Keith Todd

Keith Todd

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Bumper Year for Nashville Starz

Report by K. Todd
Action photos by Park West

With over 6,000 entries, this was certainly a bumper year for David Hamilton’s Nashville Starz, held, of course, in Nashville, TN over the weekend of January 15th. 

Yet there was certainly a major challenge – the venue.  Originally scheduled for the Downtown Sheraton, David was forced to switch venues quite late in 2013 as the Sheraton announced they could no longer accommodate him, due to renovations. 

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Party On!  The Holiday Classic 2013
Report by K. Todd
Photos by Park West
In my opinion, as one of the last competitions of the calendar year, the Holiday Classic grew to its current status of one of the largest competitions in the USA by promoting the “Party” atmosphere of the season.  Some of the farewell parties of yesteryear are still remembered with awe.

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Ballroom & Rhythm are the Stars at Yankee

Saturday night was a dancing extravaganza at Yankee Classic that started with a “bang!”  For us the best professional events events of the night were the first two – Ballroom and Rhythm.


YC-PeterThe Rhythm was first up and right away it developed into an obvious duel between Florida powerhouses, Peter & Alexandra Perzhu and Nazar Norov & Irina Kudryashova.  On the last meeting between these two that we witnessed, at Emerald Ball, Nazar & YC-NazarIrina came out on top.  Here the decision was reversed and Peter & Alexandra took it by 3 dances to 2 by winning cha cha, rumba and bolero.  Nazar & Irina took the other 2 dances.  All were won with a majority (not large) of 1st place scores.  These are 2 great couples – pay your money and take your choice!!  They are very different both in appearance and styling.

3rd today went to Azamat Evgamukov & Katerina Angelone (3,3,4,3,3).  In the semifinal round we were concerned that this pair was not on form, but in the final they stepped it up and we thought deserved their final placing overall.  Physical conditioning has once again become an issue here.  Shandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov continued to impress the judges taking 4th spot 4,4,3,4,4.  They are an engaging couple but need a more personalized style perhaps.  We liked 5th placed Matthew Hauer & Lauren Schelfhaudt, especially in cha cha and mambo.  6th went to Srahija Lackovic & Irina Fedsova (6,6,6,6,6) and 7th to Sasha & Tara Barakov (7,7,7,7,7).  Watch out for Jennifer Foster’s report on this division.


Equally good was the Ballroom, although it had something of a shakeup in the form result.  No surprises in the winners – Alexandre Voskalchuk & Veronica Ergorova were superb and won all dances with large majorities of 1st place scores.  Alexandre’s twin brother (just kidding, but don’t they look alike?) Andrey Begunov & Anna Demidova easily took 2nd in all dances and looked very energized to us today.  YC-Nazar-MarikoThe surprise tonight came in the 3rd place finish of Nazar Batih & Mariko Cantley (3,3,4,3,3).  This was a great result for them (they even picked up a few 1st places) and certainly moves them ahead.  Let’s see if they can maintain the momentum over this busy summer.  Igor Mikushov & Ekaterina Roshchina were probably disappointed with their 4th place (4,5,3,4,4).  5th went to Emanuele & Francesca Pappacena (6,4,5,5,5) and 6th to Ronen Zinshtein & Maryam Izmalova (5,6,6,6,6).  This was a World Masters Title.  Christiane Primeau will have the report on this division in Dance Beat soon.

Unfortunately the Smooth and Latin failed to live up to the first two divisions.  The Smooth was easily won by Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija.  We were extremely surprised to see Nick & Viktoriya pick up a few scores below 2nd place!!  The only challenge to the winners came from Vlad & Vera Kosarev who gave a good performance tonight, much stronger then the recent one at Atlanta Open.  They scored some 1st places in all dances except VW.  3rd tonight went to Jan Ondrias & Vivian Lessa 3,3,3,3;  4th to Enzo Zappia & Laura Galmaceda 4,4,4,4;  5th to Matt Fortuna & Tania Nunez 5,5,5,5;  6th Jared Vigneault & Sara Zirolla.


Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Svetts were easy winners of the Latin World Masters taking all dances with large majorities including a perfect score in cha cha.  Taking 2nd in all dances, but getting some scores in the lower half of the final were Jean Paul & Lara Rossi.  The RS winners, Vincenzo Mineri & Rosaria Vivone, continued their strong form taking 3rd 3,4,4,3,3. With 4,3,3,4,4, Dmytro & Nina Kovalenko were 4th.  We liked ???? who were 5th with 6,5,5,5,5.  6th went to #212, 5,6,6,6,6 and 7th to Dennis Sy & Mae Lozada.


The World Masters Amateur Latin was an excellent event with a strong semifinal round – it was a tough final to make.  The winners in all dances were Pasha Stepanchuk & Anastasia Danilova and they had the majority of 1st places in all dances except rumba where the 1st ‘s were spread around.  We also really liked Artur Tarnavsky & Gabriella Sabler who were 2nd in all dances and picked up 1st places in all dances.  With 3,4,4,3,3, Nikita Malakhov & Nadezda Vlasova were 3rd.  4,3,3,5,4, gave Ron Garber & Liza the 4th spot and they looked much more “high-energy” than usual.  5th went to Taras Savitskyy & Tatiana Seliverstova (5,5,5,4,5) and 6th to #345.


For the pro-ams it was Ballroom day.  Both the Open Scholarships and the New England Championships were excellent, although there were some reversals of placement between the divisions.  YC-PABallThe C Scholarship was won by Mike Brown w/ Anna Oblakova with 2nd going to Susan Walker w/ Samuele Pacchini.  This was reversed in the New England Championship.  Audrey Paek w/ Ronen Zinshtein won the B Open Scholarship over Carole Simmons w/ Serghei Pogonet.  Audrey did not compete in the New England, so Carole had a clear field and took the event.  Jennifer Lee w/ Serghei Pogonet took the Open A Scholarship.

The World Masters Pro-Am Title winners were Scott Bergendahl (9-Dance A);  Elizabeth Canis (9-Dance B);  Hope Huber (9-dance C);  Rosemary Lynch (10-Dance B);  YC-JaniceJanice Stanton (10-Dance C).

The featured performers here at Yankee Classic were Victor Fung & Anastasia who delighted the crowd with their new (to us) ballroom show that moved along quickly and had excellent music chYC-Kathyoices.  Interspersed were 2 wheelchair performances from Roll Call that were very moving.

The night ended with the now traditional Legal Seafood professional party sponsored once again by Kathy Kenney.

World Masters to Taras & Tatiana

The maYC-Tarasin feature of  Friday night at Yankee was the World Masters Amateur Ballroom Championship and congratulations to Taras Savitskyy & Tatiana Seliverstova for winning this title – a great addition to any dancer’s resume.

The event attracted a semifinal and the final was the last event danced last night.  The field was strong we thought.  Taras & Tatiana won the event by 3 dances to 2 over Marek Klepadlo & Liana Bakhtiarova.  Tara & Tatiana won tango, Viennese and quickstep, but only tango and Viennese with a majority of 1st places.  Marek & Liana won the other 2 dances but not with a majority.  Although these 2 couples shared the majority of 1st and 2nd places, both had a few marks in the lower half of the final with Taras YC-Marek& Tatiana picking up more of these stray 4’s and 5’s.  The two couples have very different styles, find out what we thought and why some judges did not favor the winners in an upcoming edition of Dance Beat.

