Lesson 19: Center collecting and Nino and Anna!

Hey again, dancers! Happy Friday!

Twice in a week! Miraculous, eh?

I had a my first lesson in eons (it felt like that, at least) with Teach on Wednesday. I didn’t write right away because I went away for a couple of days. I barely got back home an hour ago. There was barely any traffic coming from Boston to New York – this Friday’s small miracle.

This lesson wasn’t really a big deal, I feel like, even though I learned something extremely important. And – YAY! – I saw the fruits of my labor in this lesson. I’ve been spending a lot of time practicing my spirals and also grounding myself. Teach said my core was definitely stronger and he also said my spirals were better! I was really excited when I stopped falling out of them and even more excited when he noticed the difference.

So he decided to introduce to me the whole…well, Maksim Chmerkovskiy calls it “the engine of dance”. The Chmerkovskiy minor (Val) calls it “collecting your center”.

Look, I’ll be completely honest. Teach told me to keep things forward. I keep thinking about it and I have no idea what he said or how he illustrated it or what I did to follow his instructions correctly, but a lot in my dancing was corrected in this. There was now way more fluidity and power in my movements. And – my favorite part – every time I caught a glimpse of my feet, THEY LOOKED LIKE LIANA’S. My arch was high and gorgeous.

I thought I had gotten cocky and was just imagining it until Teach brought it up. I was thrilled.

That’s really all. I’m excited to work on this!

Couple more things. I planned on, as I gathered dance experience, writing posts about tips and DIY for, I guess you could say, ballroom on a budget. I haven’t done anything but my lessons at this point, but I did find this link on Dance Comp Review on how to make your own rhinestone bangles! Click the image below for the article.

DIY Ballroom Jewelry: Rhinestone Bangles - DanceCompReview

DIY Ballroom Jewelry: Rhinestone Bangles – DanceCompReview

Absolutely love that web site. Almost every day, they post funny little videos on Instagram, things like “Ballroom dancer in heels vs. non ballroom dancer in heels” or “Ballroom dancers during the day vs. in the evening”.

For my last subject here, remember how excited we all were about Nino Langella and Anna Melnikova’s partnership? Well, the first full video of their show has surfaced from Ballroom Dance Tube’s Youtube Channel! They performed two weeks ago at the World Promotions South American Open in Argentina. Of course, the two look absolutely gorgeous together. My only qualm here is the slow, sad song just made me want to sleep. But I can’t wait to see more from them.

OK, I know I said that was the last thing, but I found this as the last upload on Ballroom Dance Tube’s Youtube channel and it was such a tasty little morsel I couldn’t not share it! Eugene Katsevman and Shirley Ballas dancing rumba at the Killick Klassick dance camp!

I swear, she defies all the laws of nature. I remember forever ago Derek posted a video on his Instagram of himself dancing salsa with Shirley and the sharpness in her turns (he – typical – was doing tons of arm wraps) was absolutely incredible. Her heyday was 20+ years ago (depending on what you consider her peak) and she hasn’t lost a step.

The 2015 Killick Klassick

Hey, strangers!

I hate that I haven’t written an entry in so long, but I just came back from what felt like the longest vacation of my life. Spent some time in beautiful Puerto Rico, a little more time in Florida, and some time in Boston. Most of the time was spent on my phone because ironically, I didn’t go to the beach or the pool or anywhere really exciting at all except for one day when I took a trip to Connecticut on my way back to New York.

A lot of competitions went on while I was gone! Volunteer State, Desert Classic, Colorado Star Ball, the Portland Open, Ballroom Beach Bash, the Vegas Open, the California Open, City Lights Ball, Empire State, and the Killick Klassick, to name a few.

Well, to be honest, I’m not sure when exactly the competitions happened, but most of the footage went up on Paradigm DVD’s YouTube channel while I was away. I’m so glad they’ve started posting all the video from competitions like they used to a few years ago. It’ll surprise you how much you learn just from watching them!

I’ve noticed that some competitions have been changing things up and I’m not sure what the purpose is. Watching the streams of the final pro heats, I saw that most of these competitions are doing things like having the pro latin/pro smooth and pro rhythm/pro ballroom together. For example – and this wasn’t the only competition where this was done – at the Desert Classic, they alternated in introducing a pro rhythm and a pro ballroom couple. Then they alternated each dance of the final round in the two styles – first waltz, then cha cha, then tango, then rumba, and so on. Maybe to give the couples more time to rest? Or maybe just to make sure spectators stay in the ballroom the whole time? Haha.

Also wanted to mention something absolutely amazing about Empire State. As someone doing ballroom on a budget, it gets extremely expensive to go to competitions, even just to watch. I was actually in the vicinity for Empire, but of course, in my current situation, my money is for lessons. Incredibly, Empire State had a live stream of the competition for the entire duration!

This is really something I hope will start happening more and more! Because even when I have the couple hundred dollars to spend on going to all the pro events and to watch my friends dance pro-am, I’m not always around for the competition.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about the Killick Klassick. From what I saw plastered all over the internet, it looked like so much fun! Let’s talk about the results. All of the photos below are from DanceBeat‘s article covering the event.

