Didio Barrera

Didio Barrera

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Great Venue, Great Comp!
Superstars Dancesport Championships

Report by Didio Barrera
Photos by Alex Rowan

The Vinoy Renaissance Hotel in St Petersburg, Florida is always a perfect location for a quick getaway to dance and sunbathe under the Florida winter sun.  Until a few years back, this hotel was the home of the Millennium Dancesport but soon with the great popularity of that event, it outgrew the hotel. 

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What a Trinity! - The “New” City Lights

Report by Didio Barrera
Action photos by Park West

What a terrific trinity of prominent people to be chosen as head of the new City Lights competition - Anna Mikhed, Dan Messenger and Josie Lee. I am new to this event since I only attended City Lights once prior to this weekend and that was for one night only, so I cannot tell what the difference is between the new or the old. But I do know a little bit about events and I found the new group helpful, attentive and they tried hard to make sure everyone was accommodated.

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Visiting the Land in the Sky!
The Heritage Classic

Report by Didio Barrera
Action photography by Park West

The Grove Park Inn in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina (better referred to as “The Heritage”) continues to be one of my favorite destinations for a dance competition. The hotel is magnificent with a wonderful spa and wonderful views of the mountains, so much so that there is only one way to describe it “The Land in the sky.”

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WDSF! A Work in Progress!
Report by Didio Barrera

Last year I attended a number of WDSF events in many different venues, including the second largest of the Olympic affiliated games in the world, the World Games held last year Cali Colombia and organized by the IOC. Although I tend to be more on the side of the art (Dance) rather than the sport, I find it incredible how far this organization has taken Dancesport as an “official” Olympic sport.

"I'd like to see Paris before I die, but Philadelphia will do!" Mae West.  Want to know more .......

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World Dancesport Series Pro-am Rhythm Scholarships

Report by Didio Barrera

The World Pro/Am Dancesport Series Rhythm divisions at the Ohio Star Ball were excellent, there were plenty of couples and all heats were huge, but it is not the amount but the quality of the dancing that made it special for me.

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World Pro/Am Dancesport Series Latin Championships
Held at the Ohio Star Ball

Report by Didio Barrera
Photos by Dance Beat

I was pleasantly surprised that all the Pro/Am Scholarships had great attendance and in some cases terrific dancing. In the “C” Latin division we had some interesting happenings the most impressive occurrence for me was the tremendous improvement of Lisa Lowery dancing with Radek Wiatrowoski who placed second in every dance and totally deserved this position. 

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A review and analysis of the first legs of both the City Lights Star Ballroom Tour and Star Rhythm Tour. 

Click here to watch the video reviews.  Carolina Orlovsky on the Solo routines In the Rhythm, Forrest Vance on the Freestyle Rhythm performances!  Don't miss them.  Ballroom videos coming soon!

Starry, Starry Nights!
City Lights Star Tour, Ballroom

Report by Didio Barrera

This past weekend was all about the City Lights Star Tours!  Over $100,000.00 will be awarded between 2 styles over 5 competitions. $50,000.00 to the City Lights Star Ballroom Tour and $50,000.00 for the City Lights Star Rhythm Tour. The first leg of the City Lights Star Ballroom Tour took place at the Yankee Classic Saturday, June 20th and the City Lights Star Rhythm Tour Sunday June 21st. There are still 4 legs to go but the excitement is already building up.


In both Star Tours we had some wonderful couples, many of them were US finalists if not already US Champions. When I decided to engage and do this project the last thing on my mind was who will be attending, my biggest concern was getting the word out, the rules published and just hoping that couples would read and be motivated to be a part of such a great attraction and prize money. So, when I got to the Yankee Classic, I was totally floored and completely humbled to see the quality and the amount of support this Star Ballroom Tour received. The group competition was fabulous to watch, I was just a little sad to see so many great dancers not qualified for the final and available to compete in this the first leg of the City Lights Star Ballroom Tour in the solo segment.

