Many of the USA’s top contenders were in attendance together with two strong couples from overseas. Denmark scored the victory with Morten Lowe & Roselina Doneva winning all 5 dances. Morton & Roselina are one of the world’s highest ranked couples and they had a substantial majority of 1st places in all dances – but not all! 4 judges in particular demurred and did not mark them to win -Forrest Vance, Shirley Johnson, Polina Pilipenchuk and Edward Simon. From the stage we thought Morten & Rosalina were in good form tonight especially in the final. To us they looked much more in control than when we last saw them. 2nd in all dances went to a couple from S. Africa, Darren Hammond & Milla Lykke Nielsen. Their scores ran the gauntlet from 1st to 6th in every dance, but they managed to secure the majority of “2nd or better” scores in PD & J. We could understand the judges’ indecision. This is an exotic pairing who at times looked ready to challenge the winners, but at other times we caught them in some very unflattering postures. The battle of the USA began with the 3rd spot and what a battle it was! It is so encouraging to see the USA producing some fine Latin dancers and it’s even better that we never know who’s going to come out on top! It was a close race looking at the individual judges’ scores but in the end Tal Livshitz & Ilana Kesselan were 3rd in all 5 dances. Incidentally, they were the only couple in the final NOT to receive a 6th place mark from any judge, even the winners received some 6th’s. We thought they had a terrific night. Tal’s energy overpowered his competitors among the gentlemen. Alexander Chernositov & Arina Grishanina were 4th with 4,4,5,4,5 and they to were in good form tonight and were rewarded with a better result than at some recent events. Austin Joson & Nino Dzneladze were 5th 5,4,5,4,5. They have so much potential but seem unable to turn it on when it matters. We thought their final was very quiet and although we certainly subscribe to the idea that “less is more” they still need to strike a balance between Nino’s undoubted sensuality and the right amount of energy to be noticed. Closing this strong final were Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabriella Sabler with 6,6,6,6,6. As all the other couples, they had marks up and down the final, they were unlucky that just too many 6th places in each dance doomed their chances. In reality, the difference in quality of these fine dancers from 1st to 6th was very minimal indeed. Well done to all!
Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine & Liana Churilova received perfect scores in the Pro Rhythm and never looked in doubt to us. Andrei Abrashin & Mariia Gavrylova were 2nd in all dances and had the majority of “2nd or better” scores in all dances except mambo. 3rd in all were Shandor Shtefil & Alexandra Barsukov; 4th were Riccardo Papi & Sabrina Moretti 4,4,4,5,4; 5th were Jonathan Green & Rachel Grumblatt 5,5,5,6,5 (they had withdrawn from the RS the night before due to illness); 6th Andrei Svirydzenka & Yulia Zubova 6,6,6,4,6.
Alexander Voskalchuk & Veronica Ergorova were the winners of the Ballroom and received almost perfect scores. Two lady judges awarded them a total of 4 second places, 3 from Masami Suda and 1 from Julia Pekarskaya. Emmanuele & Francesca Pappacena were 2nd in all dances; Yuriy Nartov & Sarika Hudson were 3rd in all; 4th in all went to Aleksandr Skriptsov & Aida Skriptsova; 5th Anatolii Repliuk & Ruslana Mamaysur 5,5,6,6,5; 6th Jang & Adele Don 6,6,5,5,6.
The very enthusiastic audience also loved the show by Brooklyn Dance Academy featuring the indomitable Eugene Katsevman & Maria Manusova. This non-stop show of Latin rhythms features the dynamic duo plus amateur and professional dancers from their studio. It is always a great climax to any night of dancing!
Miami Lands Some Big Fish!
Keeping with their “Under the Sea” theme, Miami Vibe landed some big fish in their professional divisions last night.
Key among those “big fish” were Canadian Champions and world finalists, Maurizio Vescovo & Andra Vaidilaite who cruised to an easy victory in the Open Pro Latin. They received 61 of the 65 available 1st place scores. Only judges, Sarwat Kaluby and Shirley Johnson awarded them anything but first places. We used Prince’s “Kiss” for the first round cha in honor of the now late artist and Maurizio & Andra also used this for their honor dance. The surprise of the event was the 2nd place finish of the new partnership of Aleksandr Skarlato & Loreta Kriksciukaityte 2,2,2,2,2. We say “surprise” not because we thought they did not deserve the place, only because they were the newest pairing in the final. They looked great and very relaxed. With all the 3’s, Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin also looked strong in 3rd place. The last 3 places were less clear to the judges. Artur Tarnavsky & Anastasia Danilova were 4th 4,5,4,6,5; Ilya Maletin & Polina Maier were 5th 5,4,6,4,6 and Nikita Malakov & Nadezda Vlasova were 6th 6,6,5,5,4.
