Emerald Ball 2015
Perfect Scores to Victor & Anastasia
Click here for video by SuperShag
The Professional Ballroom began with a tribute to Brian Puttock with all the couples danced a relaxed foxtrot to Brian’s favorite song, “Candy” to begin the night. Brian was chairman of judges for many years at Emerald Ball, including last year, the last event he attended before his untimely and tragic death a few days later. We all miss him so much.
Victor Fung & Anastasia Muravyeva left no doubt about the results receiving perfect scores – 19 first place marks in all dances. Artem Plakhotnyi & Inna Berlizyeva had the comfortable majority of 2nd places in all dances and received nothing less than 3rd from any judge except Irina Sarukhanyan who scored them 4,3,5,5,4 and Michael Mead with 4,5,2,3,3. Alexander Voskalchuk & Veronica Egorova were 3rd in all dances, but had to work a little harder at it than we expected. They had the majority of 3rd or better scores in only waltz. Rudiger Homm & Katia Kanevskaya received perhaps their best result of their new partnership placing 4th in all dances and actually receiving more 2nd places than Alexander & Veronica. The happiest couple in the final was probably the new partnership of Iaoslav Bieliel & Liliia Gladiuk who were 5th in all dances in what we believe is their first competition together. A great start for a really promising partnership. With 6,7,6,6,6, Andrew Begunov & Anna Demidova were probably somewhat disappointed as just 2 weeks ago they finished ahead of Rudiger & Katia. Closing this 7-couple final were Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova with 7,6,7,7,7.
We saw reasonable consensus from the judges in the Pro Rhythm. Emmanuel Pierre Antoine & Liana Churilova won all dances with a huge majority of 1st places. Indeed they received nothing but 1st or 2nd placements from all judges. Similarly, Nazar Norov & Irina Kudryashova were clearly second with the majority of the 2nd placements and a couple of 1st places in each dance. The only judge who did not place them at least 2nd overall was Corky Ballas who scored them 3,4,4,4,4. There was some discussion about the relative merits of both of these exciting couples at the after party from some interested observers.
As with the first 2 couples, 3rd placed Andrei & Natalie Paramonov were easily 3rd in all dances, although surprisingly to us, they actually received only 1 first place and that was in rumba from Melissa Dexter. Natalie sported a new slick hairdo – quite different from her look of the last few years.
The scores were a little more varied for the remaining 3 couples. The experience of Mikhail Vlasov & Vanda Polakova paid off and they were 4th scoring 4,4,4,5,4. The elegant Danus Jaksevicious & Yuki Haraguchi took 5th with 6,5,6,4,5 – perhaps not a clear as they would have liked. A brand new partnership, Vard Margaryan & Mandy Carlisle was 6th 5,6,5,6,6 and they picked up a few 3rd places here and there. Vard was a US finalist last year with Sofia Fil, and Sofia was also dancing with a new partner, Alberto Cortes and they made the quarter-final, although we could have seen them progress further.
The last of the professional events to be decided was the Showdance and this went easily to Travis & Jaimee Tuft who received 7 of the 9 available 1st places. The other 2 went to runners-up, Jaimie Black & Robin Ray.
The two Open Amateur events also took place tonight. The Ballroom was the stronger event in terms of ranked couples. US Champions (NDCA), Andres & Veronika End were the easy winners tonight with the majority of 1st places in every dance. The battle for 2nd actually produced a reverse of the placements from the US Championships in March, with Marek Klepadlo & Liana Bakhtiarova placing ahead of Ruslan Kalyuzhnyy & Kseniya Sovenko in all dances. 4th fell to Dimitriy Vorobiev & Sofie Elliot, all dances. 5th in all were Thomas Yim & Sophie Cheng and 6th Scott Nicholson & Evgeniya Gorobets.
Nikolai Tarasov & Amanda Herrschat were the winners in the Amateur Latin taking all dances and all except the samba with the majority of 1st places. We were a little surprised to see some random 6th places and even 7th awarded to this strong young couple. 2nd fell to Sigurdur Thor Sigurdsson & Annalisa Zoanetti with 2,3,3,2,2 over the Youth winners, Bumchin Tegshjargal Michelle Klets with 3,2,2,3,3. Teleryk Ianakiev & Natella Devitskaya were 4th in all; Hai Tran & Stacy Chuang 5th in all; Jacob Murillo & Sydney Tormey 6th in all; Cristian Solares & Whitney Myers, 7th in all.
During the daytime session it was all pro-am Latin and as in all the other divisions the Open Scholarships were definitely a highlight.
