USA Dance Nationals - 2015
The last day of competition in Baltimore, Maryland was not as filled with energy and people as Friday and Saturday had been, however, the competition was still quite strong finishing all odds and ends and completing all major championships deciding who will represent the United States at this year’s World Championships.
The biggest attraction for us this night was the Youth Championship Standard and the Adult Championship Ten Dance. We also saw the Adult Smooth and a number of senior events. The Youth Standard was great and the fight was quite intense with a full semifinal round, but in the end the competition went to Samuel Hacke & Katarina Hermanova who won three dances and placed second in the waltz and quickstep. They won with a majority of firsts the foxtrot and Viennese Waltz, ‘second or better’ in the tango and second place in the other two dances.
Second in three dances and winning the waltz and quickstep, making them second overall were Kinsley Lin & Michelle Yiu. For us it came down to musical and dance interpretation. Kinsley & Michelle are wonderful technicians and their work was excellent. However, it needed a little more soul in order to shake the tough panel into awarding them the other three dances. However, we could not have better couples representing the United States in such high level competition in Rimini, Italy, December 2015. Third went to Justin Lin & Sasha Dubinsky and they placed third in every dance. Fourth place in every dance was awarded to Mike Monokandilos & Sophia Brodsky, fifth was awarded to Murat Medzhidov & Valerie Dubinsky and they took fifth in every dance living sixth to Jaryd Farcon & Kyla Dzhaniashvili.
As I mentioned we also saw the Adult Ten Dance Championship and it was a little bit of a disappointment when it came to the number of couples entered. However, the three couples entered were excellent in their craft. Seven of the ten dances went to Mikhail Vorobiev & Sonya Tsekanovsky. Their weakness was in the Latin where they picked up three second placements in the S,C,P. Second overall was awarded and winning those three dances, to Sergey Dementyev & Viktoriya Kolbenkova. Third was awarded to Denis Kojinov & Jeanette Chevalier and they took third in every dance. The winners will go to Chengdu, China for their Ten Dance World Championships, congratulations to Mikhail & Sonya.
There was a WDSF Under 21 Open Latin event and it was poorly attended. Only two couples competed and here Jaryd Farcon & KylaDzhaniashvili were the winners by winning three dances and placing second in the rumba, paso. Second overall and wining those two dances were Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova.
Continuing in the under 21 Championships the USA Dance Championship also had the Under 21 Ten Dance this evening and again it was not a popular heat to enter, here also only 2 couples were present and the winner will represent the USA in Riga, Latvia in October 2015. The winner here was Samuel Hacke & Katarina Hermanova. I was quite proud of this lovely couple who we’ve followed through the USA this and last year, they are perfect proof that hard work pays off. They won seven dances and placed second in three. Second overall was Mikhail Vorobiev & Sonya Tsekanovsky and they won the waltz, rumba, paso and placed second in the other three dances.
The USA Dance Adult Championships Smooth was also held this evening and here we had a full semifinal. The winners overall were selected by rule 11, meaning there was a tie and it had to be broken by a rule. The winners, Jonathan Medlin & Malin Allert ,won the waltz and tango and placed second in the other two dances. The runners up, broken by rule 11. were Paul Freitas & Kelly Glasheen and they placed first in foxtrot and Viennese Waltz and second in the other two dances, so a complete tie and that is why rule 11 had to be used. Third in this Championships in all dances were Damian Pataluna & Irina Morozova. Fourth were Renzo Aida & Natalia Struchkova 6,4,4,5, fifth were Rodney Berry & Shannon Berry 4,6,6,4, and sixth were Gerogia Cometa & Alice Wang 5,5,5,6.
The Junior II Championships ten dance took place and the couple representing the USA in Rimini, Italy is Yusif Amsatr & Naomi Spektor, they placed first in 8 dances and second in the foxtrot and quickstep. The winner of those two dances and runners up by placing second in all the other dances and 3rd in the cha cha, were Erik Linder & Rickie Taylor. Third overall were Kristers Smits & Sophie Shvartsman, fourth was Svyryd Syvyk & Diana Byk, fifth went to Daniel Melnik & Maria Voldki, and sixth was Tyler Li & Anjelica Lowe.
The Senior II Championship Latin was well-attended and here Arkady Rabinovich & Arlene Yu will be representing the USA in Nice, France in October and they placed 1st in three dances and second in the samba and paso. Second overall was Carlo De Jesus & Kelley Priest, they placed 1,3,2,3,2 and third was awarded to Roger Korsiak & Holli Hornlien 3,2,3,1,3. The winners will also be going to Nice, France for their World Championship.
