In a thrilling competition that started with a quarter-final round, the usual number two in line couple towards the US and World Championships, Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin, lost in a three to two decision to Francesco Arietta & Jessa Mae Briones. We also Had a change of place in the Professional Ballroom making this last night at the Millennium one of the most exciting nights for ballroom dancing in a long time. And the cherry to this tasty cake was “The Debra Fountain Show of Shows” with Andre & Natalie Paramonov, Troels Bager & Ina Jeliazkova and Shane & Shannon Jensen.
As we just mentioned, Francesco & Jessa Mae won the Open Professional Rhythm three/two and could have almost won the cha cha with just one more point. Francesco & Jessa Mae were one point away from taking that dance. However, we must point out that no couple here had the majority of firsts. Dmitry & Olena had to also rely on “second or better” to win the dance. In the rumba the majority went to Francesco & Jessa Mae with 12 first place marks in their column. In the swing they too go the majority with 9 first places on their score card, and the same in the bolero. In an interesting twist of events in the mambo no couple got the majority of firsts because Kevin Ubillus & Milagros Lareto as usual stole the show with this dance and got 7 first place marks from the judges, more than any other couple but not a majority, making Dmitry & Olena win this dance with second or better once again, and was quite close for Dmitry & Olena and Francesco & Jessa Mae, Dmitry & Olena won the mambo by one point.
For us on the sidelines it was an comfortable win for Francesco & Jessa Mae who showed great understanding of the music in question. But having said this, we also felt that Dmitry & Olena had a really strong showing as well. Overall we are thrilled to see such incredible quality in the Rhythm style. Dmitry & Olena might have been second overall but their game last night was very hard to beat, not only in their energy but their quality of movement.
Third in this wonderful parade of stars went to Kevin Ubillus & Milagros Lareto who always seem to steal the show when it comes to their mambo. However, it is unfortunate that in the basic skill dances there seemed to still be some technical flaws that disrupt their progress. They placed 3rd in all dances. There was a tie for fourth position between Gene & Elena Bersten and Ivan Kudashev & Kseniia Sokolova, after a Rule 11 was used Gene & Elena placed fourth and Ivan & Kseniia took fifth. Gene & Elena placed 4,6,5,5,4 and Ivan & Ksenia 6,5,4,4,5. These two couples are also wonderful additions to the Rhythm category, but here we have to disagree we felt that perhaps the edge should have gone to Ivan & Kseniia who have a complete package as a couple.
It must have been quite a disappointing result for Ryan & Danelle Lockhart who in the past have done a lot better than the 6th place they got tonight. They scored 5,4,6,6,6. Unfortunately, we have to agree with the judges, on this evening Ryan & Danelle seemed to be just walking it through, and the few times you looked at them they also had a number of basic floor craft issues. We do hope to see them again and hope even stronger and better than before.
The Professional Ballroom last night was also an excellent competition and here the winners by placing first in four dances and second in the tango were Iaroslav & Liliia Bieliei. However, we must point out that only in the waltzes were Iaroslav & Liliia able to win with a majority of firsts. In the other two dances they had to rely on “second or better” marks to win. The winners of the tango and the chasers who placed overall second were Rudy Homm & Katia Kanevskaya, we must also add that the tango was won with a majority of firsts from the judges and that they were the recipients of most of the firsts taken away from the winners.
The last two couples mentioned were a delight for us in the stands not holding a pen, but the bright shining star in this heat were Radu Sterban & Xenia Cletova, who have a magnificent quickstep and did manage to steal a couple first place marks in this dance. I think this will probably be the couple to watch out for in the not to far future. The marks for Radu & Xenia were 4,3,3,3,3. Fourth overall was awarded to Maksym Savitskyi & Polina Riabovil 3,4,4,4,4, fifth place in all dances went to Valeriu Ursache & Liana Bakhtiarova, and sixth in all were Andrii Mykhailov & Ekaterina Popova.
