Six-time World Champions…20-time Grand Slam Champions…and there they were, dancing for the first time in the United States – Dmitry Zharkov and Olga Kulikova. The Atlanta DanceSport Cup threw down the gauntlet to her sister USA Dance competitions, by advertising a show that would rival any ballroom event in the country. On January 26, they delivered.
So, how does one orchestrate such a show? Atlanta DanceSport Cup Organizers Katrina Volgina and Vladimir Karpov proved themselves Masters of Event Flow. The event opened with a performance by Volga Dance Academy’s Liam Lindsey and Amelia Reizenson, a pint-sized couple who warmed the hearts of the sold-out crowd and had them ready for more. And they weren’t disappointed. The evening’s entertainment incorporated brilliant dances by Amateur National Champions Anthony Katchourine & Liza Belikov; Amateur National Champions and German Open Championship Silver medalists Aleksei Chebotar & Ekaterina Khoreva; Amateur WDSF World Showdance Latin Bronze Medalists Kairat Algadaev & Julia Seleznyov; and Amateur 2-Time World Champions, 13-Time Canadian Champions, CSIT World Games Under-21 Champions Thomas Zinger & Sarah Stolarsky. It also included beautiful performances by World Dance Organisation United States Professional Smooth Champions Alexander Romanov & Anna Blagodyreva and amazing feats of strength by world-renown Professional Theater Arts Performers Jake Mazhar & the feather-light Yuliy Besarab.
Dmitry Zharkov and Olga Kulikova started their performances with a passionate Waltz to “Je Suis Malade,” which left the audience stunned to silence until they erupted with applause that rose to a standing ovation. After that, there was no going back. The second dance opened as a surprising Swing, which quickly sped up into a fun and extremely lively Quickstep. Again, the performance was met with a standing ovation. So how do you top that? Dmitry took the microphone and invited some audience participation. Audience members picked two dances, one Latin and one Standard, and the couple combined them. The first was a Tango danced to a Samba beat – Olga seemed to love that one. The second was a Viennese Waltz to ChaCha beat – sounds impossible, doesn’t it?? They did it, it worked! If you missed it, I really can’t describe it!
In between there was a little trivia. We all learned that as Youths Dmitry Zharkov danced against Organizer Vladimir Karpov. Interestingly, Karpov never beat Zharkov in Latin and Zharkov never beat Karpov in Standard. Yes, I got that right, so read it again. Vladimir even danced a Foxtrot with Olga to prove the point. As part of the trivia game, Dmitry made a special announcement: Earlier that evening, he had proposed to Olga. He then dedicated their Foxtrot to his future bride and invited the audience to be part of the celebration. It was gorgeous and everyone present knew they just witnessed something very personal and exceptional. The room was on its feet as the performers took their final bows with smiles on their faces.
That was the show, but there was so much more to the Atlanta DanceSport Cup. The competition was full of high energy all weekend.
Let’s first talk about the organizers. There was never a moment throughout the entire event that you didn’t see Hosts Katrina Volgina or Vladimir Karpov dressed to the 9s, ever-present, and cheering on the participants. They didn’t sleep, they didn’t eat, but they were always smiling, and ensuring that the dancers and audience were having a great time. High energy was promised and delivered.
The adjudicators and officials included some familiar USA Dance faces and a few international celebrities: Ilya Barmotin, Inna Brayer, Jelena Danilcenko, Larissa Kerbel, Oleg Kulyba, Patti Panebianco, Liene Reinbold, Alexey Seredin, Lesya Sinitsa, Kimberly Smith, Oleksandra Tsyrlina, and Karita Yli-Piipari. The event was chaired by Sami Yli-Piipari, who ran a well-ordered but enjoyable event, with Scrutineer Daniel Boman, Emcee Egor Shalvarov, and Music Director Madeleine Mravkarov.
How about the dancers? The fourth Atlanta DanceSport Cup was a USA Dance Sanctioned Event, but it definitely had an international flavor drawing dancers of all ages from across the United States, as well as Canada, Mongolia, and Moldova. Competitors filled out semi-finals in the larger events and quality dancing was enjoyed throughout the weekend. All ages, levels, styles were included.
The competition set up was very well thought out and convenient. Well-advertised vendors were easily accessible, with dresses, hair and makeup, and any needed supplies. The practice floor and changing rooms were near the main event. The beautiful ballroom, decked out in blues, pinks, and purples, included table seating as well as seats that provided an unobstructed view to the dance floor for those who really wanted to enjoy and study what was happening on the floor.
The 2024 Atlanta DanceSport Cup was held at the recently redesigned Atlanta Marriott Northeast/Emory Area, just off I-85, which was convenient to downtown Atlanta and Atlanta Airport. Good food was easy to find, whether you went out or chose to remain on site. However, the organizers recognize that their event is becoming more and more popular and promise an even grander venue next year.
The next day, the Karpov-Volgina team put on an a one-day great camp. It wasn’t sanctioned by USA Dance, but it certainly was well-attended, well-presented, and well-received by all who attended. In fact, the World Champions were teaching all weekend long.
The gauntlet was thrown, the challenge was met! The performance was splendid, and the competition was a lot of fun! How do you top this? No idea!!! We can only wait to see. Did you miss it? Don’t let that happen again. New dates are not yet published, but we should all keep an eye out for the 2025 Atlanta DanceSport Cup.