The Paragon Open 2022

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Great Harvest but a Little Green!

Saturday was amazing day at the Paragon Open Championships, the field was a little green but the potential in all categories was endless.

The Professional Rhythm perhaps had the most punch but here every couple had something special to offer.

A little green to this category but continuing to improve and impress, Francesco Arieta & Jessa Mae Briones, they won three dances with a majority of firsts but in the swing and the bolero they had to rely on seconds or better to win the dances. For us this performance was not the best we have seen from this couple, perhaps they are a little too comfortable now that the nationals are over. There is endless potential here and we are sure they will continue to move forward with extra consistency on future outings.

The couple that really impressed me on this outing was Ivan Kudashev & Ksenia Sokolova, especially in the swing where they gave it their all and looked like the champs. We totally love their energy even thought it needs to be channeled correctly in the other four dances. Another talented couple that took third overall and needs to be mentioned was Dymytri Goncharov & Veronika Shapar they took third in four dances and fourth in the swing. Dymytri & Veronika have tremendous potential, at time the work can look a little unfinished, and as if they are moving through the music not with it, more attention could be place on this detail.

Fourth was Andrew Nikitchenson & Tara Fanzo, we love that they put a lot of impact in every dance they truly break the doors down, enough to take third in the swing. More refinement needs to be done to challenge the very top but totally on the right track. Fifth in all dances were Senzo Makhaye & Agnieszka Strojek, and sixth went to Jeffrey Ruben Benarao & Therese Andre Quilaton.

The Professional Ballroom field was also a little green but with fantastic potential. The winners in all dances with a majority of firsts were Oleksandr Kalenyuk & Olena Ablitsova, for us this couple brings a full package to the table, their feet and legs are amazing and Oleksandr’s upper body position is so natural and poised. Another favorite of ours took second and that is Igor Mikushov & Valeriia Belozerova. Like the winners they took most of the seconds and all the firsts that Oleksandr & Valeriia lost. Their displacement of movement is wonderful, perhaps a little more subtlety and light and shade might be needed to take more firsts from the top, the potential is certainly there, no reason why not.

Third in all dances went to another couple with lots of potential but could ripen a little more, Riccardo Conte & Eleonora Filippi. This couple is a pleasure to watch, at the moment sometimes they are hard to find on the floor but once you do, you’re glued to them. Fourth were Artem Belmeha & Anna Shevchenko, fifth place was awarded to Yuriy Nartov & Neli Petkova and sixth were Ion & Diana Postolachi .

The Professional Cabaret was small but mighty only three couples participated but what lacked it in quantity, it had in quality. The winners Craig Smith & Andrea Harvey were amazing this was the best yet, the new moves had us all off our seats. We were kind of surprised that one judge awarded them a second out of 15 judges. Craig & Andrea received a standing ovation after their performance and it was not just one move it was all of it. This was the battle of the giants - second place went to the well-known Travis & Jaimee Tuft and as always they left nothing to chance. We are full fans of this couple but on this night they needed to put out one of their other numbers, one with more lifts and not as passive to challenge Craig & Andrea. Third place went to Andrey Kitsun & Nicole Prosser they did an excellent number but lacked the cabaret elements for them to challenge on this night against these two big stars of Cabaret.

The amateur competitions were terrific in both the Latin and the Ballroom. In the Latin the partnership of Tal Livshitz & Ilana Keselman were unstoppable, and it was an unquestionable win for them earning perfect scores from all judges in every dance, we have to agree with the judges on this one. We must also mention that Tal & Ilana won the best of the best competing against the top amateurs this same evening, they did a cha cha that the music alone brought you to your feet.

Second overall in the amateur Latin was awarded to Idan Daich & Anastasia Sinyauskaya 2,3,2,3,5. This was a very good couple but I think compared to some of the others we found them a little green, and I think perhaps this was a very good panel for them on this outing. We look forward to seeing them again and perhaps see what we missed. Third overall went to a terrific couple that have been dancing for quite some time and we have seen them dance both separately since they were small children - Kristers Smits & Shelly Umansky, this couple have all the talent in the world and so much energy you can see it from a plane, we think that with a little more maturity and guidance they will be unstoppable.

Fourth overall went to a couple that we really enjoy and felt they could have easily placed second overall. However, we must have missed something here, Sandu Babira & Emmy Chladek, were perhaps not as sharp and precise as Tal & Ilana, but their work for us was very complete. We were quite surprised with their marks 3,4,5,3,4. Fifth was another incredible couple that not long ago were a little green but now they are as ripe as a tangerine, Kevin Filipczak & Sophia Marriott 5,5,3,5,3. Kevin & Sophia have done their work and in the past year or so have matured quite a lot. Sophia who not log ago was a kid is now looking on the top of the class and for us one of the best in this competition.

Sixth overall was awarded to Oskar Krimus & Shayna McDonald 7,6,7,6,6. This was possibly not the result they were looking for, and yes they are not the most consistent couple, but could have place slightly higher. Emil Martirosyan & Eva Tulchinsky were placed seventh overall 6,7,6,7,7.

