Amateur DanceSport Championships 2017

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A “Thinking” Ballroom!

Last night at the US National Amateur Championships in BYU, Provo, Utah, the Open Amateur Ballroom competition took center stage at the Marriott Arena, where thousands of people gathered to see and support the couples participating.

It is interesting that at an academic institution such as BYU, the Ballroom has never had as much thought as it did last night, from both the judges’ and the audience’s perspective.

The overall winners Andres & Veronika End won the majority of dances losing only the tango, but looking at the marks they lost a number of first places to the winners of the tango who were the runners up, Oskar Wojciechowski & Karolina Holody, who placed second in the other four dances. Oskar & Karolina had the home advantage by being residents of Provo and you could hear the entire arena roar - calling for them from start to finish. At one point in the semifinal we even thought to notice Andres & Veronika feeling the heat and slightly quivering by coasting in parts of their dancing. Some people thought it was fantastic how Oskar & Karolina maneuvered the audience by at times asking them for more, while others thought that perhaps it was a little to overdone and that they did not need to add wood to the fire.

But whatever! The atmosphere was fantastic!

In the final, as you can read from the marks, Andres & Veronika came through with flying colors and you could feel the disappointment in Oskar & Karolina. Much of the audience thought Oskar & Karolina could have won more than one dance, especially the foxtrot that was as smooth as silk, but once again others felt that Andres & Veronika took full control of the floor and were able to maneuver with more ease through the problems of traffic making them look favorable and earn a few better marks. One thing is for certain the audience got their money’s worth and were pleased with the competition (if not all with the result), we could tell by their enthusiasm and their participation in the arena.

Third place went to Angelo Gaetano & Clarissa Morelli who took 3rd in all dances and as always were a pleasure to watch. The one couple most talked about besides first and second was the new partnership of Dan Malov & Anna Kaczmarski who placed fourth in all dances and who shone from beginning to end of the US Nationals and who as we mentioned previously won that fantastic U/21 Ballroom that was so inspiring to many of us who are beginning to wonder who will take the ranks once our first and second professional couples retire.

Fifth in this excellent thinking final was awarded to Florin Vlad & Natalia Linda O’Connor and they placed fifth in four dances and sixth in the foxtrot. Last but not least in sixth place were Marek Klepadlo & Zhiting Yang and they took fifth in the foxtrot and sixth in the other four dances.

At this point we must mention this year’s US National Youth Latin Formation Team winners, the “BYU A team.” And we have to mention that in the years we have seen this team perform, this year was dancing perfection. Their inspiration was “Michael Jackson” and all men wore the sparkling glove, but it was not about the costumes it was about perfect timing in their every move. We must say that the judges never know till the very end what is the name of the team they are judging, the panel only sees a number and that is fantastic. BYU, the hosting university, has been in the business of formation dancing for many years and so it is great that no one knows who their team is until the results are announced.

The US National Amateur Cabaret as always was also a highlight of this final evening. It started with a semifinal round (on Wednesday) and we must say it got better as it progressed to the final. In the semifinal round many of the couples were nervous or were full of anticipation or anxiety because there were lots of “Oops” and actually, at one point one of the couples nearly fell on top of the judges not a good thing if you want to score high. But when it came to the final there was very few missteps. The winners, Benjamin Ralph & Kayci Treu, brought the house down and got perfect scores from all the judges. (By the way the man was the only one in this final wearing shoes.) Second went to Ryan Podzikowski & Marissa James, third were Logan Barnes & Natalie Savage, fifth was awarded to Jared Willis & Chanel Merrick, and sixth position went to Xander Hacking & Jami Hamblin.

The US National Junior II was also a feature this final evening of dance and here a Rule 10 had to be used to break the tie between Kristers Smits & Sophie Shvartsman and Jonas Terleckas & Ruby Castro. When it comes to counting the marks these two couples had the same total 8=8. However, when applying Rule 10 Kristers & Sophie had one more first than Jonas & Ruby, 1,2,3,1,1, and this made it an easy tie to break, here is Jonas & Ruby’s scores 2,1,1,2,2.

