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Robert Abrams
Igor Ofenbakh
Manhattan Amateur Classic (MAC)
Columbia University's Alfred Lerner Hall
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

The Manhattan Amateur Classic 2004

by Robert Abrams, Igor Ofenbakh
January 18, 2004
Columbia University's Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway at 114th Street
New York, NY 10027

The Manhattan Amateur Classic 2004

held at Columbia University's Alfred Lerner Hall
January 16-18, 2004
New York, New York


Text by Robert Abrams
Photos by Igor Ofenbakh
January 18, 2004

The Manhattan Amateur Classic keeps growing. This competition, which also serves as USABDA's Northeast Regional Championship, is hosted by the Greater New York Chapter of the United States Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association and the Columbia University Ballroom Dance Team. There was a capacity crowd on Saturday Night. Between the competitors, spectators, volunteers and judges, about 800 people attended the evening session. There were so many people that competition organizers had to make a special dispensation for some parents of junior competitors who had assumed they could get tickets at the door. If the event keeps growing, the organizers may have to find a bigger venue. Maybe that's why the city is talking about building a new stadium on the West Side?

Flying through the air - #512, Pasha Pashkov and Inna Brayer
Photo courtesy of Igor Ofenbakh

Ballroom competitions have distinctive features, and this was no exception. Glitter covered the stairs to the practice area. Hairspray and Russian was thick in the air.

In the Adult Pre-Championship events there was a little bumping, but by and large all of the couples looked very elegant. Some of the dancers showed noticeable improvements.

In the Adult Standard Championships the dancers looked consistently solid in the waltz. I especially liked 560's (Samuel Yagudayev and Maria Khokhlova) preparations. They gathered themselves and then melted into their next move. They were also very strong and determined in the Tango without overly exaggerating their movements. 108 (John Leo Don and Ewelina Basak) also looked good as they swept across the floor with modulated pacing.

In the Youth Latin Pre-Championships, 555 (Pavel Volynskiy and Natali Tayts) showed a nice balance of poise and extravagance.

In the Standard Championships Semi-Final, 357 (Christian DeCillis and Claudia Balestra) danced an emphatic tango. Claudia wore a bright orange dress with a floater. She would swoop to a stop and then her floater would zag in an appealing manner. The floor was then full of nicely done Viennese Waltz. 357 danced with pleasing musicality in the quickstep. They made good use of the variations in the music.

In the Youth Latin Championship finals, the dancers were exuberant in the samba, holding nothing back. The jive was genuine and playful.

For the Standard Championship final, 357 had changed into a supremely elegant black, grey and white gown with a starflower skirt (well, Claudia changed into the gown - Christian was still wearing tails). The tango was danced like a fleet of battleships scooting across the floor. (What about a special event where the dancers all wear plain white outfits and are each armed with a paint gun?) In the Viennese Waltz all of dancers were of consistently high quality and they looked good as a group. In the quickstep, 357 leapt like a gazelle. They had great air as they ran down the line.

Elegant dress - #357, Cristian Decillis and Claudia Balestra
Photo courtesy of Igor Ofenbakh

Claudia takes a bow - #357, Cristian Decillis and Claudia Balestra
Photo courtesy of Igor Ofenbakh

On Sunday, there were endless arrays of enthusiastic kids and their equally enthusiastic parents.

A vision in peach - #495, Tal Livshitz and Esther Chernobrodskaya
Photo courtesy of Igor Ofenbakh

Intensity starts young - #504, Cole Mills and Ann Shtilman
Photo courtesy of Igor Ofenbakh

Reviewing a ballet performance with three or four works on the program is difficult enough. Giving intelligent feedback for three days with so many great dancers on the bill is that much more difficult. The few events and dancers mentioned here are just a sampling of what was on offer. To get the full picture yourself next year, make sure to attend the MAC.

Pictures from last year's team match.
More on the 2003 competition.

Serious dip - #306, Alexander Senko and Olga Chehova
Photo courtesy of Igor Ofenbakh

A vision in gold - #470, Pavel Khanzhin and Irina Osipovich
Photo courtesy of Igor Ofenbakh

Photos by Igor Ofenbakh

The photos on this page are by Igor Ofenbakh. To see more of his great photos and to purchase them, go to www.ofenbakh.com/mac2004/.

Igor is a superb dance photographer who photographs many competitions. He also has a portfolio of glamour, sports, wedding and travel photography.

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