Spreading the Love! Philadelphia Dancesport Championships has outdone itself this year in spreading the “Brotherly Love,” something of which William Penn, founder of the city, would have been proud. Corky Ballas, at the direction of Mr. Chuck Danza, organizer, managed to maintain an energy-filled room throughout the entire weekend. His unstoppable energy and charisma kept the room in stiches, clapping or cheering through the entire weekend. Anyone that knows any history of Philadelphia knows that William Penn had a dislike for what he called the “Horrors of European Urban Lifestyle” and Mr. Ballas brought a casual atmosphere that can only be found in USA.
"I don't want life to imitate art. I want to be art."
Last night in the beautifully and tastefully decorated ballroom in the Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill, the competition was excellent with very interesting happenings.
The first and possibly the best competition for us was the Professional Latin that started with a semifinal. The final of this excellent event was difficult to judge. Our favorite and the judges’ favorite at the end was Ivan Mulyavka & Loreta Kriksciukaityte from FL who took first in all dances with the majority of firsts in every dance. From there, it was an uphill battle for most of the judges trying to make up their mind which couple was their next favorite. The couple that got the most seconds or better marks was Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Shvets who placed second overall (2,3,3,2,2). Here we were not as kind as the other judges. To us, with the exception of tremendous speed and power, this couple brought very little substance to the table and we will explain in the future article. Third was awarded to Genya Bartashevich & Yana Maznikova (3,2,2,3,3). For us this couple was possibly the least consistent of all couples. There were some incredible moments but just as you thought they would put you there, they got cold and pulled away from, as Mr. Corky would say, “The Love.”
Our favorite couple in this exciting Latin final placed sixth and that was Hayk Balasanyan & Emilia Poghosyan (5,5,6,6,6). For us they had a little bit of every thing - speed, consistency and most important a very unique approach to the style, we will explain also in the coming event. Fourth in this final went to the new partnership of Roman Italyankin & Alexandra Bokova (4,4,4,4,4), fifth was awarded to Jean Paul & Lana Rossi (6,6,5,5,5).
"Dance isn't something that can be explained with words. It has to be danced."
The love was spread quite thick on Travis & Jaimee Tuft who were by far the best couple in the Professional Smooth final. Travis & Jaimee got perfect scores from all judges in every dance and won the Smooth competition easily. Travis & Jaimee continue to receive their love and cash when it came to the Showdance competition where they placed first overall with majority of firsts. However, here we personally held some of the love back. We felt that Jungie Zamora & Sheena Damir presented a routine with a level of difficulty that was much greater than that of Travis & Jaimee. But we were in the minority, the judges awarded Jungie & Sheena second and Jaimee & Travis first. And in a super whammy of “Love” the judges also awarded first and second places to Travis & Jaimee in the Challenge of Champions at the conclusion of all the events. In this Challenge of Champions Ivan & Loretta the Latin Champions earlier mentioned took third. Continuing on the Professional Smooth, second place went to Matthias Kruschel & Christina Schlegel and third in all dances was awarded to Roman Manolachi & Elena Rabinovici. We were a little surprised on Leo Mora & Christina Garced who placed fifth overall. We felt they have improved tremendously and were hoping to see at least in a few dances, higher placements for this couple.
"Technical perfection is insufficient. It is an orpha without the true soul of a dancer."
The Professional Rhythm is also an event worth the mention. Here Vard Margaryan & Sofya Fil won every dance with the majority of first in every dance, but our favorite in this heat was Matthew Hauer & Lauren Schelfhaudt who continue to make progress with what we consider to be a great element of this style and that is some authentic Latin soul. Third wen to Standor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukov, fourth was awarded to Srahija Lackovic & Irina Fedsova (4,5,5,4,4), fifth went to Matthias Kruschel & Christina Schlegel (5,4,4,5,5) and finally sixth in every dance was awarded to Tim Polaschek & Katherine Hutchinson.
A lot of love was spread for the Professional Ballroom but the couples had, in our opinion, a hard time spreading themselves on this narrow floor. We saw more confusion and bumpy work than in a open field. Here the judges’ favorites were Andrey Begunov & Anna Demidova who won all dances with a huge majority of first. We had a hard time seeing what the other judges saw. Frankly, if we saw them make one good run it was rare, they were part of that bump and grind I just talked about. For us the better performances came from Emanuele & Francesca Pappacena who placed second in every dance and Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Xovalcikova who took third overall.
"I'm dancing to the music of the madness inside me."
In a footnote** We were floored in the Professional Latin when a couple went to a VIP guest, comfortable on their front row table and asked if they could take their drink after the paso! At first I was shocked, the unsuspecting audience member had no choice but to oblige. Then I saw the couple not drink anything but go to the side spill it on the floor and rub their shoe soles in the carpet! Couples!!! If you find the need to put @#%^ on the soles of your feet to stay balanced, the least you can do is put it where you can get to it! I found it very rude of the performers to take the VIP guest’s drink to use it for dabbing your feet so you can stay balanced in your Jive!
Zharinovs Romp to Victory at SFO In 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.
The 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.
Although 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."
As 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."
There 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 Connie 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 A 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.
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).
All 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.
Evgeniy 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). Fresh 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 II 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).
It’s Number 16 for Nels & Theresa Nels Petersen & Theresa Kimler (MN) won their 16th USA Dance National Title last night in Adult American Smooth. This marked their 7th Smooth title – added to their 9 Rhythm titles won between 1994 and 2002 (Nels also won the Rhythm in 1992/93 but with a different partner).
This is quite a record. Last night they won 3 dances and placed 2nd in tango. They did not have the majority of 1st places in any dance, however and the judges were fairly divided. Last year’s champions, Paul Frietas & Kelly Glasheen (CT) won the tango but placed 2nd in waltz and foxtrot and 3rd in VW. Another past champion in this division, Jonathan Medlin dancing now with Malin Allert took 3rd (3,3,3,2). 4th in all dances were Damian Pataluna & Irina Morozova (KY); 5th in all, Zachary Lapidus & Emi Terasawa (NY) and 6th Jason Seabury & Nonie Shiverick (CT).
"It is not a cuestion of who dances but of who or what does not dance."
The trio of WDSF Open World Ranking U/21 divisions concluded with the Latin – a 7-couple final. The winners were Steven Varshavsky & Karolina Loukhnikov (MA) who placed 1,1,2,1,1. They never had the majority of 1st places but defeated their nearest rivals because no judges scored they received only 1 placements lower than 3rd in the whole competition. The 2nd placed couple, Mitchell Itkin & Natasha Shevchenko had a significant amount of 1st places but also had judges placing them in the lower half of the final. Overall they placed 4,2,1,2,2. We must say that 4th place in samba was a mystery to us! With 3,4,3,3,3 TJ Stanton & Dasha Goykhman were 3rd. TJ & Dasha had to be the busiest couple at the competition. They competed in standard. Latin and 10-Dance in the WDSF and national divisions and they seemed to get better and better as the competition progressed. Our Ecuadorian couples were also back tonight and Jose Maria & Adriana Carolina once again impressed the audience and took 4th (2,3,4,4,4). We must say that Carolina was a little lucky not to be penalized for costume violations. WDSF has strict rules governing costuming and we do not feel that her dress fell within those guidelines. Larry Tokar & Juliana Hoff (NY) took 5th in all dances; Mitchell Leyzerzon & Anna Cernova (PA) were 6th in all dances and Esteban & Milena from Ecuador were 7th.
