San Francisco Open Professional Standard

The SF Open was a great success thanks to Stephan, Denise & Rex. They are wonderful organizers—always on time with a superb combination of events from Pro/Am to Amateur to Professional.

Pro Open Standard Championship (WTVWFQ)
The Professional Open Standard Championship was, in my opinion, the crown jewel of the weekend. Several top US couples attended this event helping to make it a very interesting and exciting competition. Several couples had strong showings. However, in the Final, the judges used open markings. While a rare event in the United States, open markings are often used at European events. Sometimes open marking may distract couples or even influence a competitor’s opinion of the judges, but most times this encourages highly competitive couples to fight even more fiercely from dance to dance.
From the very first round I could see more than one couple aiming strongly for the top spot. It was a very interesting, but stressful, process for couples and judges but made it very exciting for the audience. I had very strong preferences for certain couples but didn’t pick a winner this time.
Anyway the results were:

Top 3 couples were very close in marks. At the end of the Final Gary McDonald (Emcee): “…and I have no idea who won this competition…” 3 couples could be 3 winners. I personally couldn’t pick a clear winner and split my “Firsts” between all 3 couples so I believe some other adjudicators.
Andrea Faraci & Iveta Paurvte – CA – 1st place (1/1/2/1/1,5)
Andrea & Iveta danced exquisitely. They looked like strong contenders during the Semi-Final. Everything was just perfect: ballgown, hairstyle, dancing … didn’t show the same amount in the Final but still won the competition. They were the perfect example of the importance of setting your dance performance beginning with your very first first step onto the floor. Both Andrea & Iveta were at the top of the world this weekend. For me they won Tango for sure. Even though their marks were very close to the other two couples they kept it together and didn’t lose performance. Keep going guys. It can only get better!

Artem Plakhotnyi & Inna Berlizyeva – AZ – 2nd place (2/2/1/2/3)
Artem & Inna are one of the most successful couples in International Standard in the last year. Nobody can beat their consistent performance. Always the best in every way! They were a bit too quiet this time around however. But they’ll be back stronger than ever at the next comp. I know and believe in them. Everybody needs a break. Hopefully their loss will teach them and encourage them to be even better.

Anton Koukareko & Alena Koukareko – CA – 3rd place (3/3/3/3/1,5)
I’m a big fan of this couple. Anton & Elena have everything going for them: looks, style, technique and great energy. They jumped high making Final at Ohio Star Bal a few years ago and then lost their theme… It happens unfortunately. Last I’ve seen them was Holiday Classic where they ripped the floor with the great performance. Danced very well at SF Open but unfortunately couldn’t win… Keep working at what you believe in guys.
Max Rublyuk & Olga Tsikalyuk – CA – 4th place (4/5/4/4/5)
Another interesting new duet, I have seen Max & Olga a few times at the competitions. This is a very interesting couple with great potential. But what grabbed my attention this time is was the “Look”. Some may not agree but I thought Olga looked absolutely stunning in her black classic style ballgown. She came across as very confident—perhaps regal. This couple demonstrated very good movement and technique. I kept hoping they would loosen up their body a bit more to let it flow.

Michal Towliszew & Tiffany Fung – CA – 5th place (6/4/6/5/4)
I’ve been following Michal & Tiffany for about a year now. What an improvement. Knowing Tiffani since she was a little girl dancing with her very talented brother Alex, often competing against (now very famous “Fung”) Victor with Jenifer (members of well known dance family) now competing with nice, “good guy” Mickal. Can’t believe how much they could improve in a bit more then one year! Sorry guys. I wouldn’t bet on you. But you proved me wrong. Have no idea what it is: talent, hard practice or ells..

Russ Wilder & Katusha Wilder – NJ – 6th place (5/6/5/6/6)
Strong, even muscular dancing--very well rehearsed and exiting to watch. Russ & Katusha are a typical 10-dance couple. Unfortunately with all that great performance, energy and charisma, they were not a winner at this particular comp. In my opinion their Standard would improve much more if they’d be a bit more flexible in the upper body without changing their great competitive look.

Ikaika Dowsett & Olga Zhuk – CA
Still fresh partnership. Ikaika & Olga are dancing less than a year together. Great looking couple. With Ikaika’s elegance and Olga’s flexibility and presentation I expected them to be pushing the top couples by now. It’s not happening yet. Besides their very promising look they haven’t open up their qualities yet. Hope they’ll start to show it soon.

Aleksandar Popov & Irena Dimitrova – CA
I love Aleksandar & Irena’s personality on the floor--so much of everything in one little couple. They look a bit Italian with strong feet and leg action, original choreography and big shapes. Unfortunately they lose connection sometimes and break their lines.

Yasufumi Tsubouchi & Miwa Tsubouchi
First I saw Yasumi & Miwa was with their show number the night before which I liked very much. Very clean looks, calm and technical. Not very often we get to see dance couple from Japan. So we were fortunate to meet one of Pro Japanese Standard couples here in California. Wish to see them again.

Nazar Batih & Sarika Hudson – NY
Brand new partnership and first competition together. Very nice looking young couple and very-very promising. I will look forward to following up their career.

Hristo Minev & Laura Fan – CA
Hristo & Laura really surprised me with their look. Compared to the Heritage Classic where they danced a few weeks ago, I saw confidence, smiles which helped to show off the qualities of their dancing. Hope very much Hristo & Laura will continue working in the same direction so we can see how good they can be.

Sarosh Ahmad & Zoe Wydroug – WA
Very good performance for Sarosh & Zoe in both Rising Star and Professional Open competitions. Good position, steady movement and togetherness all the way. Greater amount of energy and more extension through lines and shapes would help them to bring their dancing to a new level.

Congratulations everyone and good luck!
Irina Suvorov