Desert Classic 2021

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Hotly Contested Pro Ballroom

The highlight of Saturday night at Desert Classic was the Pro Ballroom, contested over 2 rounds.

You know it’s a closely fought event when almost every couple received at least 1 first place in every dance and that’s what happened here tonight! But even more interestingly, was the huge “switcheroo” at the top. Tonight’s winners were Valeriu Ursache & Liana Bakhtiarova and they won 4 dances and were second in the foxtrot. But it’s even more interesting than that. Exactly a week ago in this same event at Manhattan Dancesport, Valeriu & Liana did not make the final, whereas 2 of the couples in this final did. So this result was a great vindication for this tall and elegant pairing. They did not receive that majority of 1st place marks in any dance, however, this final was just too close for that. The runners-up were Radu Sterban & Xenia Cletova 2,2,2,1,2. Radu & Xenia were 3rd at last week’s Manhattan Dancesport, several places ahead of tonight’s winners, so perhaps this was not the result they were hoping for. We enjoyed both of these couples and felt that on the night, this was a good result from the judges.

Third went to the relatively new pairing of Andrei Mykhailov & Ekaterina Popova, scoring 3,5,3,3,5. Andrei & Ekaterina were the other couple to place in last week’s final. Individually, these two have been favorites of ours for some time and we think this partnership has great promise. 4th tonight went to Serhey Averkov & Olena Barna 5,4,4,5,3. For those good at maths, you can see they were only 1 point behind Andrei & Ekaterina. 5th were the rising star winners Mirko Spano & Pamela Romano 6,3,5,6,4 and 6th were Marek Klepadlo & Nina Zhiting Yang 4,6,6,4,6. You can see how closely scored this division was. What a nightmare for the judges!

The other professional event of the night was the Rhythm and this had only a straight final. What interested us in this division was the inclusion of a new partnership dancing a very different style to all the others, but more of them later. The clear winners were Danas Jaksevius & Yuki Haraguchi who easily won all dances in front of a very appreciative audience. They lost a total of only 2 first place marks in the whole competition.

Ryan & Danelle Lockhart were also the clear runners-up, taking 2nd in all dances and easily carrying a majority of “2nd or better” scores in all. The competition really began after these 2 couples. 3rd and 4th places were between the top 2 couples in the RS division and finished the same way. Roman & Anna Zotov were 3rd and Antonio Nunez & Oxana Kashkina were 4th - this time the Zotovs were ahead in all dances. Whilst the competition was still tight between these 2 couples of very different styles, we thought Antonio & Oxana danced better in the RS – perhaps the costuming on that day was more to our liking. It is in the 5th position that we come to the couple we found the most interesting on this day. They are a new partnership (at least we have never seen them dance together) of Ryan Lewis & Meagan Mendoza. For years we have been hearing people say, “I wish we could go back to the old style of Rhythm dancing.” Well – tonight we saw that. Ryan & Meagan have very obviously attempted to choreograph and perform their dances in a style more reminiscent of the early era. The hip and leg actions were softer (and I’m not just talking about a random box step thrown in here and there), the choreography was more circular, the swing action was flatter, the mambo had a nightclub flavor to it rather than some of the more garish moves we see nowadays. However, it did not find great favor with the majority of the judging panel tonight. Only 3 judges placed them above where they came overall and they were Elena Grinenko, Katia Kuznetsova and Keith Todd (Mr. Todd awarded them 1st in mambo). We hope they are not discouraged and continue to pursue this new (old) direction. Closing the final tonight were John Bernal & Bailey Carillo who were 6th in all dances, but certainly were in contention in all dances receiving scores up and down the six places.

There were also 2 excellent Open Amateur categories danced tonight, both began with a semifinal. First up was the Smooth, dominated as usual by the couples from Utah. This was another closely fought final that included 2 Rule 11 tiebreaks – always an issue with a 4-dance division. The current US Champions, Brandon Keck & Kaylee Christiansen were the winners in all dances, however, they only received a majority of 1st place marks in foxtrot. The split between 2nd and 3rd was one of the tiebreaks and it fell to Parley Ford & Natalie Jolley 3,3,2,2 over Sawyer Stolle & Serena Keck 2,2,3,3. These two were very different in stature and style and appeared to split the judging panel. 4th and 5th was the second of the tiebreaks and this one went to Blake Fox & Nicole Ascione 5,5,4,4 over Tanner Cole & Savana Francia 4,4,5,5. We felt that Fox/Ascione were perhaps a little underscored by the panel tonight. 6th in all dances went to Mason Simpkins & Yuuka Fujii.