"I love songs that people can dance to and enjoy at the same time."
The showcase event of the night was the Adult 10-Dance but the result was never really in doubt. Taras Savitskyy & Tatiana Selivertsova, having won the Standard and placed 3rd in the Latin were never really in doubt. They danced with supreme confidence and produced the best dancing we have ever seen from them. They received perfect scores in the Latin and lost only a total of 4 first places in the Standard. The fight was really for 2nd and that went today to Fernando Lareu & Nicole Palagashvili who were 2nd in 6 dances and 3rd in samba, cha cha, rumba and jive. Although stronger in the Standard, we felt their Latin was stronger today than in the U/21 10-Dance the day before. 3rd place went to Mircea & Ana-Maria Cernev (PA) who were 4th in all the standard, 3rd in paso doble and 2nd in the remaining 4 Latin dances. The ubiquitous TJ & Dasha took 4th with 3rd in all Standard and 4th in all Latin. Andrew Sim & Emily Cobb-Hines were 5th and Denis Kojinov & Jeanette Chevalier were 6th. Ina Brayer will have a report on this division in the Members’ section soon. The last final of the whole competition was the Youth Standard and it was a good one. Patrick Ploszaj & Anna Kaczmarski who won all dances and lost just a handful of 1st places from the judges. The surprise placement was the runner-up spot to Justin Lin & Sasha Dubinsky (MA) who were 2nd in all dances. They produced the performance of their careers to this point showing beautiful, free-flowing dancing that never lost track of the music. They managed to get the majority of “2nd or better’ scores in all dances but tango. We felt it was a tough choice for the judges between them and 3rd placed Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova who were also strong but with a very different style. Two great new young couples! 4th in all dances went to William Stansbury & Jenny Sokolsky (CA); 5th in all Kamil Falkowski & Alexis Turko (NJ) and 6th, Christian Yeung & Samanta Filip (NY). In a battle royal, the tables were turned in the Senior II Standard. The first 2 places were a reverse of the Senior III. This time Vencent & Irina Feingold took the event 2,1,1,1,1 from Hans & Ans Stork 1,2,2,2,2. Both couples were outstanding for this division and should have a good shot at the World Title if they chose (or are eligible) to compete. Taking 3rd, as they did in the Senior II were Glen Okasaki & Ann Ho. They were 3rd in all dances. 4th went to Andrew & Janie Nordberg (4,4,5,5,6); 5th Thomas & Yuko Yu (5,5,4,6,5; 6th Gene Brokert & Jill Bradford (6,6,6,4,4). The U/21 10-Dance was the closest race of all the National Championships this year with only 2 point separating the top 3 couples. The winners were Stanislav Pavlov & Michelle Kurpas. They won all the Latin dances and were 3rd in all Standard for a total of 20 points. With 21 points Samuel Hacke & Katrina Hermanova were 2nd. Their scores, listing Latin first, were 4,2,2,2,2,2,2,1,2,2. With 22 points, 3rd place fell to Fernando Lareu & Nicole Palagashvili. Their scores were 2,4,4,3,3,1,1,2,1,1. This was an incredibly close finish and all 3 couples should be congratulated! 4th went to none other than – TJ & Dasha; 5th to Lawrence Shulman & Dakota Pizzi and 6th and 7th places were separated by a ‘Rule 11”. Andrew Sim & Emily Cobb-Hines were 6th and Scott Nicholson & Evgeniya Gorobets were 7th. We were very disappointed to see only 1 entry in the Junior I Latin. Maxim Vassilenko & Liza Shlimovich from California. Where were all the Junior I competitors? Other National Champions decided today were Senior III Rhythm, Daniel Fugazzotto & Janis Merluzzo; Senior I Rhythm, Carmine Rucco & Maria Bolyard; Senior II Latin, Roger Korsiak & Holli Hornlien; Senior I Smooth, Jonathan Medlin & Malin Allert.
New Faces in Adult Standard There were many fresh faces in the Adult Standard at USA Dance Nationals last night, but the winners were last year’s 10-Dance Champions, Taras Savitskyy & Tatiana Seliverstova (NJ).
Most judges warmed up to them over the course of the event as their placements were 3,1,1,1,1. We felt they were worthy winners and have upped their game in this style. Still some judges placed them in the lower half of the final and they had the majority of 1st places in only VW. 2nd place went to another of our favorites, the lyrical Ruslan Kalyuzhnyy & Kseniya Sovenko (WA). Their placements were 1,3,2,2,2. The judges were also divided on them with some giving 1st while others gave 5th. Taking the event by storm this year and placing 3rd here, new to us, were Florin Vlad & Natalia O’Connor (Maine). Their scores were 2,2,3,3,4. They had the most “sport-like” approach of all the finalists although some onlookers complained about their floorcraft. Fernando Lareu & Nicole Palagashvilli (MA) were 4th with 4,5,5,4,3. We thought tango and quickstep were their strongest dances and were surprised with the 5th placements in tango. Two couples from Utah closed the final – both tall and elegant. Brandon Perry & Vashti Reed 5,4,4,5,5 and Tyler Wilson & Annie Seeley 6,6,6,6,6. Watch out for Igor Pillipenchuk’s report on this division in the Members’ Section soon. Once again we had a WDSF World Ranking event in the U/21 category – this time the 10-Dance and once again it was a straight final. This time only 6 competitors. The winners were TJ Stanton & Dasha Goykhman who won 8 of the dances and placed 3rd in samba and 2nd in cha cha. The runners-up were Nathaniel Tsiperfal & Sophia Brodsky. Their scores were fairly even. They were 2nd in 8 dances, 1st in rumba and 3rd in jive. We felt their Latin was their stronger style. Once again the division included the 2 couple from Ecuador. Jose Marie Zuquilanda & Adriana Carolina Chavez-Mosquera were a hit with the audience in the Latin style and placed 3rd overall. They placed 3rd in 6 dances, tied for 3rd in VW & PD, 1st in cha cha and 4th in jive. Several judges awarded them 1st places in the Latin dances. 4th overall were Andrew Sim & Emily Cobb-Hines, 5th Scott Nicholson & Evgeniya Gorobets and 6th Esteban Acosta & Milena Robero (Ecuador). The Youth Latin was also a good event danced over 3 rounds. Winning again as they did in the U/21 were Briant Leytman & Nino Dzneladze. They easily won all 5 dances and seem unstoppable in this division lately. 2nd in all were Patryk Ploszaj & Anna Kaczmarski. They were clearly 2nd based on the majority of judges, but we were surprised to see some lower placements from some judges. 3rd were Eric Rozenburg & Yelana Vayn (3,4,3,4,3). We liked them in this division for this placement. 4th went to Bumchin Tegshjargal & Rian Baldwin (4,3,5,3,4); 5th Samuel Hacke & Katrina Hermanova (6,5,4,5,5,) and 6th Christian Yeung & Samnatha Filip (5,6,6,6,6).
"I see dance being used as comunication between body and soul, to express what it too deep to find for words."