3rd tonight were youth competitors Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova (4,5,3,3,3) who gave a strong showing tonight we thought.  This was a close race with Fernando Lareu & Nicole Palagashvili taking 4th (3,3,4,5,4).  We didn't really understand the 5th placement in foxtrot.  5th were Daniel Vesnovskiy & Emily Thorpe (5,4,5,4,5) and 6th Ben Moss & Esther Rheinbay.


All 4 Pro RS Star divisions took place this same night and all but the Ballroom had a semifinal round.  From the perspective of the Dance Beat Team, there were many couples in all styles we had not seen before.

YC-VincenzoThe winners of the Latin were the new partnership of Vincenzo Minieri & Rosaria Vivone (1,2,1,1,1).  We’re not sure if this was in fact their first competition together. They make a super-attractive pair and should do well in this style.  2nd were the always impressive Dmyto & Nina Kovalenko (2,1,2,2,2) and 3rd, Dennis Sy & Mae Lozada (3,3,3,3,3).

The Smooth went to the consistent team of Serge & Yana Nelyubov (1,1,1,2).  2nd fell to Dave Hannigan & Maggie Toth (2,2,2,1) and 3rd to Jan Ondrias & Vivian Lessa (3,3,3,3,3).


In the Rhythm, Shandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov were the winners in al dances – clearly to us.  2nd went to Sahsa & Tara Barakov (3,2,2,2,2) and 3rd to the new partnership of Kosta Trifunic & Domante Padleckaite (2,3,3,3,3).


OscaYC-RSBallr Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova won the Ballroom (2,1,1,1,1) with 2nd going to Mechyslav Pavlyuk & Gemma Arnold (1,2,2,2,2).  We thought the runners-up were close to the winners in this one.  3rd were Oleksiy Buravenko & Victoria Karzukhina (3,3,3,3,3).

Friday was a long day with the pro-ams dancing 2 styles – Smooth and Latin.  The Smooth was up first and the B and C divisions were the larger.

Lynn ShanahaYC-Lynnn w/ Darius Mosteika took the B (1,1,1,2).  This lady has really come on strongly recently.  2nd fell to Amanda Levine w/ Morten Jensen (3,2,3,1) and 3rd to Aviva Adler w/ Victor Russu (2,3,2,3).

Elaine Sheresky Lewis w/ Victor Russu took all dances in the C, great to see her back on the floor and looking good!  2nd went to Nancy Sachs w/ Sergey Vasiliev (2,2,3,3) and 3rd to Hope Huber w/ Troy Baeten (3,3,2,2).

Only 2 couples contested the  A division and it went to Brittany Falconer w/ Peter Walker in all dances over Scott Bergendahl w/ Maria Huard.

The New England Championships were also run in the Smooth and these went to Lynn Shanahan (B), Aviva Adler (C) and Scott Bergendahl (A).

In the Latin, once again the B and C divisions were the larger.  Maria Sergaou w/ Dmitrios Damalas won all dances in the B,  2nd in all was Loraine Peoples w/ Andrei Gavriline and 3rd was Vanessa Dicicco w/ Vlad Astafiev (3,3,3,3,4).


The most closely contested was the C and this fell to Deborah Wagman w/ Matthew Hauer (1,2,2,1,2).  Janice Stanton w/ Clive Phillips took 2nd (3,1,3,2,1) and Bernie McCool w/ Thomas Shiloshvili was 3rd (2,3,1,3,3).


Nicolas Nguyen w/ Helle Rusholt won the A (1,1,1,1,1).  It was good to see him back on the floor.  2nd went to Chastity w/ Eddie Ares (2,2,2,2,2) and 3rd to Patricia Mui w/ Alex Samusevich (3,3,3,3,3).

Feeling the Rhythm in Boston

Yankee Classic got under way yesterday in a very sunny Cambridge, MA, and from the Marriott Hotel there were fine views across the Charles River of Downtown Boston glimmering in the sunshine.


The Yankee Classic also incorporates the New England Championships and some World Masters Championships.  Yesterday was all about pro-am Rhythm and in the evening we saw the culmination with Open Scholarships and also Open New England Championships.

The entries and results were very similar between the Open Scholarships and New England Championships and once again is was FADS NY Westside featuring on the winners rostrum as Jolanta Mosteika and her boys swept the field.  Giovanni Fortezza won the B division in Open Scholarship and New England Championship as did Phillip Widlanski in the C division.


Giovanni won all 5 dances in both divisions.  The runner-up in both, with 2nd in all dances both times, was Faye Diamantoudi w/ Tony Santana from Montreal and all the 3rd ‘s in both events went to Elizabeth Canis w/ Robert Foster.  Valerie Letelier w/ Jason Barrera took 4th in the New England Championship but was 5th in the Open behind Elizabeth Woo w/ Chris Uy.

Phillip placed 1,1,1,2,1 in the Open and 1,1,1,1T,1 in the New England and 2nd both times went to Hope Huber who took the 1st in bolero in the Open and tied it in the New England.  Amy Pollinger w/ Slava Sergiev was 3rd in both with 4,3,3,3,5 in the Open and 3,3,3,3,5 in the New England.  Carol Silverstein w/ Jean Michel Erole took 4th in the Open (3,4,5,4,4) but dropped to 6th in the New England (6,6,6,6,3).  Deborah Liguori w/ Rodrigue Edouard was 5th both times (5,5,4,5,3 and 5,5,5,5,4).  David Pollinger w/ Irina Sarukhanyan took 6th in the Open.  Catherine Zambos w/ Peter Perzhu was 4th in the New England (4,4,4,4,6) but did not compete in the Open.


YC-ARhythThe A division saw the smallest entries and was different between the two categories.  Chastity w/ Eddie Ares won all dances in the Open.  Sami Gendreau w/ Matt Fortuna was 2nd (2,2,2,3,2).  Neither of these ladies took part in the New England.  Jennifer Coutney w/ Istvan Cserven was 3rd in the Open (3,3,3,2,3) but won the New England (2,1,1,1,1).  Scott Bergendahl w/ Maria Huard was 2nd in the New England.

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7th Time for Arunas in Vilnius 2014 was the 7th annual Vilnius Dance Festival, organized by US and World WDC Ballroom Champion, Arunas Bizokas, in his native Lithuania.  Amazingly this event starts just one day after Blackpool finishes and of course, Arunas & Katusha won the Professional Ballroom at Blackpool again this year. The thought of organizing an event just 1 day after such an amazingly stressful competition is daunting, but just as in his dancing, Arunas seems to take it all in stride.  Not only is he the organizer he and Katusha also are the featured performers.
This year we saw competitors in WDC AL Amateur divisions, pro-am competitions, and hobby divisions with competitors from far afield – Australia, Canada, USA, Lebanon, Israel and a host of European countries.  Judges hailed from Asia, Europe and North America.
The competition takes place in the Radisson Blue Hotel, right on the river in the charming and historical city of Vilnius.  The after party in the spectacular Space Bar atop the hotel with panoramic windows is always a treat. Watch out for a full report and photos in the members’ section soon.  And there will be some surprises - (eg. Katusha Demidova competed in the pro-am!)

