Atlanta Dancesport Cup 2021
First In-Person USA Dance Competition Since the Pandemic
BY ALESSANDO SCALORA
Eric Shprints and Camilla Vertsman showing their Paso Doble.
After nearly an entire year without USA Dance competitive dancing, at the end of January, Organizer and Professional Katrina Volgina and Professional Vladimir Karpov teamed up to organize and bring to life the Atlanta DanceSport Cup. News of the event generated much enthusiasm among dancers around the United States. Finally, there was an opportunity to train and prepare for an actual competition on a dance floor.
The winners of the Adult Latin were Igor Golovach and Michelle-Angela Blank. “We know the decision to host this competition was very spontaneous. We believe that spontaneous things are always very special,” said Golovach. “Many states were still closed, so we were extremely lucky and grateful to be able to dance and compete again. The Volga Dance Academy is our second home. Every single dancer there is our family and the atmosphere had a very home-like feeling…Vladimir (Karpov) and Katrina (Volgina) did an amazing job hosting this event. It was safe, fun, and entertaining.”
One of the things the organizers had to take into account was how to make the audience feel safe in the ongoing, world-wide pandemic. Spectators, adjudicators, and volunteers were all required to wear masks. In January of 2021, the pandemic was still raging. According to Senior III Standard competitor Arkady Dudko, “It was very reassuring to see that precautions were taken to make sure people felt safe and comfortable vis-à-vis the pandemic. People wore masks and observed social distancing; especially for the audience.”
Dudko, from Chicago, Illinois, went on to mention that he was happy and touched by the sight of the younger generation dancing their hearts out. “It was incredibly uplifting to see so many great youth dancers competing and giving their all, and showing so much dedication and effort to excel in DanceSport. The camaraderie, positive attitude, and great energy they exhibited was so inspirational!”
One of the many advantages of the Atlanta DanceSport Cup was that there was also an online rendition of this event for dancers around the United States who were not yet comfortable in a semi-open environment. Volgina and Karpov had Salvatore Todaro (a Class A adjudicator representing the country of Bulgaria), along with many others, judge the online edition of the Atlanta DanceSport Cup.
“The Atlanta DanceSport Cup was remarkable!” said Todaro. Katrina Volgina and Vladimir Karpov did an outstanding job with the organization for me, as well as the other adjudicators, and for the competitors. This past year has been very difficult for everyone. The dance industry had to quickly move to organizing online events. Sometimes working online can be hard for many reasons: the internet may not be working, the website is confusing, etc. But Katrina and Vladimir made it very comfortable and easy to manage for me, as well as the other adjudicators.”
“Some of the competitors were uncontested, which means they have no one to compete against,” continued Todaro. “What I found interesting and very handy was that Vladimir and Katrina offered an evaluation scale to adjudicate the uncontested competitors…Another reason I feel that this competition was very successful was that it gave many dancers around the world an opportunity to start getting back into the game. It gave them a reason to start training hard again and not lose sight of their goals in these dark times. Once these dancers started getting back into it, many of them were motivated to keep going.”
“I’ve known Vladimir Karpov for numerus years. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Katrina within the last few years,” he noted. “What I can tell you about them is that they are the most motivated, dedicated, hard-working people you will ever find. When they work together, that is the first indication that their project will be great! I am sure that the Atlanta DanceSport Cup 2022 will be even more successful!”
As the event concluded and as dancers and adjudicators were saying their farewells, Volgina and Karpov announced their intention to organize Atlanta DanceSport Cup 2022!
“We wish the Atlanta DanceSport Cup huge success in 2022,” exclaimed Golovach. “We will see you all there!”
A Competitor's Perspective
BY ALLA SEMLYAK
Atlanta DanceSport Cup took place at Volga Dance Studio in Atlanta, Georgia. The event was very nicely organized with the competitors’ comfort and safety in mind. There were areas for practice, rest, changing, and hair and make-up services. Even homemade food was provided for us as a nice extra touch.
The competition started with the International Standard events in the morning. The majority of the competitors were youth and junior dancers, although some adult and senior couples added to the age range of the first post-COVID live USA dance competition. With the COVID restrictions still in place, the audience in the ballroom was scant. Most of the heats were small, and the nature of the Standard music contributed to the feeling that the event was unfolding somewhat in a slow motion. Fortunately, the significance of this post-COVID come back did not quite register with the majority of the dancers due to their young age. For them, it seemed like business as usual – fixing hair, dressing up, going over things with their coaches in the practice area, gathering at the on-deck area and finally performing. To us, the older part of this competition, the whole experience was definitely a bit surreal. Overall, there was a vague feeling of everything happening in a dream, and the reality did not quite sink in till later in the day.
The afternoon and evening were filled with the International Latin events, and it seemed like the Latin rhythms finally brightened up the day and brought the event to a full life. The heats were also bigger as the majority of young dancers seemed to give preference to Latin at this competition. The audience grew more and more numerous as the day progressed, and by the time the Championship dancers took the floor in the evening, the ballroom was filled with loud cheering and genuine excitement. By the end of the day it was clear that competitive dancing is back!