Nearly every couple left out of the final was also very capable in dancing on their own right.  I had a very favorite and when it came time for the audience to vote to select the “Wild Card” couple, I voted immediately to try to help bring my favorite couple back, also knowing that this couple had a fantastic show number. Unfortunately for me when the polls were closed and the voting was over, my favorite couple was not called.  This time the audience favoriteYC15-colac was Igor Colac & Roxane Milotti, who were also a strong contender in dancing as well as organization, their friends audience and fans got them a whamming 54% of the overall total on that poll making them the easy Wild Card couple in this the first leg of the City Lights Star Ballroom Tour.

The actual City lights Star Ballroom Tour winner is decided by a combination of votes. The couples are awarded points for how well they do in each dance of the group competition and also more points for how well their Solo performance goes all scores awarded by the judges. In the Solo performance the audience also vote for their favorite couple and all couples get a percentage of the vote, this percentage is divided and converted into points and these points are added to each couple’s total.

The YC15-Voskalchukoverall winner of this first leg of the tour was Alexander Voskalchuk & Veronika Egora who came into the solo performances with the highest amount of points from the group competition 28 points total.  They won three dances giving them 6 points per dance and took second in two dances where they took 5 points per dance. Their solo performance was not the best score overall in this challenge they got 89.29 in their solo performance, but it was high enough to keep them afloat. Their worst scores came form the audience who only gave them a 5% of the vote translating to 2.5 points added to their combined total from the judges.  Their total score overall was 119.79 good enough to win but only by a hairline.  They need to improve on the audience likeability as well as on their showdance in order to stay in front of the pack.

I said hairline because second position was by a small margin.  Igor Coloc & Roxane Milotti received an overall score of 119.06 total, and here is how they managed to get so close to the top.

FYC15-judgesirstly, Igor & Roxane qualified by being the audience favorite and being the Wild Card.  This allowed them to compete with their solo and also for this they were given 3 points going into the solo competition. Their solo, I must say, was excellent.  It was a little rough but I personally thought they did a great job putting this solo together with a theme of James Bond and all. The judges placed them 5th in the solo by awarding them 77.56. Igor & Roxanne’s strength was the audience, they were clearly the audience favorite from the start.  In this solo they were awarded by the audience on the internet telecast and by the audience in the ballroom an impressive 77% of the vote and after we divided it they ended with an extra 38.5 points - a big difference between them and the winners who only received 5% of the people’s vote. In the end Igor Colac & Roxane Milotti leapfrogged into second position with 119.06 points.

I YC15-votingwas very impressed with Igor & Roxane, they seamed to be preparde for the task from the word go, they knew what they had to do if they did not make the final, unlike some of the other couples they had prepared a 3 minute routine and they knew that their strength would be to get the audience on their side because they would have little or no points going into the showdance, and that they did! I’m totally impressed!  They were the most prepared out of the 16 couples in the two tours.

Third plYC15-begunovace in the Star Ballroom Tour went to Andrey Begunov & Anna Demidova, they went in to the Showdance portion with 19 points, they placed third in four dances collecting 16 points for that and fourth in the quickstep this gave them 3 points, so as you can see when you add the scores that’s how they got their starting points of 19 after the group competition. When it came to the show, the judges where thrilled by this couple’s interpretation of Marilyn’s Mr. President.  By far they were the judges’ favorite in every way. Their score was 90.43.  However, when it came to the popular vote they got one of the saddest scores of only 2 points. Had this couple done a little more work in social media and alerting some of their fans who I’m sure they have, they would have done better and could even be in the lead right now. Their final score was of 111.43 and this has them in 3rd position going into the next leg of the tour.

