Great Finish At American!
Watch video from SuperShag!
American Star Ball had a terrific finish with a full show that included children, comedy and some wonderful dancing. New choreographer sensation and DJ extraordinaire, Brent Mills, choreographed the ? hour show called the “Rat Pack.”
The show included a few group numbers, including a woman’s number that brought the house down, featuring a group of excellent women dancers lead by Larinda McRaven and if you can believe it, Tibor Kerekes! There was lost of laughter heard down to the lobby, but there was not one drt eye when Beata took to the floor to mambo with the “Three-Legged Men” played by Brent Mills and Mark Brock.
Laughter was not the only feature in this excellent show of shows, a singer was the link between each act and he was fantastic. We have not herd lately a singer be this good with such a difficult repertoires from the original “Rat Pack.” There were a number of dances performed while he sang, some by well-accomplished children and some by some of our ballroom’s best, Shane & Shannon Jensen doing a breathtaking Cabaret performance, Mazen Hamza and Izabella and Travis & Jamie Tuft to name a few of the “who’s who” in these special shows.
On a special note I want to tip my hat to Brent Mills who has proven himself to be not only an excellent DJ who did a terrific job this weekend of dance, but a diamond in the rough when it comes to choreographing and putting a show together. The show was well linked and thought out from beginning to end in other words, not as we often say, “just a list!”
The show was not the only feature this final night of competition, the dinner party held before the evening session began that included a band, was also an event talked about during and after the competition. The flower arrangements rivaled an exclusive wedding. This sit down meal was out of the ordinary, and once again the singer was fantastic.
Speaking of out of this world the professional events this night were also great with some interesting surprises. In the Rhythm, Andrei Svirydzenka & Yuliya Zubava from NY, who earlier in the year we saw win a number of events seemed to be going up and down. In last night’s performance they took third overall (3,4,3,3,4). Misha Vlasov & Vanda Polakova gave an energized and clean performance, rewarding them with first in all dances with a majority of firsts from the judges. Showdance sensations, Shane & Shannon Jensen, took second overall (2,2,2,2,3). As you can see the top three alone made it all worth it. The disappointment for us is these heat was the performance of Matt Hauer & Lauren Schelfhaudt who placed fourth overall (4,3,4,4,2). We were really excited about their progress the last time we saw their performance. However, in this event we can only call it a “walkover” performance and we will explain in the coming issue here if you care. Fifth in all dances were Sasha & Tara Barakov and sixth went to Egor Shalvarov & Alla Profitilova.
The Ballroom competition was also interesting. Here too we have mixed feelings, we felt that Andrei Begunov & Anna Demidova had stepped it up an inch separating themselves from the rest and it paid off, they placed first in all dances. We still think their Tango & Quickstep need a bit of a push but we were happy to see work is being done and they are once again on the move! Second in this heat were Emanuele & Francesca Pappacena (2,2,3,3,2). Here we were a little disappointed with this couple’s performance, they are usually full of energy but last night was the opposite we felt as if they were just going through the motions getting it done, for us they were far away from the mark, hope they get moving again. Third position wen to Ruslan & Katusha Wilder (3,3,2,2,3), here we had a well-studied performance but perhaps too studied and not enough soul. We will give our take on these talented couples here soon in the full overall article. Fourth went to Anton Domansky & Anna Chaldysheva (4,4,5,4,4,), fifth was awarded to Oleksiy Buravenko & Victoria Karzukhina (5,5,4,5,5) and all sixth places in all dances wen to Michael & Diana Malek. The Amateur Latin was also a terrific event and this wen to Nikita Malakhov & Nedezda Vlasova who won all five dances, second wen to Austin Joson & Sasha Kondrashova (3,2,2,2,3) and third was awarded to Taras Savitskyy & Tatiana Seliverstova (4,4,3,3,2). The Pro/Am “B” and “C” Smooth were also excellent events here at the American Star Ball. The “C” division was taken by Alla Neyshtadt w/Erik Pali (1,2,1,1), second went to Helena Kostik w/Mazen Hamza (2,1,2,2), and third was Charlene Proctor w/Mikolay Czarnecki (4,3,4,3). In the “B” division there were 8 couples in the final and top place went