Blackpool Dance Festival Congress Schedule is Out!

I’m so excited. I just received my Blackpool Festival tickets, and, along with them, a schedule of The International Congress, a series of lectures given by accomplished ballroom dancers that takes place on the first two days of the festival. They’re really informative, and they give you a good chance to see some of your favorite dancers up close — not always possible during the actual competition since it gets so crowded, it’s hard to find a spectator spot close to the comp floor. (All pictures shown here, or linked to, I took during Congresses past; above is former longtime Latin champs Donnie Burns and Gaynor Fairweather from two years ago).

Well, I’m particularly thrilled with this year’s lineup: on day one, one of my favorite dancers, Sergey Surkov, is scheduled to give a talk on Paso Doble with his partner, Melia. I’ve only ever seen them demonstrate steps for other lecturers before; have never heard them lecture themselves. I’ve heard he has a really sexy Russian accent and is very personable. Now, apparently, I will find out for myself 😀

On the second day, giving a lecture will be my favorite American dancer, Yulia Zagoruychenko, and her new partner, with whom she’s expected to do very well, Riccardo Cocchi. Their talk is on my favorite dance — Samba of course!

Later that day, Jonathan Wilkins (who’s a baddie for leaving our Katusha!) and his new partner, former champ Hazel Newberry, will talk on Quickstep, my favorite Standard dance.

And later than day Katusha will lecture with her new partner Arunas Bizokas (you’ll remember them from “America’s Ballroom Challenge”), on the Foxtrot.

And then in the afternoon, the Congress will conclude with an all-star lineup, beginning with current Standard champs (my favorites — if you’re not into Standard now you will be once you set eyes on this pair) the Italian couple Mirko Gozzoli and Alessia Betti, who will talk on Tango (maybe now I’ll have more of an appreciation of that dance…)

Following them is current second-place Latin couple, Michael Malitowski and the amazing Joanna Leunis, who will speak about Rumba. That couple is expected to very possibly take the championships this year (although I’m hoping for Slavik Kryklyyvy and Elena Khvorova.) And ending the lectures are longtime Latin champs who retired last year, Bryan Watson and Carmen along with Standard couple William Pino and Alessandra Bucciarelli, whose lecture topic is entitled, “The Instinctive Dancer.”

There’re tons more; those are just the dancers I know well.

I just bought my plane tickets too this weekend and now can’t get that “Manchester England England” song from “Hair” out of my head…


  1. Slavik is dancing with Hanna Kartunnen now!!!! It was just officially announced yesterday.

    I’m really excited to see how they dance together. I think it will be a pretty awesome face-off, Slavik and Hanna vs. Joanna and Michael. I’m not sure who I’m going for yet, I’d like to be there too. It’ll be amazing to watch them live.


  2. Shimmer, oh my, that is HUGE news! I love both of them and think they’ll be amazing together! I wonder if they’ll compete at Blackpool, or if it’s too new of a partnership? And I wonder what happened with Elena? Thanks for the info!

  3. Hey, I am going to see Slavik and Hanna’s first ever show in Vienna next week, I will try and get some videos up! I’m so excited to see her dancing Latin again, this is the best thing EVER!

    And see you at Blackpool – will be at the Congress nice and early!

    X x X x X x X x X

  4. Oh great, Becca — please let me know when they’re up! I’m so excited to see them dance together too — they’re going to be so amazing!

    I’ll look for you there! I can’t wait!

  5. How was the Vienna show, any news? I’m really excited.

  6. They were absolutely great! They are wonderful together. I still haven’t got round to uploading the videos but will try to do it over the weekend.

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