The A Latin was the only open scholarship won by a gentleman at this year’s Emerald Ball. Jacob Tsai w/ Yuliya Kuznetsova won the division 2,2,1,1,1. The runner-up was Vera Xu w/ Jacob Zeglin with scores of 1,3,2,2,2. The remaining 1st place in samba went to another gentleman, Michael Roberts w/ Milana Plinar 4,1,3,4,4. 5th overall went to Sabrine Strasser w/ Stanislav Kochergin (Canada) 5,5,5,5,3; 6th Grace Kuan w/ Eveniy Likachev 6,6,6,6,6.
Tina Broccole w/ Delyan Terziev was the easy winner of the B division winning all dances with the majority of 1st places. 2nd went to Canada, Hilda Li w/ Roland Michtchenko 3,2,2,3,2 over Carolyn Howard w/ Sasha Althukov 4,3,3,2,3. 4th Katherine Kuan w/ Jakub Zeglin 2,5,5,4,4; 5th Svetlana Van Tassel w/ Kirill Nikitin 5,4,4,5,5; 6th Michelle Peng w/ Nikolai Voronovich 6,6,6,6,6.
Lisa Lowery w/ Radek Wiatrowski won her 3rd Open Scholarship of the week, taking the C Latin. Lisa won all dances, but it was a fight. In a couple of these dances she received only 2 first places and was even picking up some 8th place scores. 2nd went to Lorrain Peoples w/ Andre Gavriline 2,4,2,2,2. Interestingly, Lorraine had the same total amount of 1st places as Lisa. Rhonda Lynch w/ Stephen McCann was 3rd, 3,2,3,3,3 and she too had 1st places in all dances. 4th Tasha Romero w/ Evegeniy Likachev 4,3,5,6,4; 5th Tammy Knight w/ Oleksii Lytvyn 5,5,4,7,6; 6th Suzanne Saperstein w/ Ricky Bentzen 6,8,7,5,5; 7th Lisa Markovic w/ Igor Danilla 7,7,8,4,7; 8th Alicia Chung w/ Ilie Bardahan 8,6,6,8,8.
Janet Colleran w/ Aleks Nashev won the S2 and ????? Chen w/ Nikolai Shparkov won the S3
3,000 In One Day!
Yesterday at the Emerald Ball it was a day like no other, it was all about the Ballroom categories and how to squeeze 3000 entries into the approximately 17 hours the day allowed. This was not to be, although it ran mostly on time we had to borrow 2 ? hours from the next morning in order to finish this unprecedented phenomenon. The competitors and the remaining audience were completely out of the ballroom by 2:16AM, Saturday morning.
The 3,000 entries in one day (the size of a medium event on its own) were not the only unprecedented occurrence. Nowadays with the use of instagram, twitter, and Facebook a desperate professional Smooth competitor wrote to her fans and friends on Facebook “Dear Emerald Ball 2015 participants and spectator!! As many of you know First Round of pro Smooth is going to be on at 12:00 am tonight :) On behalf of professionals who are dancing this late, we would like to ask you to stay in the ballroom as late as possible so we all can perform for you! You may bring your pillows and blankets :)”
It was interesting to see the different responses that she got. A few advised her to take a nice nap, many said they would be there in spirit cheering and one just said “That sucks. I’ll be screaming for you in my dream!” We too expected plenty of people to walk away but we were pleasantly surprised by how many did stuck it out!
Perhaps the dancing, in particular the Professional Smooth category, really brought it home for most. Down to the semifinal round the competition was excellent and nearly every prominent couple in the country was present. Peter & Alexandra Perzhu won all dances with the majority of firsts in every dance. We seem to think that these brand new US Champions might be feeling the heat from below and are trying to keep everything moving and improving and that is what we saw yesterday in their performance. Second overall were Mikhail & Galina Zharinov. They placed second in four dances and third in the tango. Their scores were around the ballpark, the only anomaly we saw was that out of 17 judges only one of the highest respected Smooth style coaches awarded them a sixth place mark - Michael Mead in the VW. (The previous report that David Hamilton also awarded them a 6th place was an error on the original scrutineer sheet. His marks in tango was 2nd).
