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