USDC 2019

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Conclusion of USDC 2019
US 9/10 Dance, Pro-Am Ballroom and Open US Pro Championships

Saturday was the last day of USDC2019 and we saw a wide selection of style in a newly formatted schedule.

For 2019 the US Pro National Titles in 9 and 10 dance were moved to Saturday afternoon with both styles danced in the same session.

In the US National 9-Dance we saw a changing of the guard with last year’s champions, Oleksiy Pigotskyy & Natalie Cranndal taking the runner-up spot this year. The new champions are Sergey Samchynskyy & Yuliya Besarab. Sergey & Yuliya are new to the 9-Dance field, but were US National 10-Dance Champions (International Style) in previous years and were finalists in the Pro Smooth this year. They won 6 of the 9 dances and placed 2nd in swing, bolero and mambo. Oleksiy & Natalie placed 2nd in 6 dances and won the swing, bolero and mambo. As you can see these 2 couples dominated the competition.

3rd, 4th and 5th places were fairly close with the final points for all 3 places ranging from 31-40. 3rd went to Ivan Sovetov & Vaaleria Mkrtchian 4,4,4,3,4,3,3,3,3 (Smooth dances listed first); 4th Jang & Adele Don 3,3,3,4,5,5,4,5,5; 5th Ilya Abdulin & AnastasiaJerjomina 5,5,5,5,3,4,5,4,4; 6th Antonio Nunez & Ksenia Kashkina 7,6,6,7T,6,6,6,7,6.

In the 10-Dance the defending champions, Jonas Kazlauskas & Kathleen Ilo. They won 8 dances and placed 2nd in Viennese Waltz and foxtrot. Also showing their 10-dance skills were the runners-up, Simeon & Kora Stoynov 2,3,3,3,3,2,3,2,2,3 (Ballroom listed first). As you can see, although they didn’t win any dance they were consistent over the 2 styles and that is what counts. 3rd were Aleksei Alekseev & Ekaterina Dereleva 4,4,4,4,4,3,2,3,3,2. Obviously Latin is their stronger style, but we noted definite improvements in the Ballroom. 4th Aleksie & Elena Minaev 3,2,1,1,2,6,5,7,5T,7. Very strong in Ballroom,but the Latin is the wek link. 5th Dmitry Solomakha & Gabriela Sevillano 5,5,5,5,5,4,4,4,4,4; 6th Brad Montagnese & Tania Trigili 6,6,7,6,6,7,6,5,7,5.

Also taking place on Saturday afternoon were the Open US Pro-Am Ballroom Championships. The Open A was quite a strong division, especially at the very top. The winner in all dances was Haley Hernandez w/ Oreste Alito. The closet scored dance was foxtrot where she won by 6 first places to 5. The runner-up, again in all dances, was Rachel Chen w/ Christian Radvan and as we said, she came closest in foxtrot. Both of these ladies were of excellent quality. 3rd place and once again in all dances went to Irina Agaletskaya w/ Alexandre Zhiratkov from Russia. 4th Jen Mo w/ Stefano DiBrino 5,4,4,4,4; 5th Courtney Delmonico w/ Erik Pali 4,6,5,5,6; 6th Sara Trudeau w/ Sergey Izyumov 6,5,6,6,5; 7th Meagan Kelleher w/ Ruslan Meshkov 7,7,7,7,7.

Defending Champion, Sabrina Zagolina w/ Yuriy Kravets won the Open B, placing 2,1,1,1,1. Sabrina’s scores got better as the championship progressed. In the waltz she had the most 1st places but not the majority and lost the dance. In tango she did not have the most firsts, but did win the dance; then in the other 3 dances she had the majority of 1st places. The runner-up was Janet Simsic w/ Andrea Stefano 1,2,2,2,2. As we said, the first 2 dances were close. 3rd spot went to Patricia Schneider w/ Oreste Alito 3,3,4,3,3. Combining this 3rd with her great results in Smooth, this was a good week for Patricia. 4th Irene Lee w/ Egor Bezukladnikov 4,4,3,4,4; 5th Denise Evans w/ Martin Reinbold 5,5,5,5,5; 6th Bo Chang w/ Andrie Mykhailov 6,6,6,6,6; 7th Darious Moore w/ Liene Reinbold 7,7,7,7,7.

It was no surprise to see Jill Brandford w/ Andrea Stefano in the pole position for the Open C as Jill has led this division all year. In fact, she lost very few 1st place marks. 2nd in all dances went to the vivacious Annie Chan w/ Christian Radvan. 3rd and 4th placements were tightly scored. 3rd was Antonia Frost w/ Riccardo Conte 4,3,3,4,3 and 4th Hy Kyong Park w/ Linas Korieva 3,4,4,3,4. 5th Elena Lee w/ Emanuele Pappacena 6,5,5,5,5; 6th Donna Wecker w/ Gianni Caliandro 5,6,6,6,6.

