Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Michigan Studio Feeds 296 People

During this holiday season, the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Bloomfield Township collected food donations for the Gleaners Food Bank. Their goal was to collect enough food to feed 100 people. To their surprise, they far surpassed the goal and collected enough food to feed 296 people. “This is the first year that the Fred Astaire Dance Studio has worked with Gleaners, but it definitely won’t be the last” said Evan Mountain, co-owner of the studio. “We are very happy that our students, staff and the local community are able to help feed so many people in need.” The studio kicked off the food drive on December 6th with an Open House dance party. Anyone that donated non-perishable food items were given free lessons. As extra incentive to their students, Fred Astaire Dance Studio gave a prize of a new pair of dance shoes to the student who brought in the most food. The prize was won by Amanda Demery of Birmingham, MI. Although their food drive officially ended on December 19th, they will continue to collect food from anyone still wishing to make a donation.

The Fred Astaire Dance Studio is located at: 2510 Telegraph Rd; Bloomfield Twp, MI 48302; Phone: (248) 454-1715

Professional Women's Forum gets in a night of fancy footwork

From the Winston-Salem Journal:

By Leigh Somerville McMillan
Published: January 27, 2009

Picture a handful of men in a room filled with 60 women eager to dance. To some, it might look like a nightmare, but if one of those men teaches dance lessons, it's a dream come true.

Michael Krawiec, an instructor at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Clemmons, was the dance instructor Thursday night as the Professional Women's Forum held its 14th annual Ladies Night Out at the Piedmont Club.

The night started off with a champagne reception and dinner in the Cardinal Room, providing the members of the group, the club and their guests with plenty of networking opportunities.

Catherine Itterman, the owner of Chi's, a women's clothing boutique on Robinhood Road, was a walking advertisement in an elegant silver metallic coiled choker that accessorized her starched white shirt and black pants. She and her guest Kim Wagner, a seamstress who does alterations for Chi's, hit it off with another professional in the style industry, Janine Shuman.
Mrs. Shuman and her husband, Adam, are in town from Florida for a prolonged consulting stint at SilkRoad Salon. On Thursday night, they offered free consultations along with stylists Erin Blakley, Sarah Sneed, Kelsie Gentle, Megan LaFever, Christopher Surratt, Kimberly Durhan, Amanda Banks and Donna Moore. Paul Weddle, the salon manager, also attended the party.

Pat Schreiber, the owner of Custom Professional Training Services in Kernersville, said she has been a member of the Piedmont Club for about eight years and has enjoyed Ladies Night Out for at least five of those years. "It's lots of fun," she said. "You meet wonderful women and businesspeople you wouldn't otherwise meet."

When I sat down next to Glenda Walters, I overheard her talking to her friend Becky Brown about PWF member Judy McAllister, a consultant for Doncaster.

Sharing the table with Walters and Brown was Melanie Gilliam, who shared a dream she had the night after the inauguration. "I dreamed it was me instead of Michelle dancing with Obama at the ball," she laughed. Later in the night, Gilliam got some free dance lessons so she will be ready if the opportunity ever arises.

Ladies Night Out also featured some serious conversation. I overheard Becky Jenkins, a BB&T employee who lives in Mocksville, sharing the good news that the bank had posted a profit. She was joined at the club by her guests Diane Lackey, Sheryl McDonald and Tina Underwood.

Jenkins said she belongs to several professional banking organizations but that PWF "provides a wider perspective" of other businesses and their concerns.

Mary McClure, Sharon Johe and Martha Claire Henzler looked like they were having a wonderful time as they enjoyed a spectacular view of the city lights from their table.

After dinner, Judy Sutherin, the membership director at the club, welcomed the crowd and introduced the dancers from Fred Astaire and the Shumans. Mrs. Shuman said that Winston-Salem has been "very warm and welcoming" since they arrived.

"We deliberately tried not to stuff you," Sutherin joked about the meal, but it's a wonder anybody could dance at all after the feast of basil chicken with wild rice and mixed vegetables, hot rolls and Key-lime pie.

As door prizes, five pairs of tickets to tonight's Dancing with the Stars at the Greensboro Coliseum were won by Priscilla Green, Becky Brown, Joylyn Budkey, Dee Sprinkle and Joyce Kearse. Johe won a $100 gift certificate from Chi's. Melanie Gilliam won dinner for two at the club.

Finally, the moment everybody had been waiting for. C.J. Joseph, the president of PWF, enticed everyone up on the dance floor with her own personal testimony.

"I always wanted to dance as a young woman but never thought I was any good," she said. "Then in late August, a friend invited me to take lessons at Fred Astaire. I went, and I've been hooked ever since."

Joseph said that as a result of her dancing, she has lost an entire dress size, her blood pressure dropped, and she has reduced her stress level. She had one piece of advice. "The only way to be good is not to think," she said. "You've got to learn to follow."

Now, for businesswomen who have built their success on their leadership skills, that may not have been welcome news.

