If I had just one word to describe the Open European Championship 2011, it would have to be beautiful! The hall looked beautiful, we saw some absolutely beautiful routines and the atmosphere was beautiful. The OEC 2011 is one of the most wonderful HTM experiences I have ever had. Thank you to all who supported the event and helped make it very special.
36 HTM routines and 35 Freestyle routines were performed in the team rounds and 10 dogs and handlers qualified for the Individual Final each day. Judges were Jackie Clarke from England, Anja Schüller Magnusson from Norway and myself from Denmark.
It was a great honour to judge this competition. The quality of the routines was amazing, which made the judging difficult – I could not give everyone a 10, so points were deducted for the smallest of inaccuracies and less than perfect details. Congratulations to all OEC handlers on choreographing and performing some outstanding routines!
A couple of routines stood out for me, not necessarily because they were winning routines, but because they made an impression on me in some way.
On the HTM day it was Thierry Thomas and Ubac’s (France) dramatic Zorro themed routine. WOW – lots of fast changes of pace, position and direction, all 10 positions used really well and with accuracy and what a superb musical interpretation. It was a breathtaking routine.
Karen Sykes with Iatka Spring Spangle (GB) was also fantastic. Their routine was very different from Thierry’s. It was an elegant slow pace performance with impeccable musical interpretation (Hernando’s Hideaway). If there was anything to fault this routine, it would be that we only saw the team work at slow pace. I would have loved to have seen different paces in the choreography, but the choice of music did not really allow for this.
Karen did give us a bit of a scare in the final, when Fly was very close to crossing the 2 metre line, but Karen took a step forward and the 3 judges agreed, that there was never more than the allowed 2 metres between dog and handler.
Daniela Siskova with Aurora Piranha Rainy Love (CZ) performed a wonderful routine to music from the musical Evita. I loved their ideas for this routine. They had a suitcase as a prop and set the scene of travelling with a few freestyle moves in the beginning of their performance. They then went in to heelwork and showed a variety of positions before a touching finish back on the suitcase grieving over the death of Eva Peron.
Christel van Boven (Belgium) with her beautiful German Shepherd Dog showed some lovely heelwork to the music ‘Oh Fortuna’ from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. I would have love to see a bit more variety and some change of pace – I think the music did ask for it, but the end of their routine was stunning and very dramatic. The dog was in a beg in front of Christel, who gently touched the dog’s shoulders with a sword before bending down in front of it as the music ended. I know it has been seen and done before, but it just worked so well with this music and it moved me.
Christel van Boven
The last HTM performance I want to mention is Lydia Bisonette from the USA with her Doberman. They performed a routine inspired by ballroom dancing. I just loved the idea behind this choreography. The music started with a speaker introducing couple number 6 on the dance floor. Then some dance music and Lydia with her beautiful Doberman Ginger Van’T Duinezicht did an imitation of ballroom dancing. A great part of the routine was performed with the dog walking backwards and it was very hard for it to keep up in the sudden turns, so the accuracy was not this performances’ strongest side, but I did feel very entertained and I think that is an important part of our sport – to be able to entertain the audience and the audience certainly loved this routine.
Helle Larssen with Doggie and Anja Christiansen with Queeny are both from Denmark and WOW they were great at the OEC, especially in the Individual Final. Both Helle’s ‘Wilkommen’ (Cabaret) and Anja’s ‘Avatar’ have high Show Quality and their musical interpretation is superb. Well done girls – you made me proud of being Danish!
In freestyle the routines that really WOW’ed me were:
The winning routine Thierry Thomas from France with Ubac. They performed to music from Gladiator and what a stunning routine that was! Complete with Gladiator fight, and injured Gladiator, the dog helping him and an emotional ending when the Gladiator and the dog made peace. The ring was full of props, but they were all used well. A very accurate presentation both in the first round and in the final, no hand cues and the routine was packed with content that all seemed relevant to the story and the musical interpretation. Wonderful. This team really was the winner. No doubt about it.
Jules O’Dwyer and Fjurdyhoeve Flynn from Belgium performed a fantastic routine to music from Oliver Twist. Lots of content and another very accurate presentation especially in the first round. I have never seen the “tripod” move used in a routine before, but this team did it beautifully. It is a move that has been discussed as some feel it is unsafe, but having seen it performed, I really can’t see why it should be worse for the dog than any other move. Matisse certainly did not look stressed or uncomfortable about it – in the final she did not want to go back down on four legs again after having performed it – she stayed in the position even after Jules had turned her back to her and was continuing the routine. Jules had to call her again, which did cost them a little deduction in accuracy, but proved to me, that the dog was very happy doing the tripod.
I have also always felt that it would be a hard move to get into a routine and get it to make sense according to the musical interpretation, but Jules managed just that. The move was there because it served a purpose and helped illustrate the hard life of poor Oliver Twist.
Well done Jules – a well deserved Silver Medal!
Catherine Myznikova with Yrzon from Russia performed a marvelous routine to Marilyn Monroe’s I Wanna Be Love By You. Who ever said Marilyn Monroe died was wrong! She just moved to Russia! The beautiful Golden Retriever Yrzon performed a brilliant routine with no help from hand/body cues, it had lots of distance work and lots of work behind the handler’s back. It seemed to make no difference to this dog what his handler did. Catherine could dance around and flirt with the audience, he would just go on with his work. Wonderful dog, wonderful routine, wonderful musical interpretation.
Elke Boxoen with Gismo (Belgium) had a small piano as prop, which Gismo played on whilst Elke was conducting. They performed a beautiful routine with lots of distance work and I loved that Elke looked so pleased with her dog – she never stopped smiling. True performers – both dog and handler. Great routine.
The 3 best Danish dog and handler teams of Sofie with Border Collie Quincy, Jette with Dachshund Addi and Sonja with Mix Breed Tyson finished in 10th, 11th and 12 place. Very good in this strong class! Well done girls!
Two dog and handler teams were competing at ‘live shows’ for the first time ever at the OEC. Nina Brockie from the Faroe Islands has been doing demonstrations, but there are no competitions on the Faroes, so the OEC was her debut performing in front of judges and WOW what a debut it was! Nina’s lovely sheltie Dido performed a brilliant routine to a piece of music composed by Nina’s husband Jens Marni. Dido coped so well with all the pressure of performing in a huge hall in front of a big audience. It was a lovely routine.
The second debutant, Ayala Naor with ‘Nardo’ from Israel coped well with the live audience too. They have competed at video competitions before, so putting a routine together was not altogether new to them. They danced to ‘Going Home Again’ in the freestyle class, but they had quite a lot of heelwork in their routine, so maybe we will see them in both divisions next year?
The Individual Winners were:
||Karen Sykes with Working Sheepdog Iatka Spring Spangle, Great Britain
||Thierry Thomas with Border Collie Ubac du Mas de la Rabeyrine, France
||Thierry Thomas with Border Collie Ubac du Mas de la Rabeyrine, France
||Jules O’Dwyer with Border Collie Fjurdhoeve Flynn, Belgium
||Anja Christiansen with Border Collie Fæhunden’s Queeny Las, Denmark
Catherine Myznikova with Golden RetrieverYrzon, Russia
The Team Winners were:
||Team Great Britain
Thank you to everyone, who travelled to Denmark for the OEC 2011. I am looking forward to seeing you all again next year for OEC 2012 in Prague, the Czech Republic!
Emmy Marie Simonsen