Friday, November 30, 2007

‘Funny Face’ celebrates 50th anniversary

Just in time for the holidays, Paramount Home Video has released a special 50th anniversary edition of “Funny Face” on DVD.

The Special Features section includes:
* "The Fashion Designer and His Muse." a documentary about Audrey Hepburn and her professional collaboration with Hubert Givenchy* "Parisian Dreams"* "Paramount In The ‘50s: Retrospective" (already used in previous DVDs)* Photo Gallery* Trailers

“Funny Face” is a musical released in 1957 with assorted songs by George and Ira Gershwin. The film was written by Leonard Gershe and directed by Stanley Donen. It stars Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, and Kay Thompson.

The plot for the film version is quite different from that of the Broadway musical, and only four of the songs remain. Astaire also starred in the stage version alongside his sister, Adele Astaire.

Fred Astaire was 30 years older than Hepburn when the film was made. At 58, he was approaching the end of his musical film career, in this, the second in a consecutive series of three French-themed musicals he made in the 1950s. He performs a song and dance solo with umbrella and cape to Gershwin's "Let's Kiss and Make Up." According to Hepburn, she insisted on Astaire as a precondition for her participation.

Pick up a copy of the “Funny Face” 50th anniversary DVD for your favorite Fred Astaire fan.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Helio quicksteps his way to victory

IndyCar racer Helio Castroneves and his professional partner Julianne Hough were crowned “Dancing with the Stars” fifth-season ballroom champions during last night's live finale results show broadcast on ABC.

"I want to thank, obviously first of all, my (IndyCar) team for letting me do this," said Helio. "Secondly, obviously my family, the fans, and this special person here (Julianne)."
After 10 weeks of competition, Helio and Julianne defeated Spice Girl Melanie Brown and her professional partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who finished second, and entertainer Marie Osmond and her professional partner Jonathan Roberts to take home the coveted mirror ball trophy .

Like Helio - a two-time, back-to-back Indianapolis 500 champion who won the IndyCar race in 2001 and 2002 - Julianne is now a two-time, back-to-back champion in her profession. Last season, the “Dancing with the Stars” professional claimed the show's fourth season title with celebrity partner Apolo Anton Ohno.

Julianne joins Cheryl Burke - who won “Dancing with the Stars'” second-season title with Drew Lachey and the third-season crown with Emmitt Smith - as the only professional partner to have two mirror ball trophies to their credit.
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Dancer shimmies his way across Golden Gate Bridge

A foghorn sounded on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, followed by the sounds of the big band tune "Hey Big Spender!"

A red and white Capezio tap shoe emerged from the fog, and out popped 75-year-old Michael Grbich of Oakland, Calif., who tap-danced his way across the landmark bridge - just because he could.

Followed by an entourage of confetti-tossing grandchildren, neighbors and a friend with an iPod boom box, Grbich spent 20 minutes dancing the 1.7-mile span, grinning, blowing kisses and striking poses for curious tourists.

He threw in some Rockette kicks, whirled a jump rope over his head like a helicopter, and grabbed the rails to "shimmy shimmy coco pop" toward the traffic like a man too sexy for his shirt, which read: "Celebrating 75 trips around the sun."

Friends who ran ahead to photograph Grbich said this was in perfect sync with his personality. Grbich is a mixed media artist, weightlifter and tightrope walker whose motto is "I risk, therefore I am."

"Whether you are 75 or 25, life is all about taking risks," Grbich said. "That's when you're truly alive - like playing tennis or making love or dancing - you forget everything and lose your self consciousness."

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Chinatown seniors follow cowboys' steps

It’s a Saturday, and techno music is blaring in the gym of the Lincoln Square Recreation Center in Chinatown. No, it is not a continuation of an early-morning rave.

Since July, the popular neighborhood center has been offering beginning line dance classes on Saturday mornings, where more than 125 — mostly Chinese-American seniors — have enrolled.

"Line dancing is very good," said instructor Alice Lo, decked out in a turquoise velour shirt, blue jeans and spiffy red and black dance shoes. "You don't need a partner. You don't have to dress up. It's good exercise."

Densely populated areas such as Chinatown are in need of recreational programs like this. Many families live in cramped quarters, often having to share precious space. Even the streets and restaurants often are overcrowded.

