Didio Barrera

Didio Barrera

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Great Finish At American!
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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.”

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ASB-Show2The 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 sASB-Bandpecial 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.
ASB-Rhythm Lineup
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.
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ASB-BegunovThe 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. ASB-Perzhu-HamzaOut 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.
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ASB-BalsanyanThe 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. ASB-ShowdanceThe 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.         

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25 Shades Of Green!
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EM-JosieLast 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 EM-ShowGreen 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.
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EM-VictorThe 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, Em-ArtemArtem 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).
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EM-EmanueleThe 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. EM-NazarNazar 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). TheEM-CAbre 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. EM-AndrresOut 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 EM-FerdinadoIannaccone & 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. TEM-Cheyennehe 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). EM-TinaIn 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 coEM-Lisantested 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.
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Watch action video and interviews from Emerald Ball now on our video page.  (Content provided by SuperShag)

Em-PerzhuYesterday 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.
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Em-KustkyyWe 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 Em-TarasovAndrey 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 EM-Celiapartnered 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.
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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).
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EM-LeeWe 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).
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Em-CBalltop2The “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.
      
Emerald Rising!
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.
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EMVitalyAll 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.
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EM-KyleThe 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."
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EM-RSRhtyhtop3The 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).
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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 EM-RobinVasilyev 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. EM-JoanneThe “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 aEM-Briannand 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.   
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It All Starts with Rhythm!

The BEAT!

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.

"Dance first.Think later. It's the natural order."

 Em-set

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.

 EM-CRhyth

Em-LisaIn 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).

"Dance enables you to find yourself and lose yourself at the same time."

 

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EM-AiyeshaThe “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.

 

Em-DannyAs 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.

"There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them."

 

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!

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Spreading the Love! philly-corkyPhiladelphia Dancesport Championships has outdone itself this year in spreading the “Brotherly Love,” something of which William Penn, founder of the city, would have been proud. Corky Ballas, at the direction of Mr. Chuck Danza, organizer, managed to maintain an energy-filled room throughout the entire weekend. His unstoppable energy and charisma kept the room in stiches, clapping or cheering through the entire weekend. Anyone that knows any history of Philadelphia knows that William Penn had a dislike for what he called the “Horrors of European Urban Lifestyle” and Mr. Ballas brought a casual atmosphere that can only be found in USA.

"I don't want life to imitate art. I want to be art." Last night in the beautifully and tastefully decorated ballroom in the Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill, the Ivancompetition was excellent with very interesting happenings.  The first and possibly the best competition for us was the Professional Latin that started with a semifinal. The final of this excellent event was difficult to judge. Our favorite and the judges’ favorite at the end was Ivan Mulyavka & Loreta Kriksciukaityte from FL who took first in all dances with the majority of firsts in every dance. From there, it was an uphill battle for most of the judges trying to make up their mind which couple was their next favorite. The couple that got the most seconds or better marks was Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Shvets who placed second overall (2,3,3,2,2).  Here we were not as kind as the other judges. To us, with the exception of tremendous speed and power, this couple brought very little substance to the table and we will explain in the future article. Third was awarded to Genya Bartashevich & Yana Maznikova (3,2,2,3,3).  For us this couple was possibly the least consistent of all couples.  There were some incredible moments but just as you thought they would put you there, they got cold and pulled away from, as Mr. Corky would say, “The Love.”
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Our favorite couple in this exciting Latin final placed sixth and that was Hayk Balasanyan & Emilia Poghosyan (5,5,6,6,6).  For us they had a little bit of every thing - speed, consistency and most important a very unique approach to the style, we will explain also in the coming event. Fourth in this final went to the new partnership of Roman Italyankin & Alexandra Bokova (4,4,4,4,4), fifth was awarded to Jean Paul & Lana Rossi (6,6,5,5,5).

"Dance isn't something that can be explained with words. It has to be danced."
Travis1
The love was spread quite thick on Travis & Jaimee Tuft who were by far the best couple in the Professional Smooth final.  Travis & Jaimee got perfect scores from all judges in every dance and won the Smooth competition easily. Travis & Jaimee continue to receive their love and cash when it came to the Showdance competition where they placed first overall with majority of firsts.  However, here we personally held some of the love back.  We felt that Jungie Zamora & Sheena Damir presented a routine with a level of difficulty that was much greater than that of Travis & Jaimee. But we were in the minority, the judges awarded Jungie & Sheena Travis2second and Jaimee & Travis first.  And in a super whammy of “Love” the judges also awarded first and second places to Travis & Jaimee in the Challenge of Champions at the conclusion of all the events. In this Challenge of Champions Ivan & Loretta the Latin Champions earlier mentioned took third. Continuing on the Professional Smooth, second place went to Matthias Kruschel & Christina Schlegel and third in all dances was awarded to Roman Manolachi & Elena Rabinovici. We were a little surprised on Leo Mora & Christina Garced who placed fifth overall.  We felt they have improved tremendously and were hoping to see at least in a few dances, higher placements for this couple.

