The Professional Ballroom and the Amateur Latin, were also great events but the Rhythm style had a great fight for first place, keep reading to get our take on it.
The Professional Rhythm started with a decent 10-couple semifinal, and six excellent couples were recalled for the final and for us three couples were basically competing for first place - Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin, Francesco Arietta & Jessa Mae Briones, and Andrew Escolme & Amy Baker. These three couples are super talented and when it comes to the style they all produce and offer something different making this heat the one to watch. Unfortunately for us, our expectations might have been a little too high, because when it came down to the final fight - for us none of them delivered. We found the overall winners by one dance, Dmitry & Olena, to be just focused on getting it done without any mishaps, that we kind of lost them in translation. There was no signs from them of a story or musicality to each dance, or character of each dance, just good clean dancing with no mishaps and very quick. As we mentioned earlier they won by taking first in three dances the C,S,M and placing second in the other two dances. The one dance with the most first place marks was their mambo with 8 first place marks out of 13 judges.
Second overall by being placed second in three dances and winning the rumba, and the bolero were Francesco & Jessa. This is great new partnership with tremendous potential and talent but on this night we found Francesco to be just an admirer of the “Goddess” of Rhythm “Jesa,” who from every angle looks and plays the part of a seductive Rhythm “Goddess.” The problem here is that we expected Francesco to dance up to her and create an unbelievable picture of what could be the next rhythm face, but this time he partnered and supported well but did not reach our high expectations of a “God” himself.
Thirdly there was Andrew & Amy who as far as Rhythm awareness, partnership and musicality there is lots to admire, but unfortunately we got to see very little of it because in most dances when we tried to look for them they were hard to find amongst the crowd, and it makes us think that if we who were raised on a podium had a hard time finding them, how hard could it had been for the judges who were eye level to the couples and have to see through the crowd of dancers to get a glance at what Andrew & Amy were doing. No wonder the judges awarded them third in all five dances.
There were also three other excellent couples in this final that totally deserve a mention and they were Oleksiy Pigotskyy & Anastasiia Zhuchenko, who are also super talented and could have also challenge for the top but on this night they were seomwhat idle and they took fourth in all dances. Fifth went to Ilya Abdullin & Anastasija Jerjomino also in all dances and sixth in all dances was awarded to Antonio Nunes & Oxana Kashkina. So as you can see tremendous potential on the floor but no cigar, just a few ashes.
The Professional Ballroom went to Oleksandr Kalenyuk & Olena Ablitsova, and they won every dance but not one of them with a majority of firsts from the judges. On their scorecard we noticed they got marks from first to sixth place from the judges. We find their dancing to be super correct when it comes to their technical merit although at times they are slightly lacking in charisma and musicality. Second overall by placing third in the waltz, and second in the other four dances were Radu Stervan & Xenia Cletova. Their dancing seems always quite exiting especially the quickstep and on this night it was no different, totally deserving of this second place position. Placing second in the waltz but third in the other four dances was Igor Mikushov & Valeriia Belozerova and they received third overall.
Fourth in this talented Ballroom heat was awarded to Oreste Alitto & Zhenia Casanave, with very mixed marks from the judges 5,4,4,4,5. We find Oreste to be one of the most talented gentleman in this heat, but the partnership with Zhenia seems to be slow in gelling together. Fifth in this heat were Florin Vlad & Natalia O’Connor 6,5,6,5,4; sixth went to Serhiy Averkov & Olena Barna,4,6,5,6,6 and in seventh position and in all dances were Nazar Batih & Mariko Cantley.
The Amateur Latin was an 8-couple final and here Max Firestine & Nicole Renee won every dance and in all but the rumba they won with a majority of firsts. We have been following this couple from their start and we have to say how much they have matured in their dancing and their approach to this style. We are quite impressed to see this much maturity at this stage of the game, congratulations to them! Second in this final was awarded to Max’s younger brother, Dave Firestin & Kennedy Eaton and here too he and his partner received second in every dance and managed to steal 3 firsts in the rumba from Max.
Third position in this Amateur Latin heat went to Oskar Krimus & Shayna McDonald 3,3,3,5,4, fourth was by (Rule10) and it went to Sandu Babira & Emmy Chladek 4,5,4,4,5, fifth by (Rule10) was Idan Daich & Anastasia Sinyauskaya 5,6,5,3,3, sixth went to Aleksandros Arapis & Yulia Ishchak 6,7,6,6,6, seventh was awarded to Ryder Yang & Anastasiia Zhigulina 7,4,7,7,7, and eighth place in all dances went to Joshua Ginzburg & Emmanuelle Gray.
Near the middle of the night there was an Amateur Team Match featuring 5 regional teams. The winning team on this occasion was Team New Jersey, captained by Diana McDonald. At the end of the match, the 5 team captains held up a Ukrainian Flag to show support for the beleaguered country.
The evening was fast moving and exciting and the audience seemed to have a great time.
