Monday, September 29, 2008

Dancing With The Stars - A Teacher's Perspective

By Debra Stroiney, Fred Astaire dance instructor and Franchise Compliance administrator for Fred Astaire Corporate

Dancing With The Stars - Week 1

As this being my first blog for Dancing With The Stars, this may seem a little vague and varied on topics. The first week is overwhelming with the 3 nights, 2 dances and 2 contestants being voted off. Everyone had to learn their steps, how to dance, how to perform and how to wear ballroom dancing shoes and costumes! What we want to see is who picked up the steps the best, which one has a great stage presence, who may get by on votes alone?

So what level would the contestants be at if they started at a Fred Astaire studio with an introductory offer? If they danced 4 hours a day for 6 weeks that would be 24 one-hour lessons; on average this would put the student at the end of Social Foundation, and early Bronze level. Wow! Can you imagine your instructor asking you to be in a dance competition on national TV at the Social Foundation or Bronze level!

Ever since the first season, I do view the male contestants on the show differently. I think of the male students in our studios when they do their first competition. The male contestant must develop their leading skills, have good posture while also trying to remember the routine, clean footwork and having a presence out on the floor. The female contestant must also do many of these things but they do not have to worry about leading as much. They have a strong male lead to put them in the right spot, to highlight them in the correct character, and yes they still have to do it well but there is something about it that doesn’t seem as difficult as it is for the men.

And, of course, this week on the show 2 male contestants were eliminated. In their circumstances, I feel that Ted did well in his Fox Trot when you consider that he had to do feather steps, telemarks and pivots in his routine! Fox Trot can be one of the hardest international dances to learn. But at Fred Astaire we start by teaching the Fox Trot because it is an opportunity for us to get the students to do what they already know…walking. I know that Dancing With The Stars is a competition and you have to do competitive moves to feel that you have a chance, but what happened to teaching some simpler moves, doing some easy tricks and teaching the stage presence, the posture, and the ability to go out there and present yourself well? I feel that some of the weaker dancers on the show may hear better comments from the judges if they were to start this way. Regardless of how they did perform they also have to get the votes… So when you pair a low mark with the fact that they haven’t won over the viewing audience and are not a well known star, then we have eliminations. This is also what can be said happened to Jeff Ross. He went out there with a great attitude but there were others that got higher marks and I have never heard of him before making it hard for him to last very long on the show.

I feel that this season of Dancing With The Stars could be very exciting. On the first night I felt like there were many great performances and dancers. I could see the contestants that had previous training versus the ones who have not. Not everyone always sees this as fair but this is how it works in any ballroom dancing competition. There will always be the ones that have had more experience in one way or another. There will always be the ones that learn faster than others. There will always be ones that will get better marks for unknown reasons. But unlike ballroom dancing competitions, audience votes count! So if you see someone who you think did great but got low marks, vote for them! Trust me - it’s a great feeling that the audience loves you even if the judges don’t!

They Make It Look So Easy!

Dancing With The Stars, Week 1, Recap

By Jackie Josephs, professional dancer and Fred Astaire Studio owner

Another season of "Dancing with the Stars" is upon us!!!! With a mix of so many different personalities and talent it's sure to be an amazing 12 weeks of dancing, drama, and excitement!!

Week 1-Day 1
Dances: Foxtrot/Cha Cha

Cody and Julianne(Cha Cha): These two are perfect for each other! Young, fresh and full of energy! As soon as they walked out onto the floor they looked amazing, their costumes were fabulous and his performance was a great way to start the show off! His technique was pretty good for his first time doing a rhythm dance, lines were strong and his timing was excellent. One area that he can improve on is his posture just a little bit. Sometimes his shoulders go up, which affects his lead. I also enjoyed the choreography. It was clean, easy and showed off his strong points. As for his performance, I thought that he had great feeling in this dance and really presented himself well by opening up his chest and presenting Julianne well by letting her do her thing. Overall he did a great job for his first dance and in my opinion he deserved a much better score than an 18!

Susan and Tony(Cha-Cha): Well, first of all it's so exciting that our own FADS man made it back yet again for another season and got paired up with the beautiful and sophisticated Susan Lucci. As she walked onto the floor she looked beautiful in her sexy red dress; however, as the music began, the routine was a little rough on the eyes. Her leg action was not smooth and she got off time in a few areas. As the judges stated, she does look quite frail and safe. I think the smooth dances will be her stronger point. On the plus side, her constant smile during the routine was very pleasant and the choreography was well suited for her ability and age. I would like to see her open up more in the next rhythm dance that she does and get a little riskier.

Warren and Kym(Cha Cha): I love this guy!!! He is such a big ball of fun and rhythm!! His sense of style and his natural ability of timing shined through this routine from start to finish. His confidence on the floor was fantastic and his "freestyling" was so enjoyable to watch. You could tell he was having so much fun the entire time. He is definitely the Emmitt Smith of Season 7. The only thing that he has to be more aware of is his foot action. His feet are so large that sometimes they"plop" onto the floor instead of keeping pressure into the floor. I feel that Kym did a great job with the choreography and let him show off his own moves as well as keeping the basic elements of the Cha Cha. I cannot wait to see more of him and see him get more and more comfortable with his size on the dance floor!

Cloris and Corky(Foxtrot): I'm not going to lie, I didn't know what to expect when she walked onto the floor; however, I was pleasantly surprised. Even though she is 82, she has proven that ballroom dancing is for all ages. She had a great fluid motion throughout the dance and Corky did a great job without overdoing it with her but at the same time challenging her. She had great pivots which was quite unexpected and she had a great sense of the sexiness and sass of the Foxtrot. My opinion is that for her to get out there and dance as well as she did that the judges could have been a little easier on her. Of course her movement and technique were not the best but I feel she still did an excellent job.

Toni and Alec (Cha Cha): First of all, I have to give props to Toni for getting out there and dancing with her heart condition - that's an achievement in itself. Her Cha Cha was very sexy and sultry and her footwork was pretty good throughout the majority of the routine. The area that bothered me the most was her posture. She kept her head up but her shoulders were too high, which made her frame look weak. The only thing that bothered me was that it was choppy, the transitions were not fluid and she "hopped" in some areas instead of staying grounded. Her score for me was a little too high.

Max and Misty (Foxtrot): Legs, Legs, Legs!!!! She is sooo tall that Max definitely has his hands full with her to get them sexy and pretty and not too sporty looking; however, her stature demands attention. As soon as she walked onto the floor you could tell she was a true competitor and had her "game face" ready. I didn't really know if it was going to be fluid or not because she is so tall; however, she was great. Her frame was very good and she kept her shoulders down for the most part, which again is very difficult with no prior training. Her lines were beautiful, she definitely used her wing span to her advantage and her musicality was right on key. Overall I loved how graceful she looked and her enthusiasm is going to take her very far!

Kim and Mark (Foxtrot): Being the past winner of DWTS, Mark is dealing with a whole different level of talent with Kim. She is such a beautiful girl and she looked gorgeous in her dress. Her presence on the floor was pleasant and safe and her frame stayed pretty strong. However, her movement was not big enough in the basics and her face never changed throughout the entire routine, quite boring. The routine matched the musical hits well and her awareness of that was good in some areas; however, overall, she has to open up out of her shy shell and become more risky and demanding on the dance floor. With a partner like Mark, she's going to need to step up so he doesn't look like he is over dancing her.

Jeff and Edyta (Cha Cha): Well at least he's funny right?? I felt so bad for him because you can tell he tries so hard and put everything he had into with his broken eye and all but he has a lot of areas that he has to improve on if he's going to stay in this competition. His posture was not good and his footwork wasn't either. On the up side, he did the tricks well with Edyta and kept his energy up the entire time. He just didn't have much musicality and he's really going to need to buckle down in the studio to stay around in this competition. Edyta however did do a great job in bringing him this far with noooo dancing in his past. I like him though and I hope he can stick it out for a little longer!