"Technical perfection is insufficient. It is an orpha without the true soul of a dancer." 
Pro Rhythm
The Professional Rhythm is also an event worth the mention. Here Vard Margaryan & Sofya Fil won every dance with the majority of first in every dance, but our favorite in this heat was Matthew Hauer & Lauren Schelfhaudt who continue to make progress with what we consider to be a great element of this style and that is some authentic Latin soul. Third wen to Standor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov, fourth was awarded to Srahija Lackovic & Irina Fedsova (4,5,5,4,4), fifth went to Matthias Kruschel & Christina Schlegel (5,4,4,5,5) and finally sixth in every dance was awarded to Tim Polaschek & Katherine Hutchinson.
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A lot of love was spread for the Professional Ballroom but the couples had, in our opinion, a hard time spreading themselves on this narrow floor.  We saw more confusion and bumpy work than in a open field. Here the judges’ favorites were Andrey Begunov & Anna Demidova who won all dances with a huge majority of first. We had a hard time seeing what the other judges saw.  Frankly, if we saw them make one good run it was rare, they were part of that bump and grind I just talked about. For us the better performances came from Emanuele & Francesca Pappacena who placed second in every dance and Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Xovalcikova who took third overall.

"I'm dancing to the music of the madness inside me."
Feet
In a footnote** We were floored in the Professional Latin when a couple went to a VIP guest, comfortable on their front row table and asked if they could take their drink after the paso! At first I was shocked, the unsuspecting audience member had no choice but to oblige.  Then I saw the couple not drink anything but go to the side spill it on the floor and rub their shoe soles in the carpet! Couples!!! If you find the need to put @#%^ on the soles of your feet to stay balanced, the least you can do is put it where you can get to it! I found it very rude of the performers to take the VIP guest’s drink to use it for dabbing your feet so you can stay balanced in your Jive!        

Stellar night for Tri-State! We had a stellar night at the Tri-State Dancesport Championships, with great professional, amateur and pro/am events.
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The Professional Ballroom was excellent with two terrific couples on top - Mikhail Avdeev & Olga Blimova and Anton Lebedev & Anna Borshch from Canada. In the end Mikhail & Olga took first in all dances but not from all judges. Anton & Anna managed to steal a few for themselves and become strong runners-up. We particularly enjoyed Anton & Anna’s foxtrot, it had lots of feeling and emotion, something that their opponents did not.  However, we can see how the majority had to give better marks to Mikhail & Olga in nearly all dances, they gave a very correct performance. From the top down for us was a toss up depending on the dance. Igor Mikushov & Ekaterina Romashkina took all thirds but in our opinion either one of the next two couples could have taken their marks. Emanuel & Francesca Pappacena who placed fourth (4,4,4,5,4) or Samuel Pacchini & Anna Oblakova who took fifth (5,5,5,4,5). We will explain out thoughts a little more in the coming article but for now we’d like to mention the rest of this excellent group of dancers. Oscar Padrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova placed sixth (7,6,7,6,6), and Anatoli & Irina Gorolevici who were seventh (6,7,6,7,7).