The Latin was the second division and this one had very clear winners in Alexander Chernositov & Arina Grishanina. They won all dances with clear majorities and had a perfect 11 firsts in Samba. For us they were clearly above the rest of the field on this day. 10-dancers, Erik & Shelly Linder, were the runners-up and they also took that position in all 5 dances. We felt their Latin had improved quite considerably over previous performances, Shelly especially was dancing with far more confidence. 3rd spot went to Bumchin Tegshjargal & Michelle Klets 3,4,3,3,3. We have always enjoyed their softer style and felt they were definitely in contention for the runner-up place. The U/21 winners from the night before, Arsen Havryshchuk & Stella Zilberberg, took 4th position 4,3,4,4,5. They are a very attractive couple who have an aggressive style that is sure to get them noticed. Another 10-dance couple, Danya & Anastasiia Rubashvsky, took 5th spot, 5,5,5,5,4. We prefer them in the Latin style and thought them perhaps a little unlucky with tonight’s placement. Closing the final were Daniel & Alexis Pollack who appeared the least confident of the six tonight, but look to have a strong future.

The evening ended with the traditional “Breakfast under the Stars” – always a popular feature of the Desert Classic. Today we continue with the junior events and these promise to be high in quantity and quality!

Nick & Viktorija Back on Top

US Champs, Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija were back on top yesterday after two consecutive losses over the past 2 weeks.

They won the Open American Smooth here in fine form losing only 3 first place marks in total, all from judge Vitaly Kozhev. They looked confident and poised to take on the challenges ahead this summer promising some great rematch events.

The next 2 places were very hard fought. Ultimately, the runner-up position went to Oleksiyy Pigotskyy & Anastasiia Zhuchenko 2,2,2,3, over Tykhon & Yana Zhyvkov 3,3,3,2, but those final placements don’t really tell the whole story. The only dance won with a majority of “2nd or better” placements was the VW, won by the Zhyvkovs. The other 3 dances were all decided by “3rd or better” scores with the foxtrot decided by 12 “3rd or better” to 11. These are 2 great couples in this division and offer somewhat differing styles. Oleksiyy & Anastasiia are the more powerful duo, but the Zhyvkovs have a more playful and lyrical approach. 4th and 5th spots were a rematch of the Rising Star division with the overall result staying the same. 4th Illia Sydorenko & Tetyana Kuts 5,4,4,4; 5th Stephan Badea & Brittany Myers 4,6,6,5. These are also two bright prospects in this style as is the 6th place couple who were only 1 point behind Badea/Myers – Anton Silantev & Olga Akopova 6,5,5,6.

The powerhouse team of Francesco & Sabrina Bertini won all dances in the Pro Latin to take this division. The closest scored dance was rumba where the classic lines of the runners-up, Alexei & Vlada Karaulov almost gave them that dance. In the other dances, Francesco & Sabrina had the majority of 1st place scores. Alexei & Vlada took the runner-up spot in all dances. These two couples offer a huge difference both in physique, and matching that factor, their choice of choreography. Both do what suits them and both were on form last night. 3rd in all dances went to Roman Italyankin & Alexandra Bokova and we felt they were clear in this position and well ahead of the rest of the field. 4th in all dances went to Oleksandr & Kateryna Kamniev; 5th were Casey & Kayci Treu 5,5,5,5,5T and 6th Joseph & Alexandra Hopwood 6,6,6,6,5T.

It was perfection time for Angelo Gaetano & Clarissa Morelli who quite easily won the Open Amateur Ballroom. The judges, we're sure, had little trouble in awarding them every available first place mark. After that the competition began! There was no majority of "2nd or better" marks in any dance but the eventual runner-up did manage to take 2nd in 4 dances and this was Erik & Shelly Linder 2,2,2,2,3 and were well clear in the final summary. 3rd and 4th spots were quite close. 3rd went to Jaren Hopkin & Vashti Smith 3,4,4,3,2 and 4th Robert & Jenna McShinsky 4,3,3,4,5. 5th went to Dania & Anastasiya Rubashevsky 5,5,6,6,4 and Danylo Yanchyshyn & Dascha Wright closed this final 6,6,5,5,6. The event began with a semifinal round.

There was an interesting and lighthearted Professional Jack & Jill competition where individuals were randomly paired up for a 2-dance competition in hustle and salsa. Surprisingly, quite a few people entered and the winning “team” was Donovan Dominguez & Alexandra Bokova.

The evening began with a strong U/21 Latin division that began with a semifinal. The winners, in all dances, were Arsen Havryshchuk & Stella Zilberberg; 2nd Timur Valiev & Michelle Itkin 3,2,2,2,3; 3rd Danylo Yanchyshyn & Dassh Wright 2,3,3,3,2.