to Sue Gershowitz w/Mazen Hamza (2,2,1,1) in a rule 11 decision, second was awarded to Susan Cassano w/Randy Dias (1,1,2,2) and third in all dances was awarded to Angela Morrison & Peter Santiago. We want to congratulate Ilya and Amanda Reyzin for putting together such a terrific weekend of dance, we normally would have been a bit miserable being shipped to another hotel and not being able to be closer to the action 24/7, however, we are thrilled by the fact they were sold out twice. This is great payback for the hard labor these two put out to make sure everyone is happy and to make sure their event goes as seamlessly as possible. Congratulations once a gain to a great addition to the world of organizers, Ilya & Amanda Reyzin! Doubling Up! The American Star Ball in Atlantic City that, taken over by Ilya & Amanda Reyzin last year, has doubled up this year in entries and in attendance, to the point where most of the officials had to be shipped over to the Harrahs Hotel across the street (sold out!). This we are sure is fantastic news for this gracious couple! The two feature events last night on their menu was the Open Professional Smooth and the Open Professional Latin, both well attended with strong semifinal rounds. Out of the two the one with the most prestigious couples in attendance was the Smooth with three US finalists in it. The fight for first place was between Mazen Hamza & Izabella and Peter & Alexandra Perzhu, it was in our opinion very close between them but at the end on paper Peter & Alexandra took the victory walk and became the American Star Ball Smooth winners by tying in the waltz for first place with Mazen & Izabella being placed second in the tango and winning the other two dances. So losing two out of four dances Mazen & Izabella placed second overall. In this year of change in the Smooth this is an important clue as to how it might come out later in the year at our US National Championships. Third in this mix on every dance went to Travis & Jaimeee Tuft. The new partnership of Mikloay Czarnecki & Victoria Malko took fourth in all dances. The partnership looks very interesting to say the least and very promising, we were surprised to see that only a few judges awarded them higher marks but we are sure it will only be a matter of time before they can challenge for higher ground. Serge & Yanina Nelyubov were fifth and Leo Mora & Christina Garced took all sixths.
The Latin was a very difficult heat for the judges even though we had a favorite it was not clear. First to sixth place made you look from dance to dance. It is times like this where the skill as a judge is really needed. In the end by winning three out of the five dances Hayk Balasanyan & Emilia Poghosyan won the Professional Latin Open division (1,2,1,2,1), Jean Paul & Lana Rossi took second overall (2,1,2,1,2). We are sure this was a disappointing result for this couple but in all honesty they too were in these difficult mix of placements. Third was awarded to Dmyto & Nina Kovaletko (3,3,4,3,3). Fourth went to Vencenzo Minieri & Rosaria Vovone (4,4,3,4,4), fifth in all dances was Serge & Yanina Nelyubo, and sixth was awarded to Werner Figar & Shimkiri. The Open Professional Showdance went easily to Shane & Shannon Jensen and second was Travis & Jaimee Tuft. The Amateur Ballroom was also quite exciting with a healthy semifinal round as well and some excellent dancing. First was awarded to Oskar Wojciechowski & Karolina Holody and they placed first in every dance and from our opinion there was no challenge against them. Second overall was Taras Savitskyy & Tatiana Seleverstova (3,2,2,2,2) from our point of view it was much closer between them and the third place Marek Klepadlo & Liana Bakhtiarova (2,3,3,3,3). Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova took fourth (5,4,4,4,4), fifth was Daniel Vesnovskiy & Emily Thorp (4,5,5,5,5) and in sixth place was Sam Brandt & Sabrina Yakubovich who took sixth in all dances. In the pro/am divisions the “B” and “C” Ballroom had the most entries and they were excellent events the “B” was won by Carol Simmons w/Serhgei Pogonet (1,3,2,1,1), second was Kako Matsumoto w/Erik Pali (3,1,1,2T,2) and third went to Elena Lee w/Emanuele Pappacena (2,2,3,2T,2). The “C” Ballroom division was taken by Elena Lee w/Emanuel Pappacena and they won every dance, second was awarded to Sue Gershowitz w/Nikolai Pilipenchuk (2,2,2,2,2) and third was Judy Marx w/Ihor Kravets (5,3,3,3,3). Tonight we will see the professional Open Rhythm and Ballroom and we are expectating a fabulous show by the Rat Pack - Ilya Rezin, Mark Brock, Brent Miles and Gary McDonald. We called it the (Meat Rack) lol We are looking forward to this interesting happening.