The National Adult Rhythm was the strongest we think we ever saw in this division, beginning with a semifinal. The winners were Allan Granzberg & Milana Lazareva who placed 2,2,1,1,1. 2nd Craig & Samantha Abaya-Campos, 1,1,2,2,2. Following a costume rule infraction James Repetti & Alexandra Kopelovich were dropped a placement in each dance so placed 4th with adjusted scores of 5,5,5,5,4. This left 3rd place to Matthew Shimizu & Jennifer Crown with scores of 4,4,4,4,4. 5th spot went to Marc Fenger & Rachel Dugan (5,5,5,6,6 and 6th to Damien Pataluna & Irina Morozova 6,6,6,5,5.
The National U/21 Standard went to Florin & Natalia who won all dances but with the majority only in VW and foxtrot. 2nd went to Fernando & Nicole 3,2,2,2,2. Willaim Stansbury & Jenny Sokolsky were 3rd 2,3,3,3,3; Stanislav Pavlov & Michelle Kurpas were 4th in all; TJ & Dasha took 5th in all; Larence Shulman & Dakota Pizzi were 6th 7,6,7,6,6; Scott & Evgeniya were 7th 6,7,6,7,7 and 8th were Nicholas Kane & Sabrina Hargis. Other national titles decided today were: Senior I Smooth, Jonathan Medlin & Malin Allert (NC); Senior III Latin, Edwin & Charlotte Bugarin (HI); Senior II Smooth, Andrew & Janie Nordberg (MN); Senior III Smooth, Roger & Amy Greenawalt (IN); Senior I Latin Irsan & Cami Tisabudi (TX).
Seniors Top Bill Friday in Baltimore The Senior I Standard was really the division that stole the show last night in Maryland, in our opinion. This was perhaps the best senior competition we have seen in the USA.
Over 3 rounds, the couples – all in top form physically – contested the division leading to a strong final of 6 couples from across the country. David & Liva Wright maintained their foot on the winner’s rostrum taking all 5 dances with the majority of 1st places. Xingmin & Katerina Lu were equally secure in 2nd spot with the majority of ‘2nd or better’ in all dances. Really moving up the ladder were Thomas Yim & Kelly Cheng who placed 3rd in all dances and really gave a personal best performance. We were not surprised to see them take some 1st placements in all dances. Fellow Californians, Angus Sinclair & Dara Campbell took 4th (4,4,5,4,4); Dan Manea & Mia Hu were 5th (5,5,4,5,6) and Tulga & Ilkin Ersal were 6th (6,6,6,6,5). We thought there were excellent couples left in the semifinal too. All in all an excellent division.
"The dance can reveal everything mysterious that is hidden in music, and it has the additional merit of being human and palpable. Dancing is poetry with arms and legs." The highlight of the night was the Adult Open Latin and this produced a good event over 3 rounds, but it must be noted that many of the nation’s strongest competitors were not present. The easy winner in our view and the new USA Dance National Champions are Pasha Stepanchuk & Anastasiya Danilova who won all dances with strong majorities. We have long been a fan of this passionate couple and were pleased to see them rewarded. Also clear in 2nd spot were Nikita Malakov & Nadezda Vlasova (2,2,2,2,2). They had the majority of ‘2nd or better’ scores in all dances except the rumba. We thought their best dance was jive. The tightest race was for 3rd, in our opinion between Taras Savitskyy & Tatiana Seliverstova and Kiki Nyemchek & Magda Fialek, but in the end Taras & Tatiana managed to edge out Kiki & Magda in all dances. 5th went to youth competitors, Vladislav Kvartin & Amanda Herrschaft 5,5,5,6,5 and 6th to Stas Engeldardt & Tatiyana Vasilieva 6,6,6,5,6. Watch out for a full report on this division by Andrew Phillips in he members’ section of Dance Beat.
Hey. Nikita! There's nothing like a "selfie"
For the first time USA Dance Nationals is hosting world-ranking WDSF Open divisions – all in the youth categories. Last night it was the Standard. We were a little surprised that this produced only a straight final of 7 couples – 5 from USA and 2 from Ecuador. Since these divisions count towards world ranking we could have expected far more entries from the USA and perhaps some from Canada. Placing 1,2,1,1,2, the winners were Vlad Florin & Natalia O’Connor who are from Maine and are a new couple to us. They certainly have much potential and the right look. They had the majority of 1st places in only the 2 waltzes. With 2,1,2,2,1 Fernando Lareu & Nicole Palagashvilli were 2nd and they had the majority of 1st places in the dances they won. 3rd in all dances went to TJ Stanton & Dasha Goykhman. We thought the top 3 were well clear of the remaining field. 4th in all dances were Brandon Buchthal & Ilana Kotiliar. With 5,5,5,6,6, Scott Nicholson & Evgeniya Palgashvili were 5th. The two couples from Ecuador placed 6th and 7th although we felt 6th placed Jose Marie Zuquilanda & Adriana Carolona Chavez were a little unlucky with 5,5,5,6,6. 7th were Estoban Acosta & Milena Romero-Pichincha.
"Every dance is a kind of fever chart, a graph of the heart."
There was also a national youth and u/21 title decided tonight and both were good events. Repeating their win from Provo earlier this month, Briant Leytman & Nino Dzneladze won 4 dances with the majority of 1st places – samba was the closest in the u/21 Latin. This young lady is a real powerhouse! 2nd were Vladislav & Amanda and they comfortably took 2nd in all dances. With 3rd in all, Stanislav Pavlov & Michelle Kurpas took that place comfortably. Bumchin Tegshjargal & Rian Baldwin were 4th (4,4,5,5,4); Eric Rosenberg & Yelena Vayn were 5th (5,5,4,4,6); Steven Varshavsky & Karolina Loukhinikov were 6th (6,6,6,6,7) and Lawrence Shulman & Dakota Pizzi were 7th.
"The body is your instrument in dance, but your art is outside that creature, the body."
In the Youth 10-Dance Mr. & Miss Perfect – Patrick Plozaj & Anna Kaczmarski were the winners and won all dances losing very few 1st places. They are so consistent they are very hard to beat over 10 dances. With 2nd in all 10, Samuel Hacke & Katarina Hermanova were the runner-sp. They are very strong in the standard, but I was also impressed with their Latin today. The remaining finalists showed differing strengths over the 10 dances. 3rd were Justin Lin & Sasha Dubinsky who scored much better in the Standard (3,3,3,3,3) than in the Latin (6,6,5,5,6). Christian Yeung & Samanta Filip took 4th with fairly even scores of 5,5,5,5,53,4,4,4,4. 5th fell to Jaryd Farcon & Kyla Dzhaniashvilli – stronger in Latin than Standard (6,6,6,6,6,4,3,3,3,3.) 6th in this strong final were Kamil Falkowski & Alexis Turko (4,4,4,4,4,5,5,6,6,5).
In the afternoon Hans & Ans Stork won a strong Senior III Standard placing 1,1,1,1,2. Vincent & Irina Feingold picked up that 1st in quickstep and were 2nd in the other 4 dances. 3rd in all were Glen Okasaki & Ann Ho. Other national title winners were Carmine Rucco & Maria Bolyard in Senior II Rhythm and Damian Pataluna & Irina Morozova in Adult 9-dance. The National Championships here in Baltimore are used to select the US Representatives in WDSF World Championships. Watch out for full reports on the Junior & Youth divisions in our Happy Feet section.
On the Road!
