Open Professional Rhythm

Corky Ballas
Jul 13, 2005
The Emerald Ball held at the wonderful LAX Hilton near the airport, is an excellent venue to host such an event, the vending areas are located right across from the main ballroom, the ballroom is spacious, everything was working like clockwork. Each year the Emerald Ball is transforming into a very competitive event, from excellent Pro-Am?s, all the way up to the Professional Level. This year was again a successful well managed event, congratulations to Wayne and Donna Eng for making such an event possible.

The American Rhythm event was a very exciting competition, held on the Sunday, the competition was fierce and very interesting to watch. For each couple I am going to give a score from 1-10, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best in each area of their dancing on THIS NIGHT. The reason I stress on this night is because anyone can have an off day, and on the other side, someone could have the night of their lives. So to reiterate the point it?s what I saw ON THE NIGHT. This was probably the best professional event of the weekend as all the big guns were present, which made it exciting.

I will base my opinion on the following ingredients that it takes to be a successful professional looking team. There are 15 different ingredients, they are as follows, I will give a brief definition of each of them.

1. Technique: Use of toes, ankles, knee action, hip line and action, shoulder line and action, neck line and action.

2. Posture: Vertical Alignment from head to toe maintained throughout all the rounds, not an easy task.

3. Timing: This too is complex, at a professional level it?s not just the timing of changing weight to music. It?s the poly rhythms between the couple, if any even exist with the particular couple. It?s the timing of lead, from floor through hip line, through arm.

4. Choreography: This is based on the choreography the couple executes, sometimes the choreography is too difficult for the level of the couple. The question you have to ask yourselves is, "Does the choreography we dance, look good on us?" Well, dancing never looks how it feels, and that is why we need a third eye. Sometimes we can feel so awesome, and look so C__PY, see if you can fill in the blanks.

5. Character: Is determined how the couple plays the role of each dance, are they taking on the role of the dance, or are they just themselves dancing to the music? Are they over using their faces, or are they under using their faces, or are they doing absolutely nothing with their faces. Some couples in this area dance as if their head is not even attached to their body, I still to this day cannot understand that one.

6. Stamina: This is most evident the last 30 seconds of the dance, if the form is maintained in the body. Are the feet moving with resistance into the floor, how much endurance does the couple have to the last second of the dance. Does the couple maintain composure between the dances.

7. Floor-craft: This is how the couple together maneuver through the other couples to show off there style.

8. Use Of Tension: Change of Tension is what makes dancing come alive! It is what makes one couple stand out and another couple just blend in. Very few couples showed expertise in this sphere.

9. Relationship: Relationship to each other, to the music, to the audience, to the space between each other. Again here, non existent in many couples.

10. Connection: This is evident by how the man moves his lady, and how in return the lady responds to her partner. The use of connection is through, the eyes, shape of the body and finally the physical use of arms.

11. Sensitivity: How aware the couple is of the sense of touch.

12. Spatial Awareness: Defined as the awareness of space between each partner, between themselves and how the couple projects their energy on the floor.

13. Presentation: This is how the couple is groomed, hair, makeup, tan, lady?s fingernails, toennails, the costume appearance. It?s always so distracting when earrings are flying off, hair coming undone, pieces of the costume shedding all over the floor, or flying off the dress.

14. Physical Condition: Does the person look in shape? Sometimes too many trips to Pizza Hut, McDonalds, Taco Bell, and Baskin Robbins can interfere with the look of a Professional DanceSport Athlete. Let?s face it, if your going to run with the BIG DOGS, you can?t pee like a PUPPY. I?ve heard every excuse in the book, my thyroid, I can?t lose weight, I have water retention, blah, blah, blah, bottom line - stop eating, and take care of your craft, you only have so many years left in you anyway.

15. Warmth: Some couples have an inviting feeling, as is to say ?Welcome to our world?. Others say, ?Stay Out of our world?, Others say ?What is our world, it?s disorganized??, and Others don?t even have a clue what their body language is giving off, they are in OOOOHH WEEE OOOOO land.

1st Place Tony Dovolani and Inna Ivanenko (NY). On this night, they did not have a very good night, missed connections, looked a little nervous, too anxious to move from one movement to the next, timing was too much in the future. I was disappointed with their performance on this night. I did not see this couple to win all five dances on this night, as they were pushed extremely hard from couples behind. Tony and Inna need to re-examine their approach.
Technique - Tony 8 - Inna -7
Posture - Tony 9 - Inna - 9 -
Timing - Tony 8 - Inna - 8 -
Choreography - Cha 9 - Rumba 8 - Swing 8 - Bolero 7 - Mambo 9.5
Character - Cha 8 - Rumba 8 - Swing 7 - Bolero 7 - Mambo 9.5
Stamina - Tony 8 - Inna 8
Floor-Craft - 7.5
Use of Tension - 8
Relationship - 8
Connection - 8
Sensitivity - 7
Spatial Awareness - 8
Presentation - 7.5
Physical Condition Appearance - Tony 10 - Inna 10
Warmth - Tony 8 - Inna 7.9