Brooke and Derek (Cha Cha): WOW!! From her sexy look and that pant suit she was ready for business. In the past, the models have not done well on the show but Brooke is changing that for sure. Her musicality and sass were hot and her extension was really surprising as well as her great understanding of hip action. To be a mom of four and have a body like that is impressive. She was fabulous for her first dance and the choreography was perfect, Derek did an excellent job. She is going to be around for a long time if she stays on this path!!

Rocco and Karina (Foxtrot):
Rocco is definitely a cutie and like Jeff tries really hard, but has some major areas that he needs to improve on as well. The Foxtrot for the guy is all about the frame and finesse and his was a little askew. He was too jumpy during the basics where he should have been smooth and the exit of the trick they did was not smooth... it was a little scary. On the flip side, his musicality with the song and choreography was nice, and he had an adorable smile the whole time which showed he was truly enjoying himself.

Maurice and Cheryl (Foxtrot): Being a runner, he definitely has fast feet and knows how to move quickly which will be a plus for him. During his Foxtrot, he had good posture and his footwork was good as well. Like Misty and Warren, you can see his sportsmanship and competitiveness come out as he's dancing and training. I felt that the choreography was too funky for Foxtrot though; Cheryl should have put more basic elements in it and showed the true concept of foxtrot rather than making it "hip-hop" looking. However, I think with his determination he will be around for a long time.

Lance and Lacey (Cha Cha): He was one of my favorites tonight! I knew that he would be talented anyway because he does have a dance background from being in 'N SYNC. Their Cha Cha definitely embraced the feeling of the dance. It was hot, edgy and very sexy. His timing was right on through the entire routine and the choreography was very different and cool. The only thing that he needs to be aware of is his base - it gets a little too wide and his head gets a little forward. Other than that he did a great job for the first night!!

Ted and Inna (Foxtrot): Ted was shockingly elegant and sophisticated. Very smooth throughout the dance and the choreography was nice and "trotty." Frame was nice and strong and it looked like he was actually leading most of the time. His footwork was also the best of the evening. I'm hoping that he will be able to stick around longer and be able to improve from week to week!

Standing Room Only At Fred's South Charlotte Grand Opening!

Vitaliy and Lyudmila opened their new studio to a packed house this past Friday, September 12, dazzling the audience with performances from students and instructors alike. The crowd was electrified with energy from all of the different dances on display for them, ranging in character from the powerful Tango and Paso Doble, to cheeky and flirtatious Cha-Chas, Swings, and Quickstep, all the way to passionate Rumbas and romantic Waltzes among others performed that night. Even passers-by were captivated, stopping to watch from the windows. Vitaliy and Lyudmila were very honored and proud to host such a crowd and could not have envisioned the grand opening of their studio going any better. Requests for dance sessions are already pouring in and the studio is still abuzz with the energy from that night. The entire staff of Fred Astaire South Charlotte is looking forward to spreading their love of dance throughout the community, and would like to thank all that helped make their grand opening an outstanding success!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Spotlight On...Sasha & Olga Bylim

By Catherine Brill, Fred Astaire Corporate Copywriter

Twelve years ago, Sasha and Olga Bylim came to the United States in search of a better life, both personally and professionally. Their move was a huge leap of faith. Although they had traveled around the world as professional dance competitors, they’d never been to America before, and their two-year-old daughter, Olesya, had to stay in the Ukraine with grandparents for a few months while they got settled. When they first arrived, they had an offer to work at an independent studio in Indianapolis. "Thank God," Olga recalls, "that didn’t work out. It went bankrupt within a year."

With the encouragement of Marina and Taliat Tarsinov and Darius and Jolanta Mosteika, the Bylims joined the Fred Astaire New York East Side studio. Now they are owners of two Fred Astaire franchises and honored members of our National Dance Board. "We are living the American dream," Sasha says.

Sasha and Olga first met in a dance studio in their hometown in the Ukraine. They competed for 23 years with remarkable success: they were finalists in the 1990 Soviet Union 10-Dance, 3 Time Ukrainian Professional Standard Champions, 1996 Fred Astaire National Champions, 2000 U.S. National Rising Star International Standard Champions, 2000 U.S. National International Standard finalists, and finalists in many more major international championships. They also owned a dance studio in the Ukraine for 10 years.

When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, the Bylims were hopeful and excited that conditions might improve in their country. But as time went by and their hopes began to fade, they knew they had to leave their homeland. Meeting up with the Tarsinovs at a Blackpool Festival one year, they heard great stories about the Fred Astaire organization. "It sounded as if life could be so much different and better in the U.S."

They taught at the NY East Side studio for three years before opening a new studio in Tarrytown, New York, 18 miles from New York City. The Tarrytown studio has been very successful throughout the years and will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year. Two months ago, Sasha and Olga branched out once again, and opened a franchise in Huntington Station, New York, along with Oleg Skrypnyk and Lena Tolochiy. This area in Long Island has great potential for additional studio locations and they plan on opening five studios there in the next 10 years.

The Bylims are very proud of the wonderful staff members in their studios – all former students of theirs from the Ukraine. "They are wonderful dancers. We know for sure because we’ve watched them grow," Sasha says. They want their staff members to have the same kind of opportunities that they’ve enjoyed, and would like to help them move forward professionally. "You can’t keep employees happy just by paying them well. Everyone needs incentives to grow in their career."

In January of this year, the Bylims became U.S. citizens, completing full-circle the journey they started twelve years ago. "As immigrants to this country," Olga explains, "it’s always been important to us to feel like we belong." We are fortunate that they found a new family with us at Fred Astaire.

The 38th United States Dance Championship

By Armando Martin, Fred Astaire National Dance Director

America’s most prestigious Dance Championship was held in Orlando, Florida from September 2-6 2008. It is hard to believe that it has been 38 years since John Monte, Fred Astaire's longtime Dance Director, began with a dream of running the United States Championships and - with so much hard work and perseverance - made it into what it is today.

USDC is where everyone from all over the world goes to showcase their talents, win titles, and why not, go to Disney World afterwards and this year was no exception. Having more that 7000 entries and couples from more than 37 countries, USDC was once again the place to be the first week in September.

It is only fitting that a competition that was created by the Fred Astaire Company would have so many of our couples compete and, in some cases, win the TOP titles; in fact, couples that are or will be affiliated with FADS very soon won 4 of the TOP 5 titles at this year’s championships…something that we should all be very proud and ecstatic about.

First and foremost, I would like to congratulate all of our FADS couples that participated all week long. Both Pro and Pro-Am couples truly made a great statement about the incredibly high caliber of dancing we have in our company today. There were times when I looked out onto the dance floor and saw two or three FADS Pro-Am couples in a final of a competition that started with 30 to 40 couples - very impressive.

The International Latin was won by our very own Riccardo Cocchi with his partner Yulia. The speed, power and precision that these two perfect Latin dancers displayed on the floor was incredible. They won all 5 dances with ease and conviction. Also in the Latin category, we had our longtime FADS National Latin Champions, Ilya and Nadia from New Jersey. Ilya and Nadia must have been very disappointed with their final result as I was; I thought their dancing was strong, classy, and full of their very own unique style.

The American Smooth was won by Jonathan Roberts and Valentina who have been doing a lot of work with our company since my first meeting with them last July and will be fully joining the company by October. Their dancing was fantastic and they had to be to uncrown last year’s champions the way they did. Valentina, as always, danced like a princess in some kind of perfect dream, never going outside of her character and always delighting the onlookers. Jonathan was the perfect partner to her, always showcasing her beauty and elegance.

