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Wendy and I always enjoy discovering great talent. We recently came across a compilation of footage featuring Salvatore Sinardi & Viktoriya Kharchenko, an amateur Latin couple representing Italy (she’s from the Ukraine). They started dancing together in August 2014 and have racked up an impressive list of results, including a second-place finish in the WDC AL 2019 Open World Championships and placing third in the UK Open held in January of this year.

We couldn’t help but love pretty much everything about this couple. The compilation of dance footage by Anna Kovalova’s Dance Today channel shows a variety of strengths. I’ve been informed that their partnership split during this pandemic. I sincerely hope that’s not permanent, as it would be a shame to see this team dissolve. The last time I enjoyed an amateur couple as much as this one was the partnership of Stefano Di Filippo & Anna Melnikova back in 2008-2009, who dominated the Latin scene those years.

So what are the qualities that make us love this couple? Here are just a few things that stand out:

Great Partnership

The partners are constantly aware of each other and connected all the time, even when they are not looking at each other. Too many couples today, especially in the Latin genre, are too focused on the audience and lose touch with the partnership. Sometimes you wonder with some dancers if they even know they have a partner. In a beautiful contrast from what we’re used to seeing, Salvatore and Viktoriya are totally connected throughout every dance.

Superior Musicality

Another great strength is their connection to the music. In one clip of this video, they have to dance the Rumba to a poorly chosen piece of music that has no genuine Rumba character. One of my pet peeves is competition DJs who blow up the hard work of dance couples by playing inappropriate music that lacks the character of the dance. Yet they make it work, taking control of the music to create a beautiful performance. As you watch several different Rumba segments in this compilation, you can see that the choreography isn’t locked into place but is fluid, changing significantly depending on the music that’s being played.

Outstanding Technique

Both have excellent technical skills, but Viktoriya in particular is mesmerizing. She is fluid and dynamic, yet solidly grounded and completely balanced despite those crazy heels she’s wearing (those have to be at least 3 inches). Their Jive features a sudden stop in the middle of Jive kicks. How difficult is it to balance in mid action like that for a complete stop of the movement? Try it to see for yourself and you’ll appreciate the level of skill involved in this! There were a few moments where Salvatore was not as grounded as I would have liked to see, but overall the two of them are superb at the Latin technique.

Stillness in Paso Doble

One of the things I really like to see in the Paso Doble is calmness. Too much of today’s Paso choreography is frantic, which doesn’t reflect the true character of the dance. While I don’t condone bullfighting, when I was a kid I was always fascinated by matadors. What stood out to me more than anything was the way they would show quiet, total control as the giant bulls rushed toward them. This gave them a look of bravery. That quality lies at the core of what Paso Doble is supposed to represent, yet today we rarely see this. I love the stillness and control of Salvatore and Viktoriya’s Paso. While I would have liked to see more heel leads from him, he does a superb job of characterizing the role of the matador, and she contrasts so nicely as the cape with her feminine shapes.

Masculine and Feminine Contrast

Ballroom dancing is designed to emphasize the contrast between male and female qualities, and this couple does an outstanding job. Salvatore is confident, strong and bold, yet he never outdances his partner. She is just as strong, yet adds softness to her movement to contrast his hard lines in a beautiful way. The two of them constantly allow one or the other partner to be seen. When one is active, drawing the eye, the other is quiet, then they switch. All the way through their choreography you can see the intention; you know where they want you to look. Delightful.

I haven’t seen an official announcement about this couple splitting up, so I hope it isn’t true. But even if you never get a chance to see this partnership in a live setting, at least enjoy the video.

George Pytlik

Author George Pytlik

Before turning pro, George achieved impressive results as an amateur competitor, holding the Senior (30+) Latin championship in BC, Canada for 7 consecutive years with his wife Wendy. The couple twice achieved a top-3 Canadian ranking in Senior Latin as well as a 3rd place Canadian ranking in 30+ Ten Dance. Today, George and Wendy are professional teachers with a vision of growing a strong dance community in Delta near Vancouver, BC.

More posts by George Pytlik

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