A third place finish was awarded to Mazan Hamza & Izabella. They placed second in the tango and third in the other three dances. For us their performance was strong and clean, no room for mistakes here, and this was reflected by the steadiness of their 3,2,4 place marks from the 17 judges. However, here too we had an anomaly and this was in the foxtrot where Tomas Atkocevicius awarded them 6th. We were very disappointed with Nick Cheremukin & Viktorija who placed fourth overall and who we are almost certain must have been disappointed with this result. On this outing we did not see much of the magic and spontaneity this couple brings to the floor, instead it was a little like an old marriage going through the motions. In their defense, perhaps this couple is quite affected by the surroundings and dancing at 1:30AM is not the most conducive environment for a smoothie.
Fifth and sixth came to a rule (11) Travis & Jaimee Tuft placed fifth in both waltzes and sixth in the tango, foxtrot. Kyle & Allie Spinder placed fifth in the tango, foxtrot and sixth in the waltzes, that meant a complete tie, so now we have to dig into the rule book for a rule 11 decision that gave the edge to Kyle & Allie who placed fifth, leaving The Tufts holding sixth.
We cannot say the Professional Latin was totally worth the wait. Maybe the couples were not motivated but for us they all seemed to look the same. With an educated audience, as most of us were, we had to look for what we liked because really nothing came to us. Our group favorites were basically taken out in the semifinal and so we ended up with what we called the rest, and we did as best as I’m sure the judges did to sort them out in our mind. The winners indisputably from our perspective and that of the judges were Nikolay Voronovich & Maria Nikolishina who won all dances with the majority of firsts in all dances. However, we must say that this was not the best effort we have seen from this couple, perhaps they were missing the usual company here at the Emerald Ball of Riccardo Cocchi & Yulia Zaugoruychenko and Roman Kutsky & Anna Kovalova who, as we just mentioned, are usually fixtures at this competition.
Second overall was awarded to Andrey Tarasov & Yulia Kuznetsova they placed second in four dances and third in the rumba. I think everyone is in awe of this young lady’s feet, her arches are a Latin dream and her body and back seduces the music, with a more attuned engagement they could have easily moved up. Third overall was Gunnar Gunnarson & Marika Doshoris from England 3,3,2,4,5. Marika sported a million dollar smile, for me this is very important to draw your audience in sometimes the anguished looks does not do it for us but a pleasant smile goes a long way. Gunnar & Marika’s dancing was very well rehearsed so in just correctness we could see them having this placement. However, here in the USA we expect more than correctness because that will be what you will get a correct result and not a win.
Fourth overall was awarded to Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Shvets 4,4,6,5,3, what a steady couple this is, with powerful movements and a very high understanding of movement and balance, this couple has come a long way and we consider ourselves fans now. We would not have been surprised if they had placed a little higher. Fifth went to Evgeniy Likhachev & Maria Levina 5,5,5,3,4. In all fairness we most point out that here there was also a tie between Dmitry & Olena and Evgeniy & Maria, when the points were all counted they both had 22 each, but this tie was easily decided by a simple rule 10 and that how the results came out. To conclude this was not a welcome result for Roman Italyankin & Alexandra Bokova who placed sixth overall 6,6,4,6,6.
The Youth Latin was also excellent and here the winners were Bunchin Tegshjargal & Michelle Klets placing first in all dances, second overall was Michell Itkin & Natasha Shevchenko 2,3,2,2,3, and third was Murat Medzhidov & Valerie Dubinsky 3,2,3,3,2 who won the Youth Ballroom.
The Pro/Am Ballroom scholarships were super well attended, most with quarter final rounds. The “A” had an 8 couple final in the end and top placement went to Natalie Rezal w/ Sergei Kiselev 2,1,1,1,1. Second was awarded to Julia Shen w/Alexander Voskalchuk 1,2,3,2,2, and third was Yulia Rudenko w/Andrei Rudenco 3,3,2,3,3. 4th Vinie Miller w/ Denis Kutepov 5,5,4,4,4; 5th Rebecca Kuhn w/ Andrea Feraci 4,4,5,5,5; 6th Deanna Beglyarova w/ Simeon Stoynov 8,6,6,6,6; 7th Irene Lee w/ Nick Cheremukhin 7,8,7,7,7; 8th Irene Lau w/ Mikhail Avdeev 6,7,8,8,8.
The “B” Ballroom was awarded to Celia Chou w/ Erminio Stefano and she placed first in all dances. Second went to Carol Simmons w/ Serghei Pogonet 3,2,2,2,2, and third was Julie Zhao w/Denis Kutepov 2,3,3,3,3. 4th Ling Ma w/ Edgars Gasjuns 6,5,4,5,4; 5th Brynda Insley w/ Martin Reinbold 4,6,5,4,5; 6th Michelle Peng w/ Mikhail Avdeev 5,4,6,6,6.
