Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dancing With The Stars 2010


Former Boy Meets World star and current The Dish host Danielle Fishel aspires to be on Dancing With The Stars in 2010.

“I’ve told them really straight forwardly that I really want to do the show, and unfortunately they’ve got thousands of other celebrities that feel the exact same way,” she tells me. “There are so many people who want to do that show because it’s a real classy show, especially for reality TV. I told them I’m interested, they know I’m interested, and hopefully one day they’ll think I’d be a good fit for the show. “

Her dream partner is Maksim.

“He is the biggest, manliest dancer they have on that show, and I think for me to have a male dance partner, I would want someone that I felt very feminine next to. I think he’s the manliest dancer on the show.”

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

No Tour Planned For So You Think You Can Dance Season 6!

It looks like Season 6's winners probably won't be going on tour. Last week, finalist Mollee Gray "tweeted:" "I just heard we aren't having a tour?! Ugghh man that sucks for sure ... :( I'm gunna cry :("
Because "So You Think You Can Dance" aired two back-to-back seasons for the first time -- with 6 starting in September, barely a month after 5 finished -- and Season 7 auditions beginning in just a couple weeks, no tour is planned for Season 6's top 10 finalists.

Start The New Year On The Right Foot!!

New Dance Movie in 2010


Step Up 3-D will premiere on August 6, 2010

Now that America is unabashedly in love with dancing (thank you, America's Best Dance Crew, So You Think You Can Dance, and Dancing with the Stars), you don't have to hide your excitement for yet another Step Up sequel! Next August, Step Up 2 the Streets director Jon Chu takes his crew to the mean rues of Paris, where MSA nerd-popper Moose (Adam Sevani, who battled Miley Cyrus in an online dance-off last year) has been left behind like Kevin McAllister in Home Alone 2 and joins forces with his new French pals to win an international dance competition. Former Step Up stars Briana Evigan, Robert Hoffman, and Channing Tatum show up, along with SYTYCD alums Twitch, Katee, Joshua, and Ivan.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dancing With The Stars - Next Season

Rumor has it that Season 10 of Dancing With The Stars is targeted for a March 22, 2010 premiere. Rumored celebrity contestants include Kate Gosselin, Jennifer Grey, Jermaine Dupri, and Levi Johnston.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Year's Resolutions For Dancers


Many people set goals to work toward in the coming year. If you are a dancer, perhaps you can think of a few ways to improve your dancing. Here is a list of new year's resolutions for dancers...write down a few and get dancing. Good luck!

Limber Up
A dancer can't be too flexible. All styles of dance require excellent flexibility to perform steps and jumps correctly. If your flexibility could use some improvement, make it a habit to stretch each night before bed and each morning before breakfast. You'll be amazed at how quickly you become more limber. And you'll love what it does for your dancing.

Get Stronger
Dancers need to be strong. Strength allows a dancer to move quickly and protects against injury. Try adding a few strength-building exercises to your daily routine. Incorporate a variety of exercises to strengthen the entire body.

Try a New Style
All dancers can benefit from trying out a new dance style. Trying a different type of dance not only challenges the body, but also the mind.

Challenge Yourself ***
Don't be afraid to give yourself a challenge this year. Maybe you've never had the confidence to enter a dance competition or perform a solo routine. You'll never know what all you can achieve if you don't try.

*** Live out your dreams in 2010 at a Fred Astaire Dance Studios National Competition! Go to for more information on the exciting events we've got planned for next year!

Dancing Tips...Food For Thought During This Happy Holiday Season

Dear Dancers,

The holiday season is already upon us. The party mood will soon set in, and our palates will be ready for good home cooking.

As a dancer, however, and for some of us, the thought in the back of our minds will be ‘TO INDULGE OR NOT TO INDULGE!”

As a professional who has experienced the dilemma of absorbing the proper amount of food for ultimate performance, I agree that overindulgence is not the way to go. However, without restraining yourself too much, you may take pleasure in savoring your holiday meal by being a bit selective.

One of the way to be efficient as a performer is to prevent the onset of iron deficiency in one’s body.

To paraphrase Nicolette Aisen, an expert dietician in the dance field, as a dancer we should attempt to:
  • Eat more iron rich foods such as lean red meat, skinless chicken, fish, eggs and legumes.
  • Include Vitamin C rich foods or drinks at each meal.
  • Eat more wholegrain breads and iron-fortified cereals.
  • Drink tea and coffee between meals rather than with them.

If you are vegetarian or restricting certain food groups from your diet, obtain further dietary advice to suit individual requirements.

If you manage to eat satisfactorily by enriching your body with the right ingredients as per the above tips, congratulations… If not? Forgive yourself and try to get back on track as soon as you can after the holidays.

Meanwhile my best wishes for this Holiday season and a happy new dancing year.

Stanley McCalla, Dance Board member and examiner, National Champion and adjudicator

Monday, December 21, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance, Season 7 Audition Dates

Monday, January 18, 2010 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County
1300 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, FL 33132

Monday, January 25, 2010 at the Manhattan Center
311 W. 34th Street
Between 8th & 9th Avenues
New York, New York 10001

Dancers must be either a US citizen or legal permanent resident of the US, possess a current legal Employment Authorization Card enabling him/her to seek employment freely in the US (i.e., without restrictions as to employer) by the date specified in the eligibility rules. Dancers must be no younger than 18 or older than 30 years of age on the first day they register for auditions. Any dancer who is a minor in his/her state of residence must also have a parent or legal guardian sign all required documents. Dancers must provide legal, valid proof of age when they register for auditions. Check for full eligibility rules.

My Golden Dancers

Appearances are Deceiving

By Elita Clayman

I am not ashamed to say I love soap operas. I have been watching them since I got married 49 years ago. I first started viewing one of them at 1:30 in the afternoon. Here is why.

My husband had a grandmother when I married him. I never had any grandparents because they were all deceased before I was born. My new grandmother Annie loved to watch one particular soap called As the World Turns. So in order to have something to converse with her about, I would turn on this show. Then I would call her on the phone the next day and we would talk about the storyline. I adored this little old lady who was my grandmother-in-law.

It was fun to talk to an old lady who was about 88 then about the silly storylines on the serial. We would conduct a lengthy discussion on the day’s happenings, and I felt good knowing I shared a little moment in her life. I loved her so much.

We can all find a person in our lives that came into our life at a later time and who influences us a bit and we in turn influence them and we have something in common, even a soap opera story.

Many times when we are out dancing at a competition or a social dance or even a group dance lesson, we will meet a stranger that appeals to us either as just a friend or maybe something romantic could happen. We talk, we dance, we mingle, we socialize, and we dream of what could be taking place.

Once, when we were social dancing on a Saturday night at the dance studio, there was a very short man who was dancing with a very short woman. We assumed they were married; they danced beautifully together and were very coordinated and enchanting in their movements. I was told after seeing them many times and thinking they were a darling couple that they were actually brother and sister. I then could see the resemblance after hearing that. So two siblings, each single, had taken up ballroom dancing. They had no other partners and they enjoyed their dancing and their activity so much that they appeared to be a married couple or a dating couple to the average person who saw them dance.

Another time, a father brought his teenage daughter to the dances. She danced with her dad and a few younger men and then sat a lot. I found out that her mom had died and her father wanted to go out on Saturday to dance and did not want to leave her alone so soon after the demise of the parent. She came often but, after several months, she stopped. This was not a place for a teen with all adults, and so he ceased to bring her and let her be with her own age group. She had become an excellent dancer.

One day, a fellow walked in with long hair, and he reminded me of a singer named Tiny Tim. He came with an Asian lady and they danced very well. He looked quite weird with his long hair for this time in his aged life but when he danced you forgot the ugly hair and saw the two meld as one and dance the night away. They were a married couple. His hair was longer than hers and once you got past the mane, you saw him as a different person. So looks can be deceiving and not an accurate noting of a person and who they really are.

Soap operas depict people who are often like ordinary people. Other times, they depict people who are wealthy and powerful and who try to demean the every day person and from that evolves stories that go on and on. Many times, a story will be relevant to life as it is now and of illnesses people have and emotional problems between members of a family and social contacts too.

People with long hair, brothers and sisters, fathers and daughters, grandparents-in-law and just regular folks ballroom dance and when they dance, we do not know what their job or profession is. A short guy can be a revered physician or lawyer, a father can be a successful business man, a long haired fellow can be an accomplished certified public accountant and a granddaughter-in- law who found the love of a soap opera through her new husband’s grandmother can be a writer of dance articles.

Ballroom dancing brings together people of all walks of life and in doing so we examine our hearts and our souls and we find ourselves addicted to this inspiring activity that nurtures our every moment with hours of excitement and exercise. We do not need shows like Dancing with the Stars to enhance our days.

Real ballroom dancers do not take seven hours of lessons six days a week to learn as these people do. They go about this in a manner that a normal ballroom dancer does not. We do not take forty hours a week (we could not afford the cost and our bodies could not take the rigorous activity). We, with our teachers, do not do the show stopping routines even with a competition. We do not learn one dance a day for the whole seven hours. If we did, we would not survive and continue on. We would be bored, tired and restless.

