Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dancing With The Stars, Week Two

By Lyall Bradshaw, Fred Astaire National Dance Board member

Paulina and Alec were the first couple to be voted off Dancing with the Stars, Season 4 which goes to show that the voting has nothing to do with dancing but who has the biggest fan base. Everyone seemed more relaxed and brought it up a notch from last week, scoring more points after drawing more praise from the judges.

Yet in the end, the pecking order barely changed, with Laila overtaking Joey to become leader after a lively mambo; with Paulina, Ian and Shandi again gliding through the middle of the pack; and with Billy Ray again lurking at the bottom.

First up on Monday were Apolo and Julianne dancing a nice Quickstep. Their performance was good. They maintained good body contact and a good dance frame throughout the routine although Apolo’s head position was a little off at times. They received a score of 26.

Shandi and Brian danced a well choreographed Mambo but the choreography seemed to be more suited to Brian than to Shandi. Her turns were a little uncertain and her hip action lacking.

Clyde and Elena danced a Quickstep next but his frame and posture were off most of the time. Clyde’s Quickstep was a kicky improvement over last week's Foxtrot, yet he seemed bothered in his arm extensions by rotator cuff problems from his hoop-playing days. Carrie Ann called him "a crowd pleaser," and Len flailed badly at a clever remark by saying "We shall overcome" to assess how Clyde handled his 15-inch height difference with partner Elena. But despite the judge’s pats on the head, they didn't follow through on their scores, and Clyde finished with just an 18, giving him a 34 total after last week's 16.

Leeza and Tony danced the Mambo and it was well choreographed to Leeza’s abilities. Even though Leeza is not the greatest dancer she was quite good. I loved Tony’s expression when Judge Len Goodman said, “I won’t get technical but you broke on the second beat which is much more difficult than going on that first beat.” I fully expected Tony to respectfully disagree but he was cool and calm although his expression said everything. They scored 21.

Note to Len: In a legitimate ballroom competition, competitors have no choice in Mambo but to “break” on the two beat. Dancing on the “one” beat is okay for Salsa (L.A. Salsa that is), but is off time in a Mambo competition, and being off time is the worst fault for a competitor. In a legitimate ballroom competition, the two couples that danced on the “one” beat during Monday evening’s competition would have been placed last and next to last.

Ian and Cheryl danced a Quickstep that had a few too many hops and skips and not enough Quickstep basics. There was no body contact and Ian had a weak left arm. They scored 22.

Paulina & Alec danced a Mambo. She was a little stiff and without hip action but most importantly they danced off time!! Bruno said she had natural grace and elegance and Carrie Anne said that her “hips were going.” I must watch that video again; I must have missed that measure. They received a score of 21.

Billy Ray & Karina were next with a Quickstep, a much better performance than last week’s Cha-cha although his head line, weak left arm and lack of body contact were obvious. It looked as if Karina seemed to be coaching him on the fly. The judges were ecstatic, with Bruno gushing that the "difference in a week is beyond belief." They gave him 21 for a two-week total of 34, making Billy Ray's 8-point leap bad news for Clyde's 2-point surge over last week.

Heather & Jonathan danced the Mambo and performed a better routine in my opinion than last week’s performance. She also seemed to be in the cheeky spirit of the sassy, sensual dance, prompting Len to say she'd "let loose" and Bruno to call her "red hot Heather." She had a little hip action that the other ladies lacked. She scored 24.

John & Edyta – danced the Quickstep with a performance better than last week’s and moving around the floor well. We won’t discuss his footwork though!! They received a score of 21.

Laila and Maksim danced the Mambo. This was a great performance but it was a shame that they danced off time. It is not wrong dancing on the “one” beat but it is just not right!!! In other words if you go to any good Latin club you will see the best dancers dancing on the “one” beat, or dancing on the “two” beat or even dancing on the “three” beat and as long as they stay on that beat for the whole dance it is totally correct. But as mentioned earlier, in a ballroom competition universally we dance on the “two” beat – no exceptions to that rule. They received the highest marks of the night, 27.

Joey & Kym danced the Quickstep, a light, bright & fast moving and strong performance except for some lapses of body contact and head positions. They received a score of 24.

Before Paulina and Alec were sent home the final scores with totals from the last two weeks were as follows:

10th - Clyde & Elena/Billy Ray & Karina - 34 points
9th - Leeza & Tony 36 points
8th - John & Edyta 38 points
7th - Shandi & Bryan 39 points
6th - Paulina & Alec 40 points
5th - Heather & Jonathan 42 points
4th - Ian & Cheryl 43 points
3rd - Apolo & Julianne 47 points
2nd - Joey & Kym 48 points
1st - Laila & Maksim 50 points

Monday, March 26, 2007

Dancing With The Stars - Fantasy Game

If you're a Dancing With The Stars fan, ABC has the game for you! ABC launched a Fantasy Dancing Game on March 19th. The winner will receive a trip for two to LA and private dance lessons with champion dancer Nick Kosovich from the show.

