Holiday Dance Classic 2021

(1 Vote)


It was a fantastic finish for the Holiday Dance Classic Saturday in the “Pyramid” ballroom of the Luxor Hotel in Vegas, Nevada.

Three very exiting competitions ran back to back at the very end making a beautiful “discharge” of wonderful dancing and potential to conclude our competition year of 2021, and no, there were no fireworks in the ballroom, but the couples’ performances made us feel as if we were watching the fourth or July or the New year’s fireworks explosions and the audience rewarded them with great applause, complimenting this wonderful finish to this most iconic event!

All the open professional events were run Saturday along with the Amateur Ballroom and Smooth. We will comment on most of them but we will begin from the end of the night forwards. The last event of the evening was the Open Professional Latin where seven couples were called back for this excellent final. We totally could understand and can almost say even an 8 couple final could have been easily called, the couples were totally on fire!

The winners of all dances were Troels Bager & Ina Jeliazkova who as usual gave a wonderful performance and they did capture the samba, and paso doble with perfect scores from all the judges. However, it was not to be in the other three dances, in the cha cha Jurga Skimelis, did not think they were the best her first place mark went to Andrei Kazlouski & Asta Sigvaladottir who for us were also on fire and were very close to challenging the unbeatable Troels & Ina, so we are not surprise to see this first dissent.

As you might have noticed already second in all dances was awarded to Andrei & Asta who also stole a first from Troels & Ina in the Rumba this came from Bill Sparks and two firsts in the jive one again from Bill and now Didio Barrera joined him and awarded them a second first in this dance. With this kind of performance it might not be too far away when they might be taking a few more firsts from our current US Champions, Troels Bager & Ina Jeliazkova. Unfortunately for them, Troels & Ina’s work is so simple, rhythmical and so easy to watch and understand, so they totally have their work cut out for them.

Third in all dances went to Mykhailo Bilopukhov & Anastasiia Shychypilina, they did take the majority of thirds in all dances, however, they did take away a few seconds from Andrei & Asta and to our surprise some judges also awarded them some fourths. We were a little surprised with the fourth place marks because Mykhailo & Anastasiia are the masters of consistency, we truly can say that we have never seen a disappointing performance from this couple. Perhaps this consistency could also be their “Achilles” heel, because it would be nice to see this wonderful traditional, rhythmical couple go on the attack from time to time, this might surprise all of us and they might then become the challengers? Just a thought!

Fourth in this wonderful final was awarded to Artur Tarnavskyy & Anastasiya Danilova and they took fourth in all dances. We are not quite sure this was the best outing we have seen from this couple but it was good enough to keep them in the final and be placed fourth. When Artur & Anastasiya started some of their moves and ideas were “a little bit out there” should we say. I think they are now more conforming to what the style is today, and this allows them to be easily in this type of a final. However, I miss their unique perspective they had at the start, if they could bring some of this back with no apologies I wonder if they could easily challenge the couples ahead of them and the style on its own.

Fifth went to Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabriella Sabler, we are so happy to see that Pasha has decided to concentrate more on his skills as a dancer than his talent at the “gym.” On the last few event we have witnessed we noticed that Pasha was providing great support to Gabriella, but his body, in particular his upper body, lacked the rhythm to match their performance. On this outing I thought he and Gabriella went full out on a two way conversation with their bodies, providing us all with a balanced partnership that totally has major rhythm in its core.

Sixth place overall was awarded to Darren Hammond & Marina Steahenko with these marks 6,7,6,6,6. We loved his sense of humor on the floor, when couples were being reintroduced Mykhailo & Anastasiia were presented ahead of them and Anastasiia always gives us a little performance showcasing her rhythmical attributes, this is always welcomed by the audience mainly because for them rhythm is the name of the game. After Mykhailo & Anastasiia were introduced it was time for Darren & Maina to be introduced and in the end he copied a little of Anastasiia’s rhythm sequence making us all chuckle a bit. However, on a serious note, we did think he and Maina were the weakest link in this lovely chain of Latin dancers, it would not have surprised us to see them be placed last in every dance.