My main concern with shows like this is that they do not portray the reality of learning to ballroom dance. They portray a specific and intense manner of learning that is really not productive for us as regular people. I think that when we see someone in our group or our studio or our dance class who is really trying hard to become excellent, then that is who we should emulate.

The kid with her dad, the brother and sister, the long haired man and the soap opera addict (who loves to dance - me) are the ones people should imitate. They are the true and meaningful ballroom dancers who will inspire others to dance. That way, ballroom dancing will survive because real people like us are expanding the public’s notion on who ballroom dancers actually are. We dancers are special people performing a delightful performance of outstanding learning and happiness.

Ballroom dancing is something meaningful to us. We are the panorama and the view is beautiful and we are ever the brightness of the dance floor. We continue on and we are constantly evolving into the best we can be.

We are the bright lights in the dancing world and no one can extinguish our joy, our delight and our spirit in what we do.
We are on 52 weeks a year. Nothing can stop us. We are excellent and we know it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Get That Dancing With The Stars Look!

Looking for a self tanner that won't leave streaks and spreads equally? Try Fake Bake tanning products to look naturally tan in the dead of winter!

STORM Brings 1,000 Dancers Together to Benefit the Variety Club


Following the success of the 2009 STORM Dance Clinic, local choreographer Tommy Radon announces STORM’s first 2010 fundraiser, which he promises will be bigger and better than this year’s event. “Dancing for a Dream” will be held on January 16, 2010 at the Adam’s Mark Hotel, 120 Church Street, Buffalo, NY. The goal is to raise $40,000 with all proceeds benefiting the Variety Club of Buffalo.

From 9:00am to 6:00pm, there will be a series of twelve 45-minute dance workshops in styles comprising Ballet, Ballroom, Belly Dancing, Break Dancing, Hip-Hop, Jazz and Lyrical Jazz. Each class will be taught by professional instructors who hold some of the most prestigious titles in the world of dance. Andrei and Anastasia Abrashin, from the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Williamsville, NY, are three time US Nine Dance Champions and Theatrical Arts Champions. Vladimir and Vera Kosarev, from the same studio, are US National Fred Astaire Smooth Champions.

Local instructors will be joined by Anna Trebunskaya, whose titles include 2004 US Rising Star Latin Champion and 2008 US National Dancesport Latin Finalist. Anna is also one of the professional instructors on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars”. She will be teaching two Master Classes at “Dancing for a Dream” and, for an additional fee, is also available for private lessons during the day.

Tommy hopes to sell over 1,000 tickets for the event, which runs from 9:00am to Midnight and includes a Professional Dance Show at 8:30pm followed by general dancing. “This is a great opportunity for the dance community of Buffalo to donate to those less fortunate while learning from some of the best in the business”, says Tommy. “Everyone is welcome, regardless of experience and ability. You can join in every workshop or just come to watch but, once you see what’s happening, it will be hard to sit still.”

An all-day pass to the event, which includes all workshops and the evening entertainment, is $40. Reservations can be made at or by phone at 716-310-8027.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fred Astaire & The Holidays

Did you know that Mr. Fred Astaire was in three holiday movies?

"Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" - A 1970 television special starring Astaire as the narrator and Mickey Rooney as Kris Kringle/Santa Claus. The film tells the story of how Santa Claus and several Claus-related Christmas traditions came to be. It is still played every year on television.

"The Man in the Santa Claus Suit" - A made for TV movie. Fred Astaire had eight different roles and sang the title song.

"Holiday Inn" - A 1942 film starring Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby. An original song from this movie is "White Christmas."

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

'Dancing with the Stars' star visits Crestview

From the crestviewbullentin:(Crestview, FL)

By Brian Hughes
Nita Smeddon ended up with two instructors for her regular afternoon dance lesson at the Crestview Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Her usual teacher Scott Seip’s expertise was supplemented by an acknowledged expert in the art of the dance, Edyta Sliwinska.

Sliwinska, best known for her nine seasons on TV’s “Dancing with the Stars,” was in town last Friday and spent most of her day at the Main Street dance studio working with Fred Astaire’s clients. That evening she offered a group lesson.

Smeddon wasn’t Sliwinska’s only pupil during the lesson, however. She had several others, who just didn’t happen to be out on the dance floor at the time.

“The staff is listening and watching and learning,” said studio owner and manager David Colón. “It’s awesome. It’s a good chance to learn from the best.”

“I think Scott’s having the most fun,” observed studio co-owner Erica Moreno as Sliwinska propelled him along the floor in a sultry tango to demonstrate the steps for Sneddon. “He’s in her arms a lot. He is going to have nice dreams tonight!”

Moreno said Seip wanted to make sure someone took his photo with Sliwinska because his buddies didn’t believe he would be spending the day with a television personality, let alone being frequently embraced in a dance with her.

Also watching from the sidelines was Crestview High School junior Yumi Terrell, whose lesson followed Smeddon’s. She was looking forward to learning a few extra pointers from the out-of-town celebrity guest—until she went online, looked up Sliwinska’s impressive credentials and started feeling a bit out of her league.

“Now she’s a little nervous,” chuckled Krickett Goutreaux, another Fred Astaire instructor, who, turning to the student, indicated Seip and said, “C’mon, Yumi, you dance with a star every day.”

But as Smeddon’s lesson came to a close and Yumi got to observe how personable Sliwinska was with the pupil, Yumi was ready to hit the floor herself. As for Smeddon, her eyes sparkled as she headed for a chair.
“That was so much fun!” she said. “I had a wonderful time. She (Sliwinska) is darling.”

The Polish dancer, who on the most recent season of “Dancing with the Stars” was partnered with writer/musician Ashley Hamilton, found her visit to the Hub City a welcome change. Instructing ordinary people was more relaxing than teaching celebrities, she said.

“When you work with some stars, you have to brace yourself for moody people who are late all the time,” Sliwinska said. “Dancing with regular people is more pleasurable.”

After a quick break for some fresh fruit and water, Sliwinska was ready to hit the floor once more with Seip and his next pupil, the now-eager Yumi.
“For me, the effort is pretty much the same,” Sliwinska said. “I give each student I take 100 percent, whether they’re movie stars or regular people. There’s no difference.”

For budding dancers such as Nita Sneddon and Yumi Terrell, however, their 45-minute encounters with the famous dancer indeed made a difference, and created memories they will always remember.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Scenes We Love


We have television to thank for a serious dance renaissance. TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars have introduced a new generation to the joys of the samba, the waltz, and the quickstep, while High School Musical (and now, Glee) brought song-and-dance production numbers back into vogue. Suddenly it seems like the world's gone dance crazy. Of course, geeks like me, who grew up watching the great movie musicals, have been dance crazy for most of our lives.

On this week's episode of SYTYCD, show producer/judge Nigel Lythgoe lectured a pair of dancers about the importance of telling a story through choreography, instructing them that technical proficiency isn't enough --the audience wants to understand who the characters are, what the relationship is, and what they're trying to convey. Well, if he'd wanted to illustrate that concept, Lythgoe could do worse than to point his young contestants at 1953's The Band Wagon, starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. Directed by the great Vincente Minnelli, the musical tells the story of an aging hoofer who hopes to reinvigorate his career by starring in a hilariously awful musical interpretation of Faust, which turns out to be such a disaster that he and his comely co-star, along with the show's writers (Oscar Levant and Nanette Fabray), have to create an entirely new show on the fly to replace it.

The whole thing is a classic MGM-musical device -- the "let's put on a show!" plot, which allows for a number of disparate songs and dance sequences, from the comic ("Triplets") to the typically ambitious Astaire routines ("Shine On Your Shoes"). The major set piece of the new show is "Girl Hunt," a lengthy modern-ballet piece modeled on Mickey Spillane's 1950's detective fiction, starring Astaire as the private-eye and Charisse (who, by the way, Nigel Lythgoe danced with back in his chorus-boy days) as an irresistibly mysterious dame. It's the sort of supposed Broadway number at which MGM musicals excelled -- utterly impossible to stage in an actual theater, of course, but brilliantly entertaining on the big screen.

The entire sequence is pure joy to watch, and justly famous (not just because Michael Jackson used it as inspiration for his "Smooth Criminal" video, either.) In this too-short excerpt, Charisse is beyond stunning in a red sequin dress, with legs that go on for days -- be sure to notice how Astaire's gun comes to attention when she drapes herself across him. Better yet, rent the whole movie on DVD. There's not a moment of The Band Wagon that isn't magical.

Monday, November 30, 2009


The Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Manasquan, New Jersey is hosting a holiday fundraiser on Sunday, December 13, 2009 from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. to benefit the Food Banks in Monmouth & Ocean counties. The community is invited to donate any canned goods or other non-perishable food items at their official drop point in the Orchards at Wall shopping plaza, next to Pier 1 Imports. Dance director Britt Matthews says monetary donations are also welcomed.

“Attendees who donate money for the food bank will have their contribution matched by our Fred Astaire Studio,” notes Matthews. “In addition, all donors will receive a raffle ticket for prizes throughout the day, but monetary donors will receive an extra ticket as an even bigger incentive.”

