Open Amateur Latin Championship

Stephen Krauel
Jun 15, 2001
Following the US National Rising Star Smooth and Latin the Open Amateur Latin took the floor.

At 10:27pm, 23 couples from around the US, Canada and Japan were trying to make the cut for the top 12. All of the couples danced a very strong and exciting 1/4 final round; here are some thoughts for the couples not advancing to the next round:

Simeon Stoynov and Kora Uczekaj, WA. A very young and talented 10 Dance Couple. Try to work on your connections - make them tighter to achieve a better body action within yourselves. This also will improve your body speed.

Michael and Alice Cho, CA. Another young talent in the 10 Dance discipline. In the Latin I would like to see more usage of each other?s bodyweight - with time you will be a very strong all around couple.

Hajime and Kumiko Sugawara, Japan. Very nice dancers, try to put more rhythm in your choregraphy.

Mark Tabor and Yuying Chen, Bothell, WA. Once again a 10 Dance Couple showing good actions in the Latin, but in general too quiet and not aggressive enough.

For all the other couples I would like to give some advice on what to practice: Be more aware of using the correct footwork. Stronger body tone will improve your posture, use your partners bodyweight to execute faster movements. And most of all, remember to enjoy your performance!

11:15pm Semifinal Round: Unfortunately Jason Rivers and Daniela Castaneda had to withdraw from this Semifinal due an injury.

Arturas Narbutas and Iveta Lukosiute, IL Good-looking couple. To be more noticeable, ground your weight more into the floor and develop more body speed.

Mikhail Belfer and Giordana Zuspann, CO. A relatively new partnership showing great potential in all 10 Dances. To get better in the Latin, work more with fundamentals from your Standard. Make use of bodyweight to achieve better balance and a faster execution of movements.

Nick Harwood and Autumn Delgrosso, UT. A very young couple with a ton of talent. In general, your body weight is too high, try to settle the weight into the floor and use your legs and feet more.

Alex Tecza and Monica Maj, IL. I would like to see more isolation to achieve better body rhythm in all dances. Sometimes a bit off balance.

Alexandre Chalkevitch and Larissa Kerbel, Canada. Use better connections and try to dance more with one another. At times too physical. Try to relax and enjoy the dancing.

Hans Gonzales and Regina Poyres, CA. Another new partnership. With time you will be a very strong contender for future Finals. Regina is a very fine dancer with lots of great qualities in her movements but she?s not very sure of herself - try to be more positive and live your dancing. Hans also has many assets in his dancing; he is a fine leader with a good understanding of the principles - try now to develop more dimension in the upper body.

At 12:45am 6 couples were recalled to the final:

6th Place Rene Castaneda and May-Ling Hutchins, CA. Also a new couple who holds great promise for the future. Both of them are technically very sound. I?d like to see the bodylines more extended, and the connections much tighter. Very good Cha-Cha and Samba. Paso Doble needs more characterization. Jive was too relaxed.

5th Place Denis Generalov and Jolie Nicole Yuska, CA. Our former US 10-Dance Champions. Apply some of your understanding from Standard into your Latin. At times your movements look too slow with no punch! Try to jazz up some of your choreography.

4th Place Alex Contreras and Natasha Bitters, UT. One of my favorite couples because of their speed and musicality. Natasha is always balanced and has a good awareness of her partner. Cha-Cha and Samba are very rhythmical with nice usage of body center. Beautiful Rumba with a great feel for the music. In Paso I would like to see more dimension. Best Jive on the floor, with great partnering! Well done.

3rd. Place Alex Mazo and Edyta Sliwinska, CA. A very good performance in this final. I like Edyta?s dancing a lot - always showing good usage of feet and legs which gives her an ?oozing? look on the floor. Alex must correct his posture, and at times he seems insecure. You have a good feel for the Rumba, your best dance. Cha-Cha has good choreography with many changes of rhythms. Paso needs a fuller, more dimensional look. Jive was very lively with good feet and body action.

2nd Place Dan Kitsis and Diana Surkis, CA. Our US 10 Dance Champions. This man is one of the top male dancers in the US. I like the way he gets so much action out of his body. Diana has improved so much over the past 6 months - try to relax and release the tension from your upper body. Just feel more free and flexible. Cha-Cha has a very readable rhythm with good body speed. Try to dance a bit more with one another and not too much with the audience. Rumba was not heavy enough - I would like to see Diana more dominant in this dance. Paso Doble was the best dance of the entire competition - good understanding with great characterization. Jive is also very strong. Keep up the ?Tick? and the speed.

1st Place Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Brigita Elksne, NY Wow what a partnership - that they?ve been together for only 3 weeks makes me excited to see how much better they will get in the future. Brigita is always in control of her own movements - a perfect foil for Max. Cha-Cha was one their best dances - very cheeky and playful. Be aware of your actions in Samba - sometimes you lose the usage of the center and it could look to casual. Beautiful Rumba with great leg actions and foot placement from Brigita. Paso Doble looked very full with good body shapes. Jive was well matched with great choreography and speed. A well danced final.

All the couples seemes in top form to dance at the British Open at the end of May. Best of luck to you all!

Stephan Krauel is a Former US Open Professional Latin Finalists, US Representatives to the World 10Dance and a Co-Organizer of the Holiday Ball and Dance Camp and the San Francisco Open.