Since its inception, The Music City Classic, organized by Lawrence & Daniel Elkin, (and Milly Elkin), has been held in Nashville. But this year, hotel pressures forced a move to Louisville, KY. The venue was the beautiful and elegant hotel, the Sellbach Hilton – a landmark hotel in Kentucky.
It has been some years since I visited Louisville. In fact as I discussed with Chairman of Judges, Gary Pierce, on the first night, it has actually been close to 30 years since we were last there, attending what was then the largest event in the USA, the MUST (Mid United States Tournament). Louisville has changed a bit, and 4th Street, where the hotel is located, is now a party street, filled with clubs and restaurants.
"Every dance is a kind of fever chart, a graph of the heart." The competition attracts mostly local (i.e. Nashville) studios and has always been an event with one of the most enthusiastic audiences in the country. This was certainly still true this weekend and Travis & Jaimee Tuft delighted the vocal crowd with their theatrically styled Smooth show. They received numerous standing ovations. There were professional divisions in newcomer and pre-champ levels as well as Open Rhythm and Open Smooth, plus a 9-couple cabaret – anything goes – division that was quite strong. The winners of the Cabaret were Clyde Harris & Summer Elkin in a closely fought contest with runners-up, Jaime Black & Robin Ray. Darian & Tiffany Chancellor won the Open Smooth and Tim Polascheck & Katherine Hutchinson won the Open Rhythm. Another great feature of the Music City is the Studio Formation competition. This year 4 studios competed and the inventiveness and talent on display was very impressive and varied.
"Part of the joy of dancing is conversation. Trouble is, some men can't talk and dance at the same time."
Keep watching Dance Beat for a more in depth review. Coming soon to the members’ section.
Stellar night for Tri-State!
We had a stellar night at the Tri-State Dancesport Championships, with great professional, amateur and pro/am events.
The Professional Ballroom was excellent with two terrific couples on top - Mikhail Avdeev & Olga Blimova and Anton Lebedev & Anna Borshch from Canada. In the end Mikhail & Olga took first in all dances but not from all judges. Anton & Anna managed to steal a few for themselves and become strong runners-up. We particularly enjoyed Anton & Anna’s foxtrot, it had lots of feeling and emotion, something that their opponents did not. However, we can see how the majority had to give better marks to Mikhail & Olga in nearly all dances, they gave a very correct performance. From the top down for us was a toss up depending on the dance. Igor Mikushov & Ekaterina Romashkina took all thirds but in our opinion either one of the next two couples could have taken their marks. Emanuel & Francesca Pappacena who placed fourth (4,4,4,5,4) or Samuel Pacchini & Anna Oblakova who took fifth (5,5,5,4,5). We will explain out thoughts a little more in the coming article but for now we’d like to mention the rest of this excellent group of dancers. Oscar Padrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova placed sixth (7,6,7,6,6), and Anatoli & Irina Gorolevici who were seventh (6,7,6,7,7).
"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learinig to dance in the rain."
The Professional Rhythm was also a terrific and a fun competition to watch but here too we were torn. Azamat Evgamukov & Kateryna Angelone took first but not always with a majority of firsts from the judges, only in the rumba and mambo they managed to get the majority of firsts and that was by 7 first out of 13 judges. In the rest of the dances they were first by getting the best scores (1,1,T1,1,1). Second position was awarded to Vard Margaryan & Sofya Fil (2,2,T1,2,2). They too were terrific and did manage to get a few firsts from Azamat & Kateryna. Surprisingly enough for us Shane & Shannon Jensen took third in all dances. I said surprisingly because their Rhythm, although meticulously clean, has so little soul in it. For us this placement could have gone to the fourth place recipient, Mathew Hauer & Lauren Schelfhaudt. Mathew & Lauren were our favorite couple in this final, they had an important element in this style and we will explain later but that is “Rhythm.” Ernesto Palma & Leanne Aranza took all fifths and Matthias Kruschel & Christina Schlegel were sixth. After all the Professional Champions had been selected there was a duel between them for an extra prize and this was terrific with all champions in attendance with the exception of Mazen Hamza & Izabella Judsill the Smooth Open Champions who had to withdraw due to injury. In their place we had Kyle & Allie Spinder who placed fourth in the Smooth Open event. This professional challenge of champions was judged 50/50. Fifty % of the vote came from the judges and the other 50% came from the audience and in the end luck had it that Kyle & Allie took that grand prize home. The Amateur Ballroom was also a terrific event. Here the clear winners in all dances, with perfect scores in W,F,Q and almost perfect scores but in the T,VW with only one judge marking them second, were Oscar Wojciechowskiy & Karolina Holody Another terrific couple took second and that was Taras Savitskyy & Tatiana Seliverstova who placed second in all dances. Dannii Vesnovskiy & Emily Thorpe took all thirds. The Youth Ballroom competition this same evening had four couples but they to were interesting to watch. This event went to Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova (1,2,1,1,1), second was awarded to Justin Lin & Sasha Dubinsky (2,1,2,2,2). The Pro/Am Latin had the most participants of all the student/teachers categories this weekend. Here the “C” division was taken by Nora Fox w/ Plament Danilov who placed first overall (2,2,1,1,1), second position was Laura Solomon w/Genya Bartashevich (1,3,4,3,3), and third in this category was awarded to Anna Chiu w/Bas Van Der Zanden (5,1,6,5,2). The “B” Latin went to Missy White w/Genya Bartashevich who took first places in all dances, second overall was Maria Seragou w/Dimitrios Damalas (2,2,2,4,3), and third was awarded to Natsuyo Lipschuts w/Nikolai Shpakov (4,3,3,2,2). In the “A” division Maria Ceva w/Lyubomir Asenov was first in all dances, Margaret Calvert w/Genya Bartashevich was second overall (4,2,4,2,4), and Zoe Antoniou w/Andre Strinadko took third (2,4,5,3,5). As you can see their marks were everywhere in these fine pro/am events. To us it means that with a little more work things could easily change next event around.
"Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts. For it is no mere translation or abstraction of life. It is life itself."
Yesterday was a tough day of competition the hours were double booked with entries. We want to congratulate Cathi Nyemcheck for making sure, as Mr. Gary McDonald the MC said in the mic at the end of the competition, “we could not have done it without this excellent chairman. If it was not for her hard work and understanding of how to run a tight ship we would all still be doing some afternoon entries at this time.” We also want to congratulate her because as Gary spoke it was turning midnight and so today it is Cathi’s 28th birthday again! Happy birthday Cathi!
I want to congratulate Andre & Elena in their first three-day competition event. They have outdone our expectations and we look forward to great things to come out of the Tri-State event. With their knowledge and competitive spirit they are a phenomenal addition to the organizers’ group.
By the way they too know how to throw a party together! The after parties on both nights were terrific! Congratulations to both of you!
New Blood, Same State!
The Tri-State Dancesport Championships in Stamford, Connecticut has a new lead with Andrei Gavriline & Elena Kryuchkova at the reins. With new organizers comes new blood and a number of changes. Firstly and most importantly, the look - new logo, new decoration and almost a new staff.
