Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ricardo Cocchi Comes In 2nd At Blackpool!

We are pleased to announce that the newest member of the Fred Astaire National Dance Board, acclaimed dancer Ricardo Cocchi, placed 2nd at this year’s Blackpool Dance Festival, the most prestigious and largest dance competition in the world. With partner Yulia Zagoruychenko, Ricardo came in 2nd across the board in the International Professional Latin division. We are proud to have someone like Ricardo in our organization.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dancing With The Stars Tony Dovolani Coming To Fred Astaire DC!

Save the date! Dancing With The Stars professional Tony Dovolani is coming to Fred Astaire DC on July 23-24, 2008 for private coachings and group classes. Reserve your space now! Signups will be on a first come, first serve basis! Click here for more information.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fred Astaire Dance Instructor Sets New Record

By Caitlin Doldan

Thomas Radon, from the Buffalo, NY studio, finished his last lesson at 8:00 a.m. after teaching through the night. That was the end of a week-long marathon to raise money for Kids Create Hope, a pediatric cancer research fund. When Tommy’s student, Sari Zugermayr, heard that he wanted his marathon efforts to be for charity, she suggested one that she was personally involved with, and Tommy was eager to help. Kids Create Hope was founded by her sister in memory of Sari’s brother-in-law who passed away last year from cancer. When the last lesson ended, Tommy was tired but still smiling. “I’m a little sad that it’s over. I don’t know what to do with myself today,” he said, as he left the studio to take his one day off.

Tommy accomplished an amazing feat by teaching 212 lessons in one week! He was the previous record holder for lessons taught, with a total of 146 in 7 days. Last year, his record was broken by a gentleman who taught 150 lessons in 5 days. Tommy wanted to be the record holder once more, and this time, he decided to do it for charity. He allowed himself one 45 minute break within a 24 hour period when his schedule allowed, and taught with no sleep at all on Thursday and Friday in order to reach his goal. By the fifth day, he had broken the previous record by teaching 151 lessons, and continued his efforts for 2 more days to reach 212. Tommy’s schedule was booked from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 a.m. the next morning, and he had students coming in the middle of the night, giving him a tremendous amount of support and incredible amounts of food. All of his ladies were providing him with a constant supply of vitamin water and snacks to keep him going. “I wanted to beat the record for myself, but I wanted it to mean more this time. Raising money for charity made it a more worthy cause, and it kept me motivated.”

The most amazing part of the week was when he donated a portion of his paycheck to Kids Create Hope. In addition to the money from Tommy, the Buffalo Studio held a fundraiser that offered free group classes for children, face painting, and an array of desserts provided by one of Tommy’s students, Ann Lentsch. Many students also came to help with the children. It was an incredibly moving event when Tommy presented his check, and although he was exhausted, there was a tremendous amount of joy and satisfaction in his face. “The staff at the studio was really awesome. They encouraged their students to participate, and were constantly checking on how I was doing. I couldn’t ask for a better team to work with.”

At the end of the week, the Buffalo Studio had a champagne toast and many of the ladies came to the studio on their way to work just to congratulate him. The owners of the studio, Andrei and Anastasia Abrashin, were very excited for Tommy when it was all over. “When Tommy told us about how many lessons he wanted to teach, we thought he was crazy, but we knew he would do it. We are thrilled that he reached his goal, and so proud to have him in our studio. We love him.”

It was an incredible physical and emotional accomplishment for Tommy to dedicate so much effort to raise money for pediatric cancer, and the Buffalo studio is proud to work with him. One of the other teachers, Jessica, said, “As a new teacher at the studio, it was inspiring to see Tommy work so hard. He always gave 100 percent to all of his students, no matter how tired he felt, and that’s why they love him so much.”

After taking only one day off, Tommy is back to his regular schedule of 70 to 80 lessons per week, and looks forward to doing more charity work to raise money. “It was so rewarding during the fundraiser to see the staff of Kids Create Hope so appreciative of the event. I would love to do more.” In addition to teaching his busy schedule, he also does a summer program at the African American Culture Society, the YMCA, and several local schools. It is clear that Tommy’s ambitions are endless when it involves sharing the joy of dance. He is a talented and passionate man that has a rewarding future in the Fred Astaire Company, and we can’t wait to see what he does next.

