Embassy Ballroom Championships 2023

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Latin was on Fire! Two Burnt!

The last night and finale to the Embassy Ball was terrific, the Open Professional Latin set up from the beginning a magical night of Latin American Dancing.

Unfortunately for us two headliners got “burned” in the process and had to pull out due to injury, but it did not stop the competition from being exciting in fact it put fire under many of the couples to try to fill in the blanks.

Troels Bager & Ina Jeliazkova pulled out after the semifinal due to an injury and Darren Hammond & Marina Steshenko also presumed “finalists,” pulled out after the first round also due to injury. We would have expected these two absentees to make a difference but the door just opened for a couple of new faces to come into this elite group. It made other couples work really hard to make it into this final.

Andrei Kazlouski & Nino Dzneladze won all dances with a majority of firsts from the 15 member panel of adjudicators. Andrei & Nino got mostly firsts as mentioned and seconds with a few exceptions most notably from Stephen Knight who awarded them these marks 3,4,2,3,3, the only other judges to award them less than a second were Riccardo Cocchi who gave them a 3rd in the paso and Martin Cawston who gave them a 3rd in the jive. We have to admit that Andrei & Nino’s style has to be admired from up close. From where we stood, some of their work can be a little too subtle. Great basic action but perhaps sometimes more impact would be a plus!

Second was awarded to Mykhailo Bilopukhov & Anastasiia Shchypilina a usual favorite of ours and they did not disappoint with their traditional style, in fact they were totally liked by the former World Professional Latin Champion, Riccardo Cocchi, who awarded them first in four dances and second in the samba. We most also point out that Mykhailo & Anastasiia stole the majority of firsts that were missing from Andrei & Nino’s column. We were a little surprised they did not take a dance or two from the winning couple, but as we mentioned earlier, we were not close enough to the floor to see what captured the judges’ fascination with Andrei & Nino.

Third in all dances and for us dancing extremely well were Manuel Favilla & Natalia Maidiuk, this has to have been the best performance we have witnessed from Natalia in particular and we are sure everyone got to see them even from the far away seats in the side bleachers. With this kind of performance who knows what the US Championships will bring for them. Manuel & Natalia for sure captured the attention of Mr. Stephen Knight who awarded them first places in all dances.

Fourth in this final was awarded to Tal Livshitz & Ilana Keselman who also had a wonderful night. Fifth position went to Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabrielle Sabler 5,5,6,5,5, and they seemed to be back on the game after a few disappointing results in the past and we have to say they too look ready for action and ready to move forward. Sixth overall was awarded to Daniil Tymoshenko & Vladyslava Vursalova 6,6,5,6,6, who were the fortunate couple or the next one in to take the place of Troels Bager & Ina Jeliazkova who pulled out after the semifinal as we mentioned. We at Dance Beat wish the couples speedy recovery and we hope to see them all at the USDC this week.

We were a little surprised that Artur Tarnavsky & Anastasiya Danilova were not included in this final – hopefully they can get back on form for the USDC this week.

The Under 21 Latin took place back to back with this Open Professional event and it too did not disappoint. The overall winners by placing first in all dances were Daniel Novikov & Elizaveta Borisova, we do have to point out that they did win all dances but in all of the dances they had to rely on “second or better” marks to win, they never had the majority of firsts in any of the dances. Ervinas Valskys & Alexa Sosna took second overall with these marks 3,2,2,2,4. They did manage to steal 3 to 4 firsts in many of the dances from Daniel & Elizabeth but as you can see in some dances they struggled to stay in second place. Third overall went to Arsenii Moroz & Mishella Vishnevskiy 2,4,3,4,2; fourth were Maksym Rodionov & Alexandra Miller 4,3,4,3,3; fifth was awarded to Vasyl Bielichenko & Veronika Vedvedieva 5,5,5,5,6, and sixth went to Parley Ford & Natalie Jolley 6,6,6,6,5.