Click here for videos from last night. (Videos are by SuperShag)
This year you almost thought you were in a different state when you walked into the ballroom of the Marriott in Stamford. The simple but well placed fresh flowers and white material that tastefully decorates this year’s Tri-State ballroom made the ballroom look bigger, elegant and new! There is always uncertainly when you get new owners in an established event, so as we rode to the hotel we could not help but wonder what would happen to this well-known competition. It was a pleasant sight to see how much work and effort has been put to improve and reshape this event, we know that this recognized event it is in good hands and will continue to flourish with time, and we think it will be here for many years to come.
"Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair..." The competition last night was excellent with great support from amateurs as well as professionals alike. The Professional Latin had the most entries and some very high profile couples but for us perhaps was not the most exciting event of the evening. For us the Amateur Latin had the most punch with so many different flavors on the floor it was like a candy store. In this interesting Amateur Latin event the judges were asked to bring back seven couples and seven couples they did. For us and the majority of the judges the winner was an easy pick and this Championship title went to Alexey Karaulov & Vlada Semenova who easily won with the majority of firsts in every dance. Last week this couple placed sixth in the ABC US National Amateur Championships in Provo, Utah, and they were not very pleased with that outcome we’re sure. It was nice to see them rehabilitate themselves, find their groove back and sport fine smiles when receiving their prize. Congratulations to this talented couple! Nikita Malakhov & Nadezda Vlasova were second in every dance, Adam Hathazi & Morgana Lakatos-Hayward from Canada took all thirds, Artur Shvetson & Melanie Weiler all fourths. Fifth was awarded to Vlad Kvartin & Amanda Herrschaft who took all fifths, but here we totally disagreed with the majority of the judges. For us this couple had a freshness in their approach that was lacking in some of the others just mentioned. They might have been a little untidy from time to time but for us they should have been placed a little higher, we will explain here soon in our overall article as to how we saw the other performances compared to Vlad & Amanda. So stay tuned for more. Sixth place wen to Satnishlav Engelgart & Tatiana Vasilyeva (6,6,T6,6,6,) and seventh was awarded to Laurence Moldansky & Nicole Prosser from Australia (7,7,T6,7,7). As we mentioned earlier the professional events, the Smooth and the Latin, had a good number of entries and some very high profile couples. The Latin was won by Andrei Kazlouski & Asta Sigvaldadottir, US finalists from CA and here they almost had a perfect run with all firsts but a few marks from a few judges. One second from Marianne Nicole in the rumba, and in this order (3,2,4,3,5) from Dawna Nocera. So how did the rest of the group do? We will give full count of this event in the coming issue but for now we must say that in places the group looked a bit tired. However, second placed went to Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Shvets who took all seconds, and third was awarded to Genya Bartshevich & Yana Mazhnikova and they too took all thirds.
The Pro Smooth went easily to Mazen Hamza & Izabella with the majority of firsts from the judges but two, Marianne Nicole who award them a third in the VW and Emil Ioukhnikov who gave them three seconds in W,T,F. Second in all dances went to Travis & Jaimee Tuft and third were Kostadin Bidjourov & Erin Marie. For us the Pro Smooth had a bit more excitement than the Latin. We have not seen Mazen & Izabella dance in a while and so they looked a little different with a slightly different approach than before and we will explain this soon here. One thing is for sure we thought they were easy winners last night. As far as the other couples went, the fight was really here between fourth, fifth and sixth, Kyle & Allie Spinder were fourth, Morton Jensen & Tonja Martin placed fifth and sixth went to David Hannigan & Maggie Toth.
There was an excellent Showdance Competition and this went to Shane & Shannon Jensen who took the majority of firsts from the judges. Second was awarded to Travis & Jaimee Tuft and third went to Jungie Zamora & Sheena Daminar.
"To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak." There was also a terrific Youth Latin event and here Adam Hathazi & Morgana Lakatos-Hayward took first in all dances, with perfect scores from all the judges. Steven Varshavsky & Karolina Loukhnikov were second (2,2,2,2,3) and third went to Ariel Milshteyn & Adelina Ishkayeva (3,3,3,3,2). Of all the Pro/Am categories so far the Ballroom has had the most attendance and quality. The “B” was an excellent heat and here Celia Chou w/Erminio Stefano won with all firsts. Grace Wang w/Mikhail Avdeev was second and third was awarded to Linda Dillman w/Arturas Misurenkovas. The “C” also had a good amount of entries and here Hye-Kyong Park w/Linas Koreiva was the winner, second was awarded to Suasan Walter w/Samuele Pacchini and third was Linda Dillman w/Arturas Misurenkovas. There were only three couples in the “A” and it went to Sarah Glatte w/Ashan Samarasinghe.
"Life is short and there will always be dirty dishes, so let´s dance." The Pro/Am Rhythm had the least amount of entries with only four or less couples in each event. The “C” went to Renne Kuwahara & Ilya Reyzin, the “B” was awarded to Heidy Kellison & Sean Tamashiro and the “A” went to Kelly Wain & Gunnar Sverrisson.
Great Finale for Heritage!
The last night of the Heritage Classic was brilliant closing with a phenomenal show by former world and current Open British Latin Champions Michael Malitowski & Joanna Leunis, who delighted the crowd to a standing ovation at the end of their performance.
Michael was very forthcoming and humble when introducing the last number “I’m still standing” (Jive) where he spoke about the ups and downs of competition and the fun and beauty of it from his own experience “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose” an animated well spoken Michael said to the crowd. This was well received by all competitors from professionals down to the pro/ams who all relate to the ups and downs of competition dancing. “But all is good and part of the experience and with that I dedicate this number to you and to my incredible partner Joanna.” It was magnificent to see Michael be so well spoken with huge professionalism and emotion making us all understand that there is more to learn from dancing and that as hard and as tough as the business can get it is still a wonderful endeavor.
The evening competitions began with Pro/Am Ballroom Scholarships, the best for us this time was the “B” division, this started with a semifinal round and at the end Carole Simmons w/Serghei Pogonet from Canada took the overall prize but not every dance. She placed first in three dances and second on the waltz, tango, and quickstep. The recipient of the VW and Foxtrot and second place overall was Brynda Insley w/Martin Reinbold (2,2,1,1,2), Lisa Berry W/ Rauno Ilo took all thirds, Yanina Kisler w/ Peter Walker placed fourth (4,5,5,4,4), Bo Chang W/ Giampiero Giannico was fifth (5,4,4,5,5) and the sixth place went to Siki Kramer w/Gunnar Sverrisson and they placed sixth in every dance.
"When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor, it's to enjoy each step along the way"
The “C” division was awarded to Lynn Murrell w/Alexander Voskalchuk (1,2,1,1,1), Lisa Lowery who with teacher Radek Wiatrowski had been cleaning up first places in all styles had to console themselves with a second placed finish (2,1,2,2,2). Sally Wiese w/Dimitrijus Sanizas took all thirds, Elena Lee w/Emanuele Pappacena took all fourths, Doug Bailey w/Irina Gorshkova was fifth (5,6,6,5,5) and sixth went to Patricia Redies & Richard Tonizzo (6,5,5,6,6). There were only two competitors entered in the “A” division and Levina Kasmara w/Slava Stefanov took all firsts and Beatriz Colon w/Roman Malkhasyan was second. Out of the two professional events run this last evening the Latin had the most punch and had the best reception form the audience. Ivan Mulyavka & Loreta Kriksciukaityte took all firsts in all dances. Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Shvets all seconds and all thirds went to Sergiy Samchynskyy & Yuliya Besarab. Felipe Gonzales & Kathleen Ilo were fourth (5,4,4,5,4), Hayk Balasanyan & Emilia Poghosyan placed fifth (5,4,4,5,4), and Jake Davies & Alyona Kalinina took all sixths.
