New Orleans has been the home for this event for many years dating back to the previous organizer, Mr. Larry Dean, who was in attendance this year. Many of us have some wonderful memories of the New Orleans Open, (or The Southern States Championship as it was originally called) - the French Quarter filled with music and entertainment is always great fun. In fact one of the teachers this morning was spotted by us coming back from some exciting destination we are sure. The entertainment and the organization made this competition a lot of fun for us making New Orleans a perfect destination for events - this year there will be 2 more events here so you can always enjoy it.
This weekend was no different for all of us. The jazz club at the Ritz Carlton, the venue for this event, the Davenport Lounge with the lead trumpet player, Jeremy Davenport, is always a delight. Their music is always a treat. The decorations in the ballroom are always beautiful and well noted, and the small touches that the organizer, Mr. Chapman, includes like the beignets in the middle of the afternoon, with many different toppings are a complete treat to all. This competition as with most of Mr. Chapman’s production competitions, is never dull.
We want to congratulate Mr. Chapman on always looking forward and reinventing his events so that you can get different experiences, and we look forward to seeing and experiencing this new fantastic location and competition.
The dancing this weekend was perhaps not the biggest in numbers we have seen, but there was some excellent quality on the floor.
The Professional Ballroom for example had two excellent couples going head to head - Andreii Mykhailov & Ekaterina Popova and Gaetano Iavarone & Emanuela Napolitano who have reently relocated to the USA. The quality of both these couples was very noticed and we can see by the marks that the judges were struggling with this decision. In the end Gaetano & Emanuela won the championship 3 to 2, or should we say by one dance; they won the tango, Viennese Waltz and the quickstep; Andreii & Ekaterina won the waltz and foxtrot. As we said before, both couples were terrific but we felt that Andreii & Ekaterina could have easily won it, but they seemed to dance a little too relaxed. Had they put in a little more effort, we think this competition could have easily gone their way. Alexander Elsbury & Grace Gallagher placed third in all dances and Barnavas Vadon & Magui Hinojosa took all fourth places.
The Cabaret was our second favorite event of the evening with all three participants giving excellent performances. The clear winners for us and for the judges with a majority of firsts was Stanislav Morozov & Kseniia Tashkinova. Their cabaret number was well-executed with excellent take offs and landings and unlike other times where they have had a few issues, there were none - their there transitions were terrific. Second for us and for the judges this night was awarded to Alexey Smirnov & Daria Smirnova. Their routine had a story - a middle and an end this we think assured this couple a second place position. Third place went to another well-executed number by Tilemachos Fatsin & Elisavet Mantani. Their number started with some interesting moves then we lost it, things were being done for no reason, maneuver after maneuver and they lost their original concept, making it very confusing for the viewer as well as for them.
Roman Italyankin & Alexandra Bokova won the Open Professional Latin hands down with a majority of firsts in all dances, and we must say it was such a pleasure to see some good Latin in them or perhaps something we can all understand, unlike the night before with the “Rising Stars.” On this night Oleg Ovchinnikov & Karina Nugumanova placed second overall 2,2,3,2,2. This couple seemed to have quite a lot of talent even though some of the basic elements are still lacking, like grounding yourself. The evening before this lady hit the floor two times right in front of the judges, perhaps settling a little more on her feet might help this situation, we were all wondering when she was going to hit the ground even this time. Third was awarded to Tilemachos Fatsin & Elisavet Mantani 3,3,2,3,3. This couple have good dynamics but their lack of isolation especially ffrom Tilemachos makes the partnership look a little stiff and sometimes awkward.
The most disappointing of all the open professional heats was the Professional Rhythm. The theme here seemed to be “Wouldn’t, Couldn’t and Shouldn’t” (to quote the late, great Peter Eggleton). Besides the obvious winners, Miroslav Randelivic & Dakota Pizzi, who won all dances with the majority of firsts, and also the obvious sixth place, the rest of the couples for us and we think for many of the judges could have been placed anywhere in any dance. What a difficult task for this judges this was! Second was awarded to Alexey Smirnov & Daria Smirnova taking second in all dances, third were Richard Kaskzas & FateinePangea; fourth went to Jani Bogre & Tjasa Novak 5,5,4,4,4; fifth was awarded to Stanislav Morozov & Kseniia Tashkinova 4,4,5,5,5 and sixth were Joshua Bradford & Regina Kaszas.
The Professional Smooth was the smallest of all these heats and here the winners of all dances were Dmytro Polhybil & Alona Kushnir. Yes they did win all dances but for us on this night it could have easily been the other way around, Alexander Elsbury & Grace Gallagher could have easily won at least 3 dances. Many of the judges agreed with us especially in the foxtrot where they took four firsts. We are usually fans of Dmytro & Alona, but on this night they nearly took a dive two times and they seemed not to be in rhythm with each other making everything appear heavy. With the exception of the Viennese Waltz, we think Alexandre & Grace could have won the other three dances.
We must also give special mention to the "Cleopatra" production solo routine performed by Mary Combes with no less than 11 supporting cast members, and a live python!
With this the New Orleans Open Championships concluded, leaving us all with so many wonderful, wonderful memories for much time to come.