USDSC 2021 - 50th Anniversary

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US National Amateur Championships 2021

These past few days have been filled with unforgettable memories and achievements for many of the amateur competitors who this year had to travel to Florida in order to partake in the United States National Championships held at USDC.

The energy of the ballroom was amazing from early in the morning, most of the events commencing from first rounds. Wonderful watching the development of the future generation and the talent they possess, the absolute cuteness of the preteens and the contagious energy pouring from the juniors and youth.  Although most events were run at a separate ballroom, the semi and finals of the top Amateur Latin, Ballroom  and Smooth were run in the main Ballroom, alongside the professional events. These competitions were superb and probably even more competitive than the professional events. All events had a very tight race between the top three couples.

Watch out for full reports on the Open Amateur divisions in Smooth, Ballroom & Latin. And click here for some of the other key results in the Youth and Junior divisions.

One Last Shout!

Saturday at the US Championships was the last day of competition and the US National Professional 10 dance and US National professional 9 dance were the featured events for the evening along with the Amateur US Latin Championships and a couple of Professional Open to the World events.

The US Professional 10 dance was an intensely physically challenging competition that started in the afternoon and ran all through the night in the end this 10 dance championship went to Jonas Kazlauskas & Kathleen Ilo who placed first in 8 dances and second in the Viennese and quickstep. This is their 4th victory in the division. Second in this marathon event was awarded to Casey Treu & Kayci Treu with these marks 3,4,4,4,4,2,2,2,2,2. (Latin dances listed first)

Third went to Aleksei Minaev & Elena Minaeva 2,2,1,2,1,5,5,4,4,4. Fourth was Roman Yunkind/Sofiya Glotova 4,3,3,3,3,4,4,5,5,5. Fifth place was awarded to Aleksei Alekseev & Ekaterina Derevleva 6,5,5,5,5,3,3,3,3,3, and sixth went to Dmitriy Solomakha & Gabriela Sevillano 5,6,7,7,6,6,7.5,6,6,6. Seventh was awarded to Mattia Bielli & Taisiia Hughes 8.8.5,9,6.7,7,9,9,7,7.5, eighth place was Alexey Grinev & Kseniia Grineva 9,7,6,8.5,8,8.5,7.5,8,9,7.5, ninth was allocated to Anton Silantev & Olga Akopova 7,8.5,8,8.5,9,8.5,6,7,8,9, and tenth place in all dances went to Brad Montagnese & Tania Trigili.

The US National Professional American 9-Dance Championship also started in the afternoon and here the winner in all 9 dances was Oleksiy Pigotskyy/Anastasiia Zhuchenko. Second overall by placing second in 8 dances and third in the cha cha were Jang & Adele Don, leaving third to Ivan Sovetov & Valeria Mkrtchian who took third in all dances and second in the cha cha.

Fourth in all dances but the mambo where they placed 6th, was awarded to Sergei Solodov & Ekaterina Maslennikova. Fifth overall went to Christopher Wayne & Mallory Evan 5,5,5,7,5,6,6,5,5 (Smooth dances listed first). Sixth were Antonio Nunez & Ksenia Kashkina 6,6,6,5,6,5,5,6,4. Seventh in all dances but the Viennese Waltz where they placed 6th was Mykhailo Azarov & Anastasia (Kuzmich). Eighth place overall was awarded to Joseph & Madalina Varlam Lettig 8,8,9,8,10.5,9,9,11,9.5, ninth were Daniel & Mariel Blain 9,10,8,9.5,8.5,8,11,9.5,9.5, tenth went to Dustin Donelan & Georgietta Anderson 10.5,9,10,9.5,10.5,10.5,9,9.5,9.5, and eleventh place was allocated to Danielle Marie Hitner/Julius Solano 10.5,11,11,11, 8.5,10.5,9,8,9.5.

As you can see these last two categories are not only physically challenging but they are also judged per dance so you might go all the way in one dance and not make it to the next round in another dance, every dance is adjudicated separately.

The US Amateur Latin was also a very exciting heat and this started with a first round of competition. In the end seven couples were recalled for the final and you could tell by the marks this was possibly a very hard heat for the judges to adjudicate. With the exception of the rumba for us first and second place was basically a tossup between Alexander Chernositov & Arina Grishanina and Austin Joson & Nino Dzneladze, but in the end when the judges marks came in Austin & Nino overall won the US Amateur Latin Championship, by placing first in four dances and second in the paso doble. We said that with the exception of the rumba where Austin & Nino were amazing, to the point where we can honestly say we have not seen a rumba as well executed and heart felt as theirs. Any of the other four dances could have gone to the runners-up Alexander Chernositov & Arina Grishanina who placed second in four dances and funny enough 3rd in the paso doble. In this competition Alexander & Arina stole the most first places from Austin & Nino, and for us with the exception of the rumba, the quality of their performance as many of the judges also felt was just as good or better than Austin & Nino’s. In the rumba we have to point out that Austin & Nino won this dance with a huge majority of firsts from the judges, with only two judges awarding them less than second place Bob Powers who awarded them 7th and Bill Sparks who awarded them 3rd.

Third in this fantastic heat went to the couple that won the paso doble Tal Livshitz & Ilana Keselman. This couple placed third in the other four dances. When looking at the marks Tal & Ileana who have become well known for their dramatic paso doble won this dance by one point, in this dance they had one more fifth place than Austin & Nino and that was enough to give them this dance.

