Dancers from the United States had an impressive showing at the famous German Open Championships, in Stuttgart, Germany, August 9-13. Finalists included:
- Sr V Standard Vice Champions/Silver Medalists (2nd) – Winston and Lilly Chow
- Sr IV Standard Bronze Medalists (3rd) – David Getchell and Allison Gonzalez
- Sr II Standard Finalists (4th) – Thomas Yim and Kelly Cheng
- Master Class I Standard (3rd) Egor Bezukladnikov and Irene Tzu Ling Lee
- Rising Star Latin Finalist (5th) Igor Golovach and Michelle-Angela Blank
The German Open Championships (GOC) is one of the most prestigious ballroom dance competitions in the world. This year’s events lasted five days and spanned three ballrooms at Stuttgart’s Kultur & Kongresszentrum Liederhalle.
The first GOC, in 1987, was the idea of Baden-Württemberg ballroom dancing coach Harry Körner. The event was modeled after the long-established Blackpool Dance Festival and consisted of a three-day competition held in the Mannheimer Rosengarten, in Mannheim, Germany. It was meant to be a unique ballroom tournament for Germany, with amateurs and professionals from every class and age group all dancing at a single event. It drew 600 couples from Germany and neighboring countries, who competed in 12 competitions for professionals and amateurs (Juniors, Seniors, Masters, and Formations) in the Latin and Standard disciplines.
In 1990, the borders to the east were opened, which drew dancers from Russia and other eastern European countries to the GOC. The competition became the most important open ballroom tournament for couples from those nations because of its relative proximity. By 1991, the entries had doubled, and the event extended to four days.
Over the next ten years, the competition continued to grow, drawing over 5000 spectators a day. In 2002, with dancers coming from as far as China, the GOC matched Blackpool, in terms of its international flavor and competitor numbers.
The GOC moved to its current home, in Stuttgart, Germany, in 2004, and by 2008, was recognized as the world’s largest DanceSport festival, with more than 5000 entries, representing 46 nations from every continent. By 2019, the competition boasted well over 200 couples in all their individual Grand Slam events and many of their Senior events.
It was Thomas Yim and Kelly Cheng’s first German Open Championships, but they showed that they were up for the challenge. The Senior II Standard couple made the final and came in fifth place overall. Enjoy this video of their Waltz and Viennese Waltz, as well as their Rollout during Finals!! Video compliments of Thomas and Kelly.
The 2020 and 2021 GOCs were canceled due to COVID-19. The pandemic and the War in Ukraine also affected this year’s events, but the competition still drew large numbers of dancers from all over the World, with the largest events being Adult Amateur Latin (175 couples), Adult Amateur Standard (158 couple), and two Open Senior III Amateur Standard Events (155 and 161 couples).
Some United States highlights were:
- Winston Chow and Lilly Chow – 2 of 25 – GOC Senior V Standard
- David Getchell and Allison Gonzalez – 3 of 88 – WDSF Open Senior IV Standard
- Thomas Yim and Kelly Cheng – 5 of 76 – WDSF Open Senior II Standard
- Simon King Sang Fung and Pu Fung – 8 of 25 – GOC Senior V Standard
- Mike Lynch and Rose-Ann Lynch – 20 of 155 – WDSF Open Senior III Standard
- Eugene Lobko and Alla Zemlyak – 22 of 62 – WDSF Senior I Standard
- Richard Abney and Paula Abney – 36 of 88 – WDSF Open Senior IV Standard
- Jon Chow and Elaine Chow – 37 of 155 – WDSF Open Senior III Standard
- Arkady Dudko and Lena Dudko – 57 of 155 – WDSF Open Senior III Standard
- Egor Bezukladnikov and Irene Tzu Ling Lee – 3 of 10 – Master Class I Standard
- Igor Golovach and Michelle-Angela Blank – 5 of 11 – Rising Star Latin
Other dancers who beautifully represented the United States were:
- Christopher Affonso and Holly Hatleberg
- Denis Kojinov and Jeanette Chevalier
- Chris Leung and Cindy Leung
The German Open is a World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) competition and is open to all WDSF dancers in good standing. These events are not limited to Championship-level dancers, however, all dancers do compete at the Open level, with age categories similar to those used by USA Dance.
Sadly, many United States-based WDSF events were temporarily halted during the pandemic. However, as USA Dance organizers are finalizing their schedules, you may see more WDSF events incorporated in upcoming National Qualifying Events (NQEs). Gumbo, for example will be hosting the Senior II World 10-Dance Championships in November and has recently announced its many WDSF events. Watch for similar announcements for the American DanceSport Festival NQE and the Chicago DanceSport Challenge. These events are open to all dancers!
WDSF is the world governing body for DanceSport. USA Dance is the Recognized Sport Organization for DanceSport in the United States. USA Dance couples wishing to compete in WDSF events may sign up as WDSF members at:
Any questions about the process should be referred to the USA Dance International Advisor to the President, Katusha Wilder, at email@example.com.