten McCloskey were 6th. Check back soon – Kimberly Mitchell will have a report on this division in Dance Beat soon!
"The body says what words cannot."
Next up was the Ballroom – the only straight final of the night. Ruslan & Katusha Wilder were untouchable in first place and easily won all dances. We also felt 2nd place was a sure thing – Matt Rivers & Maliwan Diemer took all the 2’s. From there it was more uncertain – at least for us. Dmitry & Cristina Durante were 3rd (3,3,4,3,3); Vance Mabry & Samantha Simmons were 4th (4,5,3,4,4); Bradley Courtney & Elisa Seja were 5th (5,4,5,5,5) and Eric & Deborah Gillitzer were 6th.
The largest event of the night was the Smooth with 3 rounds. Again we found 2 of the nation’s leaders in a duel for the top place, but here it was not so close as the Rhythm. Mazen Hamza & Izabella easily won all 4 dances losing a total of only 6 first place marks. Although they did not challenge the winners today in the judges’ eyes, Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija looked strong to us and were easily 2nd in all 4 dances. Taking the majority of ‘3rd or better’ scores in all dances, Kris Suakjian & Briana Haft looked great today we felt. They certainly have made some dramatic improvements of late. Kyle & Allie Spinder took 4th in all dances, David & Natalie Shulz were 5th in all and Adrian & Hannah Dydynski were sixth in this great final. Watch out for Steven Dougherty’s report in Dance Beat soon.
Genya Bartashevich & Yana Maznikova won all dances in the Latin and again lost very few first place marks. It was our first opportunity to see 2nd placed Roman Italyankin with new partner, Alexandra Bokova. They looked impressive at this early stage of their partnership and were easily 2nd in all 5 dances here. The remaining 4 places were very hard fought. 3rd went to Riccardo Pappi & Sabrina Moretti (3,5,3,4,3); 4th to Vartan Zakhariants & Tania Reis (5,4,4,3,4); 5th to Nikita Savva & Anna Milana (4,3,5,5,6) and 6th to Gene & Elena Bersten (6,6,6,6,5).
"Dance is the hidden lenguage of the soul."
We found it very interesting that 6 of the 8 top teachers were ladies – we’re not sure if that has ever happened before at an NDCA competition. Congratulations to Ann Garvey, Shalene Archer (not pictured) and Nadine Messenger who were the top 3.
The pro-ams had a big day competing in both international styles. In the Open Ballroom, B division, Jill Bradford w/ Gert Roslender was the comfortable winner taking all dances. 2nd went to Pamela Bolling w/ Ben Ermis (2,2T,2,2,2) and 3rd to Miwa Rifu w/ Peter Minkov (4,2T,3,3,3). Lisa Lowery w/ Radek Wiatrowski completed her hat-trick and gained her 3rd title of the weekend, taking the Open C and winning all dances. We felt she has improved dramatically in this style. 2nd went to Nancy Malik w/ Arturas Narbutas (2,2,2,3,2) and 3rd to Susan Lowe w/ Yuriy Kravets (3,3,3,4,3). That elusive 2nd in foxtrot went to Rick Brooks w/ Shalene Archer who finished 6th overall. Later this same day it was the turn of the Latin ladies and gentlemen. It was a good afternoon for teacher Genya Bartashevich as two of his students were the victors – Leigh Miron in the Open A (1,1,1,1,1) and Missy White in the Open B (1,1,1,1,1). 2nd in the A was Jennifer Przybyl with Andrzej Przybyl (2,2,2,2,2) and 3rd, Emilia Kokoszka w/ Gene Bersten (3,3,3,3,3). 2nd in the B was Cindy Mishlove w/ Vartan Zakharinats (2,2,2,2,2) and 3rd, Elizabeth Rocco w/ Eric Hudson (3,3,3,3,3). Janet Colleran w/ Aleks Nashev won the Open C (2,1,1,2,1) and Lisa Lowery had to settle for the runners-up spot this time (1,2,2,1,2). Joanmarie Vanaski w/ Andrej Przybyl was 3rd (3,3,3,3,3).
"Eat, sleep, breathe...dance!!"
As I said at the beginning of this report, the evening ended with a great show “Ballroom Blitz – Revisited!” This show was artfully put together by Brent Mills and all numbers were backed by video on 3 giant screens. The show featured a lot of comedy – who can forget the rock and roll boys (Brent, John DePalma, Mark Brock and Michael Mead) or the deck captain impersonators (Brent as Justin Deher and Nadine Messenger as Andrea Ringgold). But many in the audience loved the touching “Ghost” routine by Shane & Shannon Jensen, Kris Suakjian & Brianna Haft and Kyle & Allie Spinder. More about this show in the full report later in Dance Beat. If you are not a member right now – be sure to subscribe here. Members can see more show photos right now in the Photo Gallery
PS. Dan Messenger – you will be getting an additional bill from Dance Beat for making the judges (including me) dance on to the floor!