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Black-ArunasIt’s 1 & 2 Again! Once again USA took both winners and runners-up positions at the Blackpool Dance Festival – Open British Ballroom Championship.  Arunas Bizokas & Katusha Demidova won all 4 dances (no VW in Blackpool) and Victor Fung & Anastasia Muravyeva were 2nd in all 4.  As always the atmosphere for the final was terrific and the ending was a prolonged Black-Ar-Vicstanding ovation. Representing England Andrea & Sara Ghigiarelli took 3rd in all 4 dances and it was a great night for Slovenian Reps, Domen Krapez & Monica Nigro who finished ahead of all their closest rivals to take 4th in all 4 dances.  With placements of 5,5,5,6, (order of dances in Blackpool is WFTQ) Valerio Colantoni & Yulia Spesivtseva had to be content with 5th place.  And in 6th were the popular Chinese team, Chao Yang & Yiling Tan placing 6,-,6,5.  As you all know, professional divisions are judged by dance from the quarter-final onwards at Blackpool.  Sascha & Natasha Karebey (Germany) placed 6th in the foxtrot. The USA continued to show great form down through the ranks of this competition.  Marat Black-MaratGimaev & Alina Basyuk made all 4 semifinals, cementing their ranking in both the USA and the world.  But also making dances into the semifinals were Artem Plakhotnyi & Inna Berlizyeva (W);  Denis Kutepov & Lesya Sinitsa (F);  Alexander Voskalchuk & Veronika Egorova (F);  Andrea Zaramella & Kristi Simmonds (T). As Black-Marka side note,  Australian photographer and Dance Beat contributor, Mark Gadsden, became something of a local hero when he dived into the chilly Irish Sea during the afternoon to save a boy from drowning.  I’m sure the temperature was a little lower than his native land – but at least there were no sharks! Don’t forget to join the members’ section of Dance Beat to read the full Blackpool report and special commentary from Barbara Nagrode Ambroz, Giampiero Giannico, Eugene Katsevman and Lindsey Hillier-Tate.

Poland Rules! Wow!  4 of the six finalists of the Amateur Ballroom at Blackpool, including the winners, were from Poland.  And there was another Polish couple in the semifinal.  Some in the audience felt it was a very even final and they loved all the couples – “Any one of them could have won!” Somebody told us.
Black-MarekThe winners, retaining their title, were Marek Kosaty & Paulina Glazik and they won all dances.  The remaining couples in the final were shuffled a bit since last year.  Moving up were Chong He & Jing Shan (ChinaBlack-Chong) and also moving up were Sergiu Rusu & Dorota Makar (Poland).  Poland also took 4th and 6th, Andrzej Sadecki & Karina Nawrot and Lukasz Tomczak & Aleksandra Jurczak;  splitting them in 5th place were Dusan Dragovic & Greta Laurinaityte (England).

"I don't have attitude, I'm just REALLY good!" US aspirations ended in the quarter-final with two couples making this round – Oskar Wojciechowski & Karolina Holody were 14th and Andres & Veronika End were 17th. Black-exhibThe USA had 4 entries in the Invitational Exhibition, but the winners were previous winners, Craig Smith & Micheline from South Africa who gave a near faultless performance.  They received a standing ovation from the audience.  Also receiving a standing ovation and the runner-up spot were Shane & Shannon Jensen from the USA.  Our Dance Beat award for “most improved” went to the 3rd place recipients, Carlos Zapata & Dora Pashkova (Canada).  4th went to South Africa, Gerhard Van Roohen & Amor Krucer;  5th to Justine Guilmette & Kimerlee Piedad (USA);  6th Ethan & Nikki White (USA);  7th Travis & Jaimee Tuft (USA);  8th Igor Alferov & Alexandra Akimova (Russia).  Margaret Burns from the USA was a judge of the division. ThBlack-pro-amis also marked the 2nd year for pro-am dancing in Blackpool.  Once again this year, there was a pro-am exhibition.  8 performances were split into two groups.  There were six performances from Russia and 2 from China.

Stay On the Floor! It was the same couples in all dances for the Professional Latin at the British Open, but we were really taken aback when after the competition was over, Mr. Marcus Hilton MBE asked the couples once again to “stay on the floor,” but this time it was to read the retirement letter of Sergey Surkov & Melia.

"It's the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance."


It was a touching moment for all, Sergey & Melia have been a fixture of the Empress Ballroom for a long time, and we were really surprised when Mr. Hilton asked them to perform an honor dance. Now that World War II has been over for a while, are we developing a soft heart on this side of the pond?  Never, since we can remember or any other English person of our age can remember, has an honor dance been executed by retiring competitors here at Blackool.  (Can anyone else help us here, has this been done before?) Congratulations to Sergey & Melia on their retirement and we wish them the best in their future goals and accomplishments. ABlack-Malitowskis the norm Michael Malitowski & Joanna Leunis from England won the overall competition by takig three dances the C, R, P, leaving the left over dances S, J to current WDC World Professional Latin Champions & USA Champions, Riccardo Cocchi & Yulia Zagoruychenko from the USA. Third place went to Sergey & Melia but it was not a clear sweep. Canada’s Maurizio Vescovo & Andra Vaidilaite took two third places from the outgoing couple, but still were placed fourth overall. Fifth went to another fixture and that was Andrej Skufca & Melinda Torokgyorgy from Slovenia they placed fifth in every dance but the jive, this dance went to USA’s Stefano Di Filippo & Dariya who were sixth overall. I know there is total confusion as to who represents who and on some

"Dance for yourself. If someone understands, good. if not, no matter. go righr on doing what interests you, and do it until it stops interesting you."Black-Riccardowebsites they have Stefano & Dariya dancing for Italy but as far as we know they continue to represent the USA, they possibly do most of their studies and rehearsing and competing in Alaska and Wyoming but they do represent the USA.
In the Semifinal Nikolai Voronovich & Maria Nikolishina made two dances In the 24 Sarunas Greblikas & Viktoria Horeva made all five from the USA and Canada had one couple Kamil Studenny & Anna Pelipenko who also made all five dances.

"Let us dance in the sum, wearing wild flowers in our hair..." England’s most promising couple Neil & Ekaterina Jones dropped out of the competition due to a foot injury. From the vendors report:  they seem to be happy!  They think there are more competitors than last year but attendance as a “fan” or viewer is down from last year. In looking around we do find it a little thinner on the ground, but not enough to cause alarm.  The British Open continues to be as healthy as always but we do feel bad for the vendors who have no place to go and are now spread like butter all over the Winter Gardens!  Rumors have it that by next year the space occupied this year by many of the vendors will be turned into a Blackpool Museum.

Black-TroelsTroels & Ina Repeat in Amateur Latin Troels Bager & Ina Jeliazkova (Denmark) won the first of the “big 4” at Blackpool last night, the Amateur Latin.  This was a repeat of their win last year.  Last night they won all 5 dances, although, from the sidelines, we felt they have danced better on other occasions, but the judges clearly did not feel this to be the case. 

TBlack-Kirillaking 2nd in 4 dances, but dropping to 3rd in jive were Kirill Belorukov & Elvira Skrylnikova (Russia).  We liked their showing tonight, they seemed to have the most energy and attacked their dancing more than the rest of the final.  The most improved result went to another Russian team, Nikita Brovko & Olga Urumova (3,3,3,3,2). Leading the US charge weBlack-Ferdiandore Ferdinando Iannaccone & Yulia Musikhina and they placed 4th (4,4,5,4,4).  We are sure they were hoping for a little better.  One of our favorite couples of the competition took 5th, Morten Lowe & Roselina Doneva (Denmark) 5,5,4,5,5 and 6th were Klemen Prasnikar & Alexandra Averkieva (Slovenia). Pasha PBlack-Pashaashkov & Danniella Karagach from New York placed in the top 12, a great result for them mirroring their result of 2012 and USA also had 3 couples in the top 24, Denys Drozdyuk & Antonina Skobina, Ruslan Aydaev & Valeriya Kozharinova and Tal Livshitz & Ilana Keselman – so this was a strong showing for USA.