The under 21 Ballroom also took place this evening but unlike the Latin that took a few rounds this was a seven-couple final and here the event in all dances went to Andrei Cutashevskii & Anna Vasina who won all dances with a majority of firsts from the judges and we must also point out that they won the Viennese with perfect scores from all the judges. Second in all dances went to Roman Shchochka & Marta Tyutyunnyk leaving all third place marks in all dances to Nathan Zaytsev & Alisa Bankova. This was an amazing final for us, so full of talent and with very accomplished dancers already and to think they are all under 21. For us the second place could have gone either way, we find that Nathan & Alisa are a little more technically sound than Roman & Marta but then Roman & Marta have a flair for the music and performed with a little more gusto.

In fourth place was Zorik Moldavsky & Vickanat Govorun; fifth overall went to Tymur Masenzhuk & Ana Lujan 5,6,5,5,5; Samuel Kolovyansky & Alexis Kolovyansky took sixth 6,5,6,6,6, and Matthew Holyoak & Olivia Cowan were seventh in all dances.

World Title to Francesco & Jessa

With last year’s World Pro Rhythm Champions no longer competing, the title was vacant.

Francesco Arietta & Jessa Mae Briones won all five dances to claim the title for the first time.

The new champions lost a total of only 9 first place marks out of a possible 95. They had a perfect 19 first places in rumba. There is little doubt that they are the favorites to take the also vacant US Championship next week. The only criticism we had from an audience’s standpoint was that they danced much of the time in one corner making it somewhat hard to see them for those on the far end of the ballroom.

Their only challenge tonight came from runners-up, Andrew Escolme & Asta Sigvaldadottir who were second in all dances. They took all but one of the 9 first places not given to the winners – with 4 in the swing – their best marked dance. We thought they had a strong night, but would level a similar criticism at them as at the winners – they danced much of the time in a corner, albeit the opposite corner to the winners. At one stage in the final these two did switch corners, trading one dark spot for the other.

The Nikishkins, who are another couple usually in contention were listed to dance but did not compete.

With 4,3,3,3,4, Ivan Kudashev & Ksenia Sokolova had a very good result right before the US Champikonships. They have been dancing well of late and reaped the full reward here. Kevin Ubillus & Milagros Lareto, whose results have been a little mercurial of late, took 4th with 3,4,4,4,3. They also took that final first place – in the mambo, by far their strongest dance. Dmytro Gurkov & Celeste Bailey of Canada took 5th 5,5,5,6,5 and they were also announced as the 9-Dance Champions. Closing the final were Ryan & Danelle Lockhart 6,6,6,5,6.

There were 3 couples in the semifinal who definitely had a shot at this final; Aleks Nashev & Evgeniia Elcoro, Ilie Bardahan & Oxana Kashkina and Roger Romero & Arismel Naya.

Valerio Colantoni & Anna Demidova were even more clear in their win of the Open Pro Ballroom, losing only 3 first places total and obviously winning all dances. The battle was clearly for the runner-up spot and this went to Gaetano Iavarone & Emanuela Napolitano who were 2nd in all dances and had the majority of “2nd or better” scores in all. Maksym Savytskyi & Polina Riabovil had a much better result here than they did at Empire a couple of weeks ago, taking 3rd in all dances.

The judges scores for all couples except the winners were quite mixed and ranged from 2nd to 6th in most dances for all couples. 4th place went to Valeriu Ursache & Liana Bakhtiarova 4,6,4,4,5; 5th Angelo Gaetano & Clarissa Morelli 5,4,5,5,6; 6th Radu Sterban & Xenia Cletova 6,5,6,6,4. There seems little consensus from the judges in this division with the placements changing from event to event right now. We were surprised not to see Andriy Mykhailov & Ekaterina Popova in this final.