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.
Runners 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.
Andre & 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." The 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 the 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 – Dasha 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 Romney 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 (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.
The 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.
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).
Giovanni & Jolanta won the Best of the Best Challenge. The evening ended with a celebration for Marianne Nicole who turns the grand 60 next week.
DOWNtown 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).
The 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.
25 Shades Of Green!
Last night was the culmination of the 25-year anniversary of the Emerald Ball under the direction of Wayne & Donna Eng and it all ended with a lavish celebration made for a king! The grand show “25 Shades of Green” was produced by Tomas and Izabella Lewandosky and sponsored by long-time friend and ballroom philanthropist, Mrs. Josie lee. The 25 Shades of Green presented a showcase of singing and dancing with many world and US finalists in attendance. It started with a film that took us on a journey through the world of dancing, shown on the giant high-definition screen, center stage at this year’s Emerald Ball. This screen also served as the main backdrop throughout the show complimenting every performance. The biggest cheer and standing ovation came to a young lady who was fantastic and who brought the house down with an astronomical solo performance, we have seen the best ballroom dancers but this young lady’s solo gave us reason for pause! The after party was also made for a king. The lobby restaurant was closed and there was food, drinks and music to your heart’s content. All this was only fitting for this excellent 25 (silver) year anniversary for Wayne and Donna Eng and as Wayne put it in a question I asked, “There are my children, there is Donna and there is the Emerald Ball, it is a big part of our lives.” See photos from the after party in our photo gallery.
The professional competitions earlier in the evening were also befitting this 25 years of success. The Professional Ballroom unlike the Rising Stars a few days before redeemed itself and when it came to the final it was a delight. Victor Fung & Anastasiya Muravyeva, second in the World and the US, danced with tremendous finnesse and won almost every dance with perfect scores, the only dance where they got one second was in the tango and that was awarded to them by Valentina Kostenko. The recipient of that one first from Valentina was the runners-up, Artem Plakhotnyi & Inna Berlizyeva who placed second in every dance and third went to another excellent couple who stole a few seconds from Artem & Inna and that was Denis Kutepov & Lesya Sinitsa (3,3,3,3,4). Fourth place wen to Egor Abashkin & Katia Kanevskaya (4,4,4,4,3), fifth place was awarded to Gianni Caliandro & Arianna Esposito they were fifth in every dance. In sixth place were Nazar Baith & Mariko Cantley (6,7,6,7,6) and in seventh place were Igor Colac & Roxane Milott (7,6,7,6,7).