But they were willing to try and Joseph's mother, Betty Lou Joseph, said she thought that everybody did a good job. And she should know. She said she taught dance lessons right after high school and eventually managed the studio. In fact, C.J. got a surprise when her mother mentioned that she met her husband in a dance class.

The dance that Krawiec and studio manager Jennifer Clark demonstrated to get the crowd in the mood was a dramatic tango. And then it was time for the group lesson, and instructors Vikki Haynes and Kimberly Angell shared the male part with Krawiec.

Clark's first tip of the night did a little to help balance out the "follow, don't lead" routine.

"Ladies, always start on the right foot," she said. "And how do you remember that?"

It didn't take long for the room to erupt with the answer: "Ladies are always right!"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Golden Dancers

Nistar - Hidden Miracle

By Elita Sohmer Clayman

In a foreign language, the word nistar means several things. It means something like concealed or hidden miracle. It was used in the book of Esther in the bible when Esther was called upon to save her family from the evil doer.

We can have our own hidden miracles that may or may not be concealed from our conscious beings. Many of us do not know of our inner strengths or know of our inner abilities especially since we are getting older which is life’s process.

Have you ever thought how words can hurt or soothe you? My mom always taught us kids that if you could not say anything nice, say nothing at all. I notice as I grow older that others do not even attempt to do that.

I have a friend who emails her daughters daily. They both live out of town. She always signs the emails ‘with love from your mom.’ One daughter responds the same way with love from your daughter. The other one responds once in a while that way and other times nothing at all. The woman gets very upset when she sees this. She seems to need the other daughter to respond with the simple word of love to soothe her day.

I want to tell my friend that at this age in her senior life, she does not need the approval of this daughter. She knows she was a good mom and if this daughter cannot put down the simple word of love knowing that her mom craves this; then this is the daughter’s meanness to her aging mom. I tell her that she cannot let her daughter steal her life at this moment in being.

I was cleaning out some drawers and found a piece of paper from when I went back to get a college degree at age thirty-three. The Hungarian professor had quite an accent and the first day I heard him speak in the lecture room, I thought it would be hard to comprehend what he was saying. After the first time, I had no trouble and he and I became great friends.

When the semester was over, I sent him a thank you note for encouraging me, the oldest member in the class at age thirty-three. The rest were all teens, and I was the most attentive and productive classmate he had seen in a long time. One day during the semester I brought my three-year-old to class with me because his pre-school was closed for the day. The professor, Dr. Z. John Levay, looked at me and said that he did not think it was the appropriate place for a tot that day since we were discussing psychology and sex. I told him that if he misbehaved, I would leave immediately and that he could not understand what he was lecturing on.

At the end of the class, he came up to me and my son and said what a wonderful and well behaved child he was and at that moment Jeffrey jumped into his arms and hugged him. From that moment of hugging came a long and sincere friendship between our family and Dr. Levay’s family. We went to each other’s happy events and celebrated with joy those lovely times.

When he passed on six years ago, I gave one of the eulogies at his funeral ceremony in his church. I told of the time that Jeffrey jumped into his arms and how Dr. Levay had said to me on the first test essay paper-Mrs.Clayman: you can and will do better. He gave me a B on it and from that day forward, I attained all As and graduated from college with honor five years later.

The simple wording of you can and will do better encouraged me to excel. That is what we can all do in our dancing regardless of whatever age we begin to dance. Our teachers can instill in us the faith that we are special people taking on a lovely sport or hobby and that we will do fantastic things with it. We can compete, we can social dance and we will make many new dancing friends at the dance halls.

One day at the college before I graduated, I wrote a letter to the dean supporting Dr. Levay’s quest for his full professorship. The college was withholding it for some reason and I wrote this letter of what he meant to me in my life and to everyone whom he offered his hope to do well. Lo and behold, the college who had been suppressing the confirmation of the professorship in full awarded it to him.

He wrote me a thank you note and in it he stated:

To my star student Elita Sohmer Clayman who has earned my sincere respect because she has found herself and who, as an adult became a child again; a Child of God, by virtue of being a peacemaker.

That was in 1970. I had bridged the wide gulf between the school administration and their petty ways in withholding what was surely due this gifted scholar and teacher. The teens and I loved him and he introduced to all of us, regardless of age, that we were special and we could transcend any expectations we had of our schooling.

We can all be peacemakers if we implant the seed of learning to someone who thinks they cannot learn because of age or youth or even impairment. We fortify and embolden them that they too can be successful in anything new they attempt. It can be ballroom dancing, piano lessons, and sewing, anything they desire.

We who dance know that to dance is to enhance our life to the fullest. We reap benefits that one cannot imagine from dance. We have better health, we have extended our mind’s ability to think, we breathe better, we smile more often and most of all we have fun.

Fun helps to make us happy and health officials say that if you are happy, you possibly live longer. Like the daughter who does not put the word love down and she knows that her mom would be so happy to see it; we need not withhold anything from letting us assist someone to feel better. To be a child of God because we are peacemakers is probably the highest and finest ideal we can yearn for.

