South Open Dancesport Championships 2022

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Rhythm Leading the South!

Last night at the South Open the Open Professional Rhythm led the excitement of things;

with the help of the Amateur events that had perhaps not the best dancing, but the most energy creating a nice atmosphere for the competing couples, after the majority of the audience failed to find their hands, even the ones provided to them that were sitting on the tables.

Yes, the Open professional Rhythm did not have the best players but the couples were all there to get a placement and they worked hard to be seen and placed. The winners with little or no competition were Francesco Arietta & Jessa Briones who won all dances with a majority of firsts. They could have missed half the dances and still won. Only about three of the judges did not approve of their performance but we have to go with the majority of the judges who awarded them first, we figured they would get perfect scores but no “cigar” here, only a few seconds and even a third place from those judges 4 in total out of 21 judges.

The surprise for many was the rise to second position of Gene & Elena Bersten with these marks - 2,3,2,3,2. We were not surprised, we like their warm and rhythmical approach to this style and we figured sooner or later they might be noticed and this was it. They went from struggling to make a final to second place in this Open Championship. Well-deserved we totally agree with the judges on this one. Third with these scores 3,2,3,2,3 were Shane & Shannon Jensen.

The rest of the Rhythm final was not a surprise for us. Aleksandar Nashev & Evgeniia Elcoro took fourth in all dances; Kristian Sese & Mae Lozada placed fifth, we really like what this couple are doing now and with a little more impact they could be challenging for upper positions, but as of now they still looked as if they are dancing in a “Library” and not the ballroom arena where people calp and cheer. Alexey Smirnov & Daria Smirnova were awarded an overall 6th position 7,6,6,6,6, and Roberto Fernandez with new partner Angelina Evseeva took seventh 6,7,7,7,7.

The Open Professional Ballroom was a six-couple final and here the winners of all dances were Luca Balestra & Krizia Balestra who won all dances with a majority of firsts. We kind of like what they are doing, they certainly have enough power for two couples, the only thing we find is that that power is not quite channeled properly in the swing dances and you can see it by their marks in the foxtrot where they lost 7 first place marks out of 21 judges.

From here down for us was a real toss up between Riccardo Conte & Eleonora Filippi and Mirko Spano & Pamela Romano. Riccardo & Eleonora took second with these marks 3,2,2,2,3, and Mirko & Pamela placed third 2,3,4,3,4. We think Riccardo & Eleonora might have had the advantage because toward the end Mirko & Pamela seemed to be pushing a little too hard. Guys remember the basic theory that the power comes from feet and legs and not your upper body!

Fourth place went to Vladyslav Komelkov & Alexandra Sevastianova 4,4,3,4,2; fifth position went to Alexander Elsbury & Grace Gallagher 5,6,5,5,5, and sixth position was awarded to Artur Kozun & Monika Pyrgiel 6,5,6,6,6.

The Open Theatrical Championship was the last run event and half the audience had left but it was still an excellent championship with both Craig Smith & Andrea Harvey and Shane & Shannon Jensen entering the arena. In the end Shane & Shannon won the event with a majority of firsts from the judges. Craig & Andrea were left holding second place and we can see why even though their routine has some amazing lifts they still lacked the excitement they had at Paragon where we even think they had some extra material that made it amazing. Here they seemed to just go through the motions as usual. Third place went to Brandon Barker & Chelsea Cherie and fourth were Stanislav Morozov & Kseniia Tashkinova.

The South Open Hall of Fame award was given to Mr. Donnie Burns MBE during this last session. A video was played with all Donnie’s accomplishments and it was followed with a presentation of the award.

The energy and excitement on this night was provided by the amateur competitors who clapped and cheered for many of the professionals competing tonight but also danced with amazing energy making us all want to use our hands to clap.

In the Latin the Firestein brothers went head to head one more time and Max Firestein & Nicole Renee placed first in all dances with a majority of firsts in all their dances. Second went to Dave Firestein & Kennedy Eaton who took all seconds and third went to a well-known seasoned player in the amateur field, Ron Garber & Klaudia Petriti, and they took third in all dances. In fourth place were Oskar Krimus & Shayna McDonald, fifth place went to Maksym Rodionov & Alexandra Miller, and sixth place was awarded to Tristan Moe & Kelli Ripplinger.