Just as interesting was the Open Pro Ballroom. Right from the start it looked like a 3-way battle between 2 established couples and an exciting newcomer and that’s how it turned out. All three couples had their supporters on the judging panel and all three picked up 1st place marks in all 4 dances, but at the end of the day victory went to Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija who placed 1,1,1,2. They did not have the majority of 1st places in any of the dances they won. A disappointing runners-up position went to the most highly ranked couple in the event, Mikhail & Galina Zharinov and they placed 2,3,2,1, they did, however, have the majority of 1st places in the VW. Relative newcomers, but quite a favorite with the younger audience members, Max Sinitsa & Tatiana Seliverstova, placed 3rd 3,2,3,3. We loved all three couples and they all have something very unique to offer. Did we have a favorite? Yes, and perhaps we’ll tell all in the upcoming feature article on Miami Vibe. Another very new partnership, Roman Mallkhasyan & Kat Wagner did very well placeing 4th in all 4 dances. Kat was a pro-am competitor until this year. 5th were Kris Suakjian & Briana Haft 5T,6,5,5 and 6th were Shandor Shtefil & Alexandra Barsukvo 5T5,6,6.
While not large, the Open Amateur Ballroom also attracted a large fish (literally as well as figuratively)! 6’+ Oskar Wojciechowski & Karolina Holody won all dances for an easy victory in this international event. Russia took second – Artem Katashinskiy & Marina Katashinskaya 2,2,2,2,2 and England took 3rd – Brandon Stanley & Julia Granath.
In each of these above divisions, the finalist ladies were part of a drawing for jewelry pieces designed by Mariko Dozono.
The final feature event of the night was the U/21 Latin and this went to Yevgenii Orlov & Maryna Yerina 1,1,1,1,2. Vladislav Kvartin & Anna Maria were 2nd 2,2,2,2,1, Mitchell Itkin & Natasha Stevchenko were 3rd in all dances and Artem Zhychuk & Gabriella Pustilnik were 4th.
“Vibing” in Miami!
Yes, guys, it’s Miami Vibe time again in glorious Miami Beach and once again the beautiful Eden Roc Hotel is playing host – right on Miami Beach. Indeed, we can hear the surf by opening our hotel room window!
Organizer, Andrew Phillips, always does a great job with décor and this year the classic MIMO style ballroom has an “under the sea” theme and in the practice room there is a great seashell stage for photos.
Last night we saw all the RS Pro divisions – 2 semifinals and 2 finals. Our favorite division was the Latin and this was the only one to go to a non-USA couple. Ilya Maletin & Polina Maier from Canada were the winners and they won all dances, all with a majority of 1st places marks except the jive. Nevertheless they still won that dance. They have really made some significant improvement of late. Leading the chase group and taking 2nd in all dances were Nikita Malakov & Nadezda Vlasova who perhaps expected to be a little closer to the winners. WE would also have expected this. 3rd in all dances went to Riccardo Pacini & Sonia Spadoni. Howard Wang & Doris Hsieh were 4th in all; Igor Tikhorimov & Kelsey Kizina were 5th 5,5,5,5,6 and Jang & Adele Don were 6th 6,6,6,6,5.
The other semifinal came in the Rhythm and this division went to Riccardo Papi & Sabrina Moretti 1,1,1,2,1. They had the majority of 1st place marks in the 4 dances they won and looked relaxed and confident. Winning the bolero, also with a majority of 1st places, were Eddie Rivera & Meghan McNash. They were 2nd in the other 4 dances. Primo Garcia & Fayvin Doucette were 3rd 3,3,3,3,4; Eugene Parkhimovich & Anna Lukashova were 4th 4,4,4,4,3; Vidas Orlovas & Elina Budagyan were 5th 5,5,5,6,5 and Leo Mora & Christina Garced were 6th 6,6,6,5,6.
6 couples entered the RS Ballroom and this division fell to Yuriy Nartov & Sarika Hudson. They won all dances and deservedly so in our view. Also strong and in second spot were Aleksandr Skriptsov & Aida Skriptsova 2,2,2,2,2. 10-Dancers Jan & Adele were 3rd but with more mixed scoring from the judges, 4,5,3,3,4. Anatolii Repliuk & Ruslana Mamaysur were 4th 5,4,4,4,3; Dmitriy Solomakha & Gabriela Sevillano were 5th 3,3,5,5,5 and Lukas Chockuba & Angelina Oh were 6th in all dances.
Only 3 couples entered the Smooth. Shandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukhov won all dances, Leo Mora & Christina Garced were 2nd in all and William Proper & Jennifer Elliott were 3rd.
The pro-ams began their program with the International Ballroom division. The largest of the Open Scholarships were in the C and S1 categories and the same lady won both, Susan Walter w/ Samuele Pacchini and she won all dances in both divisions. Congratulations! 2nd in the C was Anna Chiu w/ Thomas Papkala 3,2,2,2,2 and 3rd was Joanne Walford w/ Paolo DiLorenzo 2,7,3,3,4. In the S1, Peg Barrett w/ Ruslan Meshkov was 2nd 3,2,2, and Mary Farrell w/ Paolo DiLorenzo was 3rd 2,4,3.