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learinig to dance in the rain."
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The Professional Rhythm was also a terrific and a fun competition to watch but here too we were torn.  Azamat Evgamukov & Kateryna Angelone took first but not always with a majority of firsts from the judges, only in the rumba and mambo they managed to get the majority of firsts and that was by 7 first out of 13 judges.  In the rest of the dances they were first by getting the best scores (1,1,T1,1,1). Second position was awarded to Vard Margaryan & Sofya Fil (2,2,T1,2,2).  They too were terrific and did manage to get a few firsts from Azamat & Kateryna.  Surprisingly enough for us Shane & Shannon Jensen took third in all dances.  I said surprisingly because their Rhythm, although meticulously clean, has so little soul in it.  For us this placement could have gone to the fourth place recipient, Mathew Hauer & Lauren Schelfhaudt. Mathew & Lauren were our favorite couple in this final, they had an important element in this style and we will explain later but that is “Rhythm.” Ernesto Palma & Leanne Aranza took all fifths and Matthias Kruschel & Christina Schlegel were sixth. SpinderAfter all the Professional Champions had been selected there was a duel between them for an extra prize and this was terrific with all champions in attendance with the exception of Mazen Hamza & Izabella Judsill the Smooth Open Champions who had to withdraw due to injury. In their place we had Kyle & Allie Spinder who placed fourth in the Smooth Open event. This professional challenge of champions was judged 50/50.  Fifty % of the vote came from the judges and the other 50% came from the audience and in the end luck had it that Kyle & Allie took that grand prize home.  The Amateur Ballroom was also a terrific event.  Here the clear winners in all dances, with perfect scores in W,F,Q and almost perfect scores but in the T,VW with only one judge marking them second, were Oscar Wojciechowskiy & Karolina Holody Another terrific couple took second and that was Taras Savitskyy & Tatiana Seliverstova who placed second in all dances. Dannii Vesnovskiy & OscarEmily Thorpe took all thirds. YouthBallrom winnersThe Youth Ballroom competition this same evening had four couples but they to were interesting to watch.  This event went to Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova (1,2,1,1,1), second was awarded to Justin Lin & Sasha Dubinsky (2,1,2,2,2). The Pro/Am Latin had the most participants of all the student/teachers categories this weekend. Here the “C” division was taken by Nora Fox w/ Plament Danilov who placed first overall (2,2,1,1,1), second position was Laura Solomon w/Genya Bartashevich (1,3,4,3,3), and third in this category was awarded to Anna Chiu w/Bas Van Der Zanden (5,1,6,5,2). The “B” Latin went to Missy White w/Genya Bartashevich who took first places in all dances, second overall was Maria Seragou w/Dimitrios Damalas (2,2,2,4,3), and third was awarded to Natsuyo Lipschuts w/Nikolai Shpakov (4,3,3,2,2). In the “A” division Maria Ceva w/Lyubomir Asenov was first in all dances, Margaret Calvert w/Genya Bartashevich was second overall (4,2,4,2,4), and Zoe Antoniou w/Andre Strinadko took third (2,4,5,3,5). As you can see their marks were everywhere in these fine pro/am events.  To us it means that with a little more work things could easily change next event around.

"Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts. For it is no mere translation or abstraction of life. It is life itself." CathyYesterday was a tough day of competition the hours were double booked with entries.  We want to congratulate Cathi Nyemcheck for making sure, as Mr. Gary McDonald the MC said in the mic at the end of the competition, “we could not have done it without this excellent chairman.  If it was not for her hard work and understanding of how to run a tight ship we would all still be doing some afternoon entries at this time.” We also want to congratulate her because as Gary spoke it was turning midnight and so today it is Cathi’s 28th birthday again! Happy birthday Cathi!     I want to congratulate Andre & Elena in their first three-day competition event.  They have outdone our expectations and we look forward to great things to come Andre  Elenaout of the Tri-State event.  With their knowledge and competitive spirit they are a phenomenal addition to the organizers’ group.  By the way they too know how to throw a party together!  The after parties on both nights were terrific! Congratulations to both of you!

New Blood, Same State! The Tri-State Dancesport Championships in Stamford, Connecticut has a new lead with Andrei Gavriline & Elena Kryuchkova at the reins. With new organizers comes new blood and a number of changes. Firstly and most importantly, the look - nDecorationsew logo, new decoration and almost a new staff.
Click here for videos from last night.  (Videos are by SuperShag)

This year you almost thought you were in a different state when you walked into the ballroom of the Marriott in Stamford.  The simple but well placed fresh flowers and white material that tastefully decorates this year’s Tri-State ballroom made the ballroom look bigger, elegant and new! There is always uncertainly when you get new owners in an established event, so as we rode to the hotel we could not help but wonder what would happen to this well-known competition.  It was a pleasant sight to see how much work and effort has been put to improve and reshape this event, we know that this recognized event it is in good hands and will continue to flourish with time, and we think it will be here for many years to come.

"Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair..." AstaThe competition last night was excellent with great support from amateurs as well as professionals alike. The Professional Latin had the most entries and some very high profile couples but for us perhaps was not the most exciting event of the evening. For us the Amateur Latin had the most punch with so many different flavors on the floor it was like a candy store. In this interesting Amateur Latin event the judges were asked to bring back seven couples and seven Vladacouples they did. For us and the majority of the judges the winner was an easy pick and this Championship title went to Alexey Karaulov & Vlada Semenova who easily won with the majority of firsts in every dance. Last week this couple placed sixth in the ABC US National Amateur Championships in Provo, Utah, and they were not very pleased with that outcome we’re sure. It was nice to see them rehabilitate themselves, find their groove back and sport fine smiles when receiving their prize. Congratulations to this talented couple! Nikita Malakhov & Nadezda Vlasova were second in every dance, Adam Hathazi & Morgana Lakatos-Hayward 4thplaceLatinfrom Canada took all thirds, Artur Shvetson & Melanie Weiler all fourths. Fifth was awarded to Vlad Kvartin & Amanda Herrschaft who took all fifths, but here we totally disagreed with the majority of the judges. For us this couple had a freshness in their approach that was lacking in some of the others just mentioned. They might have been a little untidy from time to time but for us they should have been placed a little higher, we will explain here soon in our overall article as to how we saw the other performances compared to Vlad & Amanda. So stay tuned for more. Sixth place wen to Satnishlav Engelgart & Tatiana Vasilyeva (6,6,T6,6,6,) and seventh was awarded to Laurence Moldansky & Nicole Prosser from Australia (7,7,T6,7,7). As we mentioned earlier the professional events, the Smooth and the Latin, had a good number of entries and some very high profile couples. The Latin was won by Andrei Kazlouski & Asta Sigvaldadottir, US finalists from CA and here they almost had a perfect run with all firsts but a few marks from a few judges. One second from Marianne Nicole in the rumba, and in this order (3,2,4,3,5) from Dawna Nocera. So how did the rest of the group do? We will give full count of this event in the coming issue but for now we must say that in places the group looked a bit tired. However, second placed went to Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Shvets who took all seconds, and third was awarded to Genya Bartshevich & Yana Mazhnikova and they too took all thirds.