Seventh overall went to the couple with perhaps the most energy in this final and that was Nikolai Tarasov & Sara Nolan with these marks 7,6,7,7,7. This couple seem to be more in a race than a dance competition, the energy they gave was admirable in every dance. Perhaps their next goal should be how to channel that energy to be use as their weapon and not their foul.

In other happenings during this fabulous final when the final cha cha was playing about 40 seconds into the dance the music stopped and we all held our breath. The couples all started to dance to people clapping their hands and banging on their tables also the band was able to produce a little sound. We have to compliment the DJ and band leader, Mr. Brent Mills, who after checking all his equipment realized that perhaps a fuse had been triggered. Sound engineer, Mark Weiss, then unplugged some of the hundreds of Xmas lights the Holiday has in their arsenal and we were back in business.

The Professional Smooth was also a fantastic event this final evening of competition here at the Holiday Classic. Six excellent couples were called back from three rounds of competition. The winner by far for us and the judges was Travis & Jamie Tuft who won all dances with a huge majority of firsts in all dances. Their waltz for this panel seemed to be their strongest dance they nearly got perfect scores with only Marat Gimaev dissenting from that decision and awarding them a second place in this effort. Their weakest dance seemed to be their tango where a number of judges awarded them second and inspired Marat to award them a 5th place mark on their scorecard. For us no matter how you look at it Travis & Jamie were the best of this group, their work as always left no room for imperfections and that is all they needed to do here to win this night.

Second place went to Oleksiy Pigotskyy & Anastasia Zhuchenko who placed second in every dance. For us from second place down it could have gone anywhere, we totally agree that Oleksiy & Anastasia were fabulous in this final round and although everyone else behind them were on their heels, they did manage to get the majority of seconds to capture this position. We think this is a very talented couple and look forward to see what impact this couple might have on the style for future outings.

Third and fourth places were a tie between Volodymyr Barabash & Yulia Rudenco and Tykhon & Yana Zhyvkov in the end this tie had to be broken by a (Rule11) decision. In the end Tykhon & Yana placed third leaving Volodymyr & Yulia holding fourth. For us these three last couples just mentioned including Oleksiy & Anastasia are all super talented, fantastic news for our industry and the Smooth style in general. We think that beautiful dancing will be created and will come out of so much talent. In general I think what makes current partnerships so much better is that the leaders are now dancing just as much or more than the followers and that is great news, being a leader is not just a supporting role anymore (men you now have to dance to make it and not just stand there and present and support).

In a surprising twist fifth place in all dances was awarded to Mariusz Zakrzewski & Lynnsay Ray, we were not surprise to see them being placed this low in this final, some of their dances were quite interesting like their tango, but as I mentioned earlier there was quite a lot of talent out there. Mariusz & Lynnsay, previously have been in this type of final many times and we were all starting to wonder what happeedn to them? Well they seem to be back and we hope to see more of them in the near future, the problem with taking time off, is that only you take the time off everyone else continues on this progressive machine of the ballroom dance world. For example, we noticed some couples took the time to really work on their dancing during the covid break, others just focused on their food and time off, surprising many of them when they got back! In some cases we even have new champions.

Last in this beautiful final was Natalia & Igor Dogoter placing sixth in all dances. Here is a very solid partnership with great quality dancing but as we just mentioned a few moments back, we have plenty of this to go around. I think here a look at their approach and what they want to come across in every dance might be necessary in order to break through all this amazing talent.

The Professional Ballroom also took place and here six very capable couples were called for this prestigious final. The winners, as expected, were Iaroslav & Liliia Bieliei who won all dances with a strong majority of firsts from the judges. We must point out that in their score card there were a few marks that made us raise our eyebrows and these ranged from three to six in some cases. Their worst judges were Eddie Alba who awarded them 5,6,6,6,4, and Patrick Johnson 4,3,4,3,2, there were other judges that also dissented but these are the most notable ones. I can honestly see a judge marking them down for us Iaroslav & Liliia have wonderful technical merit, but for some judges, perhaps this is not enough.

Second in this excellent final overall was Andrii Mykhailov & Ekaterina Popova 2,2,2,2,3, now here although not quite the opposite to the Bielies because they are two well-trained technical dancers, but with every dance this couple do you want to join their performance, this couple can make you feel things in every dance and in every step. And yes, they did manage to steal a few first place marks in nearly every dances from Iaroslav & Liliia.

