New York Dance Festival 2022

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All About the Latin

Not surprisingly, given that the organizers, Eugene Katsevman & Maria Manusova were world renowned Latin experts, yesterday was all about the Latin - again!

Firstly, during the day we had the pro-am Latin divisions that were the best of the festival. Then at night, it was a stellar Open Amateur Event danced over 4 rounds.

Before we get to the dancing, there was another vibe in the room last night – the ongoing conflict in the Ukraine. Since many dancers present are originally from Ukraine, including the organizers, there was much concern and sympathy. A waltz during the Pro Ballroom and a rumba during the Amateur Latin were dedicated to Ukraine and danced to Ukranian music. Several competitors wore their numbers painted like the Ukranian flag or wore the colors in some other way. We all wish a rapid cessation of the hostilities!!

The final of the Amateur Latin returned 5 US couples and 1 Spanish couple. Austin Joson & Nino Dzneladze easily won the event with by far the majority of first places and a perfect 15 firsts in rumba. We thought this was a dynamic performance from them and they really were not challenged. We loved Nino’s new svelte look! Taking 2nd in all dances were Joel Lopez & Kristina Bespechnova from Spain. We had seem them last week in Florida and were very impressed and this continued here. They are a great couple and Kristina has some truly unique qualities. They were quite comfortably 2nd. 3rd in all dances fell to Tal Livshitz & Ilona Keselman. We also saw some distinct improvements in this duo. A more serious and intense attitude from Tal especially. They had the majority of “3rd or better” scores in all dances except the cha cha. Tagir Mansurov & Liza Lakovisky pushed Tal & Ilana throughout, but it was only in the cha cha where it was almost a tie for 3rd place where they seriously threatened them. 5th in all dances went to Bumchin Tegshjargal & Michelle Klets, the only west coast couple in the final. As always this pair were engaging and easy to watch and well deserved their position tonight. Ron Garber & Klaudia Petriti closed this incredibly strong final and certainly were always in this mix taking 4th and 5th placements from many judges.

The incredible atmosphere in this ballroom, particularly during the Latin events, really spurred on the couples to give of their best!

The Open Pro Ballroom was another major event last night, although perhaps failed to generate the kind of excitement as did the Latin divisions. Rudy Homm & Katya Kanevskaya were the easy winners, receiving large majorities of first places in all dances. The main race here was for the runner-up spot and it was taken by 3 dances to 2 by Andres & Veronika End 2,3,2,2,3 over Oleksandr Kalenyuk & Olena Ablitsova 3,2,3,3,2. These 2 couples are quite different. The Ends are tall, elegant and angular while Oleksandr & Oleana are more petite and rely on their superb feet and leg actions. Which style do you prefer? The judges were almost nearly split down the middle. The only dance won with a majority of “2nd or better” scores was the tango. Radu Sterban & Xenia Cletova were 4th in all dances. 5th Serhey Averkov & Olena Barna 5,5,5,6,5; 6th Marek Klepadlo & Nina Zhiting Yang 6,6,6,5,6.

The Open Professional Rhythm was the smallest of the major events last night. Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin won all dances, but as US finalists had to work perhaps a little harder than they expected. Pushing them was the new partnership of Francesco Arietta & Jessa Mae Briones who took 2nd in all dances. They took first places in all dances, but their best scored were Swing (6 firsts) and Bolero (5 firsts). US 9-Dance Champions, Oleksyy Pigotskyy & Anastasiia Zuchenko easily secured 3rd in all dances with a significant majority of “3rd or better” in all dances. 4th Kristian Sese & Mae Lozado 4,4,4,4,4; 5th Jeffrey Benarao & Thea Quilaton 5,5,5,6,5; 6th Andrew Nikitchenko & Tara Fanzo 6,6,6,5,6.

There was something of an upset in the Open Amateur Smooth – and hopefully it did not cause a family crisis as it involved 2 siblings! The winners were Sawyer Stolle & Serena Keck over the current US Champions (and Serena’s brother) Brandon Keck & Kaylee Pattillo. It was a fairly decisive win as Sawyer and Serena won all dances with the majority of first places. Brandon & Kaylee were 2nd in all dances. It will be interesting to see the result at the US Nationals in this division in a couple of weeks! 3rd Michael May & Sopheanna English 3,4,3,3; 4th Benson Maier & Elizabeth Thompson 4,3,4,4; 5th Nathan Stevenson & Sabrina Bezzant 5,5,5,6; 6th Shandon Hoffman & Sabrina Sulik 6,6,6,5.

