Hooray for Mika!!

Mika and Plamen

Oh my gosh, I’ve been so busy trying to get a brief out, uploading photos to my photo page from this past weekend, and having my dance lessons, I haven’t had time yet to blog about my insane, raucous, dance-filled weekend, which I spent literally running back and forth like a crazed nutter between the Roseland Ballroom in midtown, where a small ballroom competition known as the New York Dance Festival was taking place, and Lincoln Center, where the New York City Ballet was having its final performances of the winter season! So, sorry for being so late in getting my pictures of the festival up, but here they are, finally.

I’m very excited because my friend, Mika, won the overall pro/am Latin championships!!! Yay, Mika!

Her teacher is the amazing Plamen Danailov, who, with his pro partner, won first place in the pro Latin division! Half Japanese, half Austrian, and raised in Vienna, where ballroom dancing skills are acquired from a very young age, Mika has been dancing ballroom since she was very small, and it really shows. She is such a beautiful dancer, makes long graceful lines, exhibits such elegance in her demeanor and with her costumes, and has a very strong connection with her partner. Watching her really makes me wish dancing was taken more seriously here in the U.S., so that I would have learned from a young age as well.

Placing second in the pro/am Latin was Tessa, with her teacher, Jacob Jason, below. Tessa has only been dancing ballroom for about two years, but she has a ballet background, and in fact was formerly a dancer with the Joffrey Ballet!

Tessa and Jacob

Watching Tessa was a real treat too. Oh how I wish I would have taken more ballet as a child…


Elaine!!! Here is one of my friends from my studio, the lovely and talented, Elaine, dancing with her teacher, Jacob, same as Tessa’s. Jacob had about fifty students dancing, I swear! Above she is doing her fun, ‘foxy foxtrot’ showcase, and below, a charming Waltz routine.

Elaine II

Students can compete either in the general group dances, or perform a solo showcase with their teacher. Elaine opted for the showcase, Mika for the general, and Tessa for both. I think if you do the general group dances, you get more time to dance on the floor, especially if you advance to semi-finals and then finals. With a showcase, you’re only on for about two minutes, but you get the whole floor to yourself, and you get to choose your music, and can do more theatrical things, like lifts. In the general group comp, one foot must always be touching the floor, and you share the ballroom with everyone else in your division.

I took several pictures, so you can click here if you want to look at the whole album. Here are some more of my highlights from Sunday though:

Darina and Bill

Above is another of my friends, Bob, competing in the pro/am with his teacher, Darina, who was wearing just about the sexiest, slinkiest, most gorgeous dress I have ever seen!

darina and bill

Another shot of that dress. And Darina is so beautiful, she can pull it off like no one’s business!

joaquin cortes guy Above is this teacher, whose name I don’t know, but he was very good. He really impressed me, and his student was quite good as well. He reminded me of a young Joaquin Cortes, the famed flamenco dancer.

latin youth Some very cute kids competing in the Latin youth.

Nikolai Ahh! My new Latin crush-object, Nikolai Shpakov! He looked amazing, danced so well and wicked fast with his new partner, who was just lovely. And look at those hot pink shimmies — I so want that costume!!!

Another of Nikolai and THE DRESS!

A competitor in the pro American Smooth Division. Love that arch!


This one’s rather blurry, but it’s the very sweet, always lovely to watch, J.T. Damalas and Tomas Melnicki, who won first place in the pro American Smooth division.

Finally, this pro Latin couple was a lot of fun. I’m not sure who they are, but I think I heard in the introductions that they are from New Jersey. They really knew how to play to a crowd!

So, that was my Sunday. I spent practically all day Saturday with Philip, at the New York City Ballet, watching, amongst other things, Miranda Weese’s last performance with the company before she heads off to Seattle to guest perform with the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Here is an (illegal!) picture I caught of her:

Weese takes a bow

It was so fun, again, to hang out with Philip. He invited me out to dinner with his partner, Wei, and his friend from high school, Deborah. Very nice!

Finally, tonight is the last round of the America’s Ballroom Challenge competition. Since this is not a “real” competition, but is made for TV, I have no idea what to expect. It seems a bit unfair to compare dancers in four completely different dance styles (that’s: American Rhythm, American Smooth, International Latin, and International Standard) with each other, but this show is really promoting ballroom to a larger TV audience, so I am not criticizing one bit! I just don’t know who to predict will win. My favorites are Andrei Gavriline and Elena Kruychkova (last year’s champs), but of course they are my faves since I am a Latin girl! Jonathan Wilkins and Katusha Demidova (Standard) are the highest-ranked couple in the world of all of the U.S. couples, so they may win. But then Latin seems to be more popular in the U.S., so maybe the Latin couple will win again. Or maybe it’ll be Tony Dovolani and Elena Grinenko, who’ve won audiences over as pro dancers on Dancing With the Stars. Or, maybe it’ll be the underdogs, Ben and Shaleen Ermis in American Smooth. Who knows. We’ll just have to tune in and find out! Check here for local listings, and enjoy!!


  1. Great pics, as always – sorry I missed it!

  2. Thanks for the pic of me and my partner. Believe it or not, thats the only pic from my first ever competition 🙂

    btw, i tried the Samba class at Alvin. Its intense.

  3. Hi Rony — I keep forgetting to send them to you! I’m glad you tried the class — I know, isn’t it insane! I haven’t been in a while, mainly because America’s Ballroom Challenge has been on on that night, but also because I’m a total wimp 🙂

  4. María Rosa Casto

    Where can I buy dreses and shoes to dance waltz in Viena?

  5. Hi Maria — there’s a store in New York called WorldTone, which is in Chelsea — 7th Avenue a little north of 23rd street, though they probably also have a website if you’re not in NY. They have a great shoe selection, and they probably also have information on where to get costumes. Most dancers have their costumes made by their own seamstress, and many make them themselves. But you could try LeNique’s website (they are now based in Beverly Hills) or one of the regular manufacturers like TakaDance. Good luck!

  6. Hi..!! nice to read your blog =) loved all your pictures, makes me want to see the competition too!!

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