The Open Amateur Latin was the largest event of the night and the win went to US Champions, Alexander Chernositov & Arina Grishanina. They also were very dominant and lost only 4 first placements total. Also clear and in second spot in all dances were Max Firestein & Nicole Mtchedlidze. Bumchin Tegshjargal & Michelle Klets took 3rd overall 4,3,3,3,3 losing the cha cha to 4th placed Dave Firestein & Kennedy Eaton 3,4,4,4,4. The newest partnership in the final took 5th by placing 5,5,5,5,6 - Denys Chekunov & Naomi Spektor – and this left 6th place to Vadym Pidhoretskyy & Ruby Castro 6,6,6,6,5. We were a little surprised by this low placement for Vadym & Ruby who we felt had a strong night.

The Open Amateur Smooth was also held on this night. Many of the couples have changed partners since the US Championships, but the US Champs were here and won this event convincingly and this is Parley Ford & Natalie Jolley – 1,1,1,1. The lady runner-up from the US Championship, Serena Keck, was here but now danced with her brother, a former US Champion, Brandon. They were 2nd in all dances. The remaining scores were quite mixed. 3rd Nathan Stevenson & Sabrina Bezzant 5,3,3,5; 4th and 5th were determined by a tiebreak; 4th TJ Kyle & Mackenzie Robbins 4,4,6,4 and 5th Sawyer Stolle & Katey Stolle 3,5,4,6. Sawyer had been the runner-up in the US Championship with Serena. Closing the final were Dallin Keck & Kate Heiner 6,6,5,3.

For the pro-ams it was Latin day and this time in the Open divisions we had 3 countries represented on the winners’ rostrum. The Open Latin Scholarships were also the largest of the week.

Open A (from a quarter-final)
1. Irene Caredis & Francesco Bertini 1,1,2,1,1
2. Emily Chertkova & Tal Livshitz 2,2,3,2,2
3. Jessica Girvan & Aric Yegudkin 3,3,1,3,3
4. Liza Minasyan & Armen Way 4,4,4,4,5
5. Meera Mehta & Kristijan Burazer 5,5,5,5,4
6. Anvelyn Pi & Pasha Stepanchuk 6,6,6,6,6

Open B (from a quarter-final)
1. Svetlana Mukhametshina & Andrey Kiselev (Greece) 1,1,1,1,2
2. Lindsey Keatley & Francesco Arietta 2,2,3,2,1
3. Colette Marotto & Daniil Tymoshenko 4,4,2,3,3
4. Christine Stanko & Andrei Kazlouski 3,3,4,4,5
5. Meera Mehta & Kristijan Burazer 5,5,5,5,4
6. Missy White & Genya Bartashevich 6,6,6,6,6

Open C (from a semifinal)
1. Deborah Wright & Nikolay Voronovich 1,1,1,1,1
2. Sophia D'Angelo & Vitalii Proskurin 2,2,2,2,2
3. Rhonda Lynch & Andrey Tarasov3,3,3,3,4
4. Peggy Fang & Nikolai Tarasov 5,4,7,4,3
5. Brijet Whitney & Damir Karaman 4,5,4,5,7
6. Lydie Kuo & Giovanni Leanza 7,7,5,6,5
7. Susan Kullman & Sergey Dementyev 6,6,6,7,6

Open S1 (from a quarter-final)
1. Shannon Bachynski & Dmitry Levita (Canada) 1,1,1,1,1
2. Mee Kim & Andrii Voloshko 2,2,2,2,2
3. Beth Kaplan & Genya Bartashevich 3,4,3,3,3
4. Luna Viva & Kristijan Burazer 4,3,4,5,5
5. Anna Chiu & Troels Bager 5,5,5,4,4
6. Windy Yu & Roman Italyankin 6,6,6,6,6

Open S2 (from a semifinal)
1. Jean Lee & Vitalii Proskurin 1,1,1,1,1
2. Richard Chiang & Elena Nesterova 2,2,2,3,2
3. Susanne Binder & Peppe Incatasciato 5,4,3,2,4
4. Jo Erikson & Radomir Pashev 3,3,4,4,5
5. Avelina Lindawan & Krasi Petkov 4,5,5,5,3
6. Coree C Tan & Ian Folker 6,6,6,6,6
7. Penelope Parmes & Mikal Watkins 7,7,7,7,7

Bumping Heads!