The “C” division winner was Hye-Kyong Park w/Linas Koreiva, winning all dances, second was Lynn Murrell w/Alexander Voskalchuk 5,2,4,2,3, leaving third for Jenny Fong & Victor Veyrasset 4,3,2,4,4. 4th Tammy Knight w/ Artem Plakhotnyi 3,4,3,3,6; 5th Connie Edmonds w/ Samuele Pacchini 2,5,7,5,2; 6th Beatrice Wang w/ Giampiero Giannico 6,6,5,7,5; 7th Lisa Lowery w/ Radek Wiatrowski 7,7,6,6,7.
As we said earlier it was a very unprecedented day and night literally packed with dancing till dawn. Let’s see what today brings, we should all keep our fingers crossed for an early night!
1,1,1,6 was the scores for one of the pro RS couples last night in the American Smooth, and where do you think they placed overall?
In a result that had the whole ballroom talking, Radek Wiatrowski & Denise Sobiewski placed 1,1,1,6 to achieve an overall 2nd place finish – one of the oddest results we have seen in some time. The winners were Adrian & Hannah Dydynski who scored 2,2,2,1. So was Radek & Denise’s VW really off? Not that we noticed, but the whole final received some of the most varied scoring we’ve seen. 6 of the 7 couples had 1st places in every dance. Radek & Denise had judges placing them 1st and last in every dance, as did all the others, in the VW a couple of judges lowered their scores a little and that resulted in the dramatic lowering of their placement.
Overall this was probably the best event of the night. As we said, Adrian & Hannah were the winners and looked in great shape. 3rd were Slava Stefanov & Jessica McMorrow 3,5,3,4. 4th Mark Short & Alyssa Kark 4,7,4,2. 5th Morten Jensen & Anastasia 5,3,6,5. 6th Jean Paul & Lana Rossi 7,6,5,3. We felt they could have been higher. 7th Sergey Smolin & Anna Tomasini 6,4,7,7.
All 4 RS events were held last night. The first one to hit the floor was the Rhythm. In this Aaron & Iryna DeSoto were the victors winning all dances but only the mambo with the majority of 1st places. They had tons of energy and were always visible on the floor. 2nd spot went to Erwin & Iwona Rybczynski 2,2,2,3,2. 3rd were a new couple to this style, Igor Ustymovych & Briana Santiago 3,4,4,2,3. We were impressed with this lady. 4th went to Max Lotoskyy & Sarah Haworth 4,3,3,4,5. 5th Ryan Lockhart & Danelle Newman 5,5,5,6,6; 6th Slash Sharan & Meghan Anderson 6,6,6,5,4.
A clearer win went to Vlad Shahov & Ekaterina Popova in the Ballroom. They placed 1,1,1,1,2 but did have the majority of 1st places in the 4 dances they won. The runners-up were Stefano DiBrino & Bianka Zubrowska and they scored 2,2,2,2,1 and they also had the majority of 1st places in the QS. Looks like the judges got it together on this one! 3rd were Cristian Radvan & Kristina Kudelko 4,3,3,5,4. It was interesting to see Kristina’s retro styled ballgown. 4th Yuriy Nartov & Sarika Hudson 5,5,4,4,3. 5th Oleksiy Buravenko & Victoria Karzukhina 3,6,5,3,5. 6th Alexey Pigotskyy & Taisiia Babiuk 6,4,6,7,7. 7th Alex & Grace Wang 7,7,7,6,6.
The clearest win of the night came in the last event, the RS Latin. A new duo to us, Mykhallo Bilopukhov & Anastasia Shchypilina, won all dances with a majority of 1st places. We liked them for the win also. However, the word from those around the ballroom was that we were all glad not to be judging this one! 2nd went to Andrey Voloshko & Kateryna Kyrylenko 2,2,2,4,2. 3rd were Simeon Stoynov & Kora Stoynova 5,3,4,3,4; 4th Jake Davies & Alyona Kalina 3,4,5,5,3; 5th Adam Katona & Bella Gubzheva 6,5,3,2,5; 6th Francesco Arietta & Rosaria Vivone 4,6,6,6,6.
The afternoon session saw the conclusion of the pro-am Smooth divisions with the Open Scholarships. All these were at a very high level.