Lo, who is in her 50s, promptly begins the Saturday class at 9 a.m. More and more students trickle in soon after she demonstrates the lindy shuffle, then the twist, until the gym is packed.

"Twist to the left, " she instructs through her headset in English, punctuated with occasional phrases in Cantonese. "One, two, three, four, twist to the right!"

Line dancing is often associated with country music. But Lo, who is originally from Hong Kong and lives in Castro Valley, teaches steps borrowed from the hustle, cha-cha, rumba, waltz, swing and twist, among others — and uses all genres of music.

"The goal of my class is that I would like more opportunities for the community to get out of the house, exercise, meet friends and socialize," Lo said.

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Dancing With the Stars - The Finals

Dancing With the Stars – The Final Show

By Armando Martin
Former U.S. Champion and National FADS Dance Director

This year’s “Dancing With the Stars” finals began on Monday, Nov. 27 with the buildup and fanfare that is normal for every show that entertains and charms audiences of all ages. While the buildup was effective, in my opinion, the actual show fell short of what it could have been for the first time in DWTS history.

Mel and Maks were the first to dance, choosing a Cha-Cha. Mel came out looking incredible in a red-hot Latin dress that said, “Here I am, ready to win this competition.” Unfortunately the material she had to work with was not worthy of the finals. Her dancing was technically strong but the overall performance was weak. Maks is a purist Latin dancer and he can make this kind of material look great when he dances it with a professional partner. But I am afraid he does not build enough excitement into the choreography to make you say, “Wow.”

Their second dance was even less effective in my mind - hip-hop and Mel work well together, but Maks looked uncommitted and uncomfortable with this number. Overall they both seemed awkward and the choreography looked very foreign to them. After this performance I very much doubted they would be crowned champions. Combined score, 55

Marie and Jonathan repeated their Samba, and even though technically they were very weak, somehow they are more entertaining than the first couple. They seemed to put the right combination of steps together to create a performance that entertains, despite the fact that it’s lacking in content and technique.

Then, after having said that about their Samba, they come out with a very bad imitation of the ballet “Coppelia,” and they did not pull it off at all. Shame on Marie and Jonathan for turning this night into an advertisement for her doll collection. After that performance, “Dancing with the Stars” producers might be trying to figure out a new way to score the show to ensure better dance quality and more excitement in future finales. After the first five dances it came down to who was the best out of the worse performances of the season. Combined score, 46

Helio and Julianne then danced the Jive. I was looking forward to their dance since I had not seen anything exciting thus far, but was disappointed when he messed up the beginning of the dance so badly that knowledgeable onlookers felt uncomfortable and grimaced at their attempt. Toward the end he did get it together and finished strong.

Finally, Helio came out with his freestyle routine and rocked the house. Although he looked a bit awkward with some of the steps, the overall idea, along with the flashy and catchy choreography, made Helio and Julianne the couple to beat for the trophy. I again have to give this young lady kudos. Her imagination and choreographic abilities are way beyond her years and experience. I have to wonder how much help she is getting. Combined score, 54

The final show on Tuesday night was about one hour too long, since they made us watch the people that went home weeks ago dance all over again. A small wake-up call to the producers of the show: They went home a long time ago for a good reason. We didn’t want to see them dance anymore. Please don’t make us watch them again!

But seeing Sabrina and Mark, the fabulous professional dancers (especially Tony and Karina), and Celine Dion was a great treat. I do hope that next season America will do a better job keeping the talented stars in the show than we did this time. But then again without Marie and about five million Mormons voting for her and Jonathan, we may get a more fair result.

As in all competitions, the best person left on their feet won the crown. I believe that Helio was the best of all worlds - a superb combination of technique, hard work, perseverance, smart choices and great charisma. The only other person more deserving than him was sent home three weeks too soon - Sabrina Bryan.

All in all, another great season of “Dancing with the Stars” is over and we will all be looking for something to watch on Monday and Tuesday nights. Chances are we will not find anything as fun, entertaining, exciting and good for the whole family as DWTS.

So long,

Monday, November 26, 2007

'Dancing With the Stars' Prepares for Finale

Brassy Marie Osmond, sultry Melanie Brown and revved-up Helio Castroneves will face the music once more tonight as "Dancing with the Stars" wraps up another winning season.