A (Rule10) was applied for fourth and fifth places, both Bumchin Tegshjargal & Michelle Klets, and Daniil Tymoshenko & Vladyslava Vursalova had 23 points each making it a tie. Bumchin & Michelle had these marks 5,4,4,4,6, and Daniil & Vladyslave were awarded these marks 4,5,5,5,4, in the end when the (Rule10) was applied Bumchin & Michelle took fourth and Daniil & Vladyslave placed fifth. The overall sixth place was awarded to Max Firestein & Nicole Mtchedlidze 6,7,6,6,5, and seventh position went to Vadym Pidhoretskyy & Ruby Castro 7,6,7,7,7.

The World Professional Cabaret and Exhibition Championship were also held this evening and here once again Shane & Shanon Jensen took the trophy home, with nearly perfect scores from the majority of judges, only one judge awarded them a third place spoiling the their perfect first from the majority and this was Jerry LeNoir.

There was a change of position from the US National Cabaret and this was for second position, this time around Craig Smith & Andrea Harvey took second place over Travis & Jaimee Tuft who placed third. Craig & Andrea were also the recipients of the illusive first place mark that Shane & Shanon lost from their perfect first column. Fourth overall in this heat was awarded to Clifton & Mar Sepulveda, fifth position overall went to Zachary Pohl & Ariel Freilich and sixth place was awarded to Chris Fedun & Ellie Grohoske.

In the US Open to the World Professional events the US Open To The World Latin Tittle went to Mykhailo Bilopukhov & Anastasiia Shchypilina by winning all dances, second was Darren Hammond & Marina Steshenko from South Africa, placing second in all dances. Third overall went to Artur Tarnavskyy & Anastasia Danilova 3,3,3,4,3, fourth were Manuel Favilla & Natalia Maidiuk 4,4,4,3,4, fifth in all dances went to Oleksandr & Kateryna Kamniev and sixth was Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabrielle Sabler.

In the Open to the World Professional Ballroom Championship Liliia & Iaroslav Bieliei won all dances with nearly perfect scores in all dances, they only received one second in all dances and that was from Diana McDonald. Second in all dances was awarded to Maksym Savytskyi & Polina Riaboli, and third overall went to Igor Mikhushov & Valeriia Belozerova 4,3,4,3,3. Fourth was Serhiy Averkov & Olena Barna 3,4,3,4,4, fifth was awarded to Nazar Batih & Mariko Cantly 5,5,5,6,6, and sixth was Florin Vlad & Natalia O’Connor.

The US Open to the World Pro-Am Ballroom Championships were held Saturday afternoon and were not as well attended as the other styles. However, the quality was good.

Haley Hernandez picked up her second title in the Open Championships, this time winning the Open A with Oreste Alitto. Haley placed 1,1,1,1,2. She did have the majority of 1st places in the 4 dances she won. The runner-up and winner of the quickstep was Galina Livitina, a past champion in this division, now dancing with Anton Koukareko from California. Galina placed 2,2,2,2,1. Third went to Julia Shen w/ Rudy Homm, 3rd in all dances. 4th Agne Naujokas w/ Martin Reinbold 4,4,4,4,4; 5th Tessa Kolaczenko w/ Artur Kozun 5,5,5,5,5.

The B division was very hotly contested with the judges showing little consensus. The winner was Laura Shooks w/ Alexander Voskalchuk and she placed 1,1,1T,2,1. Laura had the majority of 1st places in waltz. With 2,3,3,1,2, Brynda Insley w/ Martin Reinbold took the runner-up spot ahead of Sabrina Zagolin w/ Yuriy Kravets in 3rd place with 3,2,4,4,3. Tieing for 1st place in the Viennese Waltz, but placing 4th overall was Elena Botelho w/ Igor Litvinov. Her placements were 4,4,1T,3,4. 5th Julia Oleinik w/ Oleg Rokhin 5,5,5,5,5; 6th Jen Mo w/ Karlis Treijs 6,6,6,6,6; 7th Tolga Bakircioglu w/ Sarah Francis 7,7,7,7,7.

Newly crowned US Pro Ballroom Champion, Iarolslav Bieliei had winners in both the C and S1 divisions. In the C Division his student, Natasha Janey won all dances with a majority of 1st places. The runner-up was a many-time winner in the C division, Jill Bradford w/ Andrea Stefano who placed 2nd in all dances who narrowly lost all dances. 3rd in all dances went to Patricia Schneider w/ Oreste Alitto. 4th Charlene Proctor w/ Andrey Begunov 4,4,4,5,5; 5th Wendy Eubank w/ Mikhail Avdeev 5,5,5,4,4; 6th Annie Chan w/ Christian Radvan 6,6,6,6,6.

In the S1 it was Paige Riffle w/ Iaroslav who was the winner, placing 2,1,1,1,2. Paige had the majority of 1st places in foxtrot. The runner-up was Lynn Murrel w/ Andrea Zaramella 1,2,2,2,1. Lynn did have the majority of 1st places in waltz and quickstep. Linda Gill w/ Luca Balestra was 3rd in all dances. 4th Susan Cruickshank w/ Aleksandr Skriptsov 4,4,4,4,4; 5th Maureen O’Flanagan w/ Ruslan Meshkov 5,5,5,5,5; 6th Sarah Bohr w/ Pavel Cherdantsau 6,6,6,6,6.

The S2 was won by Barbara Roberts w/ Alexey Peiganovich 2,1,1,1,1. Runner-up with 1,2,2,2,2 was Margaret Barrett w/ Ruslan Meshkov 1,2,2,2,2 and 3rd was Lydia Raurell w/ Mykhailo Azerov 3,4,3,3,3. This was an 8-couple final. 4th Maria Fila w/ Kamil Urbaniak 4,3,4,4,4; 5th Barbara Sanford w/ Ralph Vieberink 5,5,5,5,5; 6th Joseph Hubchenko w/ Denise Rivera 6,7,6,6,6; 7th Ran Holladay w/ Sarika Pilipenchuk 7,6,7,7,7; 8th Joan Warshall w/ Hudson Oliver 8,8,8,8,8.