Third in this heat wen to Carter Williams & Anika Baker 3,3,2,3,3, fourth was awarded to Yan Leyzerocych & Kyla Dzhaniashvili who placed fourth in all dances, Kevin Filipczak & Danielle Malpa placed fifth overall 5,6,5,5,5, and Matthew Bazzant & Abigail Werner were sixth 6,5,6,6,6.

During the day we had a few other US National Championships worth a mention first the Youth Ballroom. Here Kinsley Lin & Michelle Yiu won all dances. Second in all dances went to Yusif Amsatr & Naomi Spektor, third was awarded to Erik Linder & Shelly Meshkausk 3,3,4,4,3. Igor Vanyuko & Liza Shlimovich placed fourth 5,4,3,3,4, Gregory Rybakov & Eva Tulchinsky were fifth 4,5,6,5,6, and Kristers Smit & Sophie Shvartsman were sixth 6,6,5,6,5.

In the Junior I Latin, Dave Firestein & Shelly Umansky won all dances. There was a tie for second between Maksim Berenshteyn & Kennedy Eaton and Alexander Sarkisian & Valeriya Bronnikova also broken by a Rule 10 that in the end awarded Alexander & Valeriya second place and Maksim & Kennedy third. Fourth place went to Joshua Ginzburg & Sophia Kouznetsov 4,4,3,4,4, fifth were Matthew Zolodkiewjcz & Elizabete Grigalinovica Leja 5,5,6,5,6, and sixth place was awarded to Eric Kuznetsov & Sarah Kliger 6,6,5,6,5.

The US National Preteen II was also a really good event and it ended up being an 8-couple final. As in the preteen I Daniel Novikov & Mishella Vishnevskiy won all dances, second was awarded to Ethan Hayutt & Anastasia Lepin with the scores of 3,2,2,2,2, and third went to Eric Kashkevych & Daria Andreyev 2,5,3,3,4. Fourth place was awarded to Anthony Tatoosi & Emily Dobson 5,3,4,4,3, fifth place went to Daniel Shtem & Daminika Vaskouskaya 4,4,6,6,6, sixth position was Brandon Parkansky & Jamie Gokham 6,7,5,5,5, Marcelo Fitzgerald & Kamri Peterson were seventh 8,6,8,7,7, and Nathan Zaytsev & Annika Mugin were eight.

In the Under 21 Latin Artem Zhychuk & Klaudia Petriti won the event by placing 1,2,2,1,3, Bumchin Tegshjargan & Michelle Klets took second 5,1,1,2,2, and there was a tie for third place and once again a Rule 10 broke it leaving Mike Monokandilos & Sophia Brodsky holding third and Nazariy Blagyy & Marketa Vikova fourth. Fifth was awarded to Michell Itkin & Natasha Shevchenko with the scores of 4,5,4,5,1, and sixth went to D’Angelo Castro & Amanda Carbajales and they took sixth in all dances.

The final US National Championship decided today was the Youth Ballroom.  Kinsly Lin & Michelle Yiu were the winners in all dances.  2nd in all were Yusif Amsatr & Naomi Spector.  Erik Linder & Shelly Meshkausk waere 3rd with 3,3,4,4,3.  4th Igor Vanyukov & Liza Shlimovich 5,4,3,3,4; 5th Gregory Ribakov & Eva Tulchinsky 4,5,6,5,6; 6th Kristers Smits & Sophie Shvartsman 6,6,5,6,6.

A sad note came with the announcement of the retirement of Eleanor Wiblin who has been secretary of the BYU Dance Department since 1997 and is a familiar face and voice (in her South African accent) of these championships.

We must say and we are sure that all officials would agree, that the gold medal continues to be hold by the Provo audience who packed all nights and were incredible supportive of all participants and rewarded them with standing ovations when ever they did something they thought to be amazing, including a terrific ovation to the winners of the US National Amateur Ballroom even when their hearts were with their home couple, that is what we have always call the best audience in the world.

Let the Games Begin!

The majority of the US National Amateur Championships are decided Friday and Saturday here at Provo.

Yesterday’s headline event was the US National Amateur Latin Championship (held here in Utah under license from American Ballroom Company). We were assured of some new and interesting finalists as several of last year’s top six were not in attendance due either to prior commitments, injury and in the case of last year’s runner-up, a move to the professional ranks. When this happens, so many couples are in with a chance that everyone is inspired and dances well.

