Redmond teens Dmitriy Vorobiev and Kseniya Sovenko will represent the state of Washington at the USA Dance Nationals 2010 Dancesport Championship in Los Angeles April 9-11. (http://www.usadancenationals.org/)
Vorobiev, a senior at Lake Washington School District’s International Community School (ICS) and Sovenko, a sophomore at ICS, have been ballroom dance partners for almost 10 years. Yet their individual dance training started before that, when he was seven years old and she was just five.
Vorobiev and Sovenko acknowledged that ballroom dance training for children and teens is much more embedded in European culture and on the East coast of the United States than here in the Pacific Northwest.
But thanks to TV shows such as “Dancing With The Stars,” their classmates at ICS are fascinated by their sophisticated dance skills and their level of expertise.
Do Vorobiev and Sovenko watch “Dancing With The Stars?”
Vorobiev laughed and explained, “We don’t watch it because we’re at a much higher level — not than the teachers, who are professionals, but the celebrities. We can’t really gain anything from it.”
Also, the teens noted, contestants on “Dancing With The Stars” learn just one or two brief dances per week. And each of those couples — consisting of a rookie who is led by a pro — performs separately before the judges.
In actual ballroom competitions, participants must execute a large array of dances, demonstrating mastery in many different styles, within a day-long event or several days back-to-back. They are evaluated while on a dance floor packed with other serious contenders. Success requires fierce determination, endless practice and deep pockets.
Vorobiev and Sovenko are U.S. National Amateur Youth International Standard (Slow Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Slow Foxtrot and Quickstep) and Latin (Cha Cha, Samba, Rumba, Paso Double and Jive) champions and finalists, many times Northwest Regional Champions and U.S. National 2009 Team Champions. They took third place among 30 couples in the Youth Standard category at the U.S. Nationals Amateur Dancesport Championship in Provo, Utah, March 11-13.
They practice at least two hours each weekday and all day on Saturdays. Sunday is their only day to rest “and we’re usually really sore then,” said Sovenko.
At the event in Utah, “we had a two-minute break between the quarter-finals and the finals — and with the different elevations, it was really exhausting,” Sovenko noted.
Between two acclaimed coaches for International Standard, Giacomo Agrello and Alexandria Hawkins — and three more coaches for International Latin, Gleb Makarov and the team of Oleksandr Gorodetskyy and Natalya Sergienko, the teens families’ spend $80-$250 for each 45-minute lesson.
Vorobiev and Sovenko also train in Jazz, Modern and Hip Hop styles as members of the Kirkland-based Infiniti dance team. (http://www.danceschoolinfiniti.com/)
Their shoes cost around $100 per pair and they go through multiple pairs each year. Ballroom dresses run anywhere from $500 to $1,000 and above.
And there are additional expenses for makeup, hairstyling and other finishing touches that will catch the judges’ eyes.
Speaking of judges, they do play favorites, said Vorobiev and Sovenko. Ballroom dance competitors who travel frequently and network with judges have a distinct advantage over those who don’t.
Although competitions are tiring, they are infinitely exciting, said Sorvenko, “because we feed off other couples’ energy and their floor craft.”
Their ultimate dream, said Vorobiev, would be to compete at Blackpool Dance Festival in England, the most prestigious ballroom dance event in the world. (http://www.blackpooldancefestival.net/)
“To win Blackpool is like Olympic competition, higher even than the world championship,” said Vorobiev.
Scholarships would help Vorobiev and Sovenko travel to more competitions and they are available to perform at corporate or private events. Interested parties should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Dmitriy Vorobiev and Kseniya Sovenko, visit