In the Senior II Ballroom Hans & Ans Stork will be representing the US in Rimini, Italy and they won every dance. The runners up were Joseph Huesmann & Rebecca Yeamans 2,2,3,3,2, and third went to Vincent & Irina Feingold, they placed 3,3,2,2,4, it was also great to see so many senior couples participating in this event with a full quarter final round.
The Senior I Championship Rhythm went to Paul Duhaime & Kelly Madenjian. The Senior III Championships Rhythm wen to Darry Martin & Jil Coe. The Junior I Championship Latin went to Tyler Li & Anjelica Lowe. The Junnior II Championship Smooth went to Donovan Kirrane & Katelyn Photopoulos. The Youth Championship Smooth went to Donovan Kirrane & Katelyn Photopoulos.
The competition overall was very well attended and I was very happy to see so many couples going to represent the USA in so many countries. These types of experiences create great impressions on our young and to be given the opportunity to represent your country and participate has no measure, but has great value to everyone especially our young couples who are so impressionable. Congratulations to the organizing committee and we hope that in the future more kids join the ranks and attend this important event in our calendar.
Not your Normal Standard!
Last night was a great night for Ballroom in America, perhaps the best night so far here at the USA Dance National Championships! The feature event the Standard Championship as the style is still called in the WDSF, was fantastic. It’s called “Ballroom” in US NDCA competitions and this was not the normal “Standard” it was out of this world with great couples full of life and innovation.
The Ballroom style is a connection for most of us between the now and the past. Most of the dances themselves the waltz, Viennese Waltz, and quickstep are beautiful but antiquated dances that are now rarely danced at a social level unless you are a Ballroom dance aficionado. The beauty of these dances especially in the Ballroom style still fascinate most of us with great nostalgia of two bodies dancing with ease across the floor to beautiful social music. Earlier I said innovation because it was great to see some of the top competitors last night present these dances with the same classical take but with a few innovations of musicality and body action. We tend to always learn to keep the dances as close to the original as possible without violating their basic principals of movement, but last night the winners in particular were able to do this without the greatest exaggerations that are now common in many young couples trying to emulate instead of create.
We want to tip our hats to the newly crowned USA Dance National Standard Champions, Earl Williamson & Charlotte Christiansen who totally impressed us with their ability to interpret this classical Ballroom style of dancing with great basic principals and yet innovation. We could not keep our eyes from this couple they were far above the rest. In looking at the marks it was clear that the majority of the judges saw it as we did, however, we were very surprised to see a few of the adjudicators awarding them lower than second position in any dance. There were exactly three out of the 13 judges that awarded them third place marks. The most consistent in awarding them the most thirds was Inez Sahlin who awarded them thirds in the waltz, tango and foxtrot. Roberto Albanese also awarded them a couple of thirds one in the waltz, and one in the foxtrot and Kimberly Smith also awarded them a third in the tango. Once again we are very pleased that the system worked, it would have been a shame to see such brilliant talent not win the night, but in this case as in most the majority ruled and they will represent the United States in Vilnius, Lithuania coming up later in the year and we wish them great fortune and hope they bring a medal home.
The winners were great but we cannot forget that the final was one of the strongest finals I have seen at the USA Dance Ballroom Championships. Second was awarded to Florin Vlad & Natalia Linda O’Connor who placed second in four dances and fourth in the Tang. In looking at the marks you could see that from second down the judges had a hard time placing the couples, their marks varied from a few firsts to sixth place in some cases, making a mosaic of 1-6 throughout the final. So why were this excellent couple so low in the tango, there is no explanation. We thought they were quite capable, but perhaps we were too busy with first place to come to a full conclusion. This was fur sure not an easy walk in the park for the judges and I can honestly see how their marks could vary with any couple at any time. Third overall was awarded to Sergey Dementyev & Viktoriya Kolbenkova who were placed third in 4 dances and fourth in the foxtrot. Fourth place went to Fernando Lareu & Nicole Palagashvili and here are their marks, also an interesting combination 6,2,4,5,4. Fifth wen to Stanish Pavlov & Sandra Spernacka and here are their marks 4,5,5,6,5, and last but not list in sixth place were Ilia Zakharav & Anna Trukhan and here are their marks 5,6,6,3,6.
