Daniela Novak lives in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She is a former champion and now a trainer, coach and adjudicator.
Daniela and her husband Fredi Novak created Fredidance Team and they run the Fredidance Club in Slovenia which is where most of the Slovenian champions come from.
This article was originally published on Facebook.
My intention before this competition was to stick to commenting the dancing only and to leave results totally out of this report. But I can't!
For many years I have been following these official Championships, usually as a coach of the Slovenian couples and I have witnessed more or less the same power games on every one of them! The game is the same, some of the players also stay the same, but we also see some new ones replacing some old ones. I was never interested in politics on any level! I believe that only mediocre people with inferiority complex are interested in the power games called politics! Unfortunately European Championships regularly prove to be good playground for them at the expense of the couples not fortunate enough to come from the "right" country, the "right" team, or not having "their"adjudicator on the panel. To make this farce even worse, there is more and more couples representing countries that none of the dancers come from. And hey, they actually have an advantage, they have not one, not two, but three countries behind them. Actually the previous champions proved that it works, so let's use the formula! I wonder what is next...
To illustrate why I can't ignore political games I will give you one example (I am sure you can find more yourselves in the competition sheets): if there would be a Slovenian adjudicator who would do the same what the Spanish adjudicator did (which BTW is very unlikely!) there would be two Slovenian couples in the semi final instead of two Spanish couples! The couple that finished 9th(!!!!!) had 2 marks more than Slovenians Damir Halužan and Anna Maschyts who were 15th! 2 marks=6 places difference! In Singapore they were not close to quarter final! Correct me if I am wrong, but the other Spanish couple who finished close to the final(!!!!!!) in 8th place danced the re-dance in Singapore and finished 48th!!!! That was 6 months ago! I don't say that these couples are not good, but better than Timur Imametdinov and Ekaterina Nikolaeva? Better than Marius Balan and Nina Bezzubova, Gabriele Goffredo and Anna Matus??? Sorry Karina, you lost my respect for this! You may be a hero in Spain, but.....
Three other couples that I did not see in this semi final were from Ukraine, Romania and Latvia. From the Romanian couple (Sergiu Luca and Maria Pia Arces) I quite like the man, but the lady is very rigid and doesn't use her body well enough to be among the top 12 (14).They have good impact on the floor, striking appearance, but I don't see any deep quality there. Sorry guys! I will take more time to look at you next time, maybe I am missing something here. I confess that you didn't grab my attention this time. Ukrainan couple (Artem Lazarov and Ekaterina Isakovich) were in the semi final obviously for other reasons then the quality of their movement, because they are weak starting from the feet up. She is strikingly beautiful, but this is not a beauty contest! I won't go into the details, but for me they were one of the weakest couples in the 24. Latvian couple Jevgenijs Suvorovs and Tina Bazokina are still quite fresh partnership and they have improved a lot. He was dressed cleverly to hide his weakness, which is his posture,but unless he does something to work on the problem, I believe that this result is the limit.
On the contrary, the other couple from Latvia was for me a candidate for the final! Slavik Visnakovs and Tereza Kizlo, and Marius Balan and Nina Bezzubova were, for me, two contestants for the final and I don't mind that Marius and Nina made it (out of THAT semi final!). Both couples have distinctive recognisable style, which is rare among dancers so young and especially both ladies are very charismatic. I personally like the style of Slavik and Tereza better, because it is more sophisticated and because they share more. Nina is sometimes in her own world not letting Marius in, and when that happens, he is just there physically, not connected with her on a deeper level.
In general I must say that I am noticing the shift towards shallow, cocky, undignified, cheap ... dancing among adult couples. It is almost like people today are favouring "Justin Biebers" of the dance floor over "Frank Sinatras". A huge step backward, if you ask me. I am aware that we are discussing amateurs, not professionals, but this is becoming ridiculous. Apart from dancers like Martino Zanibellato and Michelle Abildtrup, Timur Imametdinov and Ekaterina Nikolaeva, Andrei Zaytsev and Anna Kuzminskaya, Damir Halužan and Anna Maschyts, the two previously mentioned couples, Nino Langella and Khrystyna Moshenskaya and a few more, who are presenting their dance with some substance, the majority of the dancers look like they have just barely reached puberty and think that they are at the top of the world and it's all just a form of competitive physical activity. Who cares about music (they actually played Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and similar staff!!!!), about the story, about creating an atmosphere etc. Girls are taught and encouraged to be seductive and sexy, boys to be arrogant and aggressive and the problem is, that those who exaggerate this the most, are more successful. So now we have some top girls who look, move and act vulgar, some top boys that dance with a cocky attitude to show their pseudo superiority or they ignore completely basic fundamentals that protect our dance form. Most emphasis is put towards impressing the judges and the audience. I see lack of understanding the basic mechanical principles and discipline of the body in motion. It is normal, that we have dancers on different levels in the competitions, but I think that we never before witnessed so much bad dancing being rewarded as we do nowadays. It is alarming, and unless something changes fast, we will lose the art completely and become a cross between bad gymnastics and circus!
