The Professional Ballroom began with a quarter-final round but by the time we got to the final it was a “nail-biting experience,” for the audience and we are sure for the judges as well. Iaroslav & Liliia Bieliei won all dances with the majority of firsts in every dance from the judges but are things getting steamy in the minds of the judges with Igor Mikushov & Ekaterina Romashkina giving what some called a stellar performance in many of the dances?
There is no question in anybody’s mind that Iaroslav & Liliia’s performance was beautifully correct and as always with almost perfect technique and finesse. However, when it comes to Ballroom dancing does it always have to be about this or do we need a heartfelt musical and emotional performance too? For some for example, many of the so called “Latin” judges, musical interpretation and connections between the dancer to the music and what we feel, it is extremely important. We have to applaud Igor & Ekatrina who placed second in all dances, for not just giving a good solid performance but one full of emotion and musicality right from the start. Having said that, we have to admit that when it came to the marks we were a little taken back by the visiting judges from Italy’s marks, especially because we all know Italian dancers are always about emoting. Massimo Giorgianni awarded them 4,5,4,5,5, and Alessia Manfredini awarded them 5,5,6,1,3, this is a couple that had that emotional thing all going on when they were dancing, ask anyone who saw them.
Another couple that had a wonderful night was Christian Radvan & Kristina Kudelko, and it was nice to see the judges fully rewarding them by marking them third in every dance. We felt their performance was not only very consistent from first round on but they too are starting to feel and emote the music they are hearing.
Basically new professionals, Andrii Mykhailov & Anna Bohachova, placed fourth overall with this marks 5,5,4,4,4, we were not surprised by these marks, in fact a number of us felt it should have been in the 5th place mark overall. Andrii & Anna have always shown a good technical performance but quite far away from an emotional and musical one, possibly the word clean might come to mind when describing the performance tonight.
Fifth and possibly a very disappointing placement for this couple were Emanuele Pappacena & Francesca Lazzari 4,4,5,5,5. We have to tip our hats to Emanuele & Francesca who barely flinched when they heard the fifth place announced, totally professional and gracious on their part. We have seen many, even higher placed couples make awful faces of shock and disgust when they get a low place result for their standing. We find this show of emotions to be quite appalling and we have often pointed their behavior out on the field, you’re a professional and you must always remember this bad result or not!
It was also a fine night for Evgeniy Mayorov & Olga Lisovoskaya who placed sixth and were included in this fine final, and when it came to showing emotion, we could all tell they were thrilled to be in this final.
The Kings Ball concluded with what one can only describe as a phenomenal performance by Slavik Kryklyvyy & Karina Smirnoff. They performed between the rounds and finished with their signature routine of “Bamboleo” by Gypsy Kings. We have to confess that once a couple retires from the competition floor we always have to hold our breath when seeing them come back or do a show, as we have seen plenty of times and we could almost say the majority of the time, it is not what we remember and not always a pretty sight. This has been proven wrong quite a number of times with this magnificent Latin style couple, in fact, we could almost swear that like a “good wine” Slavik & Karina get better, and better as they age! What precision, music, choreography and musicality, a fantastic show and one we could see over and over again.
There was also another excellent competition even though only two couples took to the floor, this totally is a perfect sample of quality verses quantity. The Professional Showdance competition was that event and here Mikhailo Azarov & Tetyana Makarenko with their well known “Salvador Dali” routine took first and we must say that it was a great intermission and we were able to study this very clever routine without pressure of thinking of too many couples. Second overall went to another fantastic routine but this one is a little different, it is more like a Latin showdance routine, in other words we wished they were not challenging each other, you either like apples or oranges or you love both. We liked both but unfortunately one had to be chosen and second went to Ivan Kudeshev & Kseniia Sokolova, who did this excellent showdance featuring a number of our Latin American dances.