Another returning champion, Kyle Brown w/ Sergey Bondarenko, won the Open S1 and like Jill in the C, Kyle won all dances losing very few 1st place marks. The runner-up was another of our favorites, Leilani Viney w/ Kamil Urbaniak and she was 2nd in all dances although we were surprised to see some marks from the judges in the lower half of the final. 3rd was Linda Gill w/ Roman Malkhasyan 3,3,4,3,3; 4th Annie Roy w/ Egor Bezukladnikov 4,4,3,4,4; 5th Linda Ciabatoni w/ Gianni Caliandro 5,5,5,5,5; 6th Cindy Matthews w/ Leonid Burlo 6,6,6,6,6.

There was another strong 1st place in the Open S2. Linda Huntress w/ Andrea Stefano won all dances and she also lost very few 1st places. 2nd place in all dances went to Maria Fila w/ Kamil Urbaniak; 3rd Priscilla Dahlen w/ Emanuele Pappacena 3,3,3,3,3; 4th Nordis Glascoe w/ Anatoli Gorolevici 4,5,4,4,4; 5th Joan Wright w/ Sergey Bezrodnov 6,4,5,5,5; 6th Ram Viswanathan w/ Sarika Hudson 5,6,6,6,6; 7th Pen Cosby w/ Olga Bogdanov 7,7,7,7,7.

The first event of Saturday night was the John Monte Scholarship Pro-Am Grand Championship in the Gold division. What was interesting here, was that a husband and wife placed in the top 3. Lynn Magnesen w/ Tykhon Zhyvkov was the winner, and her husband, Scott Magnesen w/ Yana Zhyvkov (Tykhon’s wife) was 3rd. Splitting the husbands and wives was Haley Hernandez w/ Oreste Alito in 2nd place.

The evening session was mostly about the Open US Professional divisions – in professional Ballroom and Latin and the World Cabaret. The results mostly followed those earlier from the National events, although not all couples danced. The results were as follows:

WDC Open US Latin Championship. 1. Artur Tarnavskyy & Anastasia Danilova 1,1,1,1,2; 2. Francesco & Sabrina Bertini 3,2,2,2,1; 3. Manuel Favilla & Natalia Maidiuk 2,3,3,3,3; 4. Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabriela Sabler 4,4,4,4,4; 5. Roman Italyankin & Aleksandra Bokova 5,5,5,5,5; 6. Ivan Kudashev & Ksenia Sokolova 6,6,6,6,6; 7. Nikita Malakov & Nadezda Vlasova 7,7,7,7,7.

WDC Open US Ballroom Championship. 1. Victor Fung & Anastasia Muravyeva 1,1,1,1,1; 2. Iaroslav & Lilia Bieliei 2,2,2,2,2; 3. Alexander & Veronica Voskalchuk 3,4,3,3,4; 4. Rudy Homm & Katya Kanevskaya 4,3,4,4,3; 5. Vladisklav Shakhov & Ekaterina Popova 5,5,5,5,5; 6. Stefano & Bianka DiBrino 6,6,6,6,6.

World Cabaret Championship. 1. Shane & Shannon Jensen; 2. Travis & Jaimee Tuft; 3. Craig Smith & Andrea Harvey; 4. Zachary Pohl & Ariel Freilich; 5. Jamey Black & Samantha Elliott; 6. Douglas Dombrowik & Angel Fox; 7. Gerard Gore & Ellie Grohoske.

Two very prestigious awards were presented this same night. The John Monte Award for 2019 went to Dennis & Jackie Rogers and the Hall of Fame Award to Marianne Nicole. All recipents received a lengthy and well-deserved ovation from the audience.

11 and Counting!
Riccardo & Yulia Light up the scene!

Riccardo Cocchi & Yulia Zagoruychenko notched up their 11th US National Latin title last night and received every first place from every judge in every dance.

This was certainly the best night of these championships so far and as they always do, Riccardo & Yulia energized the room with the audience on their feet for most of the final. But it was a great final all the way down to 6th place.

The Runners-up in all dances were Troels Bager & Ina Jeliazkova. They had large majorities of 2nd places but we were surprised to see several lower marks, including some 6th places in their column. The judge who favored them the least was Ron Montez who placed them 6th in all dances. Troels & Ina are one of our favorite couples at the moment, but we can see their style is perhaps a little different to most others in this competition.

