Holiday Classic 2014

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The End!

HC14-Mary-PhillipThe culmination of the Holiday Dance Classic was as usual the spectacular, now iconic, party after the competition in the Havana Club.  It was a major success with everyone dancing, feasting and socializing.  Nothing quite beats this dynamic ending of the 2014 Holiday Dance Classic Championship.

The well-known show in the ballroom prior to the party was memorable to say the least.  The theme was very simple - down to the music where the basic sounds of drums and wood boxes accompanied every tune, making it all sound rich yet simple.  Brent Mills led the percussion ensemble that also included judges Sarwat Kaluby and Ron Montez.

IHC14-Rayt was a delight to see Ray Rivers dancing with his entire family, the music from “Strictly Ballroom” was full and very complimenting to the Australian feel of the dancing number. It was also nice to see US icon, Melissa Dexter, dancing a very musical number to percussion only with Italian Champion and partner in life Giacomo  Steccalia. The numbers from the Brooklyn DanceSport were excellent and full of life.  It wHC14-Melissaas also terrific to see Eugene Katsevman & Maria Manusova join in for their last number.

The show as usual, was cleverly put together by Ms. Wendy Johnston who had her hands full this weekend with this task, and all her family present including her new favorite love and addition to her family, grandson “Theo.”


IHC14-Andreyt was a short and sweet evening with only two dance competitions the Professional Latin and the Professional Smooth. In the Professional Latin Andrey Tarasov & Yulia Kuznetsova took first in every dance but only in the cha cha did they manage to get the majority of firsts.  In the rest of the dances they relied some on the seconds or better. A number of judges marked them fourth, fifth and even a few sixths. We in Dance Beat felt the competition did not really have such a clear ending, all couples were of excellent caliber but not one really stood out as the best in the field. Second overall went to possiHC14-Vitaliibly our favorites of the night, Vitalii Proskurin & Evgenia Shatilova who took second in every dance. Third was awarded to Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Shvets 3,3,5,6,3; fourth went to Roman Italyankin & Alexandra Bokova 5,4,3,5,4; fifth was awarded to Gunnar Gunnarson & Marika Doshoris from England 4,5,4,3,5 and in sixth position were Evgeny Likhachev & Maria Levina 6,6,6,4,6.

In theHC14-Nick professional Smooth Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija gave an outstanding performance and one every dance, three with the majorsity of first from the judges and second or better in the VW. Mazen Hamza & Izabella took all seconds.  We are sure this to be a very disappointing finish for this couple considering that a few years back they were so close to reaching the top. Third in all dances went to Travis & Jaimee Tuft. Fourth was awarded to Max Sinitsa & Michelle Officer. We are sure that they too were hoping for better results.  Unfortunately from the sidelines the work did not look complete and it was quite shaky at times.  We are sure that if we could see this so could the judges.  They placed 4,4,4,5. Fifth went to Kyle & Allie Spinder 5,5,5,4, and sixth was awarded to Kris Suakjian & Briana Haft and they took sixth in every dance.


The pro-ams concluded their week with the Open Ballroom Scholarships that were perhaps the best pro-am events of the week.  The B and C divisions were especially strong.

The winner of theHC14-ABall A, the smallest of the divisions, was Anna Lucero w/ Ikaika Dowset.  Anna placed 1,2,2,3,1.  As you can see the judges were not in total agreement on this heat.  2nd went to Grace Wang w/ Mikhail Avdeev, 2,3,1,1,3 and 3rd was Rebecca Kuhn w/ Andrea Faraci 3,1,4,2,4.  4th, Sabine Blyth w/ Giacomo Agrello 4,4,3,4,2;  5th Irene Lee w/ Nick Cheremukhin 5,6,5,5,6 and 6th Aleksandra Kurashko w/ Denis Generalov 6,5,6,6,5.

Almost all the top players were here in the B making for some tough choices for the judges from Semi to final.  We saw several ladies who could certainly have been at home in the top six left in the semi.  The winnerHC14-Celia was Celia Chou w/ Erminio Stefano and Celia won all 5 dances.  Beverly Moore added a runner-up finish to her two previous wins here at Holiday placing 3,2,2,2,2.  Julie Zhao w/ Denis Kutepov took 3rd, 2,3,3T,3,3.  We really liked Julie today and thought she was going to really challenge for the top spot.  But the final was perhaps not her strongest round.  Brynda Insely w/ Martin Reinbold also had a good day and was rewarded with 4th place, 4,4,3T,4,4.  Michelle Peng w/ Mikhail Avddev was 5th 5,5,5,5,5 and Bo Chang w/ Giampiero was 6th 6,6,6,6,6.


