Paragon Open Dancesport Championships 2021

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Rhythm Action at Paragon!

Last night at Paragon Open Dancesport Championships was all about the Rhythm and yes the Rhythm saw us with two very talented couples fighting for top placement.

We also saw a terrific professional Cabaret that although the group was small, it delivered an incredible punch!

As we mentioned, in the Professional Rhythm we had two great couples fighting for the top - Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin and Francesco Arieta & Jessa Mae Briones. In the end Dmitri & Olena won quite easily with a huge majority of firsts in every dance. For us it was closer than that, Jessa, perhaps one of the finest ladies in the industry in almost any style, was fabulous as usual, and Francesco a great supporting and talented man was there to complement this great new partnership. But, apparently this was not enough for the judges who overwhelmingly marked Dimitry & Olena’s powerhouse performance, their impact alone has to be admired, finishing with a kick….ss mambo that had to be marked first.

Third in this interesting final went to Dmytrii Goncharov & Veronika Shapar who placed third in every dance. In this we disagreed with the judges. For us Dmytrii & Veronika dishes up a version of Latin converted to a Rhythm form. Yes, it is very clean, but so is our kitchen counter, for us there is an element of nightclub style that is missing from their dancing and that even if there is just a little bit we want to see it.

Fourth overall went to Ricardo Papi & Sabrina Moretii, 5,4,4,4,4. This couple for us have a wonderful feeling for the style, unfortunately sometimes they looked as if they were not out there to win it. Ricardo & Sabrina’s actions at times can get quite heavy and unlike the couple just in front of them, lack the punchline to deliver their moves - but I love their sense of Rhythm.

Fifth went to Senso Makhaye & Agnieszka Strojek, 4,5,5,5,5, who have improved tremendously and seemed to be getting more into the game. In the past they always looked detached from one another and even from the group itself, this time they seemed more engaged on both counts.

Sixth in all went to Artem & Ginny Shiller. I felt they had a good performance and were quite consistent throughout the final but this was not enough for them at this time. I think most that have followed their dancing perhaps could not go past the few extra pounds Artem has gained during the Covid hiatus. When out in the public light and you have been followed for some time, it is hard to see this type of changes. Let’s face it, the judges are also human and when the hair is out of place or a dress is out of form or you gain a few pounds in a sport where the physical body shape is important, this can be a challenge for all couples (Just something to keep in mind).

The Professional Cabaret was not only great but amazing! Craig Smith & Andrea Harvey delivered a faultless and touching number to “I Don’t Want to Talk.” Using a popular vocal for a routine is very challenging because you are not only competing with yourself to deliver the best performance of your life, but you are also competing with the vocal!! Trust us when we say, that we have seen couples lose for this quite a number of times. But this time it worked to perfection - they were the music - she was the voice and we heard it and felt it and it was amazing. We must point out that even though it was a perfect performance they did not get perfect mark. They lost one first place mark out of thirteen, Toni Dovolani dissented, his first place mark went to Zachary Pohl & Ariel Freilich.

Second with another amazing performance was indeed, Zachary Pohl & Ariel Freilich, who also chose a vocal and managed it quite well as they have always done. Unfortunately for them, Craig & Andrea had all the goods in their bag down to some very difficult moves delivered comfortably and so for us here there was no chance for Zachary & Ariel to get past that firewall. But I have to say their performance also had a perfect delivery.

Third was awarded to a number who for us usually does not get the recognition that it should, the Austin Powers routine from Nikita Zhukovkiy & Angelina Boiko. Unfortunately at this time, this was the best they could have done and they did. This comedy number is terrific, not only delivering some amazing and challenging steps, but it also has quality to it. As I mentioned before, unfortunately comedy often gets written off as easy to do and we get so involved in the laughter we forget to keep an eye on the elements and how difficult this routine is to do and to deliver. However, this time they were in good company and there was no way they could have broken through that wall for second or first place.

Last was one of our favorite routines, this was not really a Cabaret routine per se but more of a Showdance piece performed by Nazar Batih & Mariko Cantley. For the “real” ShowDance competitions around the world, they have rules and the amounts of dancing they have to do and even the dance holds have to be just right and this couple did all things correctly and delivered a beautiful performance. We totally loved this one routine a lot more than the previous one they put together.

The Professional Ballroom for us was a little sad with only four couples entering into the arena. In the end the Championship went to Igor Mikushov & Valeriia Belozerova placing first in all dances, and getting perfect scores from all the judges in every dance. Second in all dances went to Yuriy Nartov & Enxhi Fundo, third was Alec Zhiwei & Zhuoshi Xie taking all thirds and taking all fourths were Ramon Martinez Campos & Ersi Nie.

