Open Amateur International Standard

Rauno Ilo
Jun 30, 2003

Above photo of Arturas Narbutas with Iveta Lukosiute courtesy of Park West Photography

Twenty-six couples took the floor in the quarterfinal round of the Open Amateur International Standard Championship. A sold out ballroom, a huge floor and an enthusiastic audience gave a perfect environment to produce some very fine dancing - and so they did!

Overall comment for the first round of the competition - when you see a couple with inconsistent top line, you normally also see inconsistent footwork. Please train your feet those things play a major role in your improvement. Remember - no feet, no movement! And if you don't move, you don't get noticed in the crowd. And if you are trying to move from the top, you get distorted. And a second comment about the couples in this round - work on your stamina. If your performance level drops dramatically because you run out of fuel in the middle of your quickstep in the first round, then you are not ready to be in the top six.

Couples noted in this quarter-final round who did not get further: Vladislav Shakhov/Nicole Levikov (IL) - The smallest couple on the floor with great enthusiasm, but without proper lowering and leg action, it often looks too much like running. You guys will look taller if you let your weight settle more to the floor and then use your legs to move instead of trying to stand up high and trying to take big steps. Lonny and Susie Tsang (IL) - small couple with good basic fundamentals. To improve your results, you have to work on presentation and movement. On my sheet, you should have been in the semifinal.

Now, to the semifinals - 13 couples have been recalled. I have two overall comments watching that round of the competition. First- I understand perfectly how all of you are tying to make the top six. It's not an easy task for the judges to pick finalists from 13 couples all dancing at the same time. But - try to express yourself through your technique and music and not by impressing the judges with tricks and even worse- trying to get eye contact with every judge you pass. Some couples are very consistent in doing that and believe me, it will not add to you presentation. And the second comment (which should really be the main comment for the night) - music! For me- if you are out of the music- you are out of the competition. Theoretically, it should be marking criteria number one for judges. In my opinion - too many couples are getting by with this. They should not!

Couples noted in this round who did not make the finals: Jim Gray/Sunnie Page (OR). I really liked this couple. In the first round my thought was to see how high these guys will end up in the final. Tall, elegant, with that mysterious "ballroom look," good technique. And then suddenly in the semifinals they got completely lost. If you would have danced the way you started that evening, you would have been certain finalists. Keep it up! Alex Tecza/Katie Lindholm (IL) - what a girl! Happy, bubbly, very confident, good technique. Tango was by far the best dance for you two. My notes from dance to dance in both rounds are saying the same things over and over - Music, music, music. Good looking confident couple on the floor - please take your partner, LISTEN TO THE MUSIC, and get on with it. Especially in slow dances- semifinal Waltz was on the edge, Foxtrot for me was off time.

Now, to the finals. Overall comment for that round of competition - Viennese Waltz! For most of the couples, this is the worst dance. I understand perfectly, that there are not too many figures to practice and that it may get boring, but this dance is 20% of your results. You can win the whole competition with a very good Viennese waltz, especially when other couples haven't spent too much time on it!

Placing seventh (77667) Lucas Chocuka/Karolina Szpiech. Nice look on the floor. For me, not focused enough, not enough presentation in this stage of competition, man's head position needs attention.

Placing sixth (56756) Nick Novikov/ Snejana Petrova. Very visible couple on the floor. Good feet. Good soft legs. Good moves. But- lady's whole top line needs attention. Her right arm was too low and behind her right side, often causing right shoulder to be too high. Also her neck line was broken too often. Remember- most of the time the audience (and judges) see your back, not your front. Therefore back of the neckline should be part of the body extension. If you lift your chin and face too high, that will be distorted. Also guys- your Viennese Waltz needs attention. It is too fast and too much up and down.

Placing fifth (65575) Radek Kryszofiak /Paulina Malinowska. Another couple with good, soft legs. Lots of times your weight does not lower to the correct part of your foot, not allowing you to "stand and move your weight" at the same time. Especially in slower dances. That also makes you lose connection with your partner, so "gapping" is quite obvious.

Placing fourth (34444) Arturas Narbutas/Iveta Lukosiute. This couple was higher on my list. As do most couples from Lithuania, they have good basic fundamentals and very good feet. That combination produces very soft and effortless movement, with an elegant look on the floor. For me, they are a classic Waltz/Foxtrot couple. Now you should pay attention to the characterization of each dance, especially Tango and Quickstep, otherwise it is very pleasing to watch you dance, but sometimes it will look too much of the same. Viennese Waltz - stand longer at the end of one, looks a bit rushed.

Placing third (43333) Max and Lesya Sinitsa. Elegant couple with good top line. Good swing and light movement. Sometimes I feel like you are holding back, like you are trying to save something for next time. Turn up your volume and go for it!

Placing second (22222) Anton Domansky/Erica Ridgeway. Very confident couple who danced an excellent quarter-final. Again problem with Viennese Waltz. Too much rise and fall, sways to artificial. Also lady's right arm was often dead straight, which distorted the top line greatly. You should now work with more depth in your movement, which should slow you down musically without losing power.

And the winners (11111) Victor Fung- Liene Apale. Definitely the winners in this competition. Obviously the best male dancer on the floor. Lady needs to work more on her presentation. But a personal point of view for the future - Your dancing looks very sporty- that is good, but the art and feeling and the soul is not always seen. Well done anyway!

Rauno Ilo is former all Soviet Union Champion and World 10-Dance finalist. Also three time United States couple of the year in Professional International Standard division, and has placed in the top three in US National Standard Championship.