The Professional Rhythm was also huge in entries and talent. Emanuel Pierre Antoine & Lianna Churilova won every dance and took the Emerald Champions title home. They won all dances with a huge majority of firsts from the judges. Nazar Norov & Irina Kudryashova continue to enthrall the audience with their charisma and they took second in every dance. The new Smooth Emerald Champions, Peter & Alexandra Perzhu, placed third in every dance. As you will see from here on the judges were not as definite. Vard Margaryan & Sofya Fill placed fourth overall but not in every dance (5,5,4,4,4). Mikhail Vlasov & Vanda Polakova were fifth but manage to take two fourths (4,4,5,5,5). Ilya & Mandy Velednitsky were sixth (6,7,6,6,7), and seventh went to Roland & Katie Guillen (7,6,7,7,6). There were 12 entries for the Open professional Showdance category but lucky for us (and for the schedule) three pulled out and only 9 took to the floor. I say lucky because even though the couples all looked prepared and there was no major fiasco on the floor while all eyes are on these solo performances, for us there was a lack of story telling and composition. In other words you can’t just make a link of every trick and step you do well, chain it together and throw some music at it. But perhaps we are a little tired and cranky being this was near the end of a long week of dancing and we are just being a little too critical. However, we most say that some of the lift work was out of this world with some amazing tricks that required not only strength, but also timing and coordination. One couple that demonstrated all this and more was Justin Guilmette & Kimalee Piedad and they won the heart of the judges and audience and took the cup home. Clyde Harris & Summer Elkin placed second and third in this 9-couple final was Jamie Black & Robin Ray. Out of the two amateur events the Ballroom was our favorite with at least three terrific couples in the final. Andres & Veronika End won and demonstrated that this style can have life and lots of creativity in it, to the point as I said before that might be considered by some hard liner as “WDSF inspired.” On the classy side with fine movements and very “WDC style” in this final we had Marek Klepadlo & Liana Bakhtiarova who placed second in every dance. And somewhere in the middle a beautiful couple to watch with excellent smooth transitions was Ruslan Kalyuzhnyy & Kseniya Sovenko and they placed third in every dance.
"A star danced, and under that was I born." In the Open Latin Amateur for us there was only one clear winner from the beginning and that was Ferdinando Iannaccone & Yulia Musikhina and they took first in every dance with also a huge majority of firsts from the judges. Although there was no question in our minds that they would ultimately will win every dance we still had to look at the scores and we were surprised to find that at least one judge in every dance abstained from awarding them a first, this is quite normal. However, the fact that one judge awarded them 2 fifths made us almost chuckle over our breakfast this morning. Valentina Kostenko awarded them a fifth in samba and rumba. In this same heat Phillip Kudryavtsev & Ashley Goldman placed second (2,2,3,2,2) and Briant Leyman & Nino Dzneladze took third (3,3,2,3,3). We understand that this was Phillip & Ashley’s last competition together as Ashley is going to concentrate on her academic studies. The Pro/Am Latin scholarships were run in the afternoon and they were excellent, The “A” went to Cheyenne Murillo w/ Sasha Altukhov and they took first in every dance, second was awarded to Michael Roberts w/ Milana Pliner (2,3,2,2,2). This was the best finish from a man in this year’s open scholarships. Third went to Maria Ceva w/Lubomir Asenov (3,2,3,3,3). In the “B” Tina Broccole w/Delyan Terziev won all dances. Hilda Li w/Roland Michtchenko placed second (2,2,2,3,2), and third was awarded to Marialisa de Gasperis w/Kamil Studenny. The “C” division was very contested as usual and here Lisa Lowery w/ Radek Wiatrowski placed first in every dance, meaning two former Pro/Am World Latin Pro/Am “C” Champions, Beverly Moore and Joan Goddard had to settle for second and third with Beverly w/Alain Doucet taking second (3,2,3,2,3) and Joan w/Chris Johnston placing third (5,3,2,3,4). Today we have a full day of children, showcases and odds and ends. It is Wayne and Donna’s dream to have in the future three days solely dedicated to youth and children. We believe his dream will come true sooner or later. Today the ballroom started bright and early at 7AM and it is going till 9PM. Not to far away from that wish of theirs! Congratulations Wayne & Donna Eng in this your 25th year, we hope to see all your dreams come true.
Watch action video and interviews from Emerald Ball now on our video page. (Content provided by SuperShag)
A Day at the Races!
In a very split race Peter & Alexandra Perzhu clearly defeated Mazen Hamza & Izabella.
