2018 in Review: Four Para dance takeaways

Year saw new talents rise and nations hungry to develop 18 Dec 2018
Ukrainian dancer in wheelchair wears glittering dress dances a conventional style
Ukraine's Olena Chenyka won five titles at the 2018 European Championships
ⒸJacek Reda
By World Para Dance Sport

A wave of new talent emerged in Para dance sport, coaching courses sparked a fire of interest around the world, and the European Championships set the stage for the upcoming Worlds. Here is a closer look at what we learned from 2018:

New generation

Young and exciting Para dancers took centre stage in 2018.

The European Championships in Lomianki, Poland, saw two fresh faces enter the spotlight. Israel’s Tomer Margalit, 23, landed double silver in the women’s singles freestyle and standard class 1 events. Poland’s 20-year-old Julia Sadkowska took bronze behind Margalit in the standard to the home crowd’s delight.

Cape Verde’s 15-year-old Nilson Pires is no stranger to the big scene. He debuted at the 2017 Worlds and has shown major improvement since. This year, he landed silver in the men’s singles freestyle class 2 in Cuijk, Netherlands; followed by his first career gold at the Polish Open.

Filipino couple Rama Agbagala, 15, and John Orboc, 22, surprised at the Beigang Open in Chinese Taipei by winning the combi freestyle class 1, and also added a bronze in the combi Latin 1.

Asian region strong

Agbagala and Orboc’s debut this year follows in the dance steps of the nation’s most popular Para athletes Rhea Marquez and Julius Obero. The multi-world champions competed at two international events this year, winning all four of their events in the combi class 2.

South Korea’s combi Latin 1 world champions Jini Ryu and Changwoo Han also reminded many that they are still a force to be reckoned with. They won both their events in Cuijk and the Polish Open.

Kazakhstan’s Karlygash Tynabekova showed she is not afraid to experiment with different routines. She deviated from her World Championship-winning freestyle performance at the Polish Open and still impressed the judges to win the class 1 gold.

Ukraine set the bar

Whenever Ukraine enters the dance floor, expect creative choreographies, strong technical skills and a performance to fall in love with.

It was all evident at Lomianki 2018, where Ukrainian dancers won 13 of the 19 medal events. Five came courtesy of Olena Chynka, arguably the sport’s strongest female dancer.

Sport spreading

Para dance sport fever was like an epidemic in the USA. A two-day introductory course brought 25 instructors from across the nation to a studio in Michigan to learn about the sport. They all left with a burning desire to find out how to make their own dance studios inclusive. Courses were also held in Chinese Taipei and Latvia – the first in the Baltic region.