This afternoon we also witnessed the US National Pro-Am Mambo Championship and this gave us one of the few wins by a gentleman student.  Adrian Kaiser w/ Evgeniia Elcoro had 8 of the 11 first place marks.  Runner up was Chastity Smith w/ Eddie Ares and Sophia Santiago Burgos w/ Eddie Rivera was 3rd.

Two more special awards were presented on this night. Martin Chiang, President and CEO of American Ballroom Company, was awarded the Heritage Foundation Award for his service to ballroom dancing. The Hall of Fame Award was given to former champions in the American Rhythm and Smooth styles, Joe Lozano & Jan Mattingly.

So with the close of events on Saturday night we put the 50th Anniversary of the US Ballroom Championships was placed in the books.

Click here to see the photos of these past champions presented Saturday night from the Ballroom & Latin divisions

Shine like A Diamond!

Last night at the USDC the professional and amateur competitors “shone like a diamond” getting the crowd going over and over again into a cheering and clapping frenzy!

And even though parts of the dance floor are still slightly dark, the energy and quality of dancing on the dance floor made up for it and they all shone like a cluster of stars or diamonds in a jewel box.

The first to light up the floor was the US National Professional Latin Championship, and although the judges were asked for six couples for the final, seven couples had to be brought back for this exciting Latin final.

As expected Troels Bager & Ina Jeliazkova won the competition by placing first in all dances, and we must point out that they won the rumba with perfect scores from the judges. In the other four dances they nearly reached perfection, but lost one first in the cha cha, from Igor Pilipenchuck, one first in the jive from Corky Ballas who awarded them the lowest score in this final - a third, and also one second in the paso doble from Corky. In the Paso doble overall they lost one more first place mark and this second place awarded to them came from Linda Dean. They also lost 1 first from Riccardo Cocchi in the Samba. For us they were the clear winner on this night. They seemed to dance for their lives, it is the best effort we have seen from this couple especially Ina who is so perfectly balance and we must say that Troels for sure wore his soul on his sleeve and gave everything he had until the end.  Troels & Ina became the first couple to receive the Ron Montez Perpetual Latin Trophy.

Another couple that danced as we never seen before was Andrei Kazlouski & Asta Sigvaldadottier. From the first round this couple got the audience going and everywhere they went they enjoyed cheering from their fans. Andrei & Asta stole three firsts from Troels & Ina, one in the cha cha from Igor Pilipenchuck, one in the samba from Bill Sparks, and one first in the paso doble from Corky Ballas. For us they were totally on, and we were happy that we did not have to make any decisions but just enjoy their wonderful performance. Their final scores were 2,2,2,3,2.

Another couple that were totally on was Mykhailo Bilopukhov & Anastasiia Shchypilina. This couple project a different look in this final to anyone else. You could almost say that they are perhaps the most traditional of all the couples, truly embodying the old traditional “man, woman” relationships that many still want to see in a Latin couple. We must also point out that they too managed to steal a couple of firsts from Troels & Ina, one in the samba from Riccardo Cocchi, and one in the paso doble from Linda Dean. We have to say that this is perhaps one of our favorite couples in this style, and it is perhaps their traditional look and style that draws us to them, the simplicity and embodiment of each dance makes it easy to see and enjoy, their final scores were 3,3,3,2,3.

Fourth place went to Francesco & Sabrina Bertini who on this night sported a black outfit and in our opinion making them a little hard to locate as the floor is quite dark. In a way they kind of appeared and disappeared in this final, but was it magical or a fault? However, we have to say that once spotted you knew why they were in this very prestigious final, their contagious smile and charisma separates them from the rest and Sabrina for us is one of the best Latin ladies in the USA today. We must also tell that they too took one first from the winners and that was in the paso doble, overall scores 5.5,4,5,6,4.

Fifth and sixth position were basically separated by a half a point with Artur Tarnavskyy & Anastasia Danilova accumulating 25 points total and Manuel Favilla & Natalia Maidiuk getting 25.5 points in their column. As you can see Artur & Anastasia had a half point less and this assured their fifth place finish in this final. The extra .5 went to Manuel & Natalia who placed sixth overall. Artur & Anastasia’s final tally was 4,5,6,5,5, and Manuel & Natalia’s was 5.5,6,4,4,6. And finally in seventh position was Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabriella Sabler who took this final tally 7,7,7,7,7. From the start of the final we kind of knew this might be the outcome. Pasha & Gabriella are also another favorite couple of ours, but unfortunately Pasha’s high collared look accentuated a very statuesque look, should we say a little stiff through the neck and back, we have seen this couple dance before and we know this is not usual for Pasha, but perhaps more attention to softness and release through the back and upper body might be something to look into.

In the US National Professional Smooth Championship, it was time to say goodbye to the former and welcome a new administration. The Professional Smooth was perhaps the most anticipated competition of the week with two couples that have been going head to head for about a year or so, the 2019 US National Professional Smooth Champions, Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija (Barisihina) and Roman Malkhasyan & Galina Detkina who won the final battle of the giants, by placing first in all dances, and who are now the current 2021 US Professional Smooth Champions.