There were also a number of other important events sharing the spotlight this evening that should be mentioned. The Junior II Latin representative to the world was also decided and here. Yusif Amsatr & Naomi Spektor were the overall Champions by winning four dances and placing second in the paso. Yusif & Naomi will represent the USA in Riga, Latvia this coming December. Second went to Kristers Smits & Sophie Svartsman 3,2,2,1,2, leaving third to Erik Linder & Rickie Taylor 2,3,3,3,3. The Junior II USA Dance National Champions representatives in the Standard at Chisinau, Moldova are Erik Linder & Rickie Taylor and they won all five dances, second in all dances went to Yusif Amsatr & Naomi Spektor, and third overall went to Svyryd Syvyk & Diana Byk 3,4,3,3,4.
The Youth Latin Championship was also great and the representatives will go to Chisnau, Moldova this coming year as well in October for the Youth Latin World and they are Mike Monokandilos & Sophia Brodsky who won the event by placing first in four dances and second in the Cha cha. Second place was Kinsley Lin & Michelle Yiu who placed 3,1,2,2,3, leaving third to Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova who placed 2,3,4,3,2.
It was also great to see that they are also doing a Latin Showdance Championship but sadly to say that only one couple entered and that was Nikita Malakhov & Nadezda Vlasova who the night before won the Latin USA Dance National Tittle.
We are also sadly to report that only five couples enter the Under 21 Ballroom and here the representative to the 2015 Youth Ballroom Worlds in Rimini, Italy will be Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova 2.5,1,2,2,1. Second went to Justin Lin & Sasha Dubinsky 1,3,3,1,2, and third were Mikhail Vorobiev & Sonya Tsekanovsky 2.5,2,1,3,3, as you can see the judges were very undecided in this competition.
The Adult Rhythm USA Dance Champions were Allen Granzberg & Milana Lazareva, the Senior I Latin Championship was also well attended and here the Champions were Irsa & Cami Tisnabudi, the Senior III Latin Championships went to Edwin Bugarin & Charlotte Bugarin. The Senior I USA Dance Smooth Champions were Jonathan Medlin & Malin Allert. The Senior II USA Dance National Smooth Champions are Mike Lynch & Rose-Ann Lynch, they are also the Senior III USA Dance National Smooth Champions. The Junior I USA Dance National Standard Championships had only three couples entered and here Tyler Li & Anjelica Lowe took the title back to California. The Senior II Rhythm USA Dance Champions are Carmine Rucco & Maria Bolyard.
USA Dance 35 years in the Making!
This year the USA Dance National Danceport Championships at the Renaissance Harbor Place Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland celebrates 35 years! And as usual the championships are filled with people of all ages wanting to represent the United States in the WDSF Championships around the world in the different age categories and different styles. Last night a few of these major US Championships were were decided and here are some of the results and how we saw it from the sidelines.
The biggest title decided was the Adult Championships Latin. The competition started in the afternoon with a full quarter-final round of about 20 couples from around the USA, and by 10:00PM we were down to a six-couple final. In the end our favorite quick pick was the best from round one and maintained a full performance showcasing maturity, and full stamina. They were in the quarter as good as in the final and they were Nikita Malakhov & Nadezda Vlasova from NJ and they won every dance. On paper it too was clear. They managed to get a full majority of firsts from the judges, only a handful of adjudicators dissented from this decision. The biggest surprise for us was the marks from Phil Lee who on paper awarded Nikita & Nadezda the lowest marks recorded, 6,7,6,6,4. There were another two judges that awarded them less than a second place and they were Inez Sahlin who awarded them 4th in samba, 3rd in cha, and a fifth in paso, and a sixth in jive. The other judge who awarded lower than second was Kimberly Smith she awarded them 3rd in samba and a 4th in paso. As an observer I don’t see how you could mark this excellent couple less than second but, here is the total proof the system still works and in the end the best will always come through. Congratulations Nikita & Nadezda and good luck in Wetzlar, Germany at your competition and may you bring the gold for the USA.
Second in this major Latin Championship went to Kiki Nyemchek & Magda Fialek who placed second in every dance. Their marks were a little more varied with a number of thirds, fourth and even a few sixths. For us Kiki & Magda were a perfect example of clarity of work. It was what we would describe as a perfect performance. However, that does not always translate as an exciting performance, being able to touch emotionally the audience is an important part of dance and for us this was a lacking element in their performance. We would have love to see what they were feeling and what they were trying to express, we must remember that we want to see life on the floor and not just a perfectly executed exercise.
