California Star Ball 2023

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Santa Barbara!

The California Star Ball held at the Hilton in Santa Barbara California this past Thanksgiving weekend was a compact but well-produced event.

The most prominent feature at this competition is the picturesque city of Santa Barbara with its well-kept Spanish and early American architecture.

The Area of Santa Barbara began its history 13,000.00 years ago with the arrival of the first Native Americans. The Spanish came in the 18th century to occupy and Christianize the area, which became part of Mexico following the Mexican war of independence. In 1848, the expanding United States acquired the town along with the rest of California as a result of defeating Mexico in the Mexican-American war. Santa Barbara transformed then from a small cluster of adobes into successively a rowdy, lawless “Gold Rush” era town; a Victorian-era health resort; a center of “Silent Film” production; an “oil” boom town; a town supporting a military base and hospital during World War II; and finally it became the economically diverse resort destination it remains to the present day and it is also the home to the California Star Ball. Twice destroyed by earthquakes, in 1812 and 1925, it was rebuilt after the second one in a Spanish Colonial style.
Don Felipe De Neve came to build the Presidio of Santa Barbara, one of several military outposts meant to protect Alta California against foreign interests and to protect the missions against attacks by hostile natives. The Presidio was not completed until 1792, and Father Fermin Lasuen dedicated the nearby Mission of Santa Barbara on the feast day of Santa Barbara (December 4, 1786). He chose for his building site the location of a Chumash village on Mission Creek named Tay-nay-án.

Most of Santa Barbara's old families are descended from early settlers, and many of their names linger in the street and place names, such as Cota, De la Guerra, Gutierriez, Carrillo, and Ortega.

Richard Henry Dana a 20 year old sailor described the town upon his return in 1859 and you could almost use his description as it is today. The town is well kept in beautiful shape with picturesque views all around and this is what he wrote: “...and there lies Santa Barbara on its plain, with its amphitheater of high hills and distant mountains. There is the old white Mission with its belfries, and there the town, with its one-story adobe houses, with here and there a two-story wooden house of later build; yet little it is altered – the same repose in the golden sunlight and glorious climate, sheltered by its hills; and then, more remindful than anything else, there roars and tumbles upon the beach the same grand surf of the great Pacific as on the beautiful day when the Pilgrim, after her five months' voyage, dropped her weary anchors here; the same bright blue ocean, and the surf making just the same monotonous, melancholy roar, and the same dreamy town, and gleaming white Mission, as when we beached our boats for the first time.”

The competition was held in the Hilton, a village of buildings overlooking the sea. The competition was well run and we saw plenty of dancing with enough free time to sight see in between.

However, some of the competitions were complimented by some outstanding dancing such as was in the Open Professional Smooth where former United States Champions, Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija Barasihina, won all dances with nearly perfect scores from the judges. We said nearly because they lost three first place marks in W,T,VW, all from Valentina Kostenko who awarded them 2,3,2,3. The only other judge to join Valentina in awarding them less than first was Victoria Franova who awarded them 2nd in the foxtrot. For us Nick & Vicktorija were the clear winners, totally in a category of their own. The only thing that made us cringe a little is in the tango where Victorija lands flat on her back, this time due to a brake in the music we were able to hear the thump and it not only made us jump a little but, it serves as a reminder of the loss of their US title a few years back. Perhaps moving on past this move and anything that might remind the old panel of judges of this might suit them better on future outings.

Second in this heat went to a terrific opponents who danced quite well, but still need the smoothness, and clarity of Nick & Victorija to be marked ahead of this excellent duo; the couple in question is Leonid Burlo & Mariia Usan who placed deservedly second in every dance. Third was awarded to Denys Karasov & Anastasiia Karasova and that was in all dances; fourth went to Ryan Romero & Danielle Jenkins and fifth were Thomas Richter & Suryany Misrayim.

The Open Professional Ballroom was quite small with only three couples in it, but just like the Smooth with some excellent dancing, being greatly welcomed by the locals and attendees. The winners, Danylo Dobrovolskyi & Anastasiia Malovana, by far were the best and thrilling the audience and like the Smooth winners they too won with a majority of firsts all five dances. We totally enjoyed this world class couple as well, their expertise could one day soon put them closer to the US title. Second in this excellent ballroom heat went to Serhiy Averkov & Olena Barna, who not only danced quite well but who also stole a number of firsts from the winners - 2 in the waltz, 2 in the tango, 3 in the Viennese Waltz, 2 in the foxtrot and 1 in the quickstep. Third place was left to Marco Spadafora & Paulina Ronowska and that was in all dances.

The Professional Rhythm also had a terrific couple and it was the most populated event for the professional level. Ilie Bardahan & Oxana Kashkina won all dances but here unlike in the other two events they were really the only couple to watch and for us personally there was no one in this heat to challenge Ilie & Oxana and so they won this competition with perfect scores from the judges in every dance. Second in all dances was awarded to Denys Karasov & Anastasiia Karasova, third went to John Swiger & Lacey Bihari. From here down there was a little overall changes in the couples marks Israel Jose Lobo Borges & Samantha Borges placed fourth overall 4,4,4,5,4; Seth Coons & Rebekka Karasek took fifth 5,5,5,4,5. Sixth in all dances went to Zsolt Katona & Timea Potys, leaving seventh to Daniel Sikkema & Analiese Hoekwater.

The Professional Open Latin was perhaps the weakest in the field and here first place was awarded to Ivan Romanov & Arina Shtykova; second went to Zsolt Katona & Timea Potys and third were Thomas Jay Loewe & Nirvana. We must point out that in a rare occurrence the couples all placed in their respective places with the same marks from all judges marks in all dances.

Our Congratulations to John Fishpaw and David Alvarez for doing such an amazing job on this historical weekend of Thanksgiving!

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