When we have become good dancers and we can show someone else that they too can be adequate doing this dear deed, then we will be a peacemaker. It will be a hidden miracle, a nistar and it will no longer be hidden. It will be displayed for everyone to view and mainly for us to be thankful that we ignited a flame in someone else who may not have had the thought to try.

Nistar miracle is surely something for us to adhere to because then we will surely be a peacemaker and become a dear child of God.

We then are at peace and we know that we accomplished something special because we allowed our hopes to extend to possibly a stranger and they were no longer strangers because we did not hide this dance love and it became a nistar, unhidden, alive and vibrant.

I heard this on a television show recently: May the road rise up to meet you and the wind always be at your back. May the sunshine warm your face and the rainfall softly fall on the field. Till we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

We, the people we are right today in this new year of 2009 can be a nistar miracle, a peacemaker and make the road rise up to meet folks who we try to encourage to ballroom dance for their health, happiness and overall heavenly happenings. We will be doing what we love-dancing and we will be extending that love to others to at least try. Once they attempt it, they will know that it is for them.

Life will change for them because they will be doing something so different, so special and most of all so rewarding. We will be the ones who get the dividend- we will have the prize most coveted by all. We now will feel absolutely that the road has risen to meet us and the sunshine will have warmed our face. We will be the peacemaker because we will have found our self.

Always keep on dancing.

You can email me at

Monday, January 26, 2009

Just In Time For Valentine's Day...Chocolate Tango!

What: Chocolate Tango
When: February 14, 3-6 p.m.
Where: Memorial Auditorium in Montclair State University, New Jersey

Chocolate Tango is a variety show that brings together under one roof, the best chocolate makers in America, tango artists from Argentina, and stand-up comedians.

After the concert there is a chocolate tasting a few steps away in the lobby/ reception area. Specially commissioned chocolates are provided by Andrew Garrison who was voted the #1 chocolatier in America by the food network. If you ever wondered what chocolate on the highest level tastes like, this is it. You will be able to walk around and taste many varieties of chocolate and experience total bliss. There will be chocolate fountains as well.
This chocolate tasting is also diabetic-friendly. There will be a separate table of chocolates that are suitable for diabetics.These chocolates are not just sugar free but they taste great.

The entire event lasts 3 hours.

Part of the proceeds of this event will go to local charities in Montclair N.J as well as the Institute for Educational Achievement.

Our concept in creating this event was to engage all six of your senses...... touch, smell, sight, taste, sound and humor.

Dance Studio Students Practicing Steps Long Before Dancing With The Stars

From Lancaster

"Dancing with the Stars" might have brought ballroom dancing into the limelight, but some of the residents of Fairfield County have been cuttin' a rug for some time now.

The Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Canal Winchester has been providing instruction in different styles of ballroom dancing since opening its doors in 1999.

Jayme Coakley is the manager of the studio and has been a ballroom dance instructor for the past 12 years.

Ballroom dancing is for everyone, Coakley said.

"Most people have some sort of rhythm most of the time," Coakley said. "The rhythm is normally in there somewhere, if we can build someone's confidence we can usually find it."

The dance studio offers ballroom dance styles including Mambo, Waltz, Fox Trot, the Cha Cha and Swing.

Not only is ballroom dancing a great way to build up someone's social skills, but it's also a great form of exercise, according to Coakley's students.
Brenda Hehn, who is a competitive ballroom dancer and a student at the dance studio, said she always gets a great workout when attending her class.

"It's an enjoyable way to exercise. People don't realize how much work ballroom dancing actually is."

Dancing Teen

From the Cleveland News-Herald

By Jean Bonchak

“Absolutely unheard of.”

That’s how dance professional Andrea Bisconti assessed her former student’s recent win at a competition that took place during the Dancing With the Stars national tour stop in Cleveland.

So what made the victory so incredible for Tyler Mausser, a Chardon High School sophomore, who has been delivering dance performances since he was 5?Tyler and his partner, Laura Klenz, who attends Aurora High School, were first introduced on the Friday prior to the show that took place the following Tuesday. Their pre-audition practice lasted a mere half-hour. To their surprise, the tryout was successful. But due to busy schedules the remainder of rehearsal time consisted of a couple of hours Monday night and a few more right before the show.

Bisconti noted it usually takes years of working together before a couple can provide a prize-wining performance in the precision-driven world of ballroom dancing.

Evidently a special mesh of chemistry and style occurred between the talented teens in an extraordinarily short amount of time.

As a youngster, Tyler’s dancing experiences centered on steps learned from his Austrian heritage. But his interest was piqued after he participated in an after-school ballroom dance class in eighth grade.

He began watching the television show “So You Think You Can Dance” and enrolled at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Willoughby owned by Bisconti. There, Tyler said he learned technique, style, confidence and to always have fun. Instruction at dance icon Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s studio in New Jersey taught him not to overpower his delivery and to focus on letting the body flow through movements.