The Open Amateur Latin started this evening of dance and it was a semifinal round of competition. The six finalist were all terrific and all had a little different take on the style, making it seem quite hopeful for the future of Latin dancing in the USA. In the end winning all dances were Bunchin Tegshjargal & Michelle Klets and from the start they came out with a “take no prisoners” attitude to the floor, and they won in our opinion quite easily, the material was easy to read sharp and their timing was meticulous.

Second in all dances went to Vadym Pidhoreskyy & Ruby Castro who placed second in all dances. I love this couple’s dancing, it has a lot of soul and Ruby’s back literally has no “bone” making every dance seemed so rhythmical. Vadym is a perfect frame for this lovely lady, plus he also dances complimenting the full picture. Unfortunately, their partnership this night was not as tight as Bunchin & Michelle’s to take any dances away from them. Vadym & Ruby seem to be just walking it a bit, it is too bad because with their musicality had their routines been more tight they might have even won.

Third place overall went to Idan Daich & Anastasia Sinyauskaya from Canada 3,3,5,3,4. We quite liked this partnership, they are totally unique to their style, but their performance goes up and down like a yoyo, so with the two on top you cannot get away with that. More consistency would make for better marks. Kevin Filipczak & Sophia Marriott placed fourth overall 4,4,3,4,3 great dancing but needs to develop their own groove in the style to make us look twice. Fifth was awarded to Kristers Smits & Shelly Umanski 6,5,4,5,5. We were quite disappointed with this couple on this night, they seemed to be working on who can standup the most, instead of feeling the music and dancing to it. Kristers & Shelly have tremendous talent and potential and in the Open Amateur field they need to start thinking as to what they are doing in every dance and every step - this is not a posing contest or a modeling show.

Sixth in this heat were Oskar Krimus & Shayna McDonald 5,6,6,6,6. This couple seem to have stalled a little in their climb up the field. On this occasion Oskar became the “clown” in the final sitting in the front row seats, playing to the cameras more than to his partner, in fact we rarely remember him bringing Shayna along on any of the entertainment. Not sure what each judge was thinking but clearly they sounded the alarm loud and clear on this one and on their marks.

The Amateur Ballroom was a five-couple final and here Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova placed first in all dances, Second in all dances went to Nickolas Bleykhman & Alissa Joly taking second in all dances. Third in all went to Mathew Matusovskiy & Nicole Klavansky, fourth was Kamil Falkowski & Karolina Lokaj and fifth went to Xingmin & Katerina Lu.

The Best of the Best competition in the Amateur division also took place and here Idan Daich & Anastasia Sinyauskaya won the competition, Bumchin Tegshjargal & Michelle Klets placed second, Samuel Hacke & Katarina Hermanova were third and Vadym Pidhoreskyy & Ruby Castro were fourth.

This was a fully packed night of interesting competitions. We want to congratulate the organizers of the Paragon for always giving us such a fabulous event. This year’s theme was “La Fiesta de Los Muertos” and everyone attended with their costumes, including the judges.

Back to Paragon

After over a year, and without missing a beat the Paragon Open DanceSport Championships are back and the participation in all styles was quite high in quantity and in quality.

The ballroom here at the Hilton in Stamford Connecticut was packed every day, most participants and spectators were unmasked showing us that the pandemic that struck hard at our ballroom community might be at its end. In speaking to a few attendees and participants here in the northeast, we found out that most are vaccinated, a great thing for all of us involved. Here all seemed to have confidence that the extra protection works and that they are able to dance and observe without masking themselves.

Last night, as on the previous night, the ballroom was full to capacity and the two main feature events did not disappoint.

The Professional Latin was the largest of the two with a full quarter-final round of competition, the Professional Smooth was right behind with a full semifinal round. In the end both events had some terrific dancing totally worth the mention.

In the Latin with a majority of firsts in all dances, the Paragon title went to Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabrielle Sabler who seemed more in the game this competition than the last time we saw them dance at our US Championships. On that occasion we felt Pasha was a bit preoccupied and this was affecting his upper body movement. On his occasion he seemed to be using a little more isolation and energy in all directions and Gabrielle seamed happier and more confident.