The last two competition were great but the Cabaret was excellent with some terrific couples. The winners were Alynendrov & Maria Tsorokean who nearly won with perfect scores, the only dissenting judge was John Kimmins, who awarded them a second for their performance. Second from every judge but John who awarded them first went to Travis & Jaimee Tuft. Third went to Nikita Zhukovskyi & Angelina Boiko, fourth was Devan McClish & Brooke Mortimer, and fifth went to Mykhaylo Smagin & Patricia Weiler.
The Open Amateur Latin was a straight six-couple final and from our perspective the winners were clear. This was Max Firestein & Nicole Mtchedlize and they did indeed win all dances with the majority of first places. Cha cha was the closest scored dance which Max & Nicole won by 9 firsts to 4. The runner-up position went to Arsen Havrushchyk & Sofia Ward and they were probably happy that they took a significant amount of first places from the winners overall. They placed 2nd in all dances. 3rd in all dances went to Brandon Maier & Elizabeth Thompson. The couples all finished in the same position in all dances. 4th Seth Eldridge & Natasha Nadler; 5th Mike Marszowski & Luis Miranda; 6th Tin Phan-Tran & Meghan Rivera.
Millennium is always about the “production,” and last night we saw the second half of the Show of Shows, once again featuring 3 of our national champions.
Three more people from our dance world were also recognized for their service and abilities. The Hall of Fame award for 2022 went to Giampiero Giannico & Anna Mikhed for their outstanding career in the Professional Ballroom style. Marie Roberts, Mr. Chapman’s longtime personal assistant, was also recognized for her hard work and dedication to the Millennium Championships.
For the pro-ams, the day was filled with Latin. The Open Scholarships in the Latin brought out some of the top competitors in this style, including the ladies who are currently featuring in a Bravo TV reality series.
The largest division was the Open B (and this is the division being filmed by Bravo) and it was won by Sabrina Strasser w/ Stanislav Kochergin from Canada. Sabrina won all 5 dances, all but the jive with a majority of first places from the judges. With 2,2,2,2,3, Gaelle Benchetrit w/ Nino Langella took the runner-up position and 3,3,3,4,4 gave Leonie Biggs w/ Kostiantyn Samarskyi third place. That elusive 2nd place in jive went to Lindsay Keatley w/ Vladislav Robatsenko whose overall placements of 4,4,5,3,2 gave her a fourth place finish. 5th Tina Broccole w/ Andrei Kazlouski 5,5,4,5,5; 6th Collette Marotto w/ Oleksiy Pigotskyy 6,6,6,6,6. This event began with a quarter-final.
The Open A was quite a contested heat from the judges’ perspective. The winner, however, was pretty clear and this was Kristina Mazhar w/ Vladimir Karpov who won all dances, the samba, paso and jive with the majority of firsts. Also quite clear was the runner-up spot and that went to Lori Ebinger w/ Tabish Romario in all dances. After this, the judges had less consistency. 3rd Jessica Stone w/ Sergey Korshunov 3,4T,4,3,3; 4th Meera Mehta w/ Kristijan Burazer 4,3,3,5,6; 5th Kaylee Schwartz w/ Evgenii Grytsak 6,4T,5,4,4; 6th Anvelyn Pi w/ Pasha Stepanchuk 5,6,6,6,5.
It was a 3 to 2 decision at the top the Open C final with the result going to Loraine Peoples w/ Kostiantyn Samarskyi 1,1,2,2,1. With 2,2,1,1,2, the runner-up was Isabel Collins w/ Mykyta Serdyuk. All the 3’s went to Mariana Svyatets w/ Vladimir Karpov. 4th Holly Lee w/ Ryan Lewis 5,6,4,5,4; 5th Gisa Dilorio w/ Stefano Placidi 4,5,6,4,6; 6th Michelle Mazel w/ Roman Italyankin 6,4,5,6,5.