From looking at the judges’ marks we have to report that in two dances they were really close, most of the first place marks that were awarded were given to these two couples and in the Viennese waltz, Roman & Galina reeived 10 first place marks to the 9 awarded to Nick & Vicktorija, and in the foxtrot 11 first place marks were awarded to Roman & Galina and 8 to Nick & Viktorija. We know that a title is not always won by first place marks, but this gives the fans a simple look into the judges’ decisions and thoughts. For us on the peanut gallery it was an “even Steven” situation. Both couples were great and as many commented “almost amazing” in their skills. We felt that Nick & Viktorija might have the night because their dancing was soft, precise and with few faults we could see, but it was not to be, the freshness of Roman & Galina overpowered the room and as you can see in the marks and they were crowned the 2021 US Professional Smooth Champions.

Travis & Jaimee Tuft placed third in all dances in this very exciting heat, and as far as we were concerned they were the most consistent couple in every dance and in every step. They seem to leave nothing to chance, but could this be their Achilles Heel? Do we want to see them on the edge of the precipice, perhaps blood is what we want? Unfortunately for them, with so much skill and talent and most impressive of all “mental awareness,” they seem to be able to see the precipice too far ahead and their basic instincts always kick in at the right moment or is it?

Fourth place overall was awarded to Nikolai & Sarika Pilipenchuk with these marks 4,4,5,4. We have to point out that besides Nick & Vicktorija and Roman & Galina, Nikolai & Sarika were the only ones to be awarded two first place marks - one in the foxtrot and one in the Viennese Waltz, both from Tomas Mielnicki. Fifth and sixth places were quite clear to all. Aleksander Vukosavljevic & Alexandra Smirnova were fifth 5,5,6,5, and Oleksiy Pigotskyy & Anastasiia Zhuchenko were sixth 6,6,4,6.

In the US National Professional Mambo Championship ten couples took to the floor, and after two group numbers and a solo performance by each couple the unbeatable and perfect performance by Kevin Ubillius & Milagors Lareto stole the night with first from all judges and incredible cheers from the onlookers. From here down there was a pot pourri of marks for all the other couples from second to eighth place. Second position went to Karlos Vasquez & Juliana Villacorta, third was awarded to Eddie Rivera & Jailene Espinosa.  Interestingly, 3 couples of Latino heritage were the top 3 couples. In fourth position was Gene & Isabella Bersten , fifth position went to Antonio Nunes & Ksenia Kashkina, and sixth place in this hot mambo heat were Roman & Anna Zotov, but we must point out that Roman & Anna were actually fifth overall but were penalized due to an infraction and so they dropped to sixth place overall.

In the US Amateur Ballroom Championship Oleksandr Kalenyuk & Olena Ablitsova won the championship but not all dances. In the waltz they placed second. In the three dances that Oleksandr & Olena won three were won with a majority of firsts, in the tango they needed second or better to take this dance.Second overall and winning the waltz were Angelo Gaetano & Clarissa Morelli taking seven firsts out of thirteen in that dance.

Third in four dances and placing fourth in the waltz were Samuel Hacke & Katarina Hermanova, and they placed third overall. Fourth in the four dances and third in the waltz, securing a fourth place finish were Alex Dubovyk & Rickie Taylor Dubovyk. Fifth place was awarded to Erik Linder & Shelly Linder with these marks 5,5,6,5,5, and in sixth place overall were Danylo Yanchyshyn & Dascha Wright 6,6,5,6,6.

Last night there was an Open to the world Professional Rising Star Event in the ballroom category and this event went to Maksym Savyskyi & Polina Riabovil.

As is traditional nowadays at the US Championships, the American Ballroom Company presents the John Monte Award for outstanding service to Ballroom Dancing. This year they gave it to one of their own, Mr. Wayne Eng for his outstanding services to competition dancing and his creation of Dance Vision a groundbreaking video instruction company.

Click here to see the photos of these past champions presented last night from the Theatre Arts, Rhythm & Smooth divisions.

Huge Shoes to Fill!

With the retirement of our US Ballroom Champions, Katusha Demidova & Arunas Bizokas and Victor Fung & Anastasia Muravyeva in quick succession, there is a huge void that was palpably felt last night at the US Championships.

There is plenty of talent following their footsteps, this makes it all very hopeful for the future of ballroom of dancing in America. The newly crowned overall US Ballroom Professional Champions last night were Iaroslav & Liliia Bieliei (FL), by placing first in three dances and second in the tango.

Rudy Homm & Katia Kanevskaya were second overall but did manage to steal the tango from Iaroslav & Liliia. Third in all dances went to Alexander & Veronika Voskalchuk. We must also point out that in nearly every dance both Rudy & Katia and Alexander & Veronika took a number of first places from Iaroslav & Liliia. Iaroslav & Lilia had emerged as the front-runners over the past year and Iaroslav especially was very emotional when it was apparent that they had become the new champions. Our congratulations to them!

In this US Ballroom Professional heat there was a tie for fourth and fifth position and a (Rule10) had to be use to break the tie. After the rule was used Valeriu Ursache & Liana Bakhtiarova were awarded fourth place 5,4,6,4,4, and Andres & Veronika End placed fifth 4,5,4,5,5. Sixth place overall went to Radu Sterban & Xenia Cletova.

Next into the final was the new partnership of Igor Mikushov & Valeriia Belozerova

The US National Rhythm Champions were also selected last night and although there were few sparks in the final, we were a little taken aback by some of the judges selections in this prestigious final. The winners with a huge majority of firsts in all dances were Andre & Natalie Paramonov (FL), and as always they did not disappoint, their musicality makes you want to keep your eyes glued to their performance.