2nd Place Brian Jolly & Kristina (WA). This couple was on fire and had a fantastic night! Brian and Kristina were 2nd in all FIVE DANCES, They looked elegant, casual, earthy, sophisticated, calm and relaxed, both costumes for the lady were outstanding and very sassy, had a Latina Brazilian feel to it, in the final Kristina changed into a coral colored sassy dress, that really had some sizzle on the floor. Brian really had a great night, I have noticed a lot of improvement in this young man in all areas of his dancing, Kristina very experienced, knowledgeable, accomplished dancer, the best female on the floor. Congratulations to this couple well deserved, keep up the good work, this couple were my winners on this night, they were also the crowd favorites.
Technique - Brian 8 - Kristina 10
Posture - Brian 9 - Kristina 10
Timing - Brian 9 - Kristina 10
Choreography - Cha 9 - Rumba 8 - Swing 8 - Bolero 7 - Mambo 9.5
Character - Cha 8 - Rumba 8 - Swing 7 - Bolero 7 - Mambo 9.5
Stamina - Brian 9 - Kristina 9
Floor-Craft - 8
Use of Tension - 9
Relationship - 9
Connection - 8
Sensitivity - 8
Spatial Awareness - 8
Presentation - 10
Physical Condition Appearance - Brian 10 - Kristina 10
Warmth - Brian 9 - Kristina 9

Into 3rd Place Felipe and Carolina Telona (NJ), this couple was very lucky to come into 3rd place on this night. Felipe and Carolina have the knack for never offending; the dancing is straight forward and tidy. The simplistic choreography executed is very easy to dance hence the non offensive look. Felipe has a great set of teeth and uses them very well those teeth really cover up a lot of errors, but hay, good for you, a very pleasant face this young man has and a pleasing Latin look. Felipe needs to use his body more, the dancing comes off very one dimensional and appears to lack fluidity. Carolina is lacking in experience, nice posture and has a pleasing vertical alignment at all times. Carolina's use of arms with body are not in sync, too many awkward positions where arms are just flying all over the place Couples from behind are pushing them, not a good night for this couple, need to re-examine your work. More work needs to be addressed in the Technique area, and understanding of the standing leg from foot to foot, movement is inefficient..
Technique Felipe 7 Carolina 7.5
Posture Felipe 8 Carolina 10
Timing Felipe 8.5 Carolina 7.9
Choreography Cha 7.5 - Rumba 7 - Swing 7 - Bolero 7 - Mambo 9.5
Character Cha 7 - Rumba 7 - Swing 7 - Bolero 7 - Mambo 9
Stamina Felipe 7 Carolina 7
Floor-Craft 7
Use of Tension - 5
Relationship - 5
Connection - 5
Sensitivity - 6 S
patial Awareness - 6
Presentation - 7, dress did not suit body type
Physical Condition Appearance - Felipe 3 too heavy Carolina 10
Warmth Felipe 9 Carolina 7

Into 4th Position Andrei and Anastasia Abrashin (NY), terrific young man here, the lady comes off too hard faced and cold. Dancing is quick, the dress was molting and very distracting. Movements are just movements, does not seem to be a lot of thought while dancing. I see THINK AND DOING. What needs to be seen is THINKING, SENSING, DOING. Lot of talent here but unfortunately not used to its potential, this couple has been going sideways for sometime now.
Technique Andrei 9 - Anastasia 8
Posture Andrei 10 - Anastasia 10
Timing Andrei 10 - Anastasia 8
Choreography Cha 7.5 - Rumba 7 - Swing 8 - Bolero 7 - Mambo 8
Character Cha 7 - Rumba 7 - Swing 7 - Bolero 7 - Mambo 7
Stamina Andrei 10 - Anastasia 8
Floor-Craft 8
Use of Tension - 5
Relationship - 5
Connection - 6
Sensitivity - 9
Spatial Awareness - 6
Presentation - 7
Physical Condition Appearance - Andrei 10 - Anastasia 10
Warmth Andrei 8.5 - Anastasia 1

Into 5th Position Michael Neil and Danielle Wilson (FL), I am normally not a fan of Michael?s dancing but with Danielle I was pleasantly very surprised. This couple looked like they were trying to produce actions and good dancing. I was very impressed by Danielle, she has an excellent sense of her own body, terrific toe, ankle and knee actions. At times it looks as if it?s just going through the motions without a quality of tension. Overall this couple were terrific on the night, Congratulations!! Keep up the good work.
Technique Michael 9 - Danielle 9
Posture Michael 8 - Danielle 10
Timing Michael 9 - Danielle 9
Choreography Cha 7.5 - Rumba 7 - Swing 8 - Bolero 7 - Mambo 8
Character Cha 7 - Rumba 7 - Swing 7 - Bolero 7 - Mambo 7
Stamina Michael 9 - Danielle 9
Floor-Craft 8
Use of Tension - 5
Relationship - 5
Connection - 6
Sensitivity - 8 S
patial Awareness - 6
Presentation - 9
Physical Condition Appearance - Michael 7 little too heavy - Danielle 8
Warmth Michael 8.5 Danielle 8.8

