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!
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"
Snowed out! But electrifying finish for Superstars!
The last night at the Superstars Championships was terrific with great dancing.
The Professional Latin was run and the winners, Ivan Mulyavka & Loreta Krisciukaityte, won all dances but the cha cha. The cha cha was taken by China’s Ray Zhang & Rosa Ren who were very clean in their approach. The Professional Smooth was also a great event with excellent couples, but here, Peter & Alexandra Perzhu took all dances and in our eyes were the best of the group. The Showdance and Cabaret was also a fierce event. Five couples took to the floor but here the honor of being the best went to Shane & Shannon Jensen who took all first places but one from the judging panel. "We dance around in a ring and suppose, but the secret sits in the middle and knows"
As you can see, the competition was excellent throughout the night but the closing event the “Anything Goes Showdown” was excellent showcasing all the champions from the Open Professional competition throughout the weekend of dance. And in a rare occurrence there was an unbreakable tie between Shane & Shannon from the Cabaret and the winners of the Open professional Rhythm Emanule Pierre-Antoine & Liana Churilova. The third place honor, in this case there was no second place, went to Ivan & Loreta the Open Latin champoions. Fourth was awarded to the Smooth Champions, Peter & Alexandra and fifth went to the Open Professional Ballroom Champions, Alexander Voskalchuk & Veronika Egorova. "Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything than isn't music."
As always and as you can see by some of the pictures, the ballroom was decorated beautifully in the style of Mr. Chapman, the leading force at the Superstars. It was unfortunate that over 1000 entries had to be scratched or withdrawn due to the snowstorm that swept across the northeast before and during the Superstars. However, the organizers spared no expense to make you feel at home and to make sure that everyone was entertained. It was also great luck that Delyan Terziev & Boriana Delcheva, the featured act at this year’s Superstars, managed to catch one of the last flights out of New York and gave us two wonderful shows, Friday & Saturday. "Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor" New Partnership Takes RS Rhythm at Superstars The new partnership of Maksym Lototsky & Sarah Hayworth were the clear winners of the RS Rhythm. From the semi into the final, they showed a great sense of musicality and awareness for each other and went on to win all dances. The competition was a little tougher between 2nd and 3rd place. Shane & Shannon Jensen came in 2nd (4,2,2,2,3) over Stephen Smyth & Victoryia Kleyman (3,3,3,4,4). In our opinion, Victoriya had an overall stronger presence and that might have swayed some marks in favor of that couple. Only 1 point made the difference between 3rd and 4th place, Tamas Kardos & Mariya-Khristina Shurupova made their impact by taking 2nd position in CC and Mambo making this a very exciting final to watch. The RS Ballroom had 2 couples enterered. The winners in all dances were Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova over Matt Rivers & Maliwan Diemer.
WDSF Back in US Territory
After years of absence from the USA, the WDSF (World Dancesport Federation), an official body for Dancesport in the world and a member of the IOC, is finally back in the USA.
Two WDSF events were run this past weekend of dance at the well-known Manhattan Classic (The Mac) Championship in Manhattan, New York City, organized by USA Dance, the WDSF affiliate in the USA. The events were run in the beautiful Grand Ballroom of the Manhattan Center and it was fully packed and with audience coming to support the athletes participating.
The most supported event and the more exciting of the two was the WDSF Junior II Open Championship Latin. Here we had a full semifinal round and the couples fighting for the opportunity and the title were excellent down to the semifinal. Kristers Smits & Sophie Shvartsman won the event by tying for second in the samba, placing first in the cha cha, paso and jive and third in the rumba. As you can see by the marks, the judges could not make up their minds. Matthew Kheyfets & Vanesa Falisova placed second by taking the samba and rumba from Kristers & Sophie, placing second in the cha and jive and third in the paso. Third place was awarded to Dennis Mateev & Valerie Dubinsky. They tied for second in the samba were fourth in cha cha and rumba and tied for fourth in jive. Joshua Lishnevetsky & Angela Gerzberg were fourth (5,3,2,5,3); fifth went to D’Angelo Castro & Amanda Carbajales (4,5,5,7,4.5). In sixth place were Levy Agaronnik & Simona Vigodner (6,6,7,6,6,) and last but not least in seventh position was Kamil Falkowski & Alexis Turko (7,7,6,4,7).
The placements in this competition will award this couples a certain amount of points for the WDSF world ranking system, placing them on an equal footing with other athletes around the world from South America to Europe, Africa and Asia. It is great to see that now all aspects of ballroom dancing are being represented in the USA and the promotion of ballroom dance, whether as a sport or as an art or social form, continues stronger than ever in this the land of the free.
The Standard WDSF Junior II Championship was not as well attended but the quality was also excellent. Here Dennis Mateev & Valerie Dubinsky placed first in every dance and were the clear winners. All seconds wen to Kamil Falkowski & Alexis Turko, and third were Matthew Kheyfets & Vanesa Falisova. Fourth went to Christopher Kantorosinski & Anna Jonczyk (5,4,4,4,4) and fifth was awarded to Denis Smotrov & Karina Mirochnik (4,5,5,5,5). Congratulations to all the couples for being the first to earn their points in this Dancesport arena and also to USA Dance for running two successful Championships. This was the first WDSF event they had hosted since the World Latin Championship in 2010