Vendors offering last minute holiday items and donating a portion of their sales include Pampered Chef, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Sipada, Daizu Soy Candles and Fred Astaire Studio. Door prizes will be donated by The Mill, Algonquin Theatre, Hand & Stone Massage, Fred Astaire Studio, Garrow Family Chiropractic, Broadway Ray, and much more. If you’re looking to sell your gold, bring your jewelry and speak with a gold expert! Dancers from Fred Astaire Studio will perform dance demonstrations throughout the afternoon. Any new students who purchase the Fred Astaire Introductory Special that day, Fred Astaire Studio will donate 100% of those proceeds to the Food Bank. Refreshments will be served throughout the day as well.

For additional information contact Fred Astaire Studio at 732-528-0151.

Monday, November 23, 2009

How Do They Do It? It's All In The Bottle!

According to a recent news article published in The Wall Street Journal, the cast of Dancing With The Stars goes through more than six gallons of spray-tan liquid each 10-week season!

Contestants and professional dancers get sprayed down the Sunday before each televised competition. Depending on the dance they are performing, the makeup artists apply a specific tone of tan. Latin dances like the Rumba call for darker shades while hands, necks, and ankles are mainly worked on for dances like the Waltz and Foxtrot since most of the body is covered.

Self tanners take six to eight hours to set and wears off after a week.

There is a rumor that in Season 6 (2008), contestant Jason Taylor, who is African-American, had to get spray tanned because his professional dance partner, Edyta Sliwinska had over-sprayed and was darker than he was!

Top Dancers Are In New York!

The staff at the New York East Fred Astaire Dance Studio are not only great teachers, but top dancers as well! We proudly congratulate them on their tremendous success at the National Dance Championships in Orlando, Florida.
Sonya Fil and Eugene Graev, 2009 Fred Astaire National Vice Champions in Open Professional International Latin
Galina Detkina and Mikhail Zharinov, 2009 Fred Astaire National Champions in Open Professional American Smooth
Radostina Gerova and Plamen Danailov, 2009 Fred Astaire National Champions in Open Professional International Latin

News From Milwaukee

The Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Brookfield, Wisconsin is carrying on the tradition of excellence set by our co-founder, Mr. Fred Astaire. Studio owner Albina Habrle, along with her new partner of 10 months, Ricky Bentzen, placed fifth in American Rhythm at the most prestigious competition in the United States, the United States Dance Championships 2009! Professional competitive dancing is an important part of the studio’s makeup. In all major competitions and national events across the country, dancers from the Milwaukee Central studio and other studios in the surrounding area strongly represent Fred Astaire Dance Studios! For example, at the AAC 2009, the top five winners of the American Rising Star Rhythm Championship were all from either Milwaukee or Chicago! In Albina’s studio alone, all but two of the nine staff members there are active professional competitors. Albina is able to pursue her dancing due, in large part, to the help of her well-organized studio manager, Nicholas Plante. Additionally, Albina credits all of her staff members for her successes: “I owe so much to my staff. Most of them have been with me since day one.” Although the studio had been in the same location for the past 12 years, they moved into a much bigger facility this year due to their expanding student body! Doubling the size of their old studio, their new facility is 10,000 square feet with a large master ballroom and junior ballroom. Congratulations to Albina and all the hardworking staff members in the Milwaukee Central studio for a wonderful year!

New Studio in Princeton, New Jersey

The glitz… the glamour… the music… the passion has finally come to Princeton, New Jersey. Fred Astaire Franchise Dance Studios is proud to announce the grand opening of their Princeton studio, conveniently located in the Princeton Shopping Center. Owned and operated by Professional Dance Champions Ilya Ifraimov and Nadia Goulina and Fred Astaire National Champion Millie Dhirmalani, this studio offers top-notch training for their students. The studio features a full-size ballroom, including a separate area for group classes, showcase dances, and wedding choreography. The chic, city-like décor, complimented by state-of-the-art lights and sound systems, and the fully certified staff provides a professional atmosphere for their students. On Saturday October 3, 2009 the Fred Astaire staff held an Open House from 11:00-6:00 p.m. The open house began with the official ribbon cutting ceremony by Mayor Bernard Miller. Afterwards, the studio hosted free group classes, social dancing, and an evening of showcase dance performances by both professionals and amateurs.

Spotlight On...Greg Fidurski & Gabriela Jileva

By Catherine Brill, Fred Astaire Dance Studios copywriter

Greg Fidurski and Gabriela Jileva have it all – a thriving studio combined with a distinguished competitive dancing career. Although their workday schedules are structured and rigorous, with mornings devoted strictly to dancing and the rest of the day to running their studio, they are able to successfully balance the challenges of studio ownership and the intensity of competing with enthusiasm and good cheer.

Dance partners and co-owners of the Morristown, New Jersey studio, both Greg and Gabriela (“Gaby”) have years of experience in dance. Gaby started dancing and competing at the young age of 10 in her native country of Bulgaria where she won the National Open International Standard title and represented Bulgaria in the World Cup Championships. Greg has danced for the past 24 years. Originally from Poland, Greg was the Polish National Youth and Open International Standard Champion, representing his country in many international championships while running a dance studio for children there. When Gaby moved to the United States eleven years ago, she began teaching at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Upper Montclair, New Jersey; Greg, arriving in the U.S. a few years later, taught at an independent studio before moving to our organization. They began to dance together in 2006, and it became quickly apparent that their partnership was a winning combination.

A month after competing for the fi rst time at a New York/New Jersey regional competition, they won the National Fred Astaire Open International Standard Championship. After dancing less than year together, they were National Rising Star fi nalists. In 2007, they became International Standard Rising Star vice-champions as well as Masters World Cup finalists and Classic Show Dance vicechampions. In 2008, for the third time in three years, they became Fred Astaire National Open International Standard Champions, Rising Star Standard vice-champions, and World Masters vice-champions.

As if this wasn’t enough, they recently decided to add Smooth style dancing to their repertoire. At this year’s NDC, they placed 4th in the American Open Smooth division!

“I have the best partner in the world. We are really a great team,” Gaby says.

Their commitment to our national competitions is unwavering. For the past three years, Gaby and Greg have competed in nearly every single Fred Astaire national competition, missing only one because of a flight cancellation!

Of their performance at last year’s United States Dance Championships, Armando Martin, our National Dance Director, noted: “Although the standard competitions didn’t produce any FADS winners, it was a great showcase ... Greg and Gaby … 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…”

Greg and Gaby opened a brand new Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Morristown, New Jersey. Their studio has been running for over two years now and is only getting stronger. According to Gaby, “We have the best staff anyone could dream of.”

Over the years, they have found that it is the people associated with our organization who make all the difference. Along with Antoinette Benevento and Rae Josephs, Gaby gives special credit to her mentor, Kay Connors. “If there’s a reason why I’m with Fred Astaire, her name is Kay Connors. It’s hard to disappoint people when they believe in you. You don’t want to disappoint them, and I don’t want to disappoint Kay.”

Along with working on their Smooth and Standard dancing, their main goal for the upcoming years is to develop their studio to its fullest potential. We have no doubt that they will achieve this with their usual determination, energy, and drive.

Dancing With The Dedham Stars


Six prominent residents to strut their stuff, and all for a good cause - boosting the local schools
By Michele Morgan Bolton, Globe Correspondent November 22, 2009

Selectman Jim MacDonald is known for his careful and conservative approach to issues and, in his own words, is something of a stiff.
So the 2-minute, 20-second routine he’s rehearsing to perform, in costume, with a partner, in front of practically the whole town, is a leap outside his comfort zone. To say the least.

“I said, ‘I don’t dance,’ ’’ the six-term selectman stressed as he recounted a chat with Dimitria Sullivan, president of the Dedham Educational Partnership, the nonprofit that’s sponsoring the second annual “Dancing With the Dedham Stars.’’

“She said, ‘That’s OK.’ And I said, ‘No. You don’t understand. I really don’t dance.’ ’’

But after several months of ballroom dancing lessons and countless rehearsals, MacDonald and five other prominent Dedham residents will take to the floor at Moseley’s and trip the light fantastic on Dec. 5 to raise money for the partnership.

“It’s so out of character for people who know me,’’ said MacDonald, who is a lawyer. “I am a strait-laced and by-the-books kind of guy. My wife has been trying to get me to dance for 30 years.’’

For such a regimented soul, MacDonald is coming around and learning to let down his guard. When he first met with dance partner Taylor Gough, he had some difficulty unwinding. But the rhythm soon started to take over.
“It’s really about getting the steps, getting the moves,’’ he said. “Well, I just do what she tells me to do.’’

Last year’s event, which raised $18,000 for the group for a variety of initiatives at the public schools, was so popular that tickets to this year’s version sold out in a week. The names on the dance card were chosen by a four-person DEP committee that put together a large list of potential dancers from all over town.

“Basically, they were who we thought would bring people in,’’ Sullivan said. “And we wanted it to be as inclusive of as many groups as there are.’’
Some weight went to the bucketload of e-mails that poured in after last year’s show from people who said they’d love to be picked.