"Our biological rhythms are the symphony of the cosmos, music embedded within us to which we dance, even when we can't name the tune." The other event of the night was the Youth (U/21) ballroom and in their first adult Blackpool New York’s Patrick Ploszaj & Anna Kaczmarski took 4th. Black-Patrick Many in the audience felt they could have been even higher.  The Black-Briancompetition was very close through the whole final and Patrick & Anna actually won the foxtrot.  Their full placements were 3,4,1,3.  The winners (by a Rule 10) were Michael Foskett & Nika Vlasenko (England).  They placed 1,3,4,1.  The other half of the Rule 10 were Aleksandr Kalenyuk & Olena Ablitsova (Ukraine) with 2,2,3,2. It was great to see NDCA President, Brian McDonald, on the evening panel here at Blackpool, one of very few non-British judges to have ever had that honor.

USA Has 1/2 the Pro RS Ballroom Semi!

Photos by Andrew Miller

USA had 6 couples in the semifinal of the Open British Rising Star Professional Ballroom last night in Blackpool – and 2 couples went all the way to the final.  Placing 2nd were Andrea Zaramella & Kristie Simmonds and 3rd were Denis Kutepov & Lesya Sinitsa. Our semifinalists were:  Egor Abashkin & Katya Kanevskaya, Igor Mikushov & Ekaterina Romashkina, Nikita Novikov & Dovile Sutaite and Ronen Zinshtein & Mariam Izmaylova.
The day before (Sunday) saw the conclusion of the Amateur Rising Star divisions.  USA’s best results came in the Latin where Tal Livshitz & Ilana Keselman were 2nd – a great result for them.  There were also 2 US couples and 2 Canadians in the semifinal.  For the USA – Austin Joson & Alexandria Kondrashova and Pasha Stepanchuk & Anastasiya Danilova and for Canada Nurian Gallyamov & Jessica Swietoniowski and Adam Hathazi & Morgan Lakatos-Hayward. Also members go to our photos page to see photos of the North American Dinner - coming soon.

"If you look at a dancer in silence, his or her body will be the music, If you turn the music on, that body will become an extension of what you're hearing."

Team Americas Wins Team Match Again
Once again, Team Americas won the International Teams Match at the Blackpool Dance Festival.  Congratulations to Arunas Bizokas & Katusha Demidova, Riccardo Cocchi & Yulia Zagoruychenko, Maurizio Vescovo & Andra Vaidilaite and Marat Gimaev & Alina Basyuk – our team members. 

Blackpool-teamWe were a little saddened not to see US #2 and world ranked #2 team, Victor Fung & Anastasia Muravyeva not part of the team (especially since Victor, unlike so many of us North American inports, was actually born there).  Our team captain was Meryem Pearson of Canada. North American also had some success in the U/21 Latin Championships.  Austin Joson & Alexandra Kondrashova (USA) were 4th and Adam Hathazi & Morgana Lakatos-Hayward (Canada) were 5th.  Additionally Nurian Gallymov & Jessica Swietonioeski (Canada) and Ron Garber & Lisa Lakovistky (USA) were in the semifinal.

Blackpool U-21-Lat

Great Start to USA’s Blackpool
BPool-wrightQuest! What better way to start Blackpool week than with a win for the USA.  David & Liva Wright placed first in the Open British Senior Ballroom Championship last night in the Winter Gardens’ Empress Ballroom. Almost as good, Sarunas Greblikas & Viktoria Horeva, also representing the USA, took 2nd in the Professional Rising Star Latin.  Canadians Kamil Studenny & Anna Pelipenko were 6th in this same event. North American also had semifinalists in these competitions.  In the senior, Xingmin & Katerina Lu and Andreas & Jodi Meijer and in the RS Latin, Roman Italyankin & Aleksandra Bokova from USA and Jean Philippe Milot & Laurence Bolduc from Canada

"The problem is not making up the steps but deciding which ones to keep."


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“And the Judges were (almost) Unanimous!”
Atlanta Saturday!        

Well not exactly :)  But close.

In a rare occurrence, the winners of all 4 professional divisions won almost every dance of their respective categories with the majority of 1st places.  So congratulations to Ivan Mulyavka & Loreta Kriksciukaiyte (Latin), Travis & Jaimee Tuft (Smooth), Sergiy Samchynskyy & Yuliya Besarab (Ballroom) and Andre & Natlalie Paramonov (Rhythm).  The only exception was the Ballroom where Sergey & Yuliya lost the waltz to runners-up, Martin & Liene Reinbold.  Sergey & Yuliya still had more 1st places in that dance, but not the majority and strangely, to us, they had some 6th placements in this dance.
AO-IvanRunners up in the Latin, all dances, were Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Shvets.  Their closest dance to the winners was jive, where they had 6 first places to Ivan & Loreta’s 8.  Sergey & Yuliya were 3rd in all dances and we thought this was some of the best Latin work we have seen from this consummate 10-Dance couple.  With 4,4,4,5,5, SergeyKorshunov & Michelle Hafle took 4th, 4,4,4,5,5, Jake Davies & Alyona Kalinina were 5th, 5,5,5,4,4 and Riccardo Papi & Sabrina Moretti were 6th.

"It's the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance." Travis & Jaimee were well clear in the Smooth, based on the judges’ scores.  The runners-up were Sergey Barsukov & Maria Sidnjova and they certainly had their supporters in the room with their powerful style of Smooth dancing.  Valdimir & Vera Kosarev were 3rd in all dances and their scores from the judges ran the gamut of 1st to 6th in all dances.  Stephen Smyth & Viktorija Kleyman took 4th in all dances and in a reverse of the RS results, Ben & Cheryl Seifert moved ahead of Dennis Woods & Amber Reich although the two couples tied in the waltz.

AO-AndreAndre & Natalie had strong majorities in all dances.  The closest race came in the mambo, but they still had 9 first places to the 4 of the runners-up, Mikhail Vlasov & Vanda Polakhova who were 2nd in all dances.  We found the remaining places a little hard to call, but here is how it worked out.  Ivan Dishliev & Marieta Nedyalkova (4,4,3,3,3);  Shane & Shannon Jensen (3,3,4,4,4); Maksym Lototskyy & Sarah Haworth (5,5,5,5,5);  Shandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov (6,7,6,6,6);  Stephen Smyth & Viktoriya Kleyman (7,6,7,7,7). Despite losing the waltz on ‘2nd or better’ scores, Sergey & Yulia came back strongly and had large majorities in the other 4 dances.  We agree with the judges that Martin & Liene’s best dance is the waltz and for us they were clearly unchallenged as the runners-up.  The judges’ scores were very mixed for the remainder of the couples who finished in the following order:  Oleksiy Buravenko & Victoria Kazukhina (4,3,4,3,3);  Gabor Seres & Mariya Vysotskaya (3,5,3,4,5);  Vladimir Triazin & Alicia Gruttadauria (5,4,5,5,4);  Dmitry Solomakha & Gabriele Sevillano (6,6,6,6,6).
Watch out for reports by Mark Brock (Rhythm), Shirley Johnson (Latin) and Pat Traymore (Smooth) all coming soon to Dance Beat.