So how did things turn out? There was no change at the top, Ferdinando Iannaccone & Yulia Musikina (CA) won once again. They took all 5 dances, 4 with the majority of 1st places, but as has been the pattern for them here in Provo, they had several dissenters on the panel with some placing them as low as 6th place. The rumba they won by 8 first places to 7. Ferdinando & Yulia are ranked in the top 3 in the world right now, so this is a puzzling phenomenon – perhaps there will be some answers in our detailed report coming soon in the subscribers’ section of Dance Beat.

2nd and 3rd was sure to be a battle between the only other 2016 finalists present and so it turned out. Taking 2nd with 2,3,3,2,2 were Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabriella Sabler (NY) and 3rd, Austin Joson & Nino Dzednaladze (NJ). These two couples have very different styles and the adjudicating panel was relatively evenly split as we had expected. Austin & Nino received 7 first place marks in their rumba, just one less than the winners.

4th and 5th was also a close race with the higher placement going to Kiki Nyemchek & Magdalena Fialek (NJ) 4,4,5,5,4 over Nikolai Tarasov & Sarah Nolan (NY) 5,5,4,4,5. These two couples both had strong performances in our view and were sure picks for the top 6 in a semifinal that was filled with great dancing. 6th place and delighted to be included in this national final were Roman Drobatov & Natella Devitskaya (CA), a powerhouse couple who certainly looked as if they belonged in this high quality final.

We think a case could be made for almost all the semifinalists for a place in the top 6 and most of them were picking up marks. The next couples into the final were Allen Rudman & Svitlana Lisna and Nazariy Blagyy & Marketa Vickova who both had 22 recall marks. (32 made the final).

This championship was in reality just one of the many highlights of the day. The U/21 US National Ballroom was great – “the best I have ever seen in this division,” as reported by one veteran observer. Winners today were Dan Malov & Anna Kaczmarski who won all dances with the majority of 1st places. Runners-up were Patryk Ploszaj & Diana Miroshnichenko who were in a tight race with Samuel Hacke & Katarina Hermanova. Patryk & Diana placed 2,3,2,2,3 and Samuel Katerina 3,2,3,3,2. Patryk and Anna were former partners who won this event last year. Kinsley Lin & Michelle Liu took 4th place in all dances. 5th in all were Tony Cooperman & Rickie Taylor and 6th Gregory Rybakov & Eva Tulchinsky.

Earlier in the afternoon we also saw an excellent Youth Latin division. Winners, in all dances were Bumchin Tegshjargal & Michelle Klets. We thought this was the strongest performance we have seen from this talented duo. 2nd in all dances fell to Aleksandr Mitronin & Olivia Agonovich who also were stronger today than we have seen. The remaining places in the final were heavily contested. Taking 3rd with 3,4T,5,3,3 were Kristers Smits & Sophie Shvartsman. 4th went to Erik Linder & Shelly Meshkausk 4,3,3,4,5; 5th Yusif Amsatr & Naomi Spektor 5, 4T,4,5,6; 6th Jacob Murillo & Alexis Warr 6,6,6,6,4.

It was a good day for Kristers & Sophie who later in the evening won the US National Junior II Ballroom. They placed 3,1,1,1,1 and had the majority of 1st places in tango and quickstep. 2nd were the popular Tyler Li & Anjelica Lowe 5,2,2,3,2. 3rd and 4th were a tiebreak result going in favor of Matviy Korsunskiy & Alisa Kashkeyvich 4,3,4,2,3 over Jacob Young & Polina Berisheva 1,4,3,4,4. 5th spot fell to Yan Leyzerovich & Kyla Dzhaniashvili 2,5,5,5,6; 6th Matthew Zolodkiewicz & Elizabeta Grigalinovich Leja 7,6,6,6,5; 7t Kiril Budagovskiy & Galit Zilbervarg 6,7,7,7,7.

We thought the US National PreTeen II Ballroom was also excellent. Daniel Novikov & Mishella Vishnevskiy were the winners 1,1,1,2,1. 2nd Eric Kashkevych & Daria Andreyev 2,2,2,1,2; 3rd Anthony Mattos & Eva Zinchenko 3,3,3,3,3; 4th Daniel Shtem & Daminka Vaskouskaya 4,4,5,5,4; 5th Nathan Zaytsev & Annika Mugin 5,5,6,4,7; 6th Daniel Evstigneev & Angelica Groysman 6,6,4,6,6; 7th Ruslan Kim & Shelly Losovsky 7,7,7,7,5.