On Sunday, Max Greenhouse, the Event Coordinator for EUSDC, presented a memorial scholarship award in memory of Cobey England, on behalf of the England family. Cobey was a friend to many in the ballroom world, and was a longtime member of the East Coast collegiate ballroom community. His love of dancing filled the room at every competition he attended. Cobey performed Ballroom, Latin, West Coast, and also worked at many ballroom competitions, setting up the floor and lights at EUSDC and many others for several years. The scholarship award went to Ang Li of Brown University and Catalina Yang of Columbia University. The England family anticipates presenting this award annually as an ongoing tribute to Cobey
Like Strawberry and Chocolate!
Last night at The Eastern United States Championships, the competitions were savored like delicious desserts.
All the events were fantastic starting with the Amateur Ballroom, and finishing up with the Professional Smooth!
The one with the most excitement to us was the Professional Smooth where two greats of this style went once again head to head - Nick Cheremukhim & Victoriya and Roman Malkhasyan & Galina Detkina. However, we felt the judges might have been a little on the sleepy side and here is why!
We have become quite great fans of Roman Malkhasyan & Galina Detkina the newly crowned US champions, we love their creativity and their fresh approach to this style. However, last night we felt it was the reverse not just in one dance but in all dances, the night for us went to Nick Cheremukhim & Victoriya. This makes us wonder, are we so jaded about how wonderful these couples are that we expect a thrill at every performance for us to be happy with them in this style? If it is, all we have to say is that it has to be the couples’ fault, because they are producing some of the most fantastic dancing any style has seen in years and we have been here quite a long time to say it with confidence. This terrific, phenomenal occurrence is not only great for our industry but for the Smooth style itself!
Continuing on last night’s Smooth performances, we really and truly felt that the night was for Nick Cheremukhim & Viktoriya, the former US Champions, who are perhaps a little more traditional in their approach to the style but their dancing was exquisite and faultless, and that is always welcome in our view. We are not going to say that Roman & Galina were just strolling in the park because there is a blizzard outside, but perhaps they were a little too relaxed now that they have secured their title quite a number of times. We have to tip our hats to some of the judges that with the exception of the tango where Roman & Galina won with perfect scores from all the judges, were not afraid to voice their opinion and rewarded Nick & Viktoriya for such a terrific performance.
As almost written in stone, Travis & Jaimee Tuft placed third in all dances with only a handful of second places awarded to them. As always, they gave an excellent performance totally deserving. However, we have to tip our hats to Travis & Jaimee because they tackle so many styles and manage to do them all to perfection and sometimes one after the other and last night this was the case. In the cabaret there were two couples, the Tufts and Craig Smith & Andrea Harvey, both gave incredible performances, but in the end Travis & Jaimie won with a majority of firsts, leaving Craig & Andrea holding second position. This was a reverse of the result just a couple of nights ago at the New York Dance Festival. In the professional Exibition they also danced against an excellent contender and here they too won with nearly perfect scores this time against Oreste Alitto & Zhenia Casanave. Onlt one judge awarded them a second place.
Backin the Smooth - fourth in all dances was awarded to Oleksiy Pigotskyy & Anastasiia Zhuchenko, who was wearing his number on top of the Ukrainian flag, in solidarity with the People of Ukraine, totally understandable since many of our US talented Ballroom dancers were born or have roots from this independent country. Fifth place went to Ilya Abdullin & Anastasija Jerjomino with these marks 5,5,5,6; sixth were Dymtro Pohybil & Alona Kushmir 6,6,6,5, and seventh was the new partnership of Dave Hannigan & Stephanie Betts who took seventh in all dances but honestly it looks like with hard work and tears they will soon be challenging a lot higher.
Artur Tarnavskyy & Anatasia Danilova were for us and the judges the easy winners in the Open Professional Latin winning all dances with a majority of firsts from the judges. Second in this heat filled with talent and great dancing went to Andriy & Amanda Besyedin who danced with great confidence and style 2,3,2,2,2. Third was awarded to the new partnership of Ilya Maletin & Nadezda Vlasovawho who as you just saw took the samba second position, and we must say we were quite impressed with their work, it is still a little green but give it time, we think it would be quite fierce 3,2,3,3,3. Fourth went to Kelvin Ong & Masha and here it was all over the place 5,4,5,4,4; fifth was Oleg Iakushev & Viktoriia 4,5,4,5,5. And in sixth position were Yurii & Valeriia Zhyltsov.
The Amateur Ballroom as we mentioned earlier was also a delight. Here Nikita Druzhnin & Virginie Primeau from Canada won all dances with a majority of firsts from the judges. Second, but not in all dances, was awarded to Alexander Dubovyk & Rickie Taylor-Dubovik with these marks 2,3,2,2,3. We have to totally agree with the judges on this one, it totally was a closes call between them and Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova who gave a splendid performance, one with lots of musicality and character 3,2,3,3,2. Fourth were Eric Newbury & Evgenia Gorobets 4,4,5,5,4; fifth went to Matthew Matusovskiy & Nicole Klavasky 5,5,4,4,5, and sixth was awarded to Michael Greco & Elira Fifo.