Pro Smooth

2015 Killick Klassik Pro Smooth Results

2015 Killick Klassik Pro Smooth Results

(1) Peter and Alexandra Perzhu (1,1,1,1 – isn’t Alexandra’s dress BEAUTIFUL? It looks like she’s wearing the night sky!)
(2) Yegor Novikov & Sasha Smirnova (2,2,2,2)
(3) Jean Paul & Lana Rossi (4,3,3,3)
(4) Vladimir & Vera Kosarev (3,4,4,4)
(5) Radek Wiatrowski & Denise Sobiewski (6,5,5,5)
(6) Maksym Lototskyy & Sarah Haworth (5,6,6,6)

The judges here seemed to be quite conflicted really only on the waltz – strange!

Pro Rhythm

2015 Killick Klassik Pro Rhythm Results

2015 Killick Klassik Pro Rhythm Results

(1) Nazar Norov & Irina Kudryashova (1,1,1,1,1)
(2) Mikhail Vlasov & Vanda Polakova (2,2,2,2,2)
(3) Shandor Shtefil & Aleksandra Barsukova (4,4,3,3,3)
(4) Riccardo Papi & Sabrina Moretti (3,3,4,4,4)
(5) Maskym Lototskyy & Sarah Haworth (5,5,5,5,5)
(6) Erwin & Iwona Rybczynska (6,6,6,6,6)
(7) Pavel Volynskiy & Anastasia Levadnia (7,7,7,7,7)

If I’m honest, I don’t know most of these couples, but it’s always nice to learn about different ones.

Pro Ballroom

2015 Killick Klassik Pro Ballroom Results

2015 Killick Klassik Pro Ballroom Results

(1) Victor Fung & Anastasia Muravyeva (1,1,1,1,1 – perfect scores from every judge! And happy news I don’t think I’ve mentioned – they got engaged recently! Can things get any better?)
(2) Marat Gimaev & Alina Barsuk (2,2,2,2,2)
(3) Alexander Voskalchuk & Veronica Egorova (4,3,3,3,3)
(4) Mikhail Avdeev & Olga Blinova (3,4,4,4,4)
(5) Oscar Pedrinelli & Lenka Kovalcikova (5,5,5,5,5)
(6) Gianni Caliandrio & Ariana Esposito (6,6,6,6,6)

Pretty impressive lineup, huh? But wait until you see the next one – this one is STACKED!

Pro Latin

2015 Killick Klassik Pro Latin Results

2015 Killick Klassik Pro Latin Results

(1) Stefano di Filippo & Daria Chesnokova (1,1,1,1,1)
(2) Nikolai Voronvich & Maria Nikolishina (2,2,2,2,2)
(3) Mirko Risi & Svetlana Borisova (3,3,4,3,3)
(4) Andrey Tarasov & Yulia Kuznetsova (4,5,3,4,4)
(5) Andrei Kazlouski & Asta Sigvaladottir (5,4,5,5,5)
(6) Dmitry & Olena Nikishkin (6,6,6,6,6)

I wish I could have seen this Latin final in person! There were more than 20 couples in the quarter final, and as you can see from the final standings, it was no small feat to make it to this final. The scoring was really intriguing to me. Stefano and Dasha got nearly perfect scores and only two judges deviated – Dan Rutherford, who gave them third in every dance and MY FUTURE HUSBAND Derek Hough, who placed them second in cha cha, samba, and paso. He gave those firsts to Nikolai and Maria.

I have mixed feelings. In my eyes, Derek can do no wrong, but I also used to train with Dasha so I’m not so sure I like his judging. If nothing else, my personality on the floor is similar to Dasha’s so that may not bode well for me in case he ever judges my dancing…

Also, not that it matters, but couples 1-5 are all sponsored by Aida so there’s a fun fact!

But I digress. I also want to give a little shout-out to my friend Maria Seragou-Damalas, who came in second in the B Latin Pro-Am, and the awesome Tina Broccole, who won it with Delyan Terziev!

As great as the competition was, the afterparty looked even more fun! I found the Killick Klassik’s Facebook and came across a few gems. They posted some beautiful pictures of the competing couples, but the highlight is this. DWTS Derek seems like such a nice all-American boy, but on all the Killick Klassik media he looks like a real party animal. Check out this Ryan Kenner picture of him leading a conga line. It cracks me up that “Derek On the Dance Floor” got its own category.

(c) Ryan Kenner Photography

(c) Ryan Kenner Photography

And this, which I came upon on the Killick Klassick Facebook, has got to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Derek and Corky Ballas, with some help from THE Shirley, led an impromptu line dance to Uptown Funk. Corky’s cuing and – most of all – his horsey dance definitely made me laugh harder than it should have!

One more thing! I have my first lesson back with Teach tomorrow. Truth be told, I didn’t practice as much as I would have liked. Oh dear, he is going to kill me…

Send me good vibes, ballroom dancers!