Third and also stealing a few first place marks from the top and stealing second place in the quickstep from Andrii & Ekaterina, were Radu Sterban & Xenia Cletova 3,3,3,3,2. Here is another lovely couple who could easily strike panic up on the top ranks, with just a little more musicality especially in the w,t,vw,f, the quickstep is one of our favorite dances from this couple and they seem to enjoy this dance and show it. Perhaps they should share some of this same musicality and feeling in the other four dances, I think that would for sure make a difference in their performance.

Fourth was awarded to Maksym Savytskyi & Polina Riabovil 4,5,4,4,4; fifth place went to Gianni Caliandro & Arianna Esposito 5,4,5,5,6 and sixth overall was Krizia Balestra & Luca Balestra 6,6,6,6,5

The Professional Rhythm was also a great heat to follow. First in all dances went to Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin who won the cha cha and swing with perfect scores and with a huge majority in the other three dances. Dmitry & Olena’s worst marks were in the bolero where they got two second place marks one from Mr. Didio Barrera and another from Mr. Mark Brock. In the other two dances their perfect scores were ruined by Mr. Barrera who awarded them a second in the rumba and a second in the mambo.

Second in all dances went to Oleksiy Pigotskyy & Anastasia Zhuchenko who gave for us a stellar performance totally challenging the very top. We must also point out that all the firsts that were stolen from Dmitry & Olena went to their score card.

Third and fourth place was also a tie between Riccardo Papi & Sabrina Moretti and Ryan Lewis & Megan Mendoza, but in the end this tie was not as hard to break as the one in the Smooth, here they only had to go to (Rule10) in order to break the tie. Honestly, we were a little disappointed with both couples’ performances. I felt that Riccardo & Sabrina could have danced with a lot more energy and confidence, we must also say almost the same for Megan & Ryan. we also missed more of that rough, unclean American style attitude, steps and hutspa, that they used to have right at the beginning. We think you should try to get that nightclub style you guys were aiming for that was contagious and fun to say the least. In the end Riccardo & Sabrina took third and Ryan & Megan placed fourth.

Fifth overall wen to Artem & Ginny Ray Shiller 5,5,5,5,6, and sixth were Antonio Nunes & Oxana Kashkina 6,6,6,6,4.

On a interesting note, yesterday Riccardo Papi & Sabrina Moretti got married here in Las Vegas, we want to wish them the very best in all their ventures together.

Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova were the very easy winners of the Amateur Ballroom losing only 9 first place marks in total. We thought they were in a class by themselves in this final. 2,2,3,2,2, gave Erik & Shelly Linder a pretty clear runner-up spot. Jared Hopkin & Vashti Smith took that 2nd in VW and 3rd in the other 4 dances. 4th Matia Luca Paffile & Haley Hernandez 4,5,4,4,4. Haley is the current A Champion in Pro-Am. 5th Danylo Yanchyshyn & Dasha Wright 6,4,5,5,6; 6th Sawyer Stolle & Serena Keck 5,6,6,6,5.

It was a case of sibling rivalry in the Amateur Smooth. The winners, in all dances, were Brandon Keck & Kaylee Patillo, while Brandon’s sister Serena & Sawyer were 2nd in all dances. 3rd Maier/Thompson 3,3,3,4; 4th Ford/Jolley 4,4,4,3; 5th Baker/Francia 5,5,6,6; 6th Simkins/Fujii 7,6,5,5; 7th Stevenson/Bezzant 6,7,7,7.

As is traditional at Holiday Classic, many of the judges performed a little routine when introduced. It’s always good and sometimes amusing to see these vignettes from our past stars.

Another tradition is the "Ugly Christmas Sweater Day." Everyone wears their ugliest sweater during the day session on Saturday!

Our congratulations to Wendy Johnson, Mary Murphy and Sam Sodano for what is always a favorite event on every dancer’s schedule.

Viva Las Vegas!

The Holiday Dance Classic is an Iconic event and a perfect setting to end the dance competition year for 2021.