How hot is the contest that sends grade-B celebrities whirling across the floor into the arms of patient dance pros? So scorching that A-lister Celine Dion, who performs on Tuesday's results show, longs to do more than sing for it.

"I hope they invite me to dance. I'd love to," Dion said last week after taping her appearance.

Whether the finale can top last May's match-up remains to be seen: Nearly 23 million viewers saw Olympic speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno best 'N Sync crooner Joey Fatone and boxer Laila Ali, who was voted off midway through the final episode.

This time, the third-place contestant will be announced at the start of Tuesday's show, and the remaining pairs will perform two last dances, which will help determine the winner.

The ABC show averaged about 20 million weekly viewers for each of its twice-weekly episodes in the 2006-07 season, eclipsed only by Fox powerhouse "American Idol." "Dancing" is still on its toes, with nearly 22 million viewers making it last week's No. 1 show.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

‘Rhythm of Love’ takes the stage Dec. 21

The popularity of ballroom dance has reached new heights with television hits such as “Dancing with Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” Now, the Stamford Center for the Arts (Stamford, Conn.) will bring together the best of ballroom and the best of Broadway with “Rhythm of Love,” a live stage spectacle that highlights classic and cutting-edge rhythm, Latin, smooth and standard dances.

Performances are scheduled at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 21 and Saturday, Dec. 22 at the Palace Theatre in downtown Stamford, Conn.

Benito Garcia, a well-known dancer who began his career as a Fred Astaire Dance Studio teacher, assumes the new role of dramatic lead. Garcia, a World Mambo finalist, stars in this timeless tale of boy meets girl, boy misses getting the girl because he’s so focused on learning how to dance, to finally, boy dances with the girl of his dreams.

Other performers include Russian partners Pasha Kovalev and Anya Garnis; U.S. Mambo champions and U.S. Rhythm finalists Felipe Telona, Jr. and Carolina Orlovsky-Telona;
U.S. Classic Showdance champions Garry and Rita Gekhman; reigning U.S. and World Smooth champions JT Thomas and Tomasz Mielnicki, and Jose DeCamps and Joanna Zacharewicz, who recently captured the U.S. Rhythm and U.S. Mambo Championships. In addition, they just won the World Rhythm Championship at the Ohio Star Ball, American’s largest ballroom competition.

Taliat Tarsinov, world-renowned choreographer, Fred Astaire studio executive and veteran champion of ballroom competitions and Russian theater, is the show’s choreographer.

Rick Lake is the creator and producer of “Rhythm of Love.” As an avid pro/am ballroom dancer, he has won many competition honors and was recently a guest performer at the prestigious Kremlin Cup in Moscow, as well as the WDC World Pro-Am Championship in Buenos Aires. Lake began his ballroom journey at Fred Astaire Dance Studios.

Members of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio family will receive extra special treatment with each ticket order to “Rhythm of Love,” including VIP seating and access to the Founders Room at the theatre before, during and after the show.

Tickets for Rhythm of Love are $42, $45 and $48. For an additional $50, patrons are invited to a post-performance VIP Pro Party with the dancers and creators (available to “Rhythm of Love” ticket buyers only) on Saturday, Dec. 22. Pro VIP Party tickets are limited, so patrons are advised to buy early.

Tickets to either “Rhythm of Love” only or “Rhythm of Love” and the VIP Pro Party are available at the box office by calling (203) 325-4466 or online at

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dancing with the Stars – The Finals

Dancing with the Stars – The Finals

By Armando Martin
Former U.S. Champion and National Dance Director

The semi-finals started this week with some very big surprises on who is left in the competition. Gone are some of the worst dancers we’ve seen on this program - Wayne Newton and Floyd Mayweather Jr. - but also gone are some of the best this show has ever seen, Sabrina Bryan and Jane Seymour. I am really surprised to be writing about Marie Osmond and Jennie Garth this late in the show. America sent some great dancers home and left us to watch the rest, but here we are. So let’s see what they can bring to the floor this week.

Marie and Jonathan started the night with a very smartly choreographed Quickstep that was a pleasure to watch, although technically she was very weak. Her posture was suspect, she was sticking her rear end out and there was no body contact to speak of throughout the dance. But you have to give her credit; she has lost a lot of weight and always gives a great performance.

