Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Benefits of Ballroom Dancing

Dancing isn’t just about the steps and music; it’s a perfect combination of physical activity, social interaction, and mental stimulation.
Dancing enhances your life in so many ways:

Health - When you dance, your cardiovascular system improves, your muscle tone increases, and you burn calories. This low-impact aerobic activity also increases flexibility, strength, and balance. Olympic athletes often dance as part of their training to sharpen their control, agility, and speed. Dancing is great exercise in a pleasant, fun atmosphere.

Confidence - Dancers possess an aura of self-confidence and an ability to enjoy themselves more in social situations. When you learn how to dance, your entire mental outlook will take on a fresh sense of creativity, motivation, and energy. This new self-confidence in your dancing abilities will transfer to other aspects of your life as well.

Self Expression - Dance provides an emotional outlet so that you can reflect your feelings through your body movements with passion and flair. Dancing will bring out, improve on, and strengthen your ability to permanently use these expressive qualities even when not dancing.

Social Life - Dancing lessons are an easy, low-pressure way to meet people. Fred Astaire Dance Studios provide weekly practice dance parties, nights out on the town, regional and national competitions, as well as fun trips to many different locations. Our lessons are the perfect place to rediscover romance – dancing your way to love!

Relaxtion - In today's fast-paced world, we sometimes forget to take a moment for ourselves. Dancing provides a temporary escape from your normal daily activities, a chance to relax, relieve stress, and concentrate on yourself.

Fun - Dancing is a great way to add excitement to your life. Although learning to dance takes concentration and dedication, you will be constantly surrounded by artistic, cheerful people who make learning a pleasurable and rewarding experience. So join us and have some fun!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fred Astaire Dance Studios on WGN News!

Fred Astaire Dance Studios will be featured throughout the WGN morning news Friday, July 27th between 7 and 9 AM at our National Competition, The Astaire Awards Championships, at the Westin North Shore! They will be celebrating our 60th anniversary as well as capturing demonstrations from the Fred Astaire dancers in the Chicagoland. There will be a special performance from our very own Jesse DeSoto and Jackie Josephs, Fred Astaire, United States and World Finalists!! Don't miss this opportunity to catch Fred Astaire Dance Studios in the news! Once again proving that Fred Astaire Dance Studios are the best in the city!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ballroom Dancing in the Media

BALLROOM fever is set to strike schools across Manchester as the latest TV dance contest shimmies into the city. Following in the twinkle-toed footsteps of other hit primetime shows such as Strictly Come Dancing, Baby Ballroom is the next show set to get the nation tangoing. This time the kids are the stars, with 28 under-12s battling it out to be crowned the junior Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Click here for the rest of the article.

ABOUT 500 people heated up the dance floor of the Hilton Kuala Lumpur grand ballroom as they showed off their salsa moves at the inaugural Salsa 101 party. The event started at 6pm with three salsa workshops: "Introduction to Guanguanco and Body Isolation Techniques" by G├╝pson Pierre of Attitude Dance Studio, Singapore, "Casino Rueda on Salsa Timba" by Pat Calzadilla of Ritmo Latino Studio, Kuala Lumpur, and "Newest Sexy Moves and Dips on Rumba Wena" by Malaysian Salsa Sam of Havana Estudio Kuala Lumpur. Click here to read more.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Blackpool 2007

By Armando Martin, former International & US Champion and the current Fred Astaire National Dance Director

Blackpool, England is not a very nice place to vacation, having been built in the 20s and 30s and having had very little done to it since. It is a place that takes us back into time in a way that does not remind us of history or great architecture or beauty of any kind.

The very best food you can find in the entire town is Pizza and Fish & Chips. Order anything else at a local restaurant and you may be taking your taste buds to places they have never gone before!

When I arrived there on Wednesday after a 14-year absence, absolutely nothing had changed. I stayed at the very famous Imperial Hotel, which at one time hosted the English Royals. My room was so small I had to open the window to create some ventilation and to avoid feeling claustrophobic. My view was of a 100-year old alley, which housed tons of doves taking cover from the rain and cold.

So, after leaving my window open once, I returned to my room to find the birds and some presents they left me on my bed, chair, floor, etc. I had left my bathroom door open but they decided not to use it. Nice, ha?