Second overall went to Danas Jaksevicius & Yuki Haraguchi by placing second in the R,S,B and third in the C,M, this is a very accomplished couple with a very consistent performance, however, the “Pink Gloves” in the earlier rounds were a little questionable, it tended to make her hands look huge. Third overall was awarded to Dmitriy & Olena Nikishkin 2,3,3,3,2, a very energetic couple this evening. Fourth overall by placing fourth in four dances and fifth in the Mambo were Shane & Shannen Jensen.

As you can tell by the marks from Andre & Natalie down the judges were all over the place, perhaps it was too much to digest in just so little time or could it be that 23 judges is too many? It is quite interesting to see the judges thoughts through the marks after every competition and last night in this heat it was almost like reading tea leaves. After being in the industry for a few years for us their choices for fifth and sixth places were a little more questionable. Kebin Ubillus & Milagors Lareto were fifth overall 5,5,5,5,4, and yes we totally agree the potential in this couple is astronomical. However, right now we feel that their charisma overshadows some questionable areas of technique. The sixth place couple, taking sixth place in every dance, were Toshko & Kristen Kondov, for us these partnership is still a little unbalanced. It takes two to tango. Once again great potential here – but maybe a little more time is needed.

Having said all this we most point out two brilliant couples that could have easily taken a spot in this very prestigious final. Firstly, Ryan & Danelle Lockhart, the lady alone is quite exquisite to watch and the gentleman is totally put together. Second on the list that we figured would easily come into this final looking at it from the stands was Andrew Escolme & Amy Baker, their rhythmicality was contagious from the first go and from the first round on you could see them from a plane. I know we are being quite critical of our US judges here, but we feel that perhaps we might not be the only people in the stands thinking and feeling that these two couples also need recognition.

This was the first time in many years that the US National Amateur Championships were held in conjunction with the Professional and Pro-Am divisions. Normally they hare held in Provo in March, but the pandemic precluded their running this year. There is a separate ballroom for these events, but the semifinals and finals of the three major events are being held in the “main” ballroom. Last night we saw the first of these – the US National Amateur Smooth Championship.

As was expected, the 6 finalists all hailed from Utah that has really become the epicenter of amateur Smooth dancing. Retaining their title from 2020, Brandon Keck & Kaylee Christensen are the 2021 Champions. They won all 4 dances but did not have the majority of 1st places in any.

In fact the judges spread their 1st places over most of the finalists. The runners-up, with 2,2,4,2, were Sawyer Stolle & Serena Keck. These two couples have been the most consistent over the past year. Perhaps our favorites tonight, Tanner Cole & Savana Francia, placed 3rd with 4,3,2,3. We also enjoyed 4th placed Parley Ford & Natalie Jolley who scored 3,4,5,5. Ben Maier & Elisabeth Thompson were 5th 6,5,3,4 and Blake Fox & Nicole Ascione took 6th 5,6,6,6.

There was also an “open to the world” Pro RS division held tonight, although all couples entered were from the USA. The winners were Andriy & Amanda Besyedin from NY.

The first event on in the evening session was the US Open to The World Pro-Am Cabaret and there were 5 good entries. Interestingly there were 2 gentlemen in the top 3, but the winner was Quin Bommelje w/ Criag Smith who took 7 of the 11 first place marks. Jake Mazhar w/ Yulia Besarab was the runner up with 4 of the judges placing him first. The second gentleman Robert Haworth w/ Rachel Sayotovich, placed 3rd and 2 judges scored him to win. 4th went to Judith Spivey w/ Mykhailo Azarov; 5th Isabella Spagnole w/ Colton Gannon.

The Pro/Am US Open to the world Latin Scholarships Championships concluded yesterday late afternoon and we are pleased to report they were excellent in quality as well as in quantity.

The “A” division was quite tough for these judges every one of the couples was terrific and we can see why the judges brought back 8 couples. The winner of this “A” category with a majority of firsts in every dance was Ariel Xu w/Daniel Hustic, second place in this final by taking second in every dance was Lena Panin w/Artur Tarnavskyy, third overall was Julia Lokey w/Art Tsaturyan 5,3,3,4,5, fourth place went to Mark Ebinger w/Tabish Romario 4,4,4,3,6, in fifth position was Deborah Tipley w/Paul Richardson, sixth place was Anvelyn Pi w/Pasha Stepanchuk 7,7,6,5,3, seventh position was awarded to Caroline Numberg w/Tomas Vasicek 6,6,7,8,8, and in eighth place was Maria Shaheen w/Ivan Mulyavka.

Remember that we will have full coverage of the Pro/Am US Open to the World Scholarship Championships here on Dance Beat.

The “B” division was also a fantastic heat and here the overall winner by placing first in the S,R,P and second in the C,J was Liliya Bauer w/Aleksandr Gorodetskyy, second in this heat by winning the cha cha and jive but placing second in the other three dances was Missy White w/ Genya Bartashevich. Third in all dances in this heat was Christina Enoch w/Roman Drobotov, fourth in all went to Peggy Fang w/Nikolai Tarasov, fifth was Lauren Cross w/Myroslav Gavryliv, and sixth was Jen Mo w/Andre Tarasov.

