Vegas Open 2023

(0 votes)

Show, Place and Win!

20 years and counting!

This year was the 20th anniversary of the Vegas Open Dance Challenge under the direction of Maria Hansen and Mikal Watkins. It was called the Vegas Showdown when it first began. Interestingly two of the officials have been at every one of the 20 and both were presented last night. The first is Dance Beat’s Keith Todd who was the first chairman of judges and has also officiated as a judge and music director on other years. Gitte Svendsen is the other official who has worked every one of the 20 years in an organizational capacity.

As a further celebration of 20 years, The Brent Mills Orchestra played during Saturday evening for general dancing and again at the farewell party. Organizer, Mikal Watkins, could also be seen standing in with the band on guitar!!

Last night we “Topped” out at the Vegas Open Dance Challenge, where there were many beautiful players and we saw some excellent dancing. The Professional Ballroom was one of the heats that provided some excellent quality and excitement with so many of the couples looking fully prepared for the Challenge.

The winner of all the Ballroom dances with a majority of firsts in all dances was Valeriu Ursache & Liana Bakhtiarova, and here from the beginning of the competition this couple showed us some great dancing with good form, good floor craft and beautiful musicality. They were very consistent from beginning to end and although the other couples were also keeping up, you could tell from the start they were going to cash out in the end.

Second in this excellent Ballroom heat and in all dances were Maksym Savytskyi & Polina Riabovil. However, for us, it seems that Radu Sterban & Xenia Cletova could have also taken a few of their seconds. These two couples were not good enough to steal the show completely from Valeriu & Liana, but they did steal a couple of firsts and were a good addition to this final. Radu & Xenia placed third in all dances. Fourth place, also in all dances, was awarded to Serhiy Averkov & Olena Barna, fifth in all went to Marek Klepadlo & Nina Zhiting Yang and sixth were Rusland Kaliuzhnyi & Elena Babaeva.

The other competition that really got the house going from start to finish was the Open Professional Rhythm and here we got to see the newly formed partnership in action - Andrew Escolme & Asta Sigvaldadottir. On this outing, unlike at the New York Dance Festival last week, they seemed to be more relaxed and were able to produce a more musical performance and there was no doubt about it - the audience was calling their names and the judges were seduced by it. Andrew & Asta won all dances – the swing and the bolero with perfect scores from the judges and they would have had perfect scores in the other three dances but judge 11, Michael Mead, did not agree with any of what we were all looking at, his first place marks in the C,R,M went to Danelle & Ryan Lockhart who took second in all dances.

We do have to agree with Danelle & Ryan’s second place, you could see this from the moment they began to dance. However, this was not always on the best light on this heat with plenty of room and not as crowded as in the NYDF we can see a little to much pushing and shoving from our perspective. Danelle is a lovely dancer who we are sure is able to get to her foot without the extra effort from Ryan. For us here the idea is to see you make music together and not knock each other down during the heat.

Third in this Rhythm final was awarded to Shem Modrzynski & Magdalena Zybura with these marks 3,3,3,3,4, and from watching their reaction they seemed to be prepared for this fourth placement in the mambo. Perhaps a little more study of the music and the roots of the dance might help in the mambo. Placing third in the mambo and fourth overall and in the other four dances were Aaron Pierce & Ksenia Stavrica. This couple has made huge improvement in this style and we think it’s not over yet. They seemed to be determined to get closer to the top and with this kind of work they will probably manage it sooner or later.

Fifth position went to Alexey Smirnov & Daria Smirnova and sixth in all dances were Joseph Letting & Varlam Letting.

Speaking of perfect runs, Travis & Jaimee Tuft won the Open Professional Smooth with perfect marks from all the judges. We are sure this was an easy mark to place with this couple being so capable. By the way Travis & Jaimee Tuft also won the Cabaret competition the day before.

However, in this Smooth division second and third place was much harder for the judges with two very different but well-educated couples in this field fighting for second place - Igor Dogoter & Natalia Gorshkova and Brianna & Vladyslav Nalyvaychuk. For us Bryanna & Vladyslav have a more aggressive approach while on the other hand Igor & Natalia have a softer approach, and so it all comes down to taste, they are both wonderful at their skill. But you can see if you look at all their marks that here there was more to consider and think about from the judges’ perspective, the final marks can give you a clue Brianna & Vladyslav placed second with these marks 2,3,3,2, and Igor & Natalia took third with these marks 4,4,2,3, yes it is clear who is second and who is third but it was not a clear sweep for either couple on this outing.

Fourth place was awarded to Ilia Sydurenko & Tetyana Kuts who also played a major role if you look at the scorecards mark to mark. This couple have wonderful skills of travel and perhaps their Ballroom background helps them here and they are very appealing if you like clear, clean basic work from start to finish. The marks here also speak for the judges’ dilemma in Ilia & Tetyana’s scorecard 3,2,5,4. Fifth place went to Lukas Spisak & Eva Tibeska 5,5,4,5, and sixth were Joseph Letting & Varlam Letting. We must tip our hats to Josep & Varlam doing 9 dances is quite difficult and you are doing it quite well, to make both finals this weekend was not an easy task at all.

The Smallest of all the events was the Open Professional Latin where four couples took to the floor, but what they lacked on entries they made up with talent. The winners for us and the majority of the judges were Daniil Tymoshenko & Vlada Vursalova, here for us there was no question they were the best, and as we mentioned they did get the majority of firsts from the judges. However, there was still a few judges that had them second or lower in this heat. Second in this terrific Latin competition went to Oleksii Fedorov & Anastasiia Kanieva and they took second in all dances. Third were Alexandra & Joseph Hopwood and fourth went to Edgaras Brazan & Marie Tessa.

With almost 7,000 entries in total, this was one of the largest Vegas Open's on record.  Congrats to the long-time organizers on keeping their event in the top echelon of events over a long period of time. We will always miss another organizer who was associated with the event for several years - Mr. Paul Holmes who passed away in 2019.


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