As we said above the pro-am Latin divisions were the best of the week. Here are the results:
Open A
1. Xu/Hustiuc 1,1,1,1,1; 2. Mazhar/Karpov 2,2,3,3,2; 3. Onischuk/Gunnarrson 3,5,2,2,3; 4. Pi/Stepanchuk 4,4,4,5,5; 5. Dorotov/Genkin 6,7,5,4,4; 6. Nazarov/Devitskaya 5,3,6,6,6; Qu/Kapitanchuk 7,6,7,7,7.

Open B
1. Smith/Lifshitz 1,1,1,1,1; 2. Stanko/Malakhov 3,2,3,2,3; 3. Giordano/Danailov 4,4,2,3,2; 4. Fang/Tasarov 2,3,4,4,4; 5. Tarr/Genkin 5,5,5,6,5; 6. Biggs/Samarskyi 7,6,6,5,6; 7. Ninchi/Milot 7,6,6,5,6
Open C
1. D'Angelo/Proskurin 2,1,1,1,1; 2. Bottini/Vukosavljevic 1,2,2,2,2; 3. Svyatets/Karpov 3,3,3,5,3; 4. Fujiwara/Samchynskyy 5,4,4,3,6; 5. Stefanini/Barov 4,5,5,4,4; 6. Petrayev/Kuznetsov 6,6,6,6,6.
Open S1
1. Shreibeer/Shumylo 1,1,1,2,2; 2. Magneten/Bertini 2,2,2,1,1; 3. Rossetti/Arietta 4,3,3,3,4T; 4. Tucker/Astafiev 3,4,6,4,3; 5. Chiu/Bager 5,5,4,5,4T; 6. Kazakevich/Gotchev 6,6,5,6,6.
Open S2
1. Fox/Danailov 1,1,1,1,1; 2. Knight/Shpakov 2,3,2,3,2; 3. Binder/Incatasciato 3,2,3,2,3; 4. Mullins/Wlodarski 6,6,4,4,4; 5. Sordoni/Arietta 5,4,5,5,5; 6. Porges/Katona 4,5,6,6,6; 7. Cheney/Astafiev 7,7,7,7,7.

A Rare Night!

Sometimes at dance competitions you get a night where everything comes together!

Last night at NYDF was just one of those nights! Everything went right! The dancers were on form, the audience was keen and the atmosphere sizzled! And we were done before 11PM. With only 3 majorly contested events plus a Cabaret division, the night was high energy from beginning to end.

Without doubt, the star in the crown was the Open Professional Latin, a stellar event that began with 34 couples. Obviously many great couples were left in the early and even with the final 6, a quick glance at the judges’ scores proved that this was no walk in the park. With the exception of the winners, all the couples received a mixed bag from this world class panel.

Troels Bager & Ina Jeliazkova were the undisputed winners. With 15 judges and a possible 75 first places – Troels & Ina received 74. They did receive 1 third place in the cha cha! We have to agree with the judges – this amazing duo just seem to have more time than all the others. They never seem hurried or stressed and always appear to be having a great time. Well done!

But from 2nd place to 6th the judges struggled to find consensus. As a case in point, the normally unflappable MC, Mr. John DePalma, when reading the results (in reverse order) made an error on 3rd place and almost announced the couple placing 3rd as the runners-up. The reason for his confusion – 3rd placed Igor Wilczynski & Anna Kaplii from Poland scored 2,2,2,4,4. His confusion is clear – how often do you see a couple’s scorecard beginning with 3 second places when they actually placed 3rd? Well that is what happened here. The actual runners-up, Mykhailo Bilopukhov & Anastasiya Shchypilina, scored 3,3,3,2,2 – 1 point higher than Igor & Anna. Not surprisingly, the judges’ 2nd place marks were spread among the 5 remaining finalists and no couple received a majority of “2nd or better” scores in any dance. Tiebreaks for many placements abounded in the whole final. Of the two couples in question here we preferred Mykhailo & Anastasiya as their performance was more “natural” – something we appreciate. Igor & Anna seemed a little overly produced and contrived in some dances for our taste. Nevertheless, some incredible dancing from both couples.

