This is not for sure the first time we have witnessed a same sex event because we have seen plenty of them at different venues, but in the past our NDCA considered a partnership to be something that only could be between a man and a woman and so no one was allowed to dance same sex regardless of their age or need. At the Chicago Harvest Moon Ball this competition was different because this time we had a gender neutral professional couple that was skillful enough to make a final and even good enough to place highly.
The Professional Smooth event started with a semifinal round and from the start we could tell that Kato Lindholm & Alex Tecza (the gender neutral couple) were going to challenge for a placement in the final and they sure did, they placed seventh in all dances. In speaking to some of the judges after the fact, we could tell that they all wished they would have had some guidance as to what criteria to apply. Some felt they could not mark it at all, this was like comparing apples to oranges, others felt that what was missing was the sexual connection between them as perhaps man and woman, and others felt that when you took all the playing kissing, gaga eyes at one another out of the equation, they were soundly correct and could easily have placed third or higher.
We did agree with the fact that there was a connection missing that we are used to seeing between between different gender couples, this was more prominent when they danced in the Rhythm category, where some of the professional partnerships, kiss and even slap each other playfully on their behinds. But in their defense, this connection might have been missing perhaps, because from what we could tell they were trying to make it about the dance form and not about sex and this we have to give them great credit for. From the start, unlike many of the couples, they stuck to the work they did not touch one another or pat one another’s forehead when perspiration starts to flow, they kept to themselves and were very courteous to the judges and audience with just a polite bow when reintroduced.
After all was said and done, it was great that judges recognized talent and many of them were able to allow their skill to go free without prejudice of any kind. We tip our hat to this couple, we know that it is hard enough to dance in front of an audience, but to be the pioneers of something that has just been thrown into the industry without preparation, arbitrations, rules or any regulations for judges and competitors alike. With this in mind we can say that they actually have already won, even though they placed seventh in every dance. And we must also point out that a few of the judges had them placed up to third place in many of the dances, and this gives us hope that at some point this will be okay and just another addition to this wonderful world of ballroom dance.
First in this very interesting competition was awarded to Igor & Meghan Afonkin and they placed first in every dance, second went to Michael Choi & Viktoriya Kleyman in all dances, and third was awarded to Sergei Shapoval & Mila Popovich by one point. The couple that placed fourth by one point was Dmitrii Zavialov & Katt Baumgartner, fifth was Vladyslav & Brianna Nalyvaychuk, and sixth went to Nick Haklin & Sarah Ford.
In the Open Professional Rhythm Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin won every dance with perfect scores from the judges. Second in every dance but not with as secure placements as the Nikiskins were Aleksie Shipilov & Julia Mitina, third in all went to Senzo Makhaye & Agnieszka Strojek, fourth were Enoch Evans & Anastasia Gordeeva, fifth in all was awarded to Kyle & Madeline Treu, and sixth was Yurii Savidi & Basia Kaczmarek.
The Open Professional Latin had a full final on this night and here the winners in all dances were Manuel Favilla & Natalia Madiuk and from our perspective they sailed right through unchallenged in every dance. Second was awarded to Aleksie Shipilov & Julia Mitina and this was in all dances, third went to Aleksei & Elena Minaev, fourth were Roman Ynkind & Sofiya Glotova, and fifth in all were Iuri Kora & Alisa Hryn. Before we mention our sixth place couple, we want to mention to couples that are up and coming that, there are certain trends that come and go and that if you’re not secure of your position in a final try not to copy some of these attributes without having enough knowledge of where they came from. The one we are particularly not fond of and this was mentioned to us by more than one judge, is the continuous tapping of the lady’s head as if she were your pet or you were trying to appease her. Perhaps try a treat next time but let go of the tapping of the head especially if you’re demonstrating on your own as in a dance on for example! And on that note sixth place in this Open Latin went to Doams Vaitkus & Serena Pav and they were sixth in all dances.
The result in the Ballroom mirrored that of the RS division. Aleksei & Elena Minaev were once again the winners.
There was a very good audience this night and this may certainly have been due in part to the star attraction of the night - a show by former US & World Rhythm Champions and Dancing with the Stars cast members - Tony Dovolani & Elena Grinenko. They are dancing together again after many years apart pursuing their individual goals. We were pleasantly surprised that after such a long hiatus, they was still much of the old magic in their dancing. They performed cha cha, mambo and rumba.
Our congratulations to Peter Minkov & Yulia Kornilova for putting on a well organized competition for all of us to enjoy and for keeping this historical event moving forward as it always did.
Last night at the “Chicago Harvest Moon Ball,” the very same “Harvest Moon Ball” from the 1940’s when it was a national affair full of dancers and glamour.
We concluded all professional Rising Star events, and as in most competitions nowadays the Smooth dominated the scene.
A semifinal round was called for this heat but in the end the winners in all four dances were Dmitrii Zavialov & Katt Baumgartner from Florida. Second in all dances were Nick Hacklin & Sarah Ford from IL, and third in all were David Elser & Elizabeth Krug. Martin Pickering & Natalie Botes were fourth; Charles Leonard & Kamilla Mirzalieva placed fifth and sixth went to Dmitry Krasnyanskiy & Esther Frances.
The Rising Star Professional Rhythm was not as populated with only 3 couples in this final, but here Matthew Kusak & Jordy Floming placed first overall 2,1,1,2,1. Second went to Kyle & Madeleine Treu 1,2,3,1,2, and third was awarded to Matthew Rasmussen & Kayla Daigle 3,3,2,3,3.
The RS Professional ballroom was the first Rising Star event of the evening and here Aleksei & Elena Minaev were first in all dances. Yuriy Nartov & Enxhi Fundo took all seconds and third went to Roman Yunkind & Sofiya Glotova. The Rising Star Professional Latin also went to Aleksei & Elena Minaev, and Roman Yunkind & Sofiya Glotova took second overall 2,2,2,3,3, leaving third to Iurii Kora & Alisa Hryn 3,3,3,2,2.
The Open Professional Cabaret was “gender neutral” with one of the two couples being of the same gender and in the end the win went to Nick Haklin & Sarah Ford who did a favorite number of ours “the Ventriloquistt,” and second place was awarded to Kelly Palmiter & Tommy Radon. We must point out that this number that Kelly & Tommy pulled out of a hat was basically done impromptu, with the two very hardworking teachers putting just a little bit of time into it and it was basically from what we understand, just in good fun. It is great to see as we mentioned two very hard-working teachers have some fun at the end of such long day.