Desert Classic 2014

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SmaDS-Artemll but Mighty!

The Professional Ballroom last night at Desert Classic was a straight final of 7 couples, but what a final it was!  Artem Plakhotnyi & Inna Berlizyeva ran away with the title, losing a total of only 8 first place marks from a total of 75. 

Easily 2nd in all dances were Denis Kutepov & Lesya Sinitsa although the majority of judges did nDS-Denisot feel that they challenged the winners.  (More about this in the full report in the members’ section soon).  For 3rd place the judges were faced with a choice of two disparate (not desperate!) couples  - the new partnership of Iaroslav Bieliel & Olga Tsikalyuk, tall and stately, or the lively and free-flowing Emanuel & Francesca Pappacena.  It was very close in all dances but Iaroslav & Olga took all dances in 3rd position leaving Emanuel & Francesca with 4th in all dances.  Igor Colac & Roxanne Milotti were 5th in all dances;  Evgeny Mayorov & Olga Lisovskaya were 6th in all and Slava & Lara Kostianets were 7th in all.



The Rhythm began with a semifinal.  Peter & Alexandra Perzhu made it a double, winning all dances to take this title quite easily and add it to the Smooth title from the day before.  The clean and readable dancing of Ivan Dishliev & ?? Nedyalkova gave them a comfortable 2nd in all dances.  The closest race for us came in the choice for 3rd and 4th between Donovan Dominguez & Rose Dimov and Vicente Martinez and Meaghan Murphy, who incidentally are similar in appearance and style.  It was very close in every dance but when the chips were down, Donovan and Rose took it 4 dances to 1 (3,3,3,4,3).  5th in all dances went to Tommy Belmontez & Jessica Holty and 6th to Jim Clark & Jennifer Chegini.  Watch out for Bill Sparks’ report in Dance Beat soon.

ADS-AmLatnother double win of the weekend went to Dmytry Dymytrenko & Cheyenne Murillo who won the Amateur Latin, a straight final.  They had also won the U/21 Latin the night before.  They placed 1,1,1,2,1.  2nd were Telercyk Iankiev & Natella Devitskaya (2,3,3,1,2) and 3rd Nikolai Tarasov & Egle Straleckaite (3,2,2,3,3).

Hans & Ann Stork won al dances in the Senior II Ballroom and Aaron & Katelyn Holmes took all dances in the Amateur Smooth.

The pro-ams danced Rhythm all day and although the freestyle heats were full and exciting the Open Scholarships drew small entries.  Nadiya Kireyko w. Daniel Vasco was uncontested in the A division.  Sue Putzier w/ Radomir Pashev won all dances in the B and Monica Broch w/ Kris Suakjian won all dances in the C.

This was the 15th anniversary of the Desert Classic and to celebrate, Igor & Irina commissioned a show to close the evening’s event.  Wendy Johnson was in charge of staging the performers that included some high-energy formation numbers from the kids of Center Stage Ballroom as well as feature performances by some of the amateur and professional couples in attendance.  This was followed by the now traditional “Breakfast under the Stars” for competitors and package holders.

Today is junior day and it is a full day of competition that does not conclude until 8 PM.

Smooth Heads the Bill!
Friday at Desert Classic

There were 2 Open Professional Championships at Desert Classic last night, both began with a semifinal and both were strong events.  Of the 2, we felt the Smooth held the most interest as many of the nation’s best were here and as there is an open throne at the top of this division right now – every competition is important.


PeDC-Smooth1-2ter & Alexandra Perzhu once again proved up to the task, winning all dances with the majority of 1st place marks – but it was by no means unanimous.  2nd place Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija took 2nd in all dances but had 1st places in all dances. The foxtrot and Viennese were the closest going to Perzhus 8 first places to Nick & Viktorija’s 6 first places.  This is an interesting result indeed!  The newbies, Mikolay Czarnecki & Victoria Malko were comfortably 3rd in all dances.  We felt the next 3 places were the hardest to decide and the judges giving very mixed individual marks.  With their best performance in some time, David & Natalie Shulz were 4th (5,4,4,4);  Kyle & Alle Spinder were 5th (4,5,5,6) and Kri Suakjian & Brianna Haft were 6th (6,6,6,5).  Winners of the RS took 7th – David Estrada & Stephanie Betts.  In Dance Beat soon find out which couple could maybe have placed better with better floorcraft and just how much the overseas judges impacted this event.  Plus watch out for Wendy Johnson’s commentary.


Nikolai VorDC-Nikolaionovich & Maria Nikolishina won all dances to take the Professional Latin Championship.  They won 4 dances comfortably but were taken to ‘2nd or better’ scores in the rumba as they had 7 first places to the 6 of the runners-up. (not a majority).  Those runners-up were Andrey Tarasov & Yulia Kuznetsova who were 2nd in all dances.  With 4,3,3,3,3, Roman Italyankin & Alexandra Bokova were 3rd.  We thought this was certainly the best performance we have sen so far from this couple.  Alexandra looked much more confident.  Evgeny Likachev & Maria Levina were 4th (3,4,4,4,4).  Another new partnership, Sergiy Kvashyn & Olga Ginzberg were 5th, 5,6,6,5,5, and Oleg Astakhov & Olivia Wesolowska were 6th (6,5,5,6,6).  Armando Martin will have a full commentary on this division in Dance Beat soon.

Only 3 couples contested the Cabaret and it went to Ivan Berkovic & Dena Anne Weiner.


TherDC-Andrese was a very good Amateur Ballroom and this began with a semifinal.  The winners were Andres & Veronika End who won all dances with the majority of 1st places.  2nd in all dances were the always appealing Ruslan Kalyuzhny & Kseniya Sovenko.  Showing great promise in this style were 10-dancers, Nikolai Tarasov & new partner, Egle Straleckaite (DC-Dmytry3,3,4,3,3).  3rd went to Alex & Grace Wang (4,4,3,4,4), 5th in all dances were Tyler Wilson & Annie Seeley and 6th were Dan Manea & Mia Hu, who had won the Senior Ballroom earlier in the evening.

