North American Imperial Star Championships 2019

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US Ballroom Best Come Together!

Last night at the North American Imperial Star Ball in Chicago, some of USA’s best ballroom dance couples came to challenge each other at the competition owned and operated by current World Professional Ballroom Champions, Arunas Bizokas & Katusha Demidova.

This showed great solidarity for this style and a couple that successfully defended their US and World Ballroom title for over 10 years.

This Professional Open Ballroom competition went easily to Iaroslav & Liliia Bieliei who won all dances with a majority of firsts from the judges. However, they did get a few judges dissenting from marking them first, but the surprise of this, is that these judges did not just award them second, a number of them awarded them thirds and even a fourth and a fifth in a dance or two. Their worst judge was Nami Shoji from Japan, who awarded them the following marks 3,3,4,5,5. For us we felt they were an easy win as did the majority of the judges. Their quality of movement was not challenged with perhaps the exception of the tango where three judges awarded them other than a first, Didio Barrera awarded them a second, Ray Rivers and Nami Shoji gave them each a third place mark.

Second overall in this excellent Ballroom final went to Vladishlav Shakhov & Ekaterina Popova, but as you will see not in all dances 3,2,2,2,2, it is interesting to note that when looking at the judges’ marks we can tell you that their marks varied from first to sixth place in all dances. Their worst judge in this final was Alain Doucet who awarded them sixth in all dances. For us their dancing was quite up to the par of the final, but we can see with this many good couples in this US quality Ballroom competition, how the marks could vary from couple to couple. Third place was awarded to Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova but as you will see the waltz once again was a toss up for all couples 4,3,3,3,3.

The surprise finish for us was the fourth placement overall of Andres & Veronika End, they placed second in the waltz but in the rest of their dances they did not fare as well 2,5,5,5,4. For us they showed enough innovation as well as skill to place higher but in looking at their marks not all judges would agree, some of their marks went from sixth to even a first in the tango. Fifth in this excellent heat went to Andrii Mykhailov & Olga Gandembul 6,4,4,4,5, and sixth place was awarded to Radu Sterban & Xenia Cletova 5,6,6,6,6. In the marks alone you can read what a difficult heat this was and we have to tip our hats to the judges for getting it done in a minute thirty on each dance.

Another highly ranked couple, Alexander & Veronica Voskalchuk had to withdraw following the quarter-final, for medical reasons.

The American Rhythm Professional category was also quite entertaining even though not as strong as the Ballroom competition. In this heat Kristian Sese & Mae Lozada won all dances, but only four of these with a majority of firsts. In the bolero, with only 5 firsts total in their column they needed “second or better” scores to win this dance. We have to say about their performance that their detail and easy to read material made it easy for some judges to award them first. Sometimes in the Rhythm, couples can get so complicated that it is almost impossible to read, a note to all couples the saying - “Less is Better” it is a good rule to have.

Second in the Open Professional Rhythm went to Artem & Ginny Ray Shiller and they took second in all dances. Third was awarded to Nicholas Rodriguez & Paulina Struk 4,3,3,3,3, fourth went to Enoch Evans & Anastasia Gordeeva 3,4,4,4,4, Dustin Donelan & Georgietta Anderson placed fifth in all dances, sixth in all wen to Kyle & Madeline Treu, and seventh was Ernesto Olivas & Megan Strong.

There were also two Rising Star events this evening and they were the Latin and the Smooth. The Latin win was awarded to Satnislav Savich & Nicole Prosser with these marks 1,2,1,2,1, and second went to Vladishlav Babenko & Anastassia Shynkarova 3,1,2,1,2, leaving third to Andrey Kitsun & Anna Oblakova 2,3,3,3,3. In the Rising Star Professional Smooth the win went to Tykhon & Yana Zhyvkov who won all dances, second went to Evgenii Rosenfeld & Mariia Shumakher with all seconds, and all thirds wen to Vladyslav Nalyvaychuk & Brianna Nalyvaychuk.