The Professional Smooth, for us, had the same amount of entries but less of a punch. Here Kostadin Bidjourov & Erin Marie were first in all dances, Vladimir & Vera Kosarev took all seconds. From here down it all was a bit different Mark Short & Alyssa Kark placed third (3,5,3,3), Dennis Woods & Amber Reich were fourth (4,4,4,5), fifth place went to Andrei & Elena Rudenco, and last but not least in sixth place were Dustin Hall & Angela Oh Park and here they took sixth in all dances. "Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor."
The evening went quite fast for us and that we think it is a good sign. We want to once again congratulate Colin & Joy Hilary for another excellent job in this 2014 Heritage Classic, as I said before this land in the sky is perhaps not the easiest place to get to but the competition is sure worth the drive or the fly to get there. It always delivers a sense of relaxation with the thrill of competition like Mr. Malitowski said during the show, we hope to be able to come and enjoy many more in future years.
Like a Box of Chocolates! Competition ballroom dancing is just “like a box of chocolates” you never know what you are going to get. And this was perfectly proven last night in the results of the Professional Rhythm, Ballroom and Theater Arts/Cabaret.
As we posted on our bulletin board last night the biggest surprise came in the Rhythm wherein what must have been a very interesting and appealing performance for the judges, Erwin & Iwona Rybczynski overtook everyone and won overall by placing second in cha and swing and winning the remaining 3 dances. Second on this heat went to Max Lototskyy & Sarah Haworth a relatively new partnership that has been winning most Rising Star and Open that I have attended lately, but last night the judges were not sure what to do with them, take a look at their scores (1,2,3,2,5). Third went to perhaps the very favorite to win Vard Margaryan & Sofya Fill (3,4,1,3,4) who I’ve seen in a number of times overtake well-placed and top of the line finalist. But here studying the scoring sheets after the competition was as interesting as the competition itself, in short words the judges marks were all over the place. Fourth in this interesting 7 couple Rhythm final wen to Matthew Hauer & Lauren Schelfhaudt (4,3,4,4,2), fifth was awarded to Romney Reyes & Brook O’Donnel (5,5,5,5,3), Sandor Stefil & Aleksandra Barsukov placed sixth (6,6,6,6,6), and Michael Focannon & Meghan McNash took all sevenths. For the couple that came to our music stand to tell me that perhaps the authentic mambo we played was basically out of time (Cali Pachangero), when dealing with authentic music I advise couples not to rush when you hear the first beat, this is not a timed race where you win if you get there first. I really did not notice them off time but maybe the judges did because you got very low scores on that dance. Moral of the story, pay close attention and listen before you start, if you are having issues finding the beat, let your lady partner lead, I always did. In a separate note Peter and Alexandra Perzhu were scheduled to dance but withdrew in last minute. :( sad for us!
Artem Plakhotnyi & Inna Berlizyeva won the Professional Ballroom over Alexander Voskalchuk & Veronika Egorova in the Professional Ballroom. Artem & Ina’s scores were (1,1,2,2,1), Alexander & Veronika’s scores were (2,2,1,1,2). The most interesting and almost shocking for us while reading the marks was that a few of the judges awarded Alexander & Veronika 6th and even 5th place marks, I wonder if we were all looking at the same event, or were they not wearing their glasses?? :) Third in this excellent final was Egor Abashkin & Katia Kanevskaya and they placed third in every dance. Gianni Caliandro & Arianna Esposito placed fourth (4,4,4,4,5), fifth was awarded to Richard Tonizzo & Clair Hansen (5,6,5,5,6), and last in sixth place was Emanuele & Francesca Pappacena (6,5,6,6,4). It was also refreshing to have an excellent west cost swing couple be rewarded for their unique elements and the perfect execution of their routine in the Pro Theater Arts/Cabaret Championship. The standard in our ballroom field is to award what we are comfortable with and that is Ballroom or Cabaret, over dances like west coast or merengue that are out of the ordinary. Here the judges broke from the usual and gave James Brann & Sayra Vazques their first place marks, second went to Ivan Mulyavka & Loreta Kriksciukaityte and third was awarded to Jake Davis & Alyona Kalinina from England. The pro/am Latin Scholarships were fun but very small with most of them having only 5 couples or less, even the “C” division that up to now has been packed in the other styles, here only had 4 couples. The winner of this was none other than Lisa Lowery w/ Radek Wiatrowski. They won all dances but the Jive, here they placed second. Marguerite Pinard w/Nerijus Jasaitis took that jive and placed second on all the other four dances. Nora Fox w/Plamen Danailov was third and fourth went to Lisa McKee w/Clement Joly. 4 couples also took to the floor for the “B” division of the Pro/am Latin. Here Valeria Chayko w/Stanislav Kochergin won all dances. Letizia DiCarlo w/Mario Droby placed second (2,2,4,2,2), Melanie Gold w/Dandor Stefill were third (3,3T,3,3,3), and in fourth position was Kathy McDonough w/Felipe Gonzales (4,3T,2,4,4,).
The Smallest of the Pro/Am Latin scholarships was the “A” here only 3 couples competed but it was certainly worth a mention, all ladies competing were terrific. Dasha Hamrick w/Clement Joly won all dances and we must point out that Dasha also won the 10-dance Scholarship and the Youth event run earlier in the evening. Sabrina Strasser w/Stanislav Kochergin from Canada took all seconds and third position wen to Beatriz Colon w/Roman Malkhasyan.
Besides the unpredictable marks the dancing was all worth the ticket. The Professional Ballroom was fabulous with plenty of moments to make your breath pause, the Rhythm was a little even between the couples but they were all excellent and of good caliber not one finalist was out of place. Congratulations to the organizers on a wonderful night of excellent dancing.
A Smooth Day and Fun Night at Heritage! It was a fun and Smooth day yesterday here at the Heritage Classic. The Smooth scholarships were excellent. So far, for us, the “C” divisions have out done themselves and yesterday was no different. As in the night before Lisa Lowery w/ Radek Wiatrowski won the “C” division, with challenge form Lynn Murrell w/Peter Perzhu who placed second. Hope Huber w/Troy Baeten were third (3,3,4,4), Gracelyn Tuoti w/Andrei Abrashin took fourth (6,6,3,3), Susan Haynes w/Slava Stefanov were fifth (5,4,5,5) and Carolyn Woodruff w/Alosha Anatoliy placed sixth (4,5,6,6). In the Smooth “B” division Lisa Berry w/Rauno Ilo took the prize home, second was Christina Donelson w/Peter Perzhu and third was Darla Davies w/Jim Maranto. Diana Best w/Alosha Anatoliy placed fourth, Elain Whitford W/Yuriy Simakov were fifth and Dana Sampaleanu w/Aleks Nashev took sixth.
The “A” division was the smallest in entry but not in talent and here Maria Papakonstantinou w/ John King took first, Anna Ord w/Prageeth Hettiarachchi took second (2,2,2,4), Ekaterina Galperina w/Rex jones was third (3,3,3,2), and Rachel Peppard w/Darian Chancellor placed fourth (4,4,4,3).