Rhythm Time! Yesterday was “rhythm time” for the pro-ams at Wisconsin State and we had 2 double champions.
The first of the Open Scholarships gave a double victory to Julia Vaysfield w/ Nikolai Karchev in the A. She had won the A Smooth the day before. 2nd tonight was Tiffany Sullivan w/ Dustin Donelan.
The B went to Giovanni Fortezza w/ Jolanta Mosteika who took the event with 1,1,1,2,1 in a strong field. Winning bolero and placing 2nd in the other 4 was yesterday’s Smooth winner, Kathy Howell w/ Martin Cawston. 3rdin all dances, Aiyesha Dey w/ Eric Hudson.
Lisa Lowery was another double winner, adding the C Rhythm to her Smooth title. She placed 1,1,2,1,2 ahead of Philip Widlanski w/ Jolanta Mosteika who scored 2,2,1,3,1. Hope Huber w/ Troy Baeton was 3rd with 3,3,3,2,3.
3 professional couples entered the Showdance and the performances were varied and all high quality. The winners were the thrilling Shane & Shannon Jenson. 2nd were Genya Bartashevich & Yana Maznikova and 3rd, Kyle & Allie Spinder. Kyle & Allie also danced the RS Smooth tonight and in this they won all dances. 2nd were Jimmy Mulligan & Dani Atkins (2,2,2,3) and 3rd Igor Afonkin & Rachel Mercedes (3,3,3,2).
There was also a strongly contested RS Latin and this went to the West Coast as Riccardo Pappi & Sabrina Moretti from California were the winners, 2,1,1,1,1. 2nd were Gene & Elena Bersten (3,2,2,2,2) and winning the cha cha but placing 3rd overall were Nikita Savva & Anna Milana (1,3,4,3,3).
Smooth Scholarships do not disappoint at WI State
Wisconsin State has always been known for the high standard of pro-am dancing and last night the Open Smooth Scholarships certainly did not disappoint. All were well contested and difficult to judge.
The Open A was the smallest, but still had some great dancing. 2 very different styles of dancing vied for the top spot but the win, in all dances, went to the vivacious Julia Vaysfeld w/ Nikolay Karchev. 2nd in all was the very willowy and elegant Aiyesha Dey w/ Eric Hudson and 3rd fell to Genevieve Parker w/ Michael Koptke. The Open B began as a large semifinal, run in 2 heats, ending with a final of 7. We felt the top 3 all had a lot to offer but agreed with the final outcome. 1st in all dances was Kathy Howell w/ Martin Cawston; 2nd went to Elizabeth Rocco w/ Eric Hudson (2,2,2,3) and 3rd Lynn Shanahan w/ Darius Mosteika (3,3,3,2). The Open C was the largest division, beginning with a quarter-final. Lisa Lowery w/ Radek Wiatrowski won all dances despite what we felt was a strong challenge from Hope Huber w/ Troy Baeton. Janet Colleran w/ Martin Cawston took 3rd (3,4,3,3).
There were also 2 Pro RS events last night, both straight finals. The Rhythm was the stronger division with the top two places obviously clear to us. The winners in all dances were Shane & Shannon Jensen, who certainly show improvement in this genre. 2nd in all were Erwin & Iwona Rybczynski who certainly could have taken a dance or two in our view. 3rd tonight were Dustin Denelan & Kristen McCloskey who also show improvement. Only 3 couples contested the RS Ballroom and the level of dancing was not especially high. The winners were Dmitry & Cristina Durante (1,1,2,1,2) over Bradley Courtney & Elisa Seja (2,2,1,2,1) and Erik & Deborah Gillitzer. Amazingly, the Wisconsin State is still held in the charming and elegant Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee, its home since its inception over 20 years ago. I think is the only competition on the NDCA calendar that has never moved!
More Entries at Southern States Than Ever Before The Southern State Championship ended last night on a high note, the organizer Larry and Dianne Dean, announced that it was their biggest number of entries at this competition in 30 years! They also recognize some of the people who have contributed throughout the years in helping the comp grow, last night Mrs. Jackie Rodgers received the "Frank Reagan Award". This award was created to honor Mr. Reagan's memory and to honor the recipients. Congratulations!
"Without dance, what's the point?
The Pro competitions continued in the evening and made it a successful weekend for 2 couples in particular. Adding to their win in the Open Rhythm, Stephen Smyth & Vicktoriya Kleyman also won the Open Smooth, first in all dances. The other couple was Craig Smith & Micheline , who made their trip from Hong Kong worth while by adding to their Showdance victory. Craig & Micheline went on to win the Open Theater Arts and the Open Grand Championship. In the Open Latin, the two top couples were Serguey Samchynsky & Yuliya Besarab and Jake Davies & Alyona Kalinina, but the victory went to Serguey & Yuliya as they went on to win all dances.
"I dance, therefore I am."