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The Dance Review

Nick Kelly reports on the Professional Rising Star Latin Competition at the Blackpool Dance Festival 2023



The first Friday at the Blackpool Dance Festival marks a significant highlight, giving us the first appearance of the two panels of Adjudicators, tasked with the very difficult job of crowning the many Champions for the 2023 British Open Championships. Both of this year’s prestigious panels consist of many former British Champions and Finalists, along with two gentleman who take us through the festival’s proceedings: Daytime Chair of Adjudicators Mr David Sycamore, and Evening Chair of Adjudicators Mr Robert Bellinger.


1. 41–TalLivshitz and IlanaKeselman(1st,1st,1st,1st)

Winners this evening by being placed first in all four dances were couple 41, Tal Livshitz and Ilana Keselman. They were runners up at the Blackpool Dance Festival last year (2022) in the British Open Amateur Latin Championship. This competition marks their first Blackpool appearance as professionals and what a performance it was. For me, they were clear winners from the first round, it was obvious these two had their eyes set on the champions trophy and their determination only grew stronger as the competition progressed. They have a very competitive style, combined with beautiful connection, wonderful chemistry, and this is all complimented further by a clear understanding and demonstration of the fundamentals of Latin American Dancing. Congratulations on your new title, and best of luck for the remainder of the festival.


2. 90 Mikhail Popov and Anastasia Dubrovskaia (2nd,2nd,2nd,2nd)

Runners up by being placed second in all four dances were couple 90, Mikhail Popov and Anastasia Dubrovskaia who challenged very strongly tonight with a performance that prioritized beautifully executed movements and shaping, coupled with a beautiful use of connection, counterbalance, and the most articulate use of Anastasia’s feet and ankles! Their chorographical choices and excellent use of timing helped secure them their final placing. Congratulations on a great performance.

3. 81–Iusupov Timur and Valeriia Remina (5th,3rd,3rd,3rd)

Into third place this evening were Iusupov Timur and Valeriia Remina, couple 81. This couple showed incredible commitment and focus to each movement today and although they were placed fifth in the Cha Cha Cha tonight, they settled into this final nicely securing third place in the remaining three dances and of course the overall competition. Valeriia’s dress stood out from all corners of the floor tonight, an excellent colour choice which allowed all the strong rhythm changes they have to be seen by audience and adjudicator alike. Well done on dancing a fabulous competition.

4. 16–Stas Olarescu and Marketa Vlčkova (3rd,4th,4th,4th)

Fourth place this evening was awarded to couple 16, Stas Olarescu and Marketa Vlčkova. Stas and Marketa in recent months have been moving from strength to strength, Semi-Finalists at the UK Open Championships in January missing the final by just a few marks, and tonight they become British Professional Rising Star Latin finalists. I particularly enjoy the way they control the changes of speed within their chosen choreography, at times they appear as if they have all the time in the world to complete each movement. But be careful, blink at the wrong moment and you might miss some of this couples most exciting tricks. Congratulations on making this prestigious final.


5. 91–Charles ZhiqianBai and Carina Yuanmeng (4th,5th,5th,5th)

Placing fifth this evening was couple 91, Charles Zhqian Bai and Carona Yuanmeng, they were placed fourth in the Cha Cha Cha and fifth in the Samba, Rumba and Paso-Doble. Two of the best-groomed competitors this competition had to offer, from the detail on the dress to the cosmetics used, this created a truly spectacular look. Their energy, charisma and well executed dancing secured them a well-earned place in this final, congratulations.


6. 118–Adelmo Mandia and Leah Rolfe (6th,6th,6th,6th)

Completing the final this evening finishing in sixth place were couple 118, Adelmo Mandia and Leah Rolfe, they were placed sixth in all dances. A new couple to the professional field and I believe their first Blackpool in this category. I’m sure they would have been delighted to have made this final after five rounds of dancing, six including this final. Adelmo has one of the most developed body actions on the floor which is complemented by Leah’s exquisite leg, ankle and foot usage. They are a powerful couple, who create moments of brilliance and for me could have easily placed higher this evening. Regardless, I am sure they will continue to achieve great results in the Professional Latin Circuit. Congratulations on dancing in this final tonight.

Such an incredible standard of dancing throughout today’s competition which, resulted in a final of six fantastic couples. However, it would be a shame to not mention that the semi-final consisted of 13 couples, all which could have found their way into the final and would not have looked out of place. The couples finishing in the semi-final round are listed below in numerical order. Congratulations to all the dancers today and the best of luck for the remainder of the 2023 Blackpool Dance Festival.


Semi-Finalists in numerical order.

• 6 - Andriy Besyedin and Amanda Besyedin

• 23 - Umario Diallo and Yelyzaveta Matsulevych

• 50 - Jakub Drmota and Magdalena Baranowska

• 72 - Pavel Povaliaev and Daria Chentsova

• 83 - Giyong Nam and Nara Shin

• 87 - Wang Ji and Pan Jianhui

• 105 - Ben Milan-Vega and Morgan Hemphill

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