OccupyYC15-Avdeeving fourth place in this leg of the tour were Mikhail Avdeev & Olga Blinova who were overall second in the group competition and went into the showdance with 27 points.  Mikhail & Olga won two of the group competition dances and were 2nd in the other 3. In the Star Tour Showdance portion they placed third overall with the judges with a score of 78.57, not an impressive score considering fourth place for the judges was 78.42 so less than 0.2 difference. What I think killed this couple was the fact that they possibly did not read the rules from top to bottom and time does make a difference. All couples entering the tour portion have to have a solo of 3 minutes max, if you pass that line there is a point deduction for every second. Michael & Olga did not get a deduction for this but they had to stop the routine at 3 minutes and in some of the judges’ eyes this might have been interpreted as an incomplete routine. Judges want to see a full package when it comes to solo performance, the good thing is they received no deductions and so they go into the next leg of the tour with a good number of points. The other score that could improve their standing is the popular vote, they were the least popular couple when it comes to the audience on the internet and on the ballroom, they only managed to get 1 point that means they did not appeal to the audience and none of their friends were there to support them. Their final score going into the next leg of the tour is 106.57, putting them in fourth position slightly behind Andrey & Anna.

In YC15-Mikoshovfifth place overall on the tour so far is Igor Mikushov & Ekaterina Romashkina, who took 15 points from the group competition, a 78.42 from the judges for the tour solo challenge and 1.5 points for the audience vote, giving them a 94.92 total going into the second leg of the tour. As with many of the competitors, this couple needs to improve their popularity with the audience in order to secure a higher placement in the future legs of the tour.

SixYC15-pedrinellith in this leg of the tour went to Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova. They earned 15 points from the group competition, took 74 points in their solo tour performance and they shared with the winners a 2.5 points from the audience. Their total at the end of this leg is 87.5 going into our next stop.

SevYC15-Zinshteinenth position in this tour went to Ronen Zinshtein & Mariam Izmaylova who placed sixth in all dances in the group competition and captured only 5 points before going into the solo challenge. In the solo challenge, they too were last with only 69.71 points being awarded for their performance by the judges. They were not the least popular couple for the audience, they received a 1.5 points more than Mickail & Olga just 0.5 point above them and so their total score for this leg of the tour was 76.21. Like most of the couples in this competition they need to improve their performance and thrill their audience to motivate them to vote for them.

We are looking forward to the next leg of the Star Ballroom Tour at the International Grand Ball July 24-26 2015.


It’s a Rhythm Tour!
Colorado Star Ball – first leg

Report by Didio Barrera - Click here for video


TCOS4-emanuelhe first leg of the City Lights Star Rhythm Tour commenced this past June 21st at the Colorado Star Ball and it was an affair of who’s who from the dance floor, nearly every US finalist was present and the competition ran smoothly as a feather. There were a few bumps we should mention. The biggest bump was a strong penalty issue to the overall winner due to a time limitation rule that was in place to make the tour run smoothly and quickly, “Routines (Solo) should be 3 minutes or less. Any couple that dances over three minutes will get a deduction of a point per second over three minutes. (eg. If you dance 3 minutes and 10 seconds, 10 points will be deducted from your final tally during the leg of tour).” There are other rules concerning props etc. but all couples have done great with these other rules, no infractions have been made over props or other rules.

Before the infraction was applied the winCOSR-liananers of two of the challenges were Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine & Liana Churilova.  They won all dances in the group competition and so they earned the maximum points you can earn by winning all dances and that was a whamming 30 points. In their solo performance they also did well - they received the highest score of all solo presentations, a 96.43. In the audience department they were not as popular as they could have been, they only earned 6 points making them the 4th most popular couple with the audience. Overall they received the most points out of anyone with a 102.43, unfortunately they also went 73 seconds beyond the 3 minutes giving them a penalty of 73 points placing them in a disappointing 9th place.  This was comparably to an athlete falling of his bike or losing her grip on the asymmetric bars. Their total of points after the fall (or the penalty) was 59.43 that put them in 9th place overall. We have spoken with Emmanuel & Liana and they have gotten up, cleaned up and are ready for the next contest.  We believe every ones’ heart  fell as the results were announced but these two are used to competing and they know what to do to get up there in the ratings again.