Also in the Smooth final was one of my favorite couples in the competition, Misha and Gala from the New York East studio. They had the night of their lives! Although this couple has been coming up very quickly through the competitive ranks under the watchful eyes of Marina and Taliat Tarsinov, I believe that they surprised themselves with their placement, having never been in the US final before they jumped straight up to 4th place this year. Their dancing was inspired, beautiful and larger than life. If they continue to improve on this track, there is no title this great looking couple cannot win.

Other couples who deserve an honorable mention in the Smooth are Vladimir & Vera Kosarev from our Rochester, NY studio; Warren and Babette Brown from our Jupiter studio, and Yuriy Simakov and Oksana Klyuchnyk from North Carolina. All three couples showed great promise and, I am sure, will have much success in the future.

Although the standard competitions didn't produce any FADS winners, it was a great showcase for two very good couples in our company. Greg Fidurski and Gabriela Jileva from Montville, NJ were in the final of the Open to the World Rising Star competition and were also second in the Standard Showdance. This couple’s expression and musicality truly sets them apart when they are on the floor. Greg's happy-go-lucky personality is always a refreshing sight on the Standard floor, which is sometimes filled with very serious and focused faces.

Ruslan Meshkov and Sandra Nema from the Albany, NY studio had a fantastic USDC, placing second in the US Rising Star competition and fourth in the Open to the World Rising Star. This young, beautiful couple continues to improve by leaps and bounds. They have a very tall look on the floor while at the same time showing great depth in the use of their legs and feet. I haven’t seen this kind of combination since John Woods and Ann Lewis were the World Champions about 12 years ago. Keep watching for this couple in the future.

For the first time in a long time, the Open Rhythm competition did not showcase a FADS couple in the final, although Albina Habrle and Hayk Arshakian from Milwaukee danced well enough to have been in it. Aaron Desoto and Jaana Lillemagi turned out a great showing; they placed 6th in the Rising Star Rhythm, but in my estimation they could have been higher. They have a very good look on the floor and their dancing is getting better every time I see them.

Another couple to look out for is Ilya Velednitsky and Mandy Carlyle. I love this girl - she is a pleasure to watch and they have tons of talent and lots of time to develop it. Also Andrey and Elena from South Carolina made a good showing. Technically and visually, this couple has it all. If they could be a little more passionate and even wilder, they could really climb up the standing in this style.

The Cabaret competition was totally dominated by FADS. The top two couples fought a very good fight for the entire competition, no last names needed here…Eric and Georgia and Jesse and Kimalee, both trained by Luann and Bruno, were flawless in their performances. I had the difficult task of having to make a decision as one of the judges and I was well prepared to give the top ranking to Jesse and Kimalee until Eric laid Georgia flat on his head and began to spin as fast as was humanly possible. He stopped suddenly and she continued to spin on his head like a helicopter before coming down to a complete stop! Right then and there, my mark changed.

But I must congratulate both couples for their efforts, in a style that is full of some very weird even laughable performances. These four young people bring out all that is best in dance, athleticism and artistry.

Well, that's enough from me this time, but listen, as they say on the NFL, the winners always go to Disney World, so you too can see these great performances again in October at the Fred Astaire National Dance Championships in Orlando, FL. Come and be entertained and amazed at the talent that our company has to offer! See you in Orlando.

Dancing Tips - Cuban Motion

By Stanley Mc Calla, US 10 Dance Finalist, Fred Astaire National Smooth Champion, Fred Astaire National Dance Board Member, Coach and Adjudicator, Fred Astaire Dance Board Examiner

Hello there! I hope everything is well with you. A competition that I recently judged gave me the inspiration to revisit an article that I had submitted to you in the past.

While judging during that weekend of competition, I found myself rocking from foot to foot to an array of rhythmical melodies that were simply infectious to the soul. The energy projected and the fun expressed by the dancers brought me a nostalgic feeling that I couldn’t control. All the while I felt my essence swaying my body from left to right along with the competitors at the same time I was unconsciously wanting to help some of them with a better use of foot, leg and body action.

That’s why 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 left foot then slowly close your right foot to your left foot. All the while, remember your posture, the center, and bending and straightening your knees one at a time.

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

Until next time, happy dancing!


Stanley McCalla

Behind The Scenes Look at Jersey Boys

If you missed out on seeing the Fred Astaire Dance Studio's "Jersey Boys" showcase, go to for great pictures. You can also order prints and a video of the show there.

Article about local Broadway Show

Local stars cut a rug, Broadway-style

Decked out in fancy costumes, local dancers showed off skilled moves Sept. 12 at the Willowbrook Ballroom in Willow Springs. They cut loose on the cha-cha, rhumba, two-step, foxtrot and more during the Chicagoland Fred Astaire Showcase.

More than 300 people attended the event to watch the "Give My Regards to Broadway"-themed show. Nearly a dozen dancers hailed from Northwest Indiana.

Dancers performed with instructors and, in some instances, with their significant others. There also were open dance segments allowing anyone to step up to the floor.

A definite feeling of excitement permeated the air as couples performed to tunes from shows such as "Phantom of the Opera," "Cabaret," "Annie Get Your Gun," "Mama Mia" and "Moulin Rouge."

Those watching the show also were treated to a performance by professional dancers. The showcase was held at the perfect time -- since ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" new season debuts Monday.

"There's no age limit when it comes to dancing," said Schererville resident Bill Davy, owner of Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Schererville and Tinley Park.

Davy, who's been in the business for 30 years, said he's noticed the demographics have changed in a big way in ballroom dancing.

"Thirty years ago, you'd see people 60 years of age and older interested in ballroom dancing. As time has progressed, the ages have gotten younger," he said.

At his studios, he's taught everyone from teens to students 80 years old.For mother and daughter Donna and Diana Gescheidler, of Hammond, dancing provides them with an activity they can enjoy together.

During the showcase, daughter Diana performed to "Annie Get Your Gun," with instructor Jake Thomas, of Lansing. Her mother Donna delivered two dances, entertaining the crowd with the lyrical pirate-themed number titled "Pirates of the Caribbean" and a sweeping dance to music from "Phantom of the Opera."

Diana said she got interested in ballroom because of her mother's interest in dance."I took beginner's lessons and fell in love with it," Diana said, adding her mother gave her a gift certificate for lessons at the Schererville studio."I leave everything else behind when I dance." Donna said. She's also immersed in another type of dancing as a performer with the Indiana Ballet Theater in Merrillville.

Former teacher Rae Ann Ostenberg, of Crown Point, became so enamored of the craft she now owns a Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Burr Ridge."I was a public school teacher in the Crown Point school system for 23 years," she said. After a dramatic change in her life circumstances, Ostenberg decided to pursue her interest in dance.Maggie Cole, 14, of Munster, got bit by the dance bug after watching "Dancing with the Stars" on TV.

Cole, who performed to the soundtrack from "Mama Mia," said her mother, who is a personal trainer and diabetes educator, encouraged her to take lessons. "When I dance, it makes me feel happy," Cole said.

Other region ballroom terpsichoreans who performed at Willowbrook include:

* Charlene McCormick, Crown Point, is thrilled to trade in her business attire whenever she takes to the dance floor. A real estate agent dolled up as a flapper, McCormick pulled out all the stops during the showcase with her "Sweet Charity" number, which she performed with instructor Keith Clinton, of Valparaiso.
* Debbie Davy, Lansing, is sister to Bill Davy, who owns the two Fred Astaire dance studios. Davy, who is a nurse in the plastic and reconstructive surgery department at University of Chicago Hospital, started taking lessons four years ago at her brother's behest.
* Michael and Tamra Kenney, Schererville, decided to take ballroom dance lessons as a couple. She is a first grade teacher who "always loved to dance," and he is an executive compensation consultant who said taking lessons has given them a chance to enjoy the activity as a team.
* Madeline and Donald Casson, Dyer, performed a Viennese waltz to the lilting "Edelweiss," from the "Sound of Music." They started dancing two years ago -- and have been married for two years. Madeline is an accountant in Tinley Park, and Donald is a commercial garbage-truck driver for Allied Waste in Crestwood.
* Rick Strohl, Schererville, started to dance to "call my wife's bluff" when she hinted he ought to try it. Strohl said it's good exercise, a great stress reliever -- and fun.
* Becky Lovall, Highland, has only been cutting the rug in class for the past four months and says "it's a blast."