Watch action video and interviews from Emerald Ball now on our video page. (Content provided by SuperShag)
Yesterday at the Emerald Ball it was a day of interesting races in the Professional Smooth and Pro/Am Ballroom Scholarships. Last night Peter & Alexandra won all dances in the Professional Smooth but only in the foxtrot did they have the majority of firsts. In the other three dances it was “1st or better” marks that gave them the victory. Mazen & Izabella took second in all dances but not with the left over firsts. They were awarded some firsts but mainly had to rely on “2nd or better” to maintain the second placement in all dances. To make this race even more interesting Mikhail & Galina Zharinov were thrown into the mix and also shared in the first place frenzy, stealing some firsts as well from the two top couples. However, when all was said and done Mikhail & Galina were clearly third in all four dances.
Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija took all fourths and here Viktorija was clearly unhappy with this result or just too focused on her race to “smile” when picking up the award, no curtsies or silly polite “how happy I am to get this.” Led by her happy partner Nick (who did seem happy), she just headed to the presenters and collected their fourth place award and lined up. Fifth went to Travis & Jaimee Tuft who we can almost swear also sported a minute glimmer of disappointment when their result was called. And finally, just happy to be there, Kris Suakjian & Briana Haft were sixth in all dances. This was an excellent event and we must tip our hat to all the couples. It was clear in the semifinal round that this race was not going to be an easy walk in the park for all involved. Many great couples were left out of this elite final. However they must all know that this was a fabulous competition and one they should have all been proud to be in.
We wish we could say the same for the Professional Latin. Here like an “old marriage” nearly everything went as usual including the dancing. Roman Kutskyy & Anna Kovalova were clearly the winners in every dance from the start and yes they won every dance with a huge majority of firsts. Nikolay Voronovich & Maria Nikolishina, who for us sported a questionable dress and hairdo, were clearly second in every dance (we are not sure their look helped their cause). The surprise in this race was the demotion to fourth place of US finalists, Ivan Mulyavka & Loreta Kriksciukaityte (3,5,4,3,4), and the elevation of Andrey Tarasov & Julia Kuznetsova to third place (4,3,3,4,3). This maneuver was totally unprecedented from judges who we suppose were not missing any punches! Their hard work must have paid off! Interesting! We will have our take on all this mater here soon if you care. And finally in fifth position were Vitalii Proskurin & Evgenia Shatilova (5,4,6,6,5), and in sixth place Evgeniy Likhachev & Maria Levina (6,6,5,5,6).
"I was born from a boombox. My heart is a dancer."
The Pro/Am Ballroom also gave us an interesting start to the evening. The most interesting race for many different reasons was that of the “B” category. Here two strong long-time rivals took to the floor. Former World Pro/Am Ballroom “B” Champion, Beverly Moore from Canada partnered by Alain Doucet and Celia Chou partnered by Erminio Stefano. The atmosphere was so thick with anticipation when the awards were presented that we could have cut it with a knife. Continuing to stamp her hold on her first place position this time was Celia Chou winning all five dances and we must add that all dances were won with the majority of firsts. However, Beverly, from the judges’ perspective, was not able to challenge Celia. This time she had to be happy with just a third place overall. However, as you will see she did manage to take second in a dance and two thirds (3,4,2,3,4). Getting ahead of Beverly this time was Lily Chang partnered by Sergei Kiselev (2,2,3,2,3). As you can see she did get a second overall but in two of the dances she placed third. As devoted fans of the pro/am competitive scene we most point out that although Celia & Beverly are two excellent competitors and worthy of their titles and accomplishments, in all honesty, our very favorite this time around and one that had we been judging might have placed first on our pads, was Lily Chang. On this occasion Lily danced with freedom with great grace, musicality and flair. Our congratulations to these three fabulous ladies for giving us an incredible final to watch.
Not to be forgotten or left out of the mix, were the other three competitors who were also excellent and worthy of being in this prestigious final. Ling Ma w/Edgar Gasjuns who was fourth (6,3,4,4,2), Bo Chang w/Giampiero Giannico who placed fifth (4,5,6,5,5), and Michelle Peng w/Mikhail Avdeev who has tremendously improved from previous performances, placed sixth (5,6,5,6,6).