3rd and 4th places showed us the closest race tonight and in fact resulted in a change to the previous form for 2019. 3rd went to Mykhailo Bilopukhov & Anastasiia Schypilina 4,3,3,3,3 over Andrey Kazlouski & Asta Sigvaldadottir 3,4,4,4,4. Andrey & Asta took the cha cha by 11 “3rd or better” to Mykhailo & Anastasiia’s 9, but Myhailo & Anastasiia had the majority in this column in the other 4 dances.

5th in all dances went to Artur Tarnavsky & Anastasia Danilova and 6th in all went to Francesco & Sabrina Bertini who were delighted to be in their first US National final. As we said, this was a quality final and these last 2 couples were every bit as good as the ones that finished above them and indeed, both received scores in the higher half of the final from several judges. We especially love the energy and power of Sabrina – certainly one of our favorite Latin ladies at the moment.

This great Latin division was only part of this exciting night – there was also the National Championship in Smooth. The final 6 called were the expected numbers based on the form this year so far, but as always, the dancing in this category was anything but predictable.

Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija won their 4th US Title tonight, placing 1,2,1,1. They won the 2 waltzes convincingly with the majority of 1st places in both. However, both the tango and foxtrot were close. The runners-up were Max Sinitsa & Tatiana Seliverstova and they scored 2,1,2,2. Interestingly in the tango and foxtort both couples received the same number of 1st places – 8 to Nick & Viktorija and 7 to Max & Tatiana – not a majority. In Tango, in the “2nd or better” column Max & Tatiana had 14 to Nick & Viktorija’s 12, winning them the dance. In foxtrot Nick & Viktorija had 15 to Max & Tatiana’s 12 giving the dance and the championship to them. It was another in a long line of duels between these 2 great Smooth couples, but one that ultimately gave another victory to the defending champions.

Third in all dances went to Roman Malkhasyan & Galina Detkina and for us this was the stand out performance of the night. This couple have grace and power. They move more than any other couple in the final and Galina’s “boneless” styling is incredible to watch. They received some 1st places in all dances. 4th place and again this was in all dances, went to Travis & Jaimee Tuft who likewise are a pleasure to watch and were probably a little disappointed not to take the 3rd position. Yegor Novikov & Alexandra Smirnova took 5th in all dances. This is another couple with huge movement and lines. They must be wondering what they have to do to break out of 5th position. We wonder too! In many ways they are equal to all the couples that currently place above them, but in a final this strong it is often personal preferences of the individual judges that make the difference. Closing this amazing final was Sergey Samchynskyy & Yuliya Besarab and they were 6th in all dances. Again, it is proving difficult for this unique couple to break out of their current ranking. We believe their strength is their “uniqueness” they don’t really look or dance like any of the other couples in this final, perhaps they should exploit this as an asset.

The other national championships decided tonight was the Professional Mambo and this went to the defending champions, Kevin Ubilius & Milargros Lareto. They received 13 of the available 15 first places and we certainly expected them to retain their title. 2nd place was a bit of a surprise, not the result but who it was – Artur Tarnavskyy & Anastasia Danilova who later placed in the Pro Latin final, switched gears and showed us their American side. They received the 2 fist places not awarded to Kevin & Milagros.

3rd spot went to Ivan Soveto & Valeria Mkrtchian. Fourth were Antonio Nunez & Ksenia Kashkina. They had some technical problems with the music for their solo and this probably affected their result. We still thought they could have been placed higher. 5th were Senzho Makhaye & Agnieszka Strojek and 6th were Vuk Stefanovic & Larissa Mikryuova. 9 couples entered in total, a higher entry in this category than for some years.

In a repeat of the National RS Ballroom, Oreste Alitto & Valeriia Belozerova won the Open to the World Pro RS Ballroom. This young couple offer great things for the near future in the Professional Ballroom ranks!

Stay tuned for reports from Saturday, the last day of the 2019 United States Dance Championships.

I’m Every Woman!

“I’m every woman, it’s all in me” and last night like the song at the United States Dance Championships it was certainly all about the women in the US National Professional Ballroom Championship.

Six lovely ladies went out on the floor and they not only played perfectly to the tune of their partners but they were nearly all like a “Rolls Royce” when it came to displaying the beauty of the style.

Beginning with Anastasia Muravyeva & Victor Fung they managed on this night to let us know why they are now first in the world of Ballroom dancing, Anastasia so pliable and flexible to every one of Victor’s moves, even in the Quickstep where one step missed and they would be in a heap. Anastasia & Victor’s performance was awarded accordingly with perfect scores in every dance from the judges. Second in this parade of lovely woman and their partners was Lilia Bieliei & Iaroslav Bieliei, but with not as strong of a claim to their position as Victor & Anastasia’s. Lilia & Iaroslav only took a majority of seconds in the quickstep but in the other four dances they had to rely in thirds or better for their second place position.