To participate in the game, log onto, register for "Fantasy Dancing," and each week you can select the couple that you believe will get the highest/lowest score. If you're right, the scores they receive will be added to your account; if you're wrong, you won't get any points. You can double your points on your picks and add additional points by guessing answers to random questions for that week.

Have fun and good luck!

Dancing Tips - Using Your Feet And Legs To Improve Your Posture

By Stanley McCalla, a former US amateur champion in Latin, Standard and 10 dances; 4 times US representative to World Championships; Fred Astaire National Dance Board Member and Adjudicator; Fred Astaire Dance Board Examiner; Fred Astaire Smooth Undefeated Champion. Stanley can be reached at or 845-304-9028.

In my last article, I suggested that you work on your posture. Today, I'd like to stress the importance of working on your legs and feet to complement your improved posture.

"Working on them" specifically means the placement of them on the floor and how you use them. In Latin and Rhythm dancing, it's important that you keep the toes of both feet slightly turned out. Your footwork should be ball-flat stepping forward; inside of ball of foot then the whole foot on your side steps; and ball-flat stepping backward.

In addition, you have to acquaint yourself with the different positions of the feet:
  • First position
  • Second position
  • Third position
  • Fourth position
  • Fifth position.
Except for fifth position, the other four positions are used constantly. For example, in a Rumba box, you start (man) with your L.F (lady on the opposite foot) to side in second position; R.F closes to L.F in first position; L.F forward in fourth position; and you start the same process with the R.F on the right side.

One important position that students seem to miss in the beginning is the one used in cross- overbreaks. Do you know what position that is? If you know it, good! Keep practicing it correctly. If you're not sure, ask your teacher so you can start working on it.

I will discuss this further in my next article, but now, here's the answer to last week's question:

What's the footwork in the quarter turn of Waltz (the first 2 bars of music)
Step one: heel-toe
Step two: toe
Step three: toe-heel
Step four: toe-heel-toe
Step five: toe
Step six: toe-heel.

Please note: It's important that you practice these steps correctly with the proper footwork in order to improve your balance as well as expressing the proper character of the dance.

Well that's it for now. Cheers and happy dancing!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Florida Freddy Ball 2007

By Luann Pulliam

It was fabulous weather and great dancing all weekend long at the recent Florida Freddy Ball 2007 held at the St. Augustine Golf Resort in St. Augustine, Florida. Each year the Fred Astaire Studios in Florida host this event to recognize their top performers in Business and Dance.

Thursday evening started us off with our Pro/Am competition and each studio battling for the most enthusiastic award. Energy was high and the room vibrated with cheers & applause! The competition continued through Friday evening when our Professionals took the floor to compete for the Regional Titles. Listed below are the results:

Novice Champion - Guillerimo Rubio & Erica Brown from Boca Raton
Mixed Novice Champions - Warren Brown & Karli Mair from Jupiter
Pre-Champ Champions - Chris Schultz & Diedre Williams from Ft. Walton Beach
American Smooth Champions & Open Smooth - Victor Luna & Dawn Westberry from Ft. Walton Beach
Closed Rhythm - Victor Luna & Dawn Westberry from Ft. Walton Beach
Open Latin Champions - Vladimir Velev & Gabriella Bodoc from Jupiter
Cabaret Champions - Eric Luna & Georgia Ambarian from Ft. Walton Beach

Saturday evening was one to brag about with the decor and the room setting the atmosphere for the prestigious Freddy Awards presentation and we all enjoyed the entertainment by a wonderful dance troop from New Jersey, the Chmerkovskiy's "Rising Stars" who were featured performers on Dancing with the Stars last season. May I add, the live performance was worth the trip!

The Florida Freddy is our way of pulling out the red carpet like the "Oscars" in Hollywood and this tradition dates back to the late 1940s when the first Florida award was presented. Today our instructors continue to strive to push the envelope - meeting and exceeding each category of these prestigious Freddy requirements. The following awards were given:

Most Hours Taught
Female—Gabriela Ocipova, Palm Coast
Male—Brian Oaks, Naples

Most Qualified Guest
Female—Kelle Chancellor, Tallahassee
Male—Darian Chancellor, Tallahassee

Most Enrollments
Female—Georgia Ambarian, Fort Walton Beach
Male—Brian Oaks, Naples

Competition Participation
Female—Dawn Westberry, Fort Walton Beach
Male—Brian Oaks, Naples

