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Plaza Column - View article
Written by : Piet Rullens
Date : 11-02-2005
Title : The International 2005
     
Article: The International 2005.


An impression by Peter te Slaa from Amsterdam.


One of the highlights on the dancing calendar are the “International Championships”. As always these competitions are danced in The Royal Albert Hall in London.


Travelling to London several questions were on my mind. One of them was “what will London be like after the bombing of the underground in July and will there be any effect on the competitions?”. Notably it still had some effect: both London and the atmosphere on the night were still a bit subdued, but life goes on in London and the wounds are healing.

Regarding the competitions there were far more questions, “Who will win the pro Ballroom” for fierce battles are fought since the “Open British”. William Pino & Allessandra Bucciarelli have beaten Mirko Gozzoli & Alessia Betti both in Italy as well as abroad and will Timothy Howson & Joanne Bolton be able to defend their title.
What will happen in the pro Latin, which couple will come in second (as Bryan Watson & Carmen would clearly be winning when competing).

To those who have not been fortunate to watch these competitions I’ll explain the way these championships are danced. On the night there are 4 championships: both amateur Ballroom and Latin as well as Professional Ballroom and Latin. There are 4 panels of 18 adjudicators each. Each panel will be adjudicating every discipline only once and then “move on” to the next discipline in the following round.

The first competition of the night is the Amateur Ballroom: 48 couples dance in 3 heats. A few of the “stars” immediately show some of quality they need on this floor: floor craft. Dominco Soale and Gioia Cerasoli move around this rather smallish floor with such a skill to avoid collisions. And still they stand out, presenting themselves as champions.
For some couples the battle has already started, they made it this far but can they make it to the next round, as only 30 couples will.

In the Amateur Latin it is clear who will be the winners, the newly crowned World Champions from Italy, Ricardo Cocchi & Joanne Wilkinson. But will take Peter Stokkebroe & Kristina Juel-Stokkebroe take revenge for their result: 5th place in the World Amateur Latin Championships. One of the couples missing are Klaus Kongsdal & Viktoria Franova, but hey.. they are listed in the pro section of the programme.
Latin is far more expressive than Ballroom, but to my opinion some couples are a bit over the top to my opinion. I feel that a girl should still be “classy” on the floor and not coming across as “cheap” as a few ladies did, despite their expensive outfits. Unfortunately this distracts from the great standard of dancing they showed and it may have cost them the points they needed to get to the next round.
Should there be vote for the classiest Latin lady of the night, to my opinion this title would have gone to Anastasija Kraitor from Lithuania. Dressed in a black and orange dress, she was superwoman and still maintained a lot of class. The couple did not make it to the semi-final, but I think they might in the future.

From the first bars of the professional Waltz, it was clear that the battle for the title be between Howson-Bolton, Pino-Bucciarelli and Gozzoli-Betti. All 3 couples were in shape, although Timothy Howson showed some stiffness in his shoulder line due to the tension the couple showed in their overall appearance. William Pino showed his usual cool and displayed floor craft as only he can. Just like Soale-Cerasoli the couple Pino-Buciarelli is one of the smaller couples, but also one of the fastest moving couples on the floor.

From Professional Ballroom it was on to 1st round Professional Cha Cha: Bryan Watson & Carmen were not competing, and since both Slavik Kryklyvyy & Karina Smirnoff and Dmitri Timokihn & Anna Bezikova had split, 3 places in the final were up for grasp. And even a 4th place since Matthew Cutler & Charlotte Egstrand were missing. Rumour has it that they also split, but that is just a rumour.
The battle for 1st place would now be done between Michael Malitowski & Joanna Leunis and Andrej Skufca & Katarina Venturini.
Joanna Leunis came on the floor looking like one of those classic movie stars. She and Michael have improved tremendously since Blackpool. Their dancing went from depth to depth, never hurried, never bothered by any other couple.

From round 1 to round 2 and onto the semi-finals, in each discipline battling grew fierce. Some couples started to do battle in the earlier rounds, whilst other (the more established) couples increased the intensity of their battle a bit later, knowing that they can save the best for later.

Compering for the night: mr Bill Irvine M.B.E. presented the Ballroom competitions in a way that reflects Ballroom dancing: very distinguished. Whereas Mrs Karin Hardy was doing her presenting in a more outgoing way e.g. “asking” the audience which couple was their favourite and thus reflecting the expressive nature of Latin American.

At 9 p.m. sharp, it was time for the first semi final of the night, the Amateur Waltz, immediately followed by the semi final Amateur Cha Cha. From this stage on, the ballroom and Latin semi-finals and later on, the finals, are danced alternating. And from that moment on, jive and Viennese waltz are also added to the competitions.
This stage of the competition allows the audience to “study” the couples a bit more, Matej Kracer & Iwona Golczak showed a more mature and confident way of dancing than they did in Blackpool; they could be included in the final.

In Amateur Ballroom I noticed that the couple representing England, Warren & Kristi Boyce, bumped into quite a few couples in the earlier rounds. Since they are ranked among the best couples in the world, I was surprised about this. Their dancing came across as being on auto pilot, somewhat lacking their usual aura of pleasure. But still of world class standard.

Semi final Professional Ballroom: battle was done also, but since all of the usual finalists were present, I felt it would be rather unlikely that one of them would be toppled. Although it may have been close for some. Somehow Tony & Amanda Dokman, beautifully groomed in a glamorous dress with long boa feathered sleeves are not able to make it to that final stage. To me it seems that they lack a bit of the killer instinct that is shown by Jonathan Crossley. But it can always be possible for luck to take a turn into Tony & Amanda’s direction.