Marie’s second dance was the Mambo. Wearing a Carmen Miranda-type dress, she came out ready to shock. And shock she did with an incredibly entertaining dance. This girl is truly crazy and fun, as you could see, since the judges only spoke about her energy and personality. That’s because there were a lot of mistakes in her dance and, like me, they didn’t know where to start. So, like them, I won’t. Score after two dances, 56

Dancing in the second position this week were Maks and Mel. Their interpretation of the Viennese Waltz was terrific. They truly covered the floor with great movement. I did not enjoy the splits that they did across the floor; they were heavy looking and brought a lot of attention to her shoulders, which tend to be too high anyway. But overall it was a good performance.

In the Paso Doble I very much disagree with the judges. I think that having done the dance so well last week they took a real chance repeating it. I don’t think it was as good as before. They did, however, do a great job overall and they are the best dancers left in the competition. Score after two dances, 60

Jennie and Derek danced a very strong, determined and positive Tango this week. The problem is that Derek really can’t do the Tango very well, so while the dance might look good to the layman’s eye, if you know dancing, you can see how forced and physical it was. For me it was too much too late, but I am sure that people out there liked it a lot.

Jennie’s Cha Cha this week was the best technical performance of the night. The fact that she looked hot in her dress didn’t hurt either. She put all her emotions and sex appeal on the floor and she made it work. Score after two dances, 58

After becoming one of the favorites this season, Helio the racecar driver has been able to stay ahead of the competition by using some supercharged steps and choreography that continue to make him a crowed pleaser. This week he danced a Foxtrot that had class, musicality and charisma. The only thing Helio needs to work on are his lines, which he tends to hit too hard.

His second dance this week was the Cha Cha, and what a great dance it was. The choreography was so entertaining and clever that I am not sure if I was watching Helio or Julianne or the material they are dancing. But whatever the case, it works, and they bring it on every time. Score after two dances, 60

I must say that this season has been full of great dancing and characters. I would bet that Jennie is going home this week and that the last two standing for the title will be Helio and Mel. So I will be back next week to see if I was right.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Magazine recommends ‘Dancing Through Life

Want to combine your love of dance with your love of books this winter? “Dance Spirit” magazine recommends picking up “Dancing Through Life,” written by Antoinette Benevento, co-owner and national dance trainer for Fred Astaire Dance Studios.

According to the magazine, Benevento’s ballroom dance career began when her college roommate’s boyfriend suggested she be his partner in an instructors’ training program at a local Fred Astaire Dance Studio.

Through her book, Benevento reflects on dance as an empowering metaphor for living life to the fullest.

“Filled with inspiring maxims to help you cope with your inner critic and fuel your dance drive, this book is the perfect remedy for handling a variety of life’s struggles, from a tough day of classes to a fight with you beau,” wrote Cherilyn Watts, of “Dance Spirit” magazine, in the December 2007 edition.

To purchase Benevento’s book, visit

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Inaba, Tonioli prepare for ‘War’

Once this season’s “Dancing With the Stars” crowns a champion, judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli will begin presiding over a different dance floor.

For several months, ABC has been working on a “Dancing With the Stars” spin-off called "Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann."

In addition to Inaba and Tonioli, the new show also includes second-season “Dancing With the Stars” champion Drew Lachey, who will serve as host.

During September and October, auditions were held in several U.S. cities. Inaba recently told the New York Post that the schedule has been tough, especially for Tonioli.

"Bruno is actually working on three shows," she said in the article. "He's also been flying to England to appear on 'Strictly Come Ballroom,'" the British series that was the "DWTS" predecessor.

"Dancing War" will pit teams of six amateur dancers and singers against each other. One team will be coached and choreographed by Inaba, the other by Tonioli.

The new show - which will run for just six weeks in its first season - is a cross between "So You Think You Can Dance" and "The Apprentice."

‘Fever’ rising in Tallahassee

Mike Dill, franchise owner of the Tallahassee, Fla. Fred Astaire Dance Studio, said his students and staff perform twice a year at the local high school. This fall’s show was based on the 1970s smash hit “Saturday Night Fever.”

