Tonight the win went to Manuel Favilla & Natalia Maidiuk in a 4 to 1 decision – 2,1,1,1,1. Taking the runner up spot were Artur Tarnavskyy & Anastasiya Danilova 1,2,2,2,2. As usual this was a close run event as can be seen by the couples’ first place marks – cha cha 5/5; samba 7/5; rumba 8/5; paso 8/5; jive 7/5. These two couples were clearly ahead of the field in the judges’ eyes. Taking 3rd in all dances and also clear were Dmitrii Chopenko & Valeria Khrapak. Although not that close to the top two in the scoring, they did pick up a few seconds and even a few first places. 4th Fedor Artemev & Ekaterina Artemeva 4,4,4,4,4; 5th Alexey Grinev & Kseniia Grineva 5,5,5,5,5; 6th Sebastian Burbano & Sabrina Bishamber.
Another exciting event was the Open Smooth and this began with a semifinal. Easy winners were Aleksandar Vukosavljevic & Alexandra Smirnova who lost very few of the judges’ first place marks. Fellow national finalists, Volodymyr Barabash & Yulia Rudenco were easily the runners-up and took exactly 2 first places in each dance. The next 3 couples were all fairly close in the judges’ marks. However, the positions were 3rd Jang & Adele Don 4,3,3,3; 4th Peter Minkov & Yuliia Sorokata 3,4,4,4; 5th Dmytro Pohybil & Alona Kushnir 5,5,5,5. Dmytro & Alona were more in the running than these final placements would suggest. Radoslaw Wiatrowski & Denise Sobiewski were 6th 6,6,6,6.
The Pro Rhythm also began as a semifinal. The winners in all dances were Shane & Shannon Jensen. As the only US finalists they were a shoe-in for the win here, but some judges were not quite as certain in the swing where they only received 6 of the 13 first places and in the mambo where they got 7. Runners-up were Gene Bersten & Elena Bersten 2,2,2,3,2. This was a good result for them and they came close to winning the swing where they also received 6 first places. It was our first chance to see the new partnership of Aleks Nashev & Evgeniia Elcoro. These are 2 talented dancers. We were impressed and thought they were closer to the top 2 couples than the marks showed. They placed 3,3,3,2,3. Kristian Sese & Mae Lozada were 4th 4,4,5,5,4. We always enjoy this pair and expect they were somewhat disappointed with these scores. 5th Brad Montagnese & Tania Trigili 5,5,4,4,6; 6th Artem Shiller & Ginny Ray Shiller 6,6,6,6,5.
Only 2 couples contested the Pro Ballroom. The winners in all dances were Alexander Elsbury & Grace Gallagher and the runners-up were Alexey Grinev & Kseniia Grineva.
Congratulations to the organizers, Peter & Cassandra Schneider, who once again were superb hosts. The ballroom décor was, as always, outstanding.
Grand Nationals Comes Alive!
During the first 2 days of competition The Grand National Championships came alive!
Literally! Live music was very much a feature of the first 2 days here at the Trump International Doral Resort in Miami.
It began on Thursday night with the Nightclub session. A Latin combo played for all the salsas, merengues and bachatas danced that night. Having seen other events attempt this over the years, we were a little nervous as it’s quite hard for bands to keep up with the rapid pace of our competitions. But we worried in vain!! This professional trio was easily able to keep up and provided authentic hits in the right tempi and style. It was a great hit!
On Friday the “live” theme continued but this time with the world famous, Tito Puente Jr. Latin Ensemble providing the tunes for the Rising Star divisions in Rhythm and Latin. Tito Puente Jr. is the son of Latin icon Tito Puente and with parentage such as this, it’s no surprise the Tito Jr. is a master of the timbales. (He also confided to us that another Latin superstar, Celia Cruz, was his godmother. It would have been Celia’s 97th birthday on Friday).
As well as playing for the competitions, Tito Jr. provided some great music for general dancing and not surprisingly included in the program were his father’s two most recognized hits, “Ran Can Can” and “Oye Como Va.” It was a great privilege to see the icon’s own son perform these songs that are so beloved by the dance community world-wide.
Also on Friday night was the Professional Cabaret. Shane & Shannon Jensen gave another faultless performance if their newest number “Your Song,” and unsurprisingly received first place from all 9 adjudicators. The clear runners-up with 7 second places were Stanislav Morozov & Kseniia Tashkinova and in 3rd spot were Fedor Artemev & Ekaterina Artemeva who had 6 “3rd or better” scores from the 9 judges. 6 couples in total entered the event.
We also saw the 4 Rising Star divisions. It was a good night for Alexander Elsbury & Grace Gallagher who won both the Ballroom and Smooth divisions, although the Smooth gave us a rule 11 tiebreak that went in Alexander and Grace’s favor. They placed 2,1,2,1. Runners-up, Alexander Romanov & Anna Blagodyreva placed 1,2,1,2.
In a closely fought division, Brad Montagnese & Tania Trigili won the Rhythm placing 3,1,1,2,2. Fedor Artemev & Ekaterina Artemeva won all dances in the RS Latin.
Stay tuned for more happenings from the 2022 Grand National Championships.