I know that I sound very critical, but it really makes me sad that so many people with power (the power game people!) care so little about dancing. Everything else seems to be more important. Who is who, who "supports" the people with power and gets rewarded for it by getting a chance to judge the most important competitions. And of course, business always comes first. Who cares that the music was not appropriate, the audience loved it. Who cares that the venue was not appropriate, it was full. Who cares that some wrong couples got recalls, next time it will be other ones anyway. Let's wait and see if in Vienna we will have two Austrian couples in the semi final. They were both in the re-dance this time, but there is again 6 months time to the World Championship, so I guess anything is possible! To be fair, I think that Sergiy Georgiyev and Olena Khablenko who finished 48th deserved better result and that her image was the problem.
I will not comment on the result of the top three couples. They have very different style and that is why they appeal to different people. Michelle and Martino are the closest to the original Latin and they are also the most narrative dancers in my opinion. Their Paso Doble is very dramatic and in character and usually musicality is their strong point, but this time it was not easy to show it. Michelle in black dress looked slightly too sharp, especially because the lighting was not so good (mind you, hip hop gear would probably be the most appropriate choice under the circumstances!).
Andrei and Anna have beautiful and clean movement, everything is precise,every detail has been addressed and they have improved also their emotional and narrative side of their performance in the last year. Her dress for this occasion was cleverly hiding an arm injury. I was amazed that they could dance so good despite it. Most people were unaware that she danced with a broken arm!
Nino and Khrystyna have fans mostly in younger generation of dancers. They are good looking, fashion orientated (trend-setters), exciting to watch. Nino's abilities are no secret to anybody in the dance world and she is getting better in partnering him. The change of her dress in the final was not needed and that dress didn't suit her style of dancing as much as the red one.
I congratulate Nino and Khrystyna, the new European Champions, and I am looking forward to seeing the next event where all the top couples will meet again.
As promised, here are some notes about couples noticed in the first 2 rounds of European Latin in Cambrils.
I decided to use the couples numbers only, because it is my goal to help them with my short observations, not to put them down in any way.
26 very rhythmical and playful
22 clean and readable dancing
31 he is using heel leads where he shouldn't and she is picking the feet of the floor and running
68, 50 both boys are on the outside edges of the feet most of the time, ankles passive
34 slightly too quiet for samba, but together and readable, on the right track, keep going in that direction
48 the boy moves with ease but partnering is not very good, he is too strong and she is loosing balance because of it
Cha Cha Cha:
41 the girl is not using the ankles when she walks, she is aware of her instep only in positions as a cosmetic thing
54 the girl has very arched back which is more obvious because she has weak centre awareness, the boy dances CCC on toes and overstretched ankles
14 the boy is all arms and legs and no body, he is not using the energy from the centre, the girl is much more in control
82 the look is unrehearsed, he is to aggressive towards her
43 they are very focused and well rehearsed, good job not responding to provocation from another couple
35 both need stronger centre awareness, everything is on the outside, beautiful girl, she should not try to produce beauty, but go inside and feel more what she is doing, otherwise it is a total fake and it is obvious
83 here the man looks artificial and fake, it is much better when he gives attention to what he does with her then when he tries to project outwards. Then he gets a very unnatural head position and stiff neck. I like the girl very much, she is artistic and genuine. The dress was a bit cheap looking.
13 black and white shoes of the boy were not a good choice, it was just a distraction from the body movement (I noticed that he replaced them later for black ones. Good job coach!). Young looking boy with good lines and fluid movement and a very feminine, graceful and emotional girl.