“Tyler is an extraordinary dancer. … He’s amazing. … They (professional dancers) have been raving about Tyler’s talents,” Bisconti said. “You’re going to hear more about him in the dance world.”

Tyler said he was surprised to receive a call from Bisconti asking if he would be willing to partner with Andrea for a shot at the title. The competition is composed of selected area dancers showcasing their talents at each DWTS tour stop. In Cleveland, 10 couples showed off their best cha-cha moves to impress the judges, DWTS cast members Kym Johnson and Fabian Sanchez.Tyler said a case of nerves set in after being chosen as one of the final two pairs. Audience members were instructed to text their choice for the winner via cell phone. His nervousness dissipated quickly after hearing that the crowd pleasers gained 88 percent of the votes. “We were ecstatic,” he said. “We really didn’t believe it. … I thought we’re probably not going to make it, but we ended up winning the thing.” In addition to newly heightened status, the duo was awarded a trophy and two Samsung Eternity touch-screen phones.

Tyler’s commitment to seek a career in dance is strengthened as a result of the significant victory.“I’m not really concentrating on winning the world cup or world nationals, I just want to give a new voice to dance,” he said.“Really what I want to be is a choreographer. Watching other people do my movements and feel what I feel is just out of this world.”

The dancer who has received several trophies at local competitions offered advice to those who aspire to step lively. “If you’ve got the talent, it’s God-given. ... Whenever you want to dance, dance,” he said.“It doesn’t matter if it’s in the hallway, on top of a building or in the cafeteria. When you have the feeling to move, do it.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Dance For Hope

From the Greensboro, NC

This is one for the “Do what you can do, by doing what you do” files:
Olga Perkins and her 15-year-old daughter Tyler were riding in their car, discussing that it was really cold outside and how thankful they were that they had a warm home and how hard it would be if they were homeless.

That prompted Perkins to wonder whether people might be willing to pay to watch a local “Dancing with the Stars” type program, provided by Greensboro North Fred Astaire Dance Studio, where her daughters dance, with proceeds going to the Greensboro Urban Ministry.

“My daughter then mentioned the fact that maybe someone would be willing to donate a room where we could have the event and that kind of got the whole thing started,” Perkins wrote in an e-mail. “I then went to the studio and explained to them what we wanted to do and asked them if they would donate their time, which they agreed to do. I called around to see where we could hold the event and the Regency Room agreed to give us a reduced price and so we decided to go for it.”

“A Dance for Hope” was born. The show will be 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Jan. 24 at the Regency Room, 203 S. Elm St. Tickets, available beginning Friday, are $25, and if the event sells out, more than $7,500 will be raised for the work at Urban Ministry, which provides food and shelter for the needy.
Local stars include Sasha Tsyhankov, Alyosha Anatoliy, Gulya Asgarova, Gregory Mishura, Dasha Chub, Oksana Barantsova, Artur Sveshnikov and Nathan Foreman.

Tickets are tax-deductible and are available at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio, 1604-A Battleground Ave., or the Greensboro Urban Ministry business office, 305 W. Lee St. Call Urban Ministry, 271-5959. For a dance preview, go to

Dancing In Rochester, MN

From Rochester, MN Post-Bullentin:

By Emily Colbenson Ties can heat up a cold night by taking salsa or tango lessons at one of the dance halls in town, like the Blue Moon Ballroom or Fred Astaire Dance Studios.

At Fred Astaire, their introductory deal offers you and your special someone two, 20-minute private lessons, one 40-minute group lesson, and one 40-minute practice lesson, all for $20 per person.

"Dancing is one of the few interactive things a couple can do together where they need to work together to succeed," said Studio Manager Andrea Mirenda. With group lessons scheduled throughout the week, teaching a variety of steps for all levels of dance, Fred Astaire offers a unique way to spice up a group date.

"Plus," Mirenda added, "over the years we have been directly or indirectly responsible for perhaps a couple dozen marriages and several children by now -- people who met and married through dancing."

Champions of Dance!

Champions of the Dance, an evening of extraordinary music and dancing, premieres on Broadway at the Town Hall (123 West 43rd Street) on Friday, January 23 at 8:00 p.m. Champions of the Dance will feature world renowned dancers from "Dancing with The Stars" and PBS's "American Ballroom Challenge," among others. Tickets are on sale now for $50 and $45. All tickets are available through TicketMaster, 212-307-4100,or, or by visiting The Town Hall Box Office between noon and 6 p.m. at 123 West 43rd Street.

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Rumor About Dancing With The Stars, Season 8!

From Reality TV Magazine:

Another Dancing With The Stars rumour has hit the dance floor and this time, we hope that it is true! Word is that Misty May-Treanor may return for a second swirl on the dance floor!

Last season, Misty May-Treanor, who was paired up with dancing professional, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, had to leave Dancing With The Stars early due to rupturing her achilles tendon during a training session. She underwent surgery on October 7, 2008. The dance that she was supposed to perform was later danced by Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy and dedicated as Misty’s Dance.