In the 9 Dance Maria Papakonstantinou w/John King won all dances and took the trophy home, Darla Davies w/Jim Maranta placed second in all dances but the VW where she took third and third place was awarded to Shari Oxman w/Roman Malkhasyan.
Three professional divisions were decided this night as well and the RS Professional Latin went to Jake Davis & Alyona Kalinina from England who placed first in all dances but the samba, here they took second. The first place in the samba went to Felipe Gonzalez & Kathleen Ilo who were second in all the other four dances, third wen to Kirill Nikitin & Jenya Kanchukova. There was a seven couple final in the RS Professional Ballroom and Smooth. The Ballroom Rising Star belonged to Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova who placed first in all five dances. Second in all dances wen to Mechyslav Pavlyuk & Gemma Arnold, and third was awarded to Oleksiy Buravenko & Victoria Karzukhina (4,3,3,3,3). The Professional Smooth was awarded to Adrian & Hannah Dydynski and they too won all dances, second went to Andrei & Elena Rudenco and third in all dances was awarded to Dennis Woods & Amber Reich. I must congratulate the organizers, Colin & Joy Hilary for their organization skills, everything is like clockwork. And on a personal note, I cannot, have enough of this wonderful resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, the days have been so beautiful I can almost spend all day staring at the picturesque view just outside my window and the grand balcony just outside the main lobby. For those of you that are missing it this year for whatever reason, the hotel has been given a facelift. There is the old main bar in the lobby and a new one by the restaurant. The registration desk has been removed and it is a welcome site, the lobby is grand and more spacious with its two gigantic fireplaces alight at once. Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m not one to be attached to the old, but this grand hotel is a very special place and I am glad that it has become a tradition within our ballroom community. I know for many of us is a bit of a hustle getting here but it sure is worth your while, a perfect human nest within “the land of the sky,” Asheville.
Great “C” at the Heritage Classic! Last night’s feature events were the Pro/Am Smooth Scholarships and the Professional Rhythm. Of all of them, our favorite was the Pro/Am “C” category where three excellent ladies fought hard for the honor of being number one. "There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them"
The first place honor went to Lisa Lowery with professional, Radek Wiatrowski who kept her composure and did what she had to do with out ever being of the age, they won all dances. Quin Bommelje w/Mikhail Vlasov placed second but as you can see by the marks it was not an easy second to have - 4,3,2,2,2. Third in this mix was another terrific player and this was Lynn Murrell w/Peter Perzhu (2,2,3,3,4), fourth went to Gracelyn Tuoti w/Andrei Abrashin (5,5,4,4,3), fifth was awarded to Darla Davies w/Jim Maranto (3,4,5,5,5) and last but not least in sixth place was Michelle Kirby w/John Moldthan. "Eat, sleep, breath...Dance" The competitions were excellent but with this lovely weather there was plenty to do outside. I went for a walk and I saw plenty of people exploring the resort. The welcome cocktail party overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains was beautiful and fun. But lets not forget why we are here, there were other competitions that were as challenging as the Smooth Pro/Am C Division and are worth a mention. The “B” Pro/Am Smooth was also excellent but with less couples entered, only four couples took to the floor for this final and Caci Torres w/Eddie Rivera won this challenge (2,1,1,2,1), Second in this B category was Mieko Okumura w/Zeki Mavilyildiz (1,2,2,1,2), third went to Diana Best w/Alosha Anatolly, and fourth was awarded to Annick Desjardins w/Yuriy Simakov. "Dance first. Think Later. It's the natural order"
The “A” division was also interesting and here we had an 8-couple semifinal and once in the final the winner of this by far was Maria Papakonstantinou w/John King. Second in this A division was Jessica Sweeney w/Jeremy Pilling , third went to Lauren Watkins w/Michael Neal. Fourth in this same A event was awarded to Jacey Warren w/Joe joe Hasson (5,4,4,4,6) and fifth was awarded to Anna Ord w/ Prageeth Helttiarachchi (4,5,5,5T,5), leaving sixth to Ekaterina Galperina w/Rex Jones (6,6,6,5T,4).
The Professional Rising Star Rhythm was also another feature event of this night but unlike some of the Pro/am events it did not have a punch. The couples were all of an excellent level and perhaps that was the problem each one of them could have some kind of claim to top place. The new partnership of Max Lototskyy & Sarah Haworth won all dances, Erwin & Iwona Rybczynki took second. Romney Reyes & Brook O’Donnell placed third (3,4,3,3,3), Kurt Roberts & Anneliece Velasco placed fourth (4,3,4,4,4), Sandor Stefil & Aleksandra Barsukov were fifth and Timothy Polaschev & Katherine Hutchinson took all sixth. "Dance is music made visible"
The Duke Comes to NYDF
Well! His orchestra anyway!
Last night between 6 and 8 PM the Duke Ellingnton Orchestra played for a splendid TAP (The Alzheimers Project) benefit dinner and silent auction in a second beautiful ballroom of the Roosevelt Hotel. It was a fabulous affair with a banquet dinner and entertainment. The judges were one of the attractions as they were all given drums to show how drumming is used to treat Alzheimer’s patients. Eddie Torres and his son also performed an “old-style” salsa to the live music (which they reprised later the same night at the competition). "The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance" But back to the competition – last night it was the turn of the Smooth and Latin professionals. We thought the Smooth offered the most entertainment with a full semifinal to start. Travis & Jaimee Tuft won all dances but it was a tough fight with runners-up, Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija. The Tufts took the waltz by 8 first places to 7, the tango by 8 to 6, the foxtrot was a 7 to 7 tie and the Viennese again by 8 to 7. An excellent duel indeed! Sergey Barsukov & Maria Sidnjova took all the 3rds, Michael Koptke & Chelsea Farrah were 4th (5,5,4,4); Morten Jensen and Tonja Martin took 5th (4,4,5,5) and Serge & Yana Nelyubov were 6th.
Dmitry Nikishkin & Olena Shvets had an easier time in the Latin, which was a 7-couple final, taking all dances with a large majority of 1st places. 2nd in all went to Hayk Balasanyan & Emila Poghosyan and 3rd in all to Riccardo Papi & Sabina Moretti. Dmytry & Nina Vovalnko were 4th in all dances. These 4 were well clear we thought. 5th went to Srdjan Mikuljian & Carolina Avila 5,5,5,5,6; 6th to Jungie Xamora & Sheena Daminar 7,6,7,6,5; 7th to Anton Grigoryev & Yuliya Guseva 6,7,6,7,7. We felt the Amateur Latin was a close race between the 1st 2 couples, but the winners did take all dances. They were Vladislav Kvartin & Amanda Herrschaft. Taking all the 2nds were Jason Dai & Anna Tabolina, a new partnership we believe. 3rd place went to Adria Barinaga & Edyta Kwasna (4,3,3,3,3); 4th to Malachi Osai & Annabella Waszkiewicz (3,4,4,4,4); 5th Ivan Angelovskiy & Teresa Garcia (5,5,5,5,7); 6th Filipp Akopyan & Uliana Shunevich (6,7,6,6,5); 7th Guy Platt & Freda Chen (7,6,7,7,6).