38 well rehearsed PD, there should be more balance between them, the girl looks much weaker than the boy (man), her feet and legs are not working enough, simple black outfit without any decoration can be very effective, but only if you are good enough to pull it off. If you expect to struggle for the next round, it is a big risk. The dress didn't help her and her make up was also making her look dull and pale.
25 another girl who didn't look as good as she could because of wrong choice of the dress and even more because of the hair style-she looked bigger and older than she is. I like the boy, he moves well.
12,73 ladies have style
72 great jive, different, very much in character, playful,showing great abilities with taste and good measure
48 the girl is not using her body enough, her sides are all the time stretched, he is one moment ignoring her and the next pushing her
31 everything is too much on the outside, she is falling apart trying to do too much all the time
54 not dancing with each other, he has strong presence but a very arrogant one
Cha Cha Cha
50 too much of everything, keep your outfits simpler to show the dancing more, cheap looking dress
84 his rib cage is open all the time, rigid torso
79 boy dancing alone, she is not included
71 they look good, but there is not enough substance in what they do, I think they don't really understand what they are doing or they were not focused enough.
31 she needs to be more precise in everything she does, otherwise it all looks messy
24 together, musical, clean... one of better couples in the re-dance
24 doing well until the distraction (floor-craft problems)
70 boy open chested, weak centre, too much on the outside
79 they look (and move) very young (15-17), one of the few couples that danced the re-dance with good positive energy
38 her legs are hidden behind the long dress, but it is making her look even weaker in the legs, she needs to learn to use the standing leg more
34 boy has too much tension in the shoulders, they have good image and are well rehearsed
22 girl not using standing leg enough and has rigid back,there is a lot of muscles visible on her body, but she needs to learn to relax them more, boy is a good jiver
I will continue with a few words about my personal thoughts relating competition outfits and image of the dancers in general.
I don't like:
- dresses that are "stronger" than the dancer (you can't fool us with an overly decorated and expensive dress!)
- dresses that don't suit the dancer's style of dancing
- dresses that make the body look like a "sausage" (No 60!)
- dresses that reveal too much
- dresses that "wear the dancer"
- cheap looking dresses (usually they are not cheap at all, just tasteless!) (No 27-second dress, 50...many!!!!)
- men looking feminine (see-through material is on the edge, if it is in colour it is too much: a friend said once to me that a guy in a coloured, tight see-through top looks like he is wearing a condom ;)
- two coloured shoes for men (are they even allowed?)
- copies (dresses, hair style - Khrystyna's bob is in at the moment, so we saw about 15 girls with the same haircut!)
- changing dresses during competition, especially if they are not in the same style
- over-exaggerated make up
- excessive jewellery on men
What I do like
- simple dresses with a clever cut that enhances the dancers' physique and style of dancing
If you don't know yet, what is your style and you are still searching, I suggest to keep it simple and try introducing new style with great care, preferably with your coach that knows you well and a good dress designer with a lot of experience. If you will try to be too brave without enough experience you might end up looking like a character out of a SF movie!
- being "in tune" with everything: your personality, style of dancing, quality of dancing,the type of venue (as I said before, this time hip hop gear would fit perfectly into the venue and the music being played!)...
There were two ladies that stood out for their styling this time. One is Tereza Kizlo and the other Nina Bezzubova.
Both ladies are very charismatic and original and their outfits always show that. As it often happens, they both appeared in the past in some not so appealing and flattering looks. I usually wasn't very keen on Nina's experiments with hair and her dresses were sometimes very strange. But I understand that she is different and I applaud her for being brave and pursuing her own style both in dancing and in her image on the floor. This time, the peacock inspired dress, together with the hair style and make-up suited her perfectly.
I've also seen Tereza in some strange looking cuts before, but lately she has found her style and in Cambrils she looked fabulous. The dress, the make-up, the accessories... everything was done with great care and looked very professional.
To round it up...
I took the liberty to write about the image of the dancers despite the fact that it is not my profession. I just wanted to express my views of the matter, because I understand how much effort (and money) dancers spend on the lessons, travelling... and I think it's a shame if they miss the opportunity to present themselves and their dancing in the best possible way just because they don't put enough attention to their image.
Of course it is not about the dress, it is about your dancing qualities! But be wise and listen to the people who are more experienced than you in this matter and make sure that your coaches and designers work together for your benefit to help you bring out your best assets!
See results from WDSF European Latin at the VI DO World DanceSport 2012 in Spain, Cambrils.