Holiday Dance Classic 2023

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Oh, Oh, Oh!

As always it was a dancing “Santa’s “ Ho,Ho,Ho for many of the competitors attending the Holiday Dance Classic, or if you say it backwards an Oh, Oh,Oh!

No matter which it is for you, backwards or forward,s it was a hell of a great time for all, full of fabulous dancing, great company and a terrific way to end the 2023 dancing calendar in North America. We say North America because plenty of Canadians were also in attendance making this event truly epic and truly competitive with interesting results that kept most of the attendees glued to their seats all night every night.

This year it all began with an Xmas nightclub session in a smaller ballroom. The small ballroom the lighting and the generos “open bar” made it all quite cozy, and “nightcluby,” as it should be. This made the nightclub session very festive and with all including the officials wearing Xmas gear and the dancers did not disappoint either, from the elves, to the Santa’s hats and even a lamp were all in the mix, a great start to the Holiday Dance Classic 2023.

It was also a great week for same sex couples. In many of the Pro/Am events throughout the week there were plenty of same sex partnerships and the majority of them being of great quality. Oh,oh,oh this means that everyone can dance you don’t have to sit down because there is no man teacher or female teacher in your area, you just need a teacher to join the fun. Ho,ho,ho we’re also happy to report that the panel of judges was as varied as the competitors, from Fred’s and Murray’s, east, west, north and south, and even as far as Australia, the variety of the panel keep things interesting. Like a good tennis match where we all stayed until the end and this panel brought some interesting surprises to the floor.

In the Pro/Am Smooth, for example, we had the first major win for Arun Garg in the “A” Smooth Scholarship with his teacher Joseph Letting, and we can report that this was not about sex or gender it was all about dancing and the judges did not hesitate to award it. The same in many other competition - one that comes to mind was in the PreChamp Amateur Ballroom where another same sex couple made it to the final, this time it was two ladies, it was a shame that they got injured and were not able to dance this final, they too could have done quite well.

So as you can see this was truly the competition that had it all ho, ho, ho. The open professional events, with the exception of the Cabaret, where Alyenendrov Tsorokean & Yuki Haraguchi won with perfect scores, were all held Saturday night. And oh, oh, oh, the Open Professional Latin started with a quarter final and it was excellent from start to finish.

Ho,ho,ho, here the winners in all dances were Mykhailo Bilopukhov & Anastasiia Shchypilina whose birthday happened to be the same night (a big happy birthday to Anastasiia). Mykhailo & Anastasiia won all dances with a majority of firsts in every dance. For us they were the very best on the night, a few of the judges did not care for Mykhailo’s wild hair, they call it “disheveled” but the majority of the judges were able to overlook the “do” and awarded them the championship.

Second in all dances was awarded to Nikolai Tarasov & Sarah Nolan, and they did manage to get the majority of seconds in all dances with the exception of the rumba where three couples came very close to them. We were perhaps not as impressed with their performance as others were, but we do feel they were totally worthy of the place in this final. Third went to Andriu & Amanda Besyedin and yes they were clearly third in all five dances. Their work is always clean and well executed. We were a little surprised by how low Daniil Tymoshenko & Vlada Vursalova placed. We felt that in quality of work they could have easily been placed higher, in this outing they placed fourth overall 4,4,4,4,5.

It was a great comeback from Pasha Stephanchuk & Gabrielle Sabler who of late had had some horrid results. On this outing they were totally more musical than expected and their usual pose and walk no longer existed. They placed 5,5,5,6,4. With the exception of the paso doble it was sixth across the board for Ilya Maletine & Anna Oblakova. We really enjoyed this couple’s performance even though to some it might have felt as if they just wanted to get it over with. To begin with, they nearly started in the dark when their names were called for them to walk down the steps on to the floor they were already on the floor as if they had a flight to catch. Everyone was waiting for their introduction but they were already in place and ready to go. Ilya & Anna took fifth in the paso doble.

The Professional Smooth was another excellent event and here Nick Cheremukhim & Vika Vicktorija were indisputably the best in all dances. They took perfect scores from all the judges in every dance. We were a little surprised with the judges’ choice for second place, we were almost certain that Stefan Badea & Whitney Myers were going to take second but it was not to be - second in all dances was awarded to Lukas Spisak & Eva Tibenska, the only dance where Stefan & Whitney came close to placing second was in the Viennese Waltz.

A clear fourth place in all dances was awarded to Joseph & Madalina Lettig, who had a wonderful night and seemed to be making a great stride in this style. Fifth position in all dances was awarded to Denys & Anastasiia Karasov; sixth went to Jonathan Wolfgram & Danyelle Morley and in seventh place were Brodie Kaster & Jennifer Davis.

The Professional Rhythm was a six-couple final and of excellent quality. Missing from this group was the current United States Champions, Francesco Arietta & Jessa May Briones who did not enter. Francesco did attend the Holiday Dance Classic but only with a student in the Open and gold Latin categories. The winners of all dances in this Professional Rhythm and with nearly perfect scores were Andrew Escome & Asta Sigvaldadottir. It was a little surprising to see that we were in the minority that felt that in some dances the runners-up, Ivan Kudashev & Ksenia Sokolova, could have been a little closer to the winners, but we must point out that the few firsts that Andrew & Asta lost, all went to Ivan & Ksenia.