From second place down things and marks got a little dispersed. The beautiful Veronika Voskalchuk was a perfect foil to her partner Alexander Voskalchuk, who tried hard to reach higher ground with some wonderful artistry and moves that the judges bought, but not in all dances they took third in the waltzes and fourth in the other three dances. Katia Kanevskaya one of the best ladies for us in this style with partner Rudy Homm got third in three dances but unfortunately for them they were awarded fifth in both their waltzes. In a peanut gallery “note” some attendees around us commented as to the fact that they did not care much for her dress and after a second and third look, we have to agree with them to some extend, the flower choker around her neck seemed to be in the way, this was perhaps not the cause for those lower fifth place marks but it never helps to have some distraction in the costuming. Katia & Rudy were placed fourth overall in this US Championship.

Fifth place went to another lovely lady Ekaterina Popova who dances with Vladislav Shakhov 4,5,4,5,5. Ekaterina is another lady that one would want in your arms and like all the other ladies in this final you just have to look where your thinking of going and they are there to take you away whereever you want to go. Sixth in all dances went to the lovely Karolina Holody with her partner Oskar Wojciechowski and they placed sixth in every dance. There you have it when it comes to lovely Ballroom ladies, we had a midsummer night’s dream on the floor, congratulations to all the lady finalist and to their lucky partners!

The US National Professional Rhythm Championship also took place last night and a new US Champion was crowned, Andre & Natalie Paramonov were first in every dance with also a majority of firsts in four dances and perfect scores in the bolero. Dennis Rogers was perhaps their worst judge he awarded them 4, 4,5,1,4. Danas Jaksevicius & Yuki Haraguchi took second in all dances and with a majority of seconds or better in every dance. Danas & Yuki’s worst scores came from Irina Sarukhanyan who awarded them these marks 4,5,5,5,6.

Third in all dances went to Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin and from the look of things and the reaction of the audience around us we could tell it was a great night for them and we can see them firmly challenging for higher placement real soon. Fourth overall but not in all dances went to Ilya Velednitsky & Mariya Ilchenko, they took fourth in C,S,M, but fifth in the other two dances. Fifth was awarded to Shane & Shannon Jensen 5,4,5,4,6, and went to Aaron & Iryna DeSoto 6,6,6,6,5.

The US Open To The World Rising Star Latin Championship also took place and it was basically a repeat from the night before, mostly the same couples but one that came from Japan took to the floor, we were really surprised that with a few Canadian judges and coaches at hand we could not get anyone to participate from our neighboring country? The Winners of the US Open Rising Star Latin Championship were the same as in the US Nationals, Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabrielle Sabler and they won all dances. Second was also the same taking second in all dances Lukas & Simona Alisauskas but third place was not the same the third place holders in the National event Kapitannikov/Nesterova who took third overall did not compete in this Open event and so the third place couple this time was Andrey Kitsun & Anna Oblakova who did not dance in the National Rising Star event.

Unfortunately, there must have been some schedule rearrangement, and so our reporters failed to see the Open to the World Pro-Am Latin Championships that were scheduled for 6:07 PM but were finished by that time instead of starting. Luckily our friends from SuperShag were there and so provided us with photos!

Open Pro-Am Latin Championships

1. Angelina Evseeva w/ Aleksandr Skarlato 1,1,1,1,1; 2. Vera Xu w/ Vitaliy Proskurin 3,3,2,2,2; 3. Masha Gasyuchenko w/ Maksim Kholostoy 5,2,3,3,4; 4. Caroline Nunberg w/ Tomas Vasicek 2,5,4,4,5; 5. Nicole Pierzchalski w/ Vlad Astafiev 4,4,5,5,3; 6. Celene Parragh w/ Joseph Parragh 6,6,6,6,6.

1. Christina Lyon w/ Evgenny Nazarov 1,1,1,1,1; 2. Vanessa DiCicco w/ Vlad Astafiev 2,2,2,2,2; 3. Roslyn Lo w/ Artur Shvetsov 3,3,3,4,4; 4. Monica Serpa w/ Artem Shmigeljuk 4,4,4,3,3; 5. Natalia Tomal w/ Max Kochuza 5,5,5,5,5.

1. Lynn Magnesen w/ Tykhon Zhyvkov 1,1,1,1,1; 2. Sophia D’Angelo w/ Nikolai Pilipenchuk 3,2,3,2,2; 3. Rhonda Lynch w/ Stephen McCann 2,3,2,3,3; 4. Anna Chiu w/ Troles Bager 4,5,4,4,4; 5. Helen Hseih w/ Artur Shvetsov 5,4,5,5,5.

