Philly Festival 2015

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Rising to the Top!
Philadelphia Saturday



Video by SuperShag - click here

Saturday was the day Philadelphia took it all the way to the top!!  The afterparty was literally at the top of the city of Philadelphia.  The top of the Lowes Hotel!  The room was a spectacular venue with windows offering stunning views of the city and the river from atop 33 floors.  This was the tallest building in North American when it was completed in 1932!  And the food?  What else but Philly Cheesesteaks!



Philly Festival was also top floor when it came to the dancing Saturday night with 5 top shelf open professional divisions and a strong Amateur Latin.


The theme of the night was “Speakeasy” and we were all asked to dress in 1930’s gangster style.  A live jazz band played during the set meal in the ballroom and for general dancing throughout the night.  They were great and really complemented this unique Art Deco style ballroom.


But what about the comps.  2 of the open pros and the amateur division began with a semifinals, but perhaps the best event of the night was the Pro Ballroom that had 6 couples entered.  Winning tonight were Andrew Begunov & APF15-Andreynna Demidova and they won all dances, all except the QS with the majority of 1st places.  Although we did not quite see it that way, they are a delightful couple who are always in contention.  For us this was not one of their better nights, but for the majority of the panel they did enough to win.  They were well clear in the final summary.  2nd were Rudy HPF15-Ruddyomm & Katya Kanevskaya.  We did like them tonight.  We found their performance more varied than the rest of the finalists.  They seemed to be trying to achieve more than just a good topline.  They received 1st places in every dance but never enough to challenge.  Overall their scores were 2,2,3,2,4.  With 3,3,2,3,3, Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova were 3rd and they too received a smattering of 1st places.  We really liked them too.  Their dancing was clear and unaffected.  Igor Mikushov & Ekaterina Romashkina were 4th, 5,5,4,4,2.  Just as the placements reflect, this couple got better as the final progressed and produced a great QS.  5th spot went to Emanuele & Francesca Pappacena 4,4,5,5,5.  We are fans of this couple, but tonight they seemed rather disorganized.  6th were Dmitry & Gabriela Solmakha.

PF15-DmitryThe Pro Latin was a 2-round event that resulted in a close race for the finish between 2 quite different couples.  In a 3 to 2 decision the result went to Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Svets 1,1,2,2,1 over Genya Bartashevich & Yana Mazhnikova 2,2,1,1,2.  All the dances were won with a majority of 1st places except the samba where both couples received 7 first places each.  The easiest win was in jive that Dmitry and Olena won by 12 first places to 2.  We felt that both couples were on form  but agreed with the final result.  Sergey Samchynskyy & Yulia Besarab took 3rd in all dances.  We felt that rumba was their best dance and in fact thought they could have won that dance.  Jake Davies & Alyona Kalinina were 4th with 4,5,5,4,4;  Nikita Tsernov & Annie Hexio were 5th, 5,4,4,5,5 and Francesco Arietta & Rosaria Vivone were 6th in all.

The Smooth pitted 2 of the nations best against each other, Mazen Hamza & Izabella and Travis & Jaimee Tuft.  Today it resulted in a fairly easy win for Mazen & Izabella who had a clear majority of 1st places in all dances.  Perhaps it was not Travis & Jaimee’s best night.  They took 2nd in all dances.   They won the Showdance that started the evening. Jean Paul & Lana Rossi were easily 3rd in all dances and to us danced better than in the RS the day before.  Morten Jensen & Anastasia were 4th in all.  We were expecting a stronger challenge from this duo, but it never materialized tonight.  We were impressed with Roman Manolachi & Elana Rabinovoci who took all the 5’s.  Alexander Konovalov & Ecaterina Liubenco took 6th with 6,6,7,7, and Matt Fortuna & Tania Minez were 7th with 7,7,6,6.  This event began with a semfinal.


The Pro Rhythm was a straight final and Matt Hauer & Lauren Schelfhandt won all 5 dances.  For us they were the clear winners, with Lauren certainly the best lady out there, but in fact they received the majority of 1st places in only 3 dances and received a couple of 5th places from judge, Cher Rutherford.  We found their performance and appearance (Matt sported a faux Mohawk) a little edgy but we always like progress!  2nd and also impressive were Jonathan Green & Rachel Neilson the winners of the RS.  They placed 3,2,2,2,3.  This young man is a strong, rhythmic dancer and as a couple they would certainly appeal to judges who prefer more traditional styling.   Losing the battle for second were Andrey Svirydzenka & Yulia Zubova 2,3,3,3,2.  When they first switched to American style, this partnership really took on a new identity.  Right now they seem to be struggling to recapture that initial enthusiasm.  4th in all dances were Jean Michel Erole & Larisa.  This young man is a bundle of energy that makes him readily visible on any floor.  5th in all were Tim Polaschek & Katherina Hutchinson.  Earlier in the evening they competed in the Showdance, taking 2nd, and it seems to us that the level of their dancing in that division was far higher than here in the Rhythm.  Something to consider.  Alexander Konovalov & Ecaterina Liubenco were 6th.


