Open Professional International Standard

Judi Hatton
Jun 30, 2003
The unanimous opinion of the judges, expressed as they were leaving the floor following the final round of this, the culminating event of the Emerald Ball was ?What a great comp!? This particular division, going from strength to strength, is currently one of the most hotly contested and was a most fitting finale. With a reigning champion of five years, aficionados could perhaps be excused for thinking that the Professional Standard may be a little ?ho hum?, but nothing could be farther from the truth. While it is true that Jonathan and Kate are our reigning champions, the fight for the other five final placings is definitely on a ?show no mercy and take no prisoners? basis, and champions have been known to be beaten!

In winning the title for 2003 Jonathan Wilkins and Katusha Demidova (NYC) demonstrated the fluid speed, power, and flexibility for which they are known, and were clearly winners from the first round. They are consummate champions and are well on plan for the upcoming British Championships at Blackpool later in May.

If you are looking for a dancing dynamo then look no further than Giampiero Giannico & Ieva Pauksena (NYC) who took second place in all dances. The epitome of dynamic - they would be the picture beside the word in the dancers? dictionary - this pair lights up the floor with their power and speed and are a great pleasure to watch; they are so well suited to one another physically and when the softer ingredients are added to the performance they will pose a serious challenge.

These two couples are the Standard teams who, together with Latin couples Slavik Kryklyvvy & Karina and Paul Green & Alexsandra Gisher, will form Team USA and will be challenging the world at the famous Blackpool Team Match. Arguably one of the strongest teams fielded by the USA, we wish them all GOOD LUCK and Bon Voyage!

Taking the third spot Erminio Stefano & Luana Conte (OH) 33433, a charismatic pair who present a pleasing picture and show the speed that we have come to expect from Italian dancers; I like their dancing and generally tend to mark them well. That said, I felt that they were a little lucky on this occasion; the pressure was on them to solidify the third place gained at the US Nationals in March (where they danced extremely well) and it was manifested in Erminio?s shoulderline, which was tense and raised throughout the rounds, thus interfering with the couple's ability to rotate. Nevertheless, the majority of the judges felt that third was their place and ?that?s what makes horse racing!?

In fourth position, Igor Litvinov & Julia Ivleva (NJ) 44344 -I felt that this team danced well and a scrutiny of the marks will show that this was not quite as clear cut as the final placements would seem to indicate. In the majority of the dances the higher place was gained by the mark of just one judge, and I think that we will enjoy many future battles between these two teams. On the plus side, Igor & Julia are a tall and elegant couple that have strong movement and an impressive topline, however they can sometimes show a lack of shape and be a little too predictable in the presentation of their material .

Fifth place was taken by Oleg Suvorov & Tatiana Pavlova (CA) 65555. As the marks show, their final round Waltz was a little erratic; however they settled down in the Tango and proceeded to annex the other four dances in strong form. Oleg & Tatiana can always be relied upon to give a reliable performance and are worthy finalists.

This terrific final was completed by Valdas & Lilia Padreiezas (CA) 56666 who are a pleasing couple and I have been happy of late to see them back on the floor after a hiatus. They have returned enervated and ready to challenge the established finalists, and in that I wish them the very best of luck. It is my feeling that they will need to be a bit more aggressive with their work to produce more contrast with their soft style and presentation.

As is sometimes the case, this final actually broke itself down into three separate competitions 1-2, 3-4, and 5-6, although each of these couples could present a strong challenge for the position above on any future night given the right equation of skill, performance and luck.

We must not forget the semi-finalists, many of whom put up a very strong challenge for their inclusion in the final round; they were, in no particular order: Giacomo Agrello & Catherine Blondell (MD) - showing great improvement with strong and aggressive action, certainly a future challenger. Slaveyko Baylov & Irina Kaklamanova (NY) - this team caught my eye several times during the semi-final. I tell the dancers that I work with that it is their job to ?Jump on the judge?s page - not the judge?s job to look for them? and Slaveyko & Irina tried to do just that. Vitaliy Vdovichenko & Lyuda Borodulina (NC), the winners of the Rising Star event earlier in the week and veritable firecrackers, showing speed and ability. Eddie Stutts & Viktoria Belova (TX), another team that put up a strong challenge for their inclusion but the cut was just too tough. Garry & Rita Gekhman (NJ) always a beautifully presented and elegant pair, their time will come. Robert Kubis & Izabella Jaworska (MI) Good movement, always pleasing, they are solid semi-finalists.

The standard of dancing in the USA has risen steadily over the past several years, and these terrific teams are to be congratulated for placing in the top echelon of this major event on the West Coast. It is a great pleasure that, unlike their Latin counterparts, the top Standard style couples compete extensively within the USA, thus allowing us to see them and we very much appreciate that. We look forward to watching their next challenge and wish them all the very best of luck.

Judi Hatton is a former North American Professional Standard Champion. Currently 1st Vice President of the NDCA, Judi is also a co-organizer of the Yankee Classic and a busy coach and adjudicator.