But the final lineup has come down to: MacDonald; Dedham High School nurse Maria Antonuccio; Oakdale School principal Holli Armstrong; former Dedham police officer and school resource officer Richard Huyler; Jen Polito of the Dedham Housing Authority; and former Department of Public Works director Archie DeVirgilio.

Gough attended the show last year because her father was one of the judges, and a few friends were in the group dance at the start of the show. She started dancing at Paulette’s Ballet Studio in Newton at age 3 and joined the teaching faculty part time in 2000. The rest of the time, Gough is a cardiac nurse at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

“When Dimitria asked me about working with Jim, I was thrilled,’’ Gough said. “I really am glad I didn’t partner with anyone else. He’s catching on great and taking it all in stride.’’

Gough said MacDonald’s nerves were obvious at first. “But he’s been gaining confidence and is starting to seem comfortable with choreography. We’re both just looking to have a good time with this fund-raiser and are definitely looking forward to showing what we got.’’

Dancers are required to keep the particular style of dance they choose secret until the big night. So while MacDonald would not go on the record with his pick, he did offer this: “Taylor originally told me I seemed like a disco type of guy.’’

He laughed deeply: “Uhh . . . no.’’

Whatever happens on Dec. 5, what will probably go down in the memory books this year is Armstrong’s reaction when she learned she had been picked.

In a video posted by committee members to publicize the event, Armstrong is chatting on the phone at her desk when the committee materializes in front of her, carrying balloons like the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Prize Patrol.

Once she realizes what is happening, Armstrong lets loose a high-pitched scream and drops the phone.

On the other end was fellow principal Clare Sullivan of the Avery School.
Armstrong quickly remembers with whom she was speaking and grabs the phone back. Later the video shows her offering some dance moves in her office. A natural at performing, Armstrong also teaches a musical theater class after school. She said she was so taken with last year’s Dancing with the Dedham Stars performance that she “joked’’ with others about how she’d better be picked this year.

“I’m a little competitive,’’ she admitted. “I keep telling everyone I’m in it to win it. But I know it’s all about the kids.’’

Armstrong has been practicing with partner Martin Rycroft at the Fred Astaire Studio in Norwood two to three times a week. And while she said she doesn’t generally get nervous when she performs, “On the 5th? I think I may feel a little nauseous.’’

Sullivan said what made last year’s event so worthwhile, besides the generous proceeds, was the standing ovation at the end. That’s DEP’s goal, she said, to bring schools and the community together.
“The crowd just exploded,’’ she said. “And the dancers realized what they can do. That’s the beauty of the whole thing.’’

Although tickets have sold out, donations can be sent to the Dedham Educational Partnership at 100 Whiting Ave., Dedham, MA 02026. More information is available at Michele Morgan Bolton can be reached at

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Golden Dancers

Uplift Yourself and Go Forth

By Elita Sohmer Clayman
My mother had six siblings, two sisters and four brothers. Her sister Ruth and her brother George were born blind. The two blind children went to the Maryland School for the Blind and then on to regular high schools where they excelled. They were like one of the first handicapped children to go to a sighted school as it was called.
They both had wonderful jobs and married spouses who had their sight. My aunt Ruth learned to cook, keep a clean home, and she was a fantastic knitter. She knitted all her dresses and many coats and they were of different yarn colors and were full of intricate knitting patterns. People who met her could not believe that a sightless lady could knit like that. George was a medical secretary for the well known doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The respected doctors always requested that George do their transcription.These two relatives of mine did not let their disabilities take away from their lives. They did volunteer work for organizations and were loved by their relatives and friends and their spouses. My brother and I adored Uncle George and we saw him often since he lived in Baltimore. Aunt Ruth lived in New York City where she went to the Broadway plays every month. She sat there and loved to go to the theater. She saw Richard Burton live in a Broadway play and wrote him a note how she adored him and could not see him. He wrote her back how proud he was she enjoyed the play.
Many seniors who go dancing cannot dance the way they did when perhaps they were younger. Some still go and sit there and maybe dance once or twice during the afternoon or evening. They still enjoy being there and socializing; getting out is a big thing in their day. One lady I know could not dance at all because of some orthopedic problems. She would come with her husband and he would dance with some other ladies and she sat there smiling and happy just to be in that environment.
An acquaintance of mine used to get up every morning and make a list of the doctors she was going to that day. One day it would be the podiatrist (that was ok because she did do some ballroom dancing and needed her feet to be in good shape.) The next day it was the dermatologist because she had a sore on her back. The next day it would be the internist because she had some aches and pains. The next day it was the orthopedic doctor because her knees hurt. She made the rounds of all the doctors.
She got to know the secretaries at these doctor’s offices very well and made sure she kept in good speaking friendships with them so she could call and insert herself into an appointment when she wanted it. One day she woke up and said to herself, no doctors today. Today I will go and do some ballroom dancing. I will take a lesson, I will look at a pair of new ballroom dance shoes, and I will practice with my husband in the family room. I will not go to a doctor this week.
That was quite a new method of living for her. No doctors, no secretaries, no driving to various offices. The only driving she did that week was for her dancing activities. She got excellent exercise; her mind did not think about illness and you KNOW WHAT? She felt physically good all that week. She decided she would frequent the doctor offices only when and if she really needed it. She would not go there to be reassured that everything was ok when in her heart she knew it was fine.
Ballroom dancing is like a good drug. It stimulates your mind; it exercises your feet, arms and neck. It enhances your good thoughts and it raises your esteem in your own mind. You are not sick, you need no doctors today, and you can and are surviving at this senior passage of time. Ballroom dancing is a stimulant that is good for your soul and keeps your mind active. Even if you go and sometimes sit out some or all dances, just going takes good courage. You are special and you do not need a medical person to tell you that everything is FINE. You know yourself that you are a good person and if you are feeling well enough to go out and dance or do dance activities, you are a golden senior, not a senile senior. That is the best gift you can give to yourself.
Keep on Dancing

Monday, November 16, 2009

Melissa Rycroft is returning to Dancing With The Stars.
According to ET Online, the Bachelor star, who competed in the show's eighth season, will perform an encore routine with partner Tony Dovolani tomorrow night, reports ET Online.
"We have had one practice. It was about two hours at 10pm on Tuesday night after the last show," she explained.

"I'm excited to go back. I love everybody, I love the show."

Rycroft's fiancé Tye Strickland added: "She is amazing. It took her 30 minutes to learn the whole dance and she already has it down."

The 26-year-old finished in third place behind actor Gilles Marini and Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson.

The Dancing With The Stars semi-final airs tonight on ABC.

Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly?

From the Philadephia Inquirer:

The great debate: Fred Astaire vs. Gene Kelly
From Carrie Rickey's "Flickgrrl"

They are thesis and antithesis. Fred Astaire defies gravity; Gene Kelly is earthbound. Astaire is spirit; Kelly flesh. Astaire is the embodiment of grace, Kelly of athleticism. For Astaire, dance is the vertical expression of horizontal feelings for another; for Kelly, it is the expression of self. Astaire made dancing look easy; Kelly made it look like a workout. Astaire begot Michael Jackson; Kelly begot Patrick Swayze.

Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly? The eloquent Paula Marantz Cohen (Drexel professor, author, and Astaire advocate) and the learned Andrew Douglas (Bryn Mawr Film Institute education director and Kelly partisan) will make their cases on Wednesday at International House (3701 Chestnut St.) at 7 pm.

At the event, sponsored by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Exhibit A is Top Hat (1935) and Exhibit K is Singin' in the Rain (1952), both of which will be shown, enjoyed, and argued.

Flickgrrl stands firmly in the Astaire camp, while noting the paradox that, though Astaire is the best screen dancer ever, Kelly's Singin' in the Rain is the best dance musical. Though she admires Kelly - especially in An American in Paris, Singin', The Pirate, and On the Town - she cannot say that she likes him. However superb Kelly's choreography and artistry, his aggressive muscularity suggests that he thought there was something sissy about a man dancing.

Of Astaire, whom she loves most in Swing Time, Follow the Fleet, Easter Parade, The Barkleys of Broadway, The Bandwagon, and Funny Face, she has only one word: Perfection. To those who argue he wasn't a great actor, Flickgrrl retorts, maybe not, but no screen personality is a better argument that action is character.

Of course, the only possible resolution to the eternal question of Astaire v. Kelly is why either/or - why not both/and? On screen, the two danced together only once, in the 1946 revue musical The Ziegfeld Follies. You can see, in a photo of them rehearsing their number "The Babbitt and the Bromide," how Kelly is conscious of the camera. Note how Astaire is conscious of conveying the sense of floating.