1. Rebecca Wong w/ Richard Lifshitz (Can) 1,1,1,1,1; 2. Joan Goddard w/ Andrew Escolme 3,3,2,2,2; 3. Sara Switzer w/ Hayk Balasanyan 2,2,3,3,3; 4. Luna Viva w/ Kristjan Burazer 4,5,4,5,4; 5. Fifi Wang w/ Delyan Terziev 5,4,5,4,5; 6. Alice Lekht w/ Igor Derimov 6,6,6,7,7; 7. Mary Thomas w/ Aleksey Alekseev 7,7,7,6,6; 8. Christopher McGuire w/ Joanna Meller 8,8,8,8,8.

1. Susan Miller w/ Ricky Bentzen 1,1,2,1,2; Quin Bommelje w/ Hayk Balasanyan 2,2,1,2,1; 3. Toni Mullins w/ Tomasz Wlodarski 3,3,3,3,3; 4. Ram Viswanathan w/ Sarika Hudson 4,4,4,4,4.

We also saw the US National Pro-Am Cabaret Championship and 7 very talented competitors contested the event.  The winner was Natasha Namen w/ Criag Smith and Natasha received 8 of the 11 available 1st places from the judges.  The runner-up was Jake Mazhar w/ Yuliya Besarab who took 2 firsts and 3rd was Judith Spivey w/ Mykhailo Azerov who took the remaining 1st place.  4th Robert Haworth w/ Rachel Sayotovich; 5th Karin Bigman w/ Craig Smith; 6th Isabella Spagnola w/ Colton Gannon; 7th Rebekah Tate w/ Jeremy Norris.

Life is a Cabaret!

The US National Professional Cabaret Championship took place last night along with the US National Latin ShowDance Championship and they did not disappoint. Both categories were interesting and captured everyone’s attention.

The US National Professional Cabaret went to Shane & Shannon Jensen who performed the already known “Footprints in the Sand” number and from our perspective it was done faultlessly and from the judges’ perspective, nearly perfectly with only 3 judges dissenting from giving them a first. We too agree that Shane & Shannon’s performance was excellent, but we cannot discount the couple who stole the three marks from them, Travis & Jaimee Tuft who performed their also well known number, “Nature Boy.” Looking at the marks Shane & Shannon had almost perfect scores but, this was perhaps a decision we would not want to take Travis & Jaimee’s “Nature Boy” routine was just as perfectly executed as Shane & Shannon’s and so for us, since we do not have to make a decision, we enj8oyed both equally!

Third was well know Cabaret artist Craig Smith dancing with who we consider to be one of the best ladies in this field today, Andrea Harvey, they performed an “adagio” that was also faultless and we are glad to see that this time was very smooth, in the past their performance has been full of bumps and grinds or should we say “shaky.” On this night it was excellent and we are glad it was placed in the top three on the field and we must point out that they were third with a majority of thirds from the judges. Fourth in this excellent Cabaret went to Zachary Pohl & Ariel Freilich, their routine was well executed but did not have the dynamics of the last three mentioned, when looking at the marks they placed fourth but there were 7 out of the 15 judges who awarded them fifth.

Fifth position in this National Cabaret went to Jamie Black & Samantha Elliott, who performed a routine with excellent lifts, and in our opinion had they had better aesthetics we think they could have pushed forward at least one more placement up. Sixth went to Douglas Dombrowik & Angel Fox and they took nearly every sixth available, we actually liked this routine, but it lacks the skill that any of the others had, it seemed to us like hard work and at times a little unsafe. To be fair they never really had a major miss but for some reason we were expecting one, also their aesthetics were not good enough to be placed higher.

The US National Latin ShowDance Championships was run immediately following the Cabaret Championships and it was interesting and a mixed bag of all things. The winners, Ivan Kudashev & Ksusha Sokolova, for us were the most complete routine in this final, for those that know a little about showdance you know that you must still showcase some of the five Latin dances somewhere along the routine and this we think they managed to do to almost perfection, and sure enough they almost got perfect scores from the 15 judges with only 3 of them dissenting from giving them first.

Second in this Latin Showdance went to another very dynamic routine from Trevor & Emily Guthrie who gave us their rendition of a “Michael Jackson” hat and sequined glove. This is an excellent routine that made us all tap the foot but certainly did not made the judges move their pens with higher marks. They only managed to get second with a majority of thirds or better so almost a hairline. The routine that we thought that could possibly have taken their place came from Aleksei Alekseev & Ekaterina Derevleva, a clever funny number where he was a bee and she was a rose. Unfortunately, the theme was possibly not developed enough to move the judges to a higher placement. Fourth were Slava Visnakov & Atile Zukaine who did a routine of what seemed to be pieces from their regular 5 dance routines. We think that perhaps more attention should be paid on putting together these routines. Fist they have to have some recognizable dances such as cha cha, samba, rumba, paso or jive, and when doing a theme it has to have a beginning, middle and an end just like a story.