The Open D began with a semifinal and 7 ladies were returned to the final. The winner of all dances was Shannon Bachynski w/ Dmitry Levita who won all dances but cha cha with the majority of first places. Jennifer Marre w/ Plamen Danilov was the runner-up and again, this was in all dances. For the rest of the final the scores were more varied. 3rd Luna Viva w/ Kristijan Burazer 3,3,4,4,3; 4th Windy Yu w/ Roman Italyankin 4,5,3,3,4; 5th Sue Gershowitz w/ Nikolai Pilipenchuk 7,4,6,5,5; 6th Diana Knight w/ Nikolai Shpakov 5,7,5,6,6; 7th Carolyn Durocher w/ Alan Desterhaft 6,6,7,7,7.
The Open S1 went to Nora Fox w/ Plamen Danilov and repeating her win in Open S2 Rhythm, Felicia Porges w/ Adam Katona also won the S2 Latin.
As you all know “this ain’t our first rodeo!” We have been to the Millennium Dancesport Championships for years, but we have never attended one in Texas, Dallas, Texas to be precise.
And as is so true the moment you walked in that ballroom your first thoughts were – “look at it, it’s bigger’n Dallas!” And before we are “fixin’ to” talk about last night’s competition and show, we have to say that once again the Millennium at the direction of Mr. Michael Chapman, outdid itself in decorations and in first class entertainment!
Last night there were many events but the three featured events that had everyone’s attention were the Open Professional Smooth, the Open Professional Latin and the Jake Mazhar Show Of Shows! This show seems to be the new feature at the Millennium Dancesport Championships, and it was something worth staying up for because the couples featured - Andre & Natalie Paramonov, Shane & Shannon Jensen and Troels Bager & Ina Jeliazkova were totally worth the trip and the ticket to see them.
This years Millennium theme was the “Golden Era” a flash back to the ‘50, ’60, ’70, the ballroom was as usual fully decorated and the costumes of the show and performances totally accented the theme filling this gigantic ballroom, and we all know that “everything’s bigger in Texas” this was truly true at the Millennium this year, especially the spectacular show by the three couples mentioned and the “Hard Drive” dancers that accompanied many of the numbers performed in this show and throughout the weekend.
The Professional Latin and Smooth were top notch competitions. The Open Professional Latin started with a healthy quarter-final round but in the end six very capable couples were recalled for this final. The winners of this terrific Latin heat were Mykhailov Bilopukhov & Anastasiia Shchypilina who took all dances with a majority of firsts in every dance. This is a couple we have always enjoyed and who always turn in a complete package, great musicality, isolation, technical merit and a beautiful sophisticated, but simple look. Mykhailov seems to have allowed his hair to grow a little more and you can see he is enjoying it.
Second in this Latin heat went to Manuel Favilla & Natalia Maidiuk taking second in all dances. Manuel & Natalia are also always fully groomed in a very classical style that complements the interpretation of each dance. For us at times we would like to see a little more punch or should we say forceful movements to keep our attention for longer periods of time, so not to allow us to get away from them but always a great couple to see in this type of quality final.
Third place in all dances was awarded to Artur Tarnavskyy & Anastasia Danilova who are also a very consistent couple, and one that perhaps has stayed a little too consistent for a long time. Before you throw a “Hissy fit” if you’re a fan of this couple like we are, let us explain. We have seen Artur & Anastasia dance since they were quite young together and when they were first on the scene they seemed to many to be “way out there” with their creativity and talent; nowadays we still see their talent and technical consistency, but for us they lack a little bit of the playfulness and experimentation of the past! I think with a little bit more of this they can easily shoot quite high.
The couple that stole the night for us and no matter where we went in that ballroom we could not stop watching them, was Nikita Brovko &Tatiana Seliverstova. What talent these two have and the energy to light up the ballroom and the entire state of Texas! The only problem that we see here and right now is that in the words of singer and composer Wayne Cochran “If you can’t sing good, sing loud.” Nikita & Tatiana, compared to the other couples, are a newer partnership. Nikita if a fabulous dancer with a great background and pedigree and Tatiana is not far behind, she was a runner up in the Smooth style at a US and world class level, she has also competed at a world status for many years in both the Ballroom and Latin style, so she is not new to this but their partnership is new and right now they are missing some subtlety, as well as a good mix of all their energies. So for us they need to stop being “Loud and make the music good” something we know is there and we know they can do, Nikita & Tatiana placed fourth in four dances and fifth in the jive.