With 4,4,4,3,5, Artur Tarnavskyy & Anastasia Danilova maintained their high ranking to take an overall 4th place. They tied with the Polish couple for 4th in the jive, but lost out on the tiebreak. Closing the final and in a pretty tight race also were Francesco & Sabrina Bertini and Manuel Favilla & Natalia Maidiuk. Francesco & Sabrina got the nod for 5th place, scoring 5,6,6,5,3 to Manuel & Natalia’s 6,5,5,6,6. All in all, you couldn’t have asked for a better competition from start to finish! Congratulations to all the couples!

The Pro Smooth gave us one more chance to witness the match-up between former and current US Champions – Malkhasyan/Detkina Vs. Cheremukhin/Viktorija. Yesterday’s result was not especially close. Current champs, Roman Malkhasyan & Galina Detkina won all dances with large majorities. From our perspective, both couples gave a good showing. We felt Nick & Viktorija had added a softer, more personal, approach in some areas of their choreography. Perhaps this is a new direction for them. Travis & Jaimee Tuft were the clear recipients of 3rd place taking a large majority of the 3rd placements from the judges, although there were a couple of outliers placing them in the lower half of the final. Oleksiyy Pigotskyy & Anastasiia Zhuchenko were 4th in all dances, but interestingly picked up 2 first places in the foxtrot. Volodymir Barabash & Yulia Rudenco were 5th in all dances, the Nalyvaychuks were 6th in all and Dmytro Pohybil & Alona Kushnir closed this strong final in 7th position.

The Open Amateur Ballroom also began with a quarter-final round resulting in a strong 6-couple final. As in the Pro Latin, there was a clear winner, but the rest of the final was a mixed bag for the judges. The winners were Nikita Druzhynin & Virginie Primeau from Canada. They won all 5 dances with clear majorities of 1st places. We thought this was a great performance from this experienced couple. Placing 3,3,2,2,2, Alexander Dubovyk & Rickie Taylor-Dubovyk were the runners-up. We have not seen as much of this talented duo since they relocated to California, but it was good to see them back in NYC. Fairly close behind them, scoring 2,4,3,3,3, was anew couple to us, Aleksandr Riabtsev & Mariia Oblakova also from California. They stood out from the beginning but we especially liked their quickstep. They received more 1st places than any couple except the winners. Placing 5th in 3 dances but 4th overall were Samuel Hacke & Katerina Hermanova 4,5,5,5,4. They have always been favorites of ours and once again they were in good form last night. 5th and 6th placements were actually decided by a Rule 10 Tiebreak. 5th fell to Alieksandr & Vilhelmina Lavrov from Sweden 5,6,4,4,6. They are a tall, elegant couple who had a great demeanor on the floor. In sixth spot, scoring 6,2,6,6,5 were Canada’s Vladyslav Komelkov & Alexandra Sevastianova. They are a dynamic couple who really split the judging panel with some marking them in the top 3 while others had them 6th. They are a little more edgy than some of the other couples, so perhaps the “purists” on the panel were not as enthusiastic over their dancing.

The nighttime session began with 5 couples contesting the Professional Cabaret division. It was mostly a 2-couple contest for the 15 judges with 10 awarding 1st to Craig Smith & Andrea Harvey and 4 to Travis & Jaimee Tuft. Both couples were in good form, so it really is a matter of preference. Craig & Andrea perform the more high-risk aerial work while Travis & Jaimee are more “ballroom inspired.” 3rd went to Igor Puzhevich & Tetyana Makarenko who gave, we thought, a much stronger showing than when we last saw them. Nikita Zhukovskyi & Angelina Boiko were 4th with their comedy Austin Powers routine. We have always enjoyed this piece, although last night they had a couple of mishaps. 5th place went to Marcin Zaprawa & Aleksandra Jurga with their rather heavy themed routine about alcoholism.

For the pro-am competitors it was “Ballroom Day!” The Open Scholarships were not huge divisions, but the level of dancing was high.