We were very surprised that our choices for first in the “A” and “C” were almost made a reality. In the “A” Jennifer Lee w/ Serghei Pogonet who was a delight to watch on this occasion, took first overall (3,1,3,2,1) and our very favorite to win who also impressed us with her skill on this outing, Jenika Kalish w/Raffaele Sabato were second overall (2,4,1,1,3). We will have full reviews on all these pro/am scholarships as well, so stay tuned. Third went to Vinie Miller w/ Anton Koukareko (4,2,2,3,2). Ani Mkrtchyan w/Nick Cheremukhian was fourth (1,5,5,5,4), Anya Lucero w/Ikaika Dowsett was awarded fifth (6,3,4,4,5) and sixth went to Rebecca Kuhn w/Andrea Faraci (5,6,6,6,6).
The “C” division was also great and here Hye-Kyong Park w/Linas Koreiva was first (1,1,1,1,2). Second went to Connie Edmonds w/Samuele Pacchini (2,3,2,2,1), third was awarded to Tammy Knight w/ Artem Plakhotnyi. Beatrice Wang w/Giampiero Giannico was fourth (5,4,3,4,5), Paige Riffle w/Leonid Burlo placed fifth (4,5,5,54) and Deborah Errico w/Dariusz Michalski took sixth in every dance.
"You most have chaos within you to give rise to a dancing star."
As you can see this was a very memorable day at the Emerald Ball with some fantastic races. However, the most important contest was the one being judged by you, the fans of ballroom dancing. A few days ago we predicted that the Smooth would be a terrific event and so we wanted to bring you into the mix. We asked you to vote for your favorite Smooth couple in a poll here on Dance Beat’s website. In this important and nail-biting race we are proud to announce that after three full days of voting (to the point that we surpassed our polling limits and we had to increase the amount of people allowed to vote a few times) we finally have a decision and the peoples’ choice for their favorite couple and winner of a 1-year subscription to Dance Beat’s members’ section is David & Natalie Schulz. They had 48% of the votes.
Watch action video and interviews from Emerald Ball now on our video page. (Content provided by SuperShag)
Yesterday the Emerald Ball Championships was about the Professional Rising Stars and the Pro/Am Smooth Scholarships. The RS Latin and Smooth had the largest entries followed by the Rhythm and with a final round only, the Professional Rising Star Ballroom.
All the events had excellent professional couples with a huge amount of talent, and in nearly all the events the top placements were hard fought. In the Latin there was a first round and when it came to the final we are sure the judges were hard at work. The Rising Star Latin winners, Vitalii Proskurin & Evgania Shatilov, had an easy win in the cha cha with a huge majority of firsts, but in the other four dances it was an uphill battle with some of the judges even awarding them some fourth place marks. Second in this very indecisive heat was Evgeniy Likhachev & Maria Levina, placing second in all dances. Third was awarded to Oleg Astakhov & Olivia Wesolowski (4,3,3,3,4), this was perhaps our favorite couple, the lady is a dream when it comes to Latin dancing and we were for certain they would be in a top placement. Pavel Balykin & Meagan Mendoza placed fourth (3,4,4,4,3), Ryan Lewis & Tessa were fifth in every dance and Maksym Kapitanchuck & Elena Krifuks were sixth.
The Smooth Rising Star was also a good fight to the finish with Kyle & Allie Spinder taking first overall (1,2,1,1) but here too it was a strong fight. Kyle & Allie did manage to win the foxtrot with perfect scores and a strong finish in the W and VW with only one judge awarding them second in each dance. The tango was a different story here they had to settle for second place to the runners-up Sergey Barsukov & Maria Sidnjova (2,1,2,2). Third was awarded to Adrian & Hannah Dydynski, fourth went to Slava Stefanov & Jessica McMorrow who placed fourth in every dance. Fifth place was awarded to Radek Wiatrowski & Sonia Ragan (5,6,6,5), and in sixth place were Ben & Cheryl Seifert. Possibly one of our favorite up and coming couples was Adrian & Hannah, who bring to the floor a much needed subtlety to the style, we are looking forward to seeing this couple grow and hope they maintain this unique quality to their performance, and we are confident that soon they will be challenging for higher ground.