The Amateur Ballroom was just as fruitful as the other competitions, the winners here were Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova who quite easily won taking the majority of firsts in all dances. Technically they were the best for us even though Lavrov & Lavrov who placed second in all dances really gave them a run for their money. We are so pleased to see so many talented dancers and seeing that the future not just in Ballroom dancing but in all the other styles is on the rise and even better than ever.

There was no variation of marks for any of the couples, what they got on the final tally is exactly what they were awarded in all dances. Third in all dances was awarded to Nickolas Bleykhman & Zlatoslava Poluben. Fourth were Yevgenii Taraniuk & Makinen, fifth went to Oskar Rybczynski & Veronika Nowak, and in sixth position were Dimitri Billian & Hanna Shyvilka.

Congratulations to the organizers who always do a wonderful job in hosting this event - the love and welcome is felt from the moment you arrive. Look forward to Paragon 2023!

"Through the Eyes of the Soul"

“Be as happy as you can, oh king Tecayehyatzin; You who appreciates the jewels that flourish!
Will we live again? Your heart knows this: We only live once!”

Poem by Xayacamachn.

This year as every year the Paragon’s theme is “Los Muertos” celebrating the new harvest and a new moon. This year the nightclub session began the competition and all were asked to wear something with the motive especially because the “Nightclub” style is all about having fun.

Last night the main feature events were the Open Professional Latin and Smooth and they did not disappoint, both events were excellent but the Professional Latin results left us scratching our heads. The quality was terrific but the majority of the results were not expected something that we celebrate in an industry where sometimes everything can be written in stone.

Yes, the winner apparently was an obvious one - Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabrielle Sabler won all dances all with a majority of firsts but the rumba where they missed the majority by one mark. For this dance they had to rely on seconds or better marks but it was very easy for them. When it came to quality as well as presentation there was no contest for them Pasha & Gabriela for us looked way above the rest from the start.

Where one had to really look and at times go back and forth was with the second placement. There were two couples that for us could either have taken this position - Rangel Spirov & Veronika Chernyaskaya, and Andriy & Amanda Besyedin, how wrong were we!!! According to the judges’ marks there was no fight for second place, the easy second placed awardees were Andriy & Amanda who did manage to steal the most first places from the winners and who we can agree gave a solid performance not just in quality but in energy and excitement.

Our shock was the fifth place overall awarded to Rangel Spirov & Veronika Chernyaskaya 4,T4,5,5,5. As we mentioned, we thought they were giving Andriy & Amanda a run for that placement but no, as far as we could tell the only running was for a much lower placement. In thinking about their performance, we have to agree they can get a little carried away with their emotions and presentation making it a little loud perhaps, but not deserving of the fifth place awarded. We are a little excited about the possibility that we will not always see the same result at every comp, this makes the competition so much more appealing for an audience not knowing who for sure should be second. In the end we think this to be a good thing and congratulations to the judges for going out of what we consider the usual box.

Ilya Maletyn & Anna Oblakova took third in all dances, this is what we call a dream team. Ilya is an amazing competitor and Anna has tremendous talent not only in this style but in the Ballroom as well. For us their programs are not quite ready and although we find great qualities in both, like Anna’s leg action, we think it all has to gel a little more for it to be marked this highly. We look forward to seeing this partnership flourish on future outings, they will be unstoppable once everything is in place.

Fourth place was awarded to Andrey Kitsun & Nicole Prosser 5,4T,4,4,4, another very talented couple, unfortunately maybe our minds were all tied up somewhere else and we did not see what the judges were looking at last night, we think there is huge potential here but at the moment it is a little over-worked for us, but apparently not for this panel of adjudicators. We have to tip our hats to the judges a minute and a half is never enough for us to enjoy all their excellent dancing it must be quite hard for the judges too.

We all know where Rangel & Veronika placed they were fifth overall, and sixth went to Kostiantyn Samarskyi & Margarita Golubeva who took sixth in all dances.

In the Smooth it was an easy task for Travis & Jaimee Tuft who took fist in all dances and who won the two waltzes with perfect scores from the judges, in the other two dances they missed perfect scores by one mark in the foxtrot and two marks in the tango. We could not agree more with the judges Travis & Jaimee can now turn it on and their performance is a complete package. Second place was also easy to spot although not as perfected as Travis and Jaimee you can see this is not their first rodeo, Igor & Meghan Afonkin were awarded every first place that Travis & Jaimee lost in their tango and foxtrot, and they were fully noticed above all the other competitors for their floorcraft as well as their playful style.

Third went to Ilya Abdullin & Anastasija Jerjomina and this was in all dances. We did think Ilya & Anastasija would place third overall but might lose a dance or two, to the new partnership of Dave Hannigan & Stephanie Betts who took fourth in all dances. We are happy we were correct on this one but we do like the new partnership, and look forward to seeing them on the floor sooner than later we hope.

Fifth in all dances went to Steve Torres & Nicole Barron and sixth were Tsvetomir Stynov & Tanis Nunes.

With this the evening concluded, we look forward to tonight’s Ballroom & Rhythm competition, as we write the Latin day is going on in the ballroom and it is always a packed day here at the Paragon.


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