There were only 3 contestants in the Open A and the easy winner was Natalie Rezai w/ Sergey Kiselev 1,1,1,1,1. 2nd in all was Ah Fong Li w/ Serhey Lazunkov and 3rd went to Jenn Mo w/ Karlis Treijs.

Natasha Janey w/ Iaroslav Bieliei won all dances in the Open B, although foxtrot and tango were closely scored with the runner-up, Elena Botelho w/ Igor Litvinov who scored 3,2,3,2,2. 3rd spot fell to Meredith Kaplan w/ Rudy Homm 2,3,2,3,3. 4th Ah Fong Li w/ Serhey Lazunkov 4,4,4,4,4; 5th Kellie Andrews w/ Nazar Batih 5,5,5,5,5.

Sabrina Kirkpatrick w/ Oscar Pedrinelli won all dances to comfortably secure the Open C division. Paula Cowpland w/ Andrey Kitsin took all the “2’s.” 3rd Pat Salerno w/ Lenka Kovalcikova 3,3,3,3,3; 4th Patricia Chai w/ Sergey Bolotnikov 5,4,4,4,5; 5th Annie Chan w/ Cristian Radvan 6,5,5,5,4; 6th Deborah Hoag w/ Rudy Homm 4,6,6,6,6.

The same lady won both the S1 and S2 categories and this was Linda Dillman w/ Igor Gayenko. In the S1 Linda scored 1,2,1,1,1. Winning that tango and placing 2nd in all other dances was Barbara Mierau-Klein w/ Gianni Caliandro. 3rd Fifi Wang w/ Andrey Klinchik 4,3,3,3,4; 4th Yumiko Yoshida w/ Aliaksei Peihanovich 5,5,4,4,3; 5th Laura Nagy w/ Aleksei Minaev 3,4,5,5,5; 6th Pei Lin Jiang w/ Slaveyko Baylov 6,7,6,6,6; 7th Ibis Wu w/ Serhey Averkov 7,6,7,7,7.

In the S2 Linda won all 5 dances. The closest race was for the runner-up spot and it fell to Charlotte Carey w/ Andriy Mykhailov 3,2,2,3,2, just edging out Vicki Sato w/ Nazar Batih 2,3,3,2,3. 4th Rong Chen w/ Oscar Pedrinelli 4,4,4,4,4; 5th Mark Eberle w/ Veronika End 5,5,5,5,5; 6th Anna Chiu w/ Yuriy Nartov 6,6,6,7,6; 7th Maria Fila w/ Kamil Urbaniak 7,7,7,6,7.

Under 21’s Understand their Latin!

For us the highlight of the day yesterday here at NYDF was the U/21 Open Latin division.

This began as a semifinal and there were so many good young couples competing that it must have been extremely difficult for the judges to select their 6 finalists. Special mention must go to Bleykhman/Joly who had 40 recall marks (5 less than was needed).

In the final we felt there were 2 couples that stood out, and indeed these two placed first and second. The winners, in all dances, were Pidhoretskyy/Castro who have had a great year both in results and their dancing. They had large majorities of 1st places in all dances. The 2nd couple were also 2nd in all dances, Filipczak/Marriott, and also gave a stellar performance in our view. 3rd in all dances went to Zhelasko/Tulchinsky; 4th Lennox/Baranova 4,4,4,5,4; 5th Smits/Urmansky 5,5,5,4,5; 6th Ginzburg/Gray 6,6,6,6,6.

The U/21 Ballroom was also a great event. The winners in all dances were Bereshteyn/Mugin. 2nd in all were Zaytsev/Bankova; 3rd in all Bleykhman/Joly; 4th in all Zinger/Stolarsky; 5th Maier/Thompson 6,5,5,5,6; 6th Lennox/Baranova 5,6,6,6,5.

We also saw the Pro RS divisions in all styles last night and the winners were: Ivan Sovetov & Valeria Mkrtchian (Rhythm); Kostiantyn Samarsky & Anna Oblakova (Latin); Vladyslav & Brianna Nalyvaychuk (Smooth); Mirko Spano & Patricia Romano (Ballroom).

For the pro-ams it was a day of Smooth, ending with some good Open Scholarship divisions.