The two time Olympic Gold Medalist in Beach Volleyball, mentioned during her exit speech that she would love to come back and try again and hopefully Dancing With The Stars producers will let her put on her dancing shoes for another season.

The next season of Dancing With The Stars returns March 9 to ABC.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Eric Luna & Georgia Ambarian On "Superstars of Dance"

Quick Before The Music Stops

It took Janet Carlson over a year of writing every Saturday and Sunday, eight hours each day, but the outcome was well worth it. Her recently published memoir, “Quick, Before The Music Stops” describes how ballroom dance rejuvenated every aspect of her life.

Carlson, currently a student at a Fred Astaire Dance Studio and dancing with studio owner and former Standard Dance Champion Darius Mosteika, found herself in a rut a few years ago. Although “on paper,” it seemed as if she had it all – a successful career as Health and Beauty editor for a high-end magazine, mother, and wife – there was something crucial missing from her life. She was, in her own words, in a “sleepwalking state.”

Ballroom dance changed all that. Having been a competitive ballroom dancer in her 20s, Carlson came back to life when she started dancing again in her 40s. As she rediscovered her love of dance, she also rediscovered her passion for life. While she was in the dance studio, taking notes on her lessons, she began writing down other observations on the parallels between dance lessons and life lessons, and the idea for a book was born. The result is a wonderful memoir of her midlife renewal found in dance, and how the lessons she learned in the studio transcended the dance floor.

“Quick Before The Music Stops” has been very well-received, reviewed by such notable publications as USA Today, the New York Post, and the Los Angeles Times. Bruno Collins, Fred Astaire Dance Studios National Dance Board Director, commented: "With insight and humor, Janet Carlson shares the joy, exhilaration and self-revelations that ballroom dancing has brought her. She draws the reader into her lessons, her partnerships, her life, and reveals how ballroom dancing reflects life and transforms it. Ms. Carlson captures the essence of ballroom dancing and how it intoxicates and captivates its participants like nothing else.”

How many of us, especially women, can relate to Carlson’s predicament? Trying to succeed at work while balancing the demands of family? Dashing around town after work to make sure your daughter gets to ballet on time and your son makes his football practice? Staying up until midnight making cupcakes for the third grade Halloween party? Needing to work late but knowing someone has to get home and pay the babysitter? A lot of women wonder - what happened to my own needs? My own interests? What happened to my sense of myself?

Maybe the answer is as simple as walking into a studio, and dancing out! In Carlson’s book, dancing is used as a metaphor for life, inspiring readers to find their center and balance. “It hasn’t been easy to make room in the schedule for my passion, but I have done it, because I’m certain now that it is necessary for life. This new period is rich – as rich in some ways as having my two children, because it has been a kind of birth – but it has also been painful thanks to the self-examination that dancing has provoked in me. And so, because of dance, I can say, unequivocally and gratefully, that I am alive at last,” she writes.

Dancing Tips - Dancing Did It For Me! What About You?

By Stanley McCalla, Fred Astaire dance board member & National coach and adjudicator

I started dancing some 25 years ago when I was 12 ha-ha… I wish. Anyway, before this all started, I saw a couple performing a dance show at a club during a Christmas Holiday party.

They were rhythmic and proficient, and I thought for a moment that I perhaps could some day do that as well. After offering my congratulations, I asked them where they learned their fantastic craft. “Fred Astaire” came the reply from the male partner. To which I responded naively, "Who is that?” I was so young and so unknowledgeable these days, coming from a different country and all. The couple continued bragging about the Fred Astaire Dance studio on 5th Avenue in New York City.

To make a long story short, I called the studio two months later and registered for some lessons. For the first six months however, although I was learning and felt good about my progress, I was afraid of showing up at a Guest Party or taking part in a showcase for that matter. Why? Because I truly was concerned about not making a fool of myself in front of other people.

Well, that changed!

My teacher at the time - the most beautiful blond that I can remember - took me to her supervisor Mr. Pike, who in turn made a deal that changed the course of events: I was offered 2 free entries to the regional competition if I registered in the next small program. With Dorothy holding my arm gently and with her smiling blue eyes that could melt me any minute, I chose to say yes.

The competition went great, that is, I did not black out, succumbing to my fears. However, noticing 6 couples on that floor besides us, I could not stop my trembling cheeks, nor prevent my lips sticking to my teeth. By some divine intervention, I managed to win both the Rumba and the Meringue that I signed for. Needless to say, my confidence shot up to Mt Everest… well not quite. The result of this competition was such that four young female students at the studio lined up to partner with me at the next National Competition in Miami Beach, Florida, an event that was equally successful for me.

Every year that Fred Astaire holds an event of that caliber, I reminisce and thank my teachers and supervisor for having giving me the nudge since I don’t know if I would be where I am today without it.