Last night was a great evening for the North American Imperial Star Ball but also a look into what Ballroom dancing and the influence of Arunas & Katusha will be when it comes to the promotion of Ballroom dancing in America. Our congratulations to this couple for the increase in entries here at the North American and also - what a terrific show last night from them finishing up with the Survivor tango. A great finish to this last evening of dance here in Chicago at the North American Imperial Star Ball.

North America Comes Together!

It is time again for the North American Imperial Star Ball, and plenty of US and Canadian couples are in attendance.

This is the 3rd year for World Champions Arunas Bizokas & Katusha Demidova as organizers and this year saw a large increase in entries. We arrived a few days ago and the Hilton Chicago / Oak Brook Hills was covered with snow. Today the sun has come out and the snow is fading away and we are able to appreciate the golf course behind the resort. Last night in the Hilton Ballroom there was plenty of competition but the two main featured events were the Open Professional Smooth and Latin and both were excellent in quality as well as quantity.

In the Professional Smooth the win went to Travis & Jaimee Tuft in all dances, two of them with perfect scores from the judges and the other two with a huge majority with only one judge in each dance abstaining from giving them first and allocating them a second place. Lisa Howard awarded them a second in the waltz and Tomas Atkocevicius awarded them a second in the foxtrot. We totally agree with the majority. On this outing Travis & Jaimee brought a balanced approach and with yesterday’s judging panel it worked. The surprise for all of us and even the couple was the second place finish in all dances of Nikolai Pilipenchuk & Sarika Hudson, who took second in all dances. It is important to note that Nikolai & Sarika had two rely on “thirds or better” to place second in three dances, only in the Viennese Waltz were they able to secure their second place win with “second or better” marks. Nikolai & Sarika were also the recipients of Lisa Howard’s first place mark in the tango.

Viacheslav Kostianets & Valeriia Kostianets who placed third overall were the recipient of the other first place mark missing from Travis & Jaimee, but this time from Tomas Atkocevicius in the foxtrot. Igor & Meghan Afonkin took fourth in all dances, Tykhon & Yana Zhyvkov were placed fifth and Mariusz Zakrzewski & Lynnsay Ray were 6th.

The second event, the Latin, was also very exciting, and here we had to agree with Alain Doucet and Nami Shoji from Japan, who awarded the winners Andrei Kazlouski & Asta Sigvaldadottir second and even fourth place marks in some of the dances. Andrei & Asta won 5 dances but as we said before we felt this win could have easily gone to Francesco Bertini & Sabrina Bertini who took second in all dances and who took nearly all the first places missing from Andrei & Asta’s column. Overall we felt that Francesco & Sabrina had a wonderful night, Sabrina is a wonderful Latin lady with some of the best rhythm and movement in the Latin style today, and Francesco complements her movement and they both manage to always give us an energetic and rhythmical Latin style performance.

From second place down things got a little more varied. Stanishlab Savich & Nicole Prosser took third overall 4,3,3,4,5. This is another very rhythmical couple, it’s unfortunate that their costumes do not reflect their rhythmical ability, but we are happy that they did not sport the grey covers because at times they look almost like “straight jackets.” Fourth were Jonas Kazlauskas & Kathleen Ilo 5,4,6,3,3; fifth went to Roam Italyankin & Alexandra Bokova 3,6,4,5,6, leaving sixth to Roman Drobotov & Lilya Kazbekova 6,5,5,6,4.

2 couples entered the Pro Cabaret and the win went to Travis & Jaimee. Runners-up were Zachary Pohl & Ariel Freilich.

There were also two Professional Rising Star events, Rhythm and Ballroom. The Rhythm went to Kristian Sese & Mae Lozada, and the ballroom was awarded to Viacheslav Kostianets & Valeriia Kostianets.

The Open Amateur Ballroom was a straight final.  The top 3 were well clear.  Winners were Oleksandr Kalenyuk & Olena Ablitsova; 2nd was Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova; 3rd Xingmin & Katerina Lu.

With that the second day of competition at the North American Imperial Star Ball.

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