“We do it as a benefit for the high school drama department, but it really works out well for both parties,” said Dill.

Drawing 500 to 600 people to each show, Dill said the studio’s bi-annual performances have become very popular with instructors, students and the community at large.

“Last year we did ‘Moulin Rouge,’” he said. “Those who participate have to choose music from the movie for their performances. We didn’t used to do it that way – choose one movie or theme for the show. But we found that we liked the way it came across. Having that theme really tied everything together and made it more like a show and less like a recital.”

The show consists mostly of pro-am dancers, with several group numbers as well as production numbers. Dill said each show includes approximately 25 students and instructors from the studio.

Backstage with the ‘Stars’

Cheryl Burke, two-time Dancing with the Stars champ, has some advice for any star who wants to take on this dance marathon: "Give up your day job!"

Her point is well taken, given how exhausted the contestants are each week. All the couples seem to be feeling it — making mistakes, forgetting steps, and dancing with frozen smiles that barely cover the panic.

"In dress rehearsals, I just blanked," Spice Girl Mel B. said recently, who continues to impress the judges in spite of a rehearsal schedule that would put anyone else in the hospital. Scary Spice — who has a newborn daughter at home — is running full tilt in preparation for the Spice Girls' world reunion tour, which kicks off Dec. 2, just days after the Dancing finale. She's putting in 12-hour days as a Spice Girl, then trying to learn two ballroom dances on the side.

Her partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, shakes his head. "Her schedule is ridiculous," he says. "Don't forget, the baby gets her up at two o'clock in the morning, four o'clock in the morning. She's getting no sleep. Her schedule is an impossibility."

Still, in spite of the pressure, no one is phoning it in. Unlike past seasons, where clear front-runners had emerged by Week 6 (Drew Lachey and Stacy Keibler, Mario Lopez and Emmitt Smith, Joey Fatone and Apolo Anton Ohno), this time all of the remaining contestants believe they have a good shot at that hideous disco-ball trophy.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

'Dancing' waltzes through writers’ strike

'Dancing' waltzes through writers’ strike

Here's a "Dancing with the Stars" pop quiz: Which of the following performance critiques was delivered by effusive judge Bruno Tonioli before the Hollywood writers strike, and which came after? Quote A: "That's what I like to see! The boy from Brazil is going bananas!" Quote B: "That was a cliffhanger, riding the fine line between love and hate!"

If you picked the alliterative "bananas" line as writer-scripted, well, sorry, you're not moving on to round two. That's a post-strike quote, while the less snappy one predates it — and Tonioli devised both.

It seems his comments, along with those of fellow judges Len Goodman and Carrie Ann Inaba and the wry quips of host Tom Bergeron, have been largely spontaneous all along.

ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" is one reality show that's real, or as real as any sequin-studded Hollywood production can be. Who knew — until the Writers Guild of America's job action pulled back the curtain and revealed the show had a single union scribe.

That's allowed one of TV's top shows to waltz through the walkout.

"Oh, I wish!" Tonioli responded when asked if his lines were fed to him. "Even if you wanted to (prepare), it's a live performance. Anything can happen."

Sometimes a script doctor would help. But even they might be hard-pressed to craft the true drama that has shadowed this season: Jane Seymour lost her 92-year-old mother, then Seymour's Malibu house was imperiled by a wildfire. Osmond fainted on camera; two weeks later, her father died at age 90.

Tears and heartache abound but the show goes on. In recent weeks, it's been near the top of the TV ratings, with more than 21 million viewers at its peak.

David Boone, the show's WGA member who walked off the job along with thousands of other movie and TV writers in Los Angeles and New York, was scripting material including introductions and descriptions of upcoming episodes, a task Bergeron said now is handled by producers.

Bergeron used to lean heavily on canned patter until realizing, early in season two, that the approach wasn't working.

"You can see I'd walk on after a dance and have a line ready to go," Bergeron told The AP. "Sometimes it was a very good line, but it wasn't organic to what was happening. ... We don't do that anymore. Now, I'm watching the dance and responding to it and what I felt about it."

He enjoys playing ball with the excitable Tonioli.

The judge's "right arm sweeps over his left shoulder and I know he's about to let loose with an extremely clever or pained metaphor," Bergeron said, comparing himself to a batter "waiting for a good pitch."