"There are times when the simple dignity of movement can fulfill the function of a volume of words."
The Rhythm was won by Shandor Shtefil & Alekasandra Barsukov (2,1,1,1,1), second overall were Max Lototskyy & Sarah Haworth (3,2,2,2,3). For us it was close between these two couples, however, when you see it on paper it was not. A little disappointed in one of our favorite up an coming Rhythm couples, the new partnership of Donovan Dominguez & Rose Bauer-Dimov (1,4,3,3,4). We are usually quite fans of both but last night it did not look as strong as we expected and it seems the judges agreed. But there is great potential here! Tamas Kardos & Mariya Khristina Shurupova were fourth (4,3,5,4,2), Kurt Roberts & Anneliece Velasco were fifth (5,5,4,6,5) and in sixth position were Tommy Belmontez & Jessica Holty (6,6,6,5,6).
As we said earlier the Professional Rising Star Ballroom was only a seven-couple final making us wonder what happened to Ballroom??? Is Smooth the new Black or is dancing together without letting go no longer appealing? Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova took first in all dances, Evgeniy Mayorov & Olga Lisovskaya all seconds and third was awarded to Slave & Lara Kostianets. The Pro/Am Scholarships in the Smooth were excellent in the afternoon. The “C” division had a huge amount of entries with a strong first round of competition. The winner of the “C” was Robin Kencel w/Sergey Vasilyev and she won all dances, second in this very strong fight went to World Pro/Am Smooth “C” Champion Beverly Moore w/Alain Doucet from Canada and they really took a beating as you will see from the marks (3,2,3,2), and third was awarded to Lisa Lowery dancing with Radek Wiatrowski (2,3,2,3). Lynn Murell w/Peter Perzhu was fourth (4,4,5,4), fifth went to Sue Eldred w/Artem Plakhotnyi (5,5,4,5), sixth was awarded to Paige Riffle w/Alex Zagrean, who by the way was perhaps the most improved lady of the final in our eyes, and seventh was awarded to Monica Broch w/ Kris Suakjian (7,6,6,7). So who was tired and who pushed back? Who did what they always do and who got ahead of whom? We will have these reports from these very exciting events here soon in our next issues of Dance Beat, so stay tuned. The “B” was the second largest event of the afternoon and we ended up with six very talented ladies. Joanne Smith w/Sharon Levit from Canada was for us unmistakably the best from the word go. Her use of body in this skill was like no other in this final. Funnily enough, the judges did not feel the same way. If you notice, by the marks (1,2,1,2). Second in this terrific heat went to a very experience competitor Susan Sidman w/Gleb Makarov (2,1,3,1), and Aiyeshas Dey with Eric Hudson placed third (3,3,2,3). Christina Donelson w/ Peter Perzhu took all fourths, Joanne Tatem w/ Mariusz Zakrzewski was fifth (6,5,6,5), and Monica Broch w/Kris Suakjian took sixth (5,6,5,6). The “A” division had a strong semifinal round and in the end six talented young ladies were called for the final. Brianna Yadgir w/Chris Germain won the competition (2,1,1,1). Christina Diaz w/Kris Suakjian placed second overall (1,2,3,2) and Sirinda Sincharoen w/Max Sinitsa was third (4,3,2,4). Irene Lee w/ Nick Cheremukhin placed fourth (3,4,4,3), Sara Jess w/Thomas Mielnicki was fifth (6,5,5,5) and sixth was awarded to Shelby Hafen w/Sergei Shapoval (5,6,6,6). So far - no glitches everything has run as well as expected! Tonight the open professional events will begin and the pro/am ballroom scholarships should be on the way.