The Professional Rhythm also took place on this fantastic night of Ballroom dancing, we have to say that it was not as nailbiting as the last two events mentioned but still had some interesting results. Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin placed first in all dances, they would have had almost have a perfect cha cha score had it not been for Marianne Nicole who awarded them 4th and Didio Barrera who placed them 2nd. The surprise for us and I am sure for them even more was the demotion of Andrei Svirydzenka & Yuliya Lukina who placed fourth in all dances and who were probably put on notice with this result, “step it up or suffer the consequences.” Andrei & Yuliya were probably the longest serving Professional competitors on that Rhythm floor last night and like everything, to maintain your standing you have to work hard and keep up and apparently for the judges this was not the case last night. We thought the judges to be a little harsh with them, when we looked closed they still have a solid Rhythm performance without the tricks, flips and nicks of the new kids on the block, but apparently the majority of judges did not see it that way and sent them a strong message, to step it up.
We continue to be total fans of Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin, and we were happy to see them get this win last night, but even though we feel they have lots of power, speed and talent they have yet to make Rhythm their own, one bystander told us they still look as if they are doing Latin nothing has changed and we totally have to agree with this assessment. With so much potential we wonder how long, it will take for them to create and give us the best. American Style Rhythm is known for, something unexpected, new and interesting like precious Rhythm heroes such as, Bob & Julia Powers, etc.
Second as far as the new kids on the block went to Ilya Abdullin & Tara Barakov, who show lots of potential and continue to be one of our favorite up and coming couples and who placed second in all dances. It must be hard for them having to tackle 9 dances and stay on top of all. Third overall went to another up and coming couple in this Rhythm scene, Kristian Sese & Mae Lozada, here is another excellent couple who we know will soon be on the top billboard as far as the Rhythm is concerned. We loved their mambo and as far as having that Latin American groove they surely showed it last night on their mambo, for us the best mambo on the floor, here we know it is just not about the steps you have feel and make us see the culture. Fifth in this Rhythm heat went to Viktor Tkachenko & Yuliya Lukina, and sixth was Dragan Strukeij & Alexandra Kopelovich.
The first event to be decided was the Open Amateur Latin. This was the most decisive win of then night as Alexandre Chernositov & Arina Grishanina took every available first place from all judges. 2nd in all dances went to Silvio-Antonio Anselmi & Eleanora Riccardi. 3rd Tara Savitskyy & Yulia Koshkina 3,3,3,4,3; 4th Giovanni D’Arpino & Francesca Vari 4,4,4,3,4; 5th Vlad Krupskii & Valerie Dubinsky 5,5,5,5,5; 6th Ariel Milsteyn & Simona Vigodner.
Like the night before there were also two Rising Star Events, the Professional Smooth and the Professional Latin. The Professional Smooth that was won by Viktor Tkachenko & Yuliya Lukina who placed first in all dances, second was Mikhailo Azarov & Tetyana Makarenko who placed second in all dances, leaving third to Mikhailo Annienkov & Yuliya Sinevych 3,4,4,4. In the Latin, Ivan Kudeshev & Kseniia Sokolova won every dance, second in all dances went to Vladimir Velev & Phoenix Lin Song and third in all dances was Dmitriy Solomakha & Gabriela Sevillano.
With this the competition concluded, my congratulations to Igor & Polina Pillipenchuk and to Rita Algarra for putting such a terrific weekend of dance together. Well done!
It’s Good to be the King!
This is certainly true at the Kings Ball, where if you win you get your own personal crown and tiara along with your prize money.
Last night there were two open professional events, the Smooth and the Latin. The Smooth was a seven-couple final and the Latin was a strong semifinal.
We think that out of the two featured events, the Smooth was the hardest to judge with seven couples in this final. The winners in all dances were Ilya Abdullin & Tara Barakov but on paper they won three dances with a majority of firsts but had to depend on seconds or better for the Viennese Waltz. For us Ilya & Tara were the clear winners with little or no challenge in this heat. For us there was more of a fight between Jan & Adele Don and Viktor Tkachenko & Yuliya Lukina, but when it came to the marks second place easily went to Jan & Adele Don who took quite a number of first place marks in all dances, they also took second in all dances. We thought Jan & Adele’s dancing was very clean especially when in closed position and as you can see the judges totally rewarded them. We found Viktor & Yuliya to have a little more spunk or should we say energy of impact, but it was double edged sword, it can easy be translated to being a little out of control and slightly messy.