In the US Open Pro/Am “C” Latin 8 couples were also called for this final and the competition was quite challenging, once again you can tell by the marks that they judges were sweating bullets. In this heat first and second place was a tie and it had to be decided by a (Rule 10) decision, the overall winner with these marks 2,3,1,1,1, and after the (Rule10) decision was Deborah Wright w/Nikolay Voronovich, second from this ruling with these marks 1,1,2,2,2,was Lynn Magnesen w/Tomasz Lewandowski. Third overall went to Sophia D’Angelo w/Vitalii Proskurin 3,2,3,3,3, fourth in all dances was Marialisa De Gasperis w/Stanislav Kochergin, also fifth in all dances was Isabel Collins w/Mykyta Serdyuk, sixth place was Tracy Hannon w/Lurii Kora 8,6,6,6,7, seventh position was Scott Magnesen w/Sabrina Bertini 7,7,8,7,6, and eighth position went to Katherine Ye w/ Pasha Stepanchuk 6,8,7,8,8.

In the Senior 1 the winner in all dances was Etta Lisa Lowery w/Artem Merenko, second place also in all dances went to Scott Magnesen w/Sabrina Bertini, and third in all dances was awarded to Yee-Ping Ching w/Andre Tarasov. From here down the marks got a little more dispersed, fourth place was Marina Lagocha w/Viktor Tkachenko 4,4,5,4,4, fifth position went to Anna Chiu w/Troels Bager 5,6,4,5,5, and sixth was Windy Yu w/Roman Italyankin 6,5,6,6,6.

The Senior 2 was a five couple final and here the clear winner in all dances was Alice Lekht w/Igor Derimov, second in all dances went to Susan Miller w/Ricky Bentzen, third in all was Joan Endres w/Gene Bersten, fourth overall was awarded to Joseph Hubchenko w/Denise Rivera 5,4,4,4,4 and in fifth position was Joan Warshall w/Hudson Oliver.

This is the 50th Anniversary of the US Dance Championships and as part of the celebration, we are being presented with many of the past champions. Click here to see the photos of these past champions. Last night we were introduced to some of the Pro-Am Champions, Pro Showdance Champions and Pro 9 and 10 Dance Champions.

At USDC – “Life is a Cabaret!”

Yesterday was a packed day of Championships at our USDC but one of the most popular Championships took place prime time.

The US National Professional Cabaret Championship, and it did not disappoint. Eight couples took to the floor for their solo presentations and every one of them were worthy of this final.

The winners of the US National Professional Cabaret Championship by taking the majority of firsts were Shane & Shannon Jensen who in the draw for the dance placements took first position, making them the first couple to perform in the Championship, this is not usually a position most couples want, because after 7 more routines, the question is “will the judges remember and will they be able to compare my performance with the rest of the seven couples remaining?” Apparently Shane & Shannon were not only remembered but totally rewarded for their faultless routine. They captured the majority of firsts from the 15 judges, with only 5 judges awarding them a second place mark for their effort. We totally agree with the judges’, we thought their performance was perfection technically as well as choreographically.

Second place went to Travis Tuft & Jaimee Tuft who managed to steal 3 first place marks from Jensen & Jensen. However, in looking at the marks we were a little surprised that they only manage to capture 5 second place marks from the rest of the judges, many of them placed them third and even a few fifth positions were awarded to them. Third was awarded to Craig Smith & Andrea Harvey who for us did an excellent job, but having been following this couple through the year, we honestly have to say we have seen better from them, they did not seem to have the confidence and easiness that we have witnessed in the past. This might be from the pressure of the US Championship itself. We must also point out that they took one first from the winning couple.

Fourth went to Clifton & Mar Sepulveda who also stole 1 first place mark from Shane & Shannon, the rest of their marks were a little low with only one judge awarding them a second place mark. Clifton & Mar are a terrific couple who do some amazing work, unfortunately for us last night they seemed to be competing with Pavarotti, the song seemed to overpower their work, and perhaps not help them secure a higher placement in this final.

Fifth place was awarded to Zachary Pohl & Ariel Freilich, seventh went to Jay Holmes & Violet Monroe and in eighth place was Chris Fedun & Ellie Grohoske.

Before we move on to the US Open to the world Pro/Am Smooth Scholarships, we have to mention that 4 couples entered the US National Professional Showdance Championship and the winners with nearly perfect scores were Alexander & Veronika Voskalchuk who took 14 first places and one third place. The runners-up were Stephen & Alissa McCann, third went to Nazar Batih & Mariko Cantley and fourth were Alexey Grinev & Kseniia Grineva.

The Pro/Am US Open to the World Smooth Scholarships Championships were terrific and prior to that a full day of Pro/Am Smooth dancing started at 7AM finishing with these terrific Scholarship Championships.

In the A division it was clear to us and many of the judges that Haley Hernandez w/ Tykhon Zhyvkov would take this Championships easily, and when the marks came in, she won all dances with a majority of firsts in every dance. Only two judges dissented from awarding them a first place mark, Luann Pulliam and Edward Simon, who either awarded them second or third in all four dances. Second overall was awarded to Alina Sakura w/ Adrian Dydynski 2,2,3,2. Third went to Gabriella Pumo w/ Stephen McGrath 3,3,2,3. Fourth was Elizabeth Cuevas w/ Mayo Alanen 4,5,4,4. Fifth was Elizabeth Thomson w/ Nick Cheremukhim 5,4,6,5, and in sixth place was Maxahna Brinkmeyer w/ Christopher Wayne 6,6,5,6.

As in the Rhythm Open to the World Scholarships Championships we will have full coverage of all those categories here at Dance Beat.