Baby Boomers Hit The Dance Floor

Even though baby boomers are now entering their 60s, they show no signs of slowing down! Chris Cloud, owner of a Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Lancaster, Ohio, has recently noticed how baby boomers are getting out and taking to the dance floor. In his studio, he offers dance classes specifically for the Baby Boomer group. "They are getting to the point where they've worked hard and need some relief and some fun," Cloud said in a recent article about this dancing trend.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dancing With Desire 2008

Fred Astaire Dance Studios is proud to present Dancing with Desire ‘08, a show featuring internationally acclaimed dance champions and guest celebrity performers, on Thursday, June 12, 2008, at 7:30 p.m. at the Emerald Coast Conference Center in Okaloosa Island, FL.

This unique "star-studded" night will feature dance performances by:
  • Tony Dovolani & Elena Grinenko
    Professional Ballroom Dancers and Dancing with the Stars Celebrities

  • Danny Wuerffel
    Former NFL Player and Heisman Trophy Winner

  • Maksim Chmerkovskiy
    Former World Finalist and Dancing with the Stars Celebrity

  • Valentin Chmerkovskiy & Valeriya Kozharinova
    World Youth Latin Champions

  • Julianne Hough
    World Youth Latin Champion and Dancing with the Stars Celebrity

  • Mark Ballas
    World Youth Latin Champion and Dancing with the Stars Celebrity

  • Derek Hough
    World Youth Latin Champion and Dancing with the Stars Celebrity

  • Fabian Sanchez
    World Mambo Champion and Dancing with the Stars Celebrity

  • Ilya Iframov & Nadia Gulina
    World Rising Star Latin Champions

Special guest performances include World Cabaret Dance Champions Eric Luna and Georgia Ambarian, and U.S. Dance Champions Joe and Tommie Trovato. Also performing are U.S. Cabaret Finalists Jesse Benedetti and Kimalee Piedad, and a special performance by the Desire Street Students.

Dancing with Desire ‘08 proceeds go to support the Desire Street Ministries (now located in Baton Rouge, LA) and also to support the local YMCA program. For more information, click here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hats Off To Tony Dovolani and Fabian Sanchez!

Congratulations to both Tony Dovolani and Fabian Sanchez for their star performances on this spring’s Dancing With The Stars! Tony Dovolani has been associated with the Fred Astaire organization for many years and Fabian owns a Fred Astaire Studio in Birmingham, AL.

Both Tony and Fabian remained on season 6 of Dancing With The Stars for many weeks. Fabian, with partner Marlee Matlin, made it to the quarterfinals and Tony, with Broadway actress Marissa Jaret Winokur, got all the way to the semifinals this season. We are proud to have such great dancers represent our organization!

Dancers Shine At Fred Astaire National Competition

By Armando Martin, Fred Astaire National Dance Director

With 11,000 entries and over 70 studios attending, the 2008 Cross Country Dancesport Championships on April 16-20 was the biggest, most exciting competition we have ever had as a company, and I think it's only the beginning. CCDC was also - to my knowledge - the second biggest competition in the US this year, second only to Ohio.

I have been with Fred Astaire Dance Studios for 27 years, and I don't remember a time when there was so much growth, camaraderie and excitement at every event we have. All the programs that the corporate office is putting together - from the business manuals to the dance manuals and new curriculum videos - are all culminating into the National goals that our President and Stockholders set out to meet just a couple of years ago.

CCDC was a complete success. The Pro-Am competition was so well attended that there were hundreds of heats that required first rounds (first heats must be run when there are more than 30 couples entered in one category). The Friday night professional competition was not only huge but it featured some of the best couples in the United States, making the overall standard of dancing extremely high.

Friday night also featured a professional show by one of the world's best Latin couples, Ricardo Cocchi and Yulia Zagoruychenko. Their dancing dazzled the audience, who gave them a standing ovation after every dance. I’m happy to say that Ricardo, who is with no doubt on his way to becoming the World Champion with his beautiful partner, has joined the Fred Astaire Council of Dance.

