Off to Blackpool!

Am all packed and ready — very excited! Unfortunately, the weather’s going to be crap — rainy and highs in the 50s everyday, so no beach time. But, according to Mika, one of Pasha’s students whom I’m to meet there, I won’t have any time to go to the beach anyway. Mika’s been a few times before so I’m glad to have someone to show me around and hang out with. She says the team match is one of the most exciting events, and the U.S. has a great team this year. Our awesome team consists of:

For Standard: Jonathan Wilkins and Katusha Demidova,

and Victor Fung and Anna Mikhed

And for Latin: Andrei Gavriline (who teaches at my studio!) and Elena Kryuchkova

and Maxim Kojevnikov and Yulia Zagorouitchenko

I’ve seen Andrei dance in person and he’s amazing — he’s a tall, thin man and he’s so light he just seems to fly across the dance floor. And his wife and partner, Elena, is so tiny and gymnastic she looks like she’s just floating up into his arms during their lifts. Andrei and Elena and Maxim and Yulia took first and second places respectively in the America’s Ballroom Challenge competition in Ohio last November, which was televised on PBS in February. Maxim and Yulia did an amazing samba for their showcase — if I could only move like that woman!

Jonathan and Katusha and Victor and Anna didn’t compete in Ohio because there was an international standard competition going on in England at the same time. They are both very popular couples, and Victor seems to be a crowd favorite. When the emcee in Ohio announced that they had just placed in the finals in England, everyone started cheering. Mika says Victor does a mean tango!

I am crushed though because my teacher Pasha and his partner Anna won’t be able to go. A few days ago someone broke into the studio and stole her purse, which contained her passport and work visa. There was no way both the U.S. and Russian governments could re-issue her papers so soon, so she can’t leave the country right now. She may have to go back to Russia to get another passport because renewing from here will take months. What an immense pain. I had really wanted to see them dance and they had a real shot at placing in the quarterfinals if not the semis, so it is really really unfortunate. At least they will have a chance again in another year — Blackpool is the Olympics of Ballroom, but thankfully for all of us, it happens four times as often!

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