Emerald Ball 2016

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#2’s On Top

Our nation’s number twos were on top last night at Emerald Ball. Nazar Norov & Irina Kudryashova won the Open Pro Rhythm and Victor Fung & Anastasia Muravyeva won the Open Pro Ballroom, both couples are currently ranked second in the USA and the world in their respective divisions.


First up was the Rhythm and Nazar & Irina won all 5 dances each with the majority of 1st place marks and no score lower than 3rd. Andre & Natalie Paramonov took 2nd in all dances and they also had no score lower than a 3rd. The closest of the dances was rumba where Andre & Natalie took 7 firsts out of the 21 available. were Danas Jaksevicious & Yuki Haraguchi 3,4,3,3,4. They were the only couple apart from the top 2 to take any 1st places and they received 2 both from judge Elena Grinenko. The second half of the final was more mixed from a scoring point. The brand new partnership of Vard Margaryan & Inga Demetryan were 4th 4,3,5,4,3. We believe this was their first competition together so this was an impressive result. 5th were Shane & Shannon Jensen 6,5,4,5,5 and 6th Ilya Velednitsky & Mariya Ilchenko 5,6,6,6,6.

In the ballroom it was a clean sweep for Victor & Anastasia – 105 first places, perfect scores. Congratulations! Artem Plakhotnyi & Inna Berlizyeva were 2nd in all dances and they had strong majorities of 2nd places in all dances. 3rd in all went to Iaroslav Bieliel & Olga Gladiuk and they also had the majority of “3rd or better” scores in all dances but did also pick up a couple of 5’s and 6’s. The judges remained clear all the way through this final. 4th in all dances were Vladislav Shahov & Olga Popova; 5th in all Emanuele & Francesca Pappacena and 6th in all Stefano DiBrino & Bianka Zubrowska.

US Amateur Ballroom Champions (NDCA/ABC) Andres & Veronica End won all dances in the Open Amateur Ballroom and although they did have the majority of 1st places in all dances, they lost a few more than we were expecting. Those mostly went to the 2nd and 3rd place couples. 2nd tonight with 3,3,2,2,2, were Dmitry Vorobiev & Sonya Tsekanovska and 3rd with 2,2,3,3,3, were Marek Klepadlo & Zhiting Yang, the latter couple a new partnership we have not seen before. All the 4’s went to Angelo Gaetano & Calrissa Morelli, all the 5’s to Mikhail Vorobiev & Sofie Elliott and all the 6’s to Danya Rubashevsky & Anastasiya Vysotska.

Nikoali Tarasov & Amanda Herrschatt won all 5 dances in the Open Amateur Latin but only 2 of them with the majority of 1st places. In fact the 1st places were spread about the filed with every couple in the final receiving at least one in rumba. 2nd went to Yevgenii Orlov & Maryna Yerina 2,2,2,3,4. 3rd and 4th places was a Rule 11 tiebreak that fell in the favor of Roman Drobotov & Natella Devitskaya 3,3,4,4,2 over Giulio Ferrante & Lidia Martinez-Espinosa 4,4,3,2,3. 5th were David Michalak & Myroslava Kaspruk 6,5,5,5,6 and 6th Hai Tran & Stacey Chuang 5,6,6,6,5.

I believe last night was the first time we have seen a Top Studio award that included a cash prize. Emerald Ball gave this in the name of Jean Marc Casanave who passed away earlier in the year and was a great friend of the organizers.

Pro-Am Latin scores coming soon.

Emerald Ball video by SuperShag - click here

It’s a Smooth World!

Last night Emerald Ball became a Smooth World as it seemed that every Smooth couple in the world (read USA) showed up to contest this final.

There seems to be a cycle to competition dancing with each style coming to the fore and producing the best finals in turn. Right now in 2016, to us, the Smooth is that style and last night we saw every major player throwing their dice. So where did those dice land?

All we can say is “thank goodness we have computers to work out the scores!” The judges certainly all had their opinions and let’s say they were not all the same opinions! The winners, and this was a great win for them, were Mazen Hamza & Izabella Jundzil and they won all 4 dances but on paper this win was not as easy as it seemed. They did not have the majority of 1st places in any dance and in fact in the foxtrot they only received 3 first places out of a possible 21 – yet they still won the dance. Runners-up overall, Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija received 7 first place marks in foxtrot (the most) but still ended up 4th in that dance. The truth is that Mazen & Izabella had more judges marking them within the top 3 than any of the other couples so although they did not score that many more 1st places than some of the other couples, on consensus the majority of judges thought they should place in the top 3 and that made them the winners of all 4 dances.

