Pro/Am Open Rhythm A & B Scholarships At The Emerald Ball

Final results of Pro/Am A.

6th Place. Nicole Nelson and Kris Suakjian: Started well but ended looking somewhat tight and old habits of loss of poise, especially in the upper back, began to creep back in to Nicole's dancing. Semi-final was a better performance and over all a great improvement in all areas of her dancing.

5th place. Margaret Sims and Victor Luna: A good result for this couple. A great deal of focus was at the floor by the gentleman and in some cases the concern by the professional for the amateur became a deterrent to this couple perhaps placing better.

4th place. Ellary Petchauer and Radomir Pashev: A better final performance than the semi. I thought the costume blended in with the color of the floor which tended to make me lose the lady and her abilities at times. I thought this was rather a good result for them. Again as with many of the finalists in this section upper body poise became tense and rigid perhaps from stamina although only a Semi and final were run in this age level. Choreography I thought was over done and perhaps need to be simplified.

3rd place. Susan Sidman and Gleb Makarov. As always this partnership has clever structure and a strong gender contrast. Bolero tends to be one of the better dances for them both. Again shoulder and upper back tension in Susan tends to make some movement strained and incomplete and the lack of diverse emotional output makes for shallow commitment to the movement and music.

2nd place. Karen Angell and Eddie Ares. In my opinion this couple had all the pieces together in the final and I was surprised that they did not win. I thought Karen's feet and legs looked stronger. I thought the structure of the work was complete and had an equally fitted composure.

1st place. Lauren Klaus and Jim Maranto. There is huge improvement in this young lady and certainly there is still room for improvement in the legs and feet area but she was more contained in her base and much more grounded. I still feel that the look of this couple can become unbalanced to some degree if the structure is not examined to not show the difference in height. That said I can easily see why the judges made the decision in the majority to this couple. They are clean and neat and have clarity to the character of each of the dances.

Congratulations to the winners and the entire final.

Pro/Am Open Rhythm B.

Known as the killer B's this section of the Open Rhythm I have always found to be the most engaging and the most difficult to judge. Partially it is the commitment of veteran competitors and their energy with their pros that makes them very strong and very determined.

This was a seven couple final.

7th place. Monica Broch and Kris Suakjian. This is a very attractive couple but Monica lacks the commitment and the determination of the rest of the final in spite of the fact that her Professional partner continues to try to energize her. She needs to assume that her body will perform and not question her body skills.

6th place. Audrey Paek and Chris Johnston. Lack of experience by the lady is the only thing holding her back from placing better with a very experience professional partner. With time and experience this partnership could go far. Loads of potential. Still incomplete in character and grounding but again time will be the master of these weaknesses.

5th place. Susan Sidman and Gleb Makarov. I thought this round in this final was a slightly better performance. One of the few competitors that did two age classifications in this category one has to admire the courage and the stamina to do both the A and B divisions. Shoulder and upper back tension and the loss of foot and leg pressure into the floor makes for some balance and control issues for Susan. Still, considering that this final came from a quarter final it is amazing that the zeal and physical stamina of this couple didn't diminish.

4th place. Cherie Hassenflu and Lance Estridge. Attractive couple. They have danced now for some time. I found this performance stuttering and unfinished in line, character and spirit. Lack of ankle and foot and leg strength coupled with stamina by the lady leaves one questioning the honesty of the musicality and the partnering skills. If the balance issues coming from this weakness are worked on more I think this couple could be a contender.

3rd Place. Regina Ruff and Eddie Ares. Very committed and musical with a brightness and power. I liked the personal connection this couple had and even though there are leg and foot alignment issues and sometimes a wildness and lack of control I was happy to see this couple rewarded with this placement over all. I thought the dress a bit busy. I think it hid some of the center body skills that this lady has in her arsenal of competing weapons.

2nd Giovannni Fortezza and Jolanta Mosteika. The only gent amateur in the final. This couple is strong and tall. Advantages that place this couple in contention. In the excitement of the battle of competing the base of this couple can become too big to establish balanced weight transfer and center weight isolation and with that said the faster dances such as Mambo can become too athletic. With time this could be a winner.

1st place. Pamela Bolling and Ben Ermis. I don't really feel that this couple was threatened by any of the finalists. Control, balance, connection, clarity of rhythms and ease of execution were in evidence. There is little to say about how extra-ordinary this lady continues to be other than keep it up!

Congratulations to the winner and all of the finalists in this section.

Rufus Dustin is a Coach, Judge and past United States Champion.
Rufus' past titles include 1974-1975 United States National Professional American Style Champion and 1975, 1979-1980 United States National Professional Theatrical Champion.