October – December 2021

January – March 2021


WDSF Open Senior III Latin World Championship

Platja d'Aro, Spain, September 11, 2021

Valery & Rita Ort (TX)

[tied 19 out of 83]

Andrew & Ilona Prouty (NY)

[tied 19 out of 83]

Carmine Rucco & Maria Bolyard (AL)

[37 out of 83]

Rita & Valery Ort, Maria Bolyard & Carmine Rucco, and Ilona & Andrew Prouty

Andrew & Ilona Prouty

Was this your first World Championship? If so, please tell us about your experience. What was that like?
ANDREW & ILONA: This was our seventh World Championship. We made it to quarter finals, placing nineteenth, which was our best placing at a World Championship event. The organizers of this event were phenomenal, helping us with our difficulties stemming from a 24-hour flight delay, providing a convenient shuttle service from and back to the airport, and also being available 24 hours a day during the competition to help with any needs or issues.

Did you have an opportunity to experience much of the city while you were there?
ANDREW & ILONA: We don’t tend to schedule much extra time to explore the host cities. Normally we fly in, compete, and fly home to our eight adorable cats, which need us almost as much as we need them. We did enjoy spending time with the other American and Canadian couples while we were there.

View of the stage at the venue - Palau D'Esports i Congressos Platja D'Aro

How did you prepare for this important event? Was it any different than how you normally prepare for a competition? Did you feel prepared (both mentally and physically)?
ANDREW & ILONA: We did less preparation for this event than any other championship event we’ve competed in. Both of us work in healthcare so COVID has made our jobs very difficult with 60-80-hour work weeks very commonplace. Ilona is a Physical Therapist and Andrew is a Manager in Patient Services. Our hectic schedules forced us to concentrate more than ever, when we could squeeze in a practice session or lesson, and did not allow us much time to argue…which was probably a good thing. We did more individual training, and also a good deal of non-dance physical and mental training, and had to stay very adaptable and resilient to cope with the pressures of working in a difficult and dangerous environment.

How did you come together as a partnership? What distinguishes you on the floor?
ANDREW & ILONA: We actually met at a social dance in Syracuse (New York), we got engaged on the dance floor during a performance, and spent our honeymoon at our first dance competition. What sets us apart on the dance floor is our height difference, almost 12 inches, which we try to use to our advantage.

How did it feel being a part of the official USA World Team?
ANDREW & ILONA: The senior competitors tend to be a very tight-knit group, with many friendships and much time spent together at competitions. The competition is fierce, but very friendly. We’re pretty sure all the senior couples want to win as badly as we do, but we are also very glad to share in the good fortune and celebrations of our friends when they score higher than us. The seniors are truly a fierce and friendly group.

How was the COVID protocol on your trip? Did you feel safe?

ANDREW: The protocols seemed fine, yet I tested COVID positive three days after returning from this World Championship.

Carmine Rucco & Maria Bolyard

Was this your first World Championship? If so, please tell us about your experience.  What were your thoughts going into the event?  Did you have any expectations or goals?
CARMINE & MARIA: This was the second time we represented the United States in a World Championship event for Latin dances (first time in 2018 in Kosice, Slovakia for Senior II). Our thoughts were related to the amount of practice and preparation that we needed, to be prepared at our best to compete. We knew our fellow competitors would be strong and well prepared for the event. Our goal was to make sure that all the practice and worked-through details showed on the floor.

Was there anything about the competition that stood out or was a lingering impression?
CARMINE & MARIA: The competition was a world-class event, very well run, and the organizers made us feel at home, providing floor time for practice, and transportation to/from the hotel. Also, the camp/group classes in Latin and Standard taught by world champions were highly inspiring and motivating. The competition venue was in a big gymnasium with air conditioning and plenty of changing rooms. The hotel we stayed at was walking distance from the gymnasium, close by fine dining restaurants, had access to the beach, and provided free sumptuous breakfast.

How did you prepare for this important event? Was it any different than how you normally prepare for a competition? Did you feel prepared (both mentally and physically)?
CARMINE & MARIA: To prepare for this important event, we spent as many hours as possible in practicing and reviewing our routine and technique, along with trying to increase the number of lessons with our Latin coach. A lesson learned from this event is that every minute you practice you should be thinking that you are doing it to compete in a World Championship. Unfortunately, during the practice it is hard to keep the same level of energy, atmosphere, and motivation. This is, for sure, one area we will be working on to improve.

Maria & Carmine

How did you come together as a partnership? How long have you been dancing together? What drives or influences you as a couple?
CARMINE: My wife and I met dancing in 2006 and have been dancing since then. We started competitive dancing in 2008 with Smooth and Rhythm. In 2011, we added Standard and, in 2017, we started training for Latin, but then we dropped Smooth and Rhythm. We work hard to try to improve our connection and body awareness during the performances.

How did it feel being a part of the official USA World Team?
CARMINE & MARIA: Being part of the official USA World Team is a great honor for us, and we hope we can meet the expectations of our coaches and of the USA Dance organization. USA World Team and all United States competitors should have more opportunities to attend competitions such as National Qualifying Events and World DanceSport Federation events in the United States. When we compare ourselves with the European competitors on the number of competitions that we attend every year, we are at a great disadvantage.  

Valery & Rita Ort

Side view of the venue - Palau D'Esports i Congressos Platja D'Aro

Valery and Rita: We would just basically like to say how wonderful it is that the World DanceSport Federation finally created a Senior III Latin World Championship! (Editor note: created in 2018) Did they think Senior III dancers could not move? They sure can! We danced against 80 Senior III Latin dancers and they could all move those hips! Nice to be there in that large “comp” atmosphere once again.

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