Michigan DanceSport Challenge - Open Pro Smooth

Michael's Disclaimer: These impressions were taken as I was judging the event and thus are only representative of what I saw for the brief amount of time I was able to devote to each couple for comparative purposes. For all I know they could well have all have been dancing flawlessly the other minute or so that I was not looking at them :)

6th Place
Schultz and Schultz

Very pretty lady and strong looking man, looked a little tight, need to open up their shaping and movement, have a broad range of elements that they can work on improving in order to give a stronger presentation.

5th Place
Vadim Gazda and Leinani Gazda

Very expressive which was nice to see, there was a definite chemistry between the two of them and they were putting 100% energy out onto the floor. Also very inconsistent, had some really excellent moments interspersed with flat areas where, despite the effort, the connection broke up and movement came to a standstill. Looked like there was a strong Latin influence in their choreography which they might want to balance out at some stage. Vadim uses his body well, a positive attribute that will be even more obviously an advantage on the competition floor when he trims down a bit.

4th Place
Tony Scheppler and Lisa Vegas

A relatively new partnership but experienced competitors as individuals. Tony was consistent and strong, Lisa needs to swing her hips appropriately to get a stronger movement across the floor and work one body part off another more effectively to generate greater body speed and a more dynamic look. Once they establish their look and characters as a couple they could be very competitive.

3rd Place
Kirill Gorjatsev and Olga Chekhova

Individually powerful and capable dancers they are still establishing their on floor relationship. It looks like Olga preempts movement on occasion and does not always allow Kirill to initiate a weighted action and Kirill is not currently projecting through Olga to produce lines and thus can look a bit back weighted. They would create a more appealing and competitively rewarding presentation if they balanced out all the power and stretching by channeling it through a stronger emotional connection with each other and greater sense of leading and following.

2nd Place
Alex Tecza and Katja Lindholm

They are strong dancers with a great technical background who can move powerfully and execute interesting choreography. The only flaw in their closed work is the look of Alex’s elbows being pulled back too far resulting in the look an uncomfortably arched shoulder line. In order to cause serious problems for the couples currently placing ahead of them they need to vary the characterization of the different dances through adjusting their facial presentation. Katja utilizes the same slightly tortured look on every dance and Alex, although his expression varies, looks slightly worried and too much like he is trying to compete. They could perhaps have a more effective presentation if they established story lines for each dance and played their different emotional roles according to the tale the music was telling.

1st Place
Gary McIntyre and Susan Kirklin

Very fast and interesting moves, nice contract between speed and slow actions, Susan can do any maneuver you can think of and her emotional projection is very much improved while Gary is a strong and effective leader. I love their Viennese Waltz but there was a slight danger of a lack of distinction in the character and execution of the first three dances (looking for musically representative rise and fall in the waltz for example). That could leave them vulnerable to a judge looking for a more characteristically nuanced performance.

Michael Mead
4 Time U.S. National Professional Smooth Champion