This created one of the best Latin dance performance we have ever seen. And creating a perfect Miami Vibe for all attendees and competitors alike.
The atmosphere was electrifying and captivating, with every couple in this final being a total draw for the almost capacity crowd. Troels and Ina were the undisputed winners, but from there down it was a much tighter race. 2nd and 3rd places were decided by a Rule 10 tiebreak that fell in the favor of South Africans, Darren Hammond & Marina Steshenko who scored 2,2,3,2,4 over Mamuel Favilla & Natalia Maidiuk with 3,3,2,3,2. We preferred Manuel & Natalia in this mix because we found Darren & Marina a little too frantic in places. With 4,4,4,4,3, Valentin Voronov & Anna Pellypenko took the 4th position. This was a big improvement over their result from last week at Philadelphia where they were 3rd in a much weaker field. We did feel they were much more in form this weekend. 5th in all dances went to Artur Tarnavskyy & Anastasiya Danilova who were perhaps a little unlucky in our view. They could have placed higher at least in some dances. Pasha Stepanchuk & Gabriella Sabler were 6th in all dances and were probably somewhat disappointed as just the past week they finished 2 places ahead of Voronov/Pellypenko. This was the premier event of Miami Vibe, beginning with a quarter-final round.
The Open Rhythm was another large event and once again the winners were clear. Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin won all 5 dances and had large majorities of 1st placements in all of them. Ivan Kudashev & Ksenia Sokolova were second, scoring 2,3,2,2,5. We thought they gave a very strong showing cementing their standing in this style that is still rather new for them. 3,2,3,3,4 gave Alex Nashev & Evgeniia Elcoro third spot. We are still waiting for these two very talented dancers to show us what they can really do – the possibilities are very strong. Gene & Elena Bersten were 4th 4,4,4,4,3 and as always gave a consistent and rhythmic performance. Another new couple to the Rhythm style, Miroslav Randelovic & Dakota Pizzi, gave a promising and lively showing to finish fifth, 5,5,5,5,6. Closing this final were Roger Romero & Arismel Naya who placed 6,6,6,6,2. Their second place in the mambo was no surprise to us as they were perhaps the only couple in the final who showed a true understanding of mambo timing. Could have finished higher in all dances for us.
Both the Open Ballroom and Smooth were straight finals, but still had some high quality dancing. In the Ballroom Andrii Mykhailov & Ekaterina Popova had a fairly comfortable win with the majority of first places in all dances. We did note a few judges placing them 4th or 5th is some dances – a rather strange choice for us. With 3,2,3,2,2, Luca Balestra & Krizia Balestra took the runner-up post. They got their 3 second places with a majority of “2nd or better” placements and forced tie breaks to lose the other two. 4,3,2,3,3 gave Riccardo Conte & Eleonora Filippi the third spot. This is a very elegant couple who we feel is going places. Nazar Batih & Mariko Cantley took 2nd in the waltz but placed 4th in the other 4 dances. Probably a little disappointed with this result, this expressive couple could have expected a better result. However, tonight we found that they faded into the background a little and we weren’t as aware as we normally are of their vibrant personalities. Artem Belmeha & Anna Shevchenko closed this very high quality final with 5th in all dances.
Tykhon & Yana Zhyvkov made the trip to Miami from California and it paid off as they won all four dances in the Open Smooth, all with strong majorities of first placements. Jang & Adele Don were the runners-up 2,2,2,3 but had quite a tussle with Canadians, Dmytro Gurkov & Celeste Bailey 3,3,3,2. Jang & Adele took the Waltz with a majority of “2nd or better”scores as did Tykhon & Yana in the VW. The other 2 dances were decided by “3rd or better” scores. Evgeny Rozenfeld & Mariia Shumakher were 4th in all; Dmytro Pohybil & Alona Kushnir 5th in all and Dmitri Krasnyanski & Esther Frances 6th in all.
Another great event at this year’s Miami Vibe was the Open Amateur Latin Scholarship. Newly crowned US Champions, Alexander Chernositov & Arina Grishanina won all dances - all with 1st from every judge. Truly they were not challenged that strongly here, but still gave their usual high-energy and engaged performance. Vadym Pidhoretskyy & Ruby Castro were the runners-up, also in all dances. They are certainly back in form after a rather lacklustre showing at the recent US Championships. Idan Daich & Anastasia Sinyauskaya from Canada were 3rd in all dances fairly easily as they had the majority of “3rd or better” placements in all dances. 4th Maksym Rodionov & Aleksandra Miller 4,4,5,4,4; 5th Ryan Ivan Raffloer & Bethany Howard 5,5,4,5,5; 6th Ryder Yang & Anastasiia Zhigulina 7,6,6,6,7; 7th Ihor Horobchenko & Alina Lisova 6,7,7,7,6.
Famed jewelry designer and longtime dance competitor, Mariko Dozona, presented hand-made jewelry pieces to one lady in each of the feature final. All finalists drew envelopes to determine the lucky winner.
It was great to be back at the famed Eden Roc Hotel on Miami Beach for the Miami Vibe. This classic hotel designed by world-renowned architect Maurice Lapidus has been lovingly restored and remains an A1 destination on Miami’s famed golden beaches. Congratulations to organizer, Andrew Phillips, and his team.