So, Astaire or Kelly? And in which movie(s)?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dancing With The Stars: Part Deux

From (Detroit, MI):


It has been roughly seven weeks since my husband and I started dance lessons at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Bloomfield Hills. It's all in preparation for the Detroit Historical Society's annual fundraiser in December. Along with several other couples, we'll be participating in a friendly "Dancing With The Stars" type competition. Only one problem... based on our lessons so far, we bear no resemblance to the couples you see twirling around on the real deal DWTS! When we started our lessons in September, we felt pretty confident we could maneuver our way around the dance floor. Boy, were we wrong! Slowly but surely we are getting our routine down but it's still a bit of a tug of war. You see it's tough to let your husband/partner lead, when you secretly believe he has no idea what step comes next! There are days when I feel completely wiped out after a lesson and I will admit there is the slightest hint of panic creeping in. We keep telling each other..."this is supposed to be fun." I already have my dancing shoes. In fact, I've been practicing in them and they're pretty comfortable. Now it's time for my costume. Do you think if I get a really flashy outfit, the audience won't pay attention to my feet? Hmmmmm....just a thought. We've started videotaping our instructors and then watching it at home while we practice. That has helped a bit, and this last week we finally finished learning the last component of our routine, so at least I know how our dance will end! We have just four weeks until our big night. Between now and then, you can bet we'll be practicing day and night. Wish us luck... we're going to need it!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

New Dance TV Show Coming Soon


ABC Signs On for FremantleMedia's Let's Dance
By Kristin Brzoznowski

BURBANK: Comedian Kathy Griffin is to host Let's Dance, a new series from FremantleMedia North America that will feature stars paying homage to classic dance routines, slated for a five-episode run on ABC.

The show will kick off with a 90-minute premiere episode on November 23 at 9:30 p.m., following the season-nine finale of Dancing with the Stars. Additional episodes of Let's Dance will air on November 30, December 7 and 14, with the finale on December 15.

The first three episodes will feature stars competing in single, group and duo performances. The celebrities will train, rehearse and take to the stage to perform memorable dance routines from movies, pop videos or musicals. A celebrity panel will give their comments after each routine in front of a studio audience. Viewers from across the U.S. will then have their chance to vote for their favorite performance. The celebrity panel and star participants will be announced shortly. From each of these episodes, two performances will be chosen—one by the viewers, one by the celebrity panel—and these two acts will return to dance in the finale. The act with the most viewer votes from the finale will be awarded a prize for the charity of their choice.

Let’s Dance is produced by Fremantle North America (American Idol, America’s Got Talent) in association with Whizz Kid Entertainment. The show first premiered in the U.K. earlier this year, and was the number one new entertainment series to launch on the BBC since 2002.

Monday, November 02, 2009

WATCH! Corky Ballas interview...

Corky Ballas, a legend in ballroom dance and a former Dancing With The Stars professional dancer, is interviewed at the latest Fred Astaire Dance Studio national competition in Orlando, Florida. Watch here:

Indianapolis Studio News

The Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Indianapolis, Indiana would like to welcome Chris Ford to our coaching staff.

Chris comes to us with tremendous skills and experience; because he has continually trained with the world's best coaches, he offers the most current technique and styling. In his competition career, Chris was a United States Finalist in American Style Smooth and won numerous competitions throughout the United States. We are very excited and pleased that Chris has decided to join Dan & Nicole as part of the coaching staff at the Fred Astaire Dance School.
See your teacher or call us to arrange a great lesson with one of our great coaches.
Our mission is to enrich every person's life that comes in to our school.

Check out our new Group class schedule for November!
Our new program offers great classes for everyone!
Take advantage of our new group program and learn A LOT!!
If you did not receive our recent email regarding what is being offered, just give us a call.
Monday ~ Latin and Rhythm technique with Dan 7:30
Smooth technique with Nicole 8:15
Tuesday ~ Advanced Bronze Syllabus 7:30
Dance it off !! What a workout 8:15
Wednesday ~ Social Latin ex.: Salsa, Merengue, Rumba, Swing 8:15
Thursday ~ International Latin Syllabus 7:30
Dance it off!!!Wanna lose weight? 8:15
Friday ABCs & 123s of basic dancing (A free class~Bring your friends) 8:30
9:00 Dance Party Only $10.00 per person Practice~Practice~Practice
Call us for details

Thursday, October 29, 2009

News From Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Syracuse, NY

By Karina Moskaleva

On September 15, the Syracuse Fred Astaire Dance Studio held a Trophy System test. We are very proud of our students who successfully passed test!
Siubhan Bongiovanni
Tania Fedotova
Sharon Gridley-Pelkie
Cathy Marriot
Mary-Pat Northrup
Nikki Palmer
Jimmy Retzos
Cathy Scaffer
Michael Stedman
Liz Wall
Susan Wocjick

Monday, October 26, 2009

In step with the CHS Ballroom Dance Club

From the Crestview News Bullentin (FL):

by Brian Hughes

Thursday afternoon at 2:30 the music cranked up at Crestview’s Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Nearly a dozen couples took to the dance floor and under the expert tutelage of instructor Crickett Gautreaux, they were soon going through the paces of basic ballroom dance moves and etiquette.

It’s time for the weekly meeting of the Crestview High School ballroom dance club, now in its third year. The studio donates each week’s 45-minute gathering, including the expertise of its instructors. Last Thursday was only the third time the club has met this year, so many members are still getting the hang of ballroom dance.

“Because this group is just getting started, first they must coordinate the mind with the body,” explained studio owner and manager David Colón. “Then we can start doing choreography. Routines can come later.”

Those who are dedicated can dance in a spring showcase, Colón said. Last year the club had several couples perform in a countywide dance showcase at the Hilton Hotel in Destin.

The club’s adviser, choral music director Kevin Lusk, periodically heads out into the midst of the swirling bodies to offer a little instruction of his own. He didn’t intend to be the club’s sponsor.

“They needed someone to be a co-sponsor,” Lusk explained. But when the other faculty co-sponsor dropped out after a week, the club’s sponsorship fell on his shoulders.

CHS seniors Moya Moore and George DeShields paused for a break, and while resting explained how they became members of the club.

“I’ve been in sports a lot and I wanted to try something new,” said Moore.
DeShields, who has experience in hip hop, tap and ballet, just enjoys dancing. Noticing the girls outnumbered the guys, I asked DeShields if some guys are intimidated being in the dance club.

“I don’t know,” he answered, as he headed back out onto the floor. “I know I’m not!”

Kody Lusk, a junior, is another who finds the club a fun co-curricular activity.

“I like to dance and I thought it would be fun to work with professionals,” he said.

Kody Lusk, whose dad, yes, is the club’s adviser, has been in the club for all three of his years at CHS. He is excited by the large turnout this year.
“Last year it kind of dwindled but this year I’m excited to see we’re back up in numbers,” he said.

The 45-minute session seems to fly right by. As the kids break up for the day, several return to the floor with Gautreaux or instructor Scott Seip, a CHS alumnus himself, to perfect the steps they learned that day.
Colón smiles to see another generation of dancers being groomed in his studio. “Maybe some of them will become instructors themselves someday,” he said thoughtfully.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ballroom Dancing For Kids

The Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Dutchess is kicking off group classes for kids ages 6 and up. Classes are offered on Fridays 4:30-5:30 p.m. There are two group classes available: Group 1 for ages 6-10; Group 2 for ages 11-16. Cost for this exciting program is $60 for four weeks. To pre-register, call 845-297-2711 or e-mail via

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fred Astaire Dance Studios National Competitions In 2010

We have a great year planned for 2010, full of exciting events in exotic locales. Go to our NEW competition website for more information on Fred Astaire Dance Studios National Competitions:!

“So You Think You Can Dance”: Top 20 Announced

From the Wall Street Journal:

After weeks and weeks of auditions and three weeks of Vegas eliminations, the judges of “So You Think You Can Dance” have selected the Top 20 dancers to compete on season 6.

On the judges’ panel sat Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, Debbie Allen, Adam Shankman, Tyce D’Orio, and Mia Michaels. One by one, the judges brought in the nervous dancers and either squashed their dreams or granted their wishes of becoming Top 20 dancers. Amazingly, three tap dancers were put into the Top 20. Not a single tapper had made it all the way through before. Also in the history-making category, Russell Ferguson was put through as the first krumper to ever make it to the Top 20.

A twist was presented when contemporary dancer Paula Van Oppen actually turned down the spot the judges presented to her, paving the way for ballroom dancer Ashleigh Di Lello to join her husband Ryan in the Top 20. Apparently, Van Oppen was offered a movie contract, and chose that path instead.

The show announced last month that TV and movie producer and choreographer Adam Shankman would become a permanent judge in season 6, likely ousting the majority of weekly guest judges the show has had in previous seasons. While this move may potentially make the judges’ table a bit static, it does free up all the choreographers to work up routines weekly. (Choreographers can’t present routines and judge in the same week.)

Speaking of Adam Shankman, it was announced this week that he’s now at the helm of the film adaptation of the wildly successful Broadway production “Rock of Ages.” As if that weren’t enough, Shankman will be producing the Academy Awards. Talk about multi-tasking.

On the flip-side, Emmy Award-winning choreographer Mia Michaels announced via Twitter and Facebook last Friday that she was leaving “So You Think You Can Dance.” Lythgoe said in a statement that Michaels was welcome back on the show this season or next. I guess we’ll have to wait to see what she’s up to.