"Dance is the only art of which we ourselves are the stuff of which it is made."
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The Pro Smooth went easily to Mazen Hamza & Izabella with the majority of firsts from the judges but two, Marianne Nicole who award them a third in the VW and Emil Ioukhnikov who gave them three seconds in W,T,F. Second in all dances went to Travis & Jaimee Tuft and third were Kostadin Bidjourov & Erin Marie. For us the Pro Smooth had a bit more excitement than the Latin.  We have not seen Mazen & Izabella dance in a while and so they looked a little different with a slightly different approach than before and we will explain this soon here. One thing is for sure we thought they were easy winners last night. As far as the other couples went, the fight was really here between fourth, fifth and sixth, Kyle & Allie Spinder were fourth, Morton Jensen & Tonja Martin placed fifth and sixth went to David Hannigan & Maggie Toth.
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JenssenThere was an excellent Showdance Competition and this went to Shane & Shannon Jensen who took the majority of firsts from the judges.  Second was awarded to Travis & Jaimee Tuft and third went to Jungie Zamora & Sheena Daminar.

"To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak." There was also a terrific Youth Latin event and here Adam Hathazi & Morgana Lakatos-Hayward took first in all dances, with perfect YuthLainscores from all the judges. Steven Varshavsky & Karolina Loukhnikov were second (2,2,2,2,3) and third went to Ariel Milshteyn & Adelina Ishkayeva (3,3,3,3,2). Of all the Pro/Am categories so far the Ballroom has had the most attendance and quality. The “B” was an excellent heat and here Celia Chou w/Erminio Stefano won with all firsts.  Grace Wang w/Mikhail Avdeev was second and third was awarded to Linda Dillman w/Arturas Misurenkovas. The “C” also had a good amount of entries and here Hye-Kyong Park w/Linas Koreiva was the winner, second was awarded to Suasan Walter w/Samuele Pacchini and third was Linda Dillman w/Arturas Misurenkovas. There were only three couples in the “A” and it went to Sarah Glatte w/Ashan Samarasinghe.

"Life is short and there will always be dirty dishes, so let´s dance." The Pro/Am Rhythm had the least amount of entries with only four or less couples in each event. The “C” went to Renne Kuwahara & Ilya Reyzin, the “B” was awarded to Heidy Kellison & Sean Tamashiro and the “A” went to Kelly Wain & Gunnar Sverrisson.

Great Finale for Heritage! Malitowski1WebThe last night of the Heritage Classic was brilliant closing with a phenomenal show by former world and current Open British Latin Champions Michael Malitowski & Joanna Leunis, who delighted the crowd to a standing ovation at the end of their performance.

See Michael's "private" photoshoot with Didio in our members'  photo gallery


Malitowski2web" The mirror is not you. The mirror is you looking at yourself"