The “B” and the “C” categories were both won by the same lady, Patricia Schneider w/ Slawek Sochacki (a repeat of her wins in these divisions in the Pro-Am World Championships). In the B she was the overall winner by placing first in three dances and second in the Viennese Waltz. Second in this heat and winning the Viennese Waltz was Zlata Clark w/ Kyle Spinder 2,2,2,1. Third and fourth was a tie and had to be decided by a (Rule10). Third position, with these marks 5,3,3,4, went to Mariana Lvoff w/Vladimir Kosarev and fourth place after the rule went to Kelly Prisco w/Paolo Di Lorenzo 4,4,4,3. Fifth place was awarded to Elizabeth Rocco w/Igor Afonkin 3,5,5,5; sixth in all dances went to Nannel Wray w/Enzo Zappia; seventh in all was Kristin Buettner w/Ivan Markelov and eighth place was awarded to Qin He w/Gherman Mustuc.

As we mentioned earlier Patricia Schneider w/ Slawek Sochacki also won the “C” division of this Smooth Open Scholarship Championship, and here the Viennese also escaped her, she won the first three dances and placed second in the Viennese Waltz. The winner of the Viennese was Sophia D’Angelo w/ Max Sinitsa who placed second in the other three dances, making her position second overall. Third overall was awarded to Nichelle Kennedy w/ Aleks Nashev 3,3,4,3; fourth went to Charlene Proctor w/ Mikhail Zharinov 4,4,3,4; fifth in all dances was awarded to Monica Broch w/ Stephan McCann, leaving sixth in all to Ligaya Carlos w/Dustin Donelan.

In the Senior 1 category the overall winner was Sue Eldred w/Oleksiy Pigotskyy, they placed first in three dances and second in the waltz. Second place was awarded to Lisa Etta Lowery w/ Artem Merenkov and they won the waltz but placed second in the other three dances. Third in this final and in all dances went to Linda Gill w/Roman Malkhasyan. Fourth and fifth positions was a tie between Irene Fong w/Slawek Sochacki and Kathy Stewart w/Mayo Alanen and it had to be broken by a (Rule 11), in the end Kathy & Mayo took fourth 4,4,5,5, and Irene w/ Slawek placed fifth 5,5,4,4. Sixth in all dances was awarded to Elizabeth Cramer w/ Yuriy Kravets.

8 couples were called back for the Senior 2 Open to the World Scholarship Championship and here the clear winner was Judi Markell w/Pavel Cherdantsau who won all dances. Second in all was awarded to Janet Bruttell w/Dmitrii Zavialov; third overall went to Pat Luthy w/ Vladimir Popov but from here down as you will see the marks went all over the place 3,6,4,3. Fourth was Annette Burden w/Tony Scheppler 6,3,3,5; fifth was awarded to Sally Hess w/Darius Mosteika 4,5,5,4; sixth was Mark Eberle w/Veronika End 5,4,6,6; in seventh place was Liz Conklyn w/Dariusz Michalski and they placed seventh in all dances and eighth place in all was Joann Kelley w/Sergey Vasilyev.

We also witnessed the two remaining National Rising Star competitions last night – the Latin and Smooth.

The Smooth was danced over 4 rounds and ended with a tiebreak (Rule 11) for first place. It went to Volodymyr Barabash & Yulia Rudenco. They placed 2,2,1,1. The unlucky couple on the losing end of the tie were Kharyton & Anastasiya Khomenko who placed 1,1,2,2.

The Latin was danced over 3 rounds and it also ended in a tie, this time broken by Rule 10. The winners were Nikolai Tarasov & Sarah Nolan and they scored 1,1,3,1,2. The runners-up were Andriy & Amanda Besyedin and they scored 2,2,1,2,1.

US Got Rhythm!

After two full days of Pro/Am Rhythm competition, this style concluded last night with the Open to the World Pro/Am Rhythm Scholarships.

This was then followed by The US National Professional Latin ShowDance Championship and the US National Professional Theater Arts Championships.

This year the Pro/Am categories were standardized to A, B, C, Senior 1 and Senior 2 categories, making it a lot easier to follow for all fans and participants. We are also very happy to report that all the Open to the World Championships, were of great caliber with a good number of people entered in every single one of them.

The “A” category ended up with an 8-couple final and the winner of this excellent heat was Abigail Montalbo w/Vasilii Platonov who won all dances, second in this heat but not in all dances went to Kacey Warren w/Jean Michel Erole who placed second in four dances and third in the rumba. Third in this heat and taking a second in the rumba and third in the other four dances were Mary Ida Spradlin w/Primo Garcia. From third place down the marks got even more divided, fourth place in this “A” heat went to Sophia Santiago Burgos w/Eddie Rivera 4,4,5,5,4, fifth was Maxahna Brinkmeyer w/Christopher Wayne 5,5,4,4,5, sixth was awarded to Samantha Ferris w/Roman Doroshenko 6,6,6,6,7, seventh place went to Madyson Hart w/ Colton Gannon and eighth position went to Diana Larson w/Nicolas Rogriguez 8,7,8,8,8. We will also have full reports on all these Rhythm Pro/Am Open to the World Scholarships soon here on Dance Beat, so keep an eye out for the full reports and commentaries.

The “B” Category was a 7-couple final and here the clear winner was Giovanni Fortezza w/ Jolanta Mosteika winning all dances. Second in this heat went to Nichelle Kennedy w/ Aleks Nashev with these scores 2,2,3,2,3, third overall was awarded to Mariana Lvoff w/ Vladimir Kosarev 4,3,2,3,4. In fourth position was Kacey Warren w/Jean Michel Erole 3,4,6,4,2, fifth went to Beatriz Colon w/ Hayk Balasanyan 6,5,4,5,5, sixth was Chasity Smith w/Eddie Ares and seventh position in all dances was awarded to Heather Phillips w/ Aaron Stowell.