Into 6th Jessie DeSoto and Jackie Josephs (WI), probably the youngest couple in the final and had an excellent night. Jackie is a quick, solid, and always on balance, this little Latin lady is dynamite. She has a new look with the hair, and she has a new style of dress. The transformations she has made are excellent, I like the new look. Jessie has the Latin look, maybe because he is Latin, great look, strong, stands nicely and very powerful couple. Jessie needs to improve his flow, sensitivity and actions. Great job for this couple, could have finished much higher for my taste.
Technique Jessie 7.9 - Jackie 9.5
Posture Jessie 9 - Jackie 9
Timing Jessie 9 - Jackie 9
Choreography Cha 7.5 - Rumba 7 - Swing 8 - Bolero 7 - Mambo 9
Character Cha 8 - Rumba 7.9 - Swing 8 - Bolero 7 - Mambo 9.5
Stamina Jessie 10 - Jackie 9
Floor-Craft 8
Use of Tension - 5
Relationship - 7
Connection - 6
Sensitivity - 8
Spatial Awareness - 6
Presentation - 9.5
Physical Condition Appearance - Jessie 10 - Jackie 9.5
Warmth Jessie 8 - Jackie 9

How The 17 Judges Saw It:

Judges marks for Tony and Inna - Corky Ballas 22222 Marylyn Benitez 12211 Chuck Danza 11111 Ian Folker 12121 Wendy Johnson 11111 David Kloss 11111 Stephen Knight 11111 Denise Krauel 22222 Timothy Mason 11111 Ron Montez 11122 Victoria Regan 31222 Nicole Carroll 11111 Sam Sodano 11111 John Swick 11111 Tommie Trovato 11111

Judges marks for Brian and Kristina - Corky Ballas 11111 Marylyn Benitez 21122 Chuck Danza 22222 Ian Folker 33232 Wendy Johnson 22324 David Kloss 32222 Stephen Knight 22223 Denise Krauel 11111 Timothy Mason 22222 Ron Montez 44122 Victoria Regan 12331 Nicole Carroll 44444 Sam Sodano 22222 John Swick 33333 Tommie Trovato 22222

Judges marks for Felipe and Carolina - Corky Ballas 56666 Marylyn Benitez 33444 Chuck Danza 33333 Ian Folker 21312 Wendy Johnson 56656 David Kloss 43334 Stephen Knight 43342 Denise Krauel 43333 Timothy Mason 54533 Ron Montez 22413 Victoria Regan 23413 Nicole Carroll 33333 Sam Sodano 33333 John Swick 22222 Tommie Trovato 36343

Judges marks for Andrei and Anastasia - Corky Ballas 65553 Marylyn Benitez 54334 Chuck Danza 65555 Ian Folker 55555 Wendy Johnson 65565 David Kloss 25565 Stephen Knight 34434 Denise Krauel 66666 Timothy Mason 35354 Ron Montez 56566 Victoria Regan 55254 Nicole Carroll 22232 Sam Sodano 44444 John Swick 55555 Tommie Trovato 43444

Judges marks for Micheal and Danielle - Corky Ballas 44445 Marylyn Benitez 66666 Chuck Danza 44444 Ian Folker 44234 Wendy Johnson 33232 David Kloss 66456 Stephen Knight 66666 Denise Krauel 55445 Timothy Mason 43445 Ron Montez 63644 Victoria Regan 44535 Nicole Carroll 66666 Sam Sodano 66666 John Swick 44444 Tommie Trovato 65666

Judges marks for Jessie and Jackie - Corky Ballas 33333 Marylyn Benitez 45555 Chuck Danza 56666 Ian Folker 66666 Wendy Johnson 44443 David Kloss 54643 Stephen Knight 55555 Denise Krauel 34554 Timothy Mason 66666 Ron Montez 35355 Victoria Regan 66666 Nicole Carroll 55555 Sam Sodano 55555 John Swick 66666 Tommie Trovato 54555

This write up is with the intention to help and not to hurt anyone, like my father used to say, ?Criticism is only good if it hurts?, if it doesn?t hurt it?s not helpful. The past is only good for one thing, that is to learn from, and definitely not to live in. I have tried to give constructive and not destructive criticism. Also realize that for 1.45 - 2:00 minutes it?s how consistent you are, what you feel is not always necessarily what we see.

I know how hard all of you work and it does not go without being noticed and appreciated, Congratulations to all of you and keep up the good work.

?The difference between Extraordinary and Ordinary is just that little bit EXTRA?

To the ladies that went just that little bit extra and were my winners for the DIVA award, International Style, Diva award goes to Olga Rodionova, American Style the Diva award goes to Kristina Pchenitchnykh, congratulations ladies, fabulous work!

Live and Dance With Passion

Corky Ballas is a former Open British and Open U.S. Professional Latin Champion.

This article was reprinted with permission from Dance Beat. For more Dance Sport articles or to subscribe to Dance Beat, visit their website at