Nick & Vktorija placed 2,2,4,2. They had the most 1st places of all the finalists but never the majority and unfortunately they had enough judges placing them in the lower half of the final to ruin their chances at beating the winners in the “2nd or better” column. Sorry to get technical but that’s the way our “Skating System” works. With 4,3,2,3, Max Sinitsa & Tatyana Selivertsova took 3rd place. They also had 1st places in all dances but never enough to get near winning a dance. Their Achilles heel was 4th. They did not receive as many 5th and 6th placements as Nick & Viktorija but they got a lot of 4’s and that ruined their chances for 2nd. With 3,4,3,4, Mikhail & Galina Zharinov took 4th and obviously they were very much a part of this top group. The scores for these top places were incredibly tight. Mikhail & Galina were in tiebreaks in 2 dances – in waltz with Nick & Viktorija for 2nd place which they narrowly lost and in VW with Max & Tatyana for 3rd which they also narrowly lost. While we are sure they were disappointed with this result they can certainly be encouraged that the scores were so close a mark either way could have totally changed the overall results.

5th in all dances went to Yegor Novikov & Anastasia Smirnova. They had some 1st places in all dances except tango and had enough judges scoring them 4th or 5th to keep them ahead of 6th placed Travis & Jaimee Tuft in all 4 dances. Travis & Jaimee received 1st places in all 4 dances. While these last 2 couples were not really challenging the first 4 on paper, in reality this was a final of 6 great couples. We can’t wait for the next one!

The other feature event of the night was the Open Pro Latin. This was actually a larger event than the Smooth, danced over 4 rounds, yet for us it did not generate quite the same amount of excitement. Certainly we had much clearer winners. Nikolay Voronovich & Maria Nikolishina won all 5 dances and had the majority of 1st places in 4 of them. Rumba was the close one and in that dance they had 8 first places, actually 1 less than the runners-up. Those runners-up were Andrei Tarasov & Yulia Kuznetsova and once again Yulia’s phenomenal feet and legs wowed the judges in rumba and almost won them the dance (they lost it by 14 “2nd or better” scores to 15). They placed 2nd in all 5 dances. 3rd in all 5 went to Mykhalio Bilopukhov & Anastasia Shchypilina. For us this duo was so exciting last year but seem to have lost some of their creativity at this point. Don’t get lost now guys! Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin were 4th with 4,4,5,4,4; 5th Andrei Tarnavskyy & Anastasia Danilova 5,5,4,5,6; 6th Francesco Bertini & Sabrina Manzi 6,6,6,6,5. This was a much better result for Francesco & Sabrina than in the RS the night before where they placed 3rd.

8 couples entered the Professional Cabaret. Shane & Shannon Jensen were easy winners in this, taking 9 out of 11 first place marks. 2nd were Mykhalio Azarov & Makarenko; 3rd Edouard Sargsyan & Inga Demetryano; 4th Jamie Black & Robyn Ray. This couple had a problem with their music and completed their routine in silence. Judge Eugene Katsevman still marked them 1st. 5th were Aaron & Iryna DeSotto; 6th Ivan Berkovic & Deanne Weiner; 7th Mariusz Zakrzewski & Lindsay Ray; 8th Jay Holmes & Nia Naomann.

It was a good night for Erik Linder & Ricky Taylor who won both the Youth Ballroom and Latin.

For the pro-ams it was the conclusion of the Ballroom heats that began the day before. In the Open A Scholarship, an 8-couple final was returned. The winner was Natalie Rezai w/ Sergey Kiselev who won all dances, all but the VW with the majority of 1st places. 2nd went to Vinnie Miller w/ Denis Kutepov and she was 2nd in all 5 dances and 3rd went Melonie Krumer w/ Max Sinitsa 3,3,3,3,3. For us these three ladies were the clear frontrunners. 4th went to a gentleman, Andreas Mantius w/ Olga Tsikalyuk 4,4,4,4,4; 5th (in a Rule 11 tiebreak), Rebecca Kuhn w/ Andrea Feraci 7,5,6,5,6; 6th Irene Lee w/ Iaroslav Bieliel 5,6,7,6,5; 7th Yingying Chen w/ Slava Stefanov 6,7,5,8,8; 8th Colette Marotto w/ Egor Abashkin 8,8,8,7,7.