There were two US National Professional Rising Star events, the Latin and the Smooth. In the Latin the winners with a majority of firsts were Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabriella Sabler and all we can say is that we seconded the judges’ decision, for us they were the best of the night. Second was awarded to Lukas & Simona Alisauskas who took second in every dance, and who we too thought should be in this position easily but when looking at their marks we noticed they got a number of fifth and even sixth place marks in their column. As we just mentioned Lukas & Simona got a number of fifth and sixth place marks but their worst marks came from Victoria Regan who awarded them 6th in every dance but the jive where she gave them a 5th place. We for sure thought they could have been second overall but we can also sympathize with Victoria, because in some instances they do some very peculiar moves, like holding her on top of her head for a long period of time, and that prolonged wet kiss on her forehead during a dance that we did not need to see.

Third place went to Maksim Kapitannikov & Elena Nesterova 3,3,3,3,4, fourth were Przemyslaw Modrzynski & Magdalena Zybura 4,5,4,5,6. There was a (Rule 10) to break a tie for fifth place between Aleksi Shipilov & Julia Mitina and Dmitry Barov & Joanna Meller, in the end Dmitry & Joanna took fifth 5,4,5,6,5, and Aleksi & Julia took sixth 6,6,6,4,3, as you can see they had 3 sixth place marks so that made them lower and that is how (Rule 10) works when the couples had the same amount of points accumulated.

In the US National Professional Rising Star Smooth Igor Afonkin & Meghan Anderson won every dance with a majority of firsts, and in a very interesting note Meghan’s parents Scott & Amy Anderson pointed out to us that 24 years ago they won this same event at the US Championships. Igor & Meghan were quite deserving of this Rising Star Title and it is great to see excellent dancing be rewarded here at the US Championships.

Tykhov & Yana Zhyvkov took second in every dance, we were not surprised by this placement, but we were quite surprised to see that they also acquired a number of other lower marks in their column. Their worst marks came from Irina Sarukhanyan who awarded them fifth in every dance. Third in this heat and in every dance went to Stephen & Elisa McCann, fourth was awarded to Maksim Leonov & Anastasiia Zhuchenko 5,4,5,4, fifth in this heat went to Ivan Sovetov & Valeria Mkrtchian 4,5,4,6, and sixth were Dmitriy Zavialov & Katt Baumgartner 6,6,6,5.

For the pro-ams, the Open to the World Championships were decided in the Smooth divisions. The Open A was a really great heat and the eventual winner was a gentleman, Vladislav Pecens & Lydia Petrogova 1,1,1,1. He had the majority of firsts in all dances except the foxtrot. He is the 3rd man to win an Open US Championship this year (there were 2 others in the Rhythm). This is turning into a year of gentlemen! The runner-up was Lula Calloway w/ Peter Perzhu 2,2,2,2. This was also a great performance, and we definitely had her pegged for 1st or 2nd spot. Natasha Namen w/ Mikhail Vlasov took 3rd in all dances. Ani Mkrtchyan w/ Max Sinitsa was 4th 5,4,4,4; 5th Jaquelyn Borcea w/ Kyle Spinder 4,5,5,6; 6th Olivia Zettergren w/ Mazen Hamza 6,6,6,5.

Celia Chou w/ Erminio Stefano successfully defended her title in the Open B, winning all dances with a majority of 1st places. VW was her least well-scored with 6 firsts out of 11 possible. Patricia Schneider w/ Slawek Sochaki placed 2nd in all dances. There was a tie for 3rd place broken by a Rule 11. 3rd went to Irene Lee w/ Egor Bezukladnikov 3,3,4,4; 4th Nichelle Kennedy w/ Aleks Nashev 4,4,3,3. 5th was Amy Brewer w/ Gunnar Sverrisson 5,5,5,5; 6th Amy Hiemstra w/ Joao Tiago Fernandes 6,6,6,6.

