The City Lights Open 2023 dance competition, held in San Jose, California, was a spectacular display of talent, grace, and athleticism. Among the standout performances, Ilya Ignatyev and Daria Korzh, a young and dynamic dance couple, emerged victorious in the highly competitive Under 21 International Ballroom dance category.
The City Lights Open, an annual event that attracts hundreds of competitors from around the world, showcases various dance styles such as International Standard, International Latin, American Smooth, and American Rhythm.
Ilya and Daria started their partnership in the summer of 2022. Having danced together for a little less than a year, this young couple stormed the floor, capturing the audience with their unique and dynamic Ballroom style. They quickly rose to become one of the best youth couples in the US, having made various prestige finals in the Amateur category and winning many tournaments in the Under 21 category.
Born and raised in Sacramento, CA, Ilya began his dance journey at the age of 7. However, the ballroom community in Sacramento was quite small, so the decision was made to enter a long-distance partnership. Since the age of 14, Ilya started traveling for his partnership first to the sate of Washington and then driving to the Bay Area spending six hours a day in a car just to be able to continue training at highest level possible.
In reality, the more complicated the path is, the more valuable the results become. Even with long distance partners, Ilya was able to make US Nationals finals in both Latin and Ballroom styles. Then, at the age of 16, Ilya moved to Phoenix, AZ to train with former World 10 Dance Champions, Roman Myrkin & Nataliia Biedniagina. Joining a new dance club, leaving family, and switching to online schooling to follow the ballroom dream was not easy to say the least. In AZ, Ilya also decided to train and compete in American Smooth with his prior partner and the couple made Amateur Smooth finals in the US and became the 2021 WDC AL World U21 & Amateur Smooth Champions.
Daria, originally from the Ukraine, started dancing at the age of 7 as well. She was part of the dancesport club “MAXIMUM”, trained by Maxim Bulanyy & Ekaterina Spasitel who currently also reside and train in AZ. Daria became the 2019 World Champion in Junior 2, winning the WDC AL World 10 Dance Championships with one of her previous partners.
Ilya and Daria started panning their partnership right before the war began in Ukraine in 2022. Everyone’s lives changed overnight, including Ukrainian dancers’. Daria had almost lost her hope to dance in the USA as she was forced to first move to Germany, then to Latvia to stay with her mother and brother as a family. However, miracles do happen even during most difficult times. Despite of all difficult circumstances, Daria was able to move to Arizona within a month to continue her dancing carrier and, finally, meet with her new partner Ilya. It took a team of coaches and parents to create an immediate ballroom match.
Both Ilya and Daria highly appreciate their families and coaches for greatest support at all levels. They have been spending countless hours on the floor practicing what they love the most. When spectators watch a successful couple perform and win, no one realizes what a couple must accomplish to succeed. Ilya and Daria had already showed great ballroom results; however, the best ones are coming up!
One of the highlights of their performance was the passionate Tango, showcasing their impeccable footwork and dramatic storytelling. The couple's intricate choreography and precise movements, punctuated by moments of intense emotion, left the audience breathless.
Ilya and Daria's victory at the City Lights Open 2023 is a testament to their dedication, talent, and the immense potential they hold as a dance couple. Their win in the Under 21 category also serves as an inspiration to other young dancers, proving that age is no barrier to achieving greatness on the dance floor.
The organizers of the City Lights Open were thrilled with the turnout and the high level of competition this year, as the event continues to be a prominent platform for dancers to showcase their talent and passion. With a new generation of dancers like Ilya Ignatyev and Daria Korzh stepping into the spotlight, the future of competitive dance looks brighter than ever.
We wish all the best luck for Ilya and Daria at the Ballroom Spirit Tour Final this summer in Boston.