Freddy Recipients Females
1st—Dawn Westberry, Ft. Walton Beach (Gold)
2nd—Anastasiya Felis, Naples (Gold)
3rd—-Georgia Ambarian, Ft. Walton Beach (Gold)
4th—Gabriela Ocipova, Palm Coast (Silver)
5th—Kyoung Housel, Lake Park (Silver)
6th—Frankie Seifert, St. Petersburg (Silver)
7th—Tiffany Chancellor, Tallahassee (Silver)
8th—Andrea Bergbauer, Palm Coast (Silver)
9th—Kelle Chancellor, Tallahassee (Silver)

Freddy Recipients Males
1st—Brian Oaks, Naples (Gold)
2nd—Stefan Dobrev, St. Pete (Gold)
3rd—Victor Luna, Ft. Walton (Gold)
4th—David Flory, Ft. Myers (Gold)
5th—AJ Molter, Boca Raton (Silver)
6th—Walker Medlock, Panama City (Silver)
7th—Jim Carter, Palm Coast (Silver)
8th— Rob Rocha, St. Pete (Silver)

Executive Freddy
1st—Joe Trovato, Ft. Walton Beach (Gold)
2nd—Lynn Kawamoto, St. Pete (Gold)
3rd—Andrea McCain, Ft. Myers (Gold)
4th—Jeff Hajko & Brian Oakes, Naples (Silver)
5th—Michael Dill, Tallahassee (Silver)
6th—Belin Perry, Panama City (Silver)
7th—Enrique Curi, Sarasota (Silver)

W. L. Miller Freddy Award for the Top overall Instructor in the state of Florida:
Female: Ms. Dawn Westberry, Ft. Walton Beach
Male: Brian Oakes, Naples

W. L. Miller Freddy Award for the Top Studio
Ft. Walton Beach

Congratulations to all of our award recipients and thank you to each and every student, teacher, manager, and professional that helped make this year so successful! §

What do Judges Look for in a Ballroom Competition?

By Lyall Bradshaw

Many times I hear the question “What factors do judges weigh in assessing a couple's performance?

We use the “Impression Judging“ system. The criteria that a judge might choose to consider are actually too numerous to examine individually in the brief time allotted, (1½ to 2 minutes), since at least six couples are being judged simultaneously. Therefore, the judge must rely on the impression each couple makes relative to the others. The experienced judge, having seen and studied dancing at all levels, can quickly assess these factors collectively.

The following points are considered in making a decision:

POSTURE - One of the most important aspects. Good posture makes you look elegant and exude confidence. It improves balance and control, and allows your partner to connect well to your body in the smooth dances. One's competition result is often directly proportional to one's postural correctness.

POISE - In smooth dancing, the stretch of the woman's body upwards and outwards and leftwards into the man's right arm to achieve balance and connection with his frame, as well as to project outward to the audience.

TIMING and BASIC RHYTHM - If a couple is not dancing on time with the music, no amount of proficiency in any other aspect can overcome this. The music is boss.

MOVEMENTS - If the couple executed and coordinated the movements of the Feet, Legs, Body and Arms based on the Characteristic Style of the Dance in question.

LINES - Attractive and well-executed lines, either curved or straight, enhance the shapes of the figures. The Adjudicator considers the Line of Arms, Back Line, Shoulder Line, Hip Line, Line of Legs and the Line of the Neck and Head in each dance.

FEET - If the couple displayed correct use of the Feet. The Adjudicator considers the Control of Foot Movements, Correct Positioning of the Feet and the Technical Soundness of Footwork in each dance.

INTERPRETATION - If the couple displayed "artistic" merit. The Adjudicator considers the Stylishness, Ease of Performance, Individuality, and Rhythmic Expression to the Music in each dance.

HOLD - The correct and unaffected positioning of the body parts when in closed dancing position. For instance, the line of the man's arms should be unbroken from elbow to elbow. Also, there should be symmetry of the man's and woman's arms coming together to form a circle, which, although changing in size, should remain constant in shape so that the dancers remain in correct body position relative to each other. The silhouette of the couple should always be pleasing.

TOGETHERNESS - The melding of two people's body weights into one, so that leading and following appear effortless, and the dancers are totally in synchronization with each other.

MUSICALITY AND EXPRESSION - The basic characterization of the dance to the particular music being played and the choreographic adherence to musical phrasings and accents; also the use of light and shade to create interest value in response to these accents and phrases. For instance, in foxtrot, the stealing of time from one step to allow another to hover; or a quick speed of turn in an otherwise slow rumba; or the snap of a head to suddenly freeze and then melt into slowness in tango.

PRESENTATION - Does the couple sell their dancing to the audience? Do they dance outwardly, with enthusiasm, exuding their joy of dancing and confidence in their performance? Or do they show strain and introversion?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Waltz Your Way To Health

Everyone knows that dancing is good for your health. But how beneficial is it really? Studies now show that for cardiac rehabilitation patients, dancing is a great way to exercise their damaged hearts without having to go to a gym.
In a recent study of 110 heart failure patients, waltzing has proven to be just as effective as riding a stationary bike or exercising on a treadmill.