Patricia Schneider w/ Slawek Sochaki had a very successful day as she won the Open C as well as placing 2nd in the Open B - 1,2,1,1. This one was a close race, however, as Patricia had the majority of 1st places only in waltz. The judges spread their 1st places among several ladies. The Runner-up was Sophia D’Angelo w/ Max Sinitsa 2,1,2,2. This was certainly a close call for us and for the judges. 3rd in all dances went to Lynn Magnesen w/ Tykhon Zhyvkov. 4th Sue Eldred w/ Oleksiy Pigotskyy 5,4,4,4; 5th Robin Kencel w/ Mayo Alanen 4,5,5,6; 6th Meredith Kaplan w/ Sergey Vasilyev 6,6,6,5; 7th Charelen Proctor w/ Mikhail Zharinov 7,7,7,7.

Linda Gill w/ Roman Malkasyan crowned a very successful year of competition by winning all dances in the Open S1. Linda had the majority of 1st places in all dances except waltz. The runner-up and also taking a significant amount of first places from the judges, was Sue Eldred w/ Oleksiy Pigorstkyy 2,2,2,2. Robin Kencel w/ Mayo Alanen also moved up 2 places from the Open C and placed 3rd 3,4,3,3. Diana Best w/ Alyosha Anatoliy was 4th 5,3,4,4; 5th Alla Neyshtadt w/ Dave Hannigan 4,5,5,5; 6th Audria Hill-Mitchell w/ Peter Perzhu 6,6,6,6.

In the Open S2, Pat Luthy w/ Vladimir Popov was the winner 1,1,2,1 in a fairly close race with Lesley Brookman w/ Sergey Vasilyev 2,2,1,2. 3rd in all dances went to Nan Guslander w/ Joao Tiago Fernandes. 4th and 5th required a Rule 11 tiebreak; 4th Ram Viswanathan w/ Sarika Hudson 5,4,4,5; 5th Nati Ross w/ Eddie Rivera 4,5,5,4; 6th Sue Rossman w/ Erwin Rybczynski 6,6,6,6; 7th Donna Rivera w/ Robert Nardozza 7,7,7,7.

US Rising Star Rhythm & Ballroom are Selected!

Last night at the US Dance Championships in Orlando Florida, the first of the Professional Rising Stars, our up and coming future Champions, were selected.

And although, not the biggest heats of the week the US National Professional Theatrical Championship as well as the US National Ballroom Showdance Championship representatives to the world were also chosen.

It was a thrilling night for Andrew Escolme & Amy Baker from Boston, MA, who after a few years in the United States captured the title of United States Rising Star Rhythm Champions. Andrew & Amy, originally from England, arrived to the USA a year or so back and immediately embarked on understanding and pursuing the art of American Style Rhythm. After a number of competitions under their belt, last night they showed us their own interpretation of this “free” style of dance where “if you can dream it and feel it, you can do it.” For many of us including some of the most popular, recognized US Icons around the world to date, “American Style Rhythm” was and is a style where there were few rules and restrictions, you could bend your knee if the speed of the music requires it or not and you can even take a heal lead if done with grace and feel in the “mambo,” in other words everything goes.

In last night’s performance Andrew & Amy showcased their own incarnation of this Rhythm style with great freedom of expression and freedom of movement yet maintaining beautiful form. One of the most prestigious names in the art of freedom would have been very proud “Mr. Bobby Medeiros” and we know it and we too were impressed and hope to see wonderful things from these newly crowned US Rising Stars Champions.

Andrew & Amy won every dance with a full majority of firsts, and second overall was awarded to Aleksei Shipilov & Julia Mitina who also gave a terrific performance, but were denied second in every dance by the judges 2,3,3,2,2, this perhaps due to their lack of freedom and the uncanny resemblance their Rhythm has to the very strict International Style of Latin dance. Third was awarded to Kristian Sese & Mae Lozada 3,2,2,3,3, who also gave a great performance, unfortunately on this night their performance for us lacked impact and command, and it’s a little shy to push ahead to a higher placement. Fourth was awarded to Richard Kaszas & Foteini Pangea 4,5,5,6,4, fifth went to Aaron Pierce & Ksenia Stavrica 5,6,4,5,5, and in sixth position were Alexander Zarek & Oleksandra Kharchenko 6,4,6,4,6, with this conclusion this very populated heat that started with a full quarter final round came to an end.

The US Professional Rising Star Ballroom also took place this same night and we were thrilled to see the judges let their hair down and award Oreste Alitto & Valeriia Belozerova first in all dances. Oreste & Valeriia also took a majority of firsts in all dances with few dissents, their worst marks came from Lori Woods-Gay who awarded them 4,6,5,5,1 and Denise Jourdain who awarded them 3,3,3,2,2. We can honestly say, that had they not won, this might have been an misjustice to the style and this musical and charismatic couple, who in their own way are defying the old style as it was once done and making it more up to date with interesting maneuvres and clever moves. In the past we have heard some of the old guard say that their Ballroom is perhaps a little too unrestricted with too many tricks up their sleeve, as if perhaps forgetting some of the unwritten rules that ballroom dancing has. Take the open Viennese Waltz, although this dance is supposed to be open anything goes, you better not vary from the basic curriculum steps because there is a price to pay if you do. And yes, they are right, this is not a conventional couple in any way, this couple in some ways defies the rules and are very unconventional and perhaps this is what this style needs at this time to attract more people to engage in this very difficult but very beautiful if done right style of Ballroom.