For the full text of the article, click on

Spain frets over future of flamenco

A decade ago, Madrid boasted 20 flamenco taverns featuring this unique kind of entertainment - the furious, rhythmic tapping of a dancer's heels, the thundering chords of a classical guitar, a singer's soulful lament, all that contagious hand-clapping. Now only four or five remain, all packed with tourists and too expensive for the average Spaniard.

Silvia Calado, a critic for the Web site said flamenco is not quite in a state of crisis. But while it has built up great prestige abroad, here in Spain it is low on creativity and has failed to reach out to new audiences.

"Flamenco is distancing itself from young people and they are the ones who can keep it alive," Calado said.

For the full text of the article, click on

Friday, November 09, 2007

Minds in Motion Stay Sharp

At 87, Katie Johnson is convinced she has a surefire way to ward off Alzheimer's: The foxtrot.
The retired schoolteacher spends every other Friday fox-trotting the night away.
She also swims five days a week. She teaches piano at a local senior center. She attends Bible study classes. She plays Scrabble and bridge.

And she tools around Indianapolis in a red Corvette.

Research suggests those nights spent whirling around the dance floor and days motoring around town in her snappy car are probably increasing Johnson's chances of avoiding the dreaded disease of debilitating memory loss.

The best Alzheimer's prevention might be this simple: Go have fun.

Researchers are now finding the best activities are those that challenge the brain, are done with other people and might even involve a good workout, such as a fast spin around the dance floor.
"Retirement is no excuse for an idle brain," says Murali Doraiswamy, an Alzheimer's expert at Duke University. "If you're not active, then you're more susceptible to the onslaught of Alzheimer's."

No book club or dance step has the power of vanquishing Alzheimer's, a disease caused partly by genetic factors, doctors say. Still, research suggests that complex leisure activities could offer seniors, even those at high risk for the disease, a better shot at delaying its onset.
For the full text of this article, written by Kathleen Fackelmann, USA TODAY, log onto

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Last dance for Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour, 56, was eliminated from “Dancing with the Stars” on Tuesday, putting an end to a run on the show that included two absences (one due to the death of her mother) and an in-house battle over what constitutes a lift.

Seymour said her success on the show was due to her partner and teacher, Tony Dovolani.

"He's a terrific teacher and it meant a great deal. He really worked me hard. I think a lot of people saw that. But I had a wonderful time," she said on Good Morning America after the elimination.

"I mean this was just an extraordinary gift," said Seymour. "First of all, no woman my age - or remotely my age - has ever done it. Secondly, I don't think anyone, including myself, expected to get through more than the first dance, and I did nine dances."

She told Good Morning America that her stint on the show also re-ignited a love she had forgotten.

"I now know that I have a passion for dance - that dance is in my soul. And that I cannot live without dance for the rest of my life," Seymour said. "I wanted to be a dancer when I was a little girl and I have not danced at all since I was 16 years old. And now I realize that I need to dance."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

‘Dancing With the Stars’ kicks off tour Dec. 18

Sabrina Bryan, Cheryl Burke, Derek Hough, Mark Ballas, Joey Lawrence and Marie Osmond are just a few of the performers that will be featured on the nationwide “Dancing With the Stars” tour, which begins Dec. 18 in Seattle.

And don’t forget about the “Dancing With the Stars” Soft Scrub® Dance Challenge. The dance challenge features several lucky couples that live in your city - normal everyday people of all ages, not professional dancers.

The action begins immediately before the show starts - the local dancers will begin the evening by competing in groups to the same song. Alec Mazo, the winner from the first season and official judge, will review their performances and execute the first round of the elimination.

The remaining semi-finalists will return to perform again in groups during the second song, and again will be eliminated down to four finalists. The two very lucky couples will perform later in the live show, dancing the Tango or the Cha-Cha in front of the sold-out audience.

After each couple dances, they will receive scores via Audience Applause Meters, which will determine the ultimate Dancing With The Stars Soft Scrub® Challenge Champion. The winner will receive a trophy and will be escorted back to their victory seats to enjoy the remainder of the show.

