Today.Az » Arts & Entertainment » Open to the World: Three magnificent days in the city of lights
03 November 2023 [12:32] - Today.Az

On 27th, 28th and 29th of October, an incredible event of exceptional beauty dedicated to sport, dancing and culture, took place in the ballroom hall of Baku’s JW Marriott Absheron.

Azerbaijan Dance Festival held events of world importance such as International Dance Congress, WDC World Professional Ballroom, Azernews reports.

Championship and the one-of-a-kind “Night of the Dancing Diamonds” gala evening, and, by all means, the three days of amazing celebration of the dance spent in the magical city of Baku, the very heart of Azerbaijan, will forever reside in the memory of both participants and spectators.

It was a special honor to conduct this grand event of great importance to the ballroom dancing world in the year of a 100-th anniversary of the birthday of Heydar Aliev, the nationwide leader of Azerbaijani people, who has put immense effort into the development of the country’s sports and cultural values.

The event was organized by the Azerbaijan Dance Council led by its President, People’s Artist of the Republic of Azerbaijan Tarana Muradova and the president of the SRDS Company Olga Krasnyanskaya, who gifted the Azerbaijani audience the mesmerizing world-class gala-show “Night of the Dancing Diamonds” for the second time.

The highlight of the festival has been the 86th WDC World Professional Ballroom

Championship, which the country of Azerbaijan had been assigned to host in 2023 by the World Dance Council and its president Donnie Burns. “In 86 years of holding the World Championship we have finally done it in Baku and it was an absolutely incredible and magnificent evening, which will remain in our hearts forever”, says Donnie Burns, “A fantastic city with amazing people and an absolutely marvellous competition”.

The winners were a couple from America - Valerio Colantoni and Anna Demidova. Second place was secured by one of the best couples in the world from Azerbaijan - Eldar Dzhafarov and Anna Sazhina, Six Times World Champions of ballroom dance and Azerbaijan’s Honoured Masters of Sports who have marked the end of their 20-year-long dancing career with this competition. This legendary dance couple’s farewell to the spectators became one of the most emotional and memorable moments of the festival. “This competition, held during the dance festival in Azerbaijan, was a historic moment for us and our country”, - said Eldar and Anna, “and we’re sure that soon couples from Azerbaijan will be reaching the final placements of world-class events. We’re rooting for them wholeheartedly.” A long standing ovation took place after Eldar and Anna delivered a touching farewell speech to mark the end of their competitive career. After that, the couple presented the audience with the most heartfelt and tender last dance one could ever witness.

The capital of Azerbaijan welcomed participants from more than 20 countries, including Italy, Germany, UK, Poland, USA, Singapore, Japan, Georgia, Canada, Argentina, Israel, Russia, Finland, Norway, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Cyprus, Turkey, Belarus, France, Australia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania and South Africa.

Then adjudicator panel was truly phenomenal. The participants’ performances were judged by legends of ballroom dancing from all around the world - Robin Short, Carol Powell, Steve Powell, Caterina Arzenton, Slawek Sochacki, Hannes Emrich, Wayne Eng, Dorin Frecautanu, Alessio Potenziani, Brian Schmidt, Harald Drenth, John Kimmins, Lizi Mor, Martin Parnov Reichhardt, Satu Suomi, Shozo Ishihara, Steffen Zoglauer, Shetland Afanasyeva, Alexander Zenkevich, Talyat Tarsinov, Anna Oksengoyt, Aleksey Zakharin, Andrey Paramonov, Anna Melnikovs, Anton Karpov, Artem Katsyra, Denis Tagintsev, Dmitry Syzrantsev, Dmitry Samonov, Etibar Mammedov, Evgeny Ryupin, Evgeny Smagin, Igor Kim, Leonid Pletnev, Natali Paramonov, Olga Foraponova, Darya Pechatnikova, Polina Kazachenko, Ruskin Aidaev, Sergey Ryupin, Sianan, Tatiana Chernova, Utku Kuley, Veronika Boltvina, Viktor Novinsky, Zilya Primakova.