The C was the largest division danced over 3 rounds.  The battle for first came down to a 3 dance to 2 win for Lynn Murrell w/ Alexander Voskalchuk 1,1,2,1,2 over Jill Bradford & Gert Roslender 2,2,1,2,1.  Tammy Knight w/ Artem Plakhotnyi was 3rd although placed 4,4,4,3,4 – one of those weird Skating System results!  4th went to Paige Riffle w/ Iaaroslav Bieliel 3,3,5,4,5;  5th Hye Kyong Park w/ Linas Korieva 5,5,3,5,3 and 6th Deborah Errico w/ Dariusz Michalski 6,6,6,6,6.

As we mentioned earlier the evening was short and sweet, a perfect finish some great dancing, a fun Holiday show and a fabulous party.  Who can ask for more? We are looking forward to 2015 as we have done for the past 25 years!   

More Than Just Rhythm at the Tropicana!

Last night at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino the dancing was fabulous, the Professional Rhythm was one of the feature events but there was more, the Amateur Latin was hot and the Professional Ballroom was also excellent and we had a few surprises in the Professional Cabaret division.

THC14-Artemhe evening began with a healthy quarter-final in the Professional Ballroom, and we must say that down to the semifinal the couples were all of great quality. Artem Plakhotnyi & Inna Berlizyeva had no problem capturing the Championship. They won all dances with a majority of firsts. However, there were a few judges that would disagree in particular the judge from Australia, Phillip Nichols who awarded them four 3rd and a 4th and Pat Traymore who was not far behind and also awarded them low scores a 4th in the tango, 3rd in the waltz and 2nd in the other three dances.

SecHC14-Mikhailond in all dances also went easily to Mikhail Avdeev & Olga Blimova who also got some interesting marks from some of the judges. Their worst marks also came from the Australian judge who awarded them 2, 6th in the VW and Quickstep and 4th in the other three dances. Alexander Voskalchuk & Veronika Egorova also had an easy third place finish in all dances. But from fourth down the judges were a little less decisive. Fourth went to Iaroslav Bieliei & Olga Tsikalyuk and they placed 4,5,5,4,4, fifth was awarded to Andrey Begunov & Anna Demidova 5,4,4,6,5, and sixth was awarded to the new partnership of Ruedeger Homm & Katia Kanevskaya who for the moment seemed to be representing Germany, 6,6,6,5,6.


The batHC14-Rhyth2tle for superiority in the Professional Rhythm continues here at the Holiday Classic but this time the battle was between Nazar Norov & Irina Kudryashova and Andre & Natalie Paramonov. Both last couples mentioned were in great form but in the end Nazar & Irina took the Championship title home by placing first in all dances with a majority of firsts in all dances. When looking at the marks we noticed that Nazar & Irina got all firsts or seconds with just an occasional third in two dances. Andre & Natalie placed second in all dances with a majority of seconds and some firsts, a third and even a fourth, both from Ms. Pat Traymore.


Third overall was awarded to Shane & Shannon Jensen who placed third in all dances. Fourth went to Donovan Dominguez & Rose Dimov, but here things got a little more complicated. Donovan & Rose placed fourth in three dances and fifth in the cha cha and mambo. Fifth overall was awarded to Shandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukova 4,5,6,6,4, and you could tell by the judges marks that they could not make up their minds.  Personally the Dance Beat Team thought they could have easily placed higher, they had great energy and terrific Rhythmic form. And sixth was awarded to Ivan Dishliev & Marieta Nedyalkova 6,6,5,5,6.

The PHC14-Cabrofessional Cabaret was excellent and this went to Travis and Jaimee Tuft, We thought their routine looked very secure and rehearsed tonight and deserving of the first place. Second was awarded to possibly the favorites going into the competition, Shane & Shannon Jensen.  It was a tight finish with 6 first places going to the Tufts and 5 to the Jensens, however, we have to agree with the decision.  The runners-up looked a little unusually shaky. Third went to Egor Shalvarov & Alla Profatilova and clearly this was their position with a comedy routine that was excellent and always brings the house down.  In fourth position were Ivan Berkovic & Dena Weiner, here there was some life challenging lifts, unfortunately we all kept praying for them - not something that would give you points in our opinion.