Last night at the Embassy Ball, the Championship was an “Embassy” for dance with some wonderful dancers taking to the floor and great performances from all.

The World Professional Smooth was perhaps out of this world with such fantastic dancing and with every couple bringing something great to the floor. And we cannot forget the afternoon where some amazing pro-am couples were fighting for the Open World titles in the Ballroom divisions as well and they too kept us to attention.

The Champions of the Open World Open Professional Smooth were Roman Malkhasyan & Galina Detkina who won every dance with a huge majority of firsts in every dance. Second but not in every dace was awarded to Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija 2,2,3,2. Although both couple, or let’s say all couples, were in perfect form this evening, we would disagree somewhat with this result. On this occasion we felt in many instances Nick & Viktorija had a better performance, with the exception of the foxtrot where they bumped head to head with the champions and we mean “literally!” Both couples ran right into one another? We still don’t know or understand why, there was plenty of space on this ballroom floor and from what we can see especially Nick & Viktorija, were dancing so fluidly until then with much less dramatics and stops than Roman & Galina. We noticed the judges marked them down in this dance, maybe we did not see what happened before the crash, but it did not put either couple in a good light, we are talking the best in the world here!  So for us the result was not quite as clean cut as the judges saw it - both couples were wonderful!

Third place overall ,but taking second in the foxtrot, and dancing like never before, were Travis Tuft & Jaimee Tuft. They get more musical with every outing of late and they seem to be coming into their own. The field is quite difficult at the moment but we would not be surprised if they start to really challenge the very top. In Travis & Jaimee we have great dancing and no dramatics, just plain good dancing and I think they are finally getting the attention of the judges.

Fourth place was awarded to Aleksandar Vukosavljevic & Alexandra Smirnova who were also good but for us a little tame this evening. Fifth position was awarded to Yegor Novikov & Tatiana Voilokova and in sixth place were Tykhon Zhyvkov & Yana Zhyvkov.

The Open Amateur Ballroom started also with a quarter-final round and we can say the US Ballroom is secure with this group. A few of the finalists are under 21 and one we will not mention the name, is 15. However, they do not lack in understanding or quality in this style and they all gave us some wonderful performances.

Taking first in all dances were Danylo Dobrovolskyi & Anastasiia Malovana who at the end of the event announced they were retiring from amateur competition and as of the USDC they will compete in the professional field. Danylo & Anastassia won the tango and the Viennese with a majority of firsts, but the other three dances especially the quickstep, they had to depend on seconds or better to win the dance. Only 4 judges awarded them first place in quickstep. Dance Beat wants to wish them good fortune in their professional career and we look forward to seeing them at the coming USDC.

Placing second in all dances were Andrei Cutashevskii & Anna Vasina who did manage to steal a few firsts in all the dances, but not enough to win any dance. However, we have to disagree on this placement we think they could have easily won a couple of dances, if not 3, this is a very young couple who have wonderful confidence and with every outing their skill keeps getting better and better. Third went to Denys Savytskyy & Mila Kovalova, but not in every dance just overall. Here is how the judges saw it 3,3,4,4,3. Fourth were Alex Dubovyk & Rickie Taylor Dubovyk 4,5,3,3,5; fifth went to Roman Shchochka & Marta Tyutyunnyk 5,4,5,5,4, and sixth in all dances was awarded to Nathan Zaytsev & Alisa Bankova.

We were very surprised not to see Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova who were runners up in the US Championship not included in this final.

Early in the evening the annual Marguerite Hanlon & John Ford award was presented to one of the dance world’s most popular patrons and dancers, Josie Lee. Brian McDonald made the presentation.