In a very closely fought race, Laura Shooks w/ Alexander Voskalchuk won the Open B, scoring 2,3,1,2,1. Unsurprisingly, with an event this close there were no majorities of 1st places here. The Runner-up was Amy Wang w/ Sergey Kiselev 1,2,3,1,2. 3rd Brynda Insley w/ Martin Reinbold 3,1,3,5,3; 4th Audrey Paek w/ Ronen Zinshtein 6,4,2,4,5; 5th Julie Zhao w/ Denis Kutepov 4,5,6,3,4; 6th Susan Sidman w/ Simeon Stoynov 5,6,5,6,6; 7th Michelle Peng w/ Mikhail Avdeev 7,7,7,7,7; 8th Patricia Schneider w/ Nick Cheremukhin 8,8,8,8,8.

Jill Bradford w/ Andrea Stefano won the Open C, winning all dances with the majority of 1st places except the waltz. 2nd went to Jenny Du w/ Dariusz Michalski 2,2,2,3,3; 3rd Hye-Kyong Park w/ Lina Korieva 3,3,4,2,2; 4th Lynn Murrell w/ Alexander Voskalchuk 4,4,3,5,4; 5th Lisa Lowery w/ Peter Perzhu 5,5,6,4,6; 6th Connie Edmonds w/ Samuele Pacchini 6,6,5,6,5.

There was a very strong semifinal of gentlemen C competitors in the Open C gentlemen’s division. The winner was Liang-Te Hu w/ Olga Tsikalyuk 2,1,1,1,2; 2nd was Mike Brown w/ Anna Oblakova 1,2,2,2,1; 3rd Satoru Toga w/ Grace Wang 4,3,3,3,4. Linda Huntress w/ Andrea Stefano won the Open S2 and Deborah Errico w/ Dariusz Michalski won the S1.

Emerald Ball video by SuperShag - click here


Smooth Strongest so Far!

We thought the Open Smooth Scholarships were of very high quality, and the C was danced over 4 rounds –a great event!

In the Open A, Melonie Krumer w/ Max Sinitsa was the winner and she won all dances, 3 of them with the majority of 1st places. Pushing hard, especially in VW was Madison Stribling w/ Mayo Alanen who was 2nd in all dances and came very close in the last dance. These two ladies were both strong but have very different style and appearances. Melonie is a power house who shows great movement and action, while Madison is tall and elegant and relies more on creating great pictures and shapes. Melonie did not receive any scores lower than 3rd, but Madison did get a few 6th’s and that surprised us. With all the 3’s Natalie Crandall took 3rd place and also the Open 9-Dance that was completed with the Smooth section today. Edwards w/ Roman Malkhasyan was 4th in all dances, Irene Lee w/ Nick Cheremukhin was 5th in all and Jennifer Juergens w/ Mazan Hamza was 6th in all.

Mayo Alanen moved up to 1st place in the Open B, his student, Aiyesha Dey was the winner placing 1,1,1,2. Aiyesha did receive the majority of 1st places in the dances she won. With 2,2,2,3, Celia Chou w/ Erminio Stefano was the runner-up. This was the first time we have seen Celia compete in this style and it was an impressive opening. There were a couple of shaky transitions but considering the brevity this was an excellent start. We were a little surprised that both these ladies received some lower half scores. The winner of the VW was Sirinda Sincharoen w/ Max Sinitsa and she placed 3rd overall 3,3,3,1. We thought she had a great event and could have taken a few more 1st and/or 2nd places in some dances. 4th spot went to Steelman w/ Travis Tuft 4,5,4,4; 5th Susan Sidman w/ Gleb Makarov 5,4,5,5; 6th Joanne Tatum w/ Mariusz Zakrzewski 6,6,6,6.

The clearest win came in the huge Open C Scholarship. Michiko Cantor w/ Evgeny Malko won all 4 dances with the majority of 1st places. We are so happy to see this lady getting credit for her spirited and artful dancing. Well done! Lynn Murrel w/ Peter Perzhu was 2nd in all dances and was the only other contestant to score some 1st places other than the winner. We thought Lynn also had a very good day today. Sue Eldred w/ Igor Ustymovich was 3rd in all dances. With 4,4,4,5, Lance Smith w/ Tone Jacobsen was one of two men to feature in an Open Smooth final. The second was Ben Ow w/ Lindsay Ray and he was 5th with 5,5,5,4. Helena Kostik w/ Mazen Hamza closed this very impressive final.

As with the Rhythm the day before, S1 and S2 Scholarships were also offered and attracted a lot of entries. The winners were Doreen Marchak w/ Youriy Pavlov (S2) and Sharon Sanchez w/ Sergey Barsukov (S1).

In the evening it was the turn of the Pro Rising Star competitors and we saw all 4 styles. In a straight split, Florida won both American styles and California won both International.