"People have asked me why I chose to be a dancer. I did not choose. I was chosen to be a dancer, and with that, you live all your life." AO-CabThe last event of the competition was the Pro Showdance and Shane & Shannon Jensen wowed the crowd and the judges to take this division with 11 first places out of the fifteen.  Andre & Natalie Paramonov took 2nd and Travis & Jaimee Tuft, 3rd. During the day it was international day for the pro-ams.  In the ballroom, the B was the largest division and Jill Bradford w/ Gert Roslender won all 5 dances.  2nd went to Brynda Insely w/ Martin Reinbold again in all dances, and 3rd in all was Noriko Keirman w/ Eric Pali.  Sally He w/ Enzo Zappia won all dances in tAO-PABallhe C, followed by Rick Brooks w/ Shalene Archer (2,3,2,3,4) and Jennifer Donnell w/ Martin Reinbold (4,2,3,4,2).  There were only 2 contestants in the A and it went to Galina Livitina w/ Jari Muller (1,2,1,1,1) over Lauren Klaus w/ Ben Ermis (2,1,2,2,2).  Galina won the Best of the Best Challenge. In the Latin Open Scholarships it was a good day for teacher, Clement Joly whose students took 2 of the divisions – AO-ALatDasha Hemrick (A) and Mirra Blinova (B).  Both ladies won all dances and were both very impressive.  2nd in the A was Maria Seragou w/ Dimitrios Damalas and 3rd, Madeline Geiger w/ Enzo Zappia.  In the B Melanie Gold w/ Shandor Shtefil was 2nd and Peter See w/ Olga Kormanovskaya was 3rd.  Suzanne Saperstein w/ Ricky Bentzen took the C division (1,1,2,1,1).  Sally He w/ Enzo Zappia as 2nd, and Barbara Willis w/ Rainier Rics was 3rd. A Hot Night of Rising Stars All 4 styles of Pro Rising Stars were contested last night at Atlanta Open and all gave the judges some tough choices.

"You are unique, and if that is not fultilled, then something has been lost."
The largest and first division on the floor was the Rhythm that began with a semifinal.  This resulted in a fairly comfortable win for Max Lototskyy & Sarah Haworth in all dances.  They had the clear majority of 1st places in all dances except mambo.  The runners-up were last week’s winners from Emerald Ball, Standor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov.  They were 2nd in all dances but received an equal amout of 1st places in the mambo.  Third place went to
AO-RSBallRomney Reyes & Brooke O’Donnell, 3,4,3,3,3.   All three of these couples are from Florida. Next up was the Ballroom and here there were only 3 couples and apparently a very confused judging panel.  All three couples received 1st places in all dances.  The only dance won with a majority was the tango.  The final places were, 1st, Gabor Seres & Mariya Vysotskaya (1T,1,1,2,2T);  2nd, Oleksiy Buravenko & Victoria Karzukkina AO-RSSmooth(1T,2,2,1,2T);  3rd, Dmitry Sololmakhia & Gabriela Seviliano (3,3,3,3,1). Sergey Barsukov & Maria Sidnjova were easy winners of the RS Smooth.  They lost a total of only 3 first place marks.  Fairly secure and with 2nd in all dances were Stephen Smyth & Viktoriya Kleyman and 3rd in all were Dennis Woods & Amber Reich. The Latin was a strong event and in this Jake Davies & Alyona Kalinina were the easy winners of all dances.  With the majority of ‘2nd or better’ scores in all dances, Riccado Papi & Sabrina Moretti were the runners-up and taking 3rd in all dances it was Gene & Elena Bersten.
AO-NatalieThe pro-ams danced Rhythm today.  The Open Scholarships were smaller than in the Smooth the day before, but nevertheless, the standard of dance was very high.  The A divisions especially was very strong, bringing out some of the nation’s best.  Taking the top spot was Natalie Crandell w/ Decho Kraev and Natalie won all dances.  2nd in all today was Maria Papakonstantinou w/ John King and 3rd in all, Kia Malone w/ Eddie Rivera.



"To learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing, the principles are the same."


The B had only 2 contestants, but again they were two of the best.  Giovanni Fortezza w/ Jolanta Mosteika won all dances and 2nd went to Donna Sprano w/ Evgeny Dyachecnko. The C was the largest group and in this Evgeny moved to 1st place with his student, Cathy Fulham (1,1,1,3,1).  2nd spot fell to Quin Bommelje w/ Michael Neil (2,2,2,2,3) and 3rd to Lynn Murrell w/ Peter Perzhu (3,3,3,1,2).
AO-GiovanniGiovanni &
AO-MarianneJolanta won the Best of the Best Challenge. The evening ended with a celebration for Marianne Nicole who turns the grand 60 next week.




AO-DowntownDOWNtown but Upbeat
Atlanta Open 2014 The Atalnta Open got under way yesterday in the beautiful Hyatt Regncy.  This is a great competition venue, situated in the heart of downtown Atlanta and with a wonderful, large ballroom and comfortable accommodations.

"When you do dance, I wish you A wave o' the sea, that you might ever do Nothing but that." Yesterday was Smooth day and it was pro-am Smooth heats all day long.  All three of the Open Scholarships were strong events.  The A was won by Maria Papakonstantinou w/ John King (1,1,1,2).  This lady is relatively new to this style and is certainly improving every time.   We would like to see a little more floor coverage as there is  a lot of stationary material.  2nd today was a former World Pro-Am Champion in this division, Laurie Meer, now dancing with Ian Folker (2,2,2,1).  We could have seen Laurie a little closer in the scoring.  Pamela Bolling w/ Ben Ermis took 3rd (4,3,3,3);  Galina Livitina w/ Jari Muller was 4th (3,4,4,4) and Anita Fong w/ Jorge Morales was 5th.
Lynn Shanahan w/ Darius Mosteika won all dances in the B overtaking Wende Stambaugh w/ Ben Ermis who placed 2,2,3,3 and Donna Sparano w/ Evgeny Dyachenko (3,3,2,2).  In the single dances earlier in the day, the results between these three ladies were more mixed.  Jennifer Donnell w/ Rainier Rics was 4th.
The C was the largest of the 3 open scholarships and in this Lynn Murrell w/ Peter Perzhu was the winner in all dances.  Taking all the 2nds was Carolyn Woodruff w/ Alosha Anatoliy.  With 3,3,3T,4, Amy Hardy w/ Valery Ganiev was 3rd and close behind with 4,4,3T,3, Debra Hendrikson w/ Christian Lange.  Barbara Harris w/ Rainier Rics was 5th (5,5,5,6);  Pat Biggers w/ Timmy Merz was 6th (6,6,7,5) and Radhika Unnithan w/ Yusemi Cruz was 7th (7,7,6,7).
AO-LynnThe Scholarship divisions were used to select the contenders for the Best of The Best Challenges and in the Open division the winners of the B, Lynn Shanahan w/ Darius Mosteika was the overall winner and will represent Atlanta Open in this division at the Ohio Star Ball, Best of the Best finale.

"Wherever a dancer stands is holy ground."

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“A” is for Audience!  “A” is for Attitude!  “W” is for Wonderful!”
The WI State – Saturday! It’s hard to find a better Saturday night at a competition than the one every year at Wisconsin State.  That’s why it is always sold out.  Literally!  I overheard the front desk telling a disappointed audience hopeful – “We might be able to find you one seat!”  And the audience is loud and appreciative – great for the dancers, just ask them!

