Nashville Starz 2024

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The Chill Didn’t Reach the Ballroom!

With much of the country under winter storm warnings, temperatures were well below freezing including in Nashville – home of the Nashville Starz!

However, organizers, Andre & Natalie Paramonov, made sure that the chill didn’t reach the ballroom of the Sheraton. The event grew tremendously over last year and the schedule was tight, especially on the first 2 days. We were impressed that the organizers were always available in the ballroom – from early in the morning until late at night. In fact, Natalie was still dancing on the sidelines at 1 AM during the nightclub session.

Of the professional events, the Open Rhythm probably offered the most interest. The clear winners were Andrew Escolme & Asta Sigvaldadottir who won all 5 dances. They had perfect scores in the first 3 dances, lost only 1 first in the bolero and 4 in the mambo. We thought they were really on form for the new year, and promise some firey duels when all the top contenders are present. For us the biggest dilemma was for the runner-up spot, contested by Roger Romero & Arismel Naya and Gene & Elena Bersten. In the end it was not as close as we perhaps thought with Roger & Arismal taking 2nd in all dances. The closest scored dance was bolero where Roger & Arismal had 7 “second or better” scores to Gene & Elena’s 6. Alexey Smirnov & Daria Smirnova gave a secure performance and were rewarded with a clear 4th place in all 5 dances. Iurii Kora & Alisa Hryn were 5th (5,5,5,5,6) and Jacody Bullard & Luisa Alvarez were 6th (5,5,5,5,6).

Travis & Jaimee Tuft received all 11 first places from the judges in all 4 dances – perfect scores – and certainly they never looked to be in any danger. However, 2nd, 3rd and 4th placements were hard fought. With 2,4,2,2, Dmytro Pohybil & Alona Kushnir secured the runner-up place; Stefan Badea & Whitney Myers were 3rd, 4,2,3,3 and Radoslaw Wiatrowski & Denise Sobiewski were 4th, 3,3,4,4. As you can see this was tight scoring and each couple had their fans on the judging panel. Patrick Stone & Carlye Stone were 5th in all dances and Jonathan Wolfgram & Danyelle Morley were 6th in all.

Both American Style divisions started with semifinal rounds.

The results in the Open Latin were somewhat disrupted as Sasha Bokova was injured in the paso doble and did not dance the jive. Hence, she and Roman received 6th in that dance and second overall – their scores were 2,1,2,2,6. The winners were Andrey Kitsun & Nicole Prosser who placed 1,2,1,1,1 – a good win for this couple. In the dances they won, they had the majority of 1st places in rumba, paso and jive. We actually found this division the hardest to call as several of the couples were of a similar level. Kostiantyn Samarskyi & Margarita Golubeva certainly had their supporters on the panel and their final scores were 3,3,4,3,3 for an overall 3rd place. Robin Alexander Veskus & Diana Gavrilova had some mixed scores as they finished with 4,4,3,4,2 for an overall 4th place finish. Robin Alexander Veskus & Diana Gavrilova had scores ranging from 6 to 1 in almost all dances – so there was evidently much uncertainty among the judges with them. They placed 5th with 5,5,5,5,4. Nazar Zakharchenko & Anastasiia Rozdabara closed the final with 6,6,6,6,5. This event also began with a semifinal.

Only 3 couples entered the Open Pro Ballroom and Aleksei Minaev & Elena Minaeva won all dances with a majority of 1st places. Jaren Hopkin & Enxhi Fundo were 2nd, 3,2,2,2,2 and Artur Kozun & Monika Pyrgiel were 3rd , 2,3,3,3,3.

All the above events took place on Saturday night, the Pro Showdance was on Friday.  3 couples entered and we thought all did a great job.  Anthony Kantin & Olivia Card performed a full on cabaret style adagio routine and received all 11 first places.  Alexey Smirnov & Daria Smirnova placed a clear 2nd, losing only 2 2nd places and Ian Meeks & Susanna Cranford were third.

The Nashville Starz is a member of the Dancers Cup Tour, and on Saturday night the Dancers Cup Hall of Fame awards were presented.  This year the Pro-Am recipient was Jerry Bursh and the Professional recipient was Amy Hansen.

Another feature at Nashville Starz was the Pro-Am "Anything Goes" Showdown that attracted several entries with spectacular showcase presentations.  The winner was Mary Coombs who preformed one of signature spectaculars with a large cast of backing dancers.

For many of us Nashville Starz was the first competition of 2024 and it was a great way to kick off the new year of dance.

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