For the pro-ams it was Ballroom day and there was some high quality dancing. The results of the Open Scholarships were as follows:

Open B
1. Patricia Schneider w/ Oreste Alito 1,1,1,1,1
2. Ling Ma w/ Edgars Gasjuns 2,2,2,2,2
3. Joyce Lo w/ Guennadi Iakounine 3,4,3,3,3
4. Amy Wang w/ Victor Yushin 4,3,4,4,4

Open C
1. Angela He w/ Julius Seniasuskas 3,1,1,1,2
2. Patricia Schneider w/ Oreste Alito 1,2,2,2,1
3. Annie Chan w/ Christian Radvan 4,3,3,3,3
4. Yu Ping Ting w/ Leonid Burlo 2,5,4,5,5
5. Sheila Zou w/ Valeriu Ursache 5,4,6,4,4
6. Sophia Hsu w/ Radu Sterban 7,6,5,6,6
7. Connie Lam w/ Oleksiy Mayorov 6,7,7,7,7

Open S1
1. Paige Riffle w/ Iaroslav Bieliei 2,2,1,1
2. Dana Ben Yehuda w/ Andrea Faraci 1,1,2,2
3. Charlotte Carey w/ Andriy Mykhailov 3,3,4,3
4. Cindy Wang w/ Valeiu Ursache 4,4,3,4
5. Connie Lam w/ Oleksiy Mayorov 5,5,5,6
6. Glendy Yeh w/ Dumitru Doga 7,6,6,5
7. Yee Ping Chiang w/ Igor Colac 6,7,7,7.

Open S2
1. Peter Chou w/ Xenia Cletova 2,2,1,1
2. Jan Duffy w/ Tadas Jonyla 1,1,2,2
3. Susan Jen w/ Oreste Alito 3,3,3,3
4. Vy Wappel w/ Oleksiy Pigotskyy 5,4T,5,4
5. Mark Eberle w/ Veronika End 4,6,4,5
6. Loretta Li w/ Gasjuns 6,4T,6,6

Turning Up the Heat in Palm Desert

It’s a scorching 105 outside in Palm Desert, CA, but in the Grand Ballroom of the JW Marriott The Desert Classic is turning up the “heats!”

With more than 8,000 entries, organizers Igor & Irina Suvorov, are delighted with the turnout to this year’s event after the inevitable cancelation of 2020. We are all glad to be back in the incredible JW Marriott here in Palm Desert, with its sweeping lobby and wonderful amenities.

Yesterday began with a bumper schedule that included all of the pro-am heats in Smooth and Latin as well as all 4 styles in Professional RS. A program that saw us all in the ballroom from 7:00 AM until midnight.

We thought the Open Scholarships in the Smooth style were especially strong today. There were 4 in total – A, B, C, S1 and S2. The winner of the Open A divisions was new to us, Haley Hernandez w/ Tykhon Zhyvkov who won all dances with a majority of 1st places and certainly looked very impressive. The runner-up, again in all dances, was Ani Mkrtchyan w/ Max Sinitsa. 3rd in all was Elizabeth Thomson w/ Nick Cheremukhin and fourth was Angelita Mangaser w/ Christopher Hughes.

Patricia Schneider w/ Slawek Souchaki had a strong afternoon winning both the Open B and C Divisions. In the C she was an easy winner in all dances. Patricia is now an experienced competitor and this shows. The runner up was Jesslyn Shani w/ Alex Demkin 3,2,2,2; 3rd Jessica Ehmann w/ Stephen McCann 2,3,3,3 and 4th was Joshua Cua w/ Bella Gubzsheva.

Patricia also won all dances in the Open C, a division that produced an 8-couple final from a semifinal round. Sue Eldred w/ Oleksiyy Pigotoskyy was the runner-up 2,2,2,3 and Monica Broch w/ Stephen McCann was 3rd 3,3,3,4. 4th Melanie Mottram w/ Tykhon Zhyvkov 4,4,4,2; 5th Carolyn Glazner w/ Danas Jaksevicius 5,6,5,5; 6th Karance Chan w/ Paul Cloud 6,5,6,6; 7th Paige Riffle w/ Alex Zagrean 7,7,7,7; 8th Soo Kim w/ Yegor Novikov 8,8,8,8. All of these ladies danced well and we thought that some of those in the lower half of the final could actually have placed higher.

Llewelyn Nielson w/ Slawek Souchaki was the winner of the Open S1 which was also an 8-couple final. She won all 4 dances. In her second final of the afternoon, Sue Eldred was once again the runner-up this time scoring 2nd in all dances. Also in her 2nd Open Scholarship final Carolyn Glazner w/ Danas Kaksevicius took 3rd in all dances. 4th Nancy Mei w/ Max Sinitsa 4,4,4,5; 5th Cynthia Wolfsohn w/ Alex Zagrean 5,5,5,4; 6th Chi Yonemoto w/ Slava Kostianets 6,7,6,6; 7th Ibis Wu w/ Nick Cheremukhin 7,6,7,7; 8th Jean MacGregor w/ Eric Cyr 8,8,8,8.