"We should consider everyday lost in which we don't dance."
The night featured all 4 open pro events and a great show – yet didn’t run too much over 3 hours.
WI-ArndreFirst on the floor was the Rhythm semifinal and it promised great things with a head to head conflict between 2 of the nation’s best – Andre & Natalie Paramonov and Nazar Norov & Irina WI-NazarKudryashova.  In the final analysis Andre & Natalie took it 3 dances to 2 – 1,1,2,1,2.  6 to 3 was the order of the day for the judges.  All dances were won by a margin of 6 first places to 3 with the exception of mambo that Nazar & Irina took 8 to 1.  But let’s not write off the rest of the final.  Shane & Shannon Jensen took 3rd in all dances, Erwin & Iwona Rybscyznski were 4th (4,4,4,5,4);  Jonathan Chen & Nadine Messenger were 5th (5,5,5,4,5) and Dustin Donelan & Kirsten McCloskey were 6th.  Check back soon – Kimberly Mitchell will have a report on this division in Dance Beat soon!

"The body says what words cannot." Next up was the Ballroom – the only straight final of the night.  Ruslan & Katusha Wilder were untouchable in first place and easily won all dances.  We also felt 2nd place was a sure thing – Matt Rivers & Maliwan Diemer took all the 2’s.  From there it was more uncertain – at least for us.  Dmitry & Cristina Durante were 3rd (3,3,4,3,3);  Vance Mabry & Samantha Simmons were 4th (4,5,3,4,4);  Bradley Courtney & Elisa Seja were 5th (5,4,5,5,5) and Eric & Deborah Gillitzer were 6th.
The largest event of the night was the Smooth with 3 rounds.  Again we found 2 of the nation’s leaders in a duel for the top place, but here it was not so close as the Rhythm.  Mazen Hamza & Izabella easily won all 4 dances losing a total of only 6 first place marks.  Although they did not challenge the winners today in the judges’ eyes, Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija looked strong to us and were easily 2nd in all 4 dances.  Taking the majority of ‘3rd or better’ scores in all dances, Kris Suakjian & Briana Haft looked great today we felt.  They certainly have made some dramatic improvements of late.  Kyle & Allie Spinder took 4th in all dances, David & Natalie Shulz were 5th in all and Adrian & Hannah Dydynski were sixth in this great final.  Watch out for Steven Dougherty’s report in Dance Beat soon.
WI-GenyaGenya Bartashevich & Yana Maznikova won all dances in the Latin and again lost very few first place marks.  It was our first opportunity to see 2nd placed Roman Italyankin with new partner, WI-RomanAlexandra Bokova.  They looked impressive at this early stage of their partnership and were easily 2nd in all 5 dances here.  The remaining 4 places were very hard fought.  3rd went to Riccardo Pappi & Sabrina Moretti (3,5,3,4,3);  4th to Vartan Zakhariants & Tania Reis (5,4,4,3,4);  5th to Nikita Savva & Anna Milana (4,3,5,5,6) and 6th to Gene & Elena Bersten (6,6,6,6,5).

"Dance is the hidden lenguage of the soul." We found it very interesting that 6 of the 8 top teachers were ladies – we’re not sure if that has ever happened before at an NDCA competition.  Congratulations to Ann Garvey, Shalene Archer (not pictured) and Nadine Messenger who were the top 3.
The pro-ams had a big day competing in both international styles.  In the Open Ballroom, B division, Jill Bradford w/ Gert Roslender was the comfortable winner taking all dances.  2nd went to Pamela Bolling w/ Ben Ermis (2,2T,2,2,2) and 3rd to Miwa Rifu w/ Peter Minkov (4,2T,3,3,3).  Lisa Lowery w/ Radek Wiatrowski completed her hat-trick and gained her 3rd title of the weekend, taking the Open C and winning all dances.  We felt she has improved dramatically in this style.  2nd went to Nancy Malik w/ Arturas Narbutas (2,2,2,3,2) and 3rd to Susan Lowe w/ Yuriy Kravets (3,3,3,4,3).  That elusive 2nd in foxtrot went to Rick Brooks w/ Shalene Archer who finished 6th overall. Later this same day it was the turn of the Latin ladies and gentlemen.  It was a good afternoon for teacher Genya Bartashevich as two of his students were the victors – Leigh Miron in the Open A (1,1,1,1,1) and Missy White in the Open B (1,1,1,1,1).  2nd in the A was Jennifer Przybyl with Andrzej Przybyl (2,2,2,2,2) and 3rd, Emilia Kokoszka w/ Gene Bersten (3,3,3,3,3).  2nd in the B was Cindy Mishlove w/ Vartan Zakharinats (2,2,2,2,2) and 3rd, Elizabeth Rocco w/ Eric Hudson (3,3,3,3,3).  Janet Colleran w/ Aleks Nashev won the Open C (2,1,1,2,1) and Lisa Lowery had to settle for the runners-up spot this time (1,2,2,1,2).  Joanmarie Vanaski w/ Andrej Przybyl was 3rd (3,3,3,3,3).

"Eat, sleep,!!" WI-showAs I said at the beginning of this report, the evening ended with a great show “Ballroom Blitz – Revisited!”  This show was artfully put together by Brent Mills and all numbers were backed by video on 3 giant screens.  The show featured a lot of comedy – who can forget the rock and roll boys (Brent, John DePalma, Mark Brock and Michael Mead) or the deck captain impersonators (Brent as Justin Deher and Nadine Messenger as Andrea Ringgold).  But many in the audience loved the touching “Ghost” routine by Shane & Shannon Jensen, Kris Suakjian & Brianna Haft and Kyle & Allie Spinder.  More about this show in the full report later in Dance Beat.  If you are not a member right now – be sure to subscribe here.  Members can see more show photos right now in the Photo Gallery PS.  Dan Messenger – you will be getting an additional bill from Dance Beat for making the judges (including me) dance on to the floor!

WI-A RhythmRhythm Time! Yesterday was “rhythm time” for the pro-ams at Wisconsin State and we had 2 double champions. 

"Dance is music made visible."

The first of the Open Scholarships gave a double victory to Julia Vaysfield w/ Nikolai Karchev in the A.  She had won the A Smooth the day before.  2nd tonight was Tiffany Sullivan w/ Dustin Donelan. The B went to Giovanni Fortezza w/ Jolanta Mosteika who took the event with 1,1,1,2,1 in a strong field.  Winning bolero and placing 2nd in the other 4 was yesterday’s Smooth winner, Kathy Howell w/ Martin Cawston.  3rdin all dances, Aiyesha Dey w/ Eric Hudson.
WI-B Rhythm
Lisa Lowery was another double winner, adding the C Rhythm to her Smooth title.   She placed 1,1,2,1,2 ahead of Philip Widlanski w/ Jolanta Mosteika who scored 2,2,1,3,1.  Hope Huber w/ Troy Baeton was 3rd with 3,3,3,2,3.
WI-C Rhythm
3 professional couples entered the Showdance and the performances were varied and all high quality.  The winners were the thrilling Shane & Shannon Jenson.  2nd were Genya Bartashevich & Yana Maznikova and 3rd, Kyle & Allie Spinder. Kyle & Allie also danced the RS Smooth tonight and in this they won all dances.  2nd were Jimmy Mulligan & Dani Atkins (2,2,2,3) and 3rd Igor Afonkin & Rachel Mercedes (3,3,3,2).
WI-RS Smooth
There was also a strongly contested RS Latin and this went to the West Coast as Riccardo Pappi & Sabrina Moretti from California were the winners, 2,1,1,1,1.  2nd were Gene & Elena Bersten (3,2,2,2,2) and winning the cha cha but placing 3rd overall were Nikita Savva & Anna Milana (1,3,4,3,3).