The Pro-Am World Championships in the Ballroom division were very tough for the judges. The “A” division was extremely difficult and the “B” was as well requiring more music making it harder on all the teachers as many had danced all day.

Here’s how the events played out:

Open A
1. Colette Marotto & Oreste Alitto 1,2,1,1,1
2. Jenny Sokolsky & Ikaika Dowsett 2,1,2,2,2
3. Jana Slavina & Ruslan Wilder 3,3,3,3,3
4. Anna Vance & Igor Mikushov 4,4,4,4
5. Ezra Ma & Clarissa Morelli 5,5,5,5,5

Open B
1. Dana Miller & Oreste Alitto 1,1,1,1,1
2. Janet Simsic & Andrea Stefano 2,2,2,2,2
3. Christine Chang & Stefano Di Brino 3,3,3,3,4
4. Michelle Pho & Mirko Spano 4,4,4,5,3
5. Bo Chang & Valerio Colantoni 5,5,5,6,6 (R11)
6. Julie Zhao & Valeriu Ursache 6,6,6,4,5 (R11)
7. Yu Ping Ting & Leonid Burlo 7,7,7,7,7
8. Laura White & Andrea Faraci 8,8,8,8,8

Open C (from a quarter-final)
1. Jill Bradford & Andrea Stefano 1,1,1,1,1
2. Patricia Schneider & Sergey Bondarenko 2,2,2,3,4 (R11)
3. Kyle Brown & Vladislav Shakhov 3,3,3,2,2 (R11)
4. Natasha Janey & Iaroslav Bieliei 4,4,4,4,3
5. Arta Stare & Aleksandr Riabtsev 5,6,5,5,5
6. Hans Stork & Inna Berlizyeva 6,5,6,6,6

Open S1 (from quarter-final)
1. Llewelyn Nielsen & Oreste Alitto 1,1,1,1,1
2. Linda Gill & Luca Balestra 2,2,3,2,4 (R11)
3. Lisa Lee & Cristian Radvan 3,3,2,3,2 (R11)
4. Shirley Chan & Evgeniy Mayorov 4,4,4,4,3
5. Catherine Gallo & Iaroslav Bieliei 5,5,6,5,5
6. Charlene Proctor & Andrey Begunov 6,6,5,6,6

Open S2 (from a quarter-final)
1. Linda Gill & Luca Balestra 1,1,1,1,1
2. Monica Lin & Angelo Gaetano 2,3,3,2,2
3. Connie Lam & Evgeniy Mayorov 3,2,2,3,3
4. Betty Lin & Andrea Faraci 4,5,6,4,4 (R10)
5. Winston Chow & Emanuela Napolitano 5,4,4,5,5 (R10)
6. Charlotte Carey & Andriy Mykhailov 6,6,5,6,6

August at Embassy!

Late August means it’s time for the annual pilgrimage to The Embassy Ballroom Championships in Orange County, California.

Long one of the nation’s most prestigious competitions, for several years Embassy has included the NDCA World Pro-Am Championships and the the World Championships in Professional Rhythm and Smooth.

So far the pro-ams have competed in both American styles and new World Champions have been crowned at all levels. Here are the results for the Open Pro-Am World Championships, 2023 so far.

Open A
1. Chasity Smith & Eddie Ares 1,1,2,1,1
2. Melissa Majlat & Radomir Pashev 3,4,1,2,2
3. Pooja Himovich & Kristijan Burazer 2,3,3,3,3
4. Eliese Holt & Daniel Vasco 4,2,4,4,4