Daniel & Mishella also won the Pre-Teen I Ballroom, in this one they won all 5 dances. 2nd Leo Kolmykov & Alexa Sosna 2,2,2,2,2; 3rd Yuyang Chang & Ashley Leung 4,3,4,3,3; 4th Arye Raskin & Emma Tesler 3,4,3,4,4; 5th Jacob Karasik & Julia Mattos 5,5,5,6,6; 6th David Rabinovich & Jaslyn Kwan 6,6,6,5,5; 7th Timothy Tkachenko & Adyson Cherkas 7,7,7,7,7; 8th Gabriel Christensen & Jordan Christensen 8,8,8,8,8.

It’s not all about the kids here in Provo, we also saw an excellent US National Senior I Ballroom Championship. In a closely fought contest the winners were Thomas Yim & Kelly Cheng 1,2,1,2,1 over Xingmin & Katerina Lu 2,1,2,1,2. 3rd Dan Manea & Mia Hu 3,3,3,3,3; 4th Yuriy Sannikov & Regina Paregis 4,4,4,4,4; 5th Gokturk Yurtyapan & Asli 5,5,7,6,5; 6th Sidney Peng & Jamie Lu 6,7,5,5,7; 7th Benjamin Lin & Jennifer Wong 7,6,6,7,6.

It was a Smooth day at BYU!

Last night we witnessed the US National Amateur Championship in one of the largest growing styles today, the “Smooth” category. It was an intense competition with so many accomplished couples competing for this title but in the end it was down to 7 couples.

The winners overall by placing 1st in all dances were Brandon Keck & Kaylee Christensen who looked very confident so much so that when the foxtrot began she was still pining his number down (It had come loose), but were able to pick up their routines without missing a step or looking disturbed. 

Second overall in this US Smooth final but not placing second in every dance were Brandon Perry & Ashley Nixon with the scores of 3,2,2,5.  It seems the judges were not that impressed with their Viennese Waltz. Third overall went to Joseph Nuget & Kyla Zenger 2,4,3,3, fourth was awarded to Collin Williams & Kaila Bradley 4,3,4,2, fifth went to Steve Torres & Nicole Barron 7,5,5.  They are the only couple that were not from Utah in this final, Steve & Nicole are from New York. Sixth overall were Andrew Stolle & Alexi Ruffell 6,7,7,7, and seventh went to Sawyer Stolle & Janica Liu 6,7,7,7.  This finale had all the excitement expected at a BYU competition, the crowd roared and as MC, Mark Brock, asked who the were supporting their answers came from left and right, many of them with billboards at hand with their favorite couple’s name or number. 

Tara Christensen alumni from BYU and their dance program, gives a scholarship to the top Smooth couple from BYU (they must be current students at BYU). This scholarship went to Joseph Nuget & Kyla Zenger. 

The second most important US National Title giving here this evening was the US National Junior II Smooth Championships. This event also had a good amount of couples entered and we must point out all also very accomplished for such young age. Nathain Chen & Liza Shlimovich from California won all dances and took the title home, second in this heat went to a couple from Idaho, Marshall Christensen & Angel Whiting placing second in all dances and third was awarded to Porter Bakhead & Ashley Larsen from Utah with the scores of 3,3,6,4. Fourth overall was awarded to Hayden Schuman & Emily Wanlass also from Utah and they received scores of 6,5,3,3, fifth was decided by a rule 11 between Tyler Slater & Savannah Huston and Matthew Valentine & Ashley Wensel but in the end fifth was awarded to Tyler & Savannah and sixth to Matthew & Ashley. 

Tonight the US National Amateur Latin will be decided and as always it is also expected to be highly contested. Many couples travel from across the USA and many live in low altitude areas so the challenges to be in high altitude as in Provo could present a problem for some. However, it has been our experience that many of the couples are used to sudden changes and so we are sure they are all prepared for these altitude issues. As usual the support among the audience will be worth every breath, the audience here in Provo, Utah, has always proven itself among one of the best in the “world.”     

  • Report by:: DanceBeat
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