WI-RS Latin

Smooth Scholarships do not disappoint at WI State Wisconsin State has always been known for the high standard of pro-am dancing and last night the Open Smooth Scholarships certainly did not disappoint.  All were well contested and difficult to judge.
The Open A was the smallest, but still had some great dancing.  2 very different styles of dancing vied for the top spot but the win, in all dances, went to the vivacious Julia Vaysfeld w/ Nikolay Karchev.  2nd in all was the WI-Howellvery willowy and elegant Aiyesha Dey w/ Eric Hudson and 3rd fell to Genevieve Parker w/ Michael Koptke. The Open B began as a large semifinal, run in 2 heats, ending with a final of 7.  We felt the top 3 all had a lot to offer but agreed with the final outcome.  1st in all dances was Kathy Howell w/ Martin Cawston;  2nd went to Elizabeth Rocco w/ Eric Hudson (2,2,2,3) and 3rd Lynn Shanahan w/ Darius Mosteika (3,3,3,2). The Open C was the largest division, beginning with a quarter-final.  Lisa Lowery w/ Radek Wiatrowski won all dances despite what we felt was a strong challenge from Hope Huber w/ Troy Baeton.  Janet Colleran w/ Martin Cawston took 3rd (3,4,3,3).
WI-JensenThere were also 2 Pro RS events last night, both straight finals.  The Rhythm was the stronger division with the top two places obviously clear to us.  The winners in all dances were Shane & Shannon Jensen, who certainly show improvement in this genre.  2nd in all were Erwin & Iwona Rybczynski who certainly could have taken a dance or two in our view.  3rd tonight were Dustin Denelan & Kristen McCloskey who also show improvement. Only 3 couples contested the RS Ballroom and the level of dancing was not especially high.  The winners were Dmitry & Cristina Durante (1,1,2,1,2) over Bradley Courtney & Elisa Seja (2,2,1,2,1) and Erik & Deborah Gillitzer. Amazingly, the Wisconsin State is still held in the charming and elegant Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee, its home since its inception over 20 years ago.  I think is the only competition on the NDCA calendar that has never moved!

Zharinovs Romp to Victory at SFO SFO-MikhailIn what was the best professional event of the weekend, Mikhail & Galina Zharinov easily won the Professional Smooth as SFO last night, winning all dances with the clear majority of 1st places. 

Only 2 judges placed them lower than first with one other judge tieing them for first.  From the sidelines we thought it could be a little closer, but the runners-up, Nick Cheremukhim & Victorija, although clearly 2nd in all dances, took few 1st places.  Kris Suakjian & Briana Haft had a good night and were rewarded with 3rd (3,4,3,4), one of their best results of late.  We were impressed with Sergey Shapoval & Ania Tarnowska who were 4th and seemed to have added some interesting new choreography to their programs.  They placed 6,3,5,3.  As you can see from these scores, this final was contested all the way through.  David & Natalie Shulz finished 5th, ahead of Kyle & Allie Spinder, who were 6th.  David & Natalie scored 4,5,4,5 to Kyle & Allie’s 5,6,6,6.  This was a 7-couple final and the classy duo of Alexander Aillon & Jessi Reynolds took 7th.
The Professional Latin ran against this event and it too was very exciting, although none of the nation’s leading teams were present.  Comfortable winners were the dynamic and energetic Andrey Tarasov & Yulia Kuznetsova who comfortably won all dances.  Evgeniy Likachev & Mariya Levina, who won the RS in this style were also a clear second in all dances.  Pavel Balykin & Meagan Mendoza were 3rd in all dances.  We felt they were a little off in the semifinal round, but really poured it on in the final.  Their best-scored dance was jive.  Although all the remaining finalists had also been finalists in the RS, the results were not the same.  Benefiting the most from this shake up were Simeon & Kora Stoynov who took 4th tonight (5,4,5,4,5).  Finishing 5th today, although runners-up in the RS, were Illie Bardahan & Katya Gorokhovsky.  We also agreed that they did not perform as well today as they did in the RS, appearing to lose their way.  Closing this final were Maksym Kapitanchuk & Elena Krifuks (6,6,6,5,4).  We did not feel that their form declined between the two competitions, but such are the vagaries of competition dancing.  Watch out for Daniele Gozzi’s report on this division in Dance Beat soon.
SFO-BumchinThe U/21 Latin also showed the inconsistencies in results and performances with many of the couples we had been watching over the weekend switching positions.  Today’s winners were Bumchin Tegshjargal & Rian Baldwin (1,1,1,1,2).  As is often the case in Youth events, the judges’ scores were very mixed.  Bumchin & Rian ad the majority of 1st place marks in only rumba and won the paso and cha cha with only 1 first place score in each.  2nd tonight, although they had more individual 1st place marks than the winners were Dmytry Dmytrenko & Cheyenne Murillo (2,2,2,2,1).  3rd were Umar Diallo & Natasha Zrazhevskaya (3,3,4,3,4). The Open Pro-Am B Ballroom Scholarship was perhaps the best pro-am event of the weekend, beginning with a semifinal.  The winner was Lily Chang w/ Sergey Kiselev (1,1,3,1,2).  2nd went to Michelle Peng w/ Mikhail Avdeev (3,3,1,2,1) and 3rd to Beverly Moore w/ Alain Doucet (2,2,2,3,3).  As you can see it was a close finish.
Julie Zhao w/ Denis Kutepov won the Open A Ballroom, winning all dances.  Jenica Kalish w/ Raffaelo Sabato took 2nd in all and Yingying Chen w/ Simeon Stoynov was 3rd (3,4,3,3,3).  Etsuko Amagassa w/ Dariusz Michalski won the Senior Scholarship.

2 of California’s Best Shine at SFO Although it was the smaller of the pro heats last night, the Ballroom thrilled the sell-out audience with the appearance of two of California’s and the nation’s best partnerships – Mikhail Avdeev & Olga Blinova and Denis Kutepov & Lesya Sinitsa.


SFO-MikhailAlthough both were on form, Mikhail & Olga won all dances with the majority of 1st places, although the VW was close (5 to 4).  We loved the superb slow leg timing of Denis & Lesya in the QS, but obviously the judges did not agree, because Mikhail & Olga received all 9 first places in that dance.  10-dancers, Igor Colac & Roxanne Milotti took all the 3rd’s and did take a handful of 2nd places from Denis & Lesya.  (we were a little surprised by the 5th placement of Igor & Roxanne the day before in the RS Latin, we had them pegged higher).  4th in today’s ballroom went to Simeon & Kora Stoynov (4,4,4,4,4); 5th to Evgeniy Mayotrov & Olga Lisovskaya (5,5,5,5,5);  6th to Slava & Lara Kostiansets (6,6,6,6,6) and 7th, Sarosh Ahmad & Zoe Wydroug.  Watch out for a full report from Tomas Atkesovicious in a future edition of Dance Beat.

"If I can not dance, I shall die!" By contrast, the Rhythm, although beginning with a semifinal did not have a lot of punch.  For us the winner was clear – Ivan Dishliev & Marieta Nedyalkova and they did win all dances with only 1 judge dissenting. 2nd today went to Renzo Zegarra & Chante Platt 2,3,3,2,2.  They were certainly the cleanest and most consistent of the remaining couples and Renzo had what many of the other gentlemen did not – body rhythm!  3rd today were the RS Winners, Jim Clark & Tania Chegini (3,2,2,4,3);  4th Michael Foncannon & Meghan McNash 4,4,4,3,5;  5th Jessie Dickson & Lannie Sullivan 5,5,5,5,4 and 6th Jeremy Babagay & Carolyn Barreno who won the crowd tonight, if not the judges.
4 couples contested the Showdance and the winners were Sergiy Shapoval & Annia Tarnowska who are developing quite a following for their evocative showdance pieces.  But today they were challenged strongly by Kyle & Allie Spinder with the result actually 5 to 4 in favor of Sergei & Annia.  3rd were Michael Koptke & Chelsea Farrah and 4th Adam Hernandez & Stacy Breedon.