Over the course of two days, Open to the World tournaments were held in Ballroom, Latin, American Smooth, Argentine tango, Salsa and Bachata programs.

Duet and solo performances were presented in 38 nominations. Dancers of Juvenile, Junior, Amateurs, Professionals and Pro-Am categories performed on the floor. Among those, the Juvenile and Amateur competitors have exceeded, demonstrating significantly high quality of dancing. It is especially important to mention the winners of Latin Professional championship Dorin Frecautanu and Marina Sergeeva, Two-times champions of Blackpool Dance Festival, who won the hearts of the audience with their immaculate skills and charisma.

The first day’s competition evening was hosted by Donnie Burns (MBE), fourteen-time Latin American Dance World Champion, President of the World Dance Council, and an Azerbaijani TV presenter Leyla Gulieva. The Symphonic orchestra, directed by Boris Myagkov, has made the evening’s atmosphere truly special and even created 20 exclusive dance arrangements of the most famous tunes in Azerbaijan. One of the most outstanding moments of the festival was the couples’ presentation which was performed to Muslim Magomaev’s timeless hit “Sinyaya Vechnost” that afterwards became the leitmotif of the evening. The parade of the participants was conducted solemnly with Magomaev’s legendary song “My Azerbaijan”.

It is especially worth noting that in parallel with the main program of the festival, the Azerbaijan Open Championships in Argentine tango, Salsa, Bachata and a workshop with invited teachers were held on a separate smaller venue of the Landmark Baku hotel, where more than 250 dancers from all over the world took part.

On October 29, as part of the festival, a unique dance gala show, Night of the Dancing Diamonds, took place showcasing the world's strongest duets in various dance styles. The hosts of this evening were the Honoured Artist of the Russian Federation, President of the Russian Dance Council Stanislav Popov and TV presenter Leila Guliyeva. The true diamonds of ballroom dance shined bright on the floor all night - Dorin Frecautanu & Marina Sergeeva, Elena Khvorova and Anton Karpov, Anna Melnikova and Denis Tagintsev, Andrey and Natalya Paramonov, Eldar Dzhafarov and Olga Krasnyanskaya, Alexey Polovnikov and Olga Shcherbina, Daria Pechatnikova and Mikhail Efimov, Oleg Kharlamov and Tatyana Kudryavtseva, Eldar Dzhafarov and Anna Sazhina, Fyodor Polyansky and Dina Akhmetgareeva, Evgeniy and Kristina Lisunov.

As part of the festival, on October 27, the International Dance Congress was held in the International Ballroom, International Latin, and American Smooth programs under the auspices of the Azerbaijan Dance Union. The Congress, with its unique lineup of invited teachers, sparked a real stir and gathered a record number of participants.

In the festival’s rich program the organizers have managed to preserve the incredibly warm atmosphere and traditional hospitality of Azerbaijan. Numerous reviews from participants and spectators on social networks noted the care and attention with which the organisation team greeted the guests in Baku.

On October 30, festival guests dived deep into the culture of Azerbaijan: excursions to the sights of Baku with guide Fuad Akhundov, traditional Baku food and drinks at the Merci Baku restaurant made this day unforgettable, and the weather was in favor of exciting walks through the city of lights.

As the organizers, we express their immense gratitude to the partners and sponsors of the festival: the Vermont company, led by its founder Nadezhda Solzhenitsyna, and the premium fitness club network Crocus Fitness and its founder Emin Agalarov.

We also thank our media sponsors: Internet- resources AZERNEWS, MILLI.Az, DAY.Az and the TREND news agency.

And of course, from the bottom of our hearts, we thank all the participants, winners, guests, colleagues, partners and everyone who became part of the first Azerbaijan Dance Festival ever, thanks to whom this three-day celebration of dance and beauty was able to happen!

We are looking forward to seeing all of you next year on October 25-26-27 at the Azerbaijan Dance Festival 2024.

This year’s festival results are available here

Media partners of the event are Azernews.Az, Trend.Az, Day.Az, Milli.Az.

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