The most contentious was the Latin. Here the judges were all over the place, in fact in rumba every couple in the final received at least one 1st place and only 1 dance (the samba) was won with the majority of 1st places. So how did it turn out? With 1,2,1,4,2, Andrey Voloshko & Katerina Kyryleno were the judges’ selection. Ilya Maletin & Polina Maier from Canada took 2nd with 2,3,2,1,3, and the obvious crowd favorites, Francesco Bertini & Sabrina Manzi were 3rd 4,1,4,2,1.

The Ballroom was also very close with a 3 to 2 decision to determine the winner of two Californian couples. Stefano DiBrino & Bianca Zubrowska placed 1,1,2,2,1 to take the win from Christian Radvan & Kudelko 2,2,1,1,2. Youiy Nartov & Sarika Hudson took all the 3’s.

The brand new Florida couple, Roman Malkasyan & Kat Wagner were the easy winners of the Smooth winning all 4 dances with the majority of 1st places. This follows a very successful event for them at Miami Vibe last week. With 3,2,2,2, Slava & Jessica Stefanov were the runners-up and 9-dancers, Mykyta Serdyuk & Anna Krasnoshpka were 3rd 2,3,3,3.

There were no majorities of 1st places in any dance in the Rhythm but Maksym Lototskyy & Sarah Haworth were the overall winners placing 1,1,3,1,3. This was actually a Rule 11 tie with runners-up, Ilia Abdullin & Barakov who placed 2,2,1,2,2. Riccardo Papi & Sabrina Moretti were 3rd 3,3,2,3,1.

Emerald Ball video by SuperShag - click here


"Shine Bright Like a" …….. Emerald!

It hardly seems as if a year has gone by, but the Dance Beat Team is back at the LAX Hilton for a full week (Monday to Monday) of the Emerald Ball – certainly one of the nation’s largest competitions.

The Organizers, Wayne & Donna Eng, added more time to their packed schedule this year, beginning much earlier on Tuesday than in previous years – this with the hope of adding some breathing room and the ability to present all the awards for the pro-ams on the floor. So far this is working, although yesterday’s schedule was still completely full.

As of this writing (Thursday morning) we have completed the pro-am Rhythm divisions and begun both the Smooth and Ballroom. Last night saw the Open Scholarships in the Rhythm style and certainly many of the nation’s best were vying for the win.

In the Open A, Natalie Crandall w/ Decho Kraev was the victor. Natalie won all dances with the majority of 1st places. 2nd in all was Isabella Libertore w/ Charles Cunningham who picked up some 1st places in all dances and for the rest had mostly 2nd’s and 3rd’s. Only judge Eugene Katsevman did not favor her, awarding 4 6th places and a 4th. Sophia Montantez w/ Daniel Vasco was 3rd with 3,3,4,3,3; 4th Marinda James-Heskett w/ Jeremy Pilling 4,4,3,5,4; 5th Susan Sidman w/ Gleb Makarov 5,6,5,4,6; 6th Natalie Peterson w/ FJ Abaya 6,5,6,6,5.

The Open B fell to Gwen Bourque w/ Chris Johnston. Gwen won all dances and all with a majority of 1st places except bolero. Gwen also won this division last year, but with a different professional as Mr. Johnston was judging last year. 2nd went to Sophia D’Angelo w/ Ilya Reyzin 2,2,2,2,2. Kia Malone w/ Eddie Rivera was 3rd with 4,3,3,3,3 and Joanne Tatem w/ Mariusz Zakrzewski was 4th 3,4,4,4,4. Susan Sidman was 5th once again in this division 5,5,5,5,5 and Sharon Power w/ Jason Daly was 6th 6,6,6,6,6.

The Open C was the largest of the night, beginning with a quarter-final. The winner was Lynn Magnesen w/ Vard Margaryan and Lynn won all dance with a majority of 1st places. 2nd, also in all dances, was Quin Bommelje w/ Misha Vlasov and taking 3rd in all 5 dances was Joan Goddard w/ Chris Johnston. After this the scores were a little more muddled. Renee Kuwahara w/ Ilya Reyzin took 4th 4,5,4,6,5; 5th Monica Broch w/ Kris Suakjian 6,4,5,4,6; 6th Yuriko Shimamoto w/ Steve Vasco 5,6,6,5,4.

There were also open scholarships in S1 and S2 age categories and the winners were: Suaryn Mathieu w/ Decho Kraev (S1) and Rita Lonergan w/ Pavlo Barsuk (S2).

This year for the first time that we can remember, Emerald Ball is falling on the same weekend as Wisconsin State in Milwaukee and we wish adieu and safe travels to a few hardy souls who left us here in Emerald to hop on a plane to Milwaukee to catch both of these great competitions!

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