Mark Your Calendars!

For America’s Ballroom Challenge 2008! The show will air five Wednesdays in a row from January 30th through February 27th, 8-9 EST on PBS. This year there are two new hosts: replacing Marilu Henner and Tony Meredith are Jasmine Guy (remember her from The Cosby Show?) and many-times champ Ron Montez. If you’ve missed the past two years, each night of this show (filmed live at the Ohio Star Ball held in Columbus in November — probably the largest and most popular ballroom competition in the country) will consist of a different ballroom style danced at the American comps: American Smooth, American Rhythm, International Standard, and International Latin (woo hoo), and the final night will be a “best of the best” competition among the four winners of each style, dancing two unique solos.

To me, highlights this year will be Katusha Demidova in Standard dancing with her new partner, Arunas Bizokas, as well as the newly-crowned U.S. National champs in Smooth (the smashing JT Thomas & Tomasz Mielnicki) and Rhythm (Jose DeCamps & Joanna Zacharewicz; this category is always a huge show-down though thanks to DeCamps & Zacharewicz, and the wild and spectacular Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine & Julia Gortchakova). Unfortunately, we’re not going to get a shot of my favorite Yulia Zagoruychenko in Latin, since she was, at the time of that competition, just beginning a new partnership. Still, watch Latin for longtime champs Andrei Gavriline & Elena Kruychkova and two couples who are solidly on the way up: Delyan Terziev & Boriana Deltcheva, and new favorites of mine: Vaidotas Skimelis & Jurga Pupelyte. I’ll post again closer to January 30th in reminder, but for now, go here for deets. (It doesn’t look the PBS channel is updated yet for this year’s show, but once it is, it should be here).

8 Comments

  1. yay! Real dancing! I can’t wait…..thanks for finding the info. By the way, any idea why there were so many partnership changes? Remember, I’m fairly new to Dancesport, so this part of it is still a mystery to me. I just wish there was more that was easily available. Its hard to even find much information about comps around here until they are over!

  2. I know, Sharon — it’s still sad to me that this series is so much less popular than the other shows, but I guess that’s because it’s on PBS and people are less inclined to tune into that channel. There really isn’t a lot of information on the internet (or available publicly) about ballroom dance, so most of what I hear is just through word of mouth, but I think in the case of Jonathan Wilkins and Katusha Demidova, it was just that Jonathan was getting older and probably getting tired and wanted to give competition a rest. But Katusha’s younger and wasn’t ready to stop yet.

    The Max and Yulia break-up really floors me since they just achieved their dreams this year by winning the national championships and making the Blackpool finals. People are saying that Max likely felt he was holding Yulia back and so kind of let her go; that it wasn’t a nasty breakup or anything like that. Yulia’s long been one of my favorites and Riccardo was really striking to me the last time I saw him dance, so I’ll miss Max but am really excited to see her new partnership with Riccardo, which seems to be the consensus — at least among the people I know!

  3. And THIS is why I’m so grateful that I found your blog, my dear! You give me so much insight into the world I’m just starting to explore. Please, keep up the good work!

  4. Thanks, Sharon — you’re so nice!

  5. You know, when I was in elementary school, one of my favorite things on TV (along with GED-on-TV math classes – I was already a nerd at a young age) was the ballroom dancing on PBS. I was enchanted with the crazy makeup and hair, and the extravagant costumes.

  6. Look out for Mayo Alanen and Lisa Vogel in Smooth, as well. Great couple on the rise. They work for Gary and Diana MacDonald. And they’re really, really nice (okay, Mayo dates a friend of mine, but they are fantastic).

    Natalia, I know! I used to tape the ballroom comps off of TV and watch them over and over (on VHS, of course!). I really remember when Tony and Melanie won – I had loved them for so long! And Gary and Diana! You know who I hated, and this still holds over from those days? Jean-Marx Genereux! Nothing against poor France, but I still cringe whenever I see him on SYTYCD or whatever.

  7. the best way to find out in advance about professional and pro-am comps is to check the calendar here, which shows ALL the events for the calendar year, all in advance:

    http://www.ndca.org

    the amateur events are run by a separate organization, and their calendar is here:

    http://usadance.org/dancesport/competition-calendar/

    for a laugh/cringe, you can read snippets online of the only national ballroom dancing newspaper, DanceBeat, at http://www.dancebeat.com. be warned – it looks and reads more like a student publication than a professional one.

  8. Hi Michele :) Thanks for all of this!

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