Pro/Am 'A' Standard Scholarship

Didio Barrera
Jul 22, 2004
Fuki Uekusa defeats US Pro/Am Standard Champion Barbara Moore

Reprinted with permission from Dance Beat Magazine.

This was perhaps one of the most exciting and challenging Pro/Am events I have personally witnessed. The quality of dancing was so good that it had judges and fans talking about it through dinner. Most of the couples I selected made the final, but with the exception of a few almost anyone in this semi could have made it to the top.

The biggest upset in this final was Fuki Uekusa from NY defeating the current US Pro-Am Standard Champion, Barbara Moore from CA. It all started in the afternoon when Fuki overtook Barbara in some of the single dances setting up what I thought was a wonderful match in the scholarship. Fuki was able to win all dances with the exception of the Tango, which went to her opponent, Barbara. Looking from the sidelines, I really thought this was a just decision and many of the people I spoke with said the same. I?m usually quite a fan of Barbara, but during this performance I thought she looked a little nervous at times. I would even go as far to say that she was probably pushing a bit too hard and sometimes appeared out of position and back weighted. Fuki, on the other hand, looked confident, soft, pliable and very musical. I think that having won in the singles gave her a tremendous burst of confidence. Fuki took all first placement with the exception of three third placements and a second from Kathryn Schaffer, two seconds and a third in the tango from Forrest Vance, two seconds in the Tango and Foxtrot from Donald Johnson, Tad Joy also awarded her a second on tango and quickstep and David Hamilton also gave her a second. Barbara got a number of firsts but not enough in this five dance scholarship.

It was so difficult for the judges as eight couples were called for this final and although I made my own predictions, for me third, fourth and fifth placements could have gone to any of those couples, yes it was that close! Third place went to Diana Surkis partnered by Paul Holmes from NY. This was the first time I have seen this lady dance with Paul and it also looked that way to me. Diana is a lovely dancer but on this occasion the work looked unrehearsed. I?m sure given time, this combination could issue a challenge for the couples on top. Had I been judging, I think I would have placed one slot lower.

In fourth place was a very talented young man who at times looked fantastic but other times looked lost - Ikaika Dowsett partner by Roberta Sun from California. I personally had him fifth, but like I said before, it was very close for these three very talented couples. In fifth position was Ashlenn Ambanta partnered by Jari Muller from GA. I think this lady has improved tremendously in this style and had I been adjudicating I would have placed her above the last two couples mentioned. She was consistent and sound technically. I think this couple tends to still look quite heavy and this is not an advantage in this style. I think in order for them to go further, the look has to be bit lighter.

Sixth was Lynne Jones partnered by Giampiero Giannico from CA, I have not seen this lady on the scene for a while and I must say that this was the best she could have done in this final. This, I think, was not her best performance. I hope this is not a trend and that she will be back in top shape for the next event.

Seventh position went to Sara Silverman partnered by Oleg Suvorov from CA. This is a very talented lady but her neck line and upper body shows too much strain. I?m sure with work this would disappear and the lovely dancer within would surface. In my predictions I had her coming in eighth.

Last but not least was Ozlem Koldemir partnered by Giacomo Agrello from NY. Another talented lady who with time I?m sure would become a challenge. Unfortunately, at the moment she is finding it hard to get out of the way quickly and this I think makes her look as if she is blocking her partner rather than moving.

This was definitely a comp that I will remember for some time to come and I?m quite happy to see that Pro/Am dancing has come this far. Congratulations to all the finalists, you definitely outdid yourselves.

To read more articles or for subscription information visit Dance Beat's website at
  • Pro/Am 'A' Standard Scholarship