Read this interesting article for more information.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dancing With The Stars, Week One

By Lyall Bradshaw, Fred Astaire National Dance Board member

Dancing with the Stars Season 4 premiered last night on ABC with 11 celebrities & their professional partners competing. It was an interesting evening with some good dancing, some “almost good” dancing & some not so good dancing.

A few things seemed to have changed this season – the routines seem to be shorter although it could be my imagination and for the first time since this show started the Judges are judging more sensibly this time around. In previous seasons the judges have given perfect scores to dancers first up in the show leaving nowhere to go for the dancers that follow. Now they seem to have gone in the other direction with the majority of scores being 4, 5, or 6 with the highest score being 8 from each of the judges for one couple. No doubt they have had some instruction or discussion about their previous scoring from the powers above.

The celebrities are from a wide range of professions, including an NBA Superstar, World champion Boxer, Supermodel, Actor & Singer, NSYNC Star, Miss USA, Olympic speed skating Gold Medalist, TV & Broadway Star, Charity Activist & News Journalist.

After a great group number danced by all of the professionals, first up were Ian Ziering & Cheryl Burke. Ziering is a TV & Broadway Star. Their cha-cha was danced well and achieved a score of 19 out of 30.

Paulina Porizkova & Alec Mazo were next. Porizkova was once the highest paid supermodel in the world of fashion. They danced a Foxtrot that was a nice routine but lacked body contact while in closed position. Alec is a good dancer but more so in Latin. His rise & fall was too abrupt & way, way too high which also affected her rise & fall. They achieved a score of 19 out of 30.

Up next were Billy Ray Cyrus & partner Karina Smirnoff. This was a poorly choreographed routine with very little Cha-Cha and lots of whatever and achieved a score of 13 out of 30.

Leeza Gibbons, talk show host, with our very own Tony Dovolani as partner were next. Leeza is a nice dancer although her posture was a little off and her head position was strained. Their score was 15 out of 30.

Joey Fatone of NSYNC fame, with partner Kym Johnson were next dancing a high energy Cha-cha and in my opinion was probably the best out of the male contestants. He had great animation and expression and received the highest score of the night with 24 points out of 30.

Boxing World Champion Laila Ali and partner Maksim Chmerkovsky danced a really nice foxtrot and could, in the future be a challenge for the other couples. They were awarded a score of 23 out of 30.

Next up were Actor, Author John Ratzenberger and partner Edyta Sliwinska. John was a last minute addition to the cast and only had two weeks to prepare for this night and for that reason I think he danced well. They scored 17 out of 30.

Miss USA Shandi Finnessey and Brian Fortuna danced a nice foxtrot. Len Goodman, the International Judge, said that it was a little aggressive and should have “more expression and less aggression” but I felt the opposite. The choreography matched the music and that is the nature of American style dancing. What Len calls aggression I call expression. I still don’t think that any of the judges have a full understanding of what American style dancing represents. They received a score of 19 out of 30.

Clyde Drexler, NBA Superstar & partner Elena Grinenko followed with a smooth Cha-cha and received a score of 16 out of 30.

Heather Mills & Johnathan Roberts danced a Foxtrot and I give her credit because of her handicap but her steps were a little small and her balance was off at times, They were awarded a score of 18 out of 30.

Two time Olympic Gold medalist speed Skater Apolo Anton Ohno and Julianne Hough next danced a Cha-cha. His posture was a little off and had some technical errors but considering the time spent on learning this routine I think that they danced well. A score of 21 out of 30 was awarded, the second highest score of the night.

The field is still wide open but next week should be interesting with Mambo & Quickstep.

Check our blog next week for Lyall's article on week 2!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Fred Astaire Chicago North Celebrates First Year Anniversary!

By Elle Cardona
Fred Astaire Chicago North, operated by Jesse DeSoto and Jackie Josephs, has just completed its first year and is heading full force into 2007. Their first Fred Astaire event of this year is their annual regional competition, DanceSport Classic, being held on March 18th. Their staff, including Aaron DeSoto, Jackson Burrus, Chris Germain, Rouslan Maksyutov, Ned Pucci, Simona Polmova, Jaana Lellemagi, Brittney Bartler, Jacque Lebbin, and Elle Cardona, have really come together as a team and enrolled over 40 students totaling almost 800 entries!

All of the students participating are enrolled on the Bronze Program! The majority of competitors have been at the studio for less than a year and are so consumed by their new hobby that they have chosen to enjoy the day and participate in the competition portion as well.

This brand new studio is experiencing one of the most thrilling moments in its history! Lessons start each day at 11:00 a.m. and go way into the late hours of the night where there are dancers zooming by and twirling across the floor. You can’t help but smile as you watch these students accomplish their goals and live out their dreams.