This coming April, Fred Astaire is holding their biggest ever competition at the Luxor in Vegas. I am here to proudly encourage you all to join and be part of this historic moment. If you are still undecided about joining, if you think that you are not ready yet, or that you are too much of a beginner, or just like the younger me, you are afraid of testing the waters, my advice is: JUST DO IT. You will have a great experience and an historic time. And who knows, just like me, your life could change for the better.

Happy New Year to you all!

Stanley McCalla

My Golden Dancers

So What? Nothing Can Deter Us

By Elita Sohmer Clayman

Can you believe it is now January 2009 and thank God we are here to live it. When I was thirteen years old, mom was about to turn 40 the next day, May the 8th. I thought 40 was extremely old and I worried would mom turn into a mean and strict mommie because 40 was surely old to a thirteen-year-old kid. The day came and went and Mom was the same sweet and good mommie she was the day before.

So 40 was old then and now the 70s are still young to me. My friend Virginia became a grandmother at the age of seventy two and half (her words) six and half years ago. She said to me that she was the oldest first time grandmother in Pikesville where we live and I said "So what?" You are that and that is wonderful at whatever age it occurs. I have a new physical therapist helping me to stand straighter and walk easier (after our horrible auto accident this past June, where a man was texting and ran a red light and hit us really hard- car and Jerry and I.) The physical therapist was checking me over and I mentioned that I am knock-kneed (technically called genu valgum) and she said "So what?"

She, at age 34, is herself knock-kneed, and her doctor told her because of that not to run daily for her exercise. She said to him I will and she does and very successfully. So our medical people do not always know how to tell us what not to or to do and to be right.

Some people believe that they can never learn to ballroom dance successfully because they are too old now or knock-kneed like me or maybe not hear too well or even wear thick glasses. Everyone can learn to ballroom dance and do it well if only they really want to learn and be superb doing it. I have seen in my dance lifetime career so many people who would seem unsuitable to dance. I saw a lovely couple who met at the dance studio who were physically almost unattractive together when they danced. The reason being he was a man of a fully extended belly and many inches taller than she, who was short and kind of plump.

They met there, she was a divorced mom of several children, he had never married and they clicked when they danced. They wound up marrying and he became an instant dad and grand pop. They excelled in their lessons together and competed as a couple and won medals. When they danced, they were like velvet, smooth and attractive and when you watched them, you thought them stunning. You never noticed his extended belly or that she was so much shorter than him.

They were golden in their movements and platinum in their performances. They were what one tries to be when starting out to dance. They did not let their unusual height difference dissuade them from achieving their goal. They became very well known in their community and encouraged people to dance. They even hosted out of town dancers coming to the studio by having them stay at their home overnight at no cost. They transported these people and hosted them with great hospitality. They were what we call real menches (people of worth to other people). They were and probably still are good examples of dear souls

So everyone can go and dance at any age and the starting period does not have to be early.. It can be in the forties as we did, the fifties, the sixties and even seventies. One fan of my columns started at age seventy-nine and a half due to reading one of my articles encouraging everyone to dance. It is now four or five years later and dancing is the love of her life.

Shakespeare said ‘those whose beauty gives them the power to hurt others but refuse to, then those are the ones who rightly inherit heaven’s blessings and keep nature’s treasures from being wasted.’ We do not want to waste nature’s treasures to us and learning to ballroom dance is definitely valuable jewel.

We should all tap our potential in anything we have desired to do regardless of our now age. We are at a peak time in our life and if finances are good or even not so great in these trying times and we can spare some money to spend on our self for great gratification, then we should attempt to do so. We cannot always keep thinking of the future and monetary needs then (though that is extremely important too) but we should enjoy life now as long as we are healthy and able. I am not saying to spend and not think of the future health needs but we can try to maybe cut down on other unnecessary items and spend that money on some fun things.

I have a friend Sheila who spends lots of money on purses that cost four hundred dollars or blouses that cost two hundred dollars etc. She does not really go any place where those very impressively cost items would show her off. She just has them and wears them to work. She once said she works even though her husband is retired so she can have these costly apparel items. She eats out in expensive restaurants where a baked potato costs eight dollars and that same potato costs thirty five cents in the supermarket. She will eat at a dinner that winds up on the check for over one hundred fifty dollars and I always say I can be filled up on a thirty dollar meal of nice and clean food just as well as the costly dinner with the expensive baked potato.

We would rather put our money into something tangible like for home furnishings or electronics or a vacation or ballroom dancing. Then we have something to show for it rather than a full belly like Sheila. A full belly is over within a day or so and the only thing you have to show for it is acid reflux, a tummy ache or some added weight.

When you ballroom dance you have learned a skill that is not only excellent for your mind, your feet, your arms, your soles, your soul and your brain. You will scare away Alzheimer’s possibly and your mental status will be full.

We can encourage others to go and at least try to dance at any age and we can inherit heaven’s blessings because we will be content in knowing we have accomplished a new feat with our feet and our mind will be richer for the experience. I do not need a four hundred dollar purse to carry my reading glasses or my makeup in because my thirty dollar or less purse will still hold the same items. The items in my mind are attempting to execute the steps of the dance and my abdomen is emptier because I did not eat that eight dollar baked potato to fill me up.