Michael was very forthcoming and humble when introducing the last number “I’m still standing” (Jive) where he spoke about the ups and downs of competition and the fun and beauty of it from his own experience “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose” an animated well spoken Michael said to the crowd. This was well received by all competitors from professionals down to the pro/ams who all relate to the ups and downs of competition dancing. “But all is good and part of the experience and with that I dedicate this number to you and to my incredible partner Joanna.” It was magnificent to see Michael be so well spoken with huge professionalism and emotion making us all understand that there is more to learn from dancing and that as hard and as tough as the business can get it is still a wonderful endeavor. The evening competitions began with Pro/Am Ballroom Scholarships, the best for us this time was the “B” division, Carolthis started with a semifinal round and at the end Carole Simmons w/Serghei Pogonet from Canada took the overall prize but not every dance.  She placed first in three dances and second on the waltz, tango, and quickstep. The recipient of the VW and Foxtrot and second place overall was Brynda Insley w/Martin Reinbold (2,2,1,1,2), Lisa Berry W/ Rauno Ilo took all thirds, Yanina Kisler w/ Peter Walker placed fourth (4,5,5,4,4), Bo Chang W/ Giampiero Giannico was fifth (5,4,4,5,5) and the sixth place went to Siki Kramer w/Gunnar Sverrisson and they placed sixth in every dance.
"When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor, it's to enjoy each step along the way"
The “C” division was awarded to Lynn Murrell w/Alexander Voskalchuk (1,2,1,1,1), Lisa Lowery who with teacher LynnRadek Wiatrowski had been cleaning up first places in all styles had to console themselves with a second placed finish (2,1,2,2,2). Sally Wiese w/Dimitrijus Sanizas took all thirds, Elena Lee w/Emanuele Pappacena took all fourths, Doug Bailey w/Irina Gorshkova was fifth (5,6,6,5,5) and sixth went to Patricia Redies & Richard Tonizzo (6,5,5,6,6). There were only two competitors entered in the “A” division and Levina Kasmara w/Slava Stefanov took all firsts and Beatriz Colon w/Roman Malkhasyan was second. Out of the two professional events run this last evening the Latin had the most punch and had the best reception form the audience. Ivan Mulyavka & Loreta Kriksciukaityte took all firsts in all dances.  Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Shvets all seconds and all thirds went to Sergiy Samchynskyy &  Yuliya Besarab. Felipe Gonzales & Kathleen Ilo were fourth (5,4,4,5,4), Hayk Balasanyan & Emilia Poghosyan placed fifth (5,4,4,5,4), and Jake Davies & Alyona Kalinina took all sixths.
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The Professional Smooth, for us, had the same amount of entries but less of a punch. Here Kostadin Bidjourov & Erin Marie were first in all dances, Vladimir & Vera Kosarev took all seconds. From here down it all was a bit different Mark Short & Alyssa Kark placed third (3,5,3,3), Dennis Woods & Amber Reich were fourth (4,4,4,5), fifth place went to Andrei & Elena Rudenco, and last but not least in sixth place were Dustin Hall & Angela Oh Park and here they took sixth in all dances. "Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor."
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The evening went quite fast for us and that we think it is a good sign.  We want to once again congratulate Colin & Joy Hilary for another excellent job in this 2014 Heritage Classic, as I said before this land in the sky is perhaps not the easiest place to get to but the competition is sure worth the drive or the fly to get there. It always delivers a sense of relaxation with the thrill of competition like Mr. Malitowski said during the show, we hope to be able to come and enjoy many more in future years.