The semi-final pro Latin was the hardest fought semi final of the night: 3 places were “open”. Who would make it through? Klaus Kongsdal & Viktoria Franova joined the professional ranks after their 2nd place in World Amateur Latin Championships and already a success: they were included in this stage of the competition and clearly enjoying every step without being bothered by any stress. Also included was the new partnership of Robin Sewell & Nicolé Cutler. In the first round Robin showed a bit of stress, but as the competition progressed, he was clearly feeling at ease and allowing Nicolé to show what qualities she has. To my opinion a partnership with potential but not for tonight’s final. Also in the semi final were Ian Waite & Camilla Dallerup, they looked a bit ruffled tonight, clearly not their best night to my opinion.

Time for the first final of the night: Amateur Waltz. New to this year’s final was the couple from Russia Marat Gimaev & Alina Basyuk. I guess it could have been almost any couple among those 14 lucky ones in the semi final. Although Arunas Bizokas & Edita Daniute must have given the couple Soale-Cerasoli a good run for their money, it was clear that they would not win tonight. Maybe due to the collision in the first round, but the couple lacked a bit of their usual potential and posed no actual threat. Maintaining their level were the German couple Sacha & Natascha Karabey. They seem to approach dancing less as an athletic sport and more as an artistic sport, thus showing softness in Waltz and Foxtrot, while having a crisp tango.
With only six couples on the floor Warren & Kristi Boyce now enjoyed all the space they needed, and the final was clearly their best round.
Another couple enjoying this round clearly were Paolo Bosco & Silvia Pitton. Clearly improved in all dances since Blackpool, they showed what their dancing is all about. It may take some time still, but they will be challenging for top honours in the future.
Clearly winning tonight were Dominco Soale & Gioia Cerasoli, the smallest but fastest moving couple on the floor. Using every bit of space on the floor, they showed why they are simply the best. Softness and swiftness were they are needed, tango as tango should be and their quickstep “fast and furious”.

The second final of the night was the Amateur Latin. 7 couples were included. And a surprise here: Evgenii Smagin & Rachel Heron were called on the floor. It was not their first major final, but considering the result of the World Amateur Latin Championships the week before, it was
“a surprise”, they only made it to the quarterfinal there and barely a week later they danced the finals. Clearly a lot of improvement....
Rightfully included in this final were Matej Krajcer & Iwona Golcak. A long time since Matej made it to the final, but he presented his partner well and the hard work the couple must have put into their dancing paid off.
There was no doubt that Ricardo Cocchi & Joanne Wilkinson would win. Battle was done between Peter Stokkebroe & Kristina Juel-Stokkebroe and the American couple Eugene Katsevman & Maria Manosova. The American couple as always dressed in black danced with confidence, but it lacked something on the night. Maybe it was fatigue since they must be the couple travelling the most as non-European couple.

After these finals it was on to an interesting one: the professional Ballroom. No real surprises, since it was the same final as in Blackpool. However, having watched the earlier rounds I wondered if Howson-Bolton would have overcome the stress their dancing showed.
The answer was a clear “no”, still their top was a bit stiff and they could not produce their usual quality. Gozzoli-Betti were giving it their best shot, Alessia had changed into a white dress and it gave their dancing even more depth. This couple always produces softness in their dancing, something you don’t often see in Italian couples and is very enjoyable to see.
Although keeping his usual cool William Pino seemed pushing a bit too hard. At times it looked like Alessandra was not allowed to completely finish what she danced. Thus this couple seemed hasty. A pity, for any of these 3 couples could have won this competition.

Christopher Hawkins came fifth in this final. To me it seemed that Justyna was not able to keep up with the speed he dances with. They are a relative new couple (competing for almost a year now) and in this field they do quite well.

Last of the finals was the most exciting one of the night: professional Latin.
The title was up for grasps so which couple would take it, Michael Malitowski & Joanna Leunis or Andrej Skufca & Katarina Venturini?
Michael & Joanna showed confidence as never before and took their dancing to an even higher level. They never showed any sign of stress, totally relaxed and very much enjoying themselves. Clearly tonight’s winners.
First competition as professionals and first major final: Klaus Kongsdal & Viktoria Franova. really superb performance and a promise to the future.

The prize presentation showed no real surprise in the Amateur Ballroom.
During the presentation of the Amateur Latin results there was – at least to my opinion – some element of surprise: the couple representing England came in 4th and the Danish couple had beaten the Americans. In all, the results were different from the World Championships. Maybe the differences between the respective couples are not that big after all...
While Ricardo Cocchi & Joanne Wilkinson were crowned champion, it was announced that this was their last amateur competition in England. Effective from January 2006 they turn professional.

In the Professional Ballroom the places 6, 5 and 4 showed no surprise. And as number 3 was announced tension mounted in the Hall, would it be, could it be? Timothy Hawson & Joanne Bolton came in 2nd and Mirko Gozzoli & Allesia Betti were crowned champions. In a few weeks’ time the World Professional Ballroom Championships will be danced and then the results can be different.

The results of the professional Latin, the places 6 to 3 were as could be expected. But who would be the winner of this valued title? Announced as runners up were Andrej Skufca & Katarina Venturini. Understandably a little disappointed Andrej came onto the floor collecting his prize with Katarina.
Winning the International Championships 2005 were Michael Malitowski & Joanna Leunis, to my opinion clear winners from the first round.

Another “International Championships” had come to an end and I am already looking forward to next year’s. And a question has already come to mind: will the Chinese couples be dominating then? In the Amateur Ballroom section I counted 15 entries from China on a total of 241 couples listed and 11 Chinese professional Ballroom couples out of a total entry of 115 couples.
Let’s just wait and see..... but I feel that in the (near) future China will be a force to be reckoned with.

The results of the International can be found any where on the Internet.

Peter te Slaa (dancingpeter).