Another seven couple final was called for the “C” Open to the World Pro/Am Rhythm Championship and here the clear winner in all dances was Lynn Magnesen w/Tomasz Lewandowski. Second overall by placing second in three dances and third in the swing and mambo was Nichelle Kennedy w/ Aleks Nashev, third overall went to Angela Fuller w/Sasha Tsyhankov 3,3,2,3,2, fourth was Louise Shah w/ Andrew Escolme placing fourth in all dances, fifth was awarded to Krista Hughes w/ Tykhon Zhyvkov also in all dances. Sixth overall went to Adriana Salinas w/Roberto Fernandez 6,7,6,6,6, and in seventh position was Scott Magnesen w/Sabrina Bertini.

An 8-couple final was called for the Senior 1 division and we can almost say the marks were all over the place. The overall winner of this very difficult heat was Joan Goddard w/ Andrew Escolme placing first in four dances and second in the cha cha. Second and third places were decided by (Rule10) meaning there was a tie between the next two couples mentioned. However, after rule ten was used second place went to Etta Lisa Lowery w/ Artem Merenko 3,2,2,2,3, leaving third to Shari Oxman w/ Hayk Balasanyan 1,3,3,3,2. Fourth place in this heat went to Sandy Buckholz w/Toshko Kondov 4,4,5,5,5, fifth was Debbie Clyne w/Jeremy Gatlin 6,6,4,4,4, sixth place was awarded to Scott Magnesen w/Sabrina Bertini 5,5,6,6,6, in seventh position was Sandy MacCarron w/Michael Neail 8,7,7,7,8, and in eighth place was Susan Parks w/ Nikolay Karchev 7,8,8,8,7.

In the Senior 2 a 6-couple final was called and here the clear winner was Susan Miller w/Hayk Arshakian placing first in all dances. Second overall was Leslie McLeod w/ Melbin De La Cruz 2,2,2,3,2, third went to Janet Bruttell w/ Dmitri Zavialov 3,3,3,2,3, fourth was awarded to Susan Parks w/Nikolay Karchev5,4,5,4,4, fifth was Lois Fein w/ Luis Lopez 4,5,4,5,6, and sixth went to Nancy Politzer w/Andre Paramonov 6,6,6,6,5.

With these results the two full days of Pro/am Rhythm concluded and then the competition for the US National Professional Latin Showdance and Theather Arts began.

The first of the Professional National Titles were decided in the night session – The US National Theatre Arts and the US National Latin Showdance.

Only 3 couples entered the Latin Showdance and the win went to Denys Drozdyuk & Antonina Skobina from NY. They received 8 of the 15 available first places for a clear win. The result for 2nd place was much closer and was decided by a tiebreak. Both couples had 9 “2nd or better” scores. After the tiebreak, Ivan Sovetov & Valeria Mkrtchian were the runners-up and Fedor Artemev & Ekaterina Artemeva were 3rd.

For those who have never attended a US Championship, the Professional Theatre Arts Championship is a unique event that is a throwback to the old days of theatrical dancing. At one time all couples competed on the floor at the same time to pre-selected music. This was then changed in the late ‘80’s to include a solo Cabaret performance for the top 6 finishers in the group competition. This was again changed to split the two events into separate competitions, Cabaret and the group competition that became the Theatre Arts. We believe that this format with several couples on the floor at the same time all performing aerial work is only done here at the US Championships. It is often a hair-raising experience for the couples and the audience!

Tonight the champions were Travis & Jaimee Tuft from NJ. Travis & Jaimee are no strangers to this division having won it in 2018, 2016, 2015 and 2013. Travis & Jaimee received 12 of the 15 first places. The only other couple to receive any first places (3) were the runners-up, Clifton & Mar Sepulveda. 3rd were Zachary Pohl & Ariel Freilich; 4th Jang & Adele Don; 5th Jay Holmes & Violet Monroe; 6th Chris Fedun & Ellie Grohoske; 7th Aaron Stowell & Brie Hofreiter.

We also saw the first of the National Rising Star competitions, this time in the Rhythm and Ballroom divisions.

The Rhythm was a large division danced over 4 rounds. The winners to night were Shandor Shtefil & Evgeniia Elcoro. They won all 5 dances but did not have the majority of 1st places in any. The closest scored dance was bolero where a tiebreak was necessary to decide the winner. The couple pushing them the hardest were the runners-up in all dances, Aleksei Shiplilov & Julia Mitina. These two couples were fairly clear from the rest of the field. As we progressed down the final the scores became much more varied. 3rd Kristian Sese & Mae Lozado 5,3,3,3,5; 4th Gene & Isabella Bersten 4,4,5,4,3; 5th Dymytrii Goncharov & Veronika Shapar 3,6,4,5,6; 6th Richard Kaszas & Fotteini Pangea 6,5,6,6,4.

The RS Ballroom began with a quarter-final. Placing first tonight were Florin Vlad & Natalia O’Connor-Vlad. They scored 1,2,1,1,2 in a very closely contested division. They did achieve a majority of first places in VW. The runners-up were Aleksei Minaev & Elena Minaeva and they scored 2,1,2,2,1. The foxtrot & quickstep were particularly close and were decided by tiebreaks. Interestingly, in every dance of this final (except tango where one couple missed), every couple received at least one first place in every dance. 3rd overall tonight went to Mirko Spano & Pamela Romano 3,3,4,3,3; 4th Riccardo Conte & Eleonora Filippi 4,4,3,4,4; 5th Yuriy Nartov & Enxhi Fundo 5,5,5,6,5; 6th Evgenii Grinin & Olga Morozova 6,6,6,5,6.

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