Taking fourth in the jive and fifth in the other four dances were Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabrielle Sabler, another talented couple with huge potential but at the moment a little quiet in their approach, perhaps they should take notice of our comments from before and be a little more “loud” and not so worry about being right. Sixth and we are sure quite disappointed with their result, were Roman Italyankin & Alexandra Bokova who have been placed ahead of almost every couple in this final but of late seem to be slipping a little, and perhaps need to rethink their approach to the style and reinvent themselves for them, for the judges, and for all of us.
The Open Professional Smooth was also a “who’s who” of the Smooth world and current US and World Professional Smooth Champions, Roman Malkhasyan & Galina Detkina won the Millennium Championships with perfect scores in three dances losing only one mark in the Viennese Waltz from Mr. John Kimmins. For us this couple seem to be on top of their game and are not letting anyone get ahead of them not even by one mark.
Second in this parade of stars went to Travis & Jaimee Tuft, who were the recipient of the one first place mark from Mr. Kimmins in the Viennese Waltz and who took all seconds in the other three dances from the judges. As we have always said this couple do not lack talent, ability or technique, they just need to perhaps go out on the “limb” a little more often and take us with you.
Third was awarded to Kharyton & Anastasiya Khomenko who placed 3rd in three dances and 5th in the Viennese Waltz. Fourth went to Tykhon & Yana Zhyvkov and they placed 5th in the waltz, 4th in the tango, foxtrot and 3rd in the Viennese Waltz. In fifth place was Volodymyr Barabash & Yulia Rudenco placing 4th in both the waltzes and taking 5th in the tango, foxtrot. Sixth place was left to Igor & Meghan Afonkin and they took 6th in all dances.
Earlier in the evening we saw the Open Amateur Ballroom – a straight final, it was won by Samuel Hacke & Katarina Hermanova. They won all dances with clear majorities of first places.
The remaining 2 Pro RS divisions were also decided early in the evening. The winners were Gene & Elena Bersten (Rhythm) and Mirko Spano & Pamela Romano (Ballroom).
Millennium has recently instituted a Pro-Am Hall of Fame award. This year the recipient was Carol McAlpine of World Champion Productions in Nashville, TN.
The Open Pro-Am Ballroom Scholarships were not as large as their American Style counterparts, but the level of dancing was very high.
The winner of the Open A was Julia Shen w/ Rudy Homm who won all dances with the majority of first places. The runner-up was Anvelyn Pi w/ Dan Malov – 3,2,2,3,2. Cathy Dorego w/ Andrii Mykhailov was 3rd 2,3,3,2,3. 4th in all Kristina Mazhar w/ Alex Spencer and 5th in all Paldeep Atwal w/ Jennifer McMillan.
Natasha Janey w/ Iaroslav Bieliei won a fairly tight race for the Open B winning 3 of the 5 dances to the runner-up Laura Shooks w/ Alexander Voskalchuk’s 2. Natahsa placed 2,2,1,1,1, Laura placed 1,1,2,2,2. Meredith Kaplan w/ Rudy Homm was 3rd in all dances. 4th Janet Simsic w/ Andrea Stefano 5,5,4,4,4; 5th Haily Ng w/ Andrii Mykhailov 4,4,5,5,5; 6th Laura White w/ Andrea Faraci 6,6,6,6,6; 7th Joyce Lo w/ Guennadi Iakounine 7,7,7,7,7.