    
Like a Box of Chocolates! Competition ballroom dancing is just “like a box of chocolates” you never know what you are going to get. And this was perfectly proven last night in the results of the Professional Rhythm, Ballroom and Theater Arts/Cabaret.
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her-Rybczynski2As we posted on our bulletin board last night the biggest surprise came in the Rhythm wherein what must have been a very interesting and appealing performance for the judges, Erwin & Iwona Rybczynski overtook everyone and won overall by placing second in cha and swing and winning the remaining 3 dances. Second on this heat went to Max Lototskyy & Sarah Haworth a relatively new partnership that has been winning most Rising Star and Open that I have attended lately, but last night the judges were not sure what to do with them, take a look at their scores (1,2,3,2,5). Third went to perhaps the very favorite to win Vard Margaryan & Sofya Fill (3,4,1,3,4) who I’ve seen in a number of times overtake well-placed and top of the line finalist. But here studying the scoring sheets after the competition was as interesting as the competition itself, in short words the judges marks were all over the place. Fourth in this interesting 7 couple Rhythm final wen to Matthew Hauer & Lauren Schelfhaudt (4,3,4,4,2), fifth was awarded to Romney Reyes & Brook O’Donnel (5,5,5,5,3), Sandor Stefil & Aleksandra Barsukov placed sixth (6,6,6,6,6), and Michael Focannon & Meghan McNash took all sevenths. For the couple that came to our music stand to tell me that perhaps the authentic mambo we played was basically out of time (Cali Pachangero), when dealing with authentic music I advise couples not to rush when you hear the first beat, this is not a timed race where you win if you get there first. I really did not notice them off time but maybe the judges did because you got very low scores on that dance. Moral of the story, pay close attention and listen before you start, if you are having issues finding the beat, let your lady partner lead, I always did. In a separate note Peter and Alexandra Perzhu were scheduled to dance but withdrew in last minute. :( sad for us!
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Artem Plakhotnyi & Inna Berlizyeva won the Professional Ballroom over Alexander Voskalchuk & Veronika Egorova in the Professional Ballroom. Artem & Ina’s scores were (1,1,2,2,1), Alexander & Veronika’s scores were (2,2,1,1,2). The most interesting and almost shocking for us while reading the marks was that a few of the judges awarded Alexander & Veronika 6th and even 5th place marks, I wonder if we were all looking at the same event, or were they not wearing their glasses?? :) Third in this excellent final was Egor Abashkin & Katia Kanevskaya and they placed third in every dance. Gianni Caliandro & Arianna Esposito placed fourth (4,4,4,4,5), fifth was awarded to Richard Tonizzo & Clair Hansen (5,6,5,5,6), and last in sixth place was Emanuele & Francesca Pappacena (6,5,6,6,4). her-CabaretIt was also refreshing to have an excellent west cost swing couple be rewarded for their unique elements and the perfect execution of their routine in the Pro Theater Arts/Cabaret Championship. The standard in our ballroom field is to award what we are comfortable with and that is Ballroom or Cabaret, over dances like west coast or merengue that are out of the ordinary. Here the judges broke from the usual and gave James Brann & Sayra Vazques their first place marks, second went to Ivan Mulyavka & Loreta Kriksciukaityte and third was awarded to Jake Davis & Alyona Kalinina from England. The pro/am Latin Scholarships were fun but very small with most of them having only 5 couples or less, even the “C” division that up to now has been packed in the other styles, her-Pro-AmLatinChere only had 4 couples. The winner of this was none other than Lisa Lowery w/ Radek Wiatrowski.  They won all dances but the Jive, here they placed second. Marguerite Pinard w/Nerijus Jasaitis took that jive and placed second on all the other four dances. Nora Fox w/Plamen Danailov was third and fourth went to Lisa McKee w/Clement Joly. 4 couples also took to the floor for the “B” division of the Pro/am Latin.  Here Valeria Chayko w/Stanislav Kochergin won all dances. Letizia DiCarlo w/Mario Droby placed second (2,2,4,2,2), Melanie Gold w/Dandor Stefill were third (3,3T,3,3,3), and in fourth position was Kathy McDonough w/Felipe Gonzales (4,3T,2,4,4,).
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The Smallest of the Pro/Am Latin scholarships was the “A” here only 3 couples competed but it was certainly worth a mention, all ladies competing were terrific. Dasha Hamrick w/Clement Joly won all dances and we must point out that Dasha also won the 10-dance Scholarship and the Youth event run earlier in the evening. Sabrina Strasser w/Stanislav Kochergin from Canada took all seconds and third position wen to Beatriz Colon w/Roman Malkhasyan.
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Besides the unpredictable marks the dancing was all worth the ticket.  The Professional Ballroom was fabulous with plenty of moments to make your breath pause, the Rhythm was a little even between the couples but they were all excellent and of good caliber not one finalist was out of place. Congratulations to the organizers on a wonderful night of excellent dancing. 

 


   
A Smooth Day and Fun Night at Heritage!
Lisa LowerywebIt was a fun and Smooth day yesterday here at the Heritage Classic. The Smooth scholarships were excellent.  So far, for us, the “C” divisions have out done themselves and yesterday was no different. As in the night before Lisa Lowery w/ Radek Wiatrowski won the “C” division, with challenge form Lynn Murrell w/Peter Perzhu who placed second. Hope Huber w/Troy Baeten were third (3,3,4,4), Gracelyn Tuoti w/Andrei Abrashin took fourth (6,6,3,3), Susan Haynes w/Slava Stefanov were fifth (5,4,5,5) and Carolyn Woodruff w/Alosha Anatoliy placed sixth (4,5,6,6). In the Smooth “B” division Lisa Berry w/Rauno Ilo took the prize home, second was Christina Donelson w/Peter Perzhu and third was Darla Davies w/Jim Maranto. Diana Best w/Alosha Anatoliy placed fourth, Elain Whitford W/Yuriy Simakov were fifth and Dana Sampaleanu w/Aleks Nashev took sixth.
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The “A” division was the smallest in entry but not in talent and here Maria Papakonstantinou w/ John King took first, Anna Ord w/Prageeth Hettiarachchi took second (2,2,2,4), Ekaterina Galperina w/Rex jones was third (3,3,3,2), and Rachel Peppard w/Darian Chancellor placed fourth (4,4,4,3).
RhythmAWeb
In the 9 Dance Maria Papakonstantinou w/John King won all dances and took the trophy home, Darla Davies w/Jim Maranta placed se
9Dancetop3webcond in all dances but the VW where she took third and third place was awarded to Shari Oxman w/Roman Malkhasyan.