"Work like you don't need the money. Love like yu've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching"
In the Amateur Smooth an anonymous sponsor offered to pay the way of the top 2 couples to the NDCA Amateur Championships in Provo. Mayo Alanen & Michelle Officer, who also sponsored the Pro Smooth, increased that to include the 3rd couple. The lucky three were winners Paul Ferris & Kelly Glasheen, 2nd placed Jason Seabury & Nonie Shiverick and 3rd placed Zachary Lapidus & Emi Terasawa.
The pro-ams danced Smooth all day and the Open Scholarship was won by Melissa DiPietro w/ Randy Dias (1,2,1,1). Janice Stanton w/ Clive Phillips was 2nd (2,1,3,3) and Renee Kuwahara w/ Ilya Reyzin took 3rd (3,3,2,4).
Hollywood screen star Marge Champion was in the audience and Edward Simon presented her with a special achievement award after Gary Pierce had introduced her and we all saw two of her famous dance routines with husband Gower. Edward also awarded an “Unsung Hero” award to scrutineer extraordinaire, Marie Fantini.
Barking Up the Right Tree!
Last night at the New York Dance Festival there were two foundations that benefited from some exposure.
One of them was Ballroom Barks a foundation set up to rescue abused and abandoned dogs. It was a dance competition but all done with humor and theme most of the participants wore dog costumes and even the judges got into the act by barking up a storm. Yvonne Marceau, cabaret great from yesteryear was also in the house to introduce some children from the Dancing Classrooms project that has introduced ballroom dancing to state schools nationwide."Life is the dancer and you are the dance."
But the main features were the Professional Ballroom, Professional Rhythm and Cabaret gaving the New York, dance-savvy audience something to enjoy. All three events were excellent, filled with great talent and major expectations. The Professional Ballroom had a brilliant final with many of the couples fighting for first place. Unfortunately only one couple could take the top spot and that was Egor Abashkin & Katia Kanevskaya who overall won all dances. Igor Mikushov & Ekaterina Romashikina placed second in all dances and Emanuele & Francesca Pappacena took the thirds. From here on it was very evenly contested. Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova were fourth but as you will read did not take all the fourths (5,4,5,4,4) and Samuel Pacchini with his new partner Anna Oblakova were fifth (4,5,4,5,5). This new young lady was the talk of many in the audience who were thrilled with her responsive and pliable performance. Nazar Batih & Mariko Cantley were sixth (7,7,6,6,6) and Ruslan & Katusha Wilder placed seventh (6,6,7,7,7).
The Rhythm category was heated up the duel for supremacy in this field between US heirs-apparent, Emmanuel Pierre Antoine & Liana Churilova and Nazar Norov & Irina Kudryashova. On paper Emmanuel & Liana won the event with huge majorities of firsts in many of their dances. However, when you spoke to the educated audience present, many would have been equally happy to see Nazar & Irina in that top spot. The fantastic thrill for us is that this category has now more excitement that we have seen in the past 6 years and it is great for the fans and even for us who are used to the game. Moving up the tree to 3rd were Vard Margaryan & Sofya Fil, 3,3,5,3,3. This put them ahead of Azamat Evgamukov & Kateryna Angelone 4,4,3,4,4. Strangely Azamat & Kateryna had more "3rd or better" scores than Vard & Sofya but often 1 short of the majority of 9 needed for 3rd place. Shane & Shannon Jensen were 5th 5,5,4,5,5 and Matt Hauer & Lauren Schelfhaudt were 6th.
The Cabaret ended with a prolonged standing ovation for the winners, Shane & Shannon Jensen who received 14 of the 15 first places from the judges. We have seen them perform this routine a little better as Shane almost tripped at one point, but it still a very impressive number. 2nd were Travis & Jaimee Tuft who also get stronger and stronger in this style. 3rd spot, performing a Latin showdance, were Hayk Balasanyan & Emila Poghosyan; 4th Vincent Antonelli & Stephanie Falciano and 5th Igor Gayenko & Sarika Hudson. The Amateur Ballroom was a straight 5-couple final and the easy winners wereYuriy Nartov & Yuliya Blagova. They took most of the judges’ first places and won all dances. The remaining couples shared the judges’ score without much consensus. Taking 2nd were Samuel Hacke & Katarina Hermanova 2,3,2,2,2. Samuel & Katarina also won the Youth Ballroom earlier in the evening. 3rd were Justin Lin & Sasha Dubinsky 3,2,3,3,3; 4th, Alec Zhiwei-Zhang & Klaudia Khuzinski and 5th Cezary Dryda & Jennifer Chin. For the pro-ams is was a full day of Rhythm heats. The well-contested open scholarship began with a 16-couple semifinal. The winners, in all dances, were Elena Cormio w/ Edwin Torres. Taking 2nd was Phillip Widlanski w/ Jolanta Mosteika (2,2,2,2,3) and 3rd was Renee Kuwahara w/ Ilya Reyzin (3,3,4,3,2).
Having A Ball in NY – F Eddie Simon’s New York Festival is ongoing in the heart of Manhattan, NY, at the historic Roosevelt Hotel, near Grand Central Terminal (not Station). Even the weather warmed up! The first day of competition was about international style in the pro-am divisions. Both styles took place yesterday. Both Open Scholarships gave us some good competition. In the evening it was Rising Star night with all 4 divisions showing last night. This resulted in 3 straight finals with a semifinal in the Smooth. Kyle & Allie Spinder (CA) were the sinners of this Smooth division. They won all dances, but waltz and Viennese Waltz were close with the runners-up, Sergey Barsukov & Maria Sidnjova (FL) who were 2nd in all dances. 3rd in all were Serge & Yana Nelyubov (NY).
In the Rhythm we saw a reversal of form from 2 weeks ago in Maryland. This time Shane & Shannon Jensen (CT) were the winners over Andrey Svirydzenka & Yuliya Zubova (NY). Shane & Shannon won all dances. 3rd tonight were Romney Reyed & Brooke O’Donnell (FL) 3,3,4,3,4.
Riccardo Pappi & Sabrina Moretti were the winners in the RS Latin, taking all dances with the majority of 1st places in all dances. Dmytry & Nina Kovalenko were 2nd in all. After that it was much more mixed, but taking 3rd were Srdjan Mikuljan & Carolina Avila 5,4,3,4,3.
The smallest of the divisions was the Ballroom with only 4 entrants. Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova (NY) won all dances. 2nd were Igor Gayenko & Sarika Hudson (NY) 3,2,2,2,3 and 3rd were Anton Domansky & Anna Chaldysheva (NY) 2,3,3,3,2. We thought the best pro-am divisions of the day was the Open Latin Schoarship. The judges were VERY divided on their scores but the winner was Maria Ceva w/ Lyubomir Arsenov 1,1,1,1,2. 2nd went to Meg Nakamura w/ Nikolai Shpakov 2,2,2,2,1 and 3rd was Khuong Pham w/ Jessie Mineau 3,4,3,3,3.
In the Ballroom Open Scholarship Celia Chou w/ Erminio Stefano was the winner. She placed 2,2,1,2,2. Celia had the majority of 1st place marks in the 4 dances she won, including a perfect 7 1st places in quickstep. 2nd, but winning the VW was Brinda Insley w/ Martin Reinbold 3,2,1,2,2 and 3rd was Carrie Steinmetz w/ Ruslan Wilder 2,3,3,4,4.