Professional Open International Standard At The Emerald Ball
It was my pleasure to judge the 2010 Emerald Ball this year. With over 10,000 entries, the Emerald Ball proved to be a very exciting event. The Open Professional Standard took place on Sunday night and started with a quarterfinal. I had been looking forward to seeing this event all week because two new well-known couples had chosen this event as their debut – Giampierro Giannico and Anna Mikhed and also Mikhael Avdeev and Olga Blinova. I was anticipating an exciting final and that is certainly what I saw!! It seemed that so many couples were dancing well tonight, (maybe because of Blackpool approaching) and I found this a very difficult competition to judge because the quality was really just outstanding. Even to cut the quarterfinal to a semi was difficult!
Since I was judging the event, my impressions below are from a judging perspective and what I remember feeling as I had to make my decision on placements. One thing that I would like for the couples to keep in mind is that the judges have very little time to make a decision. We have to evaluate your dancing, (as well as the other 5, 6 or 7 couples that may be on the floor), and make a determination as to where to place you. It is not always easy, and certainly not on this night!
Max and Lesya Sinitsa – I felt that they had a very good night tonight..better than the Rising Star. The movement was very full and strong and they really compliment each other very well.
Ikaika Dowsett and Olya Zhuk – very good partnership. Also very strong movement and beautiful shapes.
Michal Towliszew and Tiffany Fung – I really liked Michal’s new look! Much more mature. I feel that if we keep seeing the improvements that Michal and Tiffany are making, they will be threatening for higher placements soon.
6th place – Anton and Lena Koukareko - This is a very well matched couple with a promising future. They kept grabbing my attention tonight. I felt they were dancing well with lots of power and speed. To develop their dancing, I would like to see them work on characterizing the dances a bit more.
5th place – Andre Faraci and Iveta Pauryte – I was very impressed with the improvement in this couple. In the past, I had been bothered by the tension that I would see in Andre’s back, but not tonight! Andre and Ivete have a very powerful style to their dancing, very strong leg action and huge shapes. To see them further progress, I think that they need to start to develop a more sensitive approach to their dancing. If they can add that, I think it will bring their dancing to a whole new level.
4th – Mikhael Avdeev and Olga Blinova – This was their first outing as a partnership, and I must say that I was impressed. I have always admired Mikhaels lyrical approach and I think that the softness and femininity that Olga brings to the partnership compliments him beautifully. I think that they just need a little more time to develop what they are doing.
3rd – Artem Plakhotnyi and Inna Berlizyeva – Artem and Inna have had great success since they teamed up less than a year ago! I enjoy their dancing very much. I do feel, however, that at times, Artem’s center appears a little bit weaker than I would like to see. I would like to see them develop more flexibility in their hip and ankle joints, so that their weight could be absorbed a bit better, which I think would create a stronger, more stable look. Still, very well done!
2nd – Igor and Julia Litvinov - I usually enjoy this couple’s dancing, but on this night, I found myself feeling confused and not really understanding what they were trying to do. I didn’t feel that they were as consistent as they usually are and I found myself distracted by some of their shapes. I felt that Julia didn’t always finish her lines (especially going from promenade position to closed) and Igor’s left side was odd. Obviously, though, that was only my opinion. The other judges disagreed with me and placed them higher. Perhaps I happened to see them at their not so good moments. As I stated earlier, a judge does not have much time to evaluate the situation, so they must go by their impressions on the night.
1st – Giampierro Giannico and Anna Mikhed – It was really great to see Giampierro back on the floor! I have always enjoyed his musicality. Anna, as usual, was beautiful and I liked the look of this new partnership. Giampierro is a very masculine dancer and Anna is the ultimate in femininity. Anna looks very good with Giampierro. I used to be a little bit distracted by her right arm, but not tonight. Somehow, she just seems to fit better into Giampierro’s frame. Sometimes, Giampierro needs to be cautious of his head position and shoulder line, as it can look a little bit “boxy”. Other than that, though, very well done! Congratulations!
On a side note, I would like to comment on the Pro/Am Standard, which was held on Friday afternoon. Because of the large amount of entries, Wayne Eng had no choice but to split the floor. I know how difficult and frustrating that can be, but I have to say that I was absolutely amazed at the incredible skill that the male pros had in maneuvering around that floor. It really shows how far the pro/am divisions have come! I think that out of everything I saw this weekend, that impressed me the most!! Well done!!
Maria Hansen is a Coach, Judge and Organizer of the Vegas Showdown.