The sixth annual Sarasota Challenge Dancesport competition brings some of the biggest names in the ballroom business to the Hyatt Regency Sarasota Bay March 22-23, 2014, offering a rare opportunity to mingle with and learn from some of the sport’s most elite figures.
The intimate two-day event includes Pro-Am competitions, instructional seminars, performances by one of today’s top U.S. professional couples and the return of the ever-popular “So You Think Professionals Can Dance” contest, which pits dancers in various genres against each other in exciting, choreographed routines.
“If you have not yet experienced the Sarasota Challenge, we cordially invite you to be part of this very full and exciting weekend,” said organizer Sid Pocius, of Sarasota’s Empire Ballroom Studio. “It’s guaranteed that this will be the most fun event of the year.”
Highlights include two professional shows by Nazar Norov and Irina Kudryachova, current Rising Stars champions in the American Rhythm division; a workshop taught by current and undefeated International Standard champion Arunas Bizokas; a seminar on successful studio management by Sam Gordon, owner of one of the top studios in the country; and a stellar judging panel that includes, among others, former “Dancing With the Stars” celebrity Jonathan Roberts; Michael Chapman, organizer of the largest pro-am competition in the country, the Millenium Dancesport Champinship in Tampa; and Larry Dean, organizer of the Triple Crown Dancesport Championships in the Southeastern U.S.
Norov and Kudryachova, natives of Siberia, Russia, came to the United States as a competitive couple in 2001, relocating to Florida in 2007, where they established themselves as consistent winners in the International Latin division. In March of 2013 they switched to the American Rhythm division and proceeded to win every Rising Star event they entered for the remainder of last year, including the 2013 U.S. National Professional Rising Star Championship. Current World and U.S. Bronze Medalists, and instructors at the Dance Life studio in Bonita Springs, Florida, they bring charisma, speed and a palpable excitement to the dance floor. They will perform a professional show both Saturday evening, March 22, and at the competition’s closing session, beginning at 9:30 p.m. Sunday, March 23.
Bizokas, a four-time Blackpool, six-time U.S. and five-time World International Standard Champion, will give a technique workshop open to all amateurs and professionals at 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 22. In constant demand internationally, Bizokas rarely teaches outside of New York and European capitals; this seminar is a unique opportunity to learn from one of the best current competitors in ballroom in an exclusive and personal setting.
Gordon started his career as a teacher at one of the largest-grossing schools in the country and currently manages one of the top schools in the country in Knoxville, Tennessee. In his exclusive seminar at 2 p.m. March 22, offered to studio owners and professionals only, he will share some of his secrets for creating a studio like his own, which has won top school honors all over the county.
The “So You Think Professionals Can Dance” competition will take place Sunday night, March 23 and a field of both local and international entrants is expected. The event, judged by media representatives, allows each couple to present a choreographed routine in the dance style of their expertise, from ballroom to ballet. Potential competitors include Craig Smith and Micheline, current cabaret/Theatre Arts champions from South Africa, whose astounding aerial partnering is not to be missed!
Additional events include a full day (March 23) of Pro-Am competition in all divisions; gourmet dinners and dancing both March 22 and 23, and an awards ceremony prior to the closing session. Tickets, available at www.sarasotachallenge.com or by calling (941) 799-0800, range from $30 for day observation passes, to $175 for dinner/show packages.
Sponsorship and Vendor opportunities are also available by calling Sid Pocius at (941) 704-7613 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Partial proceeds support Girls, Inc., a Sarasota nonprofit which exposes young women to life-changing education about entrepreneurship, technology, finances, engineering and science.
EVENT: Sixth annual Sarasota Challenge Dancesport Championships, March 22-23, 2014
VENUE: Hyatt Regency Sarasota Bay, 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota, FL. (941) 953-1234
TENTATIVE COMPETITION SCHEDULE: (All events take place in the ballroom, lower level of the Hyatt Regency Sarasota)
Saturday, March 22:
2 p.m.: Studio management seminar by Sam Gordon; studio owners and professionals only.
4 p.m.: Technique seminar with Arunas Bizokas, reigning International Standard champion
Sunday, March 23:
7 a.m.: Competition registration and ticket sales open
8:30 a.m.: Pro-Am and amateur competitions, Smooth and Ballroom divisions
12:30 p.m.: Lunch
1 p.m.: Pro-Am and amateur competitions, Rhythm and Latin divisions
7:30 p.m.: Cocktail reception
8 p.m.: Gourmet dinner, awards ceremony, general dancing
9:30 p.m.: “So You Think Professionals Can Dance” competition and professional show by Nazar Norov and Irina Kudryashova