The knock-knees that I truly did not know I had until about six years ago when during a physical yearly exam and the doctor said ‘you really are knock- kneed’ I said what? They are still working and dancing.

So they did not deter me from winning over the years fifty eight trophies and medals. To the two doctors, mine and the physical therapist’s one, as she said to me “so what”.

Knock-kneed did not deter me or does not deter her, her name is Temma and we both are stronger regardless of what the medical people assert. We are inheriting heaven’s blessings, me who can dance with it and she who can run miles with it.

Her miles and my steps are bigger and better than any doctor’s diagnosis. My diagnosis is for you all to reap heaven’s blessings and go out and bring to fruition that what you want.
Do it now and do it soon and you will be thrilled at what you can procure.

To modify Shakespeare a bit, I say YOU have the power to change nature and to reap all blessings you deserve. Go out and ballroom dance or anything else you think you cannot do. Mom was the same dear person at age forty that a little kid thought would be altered overnight. You are a qualified and wonderful person that you always were and age should not transform the fact. Age is making you more precious and special. You are steady, regular and stable. You still have heaven’s blessings.

Always Keep On Dancing

You can email me at

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

NDC 2008 American Rising Star Smooth Champions!

The results of the American Rising Star Smooth division at Fred Astaire's 2008 National Dance Championships in October were:

1. Mykhaylo (Misha) Zadyraka & Hanna Kryvyk
2. Nathan Garibay & Julie Garibay
3. Chris Germain & Simona Polmova
4. Ben Seifert & Michelle Jones
5. Peter Hahn & Juliet Thibodeaux
6. Chris Schultz & Stephanie Parker

Congratulations to all our competitors!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Fiesta Ball in Norwood, MA

The Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Norwood will be celebrating its grand re-opening after extensive renovations and celebrating the new ownership, with a fun-filled Fiesta Ball on Saturday, Jan. 10. The ball will include performances from some of the finest professional dancers in America, champagne, fun group classes, and of course, dancing. It is open to the public and free to attend.

There will also be a special hip-hop performance from a special children’s group.

Reservations and more information are available by calling 781-469-4246.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Simple but intense workouts hot for 2009


The Associated Press

Out: Pricey club memberships. In: DVDs. Out: Hour-long workouts. In: Half-hour. Out: Boring routines. In: The Wii.
2009 is all about budget-friendly, time-efficient and fun workouts, according to fitness experts. Here are their predictions for how we'll be getting in shape in the new year.

THE TREND: Small dance studios
From Tamilee Webb, known for "Buns & Abs of Steel"
Webb predicts group fitness classes will move out of mega health clubs and back into smaller studios, as in the '80s when aerobic dance took off."In the olden days, it was an exercise group studio, you'd run in, know most of the women, and run out," says Webb, who teaches at a big health club. "In a big club environment, it is a different energy and vibration."She said many of her students ignore the club's other amenities and would prefer something smaller, simpler and cheaper.So while most of the smaller studios are for yoga and Pilates, she sees more classes in aerobic dance, toning and even circuit training being offered in similar places.

THE TREND: Fitness boot camp
From the American Council of Exercise Top Fitness Trends for 2009.
This military-style workout doesn't seem to be going away. This is the third time boot camp has been on the ACE's Top Fitness Trends List, according to chief science officer Cedric Bryant.Boot camps offer a "change of pace from the traditional workout experience," said Bryant. He said the workouts, which incorporate moves like lunges, push-ups and squats, also challenge people in a way that's empowering.But results also have a lot to do with it. Boot camps are time-efficient and effective, he said. And of course, he adds, some credit goes to the marketing. There are fitness boot camps for prom, high school reunions, weddings and singles.

THE TREND: Ballroom dancing
From Jeanette Jenkins, "Jeanette Jenkins Hollywood Trainer - Sexy Arms, Abs & Legs" DVD
Thanks to "Dancing with the Stars," there's going to be more interest in ballroom dancing, says Jenkins. In the past, people were more apt to find hip-hop and Brazilian dance in their fitness centers, she said."The show made it very cool to ballroom dance," she said. "You're going to start seeing ballroom dancing where you've never seen it before."Jenkins said Brooke Burke's seventh season win is an inspiration to women. She sees more mothers signing up for classes. Burke has four children, no background training in dance and an "unbelievable, beautiful body," she said.

THE TREND: Fun and games
From Carole Carson, author of "From Fat to Fit""
Exergaming," such as the Wii and Dance Dance Revolution will bring fun and appealing exercise activities back into the home, says Carson.There will also be a return to the popular exercises of childhood, such as trampolining and Hula-Hooping, she says."We're making it fun again," says Carson. "You can have a lot of fun getting fit."Look for more health clubs to purchase Expresso Bikes, stationary bikes with interactive software that simulates the experience of biking outdoors.