It All Starts with Rhythm!
The Emerald Ball Dancesport Championships started early Tuesday afternoon with the Rhythm categories which ended late Wednesday afternoon with the Pro/Am Open Rhythm Scholarships. This year the organizers, Wayne and Donna Eng, added extra time to fit the thousands of entries their competition now enjoys and we are sure it was well appreciated by the competitors giving them a little more time to be judged and from time to time, a comfortable awards break for the hard-working Pro/Am teachers.
The feature events yesterday were the Open Pro/Am Rhythm Scholarships. With the exception of the “A,” all categories enjoyed first rounds. In the end the “C” and “B” categories were six-couple finals and the “A” division a five couple final.
In the “C” division Lisa Lowery with partner Radek Wiatrowski was unstoppable wining every dance with the majority of firsts in all. Former World and US Pro/Am Champion, Joan Goddard w/Chris Johnston, took seconds in every dance and Lynn Murrell with teacher Peter Perzhu placed third overall (4,3,4,3,3). Quin Bomelje & Mikhail Vlasov were fourth (3,4,3,4,4), Kathy Trice w/Radomir Pashev placed fifth (6,6,5,5,5) and sixth went to Monica Broch w/ Kris Suakjian (5,5,6,6,6).
The “B” division was also quite exciting. Here Aiyesha Dey w/Eric Hudson took first place overall but not in every dance (2,1,1,1,2), Seasoned player Susan Sidman w/Gleb Makarov was awarded second overall and they took a few firsts (1,2,2,2,1), and third overall went to M’Balie Tagoe w/Mariusz Zakrzewski (3,5,3,5,3) perhaps our favorite lady of the night. Fourth was awarded to Dianne Dale w/Luis Detling (4,3,4,4,4), fifth went to Kelly Wain w/Gunnar Sverrisson (5,4,5,3,5) and sixth was Cindy Wang w/Steve Vasco and they place sixth in all five dances.
As we mentioned before the “A” category had only a semifinal and in the end five ladies were called back. Nadia Kireyko partner by Daniel Vasco won and was perhaps our favorite of this heat with a natural feeling for this style. Chastity Smith w/Eddie Ares placed second in every dance and Jessica Sweeney w/Jeremy Piling took all thirds. Fourth was Kelly Wain w/Gunnar Sverrison and fifth was Nicole Huerta w/Edwin Torres and they took all fifth.
With a new ballroom at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport we think Emerald Ball has another 25 years to come. We want to congratulate and wish Wayne and Donna Eng a happy Silver Anniversary and wish them many more!
“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. First 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 Kudryashova. 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.
Genya 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, Alexandra 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, breathe...dance!!"
As 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!
Rhythm Time! Yesterday was “rhythm time” for the pro-ams at Wisconsin State and we had 2 double champions.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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 very 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).
There 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!
More Entries at Southern States Than Ever Before The Southern State Championship ended last night on a high note, the organizer Larry and Dianne Dean, announced that it was their biggest number of entries at this competition in 30 years! They also recognize some of the people who have contributed throughout the years in helping the comp grow, last night Mrs. Jackie Rodgers received the "Frank Reagan Award". This award was created to honor Mr. Reagan's memory and to honor the recipients. Congratulations!
"Without dance, what's the point?
The Pro competitions continued in the evening and made it a successful weekend for 2 couples in particular. Adding to their win in the Open Rhythm, Stephen Smyth & Vicktoriya Kleyman also won the Open Smooth, first in all dances. The other couple was Craig Smith & Micheline , who made their trip from Hong Kong worth while by adding to their Showdance victory. Craig & Micheline went on to win the Open Theater Arts and the Open Grand Championship. In the Open Latin, the two top couples were Serguey Samchynsky & Yuliya Besarab and Jake Davies & Alyona Kalinina, but the victory went to Serguey & Yuliya as they went on to win all dances.
"I dance, therefore I am."
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.