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A New Normal at Cleveland Dancesport Challenge

The lights are dimmed, the floor is set, but there are no dancers. All of a sudden, the bright lights come on, the music begins, and the dancers sway on the floor. It’s been awhile, but we’re back!

When COVID-19 hit the United States, the ballroom world came to a halt. Students could not participate in competitions nor could they take lessons with their teachers, and professionals could not practice. Studios closed and so teachers had to take it online. Online seminars and lessons on Zoom became the new normal.

However, this past weekend, we got to experience some semblance of normalcy with the Cleveland Dancesport Challenge! This was AIDA Dance USA’s first vending venture since the New York Dance Festival at the end of February and it did not disappoint. We were so excited to be able to see all of our clients, as well as our sponsored couples, most of whom we have not had the pleasure to interact with non-virtually in months.

Nichy Vegas, the organizer behind the Cleveland Dancesport Challenge, went above and beyond to make sure that all the safety measures were in place. Masks were worn by all event officials, as well as anyone who was not on the dance floor. Tables were socially distanced and there was no on-deck area for the dancers. Instead dancers entered the floor from their tables. All cleaning measures including lots of hand sanitizer and temperature checks were provided.

The Professional events kicked off with the Professional Latin competition! Four out of the 6 finalists in this event were AIDA Dance USA champions. Longtime sponsored couple, Andrei Kazlouski and Asta Sigvaldadottir received first in all 5 dances, and became champions of this event. Coming into second place were Ivan Kudashev and Ksusha Sokolova. Right behind them in third place were Nikita Malakhov and Nadezhda Vlasova. Into fifth place was AIDA couple Sasha Altukhov and Cheyenne Murillo. The Professional Open Smooth started from a semi-final round and the dancing did not disappoint! Coming into second place were Igor and Megan Afonkin. This couple has seen tremendous growth in the past year and it is obvious that quarantine has not stopped them from improving. 

The Professional Open Standard event was another one for the books! One of our newer AIDA Dance couples, Evgeniy Grinin and Olga Morozova took home the bronze. Congratulations and welcome to the team!

The American Rhythm style has become increasingly popular over the past 10 years. Cleveland was a great example of how popular this style has become with the Professional event beginning from a quarter final. Placing first in every dance was another longtime AIDA Dance USA champions, Shane and Shannon Jensen. Even though quarantine may have disrupted their normal schedule, they have stayed in shape and managed to look fresh every single round.

Another event where the AIDA Dance USA champions swept the competition was the Professional Cabaret. In first place was once again, Shane and Shannon Jensen. Coming in second place was Ivan Kudashev and Ksusha Sokolva. Each of these routines looked amazing and it was a treat to watch such great entertainment.

The Amateur events were also not to be missed! In the Open Amateur Latin division, Tal Livshitz and Ilana Keselman came in first, taking all dances. This win combined with their win from the Online Blackpool Dance Festival are amazing feats that deserve to be celebrated. Coming into second place were Nikita Grygorchuk and Naomi Spektor. This young couple is a force to be reckoned with and we can’t see what comes next for them!

We are so proud of all of our couples! After months of restrictions on dancing, it was great to see everyone back on the floor looking as fresh as ever. It was also a pleasure seeing all of our wonderful clients in person. We know these past months have not been easy and we thank you all for choosing AIDA Dance USA!

Thank you Nichy Vegas for having us! We look forward to next year’s event, and we hope to see everyone at the next competition soon!

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