ThCOSR-nazare winner of this leg were Nazar Norov & Irina Kudryshova, they placed second in every dance in the group competition earning them 25 points, 5 points per dance. They were the judges’ second favorite with a score of 92.43 in the solo but they were not very popular with the audience because they only managed to get 2 points from there. Remember couples, every vote counts even your own!  Anyone can vote looking at their computer at home or texting through a phone device.  We understand that the dance couple’s main focus is to practice and get their dances to perfection, but a little public relations to tell you friends, students to vote on the night might help greatly.  We are broadcasting the tours through internet and so people can see it from the comfort of their bed, we had a fan email us a photo of him on his bed watching the tour and saying that it was fabulous to be able to see it, LOL. We know sometimes time differences might put a strain on the east coast fans, but you’d be surprised how many people would stay up to see their favorite dancer compete for such grand prizes.

SecoCOSR-paprmonovnd overall on this one leg of the tour went to Andre & Natalie Paramonov, who took 20 points from the group competition before their solo where they got 91.86 from the judges.  Their fans were also not very motivated, they only managed to get  2.5 points from them, giving them a total of 114.36 total and placing them in second position at the end of the first leg of the Star Rhythm Tour. Work needs to be done to motivate their fans to vote during the tour, remember every vote counts.

Third place so far goes to Mikhail Vlasov & Vanda Polakova. They took 14 points in the group competition, they could have taken another point had they not placed low on the bolero. Their solo performance could also be improved, they placed fourth in this challenge with a 79.14 awarded to them by the judges.  I think Mikhail & Vanda will have to develop their solo routine more in order to bridge the gap between them and the current leaders. When it came to the audience, Mikhail & Vanda were not too bad, they still need to do a little work in this department they got a fair 7 points but could have done better. In the end they stand in third position with 100.14 points till the next leg.


The fourth place couple in this leg of the tour is Aaron & Irina DeSoto, they earn 5 points from the group competition, the judges awarded them 79.29 for their solo routine in the tour portion of the event and they were quite popular with the audience gaining 9.5 points from the audience.  I think these two did a great job in this department considering they were far away from their fans. Overall they are now in fourth position with total points of 93.79 total.

The elusiCOSR-tranve wild card, and the lucky couple chosen by the audience was Daniel Lee Tran & Elizabeth Kinney Taylor, they are now on the 5th spot on the tour and all because you the audience wanted them there. They came into the solo performance with only 3 points since they could not earn any from placing in any dances in the group competition because they were not in the elite final. The judges were not as happy with their performance as was the audience, they awarded them 61.71 the lowest score awarded in this leg. But the fans in the room and at home were very motivated and love these couple awarding them 22 points. In the end the audience managed to keep this couple afloat and in fifth place overall with a score of 86.71 points total.

Sixth place in this leg went to Danas Jaksevicius & Yuki Haraguchi. In the group competition they earn 11 points. In the Tour Solo challenge they were awarded 70.29 by the judges making theirs the sixth favorite routine for the judges. Danas & Yuki were really not very popular with the audience they only got a 0.5 of a point from them and so their total score as they stand in sixth position is 81.79.

It was an 8-couple final in the group competition and so it was a 9-couple City Lights Star Rhythm Tour, on this leg of the tour. The seventh in line couple on this venture is Ivan Dishliev & Marieta Nadyalkova, they took 5 points from the group competition, got a 64.71 for their solo routine from the judges and had to share with a number of couples their audience score they too got 0.5 from the audience for their efforts. Their score going into the next leg of the tour is 70.21 points total.

Eighth in this dramatic 9-couple tour final were Igor Ustymovych & Briana Santiago, they also earned 5 points from their group competition. They were the second lowest score in the solo performance with a 63.57 points awarded to them by the judges. And they too were not very popular with the audience, they only managed a 0.5 points from the audience, giving them a total of 69.01 going into the next leg of the tour.


As you can see this was a very challenging leg, one that will be remembered for some time to come. Nearly all couples lacked popularity with the audience in the ballroom and in their homes at their computers. I hope to see them motivate more of their friends to watch so they can earn more points and so we can turn that into dollars. Congratulations to all competitors and we’ll see you next stop, the Twin Cities Open, July 9-12. Maybe we can all celebrate your win and my birthday? 

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Smooth or Latin?