Three professional divisions were decided this night as well and the RS Professional Latin went to Jake Davis & Alyona Kalinina from England who placed first in all dances but the samba, here they took second. The first place in the samba went to Felipe Gonzalez & Kathleen Ilo who were second in all the other four dances, third wen to Kirill Nikitin & Jenya Kanchukova. There ProRBallroomwas a seven couple final in the RS Professional Ballroom and
Smooth. The Ballroom Rising Star belonged to Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova who placed first in all five dances. Second in all dances wen to Mechyslav Pavlyuk & Gemma Arnold, and third was awarded to Oleksiy Buravenko & Victoria Karzukhina (4,3,3,3,3). ProRSmoothThe Professional Smooth was awarded to Adrian & Hannah Dydynski and they too won all dances, second went to Andrei & Elena Rudenco and third in all dances was awarded to Dennis Woods & Amber Reich. ProRLatinI must congratulate the organizers, Colin & Joy Hilary for their organization skills, everything is like clockwork. And on a personal note, I cannot, have enough of this wonderful resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, the days have been so beautiful I can almost spend all day staring at the picturesque view just outside my window and the grand balcony just outside the main lobby. For those of you that are missing it this year for whatever reason, the hotel has bgrove parkeen given a facelift. There is the old main bar in the lobby and a new one by the restaurant. The registration desk has been removed and it is a welcome site, the lobby is grand and more spacious with its two gigantic fireplaces alight at once. Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m not one to be attached to the old, but this grand hotel is a very special place and I am glad that it has become a tradition within our ballroom community. I know for many of us is a bit of a hustle getting here but it sure is worth your while, a perfect human nest within “the land of the sky,” Asheville.      

Great “C” at the Heritage Classic! Last night’s feature events were the Pro/Am Smooth Scholarships and the Professional Rhythm.  Of all of them, our favorite was the Pro/Am “C” category where three excellent ladies fought hard for the honor of being number one. "There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them"

Her-pacrhyth

The first place honor went to Lisa Lowery with professional, Radek Wiatrowski who kept her composure and did what she had to do with out ever being of the age, they won all dances. Quin Bommelje w/Mikhail Vlasov placed second but as you can see by the marks it was not an easy second to have - 4,3,2,2,2. Third in this mix was another terrific player and this was Lynn Murrell w/Peter Perzhu (2,2,3,3,4), fourth went to Gracelyn Tuoti w/Andrei Abrashin (5,5,4,4,3), fifth was awarded to Darla Davies w/Jim Maranto (3,4,5,5,5) and last but not least in sixth place was Michelle Kirby w/John Moldthan. "Eat, sleep, breath...Dance" her-Party2The competitions were excellent but with this lovely weather there was plenty to do outside. I went for a walk and I saw plenty of people exploring the resort. The welcome cocktail party overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains was beautiful and fun. But lets not forget why we are here, there were other competitions that were as challenging as the Smooth Pro/Am C Division and are worth a mention. The “B” Pro/Am Smooth was also excellent but with less couples entered, only four couples took to the floor for this final and Caci Torres w/Eddie Rivera won this her-Eddie torreschallenge (2,1,1,2,1), Second in this B category was Mieko Okumura w/Zeki Mavilyildiz (1,2,2,1,2), third went to Diana Best w/Alosha Anatolly, and fourth was awarded to Annick Desjardins w/Yuriy Simakov. "Dance first. Think Later. It's the natural order"

The “A” division was also interesting and here we had an 8-couple semifinal and once in the final the winner of this by far was Maria Papakonstantinou w/John King. Second in this A division was Jessica Sweeney w/Jeremy Pilling , third went to Lauren Watkins w/Michael Neal. Fourth in this same A event was awarded to Jacey Warren w/Joe joe Hasson (5,4,4,4,6) and fifth was awarded to Anna Ord w/ Prageeth Helttiarachchi (4,5,5,5T,5), leaving sixth to Ekaterina Galperina w/Rex Jones (6,6,6,5T,4).
her-Pro-AmARhythm
The Professional Rising Star Rhythm was also another feature event of this night but unlike some of the Pro/am her-Maxevents it did not have a punch. The couples were all of an excellent level and perhaps that was the problem each one of them could have some kind of claim to top place. The new partnership of Max Lototskyy & Sarah Haworth won all dances, Erwin & Iwona Rybczynki took second. Romney Reyes & Brook O’Donnell placed third (3,4,3,3,3), Kurt Roberts & Anneliece Velasco placed fourth (4,3,4,4,4), Sandor Stefil & Aleksandra Barsukov were fifth and Timothy Polaschev & Katherine Hutchinson took all sixth. "Dance is music made visible"

 