Here in Las Vegas, Nevada, you cannot chose a better location to dance, gamble, party and celebrate, especially after not being able to do any of it last year, 2020, due to the pandemic. We are still fighting this unusual disease, but the industry like everyone else in the world, has decided with caution to go on and to continue to live our lives while doing the things we love to do and one is Ballroom Dancing.

So far here at the Holiday Dance Classic we have managed three days of nonstop dancing with every heat and every category from bronze to gold filled to capacity. Wednesday we began with the pro/am Rhythm categories, Wednesday it was Smooth time and yesterday all day Latin. The days had a very early start, sometimes 7am, due to the amount of entries received. The huge Luxor ballroom floor was constantly being divided to accommodate all the people in these heats and so 2 panels of 6 judges was required 24/7.

Yesterday night we witnessed all the Professional Rising Star events and a terrific Open Amateur Latin that started with a first round of competition. The Open Amateur Latin was filled with energy and all couples looked ready from the start. In the end wining all dances were Tagit Mansurov & Liza Lakovitsky who did win all dances but had to rely on seconds or better to win each dance, because they did not get a full majority of firsts in any of the dances. For us this was the couple of the night. It was actually nice to see a young couple that not only is able to use the physical requirements of today’s Latin, but they were perhaps the only couple that really communicated with one another. In other words, the dances developed characters and had a story and we did not just see an aerobic exercise.

Second overall in this heat were Ron Garber & Klaudia Petriti with these marks 2,2,3,2,2. Looking at the their scored card we noticed that Ron & Klaudia they were able to steal one or two firsts in each dance from the winners. We also have to point out that here we also agree with this decision, this couple’s work was as usual very clean and easy to understand. They also tend to have some kind of communication but it is not as real as the winners’. We would say that they spend at least 60 percent of the time looking into the audience or somewhere else but never each other. Yes they look at each other about 20 percent and for us old fogies this is not enough considering that all these dances came from social ballroom dancing.

Third overall was awarded to Bumchin Tegshjargal & Michelle Klets. For us the final from here down was all a little clinical. We lost the life of all dances and it all becomes just art as if you’re looking into a vase, a painting or a sculpture. For us there has to be a little more reality in the relationship between the couples and what they are hearing and making us see. Bumchin & Michelle took third in four dances and second in the rumba. Fourth in all dances was awarded to Erik & Shelly Linder; in fifth place was Kevin Filipczak & Sophia Marriott 5,6,5,6,5, and in sixth place was Vladumir Timofeev & Evgenia Florisnkaia 6,5,6,5,6.

This event was danced over 4 rounds – a great turn out!

The Professional Exhibition /Cabaret was also a main feature here at the Holiday Dance Classic. It was a very small affair with only 3 couples entered but almost all were terrific. I said “almost” because Michael Levenkov & Mariia Bovykina who took third place in this competition had at least one big mistake in the program that was obvious to all and we figure that cost them some points with the judges and yes when looking at their score card they got third from all judges on this outing. Second in this heat went to Stephen & Elisa McCann, performing their “River Dance” medley. This routine is always well received by the audience who tend to clap and cheer as they dance to a wonderful Celtic piece of music. Their efforts were also well rewarded Stephen & Elisa stole two first place marks from the winning couple and the judges were Linda Dean and Patrick Johnson. Winning this Exhibition and Cabaret were Travis & Jaimee Tuft taking the majority of first from all judges except the last two mentioned, who awarded them second place for this routine. Unlike in previous efforts, Travis & Jaimee relied on a “ShowDance” piece this time and not too much cabaret, meaning they only had a handful of lifts in their program. And as usual for us they were perfection on this night.

All 4 Rising Star divisions were held tonight. The largest of the 3 was the Smooth that was danced over 3 rounds.

The winners in the four divisions were: Rhythm - Artem & Ginny Rae Shiller (2,1,1,1,2). Ballroom – Mirko Spano & Pamela Romano (1,1,1,1,1). Latin – Kostiantyn Samarski & Anna Oblakova (1,1,1,1,1). Smooth – Igor Dogoter & Natalia (1,1,1,1).

Login to post comments

Social Share

Advertise with us

Are you looking for a new client?.. We will help you to find them cost effectively!..

Advertise with us!Advertise with US!


Do you want to get access to all articles and pdf issues?.. Join us now!

SubscribeDance Beat Membership