The Chicago region is anticipating one of the most exciting competitions of the year. Along with the amazing representation from the Chicago North Studio and the other 4 studios, they will also be housing a spectacular show. They are thrilled to announce that Maxim Kozhevnikov and Yulia Zagoryuchenko, the World-renowned Latin and Showdance Champions, are joining them on March 18th and bringing an unforgettable memory with their performance! They are certain that this day will catapult their young school into an outstanding competitive season, including such great events as CCDC in Las Vegas and, of course, AAC, held in the beautiful city of Chicago. They can’t wait to have their Fred Astaire family from around the nation join them in their hometown in July, and share the excitement that they are already experiencing.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Fred Astaire Champion, Tony Dovolani, Returns To Dancing With The Stars!

The new season of Dancing With The Stars will begin on Monday, March 19th for a two hour premiere (8:00-10:00PM, EST). We're proud to announce that Fred Astaire champion, Tony Dovolani, is returning for his third season. Tony is partnered with TV celebrity Leeza Gibbons this season. Ms. Gibbons is best known for hosting Entertainment Tonight, Extra, and her own talk show, Leeza. She recently founded a non-profit organization to educate and empower caregivers of loved ones affected by memory disorders. Good luck to both Tony and Leeza! We'll be rooting for you!

South Windsor, CT Studio Sponsors "Boundless" Playground

On February 9th, the Fred Astaire Studio in South Windsor, CT opened its door to the community for a sponsorship event to support a "boundless playground" being built by My Friend's Place. The "boundless" playground, due to be ready by June 2007, is currently under construction in Nevers Rd. Park. It will be a place where children and adults of all abilities can come together and experience the wonder of play in a safe, barrier-free environment.

The My Friend's Place gala was an exciting evening with refreshments, music, and dance demonstrations as the many aspects of the playground and equipment available for sponsorship was unveiled. For more information on how you can help, please contact the South Windsor studio.

Couple With Down's Syndrome Shines On The Dance Floor

The dance floor is a great equalizer! Blake Peacock and Carly Ziesemer, students at the Fred Astaire Studio in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, have Down's Syndrome but that doesn't stop them from dancing! They're like any other couple in the studio, learning the waltz, push pole, and fox trot so far.

"I know that Blake and Carly have grown up in a world where a lot of time they get kind of negative feedback from their surroundings and people tell them that they can't do something and that they shouldn't be able to do something and not even to try but these guys have over and over and over again in their lives decided that they wanted to do something and gone out and succeeded in it," said Elle Cardana, their instructor.

Read more about this wonderful couple.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Dancing With The Stars Road Tour

To celebrate the return of Dancing With The Stars, a busload of professional dancers and a live party band will be hitting the road for a two-week cross-country tour beginning Monday, March 5. The show begins in New York City and will end at ABC's “Dancing with the Stars” studio on March 19 for the season premiere. The troupe will stage dance parties, offer free dance lessons and host a seven-city Road Trip Dance Contest*, which will give fans of the show an opportunity to show off their moves for a chance to win a trip for two to Los Angeles and tickets to see a live episode of “Dancing with the Stars!” Auditions (open to the public) will be held in each Road Trip city, and then, similarly to the show’s format, select dance contest participants will be paired up with the Road Trip’s professional dancers, taught a short dance routine and then perform for a panel of judges. The judges, who will include notable dance personalities and local celebrities, will select a winner in each city and the winner’s dance video will be posted on, where viewers can vote for their favorite participant to win the grand prize trip to Los Angeles.

All of the Road Trip’s adventures will be captured on, which will feature fun photos, videos and dancer diaries, along with general information and the Road Trip schedule.

“Dancing with the Stars Road Trip” Dance Contest Schedule (subject to change)

New York: Monday, March 5
Location: Madison Square Garden (Seventh Ave & 33rd Street) 4:30PM - 7:30PM

Philadelphia: Tuesday, March 6
Location: Shops at Liberty Place (1625 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia PA, 19103) 11:30AM - 2:00PM

Washington, DC: Wednesday, March 7
Location: Union Station (40 Massachusetts Ave N.E., Washington D.C. 20002) 11:30AM - 2:00PM

Atlanta: Friday, March 9
Location: Lenox Square Mall (3393 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30326) 11:30AM - 2:00PM

Dallas: Tuesday, March 13
Location: Southbriar Centre (2601 Preston Road, Frisco, Texas75034) 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Phoenix: Saturday, March 17
Location: Irish Faire (Hance Park, west side of Central Ave. at Culver St., Phoenix, AZ) 12:30PM - 3:30PM

Los Angeles: Monday, March 19
Location: Town Square at The Grove (189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90036) 12:00PM - 3:00PM

*No Purchase Necessary. Contest ends March 26, 2007. Open to legal residents of the U.S. and D.C., 18 years of age or older. Void where prohibited by law. Go to for complete rules, beginning on March 5, 2007.