For more information on the dance challenge, or to view tour dates, log on to

Monday, November 05, 2007

Dancing with the Champions

By Babette Brown
Fred Astaire Dance Studio Jupiter
Scottish Professional Champion

As you all know, “Dancing with the Stars” is back in full force, and I am enjoying what has turned into a very exciting season. Here in Jupiter (Fla.) we all cheer for Tony Dovolani and Jane Seymour, as he is member of our Fred Astaire family and we are all extremely proud to see him out there doing his very best.

That brings me right to my point - dancing with champions. What is it like? What do these celebrities have to go through in order to perform on such a high level in such a short amount of time? If you are someone who sits in front of the TV thinking, “I would love to be able to do that” or even, “I would love to be able to social dance just for fun,” this is how it works.

Learning to dance is a little bit like learning to play an instrument or learning a new language - it takes some time and you have to learn in stages of layering. First you learn the notes or the words, then you put simple melodies or sentences together and after a little while you can play a whole variety of songs or can talk to people in your new language. After you’ve mastered the basics you go to more complex songs and sentences – you read books and make conversation to improve and fine-tune your new skill. You will be able to use your new skills for many different reasons and will be able to apply them to different life situations.

This is also what it takes to learn to dance. There is a big difference between learning choreography and learning how to dance. The performances you see on TV are absolutely breathtaking and I personally admire the celebrities for all they achieve. But will they come out of it knowing HOW to dance? Most likely not, since they spend all their time mastering a certain choreography, which is, of course, the purpose of the show.

So what is the solution for those people who would love to perform like the stars and master a choreography dancing with a champion? Join the showcase at your local Fred Astaire Dance Studio. A showcase is a performance where every participant has prepared a special choreography to a special song. You can dance with a champion dancer or simply with your own partner, if you prefer. The process is exactly like “Dancing with the Stars.” You pick the music, learn the choreography and dance your heart out.

Now who can do this? Anyone? Or do you need a special dance background and to be fit and in top shape? Absolutely not. We hold showcases in our studio twice a year and we have participants of all ages, from 15 to 80 years old and from all backgrounds. So what are you waiting for? Check out your local Fred Astaire dance studio and enter the next Showcase to dance like the stars… or just for fun.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Instructors Take First Place in Viva La Salsa

Two instructors from the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Willoughby, Ohio took first place in the fifth annual Viva La Salsa competition at the IX Center on Saturday, Oct. 6. It was the second time in two weeks that the studio had won dance awards.

Raymond Cedeño, 20, and Katie Bronshteyn, 23, danced their way through three rounds of competition to take home the trophy. Cedeño was the reigning Viva La Salsa champion from last year.

Viva La Salsa is an evening devoted to Latin music and culture. Esperanza, a non-profit organization that promotes educational and economic opportunities for Hispanic Americans, organized the celebration.

On Sept. 30, the Willoughby studio also won Top Studio in the Fred Astaire Ohio Regional Team Match. Team Match pits the five northern Ohio Fred Astaire schools – Willoughby, Northfield Center, Warren, Canton and Youngstown – against the seven southern Ohio schools located in the greater Columbus and Cincinnati areas.

More than 100 students competed in dances including Tango, Cha-Cha, Salsa, Rumba, Foxtrot and Swing. The 22 Willoughby students accumulated the most high scores, winning Top Studio.

Florida High School Students Can Major in Dance

They spin. They shake. They're high school students, and they're ready to do the Hustle.Building upon the success of dance courses offered last year, New Dimensions High School in Poinciana, Fla. now allows students to pick a major where they can learn ballet, ethnic dances, and music from the disco era.The state Legislature passed a bill last year that requires students to pick a major, making this the first time students have to choose a track of study. The state has approved more than 400 majors, including biotechnology, marketing and carpentry.

Under the direction of professional dancer Nicole Acquilano, students can enroll in ethnic dance and technique classes this semester.The classes meet four times a week for 90 minutes and for an hour on Wednesdays."Confidence in high school, it changes from day to day," said Acquilano, who has been dancing for nearly 30 years. "Sometimes, they feel they're going to be on Broadway. Sometimes, they feel like they can't do it." Jessica Remarais, 17, now uses words such as rond de jambe, plie and pique turns - all movements she has learned while practicing ballet in her Technique I class."You can never sit down in that class because you are always moving," said Jessica, a senior who may major in dance in college. "You'll never be bored."
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