It was also an easy third place finish for Ilie Bardahan & Oxana Kashkina, who danced quite well but tend to be a little clinical for some of us. We would love to see a little more spontaneity and perhaps then they can compete with the couples above. Fourth overall went to Denys & Anastasiia Karasov 4,5,4,4,4; fifth were David Nyemchek & Viktoriya Dilay 5,4,5,5,5, and in sixth place were Joseph & Madalina Letting.

The Open Professional Ballroom was the smallest of all the professional events, but it was excellent in quality. The overall winners by placing first in the waltz, foxtrot and quickstep and second in the other two dances were Maksym Savistskyi & Polina Riabovil. It must have been difficult for the judges to come to this decision especially winning by one dance. For us on the sidelines, we really enjoyed the couple that won the tango and Viennese Waltz and who placed second overall, Danylo Dobrovlskyi & Anastasiia Malovana 2,1,1,2,2. Danylo & Anastasiia for us seemed to be a little more musical in their approach and we could see why they would take quite a number of firsts from the winners.

Third in this Professional Ballroom heat and in all dances was awarded to Serhiy Averkov & Olena Barna; fourth went to Alieksandr & Vilhemina Lavrov and fifth went to Kyrylo Tsydinskyi & Sofia Kalynchuk.

The Open Amateur Ballroom was terrific with the best couples in the USA going head to head and here was also a split decision. The overall winners were Andrii Cutashevskii & Anna Vasina 2,1,1,2,1. We too enjoyed their dancing and were surprised they did not win all dances. Second went to Samuel Hacke & Katarina Hermanova 1,2,2,1,2. We were a little disappointed with their performance, lately we have seen this couple excel and dance with great inspiration and quality but this was not that day, we need the consistence for them to stay up on top. Third in this heat overall went to Denys Savytskyy & Mila Kovalova 3,3,3,4,3, this is a very charismatic couple but at times can push a little too hard making it all lose quality and could turn into a shove and push situation.

Fourth overall in this Ballroom heat was awarded to Nathan Zaytsev & Alisa Bankova 4,4,4,3,4. This was perhaps our favorite in this heat - so lovely beautiful technique, a little understated but so musical. Alisa just does enough body extension, without leaning back allowing Nathan to move and get the proper swing in his dancing. We felt that they could have placed much higher in this competition. Fifth in all was awarded to Arthur Nabok & Tais Zhukova, and sixth were Ilya Ignatyev & Stanislava Klishch.

The Amateur Latin was also a terrific competition and here Bumchin Tegshjargal & Michelle Klets won every dance with a majority of firsts in all dances. For us it was a clear win from the start, they showed maturity in their performance making them the easy winners. Second in all dances was awarded to Oleg Zugan & Michelle Itkin. We really like this partnership, but for now we find that the mental connections we expect to see in a partnership were not quite there, but we do see tremendous talent in both these young people. Third in all dances went to Idan Daich & Anastasia Sinyauskaya. Unlike the last couple mentioned, we thought Idan & Anastasia have more maturity in their work, perhaps they could use a little more power also their floor craft could be a little more improved so that we can spot them quicker and be seen from all sides of the ballroom.

Fourth in all dances in this Latin heat went to Vladyslav Pohorilyi & Ceilidh McSeveney, and fifth was awarded to Arsenii Moroz & Mishella Vishnevskiy, leaving sixth to Parley Ford & Natalie Jolley.

There was also an excellent Open Amateur Smooth Championship and here Parley Ford & Natalie Jolley were by far the best for us and for the majority of the judges. Second went to the brother and sister team of Brandon Keck & Serena Keck. Third overall was awarded to Tanner Cole & Ava Mecham 3,3,4,3, fourth went to Dallin Keck & Kate Heiner 4,4,3,5, and fifth were Nathan Stevenson & Sabrina Bezzant 5,5,5,4, leaving sixth to Sawyer & Katey Stolle and that is in all dances.

The Pro/Am Scholarships were fantastic especially in the Smooth and Latin divisions but the Ballroom and Rhythm were close behind. Here is the mention to all the scholarships commencing with the Smooth.

The “A” division as we mentioned went to Arun Garg w/ Joseph Letting winning all dances. Second in all was Anna Kjose w/Hays Hopkins; third place went to McKenna Mobley w/ Alexander Novikov. Fourth overall was Ashley Beason & Nerijus Jasaitis 4,4,4,5, and in fifth position was Kendra Michaels w/Lukas Spisak 5,5,5,4.

The “B” division went to Celia Chou w/ Erminio Stefano first in all dances, and in a (Rule 11) decision second place was awarded to Zlata Clark w/Igor Dogoter 2,3,3,2 = 10, leaving third to Joanne Kay Smith w/ Anton Lebedev 3,2,2,3 = 10. Fourth in all places went to Selene Steelman w/ Travis Tuft; Donie Burch w/ Alexander Vukosavljevic was fifth; sixth was awarded to Veronica Obermeyer w/ Illia Sydorenko, and seventh was Thara Salamone w/Jim Maranto.