Open B
1. Michael Butler & Oxana Kashkina 1,2,1,2,1
2. Chasity Smith & Eddie Ares 2,1,2,1,2
3. Pooja Himovich & Kristijan Burazer 4,3,3,4,3
4. Andi Wolff & Decho Kraev 3,4,4,3,4
5. Laura Paoletti & Roman Drobotov
6. Gretchen Kittelberger & Sevrin Shapiachan 6,6,6,6,6
Open C (from a semifinal)
1. Lynn Magnesen & Tomasz Lewandowski 1,1,1,1,1
2. Louise Shah & Andrew Escolme 3,2,2,2,2
3. Adriana Salinas & Roberto Fernandez 2,3,3,3,3
4. Amy Law & Eddie Stutts 5,5,4,4,4
5. Krista Hughes & Tykhon Zhyvkov 4,4,5,5,5
6. Kathy Myers & Marcus Johnson 6,6,6,6,6
Open S1
1. Luna Viva & Kristijan Burazer 1,2,1,2,2
2. Robin Crockett & Jason Daly 2,1,2,3,1
3. Kathy Myers & Marcus Johnson 5,5,3,1,3
4. Robie Grana & Ian Folker 3,3,6,5,5
5. Kelly Akol & Jeremy Pilling 7,4,4,4,4
6. Andrea Wishnow & Nikolay Voronovic 4,6,5,6,6
7. Sari Knudsen & Armen Way 6,7,7,7,7
8. Laura Waters & Radomir Pashev 8,8,8,8,8
Open S2 (from a semifinal)
1. Leslie McLeod & Melbin De La Cruz 1,1,1,1,1
2. Robie Grana & Ian Folker 2,2,2,2,3
3. Andrea Wishnow & Nikolay Voronovich 4,3,3,3,2
4. Evelyn Lamden & Daniel Vasco 3,4,4,5,4
5. Jean MacGregor & Erik Cyr 5,5,5,4,5
6. Julia Wang & Andrew Escolme 6,6,6,6,6

Open A
1. Elizabeth Cuevas & Mayo Alanen 1,2,1,1
2. Trista Keller & Radomir Pashev 2,1,2,3
3. Amelia Wills & Ronen Zinshtein 3,3,3,2

Open B
1. Celia Chow & Erminio Stefano 1,1,1,1 (from a semifinal)
2. Patricia Schneider & Slawek Sochacki 2,2,2,2
3. Selene Steelman & Travis Tuft 3,3,3,3
4. Donie Burch & Aleksandar Vukosavljevic 4,4,4,4
5. Aja Pascale & Sergiy Samchynskyy 5,6,5,5
6. Stacy Tilford & Josh Tilford 6,5,6,6
Open C
1. Sophia D'Angelo & Max Sinitsa 1,2,1,1
2. Patricia Schneider & Slawek Sochacki 2,1,2,2
3. Gail Komar & Nikolai Pilipenchuk 3,3,3,3
4. Karence Chan & Paul Cloud 5,4,4,4
5. Natasha Copeland & Vladislav Robatsenko 4,5,6,5
6. Amy Law & Eddie Stutts 6,6,5,6
7. Sharon Powers & Jason Daly 7,7,7,7
8. Susan Orne & Alexander Zarek 8,8,8,8
Open S1 (from a semifinal)
1. Llewelyn Nielsen & Slawek Sochacki 1,1,1,1
2. Helena Kostik & Nikolai Pilipenchuk 3,3,2,2 (R11)
3. Sue Eldred & Oleksiy Pigotskyy 2,2,3,3 (R11)
4. Charlene Proctor & Mikhail Zharinov 4,4,4,4
5. Robyn Shreiber & Nikolai Tarasov 6,5,5,5
6. Audria Hill-Mitchell & Peter Perzhu 5,6,6,6
Open S2 (from a semifinal)
1. Chi Yonemoto & Tykhon Zhyvkov 1,1,1,1
2. Kathy Wimmer & Alexander Novikov 3,2,2,3 (R11)
3. Robie Grana & Ian Folker 2,3,3,2 (R11)
4. Hong Wu & Olena Barna 4,4,5,4
5. Evelyn Lamden & Daniel Vasco 6,5,4,5
6. Jean MacGregor & Erik Cyr 5,6,6,7
7. Dorie Chueh & Slawek Sochacki 7,7,7,6

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