Those still on the fence about attending the Southern States DanceSport Championships this week should disregard any hesitancy they might have. First, the timing. It's the first competition of the 2017 Triple Crown DanceSport Series, and nothing engenders more excitement than a kickoff event. Second, the location. The SSDC will be returning to the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans, and there's no more convivial place on earth than the Big Easy in April. Finally, the talent. Besides the usual influx of top performers, audience members are going to be treated to a large dose of Justinas Duknauskas and Anna Kovalova.
Many dance couples grow up together, enjoying partnerships that last longer than most marriages. Duknauskas and Kovalova have gone the other route, bouncing from one partner to the next before finding each other. After starting his professional career dancing with Ekaterina Lapaeva from 2008 to 2010, Duknauskas began dancing with and marrying Anna Melnikova-Duknauske in January 2011. The couple quickly became fixtures at the top of the leaderboard in Professional Latin competitions, including a victory at Moscow Star in 2014.
When their partnership (and marriage) abruptly ended in 2015, the news hit the dance world like a bombshell. Some speculated that the rift was caused by disappointing results and a lack of chemistry. They didn't seem to connect the way Melnikova-Duknauske had with her former partner Slavik Kryklyvyy or Duknauskas had with Ekaterina Lapaeva.
After Duknauskas and Melnikova-Duknauske split, Duknauskas teamed up with Kovalova, who herself was healing from a contentious rift, having ended her relationship with longtime partner (and husband) Roman Kutskyy at the tail end of 2014.
Duknauskas and Kovalova started dancing together in 2015 and quickly rose to the top of the dance world. Just a few months after teaming up, they won the Professional Latin division of the Holiday Dance Classic Championships in Las Vegas and have gone on to win the San Francisco Open DanceSport Championships, the Great Gatsby Gala DanceSport Championships, the Desert Classic DanceSport Festival, the DBDC DanceSport Competition, the YuleTide Ball Championships, the City Lights Ball, and, most recently, the Vegas Open Dance Challenge.
Duknauskas and Kovalova will be performing at the Southern States DanceSport Championships during the evening on Friday, April 14, and Saturday, April 15, as well as hosting a Master Dance Class from 4:30 to 5:30 PM on Saturday. Their participation alone should make the event must-see entertainment.
Duknauskas And Kovalova To Be Featured At This Year's SSDC
The Must-Watch Division At American DanceSport
© Jayne Kamin-Oncea - USA Today
'DWTS' Ep. 5 Recap: 'Most Memorable Year'
Why You Cannot Miss This Year's American DanceSport Festival
© Reinhold Matay