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The Dance Review - John Byrnes reports on the 2024 British Open Professional Latin Championship

Firstly, I would like to say that the Blackpool Dance Festival was a wonderful spectacle to behold.  The dancers who came from all around the world were fantastic, the knowledgeable audience were enthralled & appreciative of the dancers & the world class adjudicators had their work cut out (I should know I was one of them).  As an adjudicator on the evening panel my first thought each evening when watching the dancers was WOW, then I had to remember that I wasn’t just there to enjoy myself but to adjudicate.  This is a festival which young dancers dream of & dreams can come true.

The Professional Latin was one of the spectacular events.  There was also some extra excitement radiating around the ballroom particularly from the dancers as there were a few names missing in this event so they knew there was a great opportunity - Could they progress further than last year, further than previous years?  Some were even dreaming of making the final for the very first time - But who would they be?

Compared to the British Professional Ballroom Championship it may seem that when one looks at the finalists placings of the Professional Latin in each dance the adjudicators had it a lot easier.  Please be assured this was not the case we still went through a lot of agonising & very tough decisions had to be made.

Champions for the third year were Dorin Frecautanu & Marina Sergeeva being awarded first in all five dances.  They are a class act indeed. The technical qualities that they each posses are exceptional & apparent for all to see & admire. They dance together complimenting each others strengths. I actually think they seem to get better every time I see them perform.  I have noticed that Dorin over the last few years has become more assured of his ability & this allows him to be composed & present Marina in the best possible way.  Marina is one of my favourite female dancers on the dance floor at this moment in time & when I watch her dance I think that Dorin is a lucky boy.  At this juncture I hasten to add that I also thought I was a lucky boy to dance with my partner, Jane.  Marina has developed into such a natural looking dancer & her leg action is exquisite.  Congratulations to worthy champions of this most prestigious title.

Second place were Kirill Belorukov & Valeria Aidaeva by being second in all five dances.  Kirill & Valeria are regular finalists in all the major championships around the world.  They are powerful & athletic dancers.  Kirill epitomises posture excellence & other male dancers should take note. He likes to perform to the audience & sometimes with a twinkle in his eye has the look of a mischievous schoolboy enjoying himself on the dance floor, whilst Valeria seemingly undeterred allows him such freedom.  Well done!

Third place went to Klemen Prasnikar & Alexandra Averkieva who were placed third in all five dances.  As former amateur latin champions in 2021 they know how to perform.  They have an endearing playful style interacting with both each other & the audience in just the right proportion.  Since moving into the professional ranks Klemen has improved his frame & spacial awareness which makes him look more commanding on the dance floor.

Into Fourth place was Andrei Kazlouski & Nino Dzneladze being placed fourth in all five dances.  Since teaming up they seem to be steadily getting stronger together complimenting each others individual style.  Andrei is a masculine attacking type dancer & Nino moves with superb muscularity.  Together they are such a great match & I look forward to watching their development as a couple.

The Fith place went to Darren Hammond & Marina Steshenko.  They were placed fith in all five dances.  Darren is a grounded dancer & together with Marina they show a super awareness of musicality, an excellent quality indeed.

Sixth place was filled by Tal Livshitz & Ilana Keselman being placed sixth in all five dances.  Tal & Ilana are all action & commit 100% to every movement & action.  One of their key qualities in their performance is that they emote a love of dance & a love of each other.

Victor Catalin Cauca & Anastasia Dubrovskaya were seventh in the jive final & in the semi-final of the cha cha cha, samba, paso doble’ & jive. These two have the qualities to reach great heights in the professional latin field & making the final in the jive is evidence of this. For this couple fine details & discipline within their performance are the keys to future success.

Overall there were 18 different couples who appeared in the semi-final .Those couples noted in the semi-final but not making the final (in no particular order) were:

134 Kim Minje & Ham Hyebin.  Making the semi-final again this year in all five dances. They are technically solid dancers.  More spatial awareness would enhance Kim’s presence on the floor.

80 - Pavel Povaliaev & Daria Chentsova.  Making the semi-final in four dances & unlucky not to be in for the jive, being one of five couples with equal marks.

54 Howard Lyu Deyu & Jessica Ran Jiao.  They are elegant dancers who move with ease & are “easy on the eye”.  Deservedly made all five dances in the semi-final.

100 Andrey Kiselev & Anastasia Kiseleva.  Were in the semi-final in the cha cha cha & samba dancing with high energy & a freedom of movement.  Unlucky not to be in for the jive, being one of five couples with equal marks for the semi-final.

149 Nikolai Tarasov & Sarah Nolan. Semi-finalists in samba & paso doble’.   Sarah danced with super energy &  personality.

4 Igor Wilczynski & Anna Kapliy. Made the semi-final in the cha cha cha & paso doble’.  Another one of the five couples unlucky not to be in the semi-final for the jive.  Anna draws the onlooker in with her body language & the use of her eyes.

92 Sarunas Greblikas & Viktorija Horeva. Semi-finalists in all dances except the samba.  This couple perform with an individual style.

61 Stas Olarescu & Marketa Vlckova. Made the semi-final in the samba & rumba.  Stas produces a lovely body rhythm & with Marketa is now recently producing more energy & power to obtain greater rewards.

41 Chuan-Chun Lo & Yanyan Deng. In making the semi-final in the samba they performed with musicality & a vivacious personality.

30 Timor Yusupov & Valeriia Remina. Semi-finalists in the rumba. Valeria produces a beautiful leg action.

75 Mazim Pavlov & Sasha Pavlova. Semi-finalists in the jive.

Image credit: Tomasz reindl



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