Snowed out!  But electrifying finish for Superstars! The last night at the Superstars Championships was terrific with great dancing. The Professional Latin was run and the winners, Ivan Mulyavka & Loreta Krisciukaityte, won all dances but the cha cha.  The cha cha was taken by China’s Ray Zhang & Rosa Ren who were very clean in their approach.  The Professional Smooth was also a great event with excellent couples, but here, Peter & Alexandra Perzhu took all dances and in our eyes were the best of the group. The Showdance and Cabaret was also a fierce event.  Five couples took to the floor but here the honor of being the best went to Shane & Shannon Jensen who took all first places but one from the judging panel. "We dance around in a ring and suppose, but the secret sits in the middle and knows"
Cabaret showdance
As you can see, the competition was excellent throughout the night but the closing event the “Anything Goes Showdown” was excellent showcasing all the champions from the Open Professional competition throughout the weekend of dance. And in a rare occurrence there was an unbreakable tie between Shane & Shannon from the Cabaret and the winners of the Open professional Rhythm Emanule Pierre-Antoine & Liana Churilova.  The third place honor, in this case there was no second place, went to Ivan & Loreta the Open Latin champoions.  Fourth was awarded to the Smooth Champions, Peter & Alexandra and fifth went to the Open Professional Ballroom Champions, Alexander Voskalchuk & Veronika Egorova. "Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything than isn't music."
Anything goes
As always and as you can see by some of the pictures, the ballroom was decorated beautifully in the style of Mr. Chapman, the leading force at the Superstars. It was unfortunate that over 1000 entries had to be scratched or withdrawn due to the snowstorm that swept across the northeast before and during the Superstars. However, the organizers spared no expense to make you feel at home and to make sure that everyone was entertained. It was also great luck that Delyan Terziev & Boriana Delcheva, the featured act at this year’s Superstars, managed to catch one of the last flights out of New York and gave us two wonderful shows, Friday & Saturday. "Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor" New Partnership Takes RS Rhythm at Superstars dd-Winners RS RhythmThe new partnership of Maksym Lototsky & Sarah Hayworth were the clear winners of the RS Rhythm.   From the semi into the final, they showed a great sense of musicality and awareness for each  other and went on to win all dances.  The competition was a little tougher between 2nd and 3rd place.  Shane & Shannon Jensen came in 2nd (4,2,2,2,3) over Stephen Smyth & Victoryia Kleyman (3,3,3,4,4).  In our opinion, Victoriya had an overall stronger presence and that might have swayed some marks in favor of that couple.  Only 1 point made the difference between 3rd and 4th place, Tamas Kardos & Mariya-Khristina Shurupova made their impact by taking 2nd position in CC and Mambo making this a very exciting final to watch. The RS Ballroom had 2 couples enterered.  The winners in all dances were Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova over Matt Rivers & Maliwan Diemer.

WDSF Back in US Territory After years of absence from the USA, the WDSF (World Dancesport Federation), an official body for Dancesport in the world and a member of the IOC, is finally back in the USA. Two WDSF events were run this past weekend of dance at the well-known Manhattan Classic (The Mac) Championship in Manhattan, New York City, organized by USA Dance, the WDSF affiliate in the USA. The events were run in the beautiful Grand Ballroom of the Manhattan Center and it was fully packed and with audience coming to support the athletes participating. The most supported event and the more exciting of the two was the WDSF Junior II Open Championship Latin. Here we had a full semifinal round and the couples fighting for the opportunity and the title were excellent down to the semifinal. Kristers Smits & Sophie Shvartsman won the event by tying for second in the samba, placing first in the cha cha, paso and jive and third in the rumba. As you can see by the marks, the judges could not make up their minds. Matthew Kheyfets & Vanesa Falisova placed second by taking the samba and rumba from Kristers & Sophie, placing second in the cha and jive and third in the paso. Third place was awarded to Dennis Mateev & Valerie Dubinsky. They tied for second in the samba were fourth in cha cha and rumba and tied for fourth in jive. Joshua Lishnevetsky & Angela Gerzberg were fourth (5,3,2,5,3); fifth went to D’Angelo Castro & Amanda Carbajales (4,5,5,7,4.5). In sixth place were Levy Agaronnik & Simona Vigodner (6,6,7,6,6,) and last but not least in seventh position was  Kamil Falkowski & Alexis Turko (7,7,6,4,7). The placements in this competition will award this couples a certain amount of points for the WDSF world ranking system, placing them on an equal footing with other athletes around the world from South America to Europe, Africa and Asia. It is great to see that now all aspects of ballroom dancing are being represented in the USA and the promotion of ballroom dance, whether as a sport or as an art or social form, continues stronger than ever in this the land of the free.
WDSF Standard
The Standard WDSF Junior II Championship was not as well attended but the quality was also excellent. Here Dennis Mateev & Valerie Dubinsky placed first in every dance and were the clear winners.  All seconds wen to Kamil Falkowski & Alexis Turko, and third were Matthew Kheyfets & Vanesa Falisova. Fourth went to Christopher Kantorosinski & Anna Jonczyk (5,4,4,4,4) and fifth was awarded to Denis Smotrov & Karina Mirochnik (4,5,5,5,5). Congratulations to all the couples for being the first to earn their points in this Dancesport arena and also to USA Dance for running two successful Championships. This was the first WDSF event they had hosted since the World Latin Championship in 2010

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