We felt Artur Tarnavskyy & Anastasia Danilova were in a league of their own in the Amateur Latin and they did win all dances with comfortable majorities.  It was surprising to see some low scores from some judges, however.  They received a 5th in samba from Pat Traymore and a 4th in paso.  Cher Rutherford gave them 4th in Samba and Brigitt Mayer, 4th in paso.  Plus there were some 3rd places floating around.  2nd tonight went to Stanislav Engelgardt & Tatiana Vasilyeva 3,2,2,2,2.  Great use of legs and feet from this young lady.  3rd were Allen Rudman & Sveta Lesnaya 2,3,3,3,3 who started strongly but faded a bit we thought.  For us the most improved couple award goes to Steven Varshavsky & Karolina Loukhnikov 5,4,4,4,4.  5th were Daniel Romaikin & Dakota Pizzi 4,5,5,5,5.  We liked their potential and 6th in all dances were Eric Groysman & Shelby Cole.


Today was dedicated to junior divisions and as always in the northeast this was exciting and just a shade chaotic!

We think this was the best Philly Festival so far under the new management and we certainly liked the iconic new venue.

Philadelphia Uprising!


Video by SuperShag - click here

Last night was all about the pro rising star!  All 4 divisions took place with varying degrees of participation and skill.

PF15-jake2 of the divisions began with semifinals, the Rhythm and Latin.  For us, the Latin was the best event of the night.  We were pretty clear on the winners – Jake Davies & Alyona Kalinina – but the judges in general were less so.  Jake & Kalinina won but placed 1,1,2,1,2.  Splitting the 1st places with them were Nikita Tsernov & Xiao Annie He, 2,2,1,2,1.  Annie has impressive legs and feet, but we were less convinced than the rest of the panel.  There didn’t seem to be much “soul” to their dancing.  The rest of the final results were very mixed for us.  Vlad Astafiev & Jenya Didenko took 3rd, 3,4,3,3,3, and gave a strong performance most of the time but had some weak patches.  Felipe Gonzalez & Darinka Oiujak were 4th 4,5,5,4,4 and we could have seen them higher in some dances.  Francesco Arietta & Rosaria Vivone were 5th 5,3,4,5,5.  For us they started strongly but became disorganized as the final progressed.  6th place in all dances went to Wener Figar & Shimkiri.


ThPF15-Greene Rhythm was won by a strong young couple who was new to us, Jonathan Green & Rachel Neilson.  They won all dances and we liked their energy.  Kosta Trifunic & Domante Padleckaite were 2nd in all.  They too are a new partnership and show promise once they clean up some mishaps in their programs.  Tim Polaschek & Katherine Hutchinson were 3rd, 3,3,3,3,4; Rodrique Eduard & Eugenia Spotar 4th, 4,4,4,4,3;  Nikko Negado & Pamela Providel took all 5’s and Don Beedie & Jennifer Christopher all 6’s.

The Smooth was a pretty good 6-couple final.  The winners were Jean Paul & Lana Rosa, 2,1,1,1.  This was the first time I’ve seen this du since they switched to this style and it was impressive. Perhaps some of the programs need a little rethink.  Winning waltz and placing 2nd in the other dances were Dave Hannigan & Maggie Toth.  Big improvements in this couple since we last saw them.  3rd were Ilya Abdullin & Tara Barakov 4,3,3,3 – another new couple to us.  4th Matt Fortuna & Tania Minez 3,4,5,4.  5th Aaron Talbert & Angela Maughan 5,5,4,5 – could have been higher for us – and 6th Christian Lightner & Kia Kenney.


There were only 2 couples in the Ballroom (again ballroom was the smallest category).  The winners by 4 dances to 1 were Dmitry & Gabriella Solomakha.  Taking the VW and placing 2nd overall were Anatolii Repuiuk & Ruslang Mamaysuk.

For the pro-ams it was a day of Rhythm in all levels

Philly Festival – 2015

We’re here at the Philadelphia Festival, it’s 3rd year under the direction of Chuck Danza and it’s 3rd venue in those three years.  This year it is the very grand PF15-PostersLowes Hotel in downtown Philadelphia, a former bank building constructed in 1929 And converted to a hotel in 1998.  It is very centrally located for all the sights of Philadelphia.

This year the theme on Saturday night will be a return to the 1930’s speakeasies, and in keeping with that all the judges have “wanted” posters near the entrance to the ballroom.

The competition began yesterday with the pro-am smooth and the ultimate event was the Open C Smooth SPF15-Sophiacholarship.  The winner was Sophia D’Angelo w/ Ilya Reyzin.  This lady is really going from strength to strength.  2nd was Leila Zukovsky w/ Dave Hannigan, 3rd Michaela Puno w/ Slava Sergiev and 4th Kathy Hoffman w/ Darius Mosteika.

Today we have all the pro-am Rhythm and tonight, the Professional Rising Star divisions, so stay tuned.

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