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The Imperial Open Latin American Championships

The Imperial Open Latin American Championships

7 April 2011

Faculty Secretary, Anna Bartholomeou reports on the event

On Sunday 17th October 2010, the Imperial Championships took place at the world famous, Lakeside Country Club at Frimley Green in the beautiful, picturesque English county of Surrey.   

The Championships were organised and presented by the former Latin American Champions Michael Stylianos and Lorna Lee. Michael and Lorna are both active members of the ISTD Latin American Faculty and Michael is also on the Grand Council. They have been organising these Championships for the past 15 years and Lorna Lee quotes, “We have both been delighted that these Championships have gone from strength to strength, giving great prestige to the Society within the competitive field of dance.” 

From the moment the doors opened the dancers poured into the ballroom, luggage in tow, having arrived from all corners of the globe, but within no time at all, they had all magically been transformed into beautiful and glamorous dancers with vast arrays of colour creating a rainbow effect throughout the entire ballroom. 

Throughout the day, six competitions took place comprising of Two Youth, Two Amateur and Two Professional. The first competition commenced at 10am, culminating in the finals finishing at 11.30pm, creating 11 hours of excellent dancing and entertainment, with at least 35 countries represented globally. 

There were two panels of world renowned adjudicators from both the Latin American sector and the Ballroom sector. The Latin panel comprised of Barbara Ambroz (Slovenia), Jerry Abrate (Italy), Geir Bakke (Norway), Klaus Kongsdal (Denmark), Sergey Ryupin (Russia), David Yin (China), Micheal Wentink (South Africa), and Jeffrey Dobinson, Alan Fletcher and Karen Hardy (from Strictly Come Dancing) all from England. 

The Ballroom panel comprised of Tony    Dokman (Holland), William Pino (Italy), Leonid Pletnef (Russia), Scott Todd (Hong Kong), and Len Armstrong, Vicky Barr, Barbara Grover, Christopher Hawkins, Andrew Sinkinson, Marion Welsh and Pat Thomson all from England. 

The Latin and Ballroom panels were introduced and the first round of the Imperial Latin American Championships got under way with 130 couples all taking to the floor in a flurry of excitement and anticipation. The atmosphere was electric and as the music provided by Greg de Wet filled the room, the spectators watched in awe, with everyone calling for their favourite couples. 

As the day progressed, the Compère, Mr Neil Oliver kept the crowds entertained and the atmosphere alive with his professional and friendly manner. Neil was previously a Latin American Champion trained by Michael Stylianos and Lorna Lee and has since decided to hang up his dancing shoes and opted for a life on the seven seas. He is now the number one Cruise Director for P&O Cruises, working throughout the world on their latest cruise ships. 

The dancing continued with competitions going through to five rounds in the Youth, seven rounds in the Amateur and five rounds in the Professional, all as exciting as the last with spectators’ favourites shining through. As the rounds came to a close and the hour was late, Jurij and Jayoda Batagelj from Slovenia, were crowned Amateur Latin Imperial Champions and Andrej Skufca and Melinda, also from Slovenia, were crowned Professional Latin Imperial Champions. Both couples had entertained everyone with their spectacular dancing, showing sound fundamentals of all the Latin American dances. 

The crowds departed and the ballroom once again was silenced. Reflection of the day was positive from all areas and it was estimated that 1,000 peo ple had attended. The consensus was that Michael and Lorna’s completions are always ‘class acts’ and to watch out for their next event as it is a mustsee by all who relish dancing at its best.   

Anna Bartholomeou


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