Jill Bradford w/ Andrea Stefano won all dances in the Open C with exactly 6 first places out of nine in each dance. The runner-up scored 2,2,2,2,3, and that was Wendy Eubank w/ Mikhail Avdeev. Monique Saviano w/ Oreste Alitto was 3rd 3,3,3,3,2. 4; Rebecca Kuhn w/ Andrea Faraci 4,4,4,4,4; 5th Sheila Zou w/ Valeriu Ursache 5,5,5,5,5; 6th Shawn Kenner w/ Ronen Zinhstein 6,6,6,6,6; 7th Jimmie Sue Hoekenga w/ Balint Temesvari 7,8,8,7,7; 8th Kim Gorsuch w/ Denis Generalov 8,7,7,8,8.
The Open D was a closely fought division that ultimately fell to Linda Gill w/ Luca Balestra with the scores of 2,2,1,3,1. Three ladies actually shared the first places in this division. 2nd went to Paige Riffle w/ Iaroslav Bieliei 1,3,2,2,2 and 3rd went to Hardy w/ Rudy Homm 3,1,3,1,3. The second half of this final was much more settled as each competitor finished in the same position in all dances. 4th Stetler w/ Alexander Voskalchuk; 5th Roy w/ Bezukladnikov; 6th Sue Gershowitz w/ Nikolai Pilipenchuk.
Linda Huntress w/ Andrea Stefano won the Open S2 and Vy Wappel w/ Oleksyy Pigotskyy took the Open S1
Doing it Dallas Style!
Millennium Dancesport Championships is under way right now – but not in its more usual home, but in Dallas, TX.
Every 4 years Millennium takes to the road and this year we’re all here in Dallas at the beautiful Hyatt Regency in downtown. This venue has a huge ballroom which is perfect for organizer, Mr. Michael Chapman, who favors larger than life sets. This year the theme is 50’s and 60’s and the ballroom and lobby are filled with spectacular antique cars from the period provided by Jake Mazhar.
So far we have seen the pro-ams dance all levels of their Rhythm and Smooth divisions. We felt the Open Smooth Scholarships, danced last night, were of a very high standard – certainly among the best pro-am divisions we’ve seen so far this year. Although not quite as exemplary as the Smooth, the Rhythm also gave us some thrills. Here are the results from both styles.
The Rhythm night (Wednesday), was a great night for Nichelle Kennedy w/ Aleks Nashev who won both the Open B and Open C. She won all 5 dances in both divisions with the majority of 1st places. Really well done! 2nd in the B went to Julie Wolf w/ Gene Bersten and she also was 2nd in all dances. 3rd in all dances was Brittain Eliezer w/ Sergey Samchynskyy. 4th Natalia Zavodchikov w/ Dmitry Demidov 4,4,4,4,4; 5th Loren Rouke w/ Jhondarr Lopez 5,6,5,5,5; 6th Jill Winters-Bougard w/ Grigol Kranz 6,5,6,6,6.
The runner-up in the Open C was Margueritte Pinard w/ Ilya Reyzin and once again, this was in all dances. Natalia Zavodchikov w/ Dmitry Demidov moved up to 3rd here, placing 4,3,4,4,3. 4th Nedra Sadorf w/ Vladyslav Babenko 5,4,3,3,4; 5th Anna Capo w/ Luis Lopez 3,5,5,5,5; 6th Krista Hughes w/ Tykhon Zhyvkov 6,6,6,6,6; 7th Tracy Hannon w/ Iurri Kora 7,7,7,7,7.
Lula Calloway w/ Nazar Norov was the easy winner of the Open A Rhythm, winning all dances with strong majorities of first places in all. Keeping it in Florida, Sophia Santiago-Burgos w/ Danas Jaksevicius was 2nd in all dances. All the 3’s went to Abigail Montalba w/ Vasilii Platonov. 4th Melissa Majlat w/ Radomir Pashev 5,4,4,5,4; 5th Sienna Larson w/ Nicholas Rodriguez 4,5,5,4,5; 6th Jill Winters-Bougard w/ Grigol Kranz 6,6,6,6,6; 7th Michelle Young w/ Scott Koogle 7,7,7,7,7.