Sophia D’Angelo w/ Max Sinitsa was the winner of the Open C placing 1,2,1,1. Winning the tango and placing 2nd overall was Nichelle Kennedy w/ Aleks Nashev 2,1,2,2. 3rd Janice Gonzalez w/ Aleksandar Vukosalvejic 3,3,3,5; 4th Amy Brewer w/ Gunnar Sverrisson 4,4,4,3; 5th Scott Magnesen w/ Izabella Lewandowski 5,5,5,4; 6th Deborah Hoag w/ Peter Perzhu 6,6,6,6.

Lisa Lowery w/ Artem Merenkov was back on top in the S1 division placing 2,1,1,1 to take the title. The Runner-up was Diane Wooters w/ Anton Bilozorov 1,2,2,2. 3rd Kathy Stewart w/ Mayo Alanen 3,4,3,3; 4th Scott Magnesen w/ Izabella Lewandowski 4,5,4,4; 5th Judith Spivey w/ Oleksii Zhylenko 5,3,5,5; 6th Gretchen Fenston w/ Michael Choi 6,6,6,6; 7th Linda Katz w/ Travis Tuft 7,8,7,7; 8th Robyn Schreiber w/ Nikolai Tarasov 8,7,8,8.

In the Open B, Olivia Whiteside w/ Sergey Barsukov had perfect scores – 28 first places – to easily win the division. The Runner-up spot was decided by a Rule 11 tiebreak and went to Careen Friedland w/ Nick Cheremukhin 3,3,2,2 over Leanna Wenderoth w/ Kirill Gorjatsev 2,2,3,3. Lila Winiarsky w/ Vlad Astafiev was 4th in all dances. 5th Andrew Frame w/ Tatiana Seliverstova 6,5,5,5; 6th Qin He w/ Gherman Mustuc 5,6,6,6; 7th Jocasta Champion w/ Toby Monroe 7,7,7,7.

Sally Hess w/ Darius Mosteika won the Open S2, placing 1,1,3,1. The scoring was quite mixed in this heat. Susan Sordoni w/ Francesco Arietta won the foxtrot and was 2nd overall with 3,4,1,4. 3rd and 4th were decided by a Rule 10 tiebreak. 3rd Willie Grana w/ Yulia Besarab 5,3,2,3; 4th Barbara Keiser w/ Gunnar Sverrisson 2,5,4,2; 5th Mark Eberle w/ Veronika End 4,2,5,5; 6th Mary Farrell w/ Paulo DiLorenzo 6,6,6,6.

NYDF 2022

Around the corner and down the block!

We’re all back in the heart of New York City for the 2022 New York Dance Festival, organized by Eugene Katsevman & Maria Manusova. The NYDF of 2020 was one of the last full competitions to run before the Covid lockdowns of that year. There was no NYDF in 2021 for the obvious reason. But we’re back baby! Although not everything is quite the same – the venue is the big change this year. For many years NYDF made its home at the iconic Roosevelt Hotel. Unfortunately this doyen of the hotel scene closed its doors during Covid and has not reopened. So Eugene & Maria moved around the corner to the Hilton Midtown for this year’s event.

As at the Roosevelt, the Hilton has a “real ballroom” complete with chandeliers and boxes for spectators – this is always a real plus for the dancers.

Yesterday the competition began utilizing 2 ballrooms – juniors in one and the pro-am Rhythm heats in the other. In the evening, the two groups swapped with the juniors moving into the larger ballroom for their scholarship events and the pro-ams into the smaller room for the nightclub divisions.

As we have come to expect at NYDF, the standard of dance is high. In the Pro-Am Open Rhythm Scholarships, there were some great competitors on display.

In the Open B there was quite a tussle for the winning slot, but it fell eventually to Kacey Warren w/ Jean Michele Erole 1,1,2,1,2. A new gentleman student (at least to us) took the runner-up position with 3,3,1,2,1, Michael Butler w/ Oxana Kashkina. Also in this mix was Lila Winiarski w/ Vlad Astafiev who scored 2,2,3,3,4. 4th and 5th positions were separated by a Rule 10 tiebreak. 4th Leanna Wenderoth w/ Kirill Gorjatsev 4,5,4,4,5 and 5th Jill Winters-Bougard w/ Grigol Kranz 5,4,5,5,3. 6th Jocasta Champion w/ Toby Monroe 6,6,6,6,6.