WDC World Pro-Am Championships, Feedback From A Competitor

Letter from Pro-Am competitor Melissa Rodgriguez (as posted on newsflash)

Having just returned from the WDC World Pro-Am Championships in Argentina, I wanted to share my experience with other dancers.

This competition was truly a "world" event. There were dancers from 14 countries; I was personally beat by a beautiful Italian couple, and a sexy couple representing Argentina.

I have been competing in Pro-Am comps for many years now and have never had an experience even close to this one. Where else could I have danced side by side with dancers from other countries? I made friends from Serbia, the Philippines, Argentina and South Africa.

This event was not just great for the competitors; it was a great event for all nations and the dancing of the future. Some countries were very new to pro-am dancing and were encouraged by the level of dance they saw. Delegates from South Africa had so many questions about how we do things in the USA. Argentinean dancers were particularly thrilled to have ballroom dancers in their country and took great advantage of having professional dancers on their soil. I heard of many coaching sessions being set up with the adjudicators and professionals that were there in the days following the competition.

Being an American Style dancer, I was surprised and pleased to find that the American Style is gaining worldwide popularity, as is pro-am competition.

As the amateur half of a pro-am couple, this weekend was one that made ME feel like the star. I was able to compete on a World Stage, surrounded by World Athletes, cheered on like I was a soccer star, not just a pro-am competitor. I have never had more fun at a competition nor have I ever danced any better.

Thank you to Donnie Burns from the World Dance Council and Andrew and Anna Smart from World Promotions for recognizing Pro-Am dancers and giving us such a great venue to perform at and such an unforgettable experience.

Also, thank you to our host country, Argentina. Not only does Argentina have an amazing culture with Argentine Tango but also the appreciation for all forms of dance is evident throughout the city. The people are passionate about dance and did not hold back to show their appreciation for ballroom dancing.

I will never forget how it felt to follow the flag of the United States of America into a packed arena to the cheers of "USA, USA", nor how it felt to wear a medal around my neck, not representing my studio or my state, but representing my country. I will wear my Bronze Medals with pride and treasure them always.

Melissa Rodriguez, USA

2007 WDC World Pro-Am Championships

Letter from Wendy Johnson, USA Judge (as posted on newsflash)

I was lucky to be asked to go to Argentina to judge the WDC World Pro Am Championships. I was doubly excited as I had never been to Buenos Aires and never judged a World Championship.

The competition was run in an excellent fashion making the couples and judges feel very special. They welcomed the competitors with a flag ceremony , had the Ambassadors, of Russia, China, Ukraine, Japan and Hungary in attendance and couples from Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Hong Kong, Japan, Italy and of course America.

H>Stern, famous jewelers sponsored with jewelry for the winners, a leading shoe company specially made shoes for the winners in their choice of style color leather etc...along with prize money.

I realize their is a lot of political turmoil with regard to this event but I must say I have never seen a better audience, television and press media than was there and surely a well run event with this kind of media coverage broadcasts our dancing to the world. We need this sort of high profile attention to become as famous as the sports are in the U.S.A. Argentina is indeed a dance country with many tango dance companies, some sponsored by the government, dance shows and tango halls on a scale we do not have here in the U.S.A. They are anxious to learn more about American style, having a knowledge of the International styles. We should embrace the world with our Pro Am dancing and not keep it just for us!!! Although I am not an American by birth I have always been a fan and promoter of Pro Am and am very happy to see so many countries interested and participating.

Buenos Aires is truly a beautiful old city with boulevards lined with trees, grand old buildings, great shopping and a wonderful spirit...the people were friendly and an enthusiastic audience not only for their own couples but they picked out the couples they liked and supported them.
Their was an invitational competition in which Slavik and Elena, Paul and Olga, Michael and Christina, Andre and Valery....were just some of the fabulous professional couples who enthralled the audience and I am sure they were delighted to dance for such applause.

The event was televised by Japanese television, news stations and a movie director filmed it to make a documentary movie.

It was all good and I had a fabulous time!!!!!!
Wendy Johnson

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tallahassee's Spring Showcase!

Amateur and professional dancers from the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Tallahassee present solo and group theatrical performances set to contemporary country and western music on March 31st at 7:00PM at the Leon High School Auditorium in Tallahassee. Tickets are $10 each. For more information, please call (850) 681-8884.

Norwood Studio Trains So You Think You Can Dance Hopeful

By Karen Green
It may be called a “reality” show, but hundreds of dancers can only dream about actually making it through the auditions for “So You Think You Can Dance.” One talented local dancer is on her way, however, to making her dream of becoming a professional dancer a reality.