Also, judge and ballroom expert Mary Murphy came forward this week with her heartbreaking story of domestic abuse, having survived an eight-year marriage to her abuser. She tells her story in Us Weekly and on Ellen.

Whew. After all that, let’s get back to our Top 20 results, shall we?

The Top 20 girls are:

Channing Cooke, 18, contemporary

Ariana Debose, 18, contemporary

Ashleigh Di Lello, 26, ballroom

Mollee Gray, 18, jazz

Karen Hauer, 27, Latin ballroom

Noelle Marsh, 18, contemporary

Pauline Mata, 19, jazz

Kathryn McCormick, 19, contemporary

Bianca Revel, 20, tap

Ellenore Scott, 19, contemporary/jazz

The Top 20 guys are:

Phillip Attmore, 25, tap

Billy Bell, 19, contemporary

Ryan Di Lello, 28, ballroom

Russell Ferguson, 20, hip hop/krump

Kevin Hunte, 23, hip hop

Jakob Karr, 19, contemporary

Legacy Perez, 28, hip hop/b-boy

Peter Sabasino, 22, tap

Victor Smalley, 21, contemporary

Nathan Trasoras, 18, contemporary

The show is mixing it up this season with a meet-the-Top-20 special on Monday, Oct. 26, at 8 PM. Also, Lythgoe tweeted that Paula Abdul fans should tune in to Monday’s show. So plan appropriately on Monday, and come to Speakeasy Tuesday morning to discuss your reactions!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Patrick Swayze Tribute On Dancing With The Stars

My Golden Dancers

Power and Attainment
By Elita Sohmer Clayman

A reader of my articles told me of things gone wrong in her marriage and how ballroom dancing helped her physically and mentally to let her cope with this problem. She had a mother-in-law who was geared to disliking this lovely young woman. She tried her best to break up the young couple and never showed any love toward her son’s two children. He had wonderful, beautiful, and smart offspring, and this terror of a mother-in-law always displayed her love and affection towards her daughter’s children. The son’s children did not really care since they had another grandmother who adored and loved them so much.

After much time had passed, the children dreaded going to holiday dinners at the obnoxious grandma’s house. Years rolled by and the two wonderful and beautiful children went off to college. They had grown up with one grandmother who completely and fully loved and adored them and on the other side, a grandmother who barely could carry on a conversation with them. One day sparks flew, and the two no longer talked to the other grandmother and life became easier. Unfortunately, the good grandmother passed away but her memory and her love for these two sustained them and they both named their own sons after her as was the custom of their religion to honor a dead relative or friend that you loved. So their sons have the male version of their beloved grandmom’s name to bestow upon her in death-their unforgettable love she gave them and they to her.

During the episodes of all this turmoil in the family, the husband and wife took up ballroom dancing. They excelled in it and the wife went on to compete with their professional teacher in many competitions and every trophy or medal she won, she told her own mom that this was dedicated to her. Even when her mom had passed on, she always “spoke” to her beloved mom and thanked her for being her and for loving her son and daughter with all her heart. They, in turn, still remember and cherish the years they had with the “good grandmother.”

Of course, the other grandmother never really got to know or care about her son’s children. In her mind, she could not distinguish that if she really loved her son that much, then she should love his children too. To her, her daughter’s children were what mattered.

Ballroom dancing helped the wife to forget the awful moments, nasty comments, and terrible family holiday dinners. Ballroom dancing cemented the couple’s relationship, and when they danced or took ballroom dance lessons at the studio, happiness overcame the ugliness of the husband’s family.

He did not really feel the pressure that his wife and children did because he had the marvelous attitude to look away. Looking away at problems is the way some folks cope with life. Not all can turn to a sport or hobby because they possibly cannot afford the costs or do not have the time to spend on it. In this case, the woman involved was able to stabilize her home, her life and her children’s lives because two or three times a week she was able to relax and help her mind to cope with her in-law problems by ballroom dancing and being in a world away from her awful mother-in-law. So ballroom dance can not only be a wonderful exercise and hobby, it can be a calming moment in a hectic day.

When advertisements are placed in magazines or newspapers for ballroom dancing recruits, it is rarely said that it can help your mind. We all know we need a keen mind to dance. Before I took dance up, I thought it was your feet that did the work. I remember wondering how I would be able to move if I couldn't look down at my feet.We quickly learn that we cannot look at our feet from our first lesson. The ads should say that ballroom dancing can ease the mind, clear the thoughts, and also be good exercise.

So the writer who wrote to me all about how ballroom dancing lessons, social dances, and competition helped her to keep her marriage going and her mind clear is right on target when she says DANCE SAVED HER MARRIAGE AND GAVE HER THE GRACE TO CONTEND WITH HER LIFE. So to ballroom dancing, we give this accolade, honor and tribute because it surely is a beautiful entity.

The saying goes that a straight line in the shortest distance between two points. I suggest that the two points are your heart and fulfillment. Passion is the straight line and when we have passion for our dancing than we have shortened the distance between fulfillment and we have established happiness in our heart.

It is said by medical people that the brain is probably the most valuable asset we have but many feel it is the heart. Whether it is the heart or the brain, both reap rewards when we dance no matter how old we are.

It was said on the news tonight that babies being born at the present time could probably live to be 100 years of age. How nice if that would happen to us. My dad only lived to be 72 and six days, my brother lived to be 72 and 11 months and my mom lived to be 77 and five months. Times have changed and we have the capacity, we hope, to live well into our 90s.

Ballroom dancing is a good exercise and we all know that exercise plays an important part in our health. Ballroom dancing is also quite relevant for our brains. We all know that to dance, we surely need not only our feet and arms but our brains to remember and to perform the steps. So ballroom dancing enhances our lives with brain power, feet power, and happiness power. All this keeps us young and vigorous. When we are feeling the power of dance, then we are powerful, energetic, and vibrant.

Power to politicians means they can control us. Power to an individual in their own life means they are effective and in control. Being in control of your own destiny is a pretty important asset. Feeling good about yourself when you have a hobby like dancing makes you have a positive attitude and as the lady with trouble from in-laws told me, dancing helped to calm her down and to continue to excel in her life and not to be bothered by the terrible family she married into.

The straight line and the shortest distance between two points is now drawn and becomes perfection and attainment. We have attained something so unique and perfect when we learn to dance that there no longer is a line. The line goes directly to our heart and we feel we are excellent people.

I have recently lost a total of seventy pounds. I feel good about myself and when I look into the mirror I wonder who that seventy-five year old person is? I have attained, accomplished and also shortened the line between being overweight and now being quite slim. Losing weight is like ballroom dancing. You need desire and the spirit to try doing it. When it is accomplished, like dancing, it makes one feel powerful in a wonderful way.
Let us all try to dance and feel the moment of the power and in so doing we are quite delirious with completion.

Bob Meyer, the editor of Amateur Dancers magazine for over 25 years, recently said, "I implicitly believe that ballroom dancing enhances one socialy, mentally and physically. It is the greatest overall enhancer in this fashion. Board games are known by experts to help one with social and mental aspects of waking hours-but not physically. Many sports help with physical aspect, sometimes to a much lesser degree,social and mental. It is our beloved ballroom dancing that involves one deeply in all three categories.The relationship between partners even in a single dance is much more definite than doubles tennis or sailing. Viva ballroom dancing."

Keep On Dancing
Elita Sohmer Clayman
October 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dancing Tips...How To Practice Cuban Motion!

By Stanley McCalla

One of the students who I started to coach on a regular basis is showing considerable progress. He now looks like a different dancer: his posture has improved, his legs and feet are looking decent, and his Cuban motion is on the way to being authentic.

Last time I coached him, I said: “J, you are improving very nicely! What are you doing differently?”

“Thank you,” he said, “I have been practicing the exercises that you’ve talked about and I’m starting to feel it.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” I said.

For those of you out there who are wondering about the exercises that J is talking about, I’m going to let you in on it (although the information isn’t any different from what your teacher is telling you). But, to satisfy your curiosity, I will list them here for you. It’s 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, 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 should be lined up over your hips. Your center should be pulled toward your spine. Your feet should be together with toes turned out. You should feel that your weight is poised towards the balls of your feet. Imagine, for a moment, that your hips start at your rib cage and that you have extremely long legs.Start by bending one knee at a time, and then straightening it. You should allow your rib cage to move from side to side over the bent knee. 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 closing your right foot to your left foot. All the while, remember your posture, your center, and the bending and straightening of the knees one at a time.
That’s it… now all you have to do is practice, practice, practice. Make sure that you confirm what you’re doing with your teacher.

Until next time, happy dancing!

Stanley McCalla
Fred Astaire National Champion
FADS National Dance board member examiner, coach and adjudicator
Available for coaching and examinations.

Derek Hough - Out With The Flu

From the

Derek Hough is reportedly off of Dancing with the Stars, at least temporarily, as he recovers from flu-like symptoms. Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who was previously eliminated with celebrity partner Debi Mazar, will temporarily take over for him as Joanna Krupa's partner.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fred Astaire Professional Dancer On SYTYCD!

