Open Professional American Rhythm

Luann Pulliam
Jul 22, 2004
Reprinted with permission from Dance Beat Magazine.

After being on vacation from the competition scene since September, I was excited to hear the buzz of some new and exciting talent in the American Rhythm Division; I was also thrilled to see the size of the event at the Emerald this year. The semi-final round was the strongest it has been in a while and what a welcome sight to see new teams putting on top performances, making it hard not to notice them. The energy of these new up and coming stars made this division captivating once again. A few of the teams to keep your eye on are Hayk Arshakian and Albina Bashirian, Jackie Josephs and Jesse Desoto, Bree Watson and Decho Kraev. Added with the expertise and confidence of several veteran teams, the American Rhythm Division is on the rise again. I would like to applaud the men in this division. For the first time in a long time some of the men stood out with their dance athletics. They were strong and powerful yet still fluid. WOW! Excellent dancing!

6th place - Andrey and Anastasia Abrashin 6,6,6,6,6. In my opinion this couple danced well enough to place higher. They can captivate the characteristics of each dance and ?keep it real? not having to rely on gimmicky dancing. Andrey portrays a strong man on the floor always presenting his wife well enough to enjoy both of their dancing. His body is fluid and moves effortlessly. Anastasia brings the speed and rhythm, making them well-rounded performers.

5th place - Brian Jolly and Kristina 5,5,5,5,4. Not a great night for this couple. I was a little dismayed about the hype of this team; the girl shows talent and agility, unfortunately the boy left me feeling confused about his understanding of movement. He danced puppet like tonight. Having bad connections and off balance lines, a good looking couple, just not easy to appreciate tonight. American Style is open to an individual's desire to be unique in their choice of interpretation. However, good basic dancing will always be required.

4th place - Gleb Makarov and May Ling Hutchins 4,4,4,4,5. This new partnership?s performance was a slight disappointment. I felt the presentation didn?t warrant the placement. This boy's confidence and wonderful, rhythmical understanding of music helps make up for the team's mistakes. Unfortunately, he overshadows his partner with his experience. However, keeping in mind the newness of the team, this is one couple where only time will tell if their chemistry can develop to their ability.

3rd place - Dan Rutherford and Nicole Carroll 3,3,3,3,3. Great showing tonight, with a disco theme in round one, this couple took great risks just to draw the crowd into their fun on the floor, and it worked. Nicole?s beauty and speed and Dan?s rhythm and charisma made this partnership very pleasing to the eye. They are solid and consistent throughout each round keeping up a seasoned performance. Dan and Nichole have continually set the pace through their career for the other teams. This is one true American Style couple.

2nd place - Tony Dovolani and Inna Ivanenko 2,2,2,1,2. This couple is obviously the heir apparent to the title. They demonstrated the passion and confidence needed to challenge the reigning champions throughout this evening. Their emotional connection to each other in the Bolero allowed them to win this dance. With a strong performance, this team danced clear and clean, their focus was in competition mood, Tony & Inna gave 100% of themselves as dancers tonight and they should be proud of their performance and placement.

1st place - Bob Powers and Julia Gorchakova 1,1,1,2,1. Dancing strong from the moment they stepped on the floor, Bob and Julie were the clear winners, losing only the Bolero. As clever as this routine is, I feel that I am watching two bodies intertwining with clever choreography but I miss the connection of romance between them in this dance, maybe less contortions? With that said, there is no questioning Bob and Julia's championship tonight. Their power, speed, technique stood above the rest. They continue to captivate their audience and have perfected their interpretation of American Style. Congratulations to Bob & Julia, on your continued championship career!

Luann Pulliam is a former World, British and U.S. Theatrical Champion and Ohio Star Ball and Fred Astaire National Rhythm Champion. She is a member of the Fred Astaire National Council of Dance.

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  • Open Professional American Rhythm