FYI: Fred Astaire Dance Studio, 121 E. Joliet St., Schererville (219) 322-5880 or 7901 W. 159th St., Tinley Park (219) 444-0123.

Cleveland Dancesport Challenge

Chris & Simona

This weekend at the Cleveland Dancesport Challenge, Fred Astaire Dance Studios were sitting pretty at the top of the heap! Aaron and Jaana from the Chicago North Studio placed first in all dances from a semi-final in the Open American Rhythm division. Chris and Simona, also from the Chicago North Studio, placed second in all dances from a semi-final in the Open American Smooth division. And Vladimir and Vera from the Buffalo Studio took straight firsts in the American Smooth Division. Thanks to all dancers for representing the Fred Astaire Organization so well!

Aaron & Jaana

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's All About The Chemistry

Success can turn on the couples' chemistry


How important is the right partner in ballroom dancing?

It's a crucial element, according to Fabian Sanchez, who was Marlee Matlin's partner last season on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars."
Sanchez, who has a Fred Astaire dance studio in a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, compares dancing to marriage.

"If there's no chemistry, it shows all over," he says. "I'd rather see a couple that has great chemistry and you believe their story than to see two amazingly talented technical dancers who have no chemistry."

Although Sanchez isn't part of the "Dancing" cast this season, he thinks the new lineup of talent sounds "awesome."

He's excited to see Corky Ballas join the pro dancers and curious to see how 82-year-old Cloris Leachman does under his tutelage.

"She's a little firecracker, from what I've heard," he says.

He thinks former boy band star Lance Bass, with his pop music background, and Kim Kardashian, who's young and striking, could do well.

And he wonders if Warren Sapp will follow in the footsteps of another football dancing king.

"He could surprise everybody and be another Emmitt Smith," says Sanchez. "Emmitt could get down, man."

Contact JULIE HINDS at 313-222-6427 or

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dancing With The Stars Tampa Bay

Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Florida, along with Heartbeat International, are gearing up for "Dancing With The Stars Tampa Bay" on Thursday, November 6th, 6:30-11:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Vinoy's Palm Court Ballroom in St. Petersburg, Florida.

This black-tie event is patterned after ABC's Dancing With The Stars where local community leaders from the Tampa Bay area are paired with professional ballroom instructors for a dazzling event. Performances will be judged by national and international ballroom competition adjudicators, combined with live audience votes. American Rhythm Champions and Dancing With The Stars celeb dancers Tony Dovolani and Elena Grinenko will be joining this year's event.

Best of Dancing With The Stars

Dance Revolution In Tampa Bay

Read this excerpt from a article about the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Palm Harbor, Florida:

"At Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Palm Harbor, Ballroom dancing is on the menu, and Tampa Bay on Demand's Virginia Johnson sampled some of the following entrees."Latin dancing, swing dancing, fox trot, tango waltzes, rumba cha-cha, swing, mambo salsa, samba - you name it we teach it all," explained co-owner Carol Elliot.

Twice a month-the dance studio throws a ballroom party complete with champagne, a free group lesson and a professional floorshow.

"It's wonderful-- you don't realize the muscles you aren't using until you start dancing," says student J. Paul Pepin of Tampa.Together instructors and co-owners Fletcher and Carol Elliott have nearly four decades of experience... "We can take anybody and teach them how to dance," assured Fletcher, and after a quick shoe change, and we are that anybody!"

Click here to read more.

Students from Milwaukee Central Studio Shine at USDC

Two students from the Milwaukee Central studio had great showings at this year’s United States Dance Championships in Orlando, Florida. Both students – Sarah Haworth and Susan Miller – showed the rest of the country that dancing the “Fred Astaire” way leads you to the top!

Susan Miller also did very well at the USDC. Dancing with Arshakian, Susan placed 4th in International Latin and 2nd in American Rhythm (B division). She has danced for the past seven years, participating in every regional and national Fred Astaire event during that time. It’s hard to believe that she was reluctant to take lessons at first! In fact, it was her husband who originally encouraged her to go for it, and now she hates to leave the dance floor. Susan was the 2005 US American Rhythm Champion in her division and has won top student awards for the past four years. At this year’s 2008 Emerald Ball, she won second place in Latin (C division). Well known as the best-groomed lady on the dance floor around the country, Susan is a joy to dance with. “As an instructor, I wish every teacher would have a student like Susan,” Arshakian says, “She doesn’t let anything stop her from becoming the dancer that she wants to be.” Susan dedicates her dances to the memory of her late-husband, Robert, who was “her best friend and best supporter,” Albina Habrle owner of the Milwaukee Central studio, notes.

Sarah Haworth, with her partner Hayk Arshakian, came away from the USDC with first place wins in American Rhythm and International Latin (A division). She also came in second place in Pro/Am South American Show Dance. It was a remarkable achievement considering that she is only seventeen years old! Sarah became interested in ballroom after seeing how much fun her parents were having taking lessons at the Milwaukee Central studio; she began dancing 2 ½ years ago and hasn’t stopped yet! At this year’s Emerald Ball, she placed first in American Rhythm (A) and Open Latin (A) and at the 2007 Ohio Star Ball, she won the World Pro/Am Junior International Latin and World Pro/Am Junior American Rhythm Championships. Arshakian is proud of his partner: “Anything Sarah does, she does perfectly.” A straight-A student and captain of her high school’s color guard team, she has also started a popular ballroom dance club in her school. Her future aspirations include becoming a professional dancer and eventually owning her own studio.

Congratulations to both Sarah and Susan! You did a terrific job of representing the Fred Astaire organization and we value and appreciate your commitment to dance!

Fred Astaire D.C. Studio's Spotlight & Trophy Award

Fred Astaire Spotlight & Trophy Awards at the Washington, D.C. Studio

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

Tentative Schedule – subject to change:
3:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. – Registration & Practice
3:30 to 4:30 p.m. – Act I
4:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. – Break - Open Dancing
5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. – Act II
6:00 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. – Trophy Awards
6:15 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. – Appetizers & Beverages
6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. - Open Dancing
8:15 p.m. - Professional Shows & Good Night Waltz

8315 Lee Highway, Suite 201

Spotlight package $175
Spectator tickets $20

Smart casual

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fred Astaire Studio in Memphis, TN Hosts "Dancing With the Docs"

The Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Memphis, TN, along with Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center, will host its second "Dancing with the Docs" fundraiser on October 10 at 7:30 p.m. at The Cannon Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $30 can be bought at the hospital or studio. All proceeds will benefit Le Bonheur's Cardiac Kids Camp, a week-long summer camp for children with cardiac-related diagnoses.

Minnesota Studio Kicks Into High Gear for National Ballroom Dance Week

The Fred Astaire studio in Rochester, Minnesota is celebrating the National Ballroom Dance Week in a big way from September 13-28! The National Ballroom Dance Week has been celebrated every September by dance clubs and studios across the country for almost 20 years. Its purpose is to increase awareness of the many mental, physical, and emotional benefits of ballroom dancing.

Staff and students from the Rochester studio are putting on a show at Century High School on Saturday, September 20th at 1 p.m. The theme is "A Tribute to Hollywood" and will feature performances danced to music from the silver screen. Tickets are $10 and proceeds will be donated to the high school's theater department.