Kimalee Piedad, a professional dancer with the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Ft. Walton Beach, has made it to the Las Vegas audition round on the hit show So You Think You Can Dance!

“I thought that was just fabulous,” said Mary Murphy after her audition. Lil C thought Kimalee's dancing was “graceful and visually informative.”

Kimalee, a 25-year-old native of Fort Walton Beach, is classically trained as a ballerina. She danced professionally with the Louisville Ballet (2002-2003), Ballet Met (2003-2004), and as a Principal Dancer for the Northwest Florida Ballet in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida.

In 2005, she joined Fred Astaire’s Dance Studio in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida and immediately began her competitive ballroom dancing career. Kimalee and her partner, Jesse Benedetti, are currently ranked second in the nation and the world in the Cabaret Divisions. Together, they hold many dance titles for their unique performances. This dynamic duo most recently placed 2nd at the prestigious United States Championships in the Theatrical division, and were invited as one of the world representatives in 2009 to Blackpool, England.

Watch “So You Think You Can Dance at 8 p.m. Tuesdays and at 7 p.m. Wednesdays on Fox.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Dancing With The Tampa Bay Stars!

By Elizabeth Joy, Fred Astaire Dance Studio Developer

The Tampa Bay Fred Astaire Dance Studios were very proud to sponsor the
Second Annual Dancing With the Tampa Bay Stars on Saturday, September 26.

12 Fred Astaire professionals were paired with 12 "brave souls" back on
August 1 and were given 25 lessons to perform a choreographed routine to
an audience of 850 people - all to benefit Heartbeat International, providing heart transplants and pacemakers to under-privileged people throughout the world.

Our stars included Melissa McGhee (former American Idol finalist), Miss Tampa, Lynne Austin (the original Hooters girl), Tom Dupont (of Dupont Registeries), a stand-up comedian, the World Champion LPGA pro, and a host of other local "celebs." Fred Astaire Dance Studios also provided the production numbers for the opening ceremonies and the "half-time" activities.

My special thanks to Jim Carter and Stefan Dobrev for judging the event and the staff of all four studios (St. Petersburg Central, St. Petersburg North, Safety Harbor and Palm Harbor) for their time and effort in producing an event that raised over $150,000 in one evening!

Dovolani's Love of 'Dancing'

From the California Chronicle:


STUDIO CITY, Calif. -- When dancer Tony Dovolani glides through a torrid tango or hops to a lively Lindy on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" he's just emulating what he saw as a kid.

He and his father used to watch a movie every week in his native Kosovo.
"My dad found these Fred Astaire- Ginger Rogers movies and Danny Kaye, Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor. Every Sunday we had movie night. And we watched musicals. It was so amazing because I was addicted to it as a kid. I couldn't wait to come to America to see some of this live.

He'd fallen in love with dancing at 4. "When I was 3 years old my dad tells me I showed interest in music and dance so he took me to classes where I learned how to learn instruments and a dance class. In Kosovo, it's very big to do folkloric dancing, ballet but also folkloric dancing," he says in his slight accent.

"I quickly realized I didn't want to be behind an instrument while everybody else was dancing. So I quit taking music lessons and just wanted to do dance lessons. I was 4 years old. I remember telling my dad about it," he says.

"My dad is one of the most wonderful, smartest people I've ever met in my life. He encouraged this and he was always there whenever I needed him but, at the same time, he always gave me tough love. If I had tough times, he didn't want me to quit. He said, 'This is what makes somebody good. If you can get past the tough times then you can appreciate this later on in life.' And he was right.

On "Dancing With the Stars" (7 p.m. Monday and 8 p.m. Tuesday on ABC, channel 8) , Dovolani is paired with model-designer Kathy Ireland. This marks his eighth season on the nine-year-old show. He missed Season 1 because he was preparing for his first world title in ballroom dancing when they invited him to join.

When Dovolani arrived in the U.S. in 1989, he was heartily disappointed that there were no musicals like he'd seen in the movies.

"I was 15. I started working as a dishwasher because they didn't accept our diplomas here and I was already in my second year in college back home. I was one of the brainiacs. My dad majored in math. And I wanted to be like my dad.

His father, who was a CEO of a computer company and his mother, a chemist, had divorced when Tony was 14.

"When I came here it was sad to see on TV there was no dancing," says Dovolani.

"The closest thing to it was 'Star Search.' I used to look for different channels. And one time I was working at the diner till 3 in the morning and the only time I could find anything that resembled dancing in the movies was at 3:30 in the morning at Nickelodeon.

One of the cooks at the restaurant where I was working got an invitation to the Fred Astaire Dance Studio. I asked him where is this?

I couldn't even speak English that well. He took me to it and, as soon as I walked in, that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was 16.
He'd seen ballroom dancing contests on PBS before. The day he walked into the Fred Astaire Studio he vowed, "I'm going to win that one day. The owner of the studio said, 'Sure, sure let's get you dancing first.' In 1998, I represented the United States in the world championships and, in 200,1 I won my first PBS championship which was the United States title." He kept on winning and trained Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez for the film "Shall We Dance?" in which he had a small part.

Dovolani insists anyone who can walk can dance.

"No dancer was born a dancer. Every dancer has been taught ...
Even walking takes rhythm.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Dancing In D.C.

News from the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Washington, D.C.:

Let the Showcase Begin!
This Sunday, 4 October, is our Disney themed showcase! We have a great event planned!

3:00 to 3:30 pm: Registration
3:30 to 4:00 pm: Act 1
4:00 to 4:15 pm: General Dancing
4:15 to 4:45 pm: Act II
4:45 to 5:00 pm: General Dance
5:00 to 5:10 pm: Group Dance
5:10 to 7:00 pm: Appetizers and General Dancing
7:00 to 7:15 pm: Professional Shows
Good Night Waltz

Our staff is excited and our students are even more excited! Everyone has been practicing hard, please come out watch, dance, and enjoy! Tickets are $15 and sold at the door.

The National Dance Championships!
We have a large group going to Orlando for NDC! Our presence will be so large, all our instructors are that's the good news. The bad news is that there will be no one left to teach lessons! So the studio will be closed on 21 October and classes will resume on Monday, 26 October. Please wish our students and staff luck and maybe they will bring back some awards! No pressure!

Are You Ready to Take Your Dancing to the Next Level?
We have a nationally recognized coach, Marylynn Benitez coming to the studio for coaching lessons November 5th and 6th. Please ask your private instructor for more information.

3rd Annual Halloween Party!
Our annual Halloween celebration will be on Friday, 30 October. We have our normal Newcomers and Advanced Bronze classes at 7:15, then the characters, most with costumes, will come out! It is always one of our favorite events; please join us for a great time! Our instructors love to dress up (for some reason we think they love the added attention and we all know they hate having fun!) and some of our students put some spectacular costumes together. Prizes will be given for best costumes and if you want to win, you have to bring it!

Bachata is Back!
We've got some more great group classes this month. Wednesday's at 8:00 p.m. is Bachata, so get those Latin hips moving! There are also plenty of other classes so we are sure that there is something for you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Who Is The Guest Judge On DWS This Week?

Baz Luhrmann is the Guest Host this week on Dancing With The Stars! He is a Golden Globe and Academy Award nominated Austrialian film directory, screenwriter, and producer. Luhrmann has directed the following four films:

Strictly Ballroom (1992), starring Paul Mercurio and Tara Morice
Romeo + Juliet (1996), starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes
Moulin Rouge! (2001), starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor
Australia (2008), starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman

Tampa Bay Star Kicks Up Her Heels!

By Susan Thurston, Times Staff Writer

Published Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ann Poonkasem has sung the national anthem in front of thousands of Tampa Bay Lightning fans and strutted across a beauty pageant stage in sky-high heels. She's appeared on national TV trying to be a Hilton and has a few movie credits to her name.

But dance in a super skimpy outfit before a live audience?

"Never!'' she said.

Poonkasem, a.k.a. Ann P., takes to the parquet Saturday in Tampa Bay's version of Dancing with the Stars. Fresh off the heels of the reality show's Season 9 premiere, a dozen local celebrities and businesspeople will show off their moves for the sake of charity and title of best dancer.

"I'm the least flexible person in the earth,'' she declared during a break from practicing Thursday. "I didn't think it would be so hard.''
The event paired local notables with professional dancers from Fred Astaire Dance Studios. Teams had 25 practices to prepare for their 2 1/2-minute routines.

Like the actual TV show, the experience hasn't been without drama. Poonkasem's legs became so sore she had to get acupuncture on her ears to relieve the pain. Then, on Sunday, her dance partner, Raymond Cedeno, bruised his toes when a chair fell on them.

But it's all been worth it. Their tango/cha cha medley was nearly perfect a few days before showtime. Thanks to extra fiber, liquids and fish oil, Poonkasem feels fit and fabulous.

The event benefits Heartbeat International based in Tampa, which provides free pacemakers, defibrillators and other implantable cardiac devices to patients in developing countries.

Last year's show raised $50,000 and drew more than 500 people. A sellout crowd of more than 800 are expected this year.