Marguerite Pinard w/ Ilya Reyzin moved up to a win in the Open D and actually took every first place in every dance – the only person to do that on this day. With 2,2,2,3,2, Debbie Clyne w/ Jermey Gatlin was the runner-up. Judith Spivey w/ Oleksii Zhylenko was 3rd 3,3,4,2,3. 4th Luna Viva w/ Kristian Burazer 4,4,3,4,4; 5th Mimi Feliciano w/ Ivan Kudashev 5,5,6,6,5; 6th Kim Bors w/ Pavel Lebedev 6,6,5,5,6.
In the Open S1 and S2 divisions, the winners were Anne Goldstein w/ Andre Gergel (S2) and Karen Scott w/ Vladimir Kosarev (S1).
Several of the Open Smooth Scholarships began with a quarter-final round and produced some wonderful finals.
Following her win in the Open A Rhythm, Lula Calloway made it a double by also taking the Open A Smooth, this time dancing with Sergey Barsukov. This time Lula received perfect scores from the judges. With 3,2,2,2, Maxahna w/ Danas Jaksevicius took the runner-up position and with 2nd in waltz and 3rd in the other dances Elizabeth Cuevas w/ Mayo Alanen was 3rd. Ola Glodek w/ Kharyton Khomenko was 4th in all dances and Arnold w/ Harp was 5th in all.
Celia Chou w/ Erminio Stefano kept her grip on the B Division, winning all dances and losing only a total of 2 first places. 2nd and 3rd placements were decided by a Rule 11 tiebreak that went in favor of Patricia Schneider w/ Slawek Sochaki 3,3,2,2 over Zlata Clark w/ Kyle Spinder 2,2,3,3. Nichelle Kennedy w/ Aleks Nashev took all the 4’s. 5th Nannel Wray w/ Enzo Zappia 5,5,5,5; 6th Kristin Buettner w/ Ivan Markelov 6,6,6,6. This division began with a semifinal.
The Open C began with a quarter-final and turned out to be quite a close contest. Patricia Schneider w/ Slawek Sochaki won all dances but only in the waltz did she have a majority of first places. In the other 3 dances, the judges split their 1st places between her and the runner-up, Sophia D’Angelo w/ Max Sinitsa, who did indeed place 2nd in all dances. Nichelle w/ Aleks took 3rd in all dances. 4th Gail Komar w/ Nikolai Pilipenchuk 4,4,4,4; 5th Sue Eldred w/ Oleksiyy Pigotskiyy 5,5,5,5; 6th Joanne Tatem w/ Mariusz Zakrzewski 6,6,6,6.
The other event to begin with a quarter-final was the Open D and in this the clear winner was Simona Bebi w/ Nazar Norov who won all dances with a majority of first places. Sue Eldred w/ Oleksyy Pigotskyy took 2nd in all dances and Marguerite Pinard w/ Ilya Reyzin took 3rd in all. Shannon Bachchynski w/ Dmitry Levita was 4th in all dances. 5th Linda Schneider-Jesser w/ Kharyton Khomenko 6,5,5,5; 6th Carolyn Glazner w/ Yegor Novikov 5,6,6,6.
Felicia Porges w/ Adam Katona won the S2 and Lesley Brookman w/ Sergey Barsukov won the S2.
We also saw the first of the professional events last night as both the RS Latin and RS Smooth took place. The Latin was a straight final but it was quite hard fought with all couples receiving some first place marks from the judges. With 1,1,1,1,2 Randelovic Miroslav & Dakota Pizzi took the win. Casey & Kayci Treu were the runners-up with 2,2,2,2,1 and Vladyslav Babenko & Anastassia Shyakorova took third in all dances.
The RS Smooth was much larger and began with a quarter-final. Vladyslav & Brianna Nalyvaychuk won all dances, all except the tango with the majority of first places. Ivan Sovetov & Valeria Mkrtchian were 2nd in all dances and with 3,3,3,4 Dymytro Pohybil & Alona Kushnir were 3rd.
Stay tuned for more pro-am and professional reports coming tomorrow.