Friday, January 12, 2007

Dancing Is My Passion!

By Judith Chandler

When I lived in Los Angeles, I took many group classes from various instructors at several studios to learn Argentine Tango. I even traveled to the tango capital, Buenos Aires, where I took group classes from talented, native Argentine teachers. This resulted in moderate success over a two-year timeframe, accompanied by much frustration and a long learning curve, as I strived to learn the intricate steps of the Argentine Tango.

After moving to Florida, I discovered the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Sarasota, Florida. It has changed my life significantly... Ballroom dancing is now my passion!

The Sarasota Fred Astaire Dance Studio is the second oldest Fred Astaire Dance Studio in the United States. This Studio has magnificent energy. The instructors are always friendly and enthusiastic. The Studio is a fun and happy place. The men are gentlemen, escorting the ladies to their seats. They are quoted as saying, “This is the happiest place in town.”

After beginning private lessons at this studio, it has made a major difference in my dancing ability. I started out slowly about one year ago with weekly dance lessons, a few practice parties and the occasional group lesson. I soon discovered that I prefer private lessons to group lessons. Private lessons have helped me to become a much better dancer in a shorter time.

Enrique Curi, my dance instructor, advised me that it is very important to work towards a goal, such as a showcase or a competition, because it would improve my dance skills more quickly. This proved to be true. I signed up for the studio’s showcase at the Asolo Theatre in Sarasota in October 2006. Then I took the next step by signing up for the Fred Astaire National Dance Competition (NDC) in Orlando, Florida. My skills improved tremendously once I was committed to participate in both the showcase and a national dance competition.

Each event was a challenge. The showcase experience definitely required me to step out of my comfort zone and stretch in my capabilities. This was my first showcase and my first time performing on stage. This was my first national competition, and I quickly needed to become competent in several Smooth and Latin dances. Even learning Cuban motion was a challenge.

Doing my best in the showcase and at the competition was my goal. I was determined that I was not going to go on stage or participate in a national competition and look ridiculous. I met these challenges by taking lessons twice a week at first, then three and four times a week. My routine now has evolved to dancing every day.

Bruno Collins masterfully choreographed our showcase routine. Preparing for the showcase required a lot of practice because at that time I was still a newcomer, being very new to ballroom and Latin dance techniques, having completed the Social Foundation program and just starting the Beginner Bronze program.

While preparing for these events, I benefited from some marvelous instruction and coaching. We have been privileged and very honored in our local studio in Sarasota to benefit from coaching by international and national dance celebrities, such as Bruno Collins, Tony Dovolani, Luann Pulliam, Marina Tarsinov, and Talia Tarsinov.

I am so happy and grateful to be able to learn to dance at a first class dance studio following the Fred Astaire curriculum with my excellent teacher, Enrique. Dancing with expert instructors, including Enrique, Ben Castellano, Ronald Guillen, Diana Velonskis and Albert Rombold, at our studio has helped me to develop my skills and self-confidence, not only on the dance floor, but also, in life in general.

As a result, I am significantly more confident in my dancing skill. Yes, I realize I still have much to learn in the Bronze program, but many people are very encouraging as they acknowledge my improved dance skills. People said, “You’ve changed.” or “You’ve lost weight.” and “You’re looking great on the dance floor.”

Dancing with a talented dance partner is a wonderful experience; much better than dancing in group lessons with several dance partners who have assorted skills.

Dancing definitely is a very big part of my daily life. Ballroom dancing is in my soul. It is magnificent fun living my passion. That’s why I say, “I love dancing at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio... Dancing is my passion!”

Judith Chandler lives in Sarasota, Florida, is an amateur ballroom dancer, consultant and free-lance writer. She may be contacted at or 941-955-0604.


chris said...

Mr. Astaire was the best!

Anonymous said...

Judith - Great article! I, too, danced in my first competition in Orlando, October, 2006! I remember seeing you dance! What an incredible experience it was! I share your passion for ballroom dance - it has made a profound difference in my life. Beginning to dance for the first time EVER at age 53, has been an amazing challange and a most rewarding one! I've been dancing now for a year with dance instructor Andrei Abrashin (and Tommy Radon) from the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Buffalo, NY. I, too, have enjoyed added coaching from Marina and Taliad. Best of luck to you and I hope to meet you at an upcoming Fred Astaire Dance Competition! Dawn Santillo said...

Amanda~ I love to dance, it is my passion in life but, ive been through some things and when i was younger i used to dance it was like i felt alive. I can't expain it but im sure everyone who loves to dance like i do know exactly what iam talking about. i still dance around in my room and stuff like that but i miss it sooo much! When i see all these dance shows on T.V. I sat to my self " i can do those moves" i know this may sound fasiscious but I KNOW i can dance. right now I'm in a bit of a hard time but i really want to get back into dance before its too late im 23 years old and i would be the happiest person in the world to be able to dance again. its been about 8 years since the last timei danced professionally, do you think i could still have a chance in this? this is the one thing in my life that i am confident. please write back to let me know what you think. HONESTLY! thank you,with all respect.