Pamela Yiota Kariotis, 19, from Dedham, Massachusetts auditioned recently for the Greece version of America’s “So You Think You Can Dance.” The show is a dance reality show and competition. Recently the show's rights were sold to foreign broadcaster Mega Channel in Greece which will air its own version of the show. Auditions have been held around the world including here in New York, Austrailia, Germany, and Cyprus. The auditions in the countries outside of Greece are aimed at Greeks living abroad. As one of only 100 dancers that will be chosen throughout the world, Kariotis is on her way to Greece on February 11th. “I plan to go to Greece and represent my American hometown as well as my American-Greek heritage,” says Kariotis. She will try to earn a spot in the Top 20.

Similar to the smash hit, American Idol which features singers, in “So You Think You Can Dance” a mixture of contestants are chosen for the show, ranging from unknown street dancers to winners of national championships. All contestants work their way through a rigorous audition process, and then over the course of the show they are assigned different dance styles and partners each week, to test their versatility.

Kariotis, sophomore at Emmanuel College majoring in English Communications, has a background in Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Modern, Hip Hop and Ballroom. But, as she explains, “right now I’m trying to take crash courses in all kinds of dance, specifically ballroom in order to be well-prepared for whatever the competition brings.” This has led her to Elizabeth Anderson, owner of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Norwood. Elizabeth took an immediate liking to Kariotis and is excited about helping her prepare for the competition. “I’ve already given her a couple of free lessons,” says Anderson. “We hope to be able to help her in any way we can.”

Grateful for the lessons at the Norwood Fred Astaire, Kariotis admits that “Dancing lessons, travel and other expenses really add up. It would be great for me to find a sponsor to help with the lessons costs. Any offers would be greatly appreciated as I embark on this once-in-a-lifetime journey to pursue my dream of becoming a professional dancer.”

Anyone wishing to support and cheer for Kariotis as she prepares for this world-wide competition should call the Norwood Fred Astaire Studio at 1-781-769-4246 to find out when she is training.

Fred Astaire Dance Studio Fundraiser

On March 31st, Fred Astaire Dance Studio dancers throughout New England are putting on a night of professional dance performances as a fundraiser for 12 year-old Cameron Twitty who suffers from XLP, a rare genetic disorder. Cameron is preparing for a bone marrow transplant at the Children's Hospital in Cincinatti, OH. This fundraiser will help Cameron's family offset the expense of living for months out of state while his immune system regenerates.
This special night of dancing will be helf at the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, CT, beginning at 8 PM. At 7 PM, there will be a reception and a chance to buy bracelets that say: "Cameron believes in miracles." Tickets are $40 and checks should be written to the Cameron Twitty XLP fund. Please contact the Hampden Fred Astaire Dance Studio at (203) 288-5252 for more information.

Variety Charity and Fred Astaire Partner in Las Vegas

Fred Astaire Dance Studios made the 2006 holiday season a very special one for the intellectually and physically disabled children of the John F. Miller School in Las Vegas by donating funds from its Mix and Match to Variety – The Children's Charity of Southern Nevada, who used the money to contribute mobility equipment to the school. Fred Astaire's funding provided specially designed tricycles and mobile adaptive tables that now make life easier and more active for the 120 wheelchair bound students who attend the school.

Variety's mobility program aims to help even more children throughout the country experience the freedom of truly being on the go through the support of money raised at Fred Astaire Mix and Match competitions. Variety hopes that, in addition to the Mix and Match donations, the recent launch of gold top hat lapel pins in local Fred Astaire studios brings in even more funds to provide handicapped children mobility equipment like wheelchairs, walkers, specially designed adaptive bikes and van lifts.

Variety -The Children's Charity of Southern Nevada thanks all the teachers and students of Fred Astaire Dance Studios for helping improve the quality of life for children with special needs in Clark County.

Spotlight On...Fabian Sanchez

What started out as just a fun summer job has turned into a remarkable career for Fabian Sanchez.

It all started when Fred Astaire Area Developer Al King walked into a Ryan’s Steakhouse in Birmingham where Fabian was working.

“I’m with my wife and young children—however many years ago it was,” King fondly recalls, “While trying to keep my eye on my son, I ordered a diet coke. From behind the counter, this guy with a great voice says, while posing like a matador, ‘Here’s your diet coke, sir.’ I told him, ‘Kid, I’m going to change your life.’ Then he tells me his name is Fabian. What are the chances that a matador named Fabian would be working in a Ryan’s Steakhouse?”

Quickly warming to Fabian’s lively and dynamic personality, King asked him to apply to the Fred Astaire training program. Although Fabian had wanted to go to college with hopes of eventually turning pro in soccer, he agreed to work at Fred Astaire, thinking it would be a temporary job.