In the Amateur Ballroom the overall winner by placing first in four dances and second in the foxtrot was Roman Shchochka & Marta Tyutyunnyk 1,1,1,2,1. Second were Alieksandr Lavrov & Vilhelmina Lavrov 2,2,2,1,2. Third in all dances went to Samuele Pugliese & Federica Stavale, and fourth were Spencer Muir & Margaret Safarova

Great Latin in the South!

Last night was a great night for Latin dancing in the deep south of the USA!

The South Open Dancesport Championships held in Orlando, Florida had an amazing Professional Latin event, running head to head with a terrific Professional Smooth Championship featuring former US Professional Champions, Nick Cheremukhin &Viktorija.

The event of the night was the Professional Latin where the new partnership of Andrei Kazlouski & Nino Dzneladze stole the show by winning all dances with a majority of firsts in all. Funny enough, the rumba was one of the dances where they lost more first place marks, 7 in total, but this dance was also one of our favorites and we were a little surprised by the lack of support in this dance. The jive was the dance where they lost the most firsts, a total of 8 firsts out of 19 judges, but they still got the majority of firsts in all dances and best of all, major support from the audience who were thrilled by their performance as they went by.

Another couple we were very impressed with was Mykhailo Bilopukhov & Anastasiia Shchypilina who placed second overall but third in the rumba. The second in the rumba went to Manuel Favilla & Natalia Maidiuk who took third overall 3,3,2,3,3 and who sported an electrifying golden dress that you could almost see from the golf course. Although Andre & Nino gave an excellent performance totally worthy of their win, we were almost as captivated by Mykhailo & Anastasiia who last night danced the fullest we have seen this year, but we also have to give a hand to Manuel & Natalia who were not too far behind and as we mentioned earlier could be seen from a plane or from anywhere in the ballroom.

Fourth in all dances went to Darren Hammond & Marina Steshenko. We were slightly surprised by this placement. We agree with the judges in the fact that they started strongly, but for us they were truly competing for seventh position at the end, but we must all take into account that this was a fantastic final from start to finish first to seventh place. In fifth place were Artur Tarnavskyy & Anastasiya Danilova and they were fifth in all dances even though we agree with so many on the panel who had them placed much higher, some judges even gave them a first place or two in at least four dances.

Sixth position was awarded to Ilya Maletin & Anna Oblakova and in seventh place were Andrey Kitsun & Nicole Prosser. These two couples were quite good and very deserving of being in this final, but honestlywe’re not sure how much time any of the judges spent on these couples, considering the floor was on fire with everyone giving such terrific and memorable performances.

Nick Cheremukhin & Viktorija Easily won the Smooth with very large majorities if firsts in all dances. Their best dance was waltz where they lost only 1 first place mark. 2nd in all went to Tykhon Zhyvkov & Yana Zhyvkov. They were 2nd in all dances, but from the judges’ perspective did not really challenge the winners. The couples placing 3rd through 6th each had a very wide range of marks from the judges, but placing 3rd in all were Jang Don & Adele Don. They had the majority of “3rd or better” scores in all dances but had individual socres from 2nd to 6th in all dances. Radek Wiatrowski & Denise Sobiewski were 4th in all dances; 5th Dmytro Pohybil & Alona Kushnir 6,5,5,5; 6th Illia Sydorenko & Tetyana Kuts 5,6,6,6.

The Professional Open ShowDance was also quite good yesterday with four couples entered. Tykhon & Yana Zhyvkov won the with the majority of firsts. They did a Smooth dance adding some lifts but it was a very nice composition. “Drama” is perhaps the best to describe this event and no one better to describe it than Fedor Artemev & Ekaterina Artemeva, who were totally dramatic and perhaps dramatic enough to earn them second overall. Third place went to Alexey & Daria Smirnova and in fourth position were Alexander Romanov & Anna Blagodyreva, and they too, like the last two mentioned, served us a cup of drama that would probably last us for the rest of the year.

As is usual at the South Open, the night time schedule was punctuated by special performances from young dancers from outside the ballroom sphere and they were met with great support from the audience. The Dynasty Dance Stars also performed. This is a program offered by Dynasty Dance Club of Sarasota that caters to special needs students. You can donate to this wonderful program here:

Stay tuned for more from the South Open tomorrow.


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