A panel of ballroom dance judges will critique each contestant and name the best male and female winners. Audience votes, cast online in advance and during the show, will select the People's Choice, and the Grand Champion will be awarded based on both the judges' and audience's votes.
Poonkasem, who was last year's Ms. Gasparilla and a former Miss Tampa, hopes people give generously regardless of their vote (which she badly wants).

Also dancing are: Lynne Austin, the original Hooters girl; Enrique Crespo, a Tampa designer; Sally Dee, former golf pro; Tom duPont, publisher of the duPont Registry; Susan Guidi, president of Advanced Ultrasound Services; Jim Henning, real estate consultant; Brandi Kamenar, CEO of Icon B. Marketing and Publicity Group; Melissa McGhee, former American Idol contestant; Chad Nelson, mixed martial arts fighter; Shilen Patel, health care entrepreneur; and Roxanne Wilder of Bay News 9.
Dancing with the Stars Tampa Bay
The event is from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday at the Tampa Marriott Waterside, 700 S Florida Ave. Tickets are $150 online in advance but were expected to sell out. Online votes for your favorite dancer are available for purchase until 11:59 p.m. Friday. Go to

Thursday, September 24, 2009

DWTS Double Elimination!

Last night, Ashley Hamilton and Macy Gray were the first celebs to be kicked off the dance floor (and the show) for Season 9. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Golden Dancers

Happiness Is...

By Elita Sohmer Clayman

If you google "Happiness is," dozens of sayings pop up by some famous and some not so famous people. Several of them caught my attention because they are truly on the mark.

Democritus said, “Happiness resides not in possessions and not in gold, the feeling of happiness dwells in the soul.”

Aristotle said, “To live happily is an inward power of the soul.”

Anne Frank said, “Think of all the beauty that’s still left in and around you and be happy.”

Allan Chalmers said, “Happiness is grand essentials and that is something to do, something to love and something to hope for.”

All four of the above quotes are quite accurate. Author Allan K. Chalmers, concentration camp Holocaust child Anne Frank, philosophers Aristotle and Democritus all basically reiterate the same feelings on happiness. Happiness is mostly inward and not so much outward for each person.

Many of us find happiness in simple and plain things that happen to us daily. Some may see a sunset, a rainbow, beautiful clouds, or just feel especially content that day. Some may buy something material that they have yearned for during a long period of time. Some may have a child attain a college degree, get engaged and married or become a grandparent. Some may be looking forward to traveling to a place they have always dreamed of seeing. Some may start a new hobby or even become employed at a company they always wanted to work for.

Others may become retired from their jobs and see great happiness in being able to not wake up early to work; others may be thinking of remodeling their homes or even buying new furniture to perk up their surroundings.

Each of has the capacity to feel happiness, maybe not every day of the week but often enough to really think of themselves as happy. Others may have gotten a clean bill of health from their doctor and feel that this is the greatest happiness at this moment in time.

So there are degrees of happiness and we all desire this feeling to overtake us.

Several weeks ago, actually on September 2nd, 2009 I felt a particularly happy day.
My son was scheduled for some kidney stones to be ‘pulled’ out due to some pain and this was taking place in the outpatient division of a hospital. When I heard he had come through this successfully and was on his way home (he lives in Northern, Virginia-eighty miles away from me) then I felt a great surge of happiness because I had worried so much about the procedure. Also I had some dental work done to make a crooked tooth straight and I was ‘happy’ to smile now when a picture was taken on the digital camera and have a nice set of straight teeth now. Also I had an EKG taken at the doctor’s office and everything was fine. The final thing was that I became that day a great great aunty because my great niece, who was born on my birthday 28 years ago, had given birth to a son. So all in all that day was quite remarkable for the four happenings to me and as Allan Chalmers said I had completed all by something to love (my new great great nephew), the something to hope for had been completed because my son’s surgery was over and he was healthy, the something to do was my teeth fixed and so Chalmers only stated three essentials for happiness and I had attained four. So I topped his list by one essential.

Anyone who starts to ballroom dance need not view Dancing With The Stars on television and envision him or herself up there. That is all hype and lots of five hour days training for this event. Many of the stars who do this have had many accidents and illnesses trying to accomplish this dancing in a few weeks. Whereas we ballroom dancers who have been attempting this for many years know that learning to dance and to excel in it is not designed to do it for twenty some hours per week for five weeks or so and then to perform as if their life depended on it. They also rely on the opinions of three judges who sit there and decide their fate.

Real ballroom dancing is not run this way. When one decides to go into competition at the dance studio he or she may take an extra lesson or two per week to get in shape and to learn but many times they cannot afford the extra lessons. Therefore, they have to wait until they have been skilled in the many hours it takes to do competition work.

Sometimes this takes several years before one is ready to execute and accomplish this feat. Feat it is done with our feet.DWTS makes it seem that to be a good dancer you must be able to come out there in a skimpy outfit, men included, that you have to-do fancy footwork that you are not qualified to perform and that you have to smile until your face freezes. Also that you have to take the sometimes sarcastic, caustic and vitriolic words spewed by the so called judges. One wonders if these judges could have ever fulfilled themselves what they expect from these star performers so early in the competition or even later on towards the end of the series.

These judges judge not always with knowledge, discernment and accuracy. Many of them say things to get a smile, a boo, a roar from the attending audience. They do not always care to be guiding the dancer into a better mode, they sometimes want to rile up the dancer. They want to irritate and annoy the audience into a negative reaction because they then get noticed for being rude, funny or obnoxious.

This makes ratings for the show to rise and lots of talk about them and maybe they will even get noticed and written up in People magazine.

This is not what ballroom dancing is all about. Ballroom dancing is about “beauty that is out there and around you and happiness” as Anne Frank said in her sad life during the Holocaust. Ballroom dancing is about as Allan Chalmers said “it is something to do, something to love and something to hope for.” It is about as Democritus said “happiness resides in the feeling in the soul.” Lastly, as Aristotle said “happiness is to live happily and is an inward power of the soul.”

Ballroom dancing is beauty, something to love, something to hope for and is a power of your soul. By seeing ballroom dancing as love, hope, soul power and as Oscar Wilde said “some cause happiness wherever they go.” When we dance we cause happiness not only to our self but to others.

Ballroom dancing is something in our vision if we want it and happiness will be there and it is in our power to be happy when we dance whether it is social dancing, competitive dancing or dancing for our happiness and sweetness to our soul and mind.

So whatever category you may fall in, go out and try to dance whatever age you are now, whether you be a young person, a middle aged person or a senior person. Dancing will bring you the ultimate security that you are alive, well, happy and most of all active.

Keep On Dancing

Senior Couples Have A Ball Competing!


Fun and challenges are found during Senior Olympic events
By Tanya Sierra
Union-Tribune Staff Writer

Mariko and Takeo Sakakibara celebrated their medal run at yesterday's Senior Olympics. The couple took home eight gold medals and one silver for their 10 ballroom dance performances.

Takeo and Mariko Sakakibara barely got back to their seats before the couple's names were called to receive another gold medal during the ballroom dance competition of the 22nd annual Senior Olympics yesterday.
After a four-year hiatus, ballroom dancing returned to the Senior Olympics — albeit with sparse participation — at the Cottonwood Golf Club. Four couples from the Fred Astaire Dance Studio competed in the ballroom competition.

For about two hours, the Sakakibaras and three other couples glided from one corner of the dance floor to the other using techniques that they have been perfecting in dance classes.

Penny St. James and Janet Battey used their arms to enhance their performances by clasping their thumb and middle fingers as they twirled. Marie Thome gracefully moved with partner and husband Dick Thome.
The men also showed off their moves. Ron Joy, Thome and Wayne Lee forcefully spun their partners during various routines.

At the end of the event, the Sakakibaras were elated to win 8 gold medals and one silver for performing 10 dances including tango, waltz, foxtrot, cha cha, rumba, swing, salsa and the hustle.

“This is our first competition,” Mariko Sakakibara, 55, said. Her husband, Takeo Sakakibara, 65, joked they should go to Las Vegas to perform.
For three weeks every September, seniors age 50 and older show off their physical prowess by competing in 18 events from archery and swimming to bowling and billiards.

Gold medalists can move on to compete in the state games, then the regional and national games, said Daniel Propp, this year's assistant games director.

Propp, 66, a professional pool player and master instructor, said he put this year's games together in four months after the organization's office manager suffered a stroke. It usually takes about a year and $400,000 to plan the event, he said.

Until this year, Propp had never heard of the Senior Olympics, but he made it his personal mission to promote and plan next year's games. Organizers say they'd like to see as many as 50 couples join the dancing ranks.
“My goal is to make the Senior Olympics a household name,” Propp said.
The San Diego Senior Sports Festival, which puts on the games, is a nonprofit organization that encourages adults 50 and older to carry on vigorous lives and maintain physical fitness.

This year about 1,300 people participated, Propp said.

Dancer Wayne Lee, 63, who has been dancing for two years, said his quest for a unique anniversary gift for his wife led him to dance lessons.
“We liked it so much we kept going,” Lee said.

Anyone 50 and older who wants to compete in any of next year's events can call the Senior Olympics at (619) 226-1324.