Second and third positions went to brother and sister teams, Luca Balestra & Krizia Balestra took second in every dance, and Slava Kostianets & Valeriia Kostianets were third 3,4,3,3,5 and they both gave excellent performances, fourth were Riccardo Conte & Eleonora Filippi 4,3,5,4,3, fifth was awarded to Artem Belheha & Anna Shevchenko 5,5,4,5,4, Sergey Izyumov & Oksana Zaver were sixth in all dances, and seventh in all dances went to Aleksandr Skripsov & Aida Skriptsova.

The US Professional Ballroom ShowDance was a three couple affair, in the end Nazar Batih & Mariko Cantley won with a majority of firsts and they did a number that was very balanced between dancing and lifts (tricks), it was perfectly executed and from the look of things the judges bought it. With the exception of Maria Hansen and Valentina Kostenko who awarded them third the rest of the low marks were seconds. Second overall went to Sergey Izyumov & Oksana Zaver who did a very dramatic piece perhaps in reference to the holocaust, a little depressing but well thought out and executed. and finally in third place were Aleksei Minaev & Elena Minaev who did a reinterpretation of “Ave Maria” this perhaps is not a great choice unless you have a full magic touch. We have seen some people do this song and make people stand up and cry, this was not it, from our experience when doing this song you should really have great care in choreography and artistry.

It was also the night for the always exciting US National Theatre Arts Championship – when all couples perform their adagio routines on the floor at the same time to pre-selected music. Returning champions, Shane & Shannon Jensen, had no trouble regaining their title, taking 14 of the 15 first places. The remaining 3 places were extremely tight, and were decided on “3rd or better” scores. Zachary Pohl & Ariel Freilich took the runners-up post and although they only had 4 second place marks, 12 judges thought they should place 3rd or higher. Almost unprecedented, 3rd place turned into an unbreakable tie between Juan Martinez & Elayna Bottinelli and Trevor & Emily Gurthrie.

The Open to the World US Rhythm Championships were also held today. Unfortunately, we were unable to be present due to to Hurricane Dorian, but we are happy to bring you the results and photos by SuperShag.

1. Marko Namen w/ Marina Vlasova 1,1,1,1,1; 2. Chastity Smith w/ Eddie Ares 2,2,2,2,2; 3. Abigail Montalbo w/ Slash Sharan 3,3,5,4,3; 4. Alina Sakura w/ Adrian Dydynski 4,4,3,3,4; 5. Puhja Mehta w/ Kristjon Burazaer 5,5,4,5,5; 6. Gabriella Pumo w/ Stephen McGrath 6,6,6,6,6.
1. Giovanni Fortezza w/ Jolanta Mosteika 1,2,2,1,1; 2. Kacey Warren w/ Jean Michel Erole 2,1,1,2,2; 3. Kristin Casella w/ Ronald Guillen 3,3,3,4,3; 4. Nichelle Kennedy w/ Aleks Nashev 4,4,4,3,4; 5. Astrid Gutsche w/ Waldir Felipa 5,5,5,5,5; 6. Mari Edstrum w/ Oleksandr Kozhukhar 6,6,6,6,6.
1. Lynn Magnesen w/ Tykhon Zhyvkov 1,1,1,1,1; 2. Janice Gonzalez w/ Aleksandr Vukosavljevic 2,2,2,2,2; 3. Michelle Loeb w/ Aleko Khutsidze 3,4,4,3,3; 4. Cheryl Lysik w/ Shandor Shtefil 4,5,3,5,4; 5. Anna Capo w/ Luis Lopez 5,3,5,4,5; 6. Scott Magnesen w/ Yana Zhyvkov 6,6,6,6,6.
1. Joan Goddard & Andrew Escolme 1,1,1,1,1; 2. Shari Oxman & Nayk Balasanyan 2,2,2,2,2; 3. Diana Bet & Aloshy Anatoli 3,4,3,3,4T; 4. Janet Bruttell & Dmitry Zavialov 4,3,4,4,3; 5. Leslie McLeod w/ Melbin De La Cruz 5,5T,6,5T,4T; 6. Kelly Akol & Jeremy Pilling 6,5T,5,5T,6



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