Grand National Champikonships 2023

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From Bavaria to Miami! The Grand Nationals 2023!

Where can you travel from the beer halls of Bavaria to tropical Miami without leaving your seat?

The Grand National Dance Championships 2023! Held once again in Doral on the western side of Miami, this year the Grand Nationals had a nightclub night with and Oktoberfest theme and yes! There was a lot of lederhosen! The vision of organizer, Cassandra Schneider dressed both as a pretzel and later as a beer can is a vision that will stay with us for a while! We also enjoyed the Latin combo that played all the salsa, merengue and bachata heats.

Then, following the multi-course banquet in the ballroom on Saturday night, the Tito Puente Jr. Latin Jazz Ensemble fired up for general dancing. Tito Jr. is the son of legendary Cuban composer and timbalero, Tito Puente, kept his father’s legacy alive performing “Oye Como Va” and “Ran Kan Kan” among other of his father’s compositions. They returned between all of the professional heats for more dancing and listening fun.

The Open Pro Rhythm was probably the most exciting event of the night. It began with a semifinal, although 2 late cancelations took out 2 of the top ranked contenders (the Jensens and Ubilus/Lareto). We were still left with a good final. The win went fairly easily to US leading contenders, Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin, who won all dances with the majority of first places. The tight race was for the runner-up position and here we saw a reversal of the current form as the spot was taken by Roger Romero & Arismel Naya 2,3,2,3,2 over Gene & Elena Bersten 3,2,3,2,3. Mambo was Roger & Arismel’s best-scored dance as they took 4 of the 13 first places and for us, could have won that dance. We also enjoyed Gene & Elena’s performance and they had the majority of “2nd or better” scores in rumba and bolero, although they did not take as many first places from the Nikishkins as did Roger & Arismel. The cha cha was the closest scored dance as Roger & Arismel took 2nd in that dance with a majority of “3rd or better” scores.

Kristian Sese & Mae Lozada were 4th in all dances, Alexey Smirnov & Daria Smirnova were 5th in all and Dan Luca & Bianca Popa were 6th.

The Open Pro Smooth also began with a semifinal round. Here the winners were Volodymyr Barabash & Yulia Rudenco, but not in all dances, they placed 2,1,1,1. The runners-up, Jang & Adele Don, placed 1,2,2,2. Volodymyr & Yulia did have the majority of first places in the 3 dances they won, but the foxtrot was a close 7 to 6 decision from the judges. Had one judge changed their score, we would have had a Rule 11 tiebreak. These 2 couples took the vast majority of 1st and 2nd placements between them.

Dmytro Pohybil & Alona Kushnir took 3rd in all dances; Radoslaw Wiatrowski & Denise Sobiewski were 4th in all; Alexey Grinev & Kseniia Grineva were 5th in all and Oleg Ovchinnikov & Karina Nugumanova were 6th. This was the first time we have seen this couple compete in the Smooth style.

The Latin was a relatively close contest although the winners did take 4 of the 5 dances, losing only the paso doble to the runners-up. Sasha Porozov & Arina Sokolova won and Rangel Spirov & Veronika Chernyavska were the runners-up. Although all dances were won with a majority of first places, the judges were more evenly split in this style. 3rd and 4th places were decided by a Rule 10 tiebreak with the result going to Oleg Ovchinnikov & Karina Nugumanova 5,3,3,3,4 over Mishiko Bregvadze & Alena Khoroshevtseva 3,4,4,4,3. 5th Roman Melnyk & Anna Melnyk 4,5,5,5,5; 6th Kakha Turiashvili & Nicole Pierzchalski 6,6,6,6,6; 7th Dmytro Roshchupkin & Sanda Lungu 7,7,7,7,7.

The night began with the Open Ballroom and this was also a relatively close call for first place, although once again the winners took 4 of the 5 dances, losing only the waltz. Luca Balestra & Krizia Balestra were the winners and the new partnership of Vladislav Shakhov & India Phillips were second. However, with the exception of the tango that the Balestras won by 10 firsts to 3, the other dances were fairly close. Vlad & India won the waltz 8 to 5 and the other 3 dances were won 7 to 6. This was a strong showing for the winners, we felt, but the runners-up also show promise and have a very different, more relaxed approach to the more firery Italians. The remaining 3 couples finished in the same position in all dances – 3rd Alexey Grinev & Kseniia Grineva; 4th Dmytro Roshchupkin & Sanda Lungu; 5th David Schmidt & Alexandria Camargo.

The only open professional division not danced on the last night was the Cabaret that took place on Friday night. Not surprisingly, current US Champions, Shane & Shannon Jenson took all 11 first places. Much improved we felt and in 2nd place were, Anthony Kantin & Olivia Card who received 10 second places. Alexey Smirnov & Daria Smirnova were 3rd ; Alexey Grinev & Kseniia Grineva, 4th; Mishiko Bregvadze & Alena Khoroshevtseva, 5th.

We want to congratulate Peter & Cassandra Schneider on what was one of their largest Grand National Championships. We were especially encouraged by the large amount of junior entries we are now seeing in Florida.

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