The rest of the week will be filled with many public performances, social dances, and free classes for all dance levels. The closing events on Friday, September 26th include two free group classes at the studio.

Is dancing for you? Now is the time to find out! Look at the following list of events at the studio to find something suited just for you:

Tuesday, September 16
Adult Open House, 7:45-8:30 p.m.

Monday, September 22
Youth Open House, 6:15-7:00 p.m.
Dancing With The Stars Kickoff Party, 7-9:00 p.m.
Intermediate Salsa/Swing Class, 7-7:45 p.m.
Intro to Nightclub 2 Step Class, 7:45-8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, September 23
Dancing With The Stars Party, 7-9:00 p.m.
Beginner's Salsa/Swing Class, 7-7:45 p.m.
Practice Party, 7:45-8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, September 24
Youth Open House, 6:15-7:00 p.m.
Dancing With The Stars Party, 7-9:00 p.m.

Thursday, September 25
Beginner's Salsa/Merengue Class, 7-7:45 p.m.
Adult Open House, 7:45-8:30 p.m.

Friday, September 26
Adv. Salsa/Swing Class, 7-7:45 p.m.
Poise & Posture Class, 7:45-8:30 p.m.

Ballroom Dance Helps With Age-Related Memory Loss

According to a recent article, if you're tired of forgetting where you put your car keys or forgetting the name of a recent book you've read, there is something you can do about it...take up ballroom dancing! A study of 469 New Yorkers identified 4 pursuits that seemed most successful in fighting age-related memory loss: reading, playing a musical instrument, playing games, and ballroom dancing. Each reduced the risk of developing dementia by 63% with dancing offering the most benefit! Dr. Joe Verghese, one of the study's co-authors, is quoted in the article as saying: "There is a lot of mental effort in ballroom dancing. It requires coordination with your partner, it requires remembering steps. You have to follow the music." Click here to read more.

Night of the Dancing Stars

The Night of the Dancing Stars in Clemmons, North Carolina raised $8149 for the American Cancer Society. Dancers at the Fred Astaire studios in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Clemmons helped make this event a great success! Click here to view some clips of the performances.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Red Carpet" Bridal Event

On Thursday, September 25, "An Elegant Engagement," an upscale red carpet bridal event, will take place at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA. From 6-9 p.m., engaged couples can view a variety of wedding vendors, including wedding invitations and jewelers. The Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Plymouth is one of the sponsors. Dance studio owner Casey Baird and manager Forrest Burke-Moran will give away a ballroom dance instruction package during a scavenger hunt designed to entice brides and grooms to stop at each vendor's table. Click here to read more.

Toni Braxton Dancing Despite Heart Disease

Singer Toni Braxton is one of the upcoming celebrities taking a turn on the dance floor in this fall's Dancing With The Stars. According to an Access Hollywood article, Toni was diagnosed with heart disease five years ago and had a health scare last April. She signed up to do DWTS, determined to overcome the anxiety she has had about her health. Click here to read the full article.

NJ Fred Astaire Dance Studios Present 2008 Showcase "Jersey Boys"

The Fred Astaire Dance Studios of New Jersey will be presenting their Annual Showcase “Jersey Boys” at the Bergen County Technology School Theatre, 200 Hackensack Avenue, Hackensack, New Jersey 07601, this Saturday, September 13, 2008, at 6:30 PM.

Studios participating are the Fred Astaire Studios of Montville, Morristown, Red Bank, Upper Montclair and Westwood. Many exciting numbers will be performed by top ranked students in the nation with their fabulous professional instructors in ACT I and ACT II, one of which is Kostadin Bidjourov, Former United States American Smooth Finalist and Former United States Theatrical Arts Champion.

ACT III will be the highlight of the evening. The TOP PROFESSIONALS OF THE NATION will be performing to the music of “JERSEY BOYS”, some of which are Ilya Ifraimov and Nadia Goulina, 2006 -2008 United States International Latin Finalists, Greg Fidurski and Gabriela Jileva, 2008 United States Open Rising Star International Standard Finalists, Christina Penatello, (Former United States and World Mambo Champion, who was partnered by "Dancing With The Stars" Fabian Sanchez), dancing with her father, Charles Penatello, (Former Undefeated United States American Smooth and Rhythm Champion and America’s World Cup Champion) and many other wonderful professionals.

CHOREOGRAPHY OF ACT I & ACT II BY: Stephen Knight, Former United States American Rhythm Finalist, National Choreographer, Owner of the Fred Astaire Wisconsin Region, and National Adjudicator. Mr. Knight will make an appearance.

CHOREOGRAPHY OF ACT III BY: Bruno Collins, Former United States American Rhythm Champion, World British Exhibition Champion, National Choreographer, Owner of the Fred Astaire Florida Region, and World Adjudicator. Mr. Collins will also make an appearance.

Tickets are on sale for $25.00 per person. To reserve your seats, please contact Brittany Matthews at (732) 741-4188. Tickets are also being sold at the theatre the day of the performance. Join us for an evening of fun and entertainment.

USDSC 2008 Winner's Circle

Many Fred Astaire professional competitors danced their way to the top at the 2008 United States Dance Championships in Orlando, Florida, including:

Fred Astaire National Dance Board member Riccardo Cocchi with his partner Yulia Zagoruychenko won first place in the Open Professional Latin, International Latin, and South American Show Dance Championships.

Instructors from the Fred Astaire studio in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida swept the Cabaret and World Cabaret divisions: Eric Luna and Georgia Ambarian won first place and Jesse Benedetti and Kimalee Piedad won second place.

Ilya Ifraimov and Nadia Goulina, owners of the Fred Astaire studio in Montville, NJ, won 6th place in the International Latin Championships and 3rd place in South American Show Dance.

Greg Fidurski and Gabriela Jileva, owners of the Fred Astaire studio in Morristown, NJ, placed 2nd in the Rising Star International Standard Division and 6th in the Open Rising Star International Standard division. They also won 2nd place in the Classic Show Dance Championships.

Fred Astaire studio instructors Mikhail Zharinov and Galina Detkina won 4th place in the Smooth Dance Championships and 3rd place in the Rising Star Smooth division.

From one of the Fred Astaire studios in Chicago, Aaron DeSoto with partner Jaana Lillemagi came in 6th in the Rising Star Rhythm competition.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Did You Know?

Misty May-Treanor is so serious about her upcoming role on this season's Dancing With The Stars that she has been watching snippets of old Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers movies on YouTube!

Congratulations Tony Dovolani!

Fred Astaire champion dancer and Dancing With The Stars pro Tony Dovolani has two new dance students...his newborn twins: Adrian and Ariana. "We are so happy, I can't stop smiling," Dovolani told People Magazine. His wife, Lina, went into labor when he was practicing with his new dance partner, soap star Susan Lucci. Initially feeling bad about cutting the practice short, Lucci forced him into action. "She told me, 'What are you waiting for? Go!'" Dovolani exclaimed while imitating his dance partner's reaction. Click here to read more.

Monday, September 08, 2008

"Groovability" Dancers Dismiss Their Disability

A group of wheelchair ballroom dancers in Kansas City, MO have formed a nonprofit alternative dance organization called Groovability. According to a recent news article in the Kansas City Star, the Groovability dancers have given exhibitions at local studios and at able-bodied competitions from Nebraska to the St. Louis Star Ball. According to JoAnne Fluke, a 32-year-old vibrant woman with caudal regression, "I don't see my disability when I'm dancing...I see me." Click here to read the full article.

