The World Para Dance Sport season will light up on Friday (30 March), when the first competition of the year takes place in Cuijk, Netherlands.
The Cuijk 2018 Para Dance Sport international competition will be the first time many dancers take the floor since the 2017 World Para Dance Sport Championships in Malle, Belgium, last October.
The competition is expected to host 63 athletes from 13 countries, including a strong Ukrainian delegation of world champions in Olena Chynka, Ivan Sivak and Illona Slugovyna.
Sivak switched from duo competitions to singles after his wife and dance partner Nadiia passed away before the 2016 European Championships. At the 2017 Worlds, he stole the hearts of the judges and audience as he won the men’s single 2 gold medal, and also bronze in the single freestyle. He will headline both events in Cuijk.
His compatriot Chynka impressed in all four of her events she danced in Malle. She will look to show why she is the world champion in the women’s single and freestyle 2, as well in the duo standard and Latin with partner Oleksandr Onishchenko.
Slugovyna returns as the reigning world champion in the women’s single 1. She also won Championship gold in the duo standard 1 with Valeriy Bevzyuk, and silver in the combi standard with standing partner Andrii Tovstyi; she will compete in both events this weekend.
Belarus and the Philippines will also see their gold medal-winning couples debut this year.
Belarusians Hanna Harchakova and Roman Usmanov are expected to receive high marks from the judges in the combi standard 2, which they won at Malle 2017.
Reigning double world champions Rhea Marquez and Julius Obero return as strong favourites in the combi standard and freestyle 2.
Competition runs until Sunday (1 April).
Complete results will be available on World Para Dance Sport’s website.