U.S. National Rising Star Rhythm Championship

John & Diana Berry
Jul 13, 2005
Emerald Ball is host to three Rising Star National Championships, Rhythm, Smooth and Latin.

Onto the floor came the first round of 18 couples in two heats for the Rising Star Rhythm. From the first bar of Cha Cha to the last bar of Mambo, the final 6 was unclear as witnessed by the judges' callbacks. Only three couples received all callbacks into the semifinal, Piling/Goldman who only made it to the semifinal, Kraev/Watson, who ended in fifth place, and Schneider/Rutherford, who ended in third place. In both the quarter and semifinal rounds Schneider/Rutherford looked consistent, my possible winner.

Failing to make the semifinal, but the next couple in, was Okubo/Fourmyle, a newer partnership showing improved qualities, but still in the growing stage.

Now the start of the semifinal, and all the couples are looking a little more settled and dancing better. Not making the final six, Grijalva/Anya, this couple was very earthy, strong Rumba and Mambo, good personality and very grounded. In the Open Pro their dancing and costuming were better, which reflected in a higher placing on Sunday evening. Vilardo/Licht, a 9-dance couple, had a good earthy Mambo, more attention to hair/makeup would help overall appearance. Lynam/Aydelott, some good qualities, Mambo was too quiet and spins were untidy.

As a note, Swing seems to be the weakest dance for everyone here, looking slow and labored at times. The dance just does not seem to have it's own personality or definition for many couples. I saw some Jive actions that worked and some that did not, and other actions that just do not belong in Swing.

Now into the final six and the title seems to be up for grabs. No one has distinguished themselves as a clear winner. The marks are everywhere with every couple receiving placing's between 1 and 6 in nearly every dance.

The results are in and into 6th place, Radomir Pashev and Silviya Pencheva 2, 3, 5, 6, 6. A good overall couple, need to improve body tone in mambo, and swing was a little loose.

5th goes to Decho Kraev and Bree Watson 6, 5, 4, 3, 3. A well matched couple with masses of qualities. They need to generate even more energy and power in their performance. They have "the look", a good clean attractive floor appearance, both are tidy and technically sound. Bree exhibits great flexibility, and wonderful legs and feet. One of the best "dance" couples, they need to find a way to be more dynamic and individual to challenge for the top spot.

Into 4th place Hayk Arshakian and Albina Bashirian 4, 6, 2, T1, 5 Bolero caught my eye, very nice. I see the judges were of the same opinion.

3rd place went to Jonah Schneider and Lindsey Rutherford 3, 4, 3, 4, 4. This couple appeared to be the winner in the first two rounds, but faded in the final. An appealing couple with good qualities, they garnered the most marks from the semi to the final. If their performance had been as strong in the final as it was in the first two rounds, I feel they could have been the winners tonight.

2nd Pierre-Antoine/Gregoire 1, 2, 6, 5, 1 A very unique couple with an energetic and powerful Mambo, a real crowd pleaser. Swing appears to be Mambo at times which was reflected in their placing.

And to the winners, Gunnar and Daryll Sverrisson placing 5, 1, 1, T1, 2 . This couple is a very good all around 9 dance couple, with Smooth being their stronger style. A solid performance, they were consistent and looked comfortable with what they were doing. Gunnar needs to develop more body rhythm to advance in this style. Daryll is a very expressive girl showing up very nicely in Bolero, which I felt was their best dance Looks to be a solid future in 9- dance for this couple. Congratulations!

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