The Azerbaijan Dance Festival has been held at JW Marriott Absheron’s ballroom.
The International Dance Congress, the World Championship in the European program according to WDC, and the Night of the Dancing Diamonds were organized as part of the event, Azernews reports.
The festival was organized by the Azerbaijan Dance Union, led by People’s Artist Tarana Muradova, and SRDS Company, led by its co-founder Olga Krasnyanskaya on the eve of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of the National Leader Heydar Aliyev, who paid great attention to the development of the country`s cultural and sports values.
The main event of the festival was the World Championship in the European program among professionals.
It was in 2023 that the World Dance Union, led by its president, Donnie Burns, chose Azerbaijan as the host country for the 86th WDC World Championships.
“After 86 years of hosting the World Cup, we finally did it in Baku, and it was an absolutely incredible, brilliant evening that will remain in our hearts forever. A fantastic city with amazing people and an absolutely amazing tournament,” said Donnie Burns.
The first place was taken by dance couple from the USA, Valerio Colantoni and Anna Demidova. Second place was taken by Azerbaijani dance pair – Eldar Jafarov and Anna Sazhina, six-time world champions in ballroom dancing, Honored Masters of Sports of Azerbaijan, who completed their 20-year dancing career with this tournament. The farewell to the audience of this legendary dance couple became one of the most emotional and memorable moments of the festival.
“This tournament within the framework of the dance festival in Azerbaijan has become a historical moment for us and our country. We are confident that very soon the Azerbaijani couples will take top places on the podiums of the world; we root for them with all our hearts,” Eldar Jafarov and Anna Sazhina noted.
The audience gave a standing ovation to Eldar Jafarov and Anna Sazhina, who gave a touching ceremonial speech in honor of the end of their careers, and the finale of this event was the couple’s tender and heartfelt farewell dance.
The capital of Azerbaijan was visited by festival participants from more than 20 countries, including Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Poland, USA, Singapore, Japan, Georgia, Canada, Argentina, Israel, Russia, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Cyprus , Turkiye, Belarus, France, Australia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, South Africa.
The lineup of judges was truly phenomenal. The performances of the participants were evaluated by world stars, including legends of the dance 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, Svetlana Afanasyeva, Alexander Zenkevich, Talyat Tarsinov, Anna Oksengoit, Alexey Zakharin, Andrey Paramonov, Anna Melnikova, Anton Karpov, Artem Katsyra, Denis Tagintsev, Dmitry Syzrantsev, Dmitry Samonov, Etibar Mammedov, Evgeny Ryupin, Evgeny Smagin, Igor Kim, Leonid Pletnev, Natalya Paramonova, Olga Foraponova, Daria Pechatnikova, Polina Kazachenko, Ruslan Aidaev, Sergey Ryupin, Sianan, Tatyana Chernova, Utku Kuley, Veronika Boltvina, Victor Novinsky, Zilya Primakova.
Over the course of two days, open world tournaments were held in European, Latin American, American Smooth, Argentine tango, Salsa and Bachata programs.
Duet and solo performances were presented in 38 nominations. Dancers in the “children”, “juniors,” “professionals,” “amateurs, and “Pro-Am” categories performed on the floor.
Among them, participants in amateur and children’s competitions distinguished themselves and showed a decent high level of dance art.
It is worth especially noting the victory in Latin American dances of two-time champions of the Blackpool Festival and three-time world champions Dorin Frecautanu and Marina Sergeeva, who received a standing ovation from the audience and captivated the audience and judges with their skill and charisma.
The hosts of the evening section of the first day of the festival were Donnie Burns (MBE), fourteen-time world champion in Latin American dance, president of the World Dance Union, and Leyla Guliyeva, a TV presenter in Azerbaijan.
The special atmosphere of the festival was created by the accompaniment of a symphony orchestra led by Boris Myagkov, who created 20 dance arrangements of the most famous musical works of Azerbaijan.
One of the brightest moments of the festival were the performances of the world championship pairs according to the European program, which were performed to the composition “Blue Eternity” by Muslim Magomayev, which became the leitmotif of the entire musical accompaniment of the festival. The parade of participants solemnly took place to the legendary song of Magomayev “My Azerbaijan”.
It is especially worth noting the competitions in social areas: on a separate chamber platform of the Landmark Baku hotel, in parallel with the main program of the festival, the Azerbaijan Open Championships in Argentine tango, salsa, and bachata and master classes from invited teachers were held. More than 250 dancers from all over the world took part in these international championships.
On October 29, as part of the festival, a unique dance show, Night of the Dancing Diamonds, took place with the participation of the world’s strongest duets in various dance styles – the true diamonds of ballroom dance. The hosts of this evening were Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, President of the Russian Dance Union Stanislav Popov and TV presenter Leila Guliyeva. Dorin Frecautanu & Marina Sergeeva, Elena Khvorova and Anton Karpov, Anna Melnikova and Denis Tagintsev, Andrey and Natalya Paramonov, Eldar Jafarov and Olga Krasnyanskaya, Alexey Polovnikov and Olga Shcherbina, Daria Pechatnikova and Mikhail Efimov, Oleg Kharlamov and Tatyana Kudryavtseva, Eldar Jafarov 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 areas of International Ballroom, International Latin, and American Smooth under the auspices of the Azerbaijan Dance Union. The Congress, with its unique lineup of invited faculty, caused a real stir and attracted a record number of participants.
In the eventful program of the festival, the organizers managed to preserve the incredibly warm atmosphere and hospitality of Azerbaijan. Numerous reviews from participants and spectators on social networks noted the care and attention with which the organizing team greeted the guests in Baku.
On October 30, festival guests plunged 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 special, and the weather favored walks through the city of lights.
The organizers expressed 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. And also all the participants, winners, guests, colleagues, partners and everyone who became part of the first Azerbaijan Dance Festival and thanks to whom this three-day celebration of dance and beauty took place.
We are looking forward to next year on October 25, 26, and 27, at the Azerbaijan Dance Festival 2024.