"Great dancers are not great because of their technique. They are great because of their passion." SFO-phillipAs reported in yesterday’s blog, the amateur Championships here mark the US debut of new Canadian team, Alon Gillin & Anna-Nina Kus.  Yesterday they had a fairly comfortable win in the Ballroom and I’m sure they were hoping for a repeat tonight in the Latin – usually Alon’s stronger style.  But it was not to be.  In a very tight final they placed 2nd to Phillip Kudryatsov & Ashley Goldman.  Phillip & Ashley won all dances but it was very close in each one.  Only in jive did they have the majority of 1st places.  In fact it was closely fought all the way down the list.  Alon & Anna-Nina were 2nd in all dances but in all dances other couples took some 1st places from the top 2.  In fact in paso doble 3rd placed overall, Teleric Ianakiev & Natella Devitskaya had 3 1st places, the same as Phillip & Ashley and Alon & Anna-Nina.  Teleric & Natella are a small package of dynamite.  They took 3rd in all dances.  4th in all dances tonight, but also picking up some 1st placements were Dmytry Dmytrenko & Cheyenne Murillo.  We thought they also had a great night.  5th, from Canada, were Gary Vaiman-Askarov & Estie Spivakov (5,6,5,6,5) and 6th, Rhett Grant & Anastasia Kurakina (6,5,6,5,6).
“That was a great kids’ comp!”  Those were the words of judge, Eugene Katsevman when he came off the floor following the semifinal of the Junior II Latin – and he was right.  All the couples were beautifully prepared and presented.  The winners were Kinsley Lin & Michelle Yiu.  They won all dances but lost some 1st placements in each dance to the relatively new partnership of Mike Monokandilos & Michelle Klets.  3rd were Jacob Murillo & Sydney Tormey.  Erik Linder & Richelle Taylor won the Junior I Latin a little earlier and were also in the final of the Junior II.

"No artist  is ahead of his time. He is time; the others are just behind the times." SFO-danThere was a slight turnabout in form in the Senior I Ballroom.  The winners today were Dan Manea & Mia Hu who overtook Angus Sinclair & Dara Campbell.  3rd went to Turtle Brennen & Regina Pareigis. For the pro-ams it was a busy day with dancing over 2 styles – Smooth and Latin.  Beverly Moore w/ Alain Doucet (Canada) was the winner in both the Open B Latin and the Open C Smooth.  She was pushed hard in the Latin by SFO-PAlatConnie Buckley w/ Leonid Proskurov who took 3 of the 7 first places in 4 dances.  In the Smooth Cynthia Wolfsohn w/ Alex Zagrean was the runner up.  Winner of the B Smooth was Patricia Schneider w/ Slawek Souchaki (1,1,2,1).  But this was a close fought competition.  2nd went to Janice Smith w/ David Weise (4,2,4,2) and 3rd to Paige Riffle w/ Alex Zagrean (2,3,3,4).  The Open A Latin was won by Vera Xu w/ Jakub Zeglin.  The runner-up was from Canada, Faye Diamantoudi w/ Stephane Champagne.

New Canadian Partnership Takes Amateur Ballroom SFO-AlonA new pairing of two top-ranked Canadian Amateurs cruised to victory in the Amateur Ballroom last night at the San Fransisco Open.  Alon Gillin & Anna-Nina Kus, both from Toronto, won all dances in their first foray into the USA.

"Love is a lot like dancing; you just surrender to the music."  

They received perfect scores in the waltz and tango, lost 1 first in the VW and 3 each in the foxtrot and quickstep.  It is an interesting partnership and that will have to negotiate a height difference in this style, but these are two talented and experienced dancers.  We look forward to seeing the Latin tonight. Easily 2nd were Alex & Grace Wang (CA) who scored those 1st places not given to Alon & Anna-Nina and were 2nd in all dances.  They seem to improve every time we see them.  The next 3 places were taken by couples we normally see in the Senior I division.  Andreas & Jody-Frease Meijer were 3rd in all, Angus Sinclair & Dara Campbell were 4th (5,4,5,5,5) and Dan Manea & Mia Hu took 5th, (6,5,6,4,4).  Closing the final were Christian Solares & Whitney Myers (4,6,4,6,6).
SFO-kyleAll 4 Pro Rising Star divisions were held last night.  We thought the best o them was the Smooth that began with a semifinal.  This went to Kyle & Allie Spinder who received all 36 first places.  Placements for the other finalists were mixed.  Coming in 2nd were Slava & Lora Kostianets with 2,3,2,4.  3rd were Alexander Aillon & Jessie Reynolds (4,2,4,2).  Of interest and placing 4th was the new partnership of Radek Wiatrowski & Sonia Ragan (FL).  We believe this was their first competition together.  They placed 3,4,3,3.  Only 2 points separated 2nd, 3rd and 4th places.

SFO-EvgenyEvgeniy Likachev & Mariya Levina had a comfortable win in the Latin with the majority of 1st places in all dances.  Another new partnership, Illie Bardahan & Katya Gorokhovsky took 2nd, 2,2,3,2,4.  They seem to be taking advantage of their natural physiques to promote a “stillness” in their dancing.  Could be interesting!  3rd spot fell to Maksym Kapitanchuk & Elena Krifucs (3,3,2,4,2).  We thought jive was definitely their strongest dance.  This event also began with a semifinal.

"I don't want dancers who want to dance. I want dancers who have to dance."
The Ballroom was a straight final.  The winners in all dances were Evgeniy Mayorov & Olga Lisovskaya (NV).  We thought they were clear winners tonight.  Runners up again were Slava & Lora Kostianets  - 2nd in all dances and 3rd were Sarosh Ahmad & Zoe Wydroug (3,3,3,3,3). The Rhythm really seemed to have the judges guessing with scores falling all over the board.  Placing 1,2,1,1,1, the win went to Jim Clark & Tania Cegini.  They had the majority of 1st paces in only cha cha.  2nd place with 2,1,2,2,2, went to Michael Foncannon & Meghan McNash.  Theu had the majority of 1st places in their rumba.  3rd were Jessie Dickson & Lannie Sullivan (4,3,3,3,3). SFO-KinselyFresh from their finalist position in the WDSF World Junior II Championship in Moscow, Kinsley Lin & Michelle Yiu won all dances in the Youth Latin, taking the majority of 1st places in the last 3.  Their dancing has certainly matured since we last saw them.  Runners-up were Bumchin Tegshjargal & Rian Baldwin (3,2,2,2,2) and 3rd were Eric Rosenberg & Yelena Vayn (2,3,3,3,3). In the Senior IISFO-Hans Ballroom, Hans & Ans Stork once again came out on top.  David Getchell & Allison Gonzalez were 2nd and Winston & Lilly Chow were 3rd. For the pro-ams it was a long day of Rhythm, beginning at 7:00 AM.  SFO has over 5,300 entries this year.  Winners in the open scholarships, held in the evening, were:  Alison Allan w/ David Alvarez (Senior);  Monica Broch w/ Kris Suakjian (B) and Kia Malone w/ Eddie Rivera (A).

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