US National Rising Star Professional Latin

Chris Johnston
Jul 13, 2005
Seventeen couples took the floor for this prestigious competition. As you will see from my write up I did not necessarily agree with the outcome. This might be due to the fact that I viewed the competition from an elevated level.

Round one - Billy King and Kateryna Kuznetsova. This was the first couple I saw .Great yellow fringe dress. Unfortunatly, I did not see them for the rest of the competition. Man needs more energy to compete at this level.

Marcus Johnson and Yuki Hareguchi. Man has definetly improved, he danced with much more strength and confidence than before. He looks like the boss in this partnership and seems to like it. At times Marcus took up some very good positions at the top of the floor. I wonder if the judges had positioned themselves a little more around the floor then his result may have been different. I thought they pushed strongly for a place in the final.

Jiri Kosydar and Monika Dubovska. I saw this couple constantly but not always for the right reasons. The mans all white outfit was very eye catching and well tailored. The man is physically not as strong as the lady and with this in mind I could not understand why he wore two large gold dangling earings. In my opinion this made him look too efeminante and unable to dominate the partnership.

Jason Daly and Tarn Daly. No nonsense approach. Full commitment with everything they did. Very difficult to find anything wrong with this couple. I also thought they pushed hard for a place in the final.

Jonathon Curtis and Hilary Smoot. Striking looking couple. Lady has to pay attention to foot and leg action to progress in this company.

Lucas Lisowki and Magda Schoenerch. This young man is very talented. His extension and control is quite superb. In fact he is blessed with all the attributes that most of us can only dream about. Apart from his Jive, where he has too much turn out and hardly ever puts his heals on the floor I really liked and enjoyed everything he did. The bad news. His makeup was over done and his shirt and trousers did not seem to fit him. Magda looked great and her arm movements were outstanding. Her feet however left a lot to be desired. She kept hitting her outside edge and foot pressure was almost nonexistent in cha-cha. This probably explains why she kept lifting and flicking her feet.

The Final

1st Validotos Skimelis and Jurga Pupelyte (CA). On the night I would have placed this couple third. On reflection I can see why they won. This is a very exotic looking couple and the lady is beautiful. They were both very well groomed. They were the only couple to excite the crowd. In fact they were the most balanced couple on the floor.

2nd Thomas Lewandowski and Isabela Lewandowski (CA). On the night I would have placed this couple fifth. On reflection I would still place them fifth. This man is very dynamic. His energy is infectious and at floor level you would have felt the full force of this. From my elevated seat I was continually aware that the man hunches his shoulders. As he is slightly shorter than his partner this posture does not enhance the look. Their big plus point is the passion they share for each other. They are a very good advertisment for being married.

3rd Andrzej Przybyl and Adriana Przybl (MI). On the night I would have marked them 1st or 2nd On reflection I would still have marked them 1st or 2nd. Coming into this competition they must have been the favorites. This young lady is absolutely stunning even though her hair is worn down and is slightly scruffy, she is very sexy and it really suits her. At the beginning of the competition they went off like a house on fire. As the competition wore on they became less and less visible. Their speed and togetherness was there but the young lady kept looking at the floor. I am sure this is only a temporary set back and look forward to seeing them perform in the future.

4th Krystirn Grabowski and Irina Shukhat (IL). On the night I would have marked them fifth or sixth on reflection I would still place them fifth or sixth. I have seen this young couple dance at a lot of the competitions I have attended. The young man always does a great job with some of his younger pro/am students. They definetly deserved their place in the final but seemed a little subdued.

5th Danila Kartashov and Nuria Alcala (NJ). On the night I would have marked them fourth or fifth on reflection I would have placed them fourth. My first impression was not good. I thought the lady was wearing one of Bette Midler?s old wigs. As the comp continued I then really noticed that this pair are very good dancers. I thought they had a very strong final.

6th Christian Baerens and Kristina Staykova (NY). On the night I would have marked this couple first or second on reflection I would still place them first or second. I still cannot quite believe the result they received. They were well groomed and their dancing was of the highest quality. Their Paso Doble was by far the best on the floor. They were a little less animated than some of the other couples. What they lacked in showmanship, they more than made up for in class.

While this was a very good competition no couple really stood out. Even though we had a packed house with standing room only, the atmosphere was very subdued. All of these couples will have to find that little extra something if they are to challenge the best in America.

Chris Johnston is a former Blackpool & UK Amateur finalist and is currently the owner of Supershag Megadance and is a World Championship adjudicator.

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