Highlights So Far, But Very Quickly!

I have a quick few seconds and then must head off to the preliminary rounds of pro Latin today — my very favorite day!!! And, Slavik Kryklyvyy, my favorite dancer, will be dancing in prelims (all couples who made semifinals last year are exempt from afternoon prelims and don’t dance til evening, but Slavik has a new partnership this year so is not exempt. He placed second in the world — with Karina Smirnoff of DWTS — last time he danced two years ago, so it’s always very amusing to see the greats dancing with the newbies!). So, anyway, I must get there early and get a good seat to hopefully get some good pics 🙂

Anyway, very quickly here are some of the pics taken from my photo album (which I’ll keep updating as time permits) of my highlights from the first few days (opening Congress lectures on ballroom dancing through Amateur Latin and Junior Ballroom).

mirko and alessia

First in the world in Standard Ballroom, Mirko Gozzoli and Alessia Betti from Italy, during opening Congress

The fabulous Maxim Kozhevnikov and Yulia Zagoruychenko from the U.S., currently 2nd in Latin in US and first in world in Latin showdance, showing snippets of their new showdance routine during Congress.

This is from the most interesting of the Congress lectures in my opinion. Retired Latin champs, now theater arts performers Jukka Haapalainen and Sirpa Suutari from Finland are working on a full-length dance rendition of Federico Garcia Lorca’s brilliant play “Bodas de Sangre.” The full-length story dance, the first of its kind to be entirely in Latin Ballroom style, will be performed in Finland. I’m so excited about this! Ballet may have a new competitor for full-length story dances!

Exhibition champs Victor DaSilva and Hanna Karttunen from South Africa performing their new routine. Their signature lift is one where he lies on the floor, lifts her with two arms, then to one, then gets up into standing position all the while lifting her with only one arm. I didn’t want to take a picture of that one and risk distracting them with my flash!

Team USA taking the floor during their opening number for the team match. Match consists of a competition — first Latin, then ballroom, with two couples in each style from each of four countries. This year’s match was between US, UK, Russia and Italy. UK came in first, then Italy, then Russian, then US 🙁 UK has all the great Standard Ballroom dancers — two of the top three in the world are from England, while no one country really has all the great Latin dancers — tops are divided between Germany, Poland, Russia, and … oh I always forget where #3 is from — Andrei Skufca and Katarina Venturinini but it’s somewhere in Eastern Europe — Slovenia??) Anyway, the UK kind of has the team comp in the bag because of its Standard…

Slavik and new partner Elena Khvorova competing in the team match for Russia.

Second in the world in Latin Michael Malitowski and Joanna Leunis from Poland demonstrating during their Samba lecture on the second day of Congress (Sunday).

The adorable Timothy Howson and Joanne Bolton, 2nd in the world in Ballroom, demonstrating Viennese Waltz during Congress.

My second favorite male Latin dancer, Sergey Surkov and his partner Melia from Poland. He is by far the most romantic, passionate male dancer in the world and I think all male dancers could take serious lessons from him — from Latin to Ballet! One of the real highlights of Congress for me was watching him participate in one of the lectures on Latin Dancing Through the Ages.

From that same lecture, given by Richard Porter, here is another couple, represting the Fifties in Latin dancing. I LOVE that dress and kinda wish the styles were still the same — so classic. This was to me the most entertaining lecture. He went through four decades showing how certain basics remained the same but styles and embellishments have changed to reflect the time. It reminded me a bit of Apollinaire Scherr’s recent very interesting article in Newsday apropros of NYCBallet’s new Romeo and Juliet on the different versions of that ballet over time and how they’ve each reflected goings-on in the world at large at that particular time. I’ll have more to say about this (as well as the Bodas de Sangre ballet) when I return because I think this is a very intriguing topic. I can’t think very clearly right now in this over-crowded, noisy, smoky internet cafe!!!

Jonathan Wilkins and Katusha Demidova, third in the world in Ballroom, and the top US couple, demoing during Congress.

Nick Kosovitch (who’s appeared on Dancing With the Stars — I think Tatum O’Neal was his last celebrity) with his partner Lena demoing their James Bond-ish ballroom showdance during Congress.

Max and Yulia again participating in another Congress lecture, this one on making the proper entrance and exit by this amusing Russian guy named Taliat Tarsonov. After they performed the ideal “exit,” they performed their entire routine from America’s Ballroom Challenge / Ohio Star Ball that they also performed here last year (and the performance of which I’ve previously embedded a YouTube code) — don’t have time to find it and link, sorry! So exciting! Another big Congress highlight.

Marcus and Karen Hilton, MBEs, former ballroom champs, giving a lecture on “Quality Ballroom.” The crowd went wild and gave them several standing ovations.

And finally, the illustrious, 9-times world Latin champs, Bryan Watson and Carmen from Germany, ending Congress with their lecture on what makes a world champion. I have more to say on this topic too because, in light of their lecture as well as the previous one by the Hiltons, I think what makes a star and a champ is a really interesting topic as well, and one I will blog more about when I return.

For now, I have to get out of here and get to Winter Gardens for pro Latin prelims!!! Sorry if this is loaded with typos and other mistakes — no time to correct!!


  1. Nice shots – how are you posting them to your blog?

  2. i’m downloading to my computer then posting them to the photos page, then copying image to the blog (the crappy ones i’m posting directly from my mobile). however, i think i’m going to stop using the wireless. a guy at the internet cafe i’m using made a veiled threat to me yesterday that he could hack my blog and has done so in the past, so now i’m nervous… think i’ll wait till i get home… please let me know if anything ‘weird’ happens, doug! thanks!

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