The A was won by Yulia Rudenko w/ Andrei Rudenko who has recently moved up from the youth division. This young lady will e very difficult to beat in this style and she won all dances here. 2nd went to Natalie Rezai w/ Slawek Sochaki 3,2,4,4. 3rd was Jessica Spink w/ Peter Walker 5,5,2,3; 4th Madison Stribling w/ Mayo Alenan 2,4,5,5; 5th Sara Jess w/ Tomas Mielnicki 7,6,3,2; 6th Irene Lee w/ Nick Cheremukhin 4,3,6,6; 7th Melissa Jensik w/ Dave Hannigan 6,7,8,7; 8th Samntha Rico w/ Morten Jensen 8,8,7,8.
The B gave as a close finish with the win going to Aiyesha Dey w/ Mayo Alanen 1,2,3,1 over Sincha Sincharoen w/ Max Sinitsa 4,1,1,2. 3rd Christina Donelson w/ Peter Perzhu 2,3,2,3; 4th Patricia Schneider w/ Nick Cheremukhin 3,4,5,4; 5th Amanda Levine w/ Morten Jensen 5,5,4,5; 6th Suki Kramer w/ Gunnar Sverrisson 7,6,6,6; 7th Lance Smith w/ Tone Jacobsen 6,7,7,7.
Lisa Lowery w/ Radek Wiatrowski notched up her second win so far here at Emerald by taking all dances in the C Smooth. 2nd went to Lynn Murrell w/ Peter Perzhu 2,2,3,3; 3rd Michiko Cantor w/ Evgeny Malko 4,5,2,2; 4th Sue Eldred w/ Artem Plakhotnyi 3,4,4,4; 5th Monica Broch w/ Kris Suakjian 5,3,6,5; 6th Paige Riffle w/ Alex Zagrean 6,6,5,6.
In the Senior divisions, Janice Smiith w/ David Weise won the S1, Diana Best w/ Alosha Anatoliy won the S2 and Lawrence Mitchell w/ Shalene Archer won the S3.
Today is Emerald’s longest day with about 2,700 entries in the pro-am ballroom divisions plus open professional categories at night. Stay tuned!
Emerald Starts with 2 Days of Rhythm
The Emerald Ball kicked off its almost 1 week of dancing and 14,000 entries with 2 days of pro-am Rhythm that began Tuesday afternoon and concluded Wednesday afternoon with the Open Pro-Am Scholarships.
Of the 3 open divisions the C was the largest with 22 entries and we thought the most exciting. There were several new players fighting for the top spots. In the end, however, experience paid off and seasoned competitor, Lisa Lowery w/ Radel Wiatrowski managed to win all dances and we think the judges made the right decision. Lynn Magnesen w/ Vard Margaryan, a newer pairing, took 2nd in all dances and this lady with a little more work on feet and legs could be a great force in this division. Lynn Murrell w/ Peter Perzhu was 3rd 4,3,4,3,4 and we thought she showed tremendous improvement in this style that has not always been her strongest. Sophia D’Angelo w/ Ilya Reyzin was 4th, 3,4,3,4,5; Dianne Caracciolo w/ Nazar Norov took 5th 5,5T,5,5,3 and Joan Goddard w/ Aaron Talbert was 6th 6,5T,6,6,6.
The B division began with a semifinal and here the winner, again in all dances was Gwen Bourque w/ Aaron Talbert. Gwen showed her usual soft use of arms and body. We also liked the runner-up, Jacqueline Bequette w/ Daniel Lee Tran who indeed took 2nd in all dances. The remaining places were less decided. 3rd went to Heidy Kellison w/ Sean Tamashiro 5,4,3,3,4. 4th was Isabel Collins w/ Slash Sharan 4,3,5,4,5. 5th went to Sharon Power w/ Jason Daly 6,5,4,5,3 and 6th went to Tracy Hannon w/ Misha Konstantynov 3,6,6,6,6. We thought Tracy could have finished higher.
Nadia Kireyko w/ Daniel Vasco was the certain winner of the A division, we thought. Only 4 couples entered and Nadia won all dances. 2nd in all went to Natalie Ptersen w/ FJ Abaya, 3rd in all to Jessica Sweeney w/ Jeremy Pilling and 4th in all to Ann Shaw w/ Daniel Lee Tran.
There was also a very good S2 division with 21 entries. This was won by Susan Miller w/ Hayk Arshakian who had a new look and demeanor on the floor. We really liked the runner-up also, Quin Bommelje w/ Misha Vlasov. 3rd went to Diana Best w/ Alosha Anatoliy.
In the evening we began what will be 2 days of pro-am Smooth that conclude in the late afternoon if Thursday with the Open Scholarships. Check back for more