Third went to Jason Chao Dia & Sasha Nissengolts. They placed third in 4 dances and 5th in the rumba. When it came to third place we could not agree more, an excellent couple but still not able to bring the maturity needed across to award a gold medal. Perhaps the rumba might be a perfect example, here it is required to deliver a soul provoking performance and unless it is clear in your mind what you are trying to accomplish it could end being just steps.
Fourth in all dances went to Sergey Dementyev & Viktoriya Kolbenkova. for us this couple’s performance was also well organized. At times they looked as if they could challenge for higher placement, but when you looked further once again it became all about the steps and not enough about what they were trying to say and accomplish. I did enjoy Sergey & Viktoriya’s Paso their interpretation was vey interesting. I think with work they have something going there, at times it became a little frantic but terrific paso. Fifth went to Malachi Osai & Annabella Waszkiewicz and they placed 7th in C, S, third in rumba and fifth in the other two dances.
Sixth was awarded to Ryan Raffloer & Hanna Sverdlov. They placed fifth in the S,C, sixth in the rumba , paso and 7th in the jive. Last in this excellent heat was awarded to Daniel Dementyek & Dakota Pizzi they placed sixth in S,C, J seventh in R,P. These are two excellent couples with a little more time I think we have here champions in the making. The raw potential is all there all they need to have is a little more time and they will bloom beautifully, quite happy to see our future in Latin looking so bright.
The Senior I Ballroom Championship was heavily contested. A seven couple final was called and here in a surprising move Thomas Yim & Kelly Cheng from California took the lead and the prize away from what we thought would be the favorites Xingmin & Katerina Lu who placed second in every dance. Thomas & Kelly won all dances. Our congratulations to Thomas & Kelly and good luck to you in Prague Czech Republic later in this year. Third was awarded to Tulga Ersal & Ilkin Ersal 4,3,3,3,4.
In the senior III it was an emotional moment for Hans & Ans Stork who won the Championship by placing first in four dances and second in the tango. Vincent & Irina Feingold took second overall 1,2,1,1,1 and third in all dances was awarded to Mike Lynch & Rose-Ann Lynch.
The Youth 10 Dance is always a great event, having to dominate two styles and doing it to the best ability is hard and for us very difficult to predict. This year’s Youth Ten Dance Champions were Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova. They won 5 dances and placed second in five dances, they will be going to Kiev in the Ukraine for their World Championship we too hope you bring a medal home. Second overall went to Kinsley Lin & Michael Yiu, possibly the favorites going into this event. They also won five dances but placed second in four dances and third in the samba, breaking the tie and placing second overall. Third was Mike Monokandilos & Sophia Brodsky. Here there was a little more variation in the marks they even took a fifth in the VW and Samba.
The adult 9 Dance was also presented last night and this category went to Matthew Shimizu & Jennifer Crown and they won four dances and placed second in five. Second went to Damian Pataluna & Irina Morozova they won five dances but placed second in three and third in the rumba, as you can see this dance made them lose this Championship. Third overall was awarded to Evan Schreiber & Hannah Bundus.
The Amateur Youth Latin was also presented last night and here we had some excellent couples as well and totally worth the mention. Daniel Romakin & Dakoda Pizzi easily won this championship and they will be going to Chisinau, Moldova for their World Championship good luck to them. Second was Ryan Raffloer & Hanna Sverdlov and third went to Ariel Milshteyn & Adelina Ishkayeva.
It was interesting to see the Standard Showdance category added to this year’s evening program. There were only three couples entered but it was quite exciting. The winners overall were Ilia Zakharav & Anna Trukhan, and we must say that it was very close between first and second placed Florin Vlad & Natalia Linda OConnor. For us this routine was the best and as I say it was very close indeed with each couple taking four 1st, in the end it came down to two 3rds and Florin & Natalia got one more than Ilia & Anna so they ended up second overall. Third was awarded to Fernando Lareu & Nicole Palagashvili.
The Under 21 Ballroom had the smallest of all entries, here only four couples entered. The winners were Justin Lin & Sasha Dubinsky 1,2,1,2,1, second went to Oleg Moros & Joy Shen 2,1,2,1,2. Congratulations to these two couples they will be representing the USA in Vancouver, Canada.
The competition as always was very interesting especially due to so many new faces judging the event. I think this is a very positive move on the part of USA Dance variety is the spice of life and they had lots of it this time, and there were no strange results. As we said earlier the system worked congratulations to the organizing committee of USA Dance for organizing such terrific championships