The Adult AmaHC14-Pashateur Latin was also excellent and out of this world. Here the night went to Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabrielle Sabler and they placed first in all five dances. Pasha & Gabrielle’s worst marks came from Graham Oswick from England who awarded them 3 thirds in the cha, samba & paso. Second overall wen to Artur Tamavskyy & Anastasia Danibva and they placed second in 4 dances and third in the jive. Artur & Anastasia’s work was very interesting, not sure all judges would be taken by their interpretation but we in Dance Beat thought it was very unique and clever. Francesco Bertini & Sabrina Manzi were third overall 3,3,3,3,2.  Here was a no nonsense Latin performance, just lots of rhythm and musicality. Had they broken the mold a little bit, we think they could have easily place much higher.

Fourth in this excellent Amateur heat was awarded to Eugeny Raev & Patrycja Csolak who took fourth in all dances. Fifth went to Stanishlav Engelgardt & Tania Vasilyeva 6,5,5,6,5, and last but not least in sixth place were Jason Dai & Sasha Nissengolts 5,6,6,5,6.


Although it was a difficult night on the floor for the judges we are sure, it was a terrific night of dance for the audience and for the prestige of the Holiday Dance Classic that continues to be the number one location to finish the competition year. Congratulations to the organizers!

Unexpected Xmas Story!

Last night there was an unexpected Xmas story at the Holiday Dance Classic, in the Professional Rising Star ranks.

It had been a wonderful full day of Pro/Am Latin, where like all the other days past we were able to witness some terrific Pro/Am scholarships. All the divisions down to the senior levels had been extremely good.  The afternoon concluded with the prize presentation for the Open Scholarships.


We saw our first gentleman winner in the Open A Latin, Jacub Tsai w/ Yulia Kuznetsova.  It was a tight race however, with Jacob placing 1,1,2,3,3.  Second went to Sabrine Strasser w/ Stanislav Kochergin 2,2,3,1,2 and another of the 1st places went to Vera Wei Xu w/ Jakub Zeglin who scored 4,3,4,4,1 to take 3rd overall.  4th spot fell to Saina Hadden w/ Daniele Gozzi 3,4,5,2,4.  And the last of those elusive 1st places went to Tanya Durbin w/ Marcus Johnson 5,5,1,5,5 for a 5th place finish overall.  6th was Zoe Antinou w/ Andre Strinadko.


Maria Seragou w/ Dimitrios Damalas was the winner of the Open B scoring 2,1,1,3,2.  Svetlana Van Tassel w/ Andrey Tarasov took the runner-up spot with 1,1,2,1,1 and Nathalie Belanger w/ Genya Bartashevich was 3rd, 3,3,2,1,3.  From here down the judges were more decide in this 8-couple final.  4th Marialisa De Gasperis w/ Kamil Studenny 4,4,4,4,4;  5th Anna Poberetsky w/ Andre Strinadko 5,5,5,5,6;  6th Kim Porter w/ Tomasz Wlodarski 6,6,6,6,7; 7th Khong Pham w/ Jessie Mineau 8,8,7,8,5;  8th M’Balia Tagoe-Guzman w/ Nikolay Voronovich 7,7,8,7,8.


Beverly Moore w/ Alain Doucet became our 3rd repeat winner as she added the Open C Latin to the Open C Smooth she won the day before.  Beverly placed 2,3,2,1,1.  2nd place went to Rhonda Lynch w/ Stephen McCann 1,1,3,3,2 and 3rd was Tammy Knight w/ Oleksii Lytvyn 3,2,1,2,3.  Again, the second half of the final was more decided.  Linda Zhao w/ Jean Paul was 4th, 4,4,4,4,5;  5th Deborah Leibow w/ Slava Gorbunov 6,5,6,5,4;  6th Iris Chiang w/ Evgeny Nazarov 5,6,5,6,6.


So “twas the night before Christmas” – well not exactly and in fact plenty was stirring!

The firHC14-Shakovst of the Rising Star events was the Professional Rising Star Ballroom. This event started with a quarter final round and Vladimir Shakhov & Ekaterina Popova were the clear victors winning all dances. Second went to Stefano DiBrino & Bianka Zubrowska and they placed 3,2,2,2,2.  Yuriy Nartov w/Sarika Hudson were third overall 2,3,3,3,3.