“Well, that summer turned into fifteen years,” Fabian laughs, “And I’m still here!”
The chance meeting at Ryan’s was the start of Fabian’s career. He is now the owner of the Birmingham studio along with his wife, Jacqueline. He is also a professional coach, choreographer, and National Dance Board member.

“I don’t know what I’d be doing if it weren’t for King,” Fabian explains, “I grew up in Colombia so, for me, King initiated the American dream.”

Fabian also credits Jacqueline for his success in owning a studio. “Everyone should marry a smart, beautiful woman like I did,” he says. “My wife keeps everything together. She is the backbone of the studio.”

Throughout the years, Fabian became a seasoned competitor, achieving such accomplishments as US Rising Star Champion, four time Fred Astaire National Champion, US Open American Rhythm Finalist, and 3rd in the World Mambo Championship.

Retiring from competitions to dedicate his time to his family and studio, Fabian made a remarkable comeback at last year’s USDSC where he reunited with his former dance partner, Christina Penatello, to win the US Mambo Championship. The odds were not in their favor since they hadn’t danced together for years, were slightly out of shape, didn’t have glamorous costumes, and had only rehearsed together for 5 hours. “We had nothing to lose!” Almost skipping out on the dance floor in their excitement to be dancing together again, Fabian and Christina swept the competition away!

“That competition brought back such great memories! The music playing was music I’ve heard all my life. My wife, my son, and my parents were there. All my friends were watching. It was the most magical moment of my career.”

Fabian values the family atmosphere of the Fred Astaire organization. “I’ve met a lot of friends in my region as well as the Ft. Walton studio. They’ve all been a wonderful support to me. I like knowing that if I have a problem, I can pick up the phone and people are willing to help me.”
His main loves besides dancing are singing and soccer. He periodically sings at parties and at last year’s Dancing With Desire benefit in Florida, Fabian closed the show with a lovely rendition of “Cali Pachanguero.”

Even though he gave it up for dancing, soccer is still his “religion.” Fabian was the first from Alabama to make it to the US National Pool. And his athletic training has been useful in his dancing. “In the beginning,” Fabian says, “I wasn’t the most artistic dancer but I danced hard with all my heart. Soccer gave me that competitive spirit of never giving up and giving 150% of myself always.”

Everything Fabian does, he does with passion and enthusiasm! “I am very proud of Fabian, the dancer and the man he has become,” Al King says, “Just goes to show ya...there are stars all over just waiting to shine.”

Dancing Tips

By Stanley McCalla
When I was asked if I would be interested in writing a few ballroom tips for students of the Fred Astaire Family via the online newsletter, I jumped at the occasion.
Some of you may know me as I have visited your studios and had the opportunity to coach you. Some of you don’t know me yet and I’m pleased to be importing some of my knowledge to you through this medium.
Today I want to speak about the importance of body posture; whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, advance, learning rhythm Smooth Latin, Standard or Theater Arts. Good body carriage will enhance your balance and or body rhythm. You will experience faster improvement and will be pleasantly viewed by your peers and any audience.
To me posture translates to vertical alignment of the spine from the pelvis to the head. There should be a feeling of straight line from the pelvis to the top of the skull. To achieve that, one must tone the muscles of the stomach in order to hold the pelvis under the body. The shoulders should be lined up with the rib cage and the hips. The tail bone should be pointed directly to the floor between the feet. Please note the hip joints should remain relaxed. If they are tensed, there’s stiffness and if there’s rigidity, one cannot dance.
Before getting a lesson or practice, you should take a few minutes by yourself and put into practice the body alignment mentioned above. It’s probably a good idea to also talk to your teacher about it should you have any questions.
I’m going to leave you with this ballroom question.
What is the foot - work in the waltz for the man and the woman in a basic ¼ turn over the first 2 bars of music?
I will give you my answer in the next on line newsletter.
Happy dancing.

Stanley Mc Calla is a Fred Astaire National Dance Board member, National Adjudicator, Fred Astaire undefeated National Smooth champion, Former USA National Amateur Latin, Standard and 10 Dance Champion, 4 Times USA representative to World Championships, 7 years principal dancer of American Ballrom Theater co (directed by Pierre Dulaine)
P: 845-304-9028

Cast Changes On Dancing With The Stars!

Even before the show begins, there's excitement on the set!

After one week of training, Vincent Pastore, tough-guy on "The Sopranos," has withdrawn from "Dancing With The Stars." Said Vincent: "When I initially committed to joining 'Dancing with the Stars,' I didn't realize just how physically demanding it would be for me. Unable to put forth my best effort, I felt it appropriate to step aside and give someone else the opportunity."

Taking his place is John Ratzenberger, who played the friendly mailman "Cliff Clavin" on the hit show "Cheers." Ratzenberger will partner with Edyta Sliwinska who danced with Joey Lawrence last season.