Fred Astaire Studio In Westwood, NJ Wins Top Honors

In a summer issue of the Bergen Record (the biggest newspaper in Bergen County, NJ), the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Westwood, NJ was honored as "Best Adult Dancing Lessons." Renata Kucieba, owner of the studio, explained that "every woman wants a guy who can dance." The most requested dances in her studio feature Latin rhythms, such as the Maranga, Salsa, and Cha-Cha. According to the article, "Kucieba...feels her greatest satisfaction came the night one married couple informed her they were no longer considering divorce...[Renata explains]: 'In today's career world, couples often find themselves torn in different directions. Dancing is a wonderful hobby for married couples. It brings them together and they love when it comes to touching each other.'"

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Timeliness of Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers

In debating the importance of classic black and white vs. color films in this article, the importance of Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers movies was mentioned:

"As for musicals, sure, you can name glorious Technicolor examples—adaptations of Broadway fare like The Music Man, My Fair Lady, and Oliver!, along with such originals as Singin’ in the Rain and An American in Paris. Yet even these take second place to nine black-and-white Fred Astaire–Ginger Rogers movies. Almost every great songwriter journeyed west to work with Astaire in the pre-color period, among them Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, and Cole Porter. Berlin, usually parsimonious with praise, said, 'You give Fred Astaire a song, and you could forget about it. If he did change anything, he made it better.'

So did Rogers. Astaire danced with other women in other movies, but the magic was no longer there. No matter how farcical or chaotic the plot, Astaire and Rogers established an island of elegance and passion. Their dancing 'was a vehicle of serious emotion between a man and a woman,' dance critic Arlene Croce observed. 'It never happened in the movies again.'"

Thursday, September 04, 2008

You're Never Too Young To Dance!

Dance Movies

You can watch beautiful dancing on the big or small screen! Pick and choose from this list of some of the best dance movies ever produced, taken from

A Chorus Line (1985): This film is a look into the life of a classic jazz dancer who is auditioning for a part in the Broadway show. A director is casting dancers for a large production from numbers of dancers who audition. As the competition gets harder and is narrowed to a few dancers who compete for spots in the production. Rated PG-13.

All That Jazz (1979): Directed, written and choreographed by Bob Fosse, who depicts his own life story as a womanizing and drug-using, jazz dancer. Starring Roy Scheider and Jessica Lange. Rated R.

Billy Elliot (2000): A talented young boy becomes torn between his unexpected adoration of dance and the collapse of his family. With Jamie Bell, Jean Heywood, Jamie Draven. Rated PG-13.

Body Rock (1984): Chilly (Lorenzo Lamas) has a talent for break-dancing. When his moves catch notice of an industry professional, Chilly finds his dreams of fame and riches coming true, for better or for worse. Rated PG-13.

Breakin’ (1984): A struggling young jazz dancer (Lucinda Dickey) meets up with two break-dancers and they grow to be the sensation of the street crowds. Rated PG.

Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogoloo (1984): A developer tries to tear down a neighborhood recreation center to build on. The local kids and break-dancers try to stop it. Rated PG.

Bring it On (2000): Starring Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku and Gabrielle Union. A champion high school cheerleading/dance squad discovers its prior captain stole all their top routines from an inner-city school and must scramble to battle at this year's championships. Rated PG-13.

Burn the Floor (1999): An explosive voyage through dance featuring several of the world's champion ballroom and Latin dancers. Rated PG-13.

Cabaret (1972): Directed by Bob Fosse, starring Liza Minelli. An American cabaret dancer, working at the downtown "Kit-Kat club" where anything goes on the stage, comes into contact with several characters that take her on a journey. Rated PG.

Center Stage (2000): Starring Amanda Schull, Ethan Stiefel, Sasha Radetsky and Zoe Saldana and featuring Julie Kent. A story of a young ballet dancer who follows her dreams and gets into the American Ballet Academy of New York (that feeds into New York’s finest ballet company). Her trials and hardships in dance and in her love life take her on a journey… A must see for ballet lovers. Rated PG-13.

Damn Yankees! (1958): Starring Gwen Verdon, a Washington Senators fan who makes a pact with the Devil to help his baseball squad win the league pennant. Rated PG.

Dance Academy (1988): Choreographed by Dennon and Sayhber Rawles. Vince stumbles into a dance school, when he becomes entranced and joins. The school's manager, is about to throw him out for shenanigans when Moon, the school's unruly new jazz instructor, vouches for him. Rated PG.

Dance With Me (1998): Vanessa Williams, Chayanne, and Kris Kristofferson star. A Cuban boy comes to America to meet his dancer father, who has no idea he exists. Rated PG.

Dancemaker (1999): A documentary about dancing students that unravel the hardships of dance as a profession. Rated PG.

Dancers (1987): Allesandra Ferri and Mikhail Baryshnikov star in this drama about the life of dancers as they embark on a romance. Rated PG.

Danzòn (1991): Julia (Maria Rojo) is a telephone operator who divides her time between her career, her daughter and the Danzòn: a Cuban dance that is very popular in Mexico and Central America. Rated PG-13.

Dirty Dancing (1987): A classic starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray. Spending the summer in camp with her family, Frances ('Baby') falls head over heels for the dancing instructor. A must see for all dance lovers. Rated PG-13.

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004): Part two to the classic “Dirty Dancing.” An American girl and her parents arrive in Cuba right before the Revolution breaks out. She meets a local boy who instantly notices her dancing abilities and romances her. But as Castro's forces are forcing Americans to leave the country, will she stay or will she go? Rated PG-13.

Do You Wanna Dance? (1999): A comedy about a poor boy who aims to win over a well-to-do girl despite her parents' opposition (in the background of modern and traditional Greek dancing). Rated PG-13.

Fame (1980): At the New York City High School for the Performing Arts, students get expert training that often leads to success as dancers, singers, etc. This movie follows four students from the moment they audition to get into the school, through the time they graduate. Rated R.

Fast Forward (1985): A musical about eight dancers from Ohio, who come to New York, to compete in a major talent competition... Rated PG.

Flamenco (1975): A close-up look at the passionate and hard working life of Flamenco Dancers. Rated PG-13.

Flashdance (1983): A struggling Pittsburgh woman with two occupations as a welder and an exotic dancer wants to get into ballet school. Rated R.

Footloose (1984): Starring Kevin Bacon, Ariel Moore and featuring Sarah Jessica Parker. A city boy comes to a small religious town where rock music and dancing have been forbidden and banned. Rated R.

Hairspray (2007): Starring John Travolta, Amanda Bynes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Britney Snow and newcomer Nikki Blonsky as Tracy Turnblad. Pleasantly plump teenager Tracy Turnblad teaches 1962 Baltimore a thing or two about integration after landing a spot on a local TV dance show. Rated PG.

Honey (2003): Starring Jessica Alba. Honey (Alba) is a sexy, tough music video choreographer who’s life is shaken up after her mentor gives her an ultimatum: sleep with him or be blacklisted in the dance industry. Rated PG-13.

How She Move (2007): Following her sister's passing away from drugs, a high school student is forced to depart her private school to go back to her old, crime-filled neighborhood where she reawakens an dubious passion for step dancing. Rated PG-13.

Lambada (1990): Kevin Laird is a Beverly Hills teacher by day and a mystery man by night who uses Lambada dance moves to first earn the school kid's respect, in order to teach them academics. But when a jealous student exposes Kevin's dual life, his two worlds crash, threatening his employment and reputation. Rated PG-13.

Mad Hot Ballroom (2005): A documentary about the students of several New York City elementary schools learn ballroom dancing and compete in a city wide dance competition. Rated PG.

Planet B-Boy (2008): A documentary look at the history of break-dancing’s influencing urban cultures around the world. Unrated.

Rize (2005): A documentary. Rize chronicles one of the newest forms of original dance that arises out of South Central Los Angeles with roots in clowning and street moves. Rated PG-13.