The RS Rhythm also started with a quarter and here Shandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov were declared the overall winners by winning four dances and placing second in the swing. The swing went to Riccardo Papi & Sabrina Moretti who placed second in the remaining dances. Third in this Rising Star event was awarded to Eddie Rivera & Meghan McNash, and they took third in all dances.


As an intermission, like in every good Xmas story, we had an excellent Amateur Ballroom event. Here the clear winners for us and for the judges were Andres & Veronika End who won all dances. Second was awarded to Marek Klepadlo & Liana Bakhtiarova and they placed second in all dances, leaving third to Angelo Gaetano & Clarissa Morelli who took all thirds.


BHC14-Cheyenneut all did not end with the Amateurs, the second part of this Professional Rising Star evening, as if it was properly orchestrated had for us the most exiting two finals of the night - the Pro Rising Star Latin and Smooth. In the Latin we had a well-known Pro/Am dancer, Cheyenne Murillo, dancing for the first time as a professional. This transition from Pro/Am to professional is not unusual, we’ve had plenty of those in the past.  However, it was as always very unexpected especially since Cheyenne’s transitional partner continued to be her Pro/Am teacher who is now her partner, Sasha Altukhov. We must say that this was an excellent transition since they won the Rising Star competition by taking first in four dances and second in the samba. In some ways we could say that their performance was still a little green but full of energy and to most judges, a winning performance.  We are sure that this green performance will ripen into a fabulous combination for years to come in the open level.

Second in this Professional Latin Rising Star heat wen to Simeon Stoynov & Kora Stoynova who won the samba and placed second in the other four dances. We must also say that this was perhaps the best performance we have seen from this couple so far. And finally in third position were Adam Katona & Bella Gubzheva and they placed third in all five dances.

Our Xmas story concludes with a fantastic end in the Professional Rising Star Smooth category where six very talented couples were called for the final all looking beautiful and in good form. In the end Slava Stefanov & Jessica McMorrow from Washington, placed third in all dances, leaving the second place position to a Canadian couple who not long ago were one of Canada’s finest Latin couples and who just about six months ago decided to take on this Smooth challenge, Dmitry Ilyushenov & Kateryna Stytsenko, they placed second in three dances and first in the foxtrot. Dmitry & Katerina were lovely last night and well deserving of their placement, however, we should never know what would have happened if the new Rising Star Smooth Champions, Mariusz ZakrzewskHC14-Linnsayi & Lynnsay Ray had not had to miss their foxtrot due to a costume malfunction – to say the least! Yes you heard it right, this is not a story this is the truth.  During their excellent performance he or she got caught in the dress  - he fell down and she was so tangled up in the dress she could not “tango on” (to quote Al Pacino) A tug-of-war began between her and the desperate audience that were trying to pull her out of her entanglement. At one point several people were tugging and trying to cut her out of her dress to the point that she began to cry knowing her foxtrot was nearly over. The music man tried going a little longer but it was no use, her dress half torn off, won the night. In the end a bystander showed up with some scissors and Lynnsay was released but it was too late, she only danced about a quarter of the foxtrot apparently good enough for the judges who awarded her second overall. Only one judge felt compelled to award these lovely dancers a first place mark and that was Toni Redpath and so their marks in this dance varied from first to last.

After this unusual struggle was over, the lady returned with more than half her dress gone but graciously they continued and not only won the VW but won the competition overall, giving us all an unforgettable Xmas story to tell about the Holiday Classic last night. You could feel the emotions from the judges and down to the audience when they were called out the winners overall. It was great for all present and a night that I was glad to witness from beginning to end.

At the end the celebrations continued in our little suite where all the conversation one way or another went in that direction. So even the mice were all running around feeling great about the judges, the audience, the competitors and even the organizers who worked very hard to put this excellent Holiday competition together for us all to enjoy. 

The Holiday Went Smoothly!

Yesterday it was a full day (and we do mean full – 7 AM – 11:45 PM), of pro-am Smooth dancing here at Holiday Classic.   As usual the culminating events were the Open Pro-Am Scholarships.

InHC14-winnersterestingly we saw 2 repeat wins from the day before’s Rhythm scholarships – Brittany Winek w/ Eric Hudson was again victorious in the A division as was Susan Sidman w/ Gleb Makarov in the B.  