The Open C was a 7-couple final and Nichelle Kennedy w/ Aleks Nashev won all 5 dances with a majority of first placements. Taking 2nd in all dances was Janice Gonzalez w/ Aleksandar Vukosavjlevic. 5,3,3,3,3 gave Joan Regan Hayner w/ Grey Masko 3rd place overall. 4th and 5th placements were very close, separated by only 1 point. Michelle Loeb w/ Aleko Khutsidze was 4th, 3,5,4,5,4 and Scott Magnesen w/ Sabrina Bertini was 5th 4,4,5,4,5. Michelle Kirby w/ Radek Wiatrowski was 6th in all and Jane Koszowski w/ Toby Monroe was 7th in all.

Joan Goddard w/ Andrew Escolme won the Open S1. This was the largest of the Open Scholarships, beginning with a semifinal. Joan won all dances and had the majority of first places in all but rumba. The runner-up spot went to Scott Magnesen w/ Sabrina Bertini with 2,2,3,4,2. 3rd and 4th positions were separated by a Rule 11 tiebreak. 3rd went to Shao Rong Chen w/ Dmitry Nikishkin 4,4,2,3,3. 4th was Mimi Feliciano w/ Ivan Kudashev 3,3,4,2,4. 5th Debbie Clyne w/ Jeremy Gatlin 5,6,5,5,6; 6th Judith Spivey w/ Oleksii Zhylenko 6,5,6,6,5.

Susan Sordoni w/ Francesco Arietta won all dances in the Open S2, winning 2 dances with perfect scores from the judges. 2nd place went to Celia Gately w/ Dragan Strukelj 3,2,2,3,2 and 3rd was Lavisky w/ Aleko Khutsidze 2,3,3,2,3.

The Junior Youth Scholarships in the evening were outstanding in both the Ballroom and Latin and there were certainly some upset results, especially in the Latin divisions. The following are some of the results.

J1 Ballroom
1. Kolmykov/Storchevaya 1,1,1,2,1; 2. Zakirzyanov/Snitko 2,2,2,1,2; 3. Zhukov/Cherkas 3,3,3,3,3; 4. Heyman/Kim 4,4,4,4,4; 5. Hubscher/Kozoubei 5,5,5,5,6; 6. Jenkins/Kublan 6,6,6,6,5.

J1 Latin
1. Zakirzyanov/Snitko 1,1,1,1,1; 2. Kolmykov/Storchevaya 2,2,2,2,2; 3. Zhukov/Cherkas 3,3,3,3,3; 4. Hubscher/Kozoubei 4,4,4,4,5; 5. Heyman/Kim 5,5,5,5,4; 6. Xu/Kuzmin 6,6,6,6,6.
J2 Ballroom
1. Novikov/Vishnevskiy 1,1,1,1,1; 2. Kolmykov/Storchevaya 2,2,2,2,2; Kolovyansky/Kolovyansky 3,3,3,3,3; 4. Zhukov/Cherkas 5,4,4,5,4; 5. Khelmer/Sherstnyova
4,5,5,4,5; 6. DeBellis/Baranovsky 6,6,6,6,6.
J2 Latin
1. Hayutt/Jgenti 1,1,1,1,1; 2. Novikov/Vishnevskiy 2,2,2,2,2; 3. Kolmykov/Storchevyaya 3,3,3,3,3; 4. Dorfman/Rakov 4,4,4,4,4; 5. Bulgakov/Gekker 5,5,5,5,5; 6. Boyko/Branova 6,6,6,6,6.
Youth Ballroom
1. Berenshteyn/Mugin 1,2,1,2,2; 2. Zaytsev/Bankova 2,1,2,3,1; 3. Bleykhmann/Joly 3,3,3,1,3; 4. Novikov/Vishnevskiy 4,4,4,4,4; 5. Zinger/Stolarsky 5,5,5,5,5; 6. Lennox/Baranova 6,6,6,6,6.
Youth Latin
1. Lennox/Baranova 1,1,1,1,1; 2. Bleykhman/Joly 3,5,2,2,2; 3. Ginzburg/Gray 4,2,3,3,3; 4. Zaytsev/Bankova 2,3,4,5,5; 5. Novikov/Vishnevskiy 5,4,5,4,4; 6. Ivanov/Akhromenko 6,6,6,6,6.

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