Roll Bounce (2005): Starring Bow Wow and Nick Cannon: a film with the backdrop of the 1970s roller-skating rival kids at the local rink. Rated PG-13.

Roseland (1977): "Roseland" is made up of three intertwining stories, all set in the renowned New York dance palace with one thing in common: finding the right dance partner.

Salsa (1988): A movie that is all about Salsa, passion and performing. Rated PG.

Saturday Night Fever (1977): Starring John Travolta. A young Brooklyn man feels his only opportunity to get somewhere is as king of the disco dance floor. Rated R.

Save the Last Dance (2001): Starring Julie Stiles and Derek Reynolds. A white Mid-western girl moves to Chicago, where her new boyfriend is a black teen from the South Side with a rough, semi-criminal past. She comes from a ballet background and dreams of getting into Julliard and he comes from a hip hop street style background, when their world’s collide so does their dancing. Rated PG-13.

Shall We Dance? (2004): Starring Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon. A workaholic takes an unexpected turn when he follows a beautiful woman to a Chicago dance studio and becomes a ballroom dancer. Rated PG-13.

Shall We Dance? (1997): This is the original version of the Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez movie in Japanese with English sub text.

Showgirls (1995): A young girl pushes her way to the top of Vegas as a Vegas Showgirl despite the hardships thrown in her path. Rated R.

Stayin’ Alive (1983): A documentary: "Stayin' Alive" launched disco fever which endured through the last quarter of the 20th century and into the new millennium.

Step Up (2006): A troubled teen commits a crime and is sentenced to community service in a dance school where he falls in love with dance and a girl. Rated PG-13.

Step Up 2: The Streets (2008): Romantic sparks occur between two dance students from different backgrounds at the Maryland School of the Arts. Rated PG-13.

Stepping Out (1991): Featuring Liza Minnelli, an incredibly entertaining “feel-good” dance film for the whole family to enjoy. Rated PG.

Stomp the Yard (2007): Starring Columbus Short and Meagan Good, featuring Ne-Yo. A troubled street dancer from Los Angeles is able to avoid juvenile hall by enrolling in college. But his efforts are sidelined when he is courted by the top two fraternities, both of which want and need his street-style dance moves to win the national step show competition. Rated PG-13.

Strictly Ballroom (1992): A comedy about competitive ballroom dancing between an unorthodox male ballroom dancer and a mousy girl that musters up enough courage to join him in his quest to blaze a trail into ballroom dancing despite the cynicism surrounding them.

Swing (2003): The story of a generational clash between a father and son about the conventional work life and following a dream. The music is hot, the dancing exciting, and the story lovely. Rated PG-13.

Swing Kids (1993): The story of a group of youth in Nazi Germany who listen and dance to forbidden swing regardless of the consequences. Rated PG-13.

Take the Lead (2006): Starring Antonio Banderas. The story of a dance teacher who believes in the talent of a group of problem kids he is required to teach. Rated PG-13.

Tango (1998): Mario is a tango dancer in his forties, whose wife has left him. He becomes inspired to make a film about tango. Rated PG-13.

Tap (1989): Starring the late Gregory Hines. Just released from prison, Max Washington must decide which of his earlier professions to return to: burglary or tap dancing. Rated PG-13.

That’s Dancing! (1985): The history of dance documented on film. Rated G.

The Company (2003): Starring Neve Cambell. A drama centered around ballet dancers, with a focus on one dancer (Campbell) who's poised to become a principal dancer. Rated PG-13.

The Forbidden Dance (1990): LAMBADA...If it got any hotter, it wouldn't be dancing! PG-13.

The In Crowd (1988): A young man of the rock and roll generation in his senior year of high school successfully gets on a popular teen dance television show and becomes a star. As he lives his new life, he finds adoring fans, jealous rivals, bitter friends left behind, and the girl of his dreams...his dance partner. Rated PG.

The Red Shoes (1948): A musical ballet of a girl who can’t stop dancing and dances until she goes mad and drops! Rated G.

The Tango Lesson (1997): A young girl meets a tango dancer on a trip to Paris, she meets him again in Buenos Aires some years later as they develop in love and in dance. Rated PG.

The Turning Point (1977): Possibly one of the most famous ballet movies of our time starring Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft. When her daughter joins a ballet company, a former dancer is forced to confront her long-ago decision to give up the stage to have a family. Enjoy some great ballet scenes from dancer Leslie Brown. Rated PG.

White Nights (1985): Starring Mikhail Baryshnikov. An expatriate Russian dancer is on a plane forced to land on Soviet territory. He is faced with an opportunity to defect from Russia to the USA with the help of a US citizen he comes in contact with. He can become a dancer for the Bolshoi again back in Russia, but he chooses to escape to dance in America. Rated PG-13.

You Got Served (2004): In order to achieve their dream of opening a recording studio, two friends must first win their city's dance contest: a street style competition that pits them against a group of tough street dancers. Rated PG-13.

Best Moments on Dancing With The Stars

Susan Young of has compiled a list of the top 10 best moments on Dancing With The Stars, listed on, including:

Can you add to the list?

Kids are "Little Stars" when ballroom dancing

Last year, when Dancing With The Stars began to feature children on the dance floor, younger generations saw that ballroom dancing isn't just for their grandparents anymore. Elena Ivanchenko, owner of the Fred Astaire studio in Charleston, South Carolina has noticed a recent increased attendance of children and teenagers in her classes. According to a recent news article in a Charleston newspaper, "her younger students feel like 'little stars' when they perform..." Click here to read more.

Bruce Hasson Is Coming Back to DC Studio

Bruce Hasson will be teaching private lessons at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Washington, D.C. on September 23-24. There will be a Smooth Group Class on September 23 at 8:00 p.m. and a Latin Group Class on September 24 at 8:00 p.m. Bruce is a former Hustle Champion, American Smooth and Rhythm Finalist, International Standard and Theatre Arts Finalist, and winner of several Fred Astaire Top Teacher Awards.

Smile Forever Fundraiser in New Jersey

By Jerry Roland

Fred Astaire Dance professionals and their students will perform at a fundraiser for the Smile Forever Foundation on Oct 29, 2008 at The Venetian in Garfield, NJ. The Smile Forever Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit charity that provides financial assistance to families experiencing disabling illnesses, especially cancer and autism, by contributing to living expenses. Since the Foundation is staffed by volunteers, 100% of the net proceeds are dispersed directly to those in need.

The Foundation was established by Pat Gonnelli as a tribute to his wife Barbara, who battled cancer for many years. She was a woman whose demeanor always made people smile, hence the name, Smile Forever, (not to be confused with Operation Smile).

The event will start at 6:30 and end at 11:00. The show will include Pro/Am show case dancing and performances by seven world famous professionals, three of which have performed on the TV show "Dancing With the Stars." From 10-11:00, there will be open dancing for the attendees. In addition, there will be nostalgic entertainment by two impersonators, i.e. Elvis and Frank Sinatra. As with most fundraisers, there will be live auction items to buy, silent action items, and a 50/50 raffle. The tickets range from $125.00 to $175.00, depending how close you are to the dance floor. Tickets can be obtained by calling or emailing the Fred Astaire Dance Studio at 201-664-0800 or respectively. Or, calling or emailing Jerry Roland at 201-670-9325 or respectively.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Next Fred Astaire National Competition

The 2008 National Dance Championships (NDC) will be held at the elegant Hilton Walt Disney World Resort on October 22 - 26, 2008.

Because this is an official hotel of WALT DISNEY WORLD®, guests can take advantage of many special privileges, including "Extra Magic Hours." This benefit provides Hilton guests with special access to select WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resort theme parks an hour early, or up to three hours in the evening, to enjoy easy access to some of the most popular attractions.