Fourth place overall in this open Smooth competition was awarded to Ryan & Laura Kenner with these marks 4,4,4,5, and from here down the marks were really mixed. Mykhailo Annienko & Yuliya Sinevych were fifth 6,5,5,4, Ilia Zakharav & Kristina Bright were sixth 5,6,6,6, and seventh in all dances went to Jack Daly &Christine Kjeliquist.
The Open Professional Latin had a full semifinal round and here the easy winners on all counts were Artur Tarnavsky & Anastasia Danilova placing first in all dances with a huge majority of firsts in four dances and perfect scores in the jive. Nikita Malkohov & Nadezda Vlasova took second in all dances, but were also the receivers of the majority of the few firsts left behind by Artur & Anastasia. Ivan Kudashev & Keseniia Sokolova took third overall with these marks 4,3,4,3,3, this couple had some excellent moments in the spotlight and I can see how they were placed in the upper tier of the final.
Fourth in this Open Professional Latin heat was awarded to Vlad Astafiev & Annie He Xiao 3,4,3,4,4, as you can tell by the marks it was very close between them and Ivan & Kesennia, but honestly I think this couple lost the ball in a couple of dances. For one, we felt sometime the placement on the floor did not help them, at one point they were nearly behind the judges in a corner, they also lacked their normal punch of energy, it almost seemed as if they were walking it a bit. Vlad & Annie are an excellent couple and I am sure they will make the changes needed to challenge in the next competition. Fifth in all dances went to Aleksandar Vukosavljevi & Joanna Meller, leaving sixth to Vesko Matakov & Andrea Mariscal.
There was an Open Amateur event that it is totally worth a mention. There was so much talent and musicality in this style that one bystander asked us if it was the Open Professional Ballroom. The top three here were fabulous and gave us an excellent competition. The winner overall was Oleksandr Kalenyuk & Olena Ablitsova by placing second in the waltz and first in the other four dances. We must also point out that Oleksanr & Olena won three of the dances with a huge majority of firsts from the judges. For us this couple was close to perfection, they have great sense of musicality and the gentleman has a wonderful top line with soft lines and steady back. Second in this heat and winning the waltz were Fedor Voronov & Sasha Dubinky and they placed second in the other four dances. For us Fedor & Sasha had all it takes when it came to showmanship, they totally got our attention from the beginning but for us lack the subtlety of movement necessary in this style.
Third overall went to Brenton Mitchell & Alexandra Sevastianova 4,4,3,3,3, for us this couple’s work was very clean, in other words there was nothing you can really point at, however, there was a lack of excitement for us. We would have loved to see a little more musicality from this couple. Fourth overall went to Florin Vlad & Natalia O’Connor, they placed 3,3,4,4,4. We really like this couple as well, we thought perhaps they could have placed a little higher. Their work was clean and it showed lots of maturity something that perhaps was needed in many of these young couples.
Fifth place in this great Open Amateur Ballroom challenge was awarded to Matthew Harkins & Shannon Julia placing fifth in all dances, sixth place was Stephen Nadeau w/Jessica Smith 6,6,6,7,7, and seventh place was Thomas Yu & Yuko Naululani Yu 7,7,7,6,6.
There were also two Professional Rising Star events in the Rhythm and in the Ballroom. The Rhythm was won by Viktor Tkachenko & Yuliya Lukina and they won all dances, second was Joe Hasson & Natalie Honkonen placing second in four dances and 3rd in the mambo, and Dragan Strukelj & Alexandra Kopelovich were third 3,3,3,4,2. In the Professional Rising Star Ballroom, Andrii Mykhailov & Anna Bohachova won all dances, second in all dances was Ivan Levin & Anna Sivakova, and third overall went to Aleksandr Skriptsov & Aida Skripsova 5,4,3,3,3.
Tonight we have the Open Professional Ballroom and Rhythm as well as the Amateur Latin, it should be a fun competition to see and adjudicate.