There was also a strong U/21 Latin this evening and Dmytry Dmytrenko & Cheyenne Murillo were the winners in all dances.  2nd were Umar Diallo & Natalya Zrazhevskaya (2,2,2,3,2) and 3rd, Eric Ascione & Grace Anderson (3,3,3,2,3).

For the pro-am dancers it was a day of international Ballroom that ended with very high level Open Scholarships.  Our congratulations to Julie Zhao w/ Denis Kutepov who won 2 of the Open Scholarships - the B and the C.  She won all 10 dances!  2nd in the B was Lilly Chang w/ Sergey Kiselev (3,2,4,2,2) and 3rd was Michelle Peng w/ Mikhail Avdeev (2,3,3,3,3).  The missing 2nd place in the Viennese went to Alexandra Michel w/ Victor Veyrasset who was 5th overall.


2nd in the C was Tammy Knight w/ Artem Plakhotnyi, 2nd in all dances and 3rd was Deborah Erico w/ Dariusz Michalski (3,4,4,3,3T).


The A was the smallest division and it was won by Grace Wang w/ Mikhail Avdeev shoo won all dances.  2nd went to Irene Lee w/ Mick Cheremukhin again in all dances and 3rd was Andreas Mantius w/ Jenny Rozhkova

DeDes-view1sert Classic on the Move

This year, but for 1 year only, Desert Classic has relocated from the JW Marriott in Palm Desert to the Renaissance, Indian Wells – a short distance away.  Organizers, Igor & Irina Suvorov, assured Dance Beat that this was just for 1 year and involved scheduling problems at the iconic JW where Desert Classic has been held since its inception 15 years ago.

That’s not to say that the Renaissance is a slouch by any standards.  It offers world-class golf (a favorite of so many dancers), spa, pools and all the amenities of a 5-star resort.  The ballroom is spacious and contemporary and happily is right by most of the guest rooms.  We are all certainly happy to be here.


The competitions started with a bang yesterday.  The pro-ams competed in 2 styles – Smooth and Latin and all 4 of the Rising Star divisions were danced in the evening session.

Two of the RS divisions began with semifinal rounds, the other 2 were straight finals.

ThDes-Estradae Smooth had a semifinal and was won by a couple competing in their first competition together – David Estrada & Stephanie Betts.  We thought they looked strong considering the brevity of their time together.  The judges seemed to agree, awarding them the majority of 1st places in all 4 dances and very few placements less than 2nd.  With 2,2,2,3, the tall Slava & Lara Kostianets placed 2nd  (incidentally they also competed in the Ballroom tonight).  3rd went to Nicholas & Laura Manzo 4,4,3,2.

TheDes-Likachev Latin was the other semifinal and this offered, we thought, the highest standard of the 4 divisions overall.  The winners were Evgeny Likachev & Maria Levina and they won all dances with the majority of 1st places except the jive.  2nd were Oleg Astahov & Olivia Weslowska who were 2nd in all dances and closest to the winners in jive.  3rd spot fell to Ryan Lewis & Tessa Marie with 3,4,4,3,3.  We felt their final round was so much stronger than their semi.

In the Ballroom Nick Cheremukhin & Victorija turned their attention to the ballroom style – the first time we have seen them compete in this.  They were the winners taking all 5 dances with a strong majority of 1st places.  This is an interesting development.  2nd place went to Evgeniy Mayorov & Olga Lisovskaya. The Kostianets were 3rd overall with scores of   2,3,3,2,3.


Donovan Dominguez & Rose Dimov easily won the Rhythm taking all dances with the majority of 1sp place marks including a perfect ‘9’ in the cha cha.  2nd in all dances went to Tommy Belmontez & Jessica Holty and 3rd to Pietro Della Santini & Allesandra Gonzalez (3,4,3,3,3).

Unusually, the Latin Open Pro-Am Scholarships were larger than the Smooth all 3 beginning with semifinals.


The A divisions went to the unstoppable Cheyenne Murillo w/ Sasha Althukov who won all dances.  (We did note that se lost a couple of single dances in the afternoon to her runner-up tonight).  That runner-up was the highest placed gentleman of tonight’s pro-am scholarships, Sam Burekhovich w/ Natia Kuprava – 2nd in all dances.  Nadia Kireyko w/ Daniel Vasco took 3rd place 4,4,3,3,3.


In the B Division Oksana Kalimuka w/ Denis Podolskiy was the winner with 2,1,2,1,1.  Rhonda Lee w/ Daniele Gozzi took 2nd place 1,3,1,3,2 and Svetlana Van Tassel w/ Andrey Tarasov was 3rd 3,2,3,2,3.


Rhonda Lynch w/ Stephan McCann won the C division taking 1st in 4 dances and 2nd in paso.  Winning that paso and taking 2nd in the remaining dances was Tammy Knight w/ Oleksii Lytvyn.  3rd went to Iris Chang w/ Evgeny Nazarov 3,4,4,3,3.


The best of the Smooth Op[en Scholarships we thought was the C Division.  This was won by Sue Eldred w/ Artem Plakhotnyi who won all dances.  2nd in all went to Marina Sanchez-Torres with Max Sinitsa and 3rd fell to Paige Riffle w/ Alex Zagrean 3,3,4,3T.

The A and B divisions had only 1 and 2 competitors respectively.  Cato Seets & Jim Maranto in the A and Iene Lee w/ Nick Chermukhin who won all dances in the B and Elena Eroshkin w/ Daniel Vasco.

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