The last day at the Colorado Star Ball Championships was a combination of  Ballroom and Latin during the day but the best professional event of the week for us was the Smooth Open Championship. As is customary here in Colorado the Open Professional Latin final was interchanged between the Smooth dances, but there was no competition here for us, the Smooth was the best hands down.

CO-ProSmooth lineup

Three very exciting couples for us made the Open Professional Smooth nail biting: Nick Cheremukhim & Viktorija, Mikolaj Czarneki & Vicktoria Malko and Kyle & Allie Spinder, all three with very different styles and very capable and ready for the task.CO-Nick In the end all four dances went to Nick & Viktorija, who were in our opinion and those around me, fabulous. Their musicality and artistic interpretation of each dance left you breathless and on this performance they really stole our heart. Second in all dances went to Mikolaj & Victoria, a very promising partnership with huge talent but on this outing we felt they could not challenge. Unlike Nick & Viktorija their dancing still looked a little green in places, but we are sure they will be challenging soon once their material has ripened a bit. Third in all dances went to perhaps the most picture perfect performance, that of Kyle & Allie. They sported a very free spirit look and went out on the floor with a take no prisoners attitude. In the first round we felt they might have a chance for the top but once in the final for us their performance lacked innovation. With a little more experimenting and finding their style this couple could easily find themselves on the very top of the list, their competitive skills are terrific.

The rest of the final was not as eye catching but all three couples were very capable and worth a mention, Fourth place overall wen to Marko Urosevic & Asley Mokris (4,4,4,5), fifth were Christopher & April Muller (5,5,5,4) and in sixth place was Kyle & Christina Campbell  who placed sixth in every dance.

CO-ProLatinlineupThe Pro Latin had three entries and for us and we believe the judges it was clear cut. First went to Roman Italyankin & Alexandra Bokova and they placed first in all dances, second was Sergiy Kvashyn & Olga Ginzburg and third place was awarded to Gene & Elena Bersten, we will tell you how we saw them in the full article of the Colorado Star Ball here very soon.

The Professional Showdance was also run this evening and this went to Kyle & Allie Spinder, second was awarded to Michas Belfer & Julie Garczynki leaving third position to Roman Italyankin & Alexandra Bokova.

CO-ProSmooth lineup

Out of the two styles run this day of Pro/Am competitions the best scholarships for us were in the Ballroom category. The “B” Ballroom had the most entries and here we missed Beverly Moore who pulled out of the competition due to injury, this left top placement fully open and this placement wen to Lily Chang w/Sergey Kiselev they took all firsts. Second went to Michaelle Peng w/Mikhail Avdeev (3,2,2,2,2) and third was awarded to Nadia Tippet w/Yuriy Kravets (4,3,4,3,3).


The “A” division was also excellent with five couples competing for top position. In the end Sabine Blyth w/Giacomo Agrello took all firsts, Sabrina Zagolin w/Yuriy Kravets placed second (3,2,2,2,2) and Grace Wang w/Mikhail Avdeev was third (2,3,3,3,3).

TCO-Pro-AmBallroomChere were four couples in the “C” and this went to Nadia Tippet w/Yuriy Kravets with all firsts. Samantha Sheer w/Jari Muller took all seconds and Susan Lowe w/David Aanestad was third.

The Pro/Am Open Latin Scholarships were all very small.  In the “B” three couples competed and here Liz Rocco w/Eric Hudson took first in all dances, Dawn Mersich w/Brad Ackerman was second and Lauren LaPointe w/Louis Bar placed third. The “A” and “C” had two couples. In the “C” Michael Roybar w/Kristina Poole placed first by wining three dances and placing second in the rest, Patricia Duran w/Ross Pearce were second and they won these two dances. The “A” was won by Dawn Mersich w/Brad Ackerman first in all dances and Lauren LaPointe w/Louis Bar were second. 

It’s a Smoothie!

It was a Smoothie day at the Colorado Star Ball Championships and it went without a hitch. The day was concluded, as the day before, with scholarships in all levels for the Smooth style and in the Professional events the Open Professional Rhythm and Ballroom Colorado Champions were selected.

