It was my great pleasure to judge Ohio Star Ball! One of the biggest competitions of the year, it offers a great opportunity for us to see amazing dancing in Professional, Amateur and Pro-Am categories! The level and the quality of dancing is rising every year. Pro-Am field, in particularly, is getting larger and more competitive than ever! This is great and I can’t wait to see more and more high level Pro-Am partnerships on the floor!

Professional Ballroom Division was missing few of our top couples due to the World Championships going on at the same time in Blackpool. Never the less it was a fabulous three rounds competition with some really nice dancing. Six couples returned to the Final.

In 6th place - Vladislav Shakhov and Ekaterina Popova. Very promising young couple with classical look and lots of potential. Last year was a great success for them! That was when I noticed their most rapid improvement. I like your way of dancing a lot! I think it is time for you to look more into your own interpretation of dance and create your own style. Put personality in each figure and show how you want to dance it. Your technique and level of experience are up to standards and what matters now is wether you make yourselves different, outstanding among the crowd you are competing in. I particularly enjoyed Ekaterina’s footwork and the way her feet were beautifully gliding on the floor. A very nice attribute for a lady dancer to have! Good luck guys and I am looking forward to seeing you in the future!

5th place went to Rudy Homm and Katia Kanevskaya. Those two are really good dancers possessing some rare qualities. They also were the closest to “real dancing” in that final! Their movement has momentum and depth which shows so beautifully particularly in Foxtrot! Totally “my kinda people”! If you get the top line to be more consistent and show cleaner sleeker lines throughout the dance you are going to be getting much higher marks from me I promise!!! I think competitors nowadays should concentrate more, as Rudy and Katia do, on authenticity of dancing and quality of movement. Good luck to you in the future competitions!

Onto 4th place - Andrey Begunov and Anna Demidova. Perfectly groomed as always, they glide across the floor like a big beautiful cruise ship. Andrey needs to keep working on his top line being stiller to provide a solid toned look. If you seek more relaxed freer look on the top it will come from activity and dimensions - not from just relaxing your arms. Tone can perfectly coexist with freedom if your put correct actions in. While top is being active, the lower body should be busy with releasing weight into the joints. This will provide stable base for the top and much more grounded balanced feeling as you are moving. Best of luck in making your “ship” sale to the top of the leader board!

3rd - Igor Mikushov and Ekaterina Romashkina. Another big beautiful cruise ship! You have a nice top line going for you. And you maintain it pretty well throughout the dance. Though in your case I see a little too much tone (especially noticeable in Ekaterina’s arms) which I believe stands on a way of your swing. You need gravity to swing. Gravity comes from drop of weight. Muscles must be relaxed enough to allow gravity happen and joints must be soft enough to absorb that weight and not reject it. Keep exploring and improving your dancing and I am very interested in seeing you progress further!

Second place went to Oscar Pedrinelli and Lenka Kovalcikova. Tonight was a good night for them. Their Tango was on fire - sharp, precise and charismatic. I would like to see more foot connection with the floor from Lenka. You are naturally light and need to use all the possible means (feet being one of the important ones) to keep yourself grounded and weighted. Oscar is a strong dancer with a lot of activity in the upper body. Lenka being more independent with her weight will allow the movement be more dynamic as she would provide the equally strong counterbalance and direction as Oscar. For Oscar coordinating more precisely all the actions in the upper and lower body will bring perfect harmony at all times. The timing of the actions is as important as the actions themselves and can highly affect the performance. Good luck and congratulations on your good result!

Finally, onto 1st place - Alexander Voscalchuk and Veronika Egorova. To me they were easy winners tonight as they seemed to be a head above everyone, not only height but also level wise. The best harmony of motion, the most consistent body position. Consistency is the quality of Champions. It came very handy in a crowd like tonight and easily put you above everyone else! You had improved your weight use since I saw you few months ago. Good job! Keep researching into flexibility of your bodies, joints in particular. Do not hesitate to risk and go for deeper swing, for throwing your weight and catching it in a very last moment, for bigger shapes through increasing all three dimensions. Sometimes I almost see too much control in all your actions. That means you need to let natural forces help you dance. That would make your dancing more efficient, more fun to dance and to watch, will help you bring out and show the character of each dance more clearly. Congratulations! Well deserved win tonight!

Congratulations everyone again! Thank you Sam Sodano and the team for having me on the panel and for organizing such a great, beautiful, fun event year after year!!!