Than I decided, after getting all settled in the Hotel, to go to the Winter Gardens where all the dancing happens. Walking in, listening to the music and watching the couples throwing themselves across the floor creating great shapes and superb rhythmical actions with their feet, bodies, and souls, I remembered why we all go to Blackpool - to watch the best dancers in the world battle it out for the most coveted tittles in DanceSport, the British Open.

Being there also brought me back to my youth, when Laura and I were one of those couples, trying to make a name for ourselves on an International dancing stage. It reminded me of all the hard work and sacrifices that all these kids have to make to get there, with no guarantee of success, but only the hope that some of the judges recognize their talents and continue to put them into the next round, then the next, then the next. Laura and I were one of those lucky couples to have made it onto the Blackpool dance floor with only 5 other couples. That meant that we had made the final and that we had reached the top of the mountain in DanceSport. That feeling was worth all that we had sacrificed to get there.

This year's Blackpool was no exception, mostly disappointed couples and a very few happy ones returned home after nine days of dancing. The people that have to be the most disappointed is the US and the US Team Match team. In the Team Match event, the US sends their very best dancers (2 Latin couples and 2 Standard couples) to dance against 3 other teams; three judges judge the event and, on this particular night, the politics and ironies of judging DanceSport were very obvious. The US had on paper the very best team in the competition - 2 world finalists in Latin and the same in Standard. By far the strongest team in the Team Match competition, they managed to finish LAST! How did that happen? Well, that's Blackpool.

Our Fred Astaire couples were a little unlucky too. Eric Luna and Georgia Ambarian, with their sharp and strong dance styles, were only able to get a fourth place in the Cabaret, a style that is usually dominated by the US. In the Latin, we had Gabi and Vlady and Warren and Babette from Jupiter and Ilya and Nadia from Montville; all of these couples did not go as far as they should have, especially Ilya and Nadia who were in the Rising Star Latin Final last year. Tina and Plumen from the East Side NY studio went on to dance the 48 which they were very happy about.

The Amateur Latin featured a very strong field, and our TOP couple Eugene and Maria were disappointed to end up in 4th place since last year they were runners up in that category.

The Pro Latin was won by Brian and Carmen who retired that night to a very appreciative audience. Also making the finals in two dances were Max Kozhevnikov and Yulia Zagoruychenko from the US. This is a great achievement for a US couple; it has not been done in many years. Andre Gavriline and Elena Kryuchkova made the Semifinals in all the Latin dances - also a great feat for them and the US.

The Standard had a lot of good US couples. The eventual winners were Mirko Gozzoli and Alessia Betti from Italy. Jonathan Wilkie and Katusha Demidova from the US came in 2nd, which is by far the best that a US couple has done in that category. Also making the finals in 3 dances was Victor Fung and Anna Mikhed from the US. These couples are the epitome of class and great quality Standard dancing and everyone in the US should be very proud to be represented by them.

Over all it was a great week for the US and another exciting British Open Festival. I personally look forward to going back there again in 14 years.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Dancing Tips - Cuban Motion

By Stanley McCalla

Hello there! I hope everything is well with you & that you have made use of the exercises mentioned in the previous articles.

Today I want to talk to you about Cuban motion and how you can practice it.

Cuban motion is described as the lateral motion of the hips which occurs as a result of the flexing and straightening of the knees and never a conscious swing of the hips. You can use this technique in the Rumba, Bolero, Mambo, Cha Cha, Merengue, and Salsa, to name a few.

Stand with your back straight, your shoulders lined up over your hips, your center pulled toward your spine, feet together with toes turned out. You should feel that your weight is poised towards the balls of your feet.

Start by bending one knee at a time, and then straighten it. While doing this, you should control the movement through the center of your body. In order to feel your center, tighten your stomach muscles as well as your plexus muscle.

You should then feel the natural and lateral motion of your hips. If you don’t, then your posture is incorrect.

Once you feel the correct motion, try to use the same principle by taking a small step to the side with your L.F then slowly close your R.F to your L.F. All the while, remember the posture, the center and the bending and straightening of the knees one at a time.

Make sure that you confirm what you’re doing with your teacher.

Until next time, happy dancing,


Stanley Mc Calla
US Ten Dance Finalist
Fred Astaire National Smooth Champion
FADS National Dance Board Member Coach and Adjudicator
FADS Dance Board Examiner