CO-IvanAs in the professional Rising Stars the night before the Rhythm categories had the most entries with a healthy semifinal round, and most of the couples that competed with the exception of one or two couples were the same also, but this time the overall winner of this Rhythm Championship was Ivan Dishliev & Marieta Nedyakova and they won every dance. For us Ivan & Marieta were the clear winners with no other couple challenging their first place position. Second went to the Rising Stars winners Donovan Dominguez & Rose Dimov who if, in our opinion, had danced more like the night before, could have challenged a little more, but in this performance we agreed with the judges, they were clearly second. Third position wen to Matthias Kruchel & Christina Schlegel who were awarded third in every dance.


ICO-Iaroslavn the professional Ballroom there was also a few new entries and they were Iaroslav Bieliei & Olga Tsikalyuk who for us were the best couple from the start. However, the judges felt a little differently. They awarded them second in the waltz and they tied for first in the foxtrot. First in the waltz went to the second new entry and that was Michael Towlizew & Tiffany Fung who also tied for first with Iaroslav & Olga on the foxtrot, but to our surprise placed third in the VW and quickstep? The second places on those dances went to the third place overall finishers, Evgeniy Mayorov & Olga Lisovkaya (3,3,2,3,2). This was a small but very interesting competition with a very interesting result.


In the Pro/Am Open American Smooth Scholarships the “C” division had the most participation and this event wen to Beverly Moore w/Alain Doucet from Canada who won all dances. Second place was awarded to Dana Voigt w/Randy Wilson and they placed second in every dance and third was awarded to Elisabeth Cramer w/Robert Nardozza. In the “B” Liz Rocco w/Eric Hudson took the trophy home and second in all dances went to Dawn Mersich w/Gary Holmes, leaving third to Kitty Sang w/Matthias Kruschel (3,4,3,3). There were only four couples in the “A” division and the winner was Dawn Mersich w/Youriy Pavlov (1,2,1,1).  Second went to Kelly Morikawa w/Jonathan Atkinson and in third place was Emma Rosenblum w/Michel Kibel and they were third in all dances.

After all competitions were over for the day the audience were treated to a Latin show by Roman Kutskyy & Anna Kovalova.

Colorado has Rhythm!

For the last two days we have concentrated on the Rhythm style here at the Colorado Star Ball Championships and it concluded with some excellent scholarships. To go with the scholarships we had the Rising Star Ballroom and Rhythm events.  As always for the entire two days from morning to night time all couples in all levels received the wonderful Denver Colorado welcome we have gotten used to.

CO-DenovanNot surprisingly, the largest attendance of the two professional events last night  was in the Rising Star Rhythm category. The couples in this division were all very close in level and style and so we presume the judges had their work cut out.  In the end Donovan Dominguez & Rose Dimov won every dance and took the title. Mathias Kruschel & Christina Schlegel were second in every dance and Jesse Dickson & Lannie Sullivan were third (5,3,3,3,3).

The Ballroom Rising Star was a lot easier with four couples entered, here Evganiy Mayorov & Olga Lisovskaya won all dances, Sarosh Ahmad & Zoe Wydrough took all seconds and Jonathan Atkinson & Lorena Bravo placed third.


In the pro/am Scholarships the “A” category was won by Dawn Mersich w/Hugh Rowe they took first in all five dances, Michelle Young & Scott Koogle took second and Emma Rosenblum w/Toby Munroe was third.  


The “B” category went to Dawn Mersich w/Hugh Rowe again. They won four dances and placed second in the swing.  Second overall was awarded to Eileeen Arcilla w/Golden Parker and they won the swing but placed second in the other four dances and third went to Lauren LaPointe w/Louis Bar (3,3,4,3,3).


CO-Pro-AmCThe “C” was a two couple final and Dana Voigt w/Randy Wilson won all dances leaving second to Barbara Willis w/Rainier Rics.

After hours the talk is all about people staying to hike and people that have already hiked around the beautiful mountains of Denver Colorado.  It all sounded so beautiful I wish I could have come a day earlier, but perhaps next time.

Today we are on to the Smooth divisions, so stay tuned for more results and stories from this event.

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