America’s Ballroom Challenge 2007 — Week 1

Ben Ermis & Shalene Archer-Ermis won this past week’s American Smooth round of America’s Ballroom Challenge, making them the first couple in the show’s finals.

American Smooth includes dances like the Waltz, Tango, Fox Trot, and Viennese Waltz. While the names of the dances may be familiar to viewers of Dancing with the Stars, these performances looked very different than those on the ABC show.

DwtS features the same dances done in the International Standard style: partners in close contact with infrequent separations. American Smooth is a more open style of dancing more akin to Broadway-style dancing, where partners may dance alongside one another, instead of in a closed hold.

The style made for very dramatic and energetic performances. Still, it was hard not to imagine the voice of Len Goodman screaming about couples breaking hold.

Six couples competed in the American Smooth Category: Ben Ermis & Shalene Archer-Ermis, Kostadin Bidjourov & Carrie Babcock, Steven Dougherty & Eulia Baranovsky, Mazen Hamza & Irina Sarukhanyan, Tomasz Mielnicki & J.T. Damalas, and David Weise & Valentina Weise.

During the first round of competition, all six couples took the floor at the same time and performed all four American Smooth dances.

None of the couples knows in advance what music they’ll be dancing to, so they must create their routine as they go — while simultaneously trying to avoid crashing into the other dancers. Couples are ranked in each dance, and the pair with the lowest overall score wins the group dance round.

In this case, Ben Ermis & Shalene Archer-Ermis took the victory.

The second round consists of showdances — routines couples have prepared in advance to their own music, designed to convey a story. A winner is selected in this round as well.

Some of the highlights from the Week One showdances included a goth/punk Tango from Tomasz Mielnicki & J.T. Damalas, a classic Fox Trot by Ben Ermis & Shalene Archer-Ermis, and a martial arts-inspired routine from Mazen Hamza & Irina Sarukhanyan.

A third place finish in the showdance round, combined with their first place in the group round, earned Ben and Shalene Ermis the overall victory in the American Smooth category. The win was of special significance to the couple, as they have said this competition would be their last before retiring from competitive dancing.