The Open S2 was a division dominated by gentlemen and produced the only male winner of an Open Scholarship today – Mark Eberle w/ Veronika End 2,1,1,1. Another gentleman won the waltz and was runner-up overall Robert Gorelick w/ Viktorija 1,2,2,2 and yet other gentlemen took 3rd and 4th Tom Grebel w/ Tetyana Kuts 3,3,3,3 and Ruben Garcia w/ Kristina Kudelko 4,4,5,4. 5th Kazue Niikura w/ Max Sinitsa 5,5,4,5; 6th James Yonemoto w/ Dowd 6,6,6,6.

The only “perfect” score of the day went to Anna Brown w/ Andrei Tarasov in the Open A Latin Scholarship who received every first place mark from the judges. Congratulations! Runner-up spot went to Danielle Goren W Vadym Lyubushkin 4,2,2,2,2; With 2,3,3,4,4, Christina Enoch w/ Roman Drobotov took 3rd. 4th Jordan Vijungco w/ Radomir Pashev 3,4,5,3,3; 5th Elizabeth Fuchs w/ Vartan Zakhariants 5,5,4,5,5.

The Open B was an 8-couple final, won by Maria Shtabskaya w/ Oleksandr Kamniev 1,1,1,1,1. The runner-up was Peggy Fang w/ Nikolai Tarasov 2,3,2,2,2 and 3rd place went to Grace Hambright w/ Olyskiy Lytvyn 3,2,3,3,3. 4th Yang Zheng w/ Elena Nesterova 5,4,4,4,5; 5th Laura Paoletti w/ Roman Drobotov 4,5,6,5,4; 6th Zhihai Li w/ Kirill Nikitin 8,7T,5,6,6,; Ray Li w/ Sarah Nolon 6,7T,7,7,7; 8th Grace Mauricio w/ Victor Yushin 7,6,8,8,8.

Deborah Wright w/ Nikolai Voronovich continued her winning streak in the Open C taking all dances here at Desert to add to her consecutive wins at Millennium and Manhattan. The runner-up was Robyn Shreiber w/ Viktor Shumylo 2,4,2,2,2, a much improved performance from this lady, and 3rd was Jeanine Stewart w/ Maksym Zalizniuk 3,2,5,3,3; 4th Marilyn Lim w/ Oleg Astakhov 4,3,4,4,4; 5th Summer Chung w/ Ilie Bardahan 5,5,3,5,5; 6th Yee-Ping Ching w/ Nikolai Tarasov 6,6,6,6,6.

Susann Tunick w/ Nikolai Voronovich won all dances to take the Open S1. The runner-up, also in all dances was Jennifer Kay w/ Evgeny Nazarov. 3rd Noreen Chan w/ Roman Italyankin 4,3,3,3T; 4th Chris Hansen w/ Sveta Daly; 5th Judy Petr Pedersen w/ Polak 5,5,4T,3T; 6th Mary Shaw w/ Stephen McCann 6,6,6,6.

In the Open S2 Susan Sosin w/ Roberto Cavallo was the winner, 1,1,2,1. The runner-up was Irene Fang w/ Yuri Kosydar 2,3,1,2 and 3rd was Vy Wappel w/ Oleksyy Pigostkyy 3,2,3,3. 4th Nancy Liu w/ Mykhailo Bilopukhov 5,4,4,5; 5th Penelope Parmes w/ Mikal Watkins 4,5,5,4; 6th Kat Halper w/ David Alvarez 6,6,7,6; 7th Ruben Garcia w/ Sarah Nolan 7,7,6,7.

All 4 Pro RS divisions were straight finals. First up was the Rhythm. The contest was mostly for 1st and 2nd place between 2 very different couples in style and appearance. The winners today were Roman & Anna Zotov with 1,1,1T,1,1 over Antonio Nunez & Oxana Kashkina 2,2,1T,2,2. Both couples have improved considerably since we last saw them. 3rd went to John Bernal & Bailey Carillo in all dances.

The RS Ballroom was a comfotable win to Mirko Spano & Pamela Romano who won all dances. 10-dancers, Casey & Kayci Treu took 2nd 3,2,2,2,2 and Tyrone Thiara & Yulan Hsu were 3rd 2,3,3,3,3.

The Treus were the winners in the RS Latin scoring 2,1,1,1,1. Joseph & Alexnadra Hopwood were the runners-up in this closely scored division 1,2,2T,2,2 and 3rd were Ivan Khudoliy & Alisa Seleznova 3,3,2T,3,3.

Finally in the RS Smooth, a final of 6 couples that produced 2 Rule 11 ties, Illia Sydorenko & Tetyana Kuts won all dances. 2nd place in all dances fell to Stephan Badea & Brittany Myers and 3rd to Alexander Romanov & Anna Blagodyreva 3,4,4,3.

Watch out for more updates from Dessert Classic!

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