If Friday night was not enough, all of our students and staff were treated to “An Evening On The Nile,” one of the best Saturday night shows we have ever had. Steven Knight, our Assistant National Dance Director, outdid himself with a very well thought-out and choreographed show that brought the house down; the entire show was done to Arabian music that must have taken him tens of hours to find and pick. I would like to thank him and all the professionals that took part in the show for a fantastic evening.

The Luxor Hotel could not have been more cooperative and the food and overall service was excellent. We will be back there next year when the entire hotel will have completed a $50 million renovation. To those of you who attended, I would like to extend my thanks again for your incredible support; to those who could not make it this year, we look forward to seeing you in 2009!

If You Know 10 Steps, You Can Create 1000 Dances!

When Casey Baird wanted to open a new Fred Astaire Dance Studio, she knew who to ask to manage it - former coworker Forrest Burke-Moran. This young couple's shared passion for dance was recently highlighted in a local Plymouth newspaper.

Their new studio in Plymouth, MA opened on April 7th, and offers lessons to everyone - beginner to advanced students, singles as well as couples. Baird wants to make sure her students know that dancing is not just about steps. As she stated in this recent news article, "Steps are merely a foundation to learn how to dance. If you know 10 steps, you should be able to create thousands of dances." Burke-Moran enjoys seeing the confidence emerge in his students as they learn how to dance.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Don't Miss The Season Premiere of So You Think You Can Dance

Season 4 of the hit dance show So You Think You Can Dance premieres on May 22 at 8 p.m. ET. The two hour premiere will feature footage from open auditions held in Dallas, Charleston, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Washington, DC earlier this year. To be named America's best dancer, dancers perform a variety of styles, including jazz, ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, and ballroom.
Nigel Lythgoe and ballroom dancer Mary Murphy will continue to serve as judges again along with weekly guest judges, including Hairspray director Adam Shankman; choreographers Tabitha and Napoleon D'Umo; and Mia Michaels.

South Windsor Studio Participates In Relay For Life

Staff members of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in South Windsor, CT will participate in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life on June 13-14. This fun-filled overnight event runs for 24 hours straight where teams take turns walking or running laps with the goal of keeping at least one person on the track at all times. Cancer never sleeps so neither does the search for a cure! Thank you to the South Windsor studio for taking part in such a worthy cause.

Fred Astaire Dance Studio Shines In Local Version of Dancing With The Stars

Syracuse, New York had their own version of "Dancing With Our Stars" in April with local community leaders paired up with professional partners from dance studios around the area, including the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Fayetteville. Competing in the Grand Ballroom at the Hotel Syracuse, the competitors danced to a full house and kicked off the George & Rebecca Barnes Foundation's capital campaign to raise funds for the restoration of the Barnes Mansion. The evening netted more than $25,000. This event was not only a worthwhile cause but also introduced local "stars" to the exciting world of dance!

Congratulations to George Kilpatrick, of WCNY Connected, and Fred Astaire Dance Instructor Karina Ivanov for taking 2nd place in the event. They also took 2nd place in the individual dance category. Peggy Ogden, of the CNY Community Foundation and Fred Astaire Dance Instructor Roman Manolachi took third place in the swing competition.

Click here to access a slideshow of the event.

West Springfield Studio Dances For American Cancer Society

The Fred Astaire Dance Studio in West Springfield, MA used their dancing shoes to help the American Cancer Society fight cancer on May 17th. An eight member Dancing for Dollars relay team offered ten 30-minute private lessons during a six-hour window to raise funds during the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life event.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dancing With The Stars Pro Helps Young Student

Fabian Sanchez, US Mambo Champion, Fred Astaire studio owner, and a professional dancer on this season's Dancing With The Stars with actress Marlee Matlin, took time out of his busy schedule to help a fifth-grader with a school project. Read more here.

Friday, May 02, 2008

"Sole" Mates: On and Off the Dance Floor

Warren and Babette Brown, Scottish Professional Dance Champions and co-owners of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Jupiter, FL, are partners on and off the dance floor. Competing, managing a dance studio, teaching, and living together might seem like too much but this devoted couple have made it work! Click here to read more.