In the “C” division Zlata Clark w/Igor Dogoter took all firsts, and all seconds went to Sophia D’Angelo w/ Max Sinitsa. Krista Hughes w/ Tykhon Zhyvkov placed third overall 3,4,4,;, Janice Gonzalez w/ Alexander Vukosavljevic took fourth 6,3,3,5, and Kim Afferton w/ Travis Tuft placed fifth 5,5,5,4, leaving sixth to Ivory Zhang w/ Iaroslav Bieliei 4,6,6,6.

Open Pro-Am Rhythm Scholarships
1. Amber Haider w/ Mark Baker 1,1,1,1,1
2. Kelly Rogers w/ Jani Bogre 2,2,2,2,2
3. Thara Saloamone w/ Jim Maranto 3,3,3,3,3
4. Katina Hamann w/ Joseph Rettig 4,4,4,4
5. Priscilla Tahara w/ Nerijus Jasaitis 5,5,5,5,5

1. Janice Gonzalez w/ Aleksandr Vukosavljevic 1,2,1,1,1
2. Krista Hughes w/ Typhoon Zhyvkov 2,1,2,2,2
3. Champion w/ Toby Monroe 3,4,4,4,3
4. Nancy Rapport w/ Igor Dogeter 4,5,5,3,4
5. Ming Chen w/ Illie Bardahan 5,3,3,6,6
6. Lisa Roquermore w/ John Bernal 6,6,6,5,5
7. David Burt w/ Ania Tarnowska 7,7,7,7,7
8. David Gosse w/ Tania Reis 8,8,8,8,8

Open Pro-Am Latin Scholarships
1. Elizabeth Poirier w/ Danny Arbor 1,1,1,1,1
2. Jessica Stone w/ Sergey Korshunov 4,2,3,2,2
3. Celine Parragh w/ Joseph Parragh 3,4,2,3,4
4. Jordan Vijungco w/ Tarasov 2,3,4,4,3
5. Gabbie Diassi w/ Ivan Kudashev 5,5,5,6,5
6. Liza Minasyan w/ Armen Way 6,6,6,5,6

1. Lindsey Keatley w/ Francesco Arietta 1,1,1,1,1
2. Gaelle Benchetrit w/ Alon Gilin 2,2,2,2,2
3. Irma Wang w/ Daniel Hustiuk 4,4,3,3,3
4. Donnie Burch w/ Evgenny Orlov 3,3,4,4,4
5. Sabrina Nirchi w/ Jean Paul Milot
6. Cecilia Che w/ Alexey Karaulov 6,6,6,6,6
7. Maria Shtabskaya w/ Nikita Brovko 7,7,7,7,7
8. Prokopchuk Zhanna w/ ViacheslavCh izhik
1. Nora Ravolo w/ Andre Tarasov 2,1,1,1,1
2. Peggy Fang w/ Nikolay Tarasov 1,2,2,2,2
3. Susan Kullman w/ Sergey Dementyev 3,3,4,3,5
4. Brijet Whitney w/ Damir Karaman 4,4,3,5,3
5. Gina Ruby w/ Marcus Johnson 5,5,5,4,4
6. Marylyn Lim w/ Illie Bardahan 6,6,6,6,6
7. Mee Kim w/ Andrii Voloshko 7,7,7,8,8
8. Kimberley Rommel w/ Roman Italyankin 8,8,8,7,7

Open Pro-Am Ballroom Scholarships
1. Galina Livitina w/ Anton Koukareko 1,1,1,1,1
2. Jana Slavina w/ Ruslan Wilder 2,2,2,2,2
3. Laura Simon w/ Martin Reinbold 3,3,3,3,3
4. Alex Caraballoso w/ Ihar Kisialiou
5. Kendra Michaels w/ Lukas Spisak 5,4,5,5,5
6. Avery Dail w/ Nick Bloxsom-Carter 6,6,7,7,6
7. Andrew Repko w/ Gergana Slavova 7,7,6,6,7

1. Dana Miller w/ Oreste Allito 1,2,2,1,1
2. Janet Simsic w/ Andrea Stefano 2,1,1,2,2
3. Christine Chang w/ Stefano DiBrino 3,3,3,4,3
4. Xiaojuan Liu w/ Anton Koukareko 4,4,4,3,4
5. Lawrence Wang w/ Olga Lisovskaya 5,5,5,5,5
6. Marylin Lin w/ Karlis Trellis 6,6,6,6,6
1. Jill Bradford w/ Andrea Stefano 1,1,1,1,1
2. Patricia Schneider w/ Sergey Bondarenko 2,2,2,2,2
3. Wendy Eubank w/ Mikhail Avdeev 3,3,3,3,3
4. Brynda Insley w/ Martin Reinbold 4,4,4,4,4
5. Amy Wang w/ Victor Yushin 5,5,6,6,5
6. Meredith Kaplan w/ Rudy Homm 6,6,5,5,7
7. Rowena Liu w/ Sergey Pogonet 7,7,8,8,6
8. Elka Hristova w/ Artem Plakhotnyi 8,8,7,7,8

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