Enjoy the Hilton's two heated swimming pools, or work out at the fully-equipped health club. Five WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resort championship golf courses, home to the Funai Classic, are also nearby.

If you haven't talked to your instructor yet, please do so quickly. You can represent the studio, compete with some of the best dancers in the country, and have a great time at Disney!

Click here for more information on this exciting competition.

Did You Know?

"Puttin' on the Ritz," the song performed by Fred Astaire in the 1946 movie Blue Skies, was in part inspired by a 1920s fad involving Harlem residents dressing up and strolling up and down the borough's Lenox Avenue. "Puttin' on the Ritz" is slang for dressing well. The song was first written in 1929 by prolific Broadway songwriter Irving Berlin.

Guest Stars on New Dancing With The Stars!

The excitement keeps building for Season 7 of Dancing With The Stars! The new season will be kicked off on September 22, 2008 and aired on ABC at 8:00 to 10:00 P.M. ET. The result show of the first episode airing on September 24 will have the Jonas Brothers and Jesse McCartney as guest performers.

Here is the rundown on the celebrities cast this season:

LANCE BASS - Lance Bass has sold over 50 million records as a member of the phenomenally successful pop group 'NSYNC. He also executive produced and starred in a number of film and television projects. In 2002, he successfully trained to be a cosmonaut at Russia's Star City and was certified by both the Russian Space Program and NASA for a mission aboard a Soyuz capsule. Lance is paired with the 2006 U.S. Youth Latin Champ, 2007 World Swing Dance Champ, and "So You Think You Can Dance" finalist Lacey Schwimmer.

TONI BRAXTON - The winner of six Grammy Awards, Toni Braxton is a Billboard chart-topping singer and actress, selling over forty million records worldwide. Her U.S. number-one hit "Un-Break My Heart" is the second biggest single by a female artist in history. Toni teams up with Season One champion, Alec Mazo.

BROOKE BURKE - A network host, actress, entrepreneur and celebrity mom, Brooke Burke has graced numerous magazine covers, has her own top-selling swimsuit calendars, and is regularly ranked in men's magazines as one of the sexiest women in the world. Brooke teams with Derek Hough, a former world champion in Latin-American Dance.

ROCCO DISPIRITO - The James Beard Award-winning celebrity chef and author Rocco DiSpirito is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and opened the 3-star Union Pacific in New York City in 1997. In 2003 he launched Rocco's for the reality series, "The Restaurant." He partners with Karina Smirnoff who is a five-time U.S. National Champion, World Trophy Champion, and Asian Open Champion. Smirnoff is "the first woman to ever make the British Professional Final with three different partners."

MAURICE GREENE - The winner of two gold medals in the 100m sprint and the 4x100m relay at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics, track star Maurice Greene was dubbed the "World's Fastest Man" during his career. He is the current Indoor World Record holder in the 60m at 6.39 seconds. He teams up with two-time champion, Cheryl Burke.

KIM KARDASHIAN - Actress, model and reality television star, Kim Kardashian shot to stardom after the first airing of her hit E! reality series, "Keeping up with the Kardashians." Kardashian recently completed her first feature film, "Disaster Movie," and will also be seen on The N's series Beyond the Break. She teams up with defending champ, Mark Ballas, who returns for his third season.

CLORIS LEACHMAN - Actress Cloris Leachman's storied career has been recognized with nine Emmys®, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award®. Leachman has starred in a wide range of theater, television and motion picture projects, creating such indelible characters as Phyllis in the TV series "Phyllis" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," Frau Blucher in "Young Frankenstein," Nurse Diesel in "High Anxiety," and Ruth Popper in "The Last Picture Show" (for which she won an Oscar® and a BAFTA). Cloris teams with World Latin Champion and Mark's father, Corky Ballas.

CODY LINLEY - Cody Linley will be the youngest contestant ever to compete on "Dancing with the Stars." He is best known for his role as Jake Ryan on the wildly popular Disney Channel series "Hannah Montana," a role in which he was nominated for a Young Artist Award. Cody's film credits include "My Dog Skip," "HOOT," "Miss Congeniality," and "Cheaper By the Dozen." He teams with two-time Dancing with the Stars champ, Julianne Hough.

SUSAN LUCCI - As the most famous face in daytime television history, Lucci has held audiences spellbound for years as the sexy, sassy, beautiful woman you love to hate, Erica Kane on "All My Children." In May 1999, all of America stood and cheered when Susan Lucci won the Emmy® Award for Best Actress. She teams with Fred Astaire Champion dancer Tony Dovolani.

MISTY MAY-TREANOR - Beach Volleyball champion Misty May-Treanor and partner Kerri Walsh captured their second Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and became the first team ever to repeat as back-to-back champs. The victory also marked their 108th straight match win. Misty was also named Most Valuable Player in 2005 and 2006, Best Offensive Player in 2004, 2005 and 2006, and Best Defensive Player in 2006. She now joins a new teammate, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, a Ukrainian Latin Ballroom Dance Champion, choreographer, and instructor.

TED MCGINLEY - Actor Ted McGinley's extensive television credits include "Married with Children," "Hope & Faith," "Happy Days," recurring roles on the critically-acclaimed series "The West Wing," "Sports Night," "Charlie Lawrence," "Dynasty," and "The Love Boat." He has also starred in major films, such as "Pearl Harbor, Daybreak," "Dick," "Major League: Back to the Minors," "Wayne's World 2," and the cult hit "Revenge of the Nerds." Newcomer Inna Brayer will be paired with Ted. Inna is the current US Amateur 10 Dance Champion.

JEFFREY ROSS - Comedian Jeffrey Ross a.k.a. the "Roastmaster General," has delivered numerous show stopping performances at celebrity roasts honoring the likes of William Shatner, Hugh Hefner, Donald Trump, Pamela Anderson, Bob Saget and Emmitt Smith, inspiring New York Magazine to crown him The Meanest Man in Comedy. He has also appeared in such films as the Farrelley Brothers' "Stuck on You," and the critical sensation, "The Aristocrats." He teams with Edyta Sliwinska, who is the only pro to compete in all seven seasons of Dancing with the Stars.

WARREN SAPP - Recently retired defensive tackle and Superbowl Champion Warren Sapp played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders during his 13 year career. His 96.5 career sacks are the second-highest career total sacks for a defensive tackle in the NFL. Warren was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1999, played in seven consecutive Pro Bowls and won Super Bowl XXXVII with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003. He is teamed with Kym Johnson, an Australian former professional ballroom dancer, model, and television celebrity.

Jeweler creates Circle of Dance piece to fight AIDS

Elliott Herzlich, of Elliott's Jewelers in Whitehouse, Texas, has recently designed a necklace that will appeal to a specific audience: ballroom dancers. Herzlich donated this necklace to be auctioned during the third annual "Dancing with the Tyler Stars" event on September 20. It is a 14kt yellow gold necklace set with baguette diamonds surrounding gold waltzing dancers, valued over $4000.

According to an article published in the Tri County Leader, "Herzlich said he and his wife got involved in ballroom dancing just looking for a hobby they could do together.
"We aren't very good at it," he said. "But we enjoy the time we spend together and meeting new people. We call it our date night.""

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Sure, Dancing Is Fun...But Is It A Good Workout Too?

Most people think dancing is something you do at weddings or in clubs with friends. You might work up a sweat and have a lot of fun but is it really a workout? The answer is a resounding...yes! Just ask any dancer and they will agree! In this article by Sheri Reid, Associate Executive Director of the Mid-Shore Family YMCA, the various physical benefits of dancing (ballroom, line, and zumba) are explained in detail.

Night of the Dancing Stars

They're putting on their dancing shoes in Greensboro, North Carolina! The third annual "Night of the Dancing Stars," a fundraiser for a Winston-Salem Relay for Life team, will be held on September 10th. Click here to read more.