Second in this excellent event was awarded to Andriy & Amanda Besyedin, who took second in all dances and from looking at the marks managed to steal a first mark placement or two from Pasha & Gabrielle in every dance but the jive. We perhaps were not as thrilled as everyone else in this performance. From our perspective we have seen a lot better from this talented couple. On this outing we found them a little quiet and not with the usual punch this couple normally have. This performance for us was consistent and very deserving of the placement in this final but maybe we got used to expecting a bombshell from this couple from the word go.

Third in all dances went to Kostiantyn Samarskyi & Anna Oblakova, who really made us look back at their performance a number of times, in particularly Kostiantyn who was one of the best if not the best man out on that floor last night. In looking at the marks we can say we were not the only ones looking back at this couple’s performances, they also managed to steal a couple of first place marks from Pasha & Gabrielle. With the exception of the paso doble where they did not get a single first, they did manage to get a couple of firsts in the other four dances. We totally agreed with the paso doble, their performance cooled like a thermometer in ice for this dance, perhaps more attention needs to be put in their timing and their lines, less running around and more dancing. Overall an excellent partnership that needs some adjustments but super promising, we can see them get quite far very soon.

One of our favorites at times were Rangel Spiro & Veronika Chernyavska who placed fourth overall 4,4,5,4,4. From the start this couple were noticed and I mean literally noticed, they almost did not make their first dance because they were late into the ballroom and the couples were ready to cha cha - perhaps not a good start. However, once they started they were like a bullet, unfortunately they always fizzled out by the second half of every dance and so perhaps their marks might reflect this.

Vladyslav Babenko & Nastya Shynkarova placed fifth overall 5,5,4,5,5. Their performance was playful but with little consequence and Miroslav Randelovic & Dakota Pizzy were awarded sixth in all dances, here we found there was more perspiration than inspiration, at times power is being wasted and they should strike a balance between power and artistry.

The Professional Smooth was also a terrific feature last night, it started with a semifinal round and six couples were called for the final. Scheduling the Professional Smooth along with the Latin gave this evening a good mixture of styles, making sur the audience stayed entertained throughout the evening.

Travis & Jaimee Tuft, the overall winners of the Smooth, took all dances with a huge majority of firsts in every dance. In the waltz and tango they only lost 2 first place marks, the judges Marianne Nicole and Nikolay Smodlev both awarded Travis & Jaimee second place marks in these two dances. In the foxtrot and Viennese Waltz Travis & Jaimee could have had perfect scores but Nikolay saw very differenly than the other twelve judges and also gave second place in this dances. For us Travis & Jaimee had an easy win their work is always consistent and the quality of their performance is always high.

Second in all dances in this Professional Smooth went to Aleks Vukosavljevic & Alexandra Smirnova, and from the marks it was a clear second position and they managed to take a couple of first place marks from Travis & Jaimee. Alexandra wore a purple dress that showcased beautifully on this floor and with this lighting, giving them a softness that many in this heat lacked. Their extremities cover a lot of space and so you could not miss them since both are quite tall.

Third in all dances went to Volodymyr Barabash & Yulia Rudenco and although they placed third, they did manage to take the most firsts from the winning couple, four total to be precise one on each dance and they all came from Nikolay Smodlev. We love this couple’s dancing, it’s very dynamic and Volodymyr is a terrific partner who not only supports but dances. We think that with a little more time they will become more aware of subtlety and put less emphasiss on power, but all that will come naturally with more time on the floor.

Fourth place was awarded to Kirill Gorjatsev & Daria Zotova. Here is another great example of a good male partner, who also dances and not just supports. I have seen better performances from this couple overall, but more has to be done to separate themselves from the pack to push ahead and challenge the couples upfront. Fifth place overall went to Christian Lightner & Kia Kenny who placed fifth in 3 dances and sixth in the foxtrot, possibly not what they expected. All I can say about this couple and some of the others is that is you do the same thing you have always done then your going to get the same back and sometimes not as good of a return. Last in sixth place was Sergei Solodov & Ekaterina Maslennikova 6,6,5,6.

The evening was, from our perspective, short and sweet as it should be leaving you wanting more.

There were some Pro/Am Dancers Cup Tour Open Ballroom Scholarships and we should finish by naming the winners of all these competitions. In the Open Ballroom B the Scholarship went to Elena Botelho w/Igor Litvinov, the Senior Two went to Linda Dillman w/Igor Gayenko, the “A” was awarded to Heather Sabel w/Ronen Zinshtein, the “C” went to Charlene Proctor w/Andrew Begunov, and the Senior One went also to Linda Dillman w/Igor Gayenko.

This was a great night of Ballroom dancing we are looking forward to the Professional American Rhythm and Ballroom tonight, so stay tuned for more.

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