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The International Championships 2010: Latin semi-finals

Posted on December 3, 2010

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web-int.11.-135For those who have never been to see the finals of the International Championships, I can only say, you have missed out on one of the truly remarkable dancing calendar dates. Aside from the obviously superb dancing on show, the fabulous music from Ross Mitchell and his team, and the incomparable organisational skills of Dance News Special Projects, what is outstanding is the atmosphere that this unique amphitheatre produces with its 360-degree audience, rising as high as the ceiling itself.

Amateur Latin

The first round proper of the Amateur Latin event saw the successful 47 couples who had battled through from the preliminary rounds at Brentwood the previous day.One is immediately aware of the quality, the speed, the slickness, the breathtaking continuity of movement and accentuation of rhythm. The floor and the lighting provide the perfect illumination to see the slightest error in leg action, foot speed and power.

Four dances are used in the rounds leading up to the semi-finals with the jive added when the semi-finalists take to the floor. Now one can see the quality of the 15 couples recalled, the couples not included in the last six were as follows:

Arkady Bakenov and Rosa Fillipello from Australia could do with providing more projection and speed to fight for a final place. Latvia’s Sarunas Greblikas and Viktorija Horeva had great shaping, especially in paso, and good connection, and were unlucky not to make the final.

webalex-and-kerri-anne_2Every time I see Alejandro Hernandez and Kerri-Anne Donaldson, from England, (pictured left) I see improvement – and they certainly challenged for a place in the final. However, whilst Alejandro was strong, I thought Kerri-Anne lost a little power in the semi-final.

Italy’s Mirco Risi and Maria Ermachkova had great presence and well-rehearsed routines, but I felt they became a little too slow in this tremendous semi-final; the legs got a little heavy. The partnership of Anton Karpov and Natalia Rumyantseva from Russia comprised another very strong man, producing good line and extension through his legs; unfortunately this highlighted a lack of body tone in Natalia.

I was very surprised that Kirill Belorukov and Elvira Skrylnikova, also from Russia, did not make the final; they produced some excellent dancing, good clean actions and very powerful movement across the floor.

At the semi-final level in this competition and on this great expanse of well-illuminated floor, anyone not quite up to the speed of the top Amateurs is exposed. Whilst the dancing of Latvia’s Alex Zampierollo and Elza Pole was exceptional, they looked slow compared with the top half dozen couples.

The body weight of Dmytro Vlokh and Ekaterina Vaganova from Ukraine was not carried correctly, which made the actions rather heavy-looking. I think trying to produce actions from the centre rather than the extremities would greatly improve this couple.

A slight back weight makes the feet look flat in the dancing of Troels Bager and Ina Jeliazkova from Denmark. Whilst the body weight must settle directly down into the feet tone and connection through the whole of the foot is vital.



Professional Latin

The first rounds at the Albert Hall always start with the Amateur Ballroom, then the Amateur Latin, followed by the Professional Ballroom, so by the time we reach the first round of the Professional Latin, the audience, the orchestra and the dancers are really ready for an unrivalled show of the best Latin dancing in the world today. Talent, artistry,energy and beauty abound – start to look at the couples and you get the sense you are looking at the top 44 dancers in the world.

rachael_and_gregorThis length of this report does not permit me to talk about the first round, or even any round prior to the semi-final, but it is suffice to say that the couples who finished 38th to 44th would have made a brilliant final at any other competition, but today we had all of the top guns and – wow! – did they start at a gallop. And it never slowed down right through to the last bar of the jive in the final: it couldn’t, one error and it would have cost you dearly.

The semi-final consisted of 14 couples, a tradition set by the International Championships when it was originally presented by its founder Elsa Wells – long before the involvement of Dance News Special Projects.

The eight couples unlucky not to make the final were, in numerical order:

Rachid Malki and Anna Suprun from Norway, who had lots of action, though Anna was a little stiff this evening. Italy’s Joshua Keefe and Sara Magnanelli just lacked that extra impact to make this final, while Emanuele Soldi and Elisa Nasato, also from Italy, in this company were just too slow and static.

Germany’s Markus Homm and Ksenia Kasper probably made the greatest challenge for the final. England’s Gregor Rebula and Rachael Heron (pictured above), meanwhile, have a great turn of speed but can sometimes look a little too casual.

Maurizio Vescovo and Andra Vaidilaite, from Italy, were not at their best tonight and looked a little tired in the semi. Russia’s Evgeny Smagin and Polina Kazachenko are improving all the time and need a little more “volume” to their shapes.

For full reports of the finals in Latin and ballroom, see the December issue of Dance Today.

Nicola Rayner was editor of Dance Today from 2010 to 2015. She has written for a number of publications including The Guardian, The Independent and Time Out Buenos Aires, where she cut her teeth as a dance journalist working on the tango section. Today she continues to dance everything from ballroom to breakdance, with varying degrees of success. Her debut novel, The Girl Before You, was published last year in paperback, ebook and audiobook.

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