Vegas Open 2024

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Viva Ballroom!

Last weekend at the Vegas Open Dance Challenge, it was not just about playing roulette, going to some fabulous shows or just having fun.

The Vegas Open Dance Challenge was moved to a brand new venue, The M Resort and Spa, and most people that were able to attend were quite happy with the move, but if you were not quick in booking your reservations the hotel was fully sold out and plenty were not able to attend unless they stayed somewhere else in Vegas. I know of a group that rented a house and were quite pleased with their move so they could participate, but for sure they said they will enter sooner next year.

But this was not just it, we saw some of the best Ballroom dancing in the country in both the Amateur Ballroom division and the Professional Ballroom. And yes we gained a few pounds! We all agree that the convention food at the “M” was delish. All of us that participated and officiated were quite happy for the opportunity.

As we just mentioned the Professional Ballroom was out of this “World” or better super “World Class.” It was a seven-couple that we are sure made the judges sweat. The winners overall were Maksym Savytskyi & Polina Riabovil who won three dances and placed second in the slow waltz and quickstep. Maksym & Polina won the three dances, but if you look at the marks they did not win any of the dances with a majority of firsts. The tango, for example, they won with thirds or better marks - one mark to be precise and the Viennese Waltz and foxtrot with seconds or better marks. Compared to the rest we thought they were not the best on the night. For us there were two couples that really stood out and they were Valeriu Ursache & Liana Bakhtiarova who won the waltz and quickstep and placed second overall and Danylo Dobrovolskyi & Anastasiia Malovana who placed fourth overall 4,3,4,4,4. Both these couples were excellent in all dances and could have easily won for us this challenge. Technically for us Danylo & Anastasiia were clearly the best but when it came to passion and musicality Valeriu & Liana were by far the best.

Third overall was awarded to Radu Sterban & Xenia Cletova who placed third in four dances and fourth in the tango. Fifth in all dances was awarded to Ruslan Kaliuzhnyi & Elena Babaeva, and sixth went to Kyrylo Tsydinskyi & Sofiia Kalynchuk in all leaving seventh position in all dances to Alexander Elsbury & Grace Gallagher.

As we mentioned earlier when it came to dancing, the Ballroom categories were amazing and so we have to talk about the Amateur Ballroom before we move to the other pro categories.

The Amateur Ballroom started with a full semifinal round of competition and here the judges were asked to recall seven couples. Here in particularly the top three to four couples were amazing. The winners on this night with a majority of firsts were Andrei Cutashevskii & Anna Vasina, we too thought that this was a good performance for this talented couple, not only is he an expert navigator but Anna is just brilliant always responding to the smallest of his actions making this an amazing partnership. Not far from their heals were Denys Savytskyy & Mila Kovalova who placed second in all dances and stole a few first place marks from the winners. In the past we have enjoyed this couple fully but on this performance we found it slightly tight and not as fluent as how we have seen it in the past. In third place and also stealing some of the firsts were Vitalii Demianenko & Oleksandra Fedorova, and yes a great addition to this final but for us lacking some of the fluidity of the last two mentioned. However, we have to say that they too stole some firsts so a few of the judges were also impressed by this couple. Vitalii & Oleksandra took third in all dances.

Fourth overall was awarded to Robert McShinsky & Jenna McShinsky 4,5,4,4,4; fifth went to Wyatt Jennings & Mina Brunson 5,4,5,5,5; sixth in all dances were Shanden Hoffman & Caroline Money, and seventh were Jordan Heaton & Kennidy McOmber.

The Professional Smooth was also an excellent event at the Vegas Open and it too started with a full semifinal round and six couples were called back. The winners of all four dances were Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija Barashikhina who as always gave an excellent performance and won three dances with a majority of firsts. However, in the tango Nick & Viktorija had to rely on second or better to win this dance. The couple that on this night challenged the winners were Yegor Novikov & Tatiana Novikova who placed second in all dances and who stole the majority of firsts not won by Nick & Viktorija. Another couple that gave a terrific performance was Leonid Burlo & Mariia Usan who placed third in all dances.

From third place down the couples were quite good but did not live up to the expectations of the top three and they was Lukas Spisak & Eva Tibenska placing fourth in all dances, Peter Minkov & Yuliia Sorokata taking all fifths and Radek Wiatrowski & Denise Sobiewski who were sixth.

The Professional Rhythm also started with a semifinal round and here the winners were Shane Jensen & Shannon Jensen and they won four dances with a full majority of firsts, but in the mambo they had to rely on seconds or better to win this dance. Second in all dances went to Ryan Lockhart & Danelle Lockhart, and third were Shem Modrzynski & Magdalena Zybura. Alexey Smirnov & Daria Smirnova took all fourths, but from here down the placements varied Aaron Pierce & Bailey Carrillo were fifth 6,5,5,5,6, and Denys Karasov & Anastasiia Karasova placed sixth 5,6,6,6,5.

The Professional Latin was quite a small heat with only two couples in it, but we have to say it was a fun competition to watch because both couples were of excellent quality. The winners by placing first in four dances and second in the jive were Daniil Tymoshenko & Vladyslava Vursalova. The dances they won were with the majority of firsts and we have to agree with the judges they were the best by far and we don’t understand why they did not have all first in these first dances, but apparently there are different priorities for different judges. First in the jive and second in the other four dances was Oleksii Fedorov & Anastasiia Konieva.

A great feature at this year's Vegas Open was the nightclub night that was held in the LUX Lounge.  This lounge had a real "nightclub" feel and panoramic views down to the Vegas Strip.  There was also an open bar to ensure everyone stayed loose!

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