Brittany won all dances in the A with a slim majority of 1st places in all dances.  Irene Lee w/ Nick Cheremukhin was 2nd in all 4, but surprisingly did not pick up many 1st place marks from the judges.  Kelly Morikawa w/ Jonathan Atkinson was 3rd 3T,3,3,3.  2 judges of the 7 awarded Kelly 1st place in the VW – the most received by anyone other than the winner.  Jacqueline Bequette w/ David Estrada was 4th, 3T,4,4,4;  Matt Chambers w/ Lorena Bravo 5th in all dances;  Alexandra Weiss 6th in all and Jennifer Williamson 7th in all.


SuHC14-BSmoothsan had no trouble winning the B, she received every available 1st place mark but 1.  Congratulations!  Joanne Tatum was the runner-up in all dances and she received every 2nd place mark except for a 1st place from Jim Maranto in foxtrot.  3rd in all HC14-Beverlydances was Zhuojing Liu w/ Gene Bersten, 4th in all Victoria Chiang w/ David Estrada and 5th in all Jeff Kissell w/ Anne-Marie Patterson.

Beverly Moore w/ Alain Doucet was the winner of the C division, the largest of the Open Scholarships danced over 3 rounds.  Beverly placed 2,1,1,1.  The 1st in waltz went to Sue Eldred w/ Artem Plakhotnyi, 1,2,2,2.  The next three places were the tightest contest.  Janice Smith w/ David Weise took the 3rd spot, 3,3,4,3.  Michael Roybal w/ Inna Berlizyeva was 4th, 4,6,3,4;  Monica Broch w/ Kris Suakjian was 5th, 5,4,5,5 and Diane Best w/ Alyosha Anatoliy was 6th.


Today is another busy day with the pro-ams moving on to the Latin style plus some professional divisions begin.

Vegas has Rhythm!

Last night the day and a half of Rhythm competitions concluded with the heavily contested Open Pro/Am Rhythm Scholarships. Every heat from beginning to end had quarters, semis and even 8-couple finals.

HC14-BrittanyThe “A” categories were very contested but only five couples made it to the final of this fully energized contest and in the end Brittany Winek partnered by Eric Hudson took first in all dances. Nicole Huerta w/Edwin Torres took all seconds and Ann Shaw w/Daniel Lee Tran was third in every dance. Fourth and fifth places in this category had more competition. Here Paula Darlas w/Sean Brunell took fourth in four dances and placed fifth in the swing, leaving Alexandra Weis with the swing fourth but fifth in the other four dances.


The moHC14-Nancyst challenging Rhythm Scholarship was the “C” division where Nancy Lam w/Alexander Ivanov won overall. In this heat Nancy won four dances and placed second in the swing. Nancy Rapoport w/Sergiy Shapoval won the swing but was not as consistent as the winning lady in the other dances. Nancy placed second in the C,R,B and third in the mambo. Third was even more contested, here Heather Petros w/Fonzie Zapata took third overall but her marks were all over 4,4,3,3,2. Dana Voigt w/Randy Wilson placed fourth 3,6,4,4,4, leaving Evelyn Lamden w/Daniel Vasco holding fifth 5,5,5,6,5. Sixth in the overall event was awarded to Diana Best w/Alosha Anatoliy and these are her scores - 6,3,6,5,6.


TheHC14-Susan “B” division decision was not as divided.  The two ladies on top got the judges attention. Here Susan Sidman w/Gleb Makarov won three dances and placed second in two, the rumba, and mambo. M’balia Tagoe-Guzman w/Mariusz Zakrzewski was second overall but managed to steal the two firsts from Susan, placing 2,1,2,2,1. From here down every placement was clear. Jacqueline Bequette w/Daniel Lee Tran was third in all dances, Bernadette Straatsma w/Felipe Telona Jr, got all fourths, Sandy Overly w/Adrian Lomeli took all fifths and Jeff Kissell w/Anna-Marie Patterson placed all sixths. Tonight the scholarships continue but this time in the Smooth categories, we are looking forward to some excellent dancing and interesting results.


The Holiday Dance Classic here in Las Vegas, Nevada continues to be one of our favorite events of the year and on that note the dancing calendar for 2014 finishes for many, leaving us wanting more, a wonderful trampoline and transition to 2015.

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