THE TREND: Working out at home
From Ingrid Von Burg: "Yoga for Familes" and "Yoga for Grandparents" DVD and Dr. Pamela Peeke, senior medical correspondent for the Discovery Health National Body Challenge.
Hard economic times means more people will work out in their homes.Von Burg, who teaches at two yoga studios in New York City, says students are already forgoing her classes for DVDs; not only is it more economical - but a group of people can do it together as opposed to each paying for classes at a studio, she said.Many yoga instructors are offering short instructional videos on their Web sites that students can download for free, she said.Peeke predicts more people will set up a home gym rather than purchasing a membership to a health club.

THE TREND: Senior fitness
From Amie Hoff, Personal Trainer, New York Sports Clubs
Hoff predicts more classes at senior centers, nursing homes and health clubs to help seniors with balance and coordination. Seniors who were never into fitness are getting in shape, she says."They are realizing the benefits of having more stamina throughout the day, stronger legs to get them up and down the stairs," says Hoff, who has senior clients.Hoff says many seniors are signing up for Healthways SilverSneakers Fitness Program, which is coming to Curves in January. SilverSneakers, which is for Medicare-eligible individuals, offers physical activity, health education and social events at participating locations.

THE TREND: Short workouts
From David Kirsch, "Anytime, Anywhere Workout" on, Tracey Staehle, "Fit By Tracey - Walking Strong.
"People will be doing shorter workouts, says Kirsch. He has 10-minute circuit workouts; people can do three in the course of the day with no machines."
The idea is to get away from the traditional 45-minute to an hour workout, three sets of this, three sets of that," says Kirsch.
Staehle says more health clubs are offering 30-minute versions of group fitness classes, such as Pilates, step, and body pump. Her "step lite" class is a nonstop 30 minutes."People like to get in, have a great workout that is intense, time efficient, and get out," she says.

THE TREND: Personalized DVD or Web workouts
From Michele Olson, professor of exercise science, University of Alabama Montgomery, "10 Minute Solution: Kettlebell Ultimate Fat Burner" DVD
Olson says some people may find ways to create their own exercise DVDs by mixing and matching clips from multiple sources, such as YouTube videos, fitness DVDs and downloadable workouts that are on trainer and magazine Web sites. For example, people can create their own video workout on"There's more access to personalize the exercise video clips into an amalgamation of something that really meets your needs," she says.

THE TREND: Suspension training
From Jeff Halevy, personal trainer and fitness coach
Halevy predicts suspension training will continue to catch on. While many pro sports teams and fighters use suspension trainers, such as the TRX, regular people are working out with them, he says.A suspension trainer is essentially a pair of straps with handles that you attach to any overhead point, such as a beam, tree limb or door. Part of your body is off the ground on every exercise. For example, you can do push-ups or squats holding the handles or put your feet in the handles and do crunches."It's part of this whole functional training movement," says Halevy. "Why athletes like it so much is because it replicates real life activities."

THE TREND: Basketball
David Zinczenko, Editor-in-chief of Men's Health and editorial director of Women's Health magazines
Zinczenko predicts president-elect Barack Obama will bring basketball back to the forefront after several dark years."You have a group of high-profile basketball players in the White House, and you're going to see Obama and his team playing ball the way you saw Bush clearing brush and Clinton jogging the streets," he says.
Basketball will be seen as an upscale, sophisticated sport played by accomplished people, as it was in the early 90s, he said. Back then, there were high-profile stars like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, and people like Clarence Thomas and Al Gore played the sport.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Gotta Dance!

From the Dane County Lifestyles Magazine:

By Angela Mihm Nigro
Health is one of those things we miss most once it’s gone, and such was the case for Sue Kennedy. Twelve years ago, Sue’s life came to a grinding halt when excruciating pain and extreme fatigue ruled her every moment, seemingly overnight. Kennedy recalls, “One day I was running and the next I couldn’t even walk.” She was only 50 years old.

Active and healthy her entire life, Kennedy was a nurse, a recreational runner and an involved mother and grandmother. At no point in her history had there been any indication that she would need a cane and narcotics simply to function, but for nearly two years that was her reality.

Finally, answers
Blood test after blood test came up negative and doctors were perplexed as Kennedy battled depression and struggled simply to get out of bed. Finally, through specialized tests, the answer came.

Kennedy had lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints and tissues. Kennedy’s body was mistakenly
attacking itself, causing severe damage. While there is no cure for lupus, Kennedy soon discovered that medications greatly reduce the symptoms. Through a strict drug regime, exercise, healthy diet and adequate rest, Kennedy found herself pain-free for the first time in years. She resumed many of her favorite activities, including walking and hiking. Internally, though, the medications were taking a toll.

One of the drugs Kennedy was taking can affect the hipbone, and by May, 2003 she was experiencing severe pain in her right hip. An MRI revealed the damage: Her hip socket was disintegrating and there was nearly nothing left. A hip replacement was the only option.

Although she was frightened, Kennedy underwent the procedure at the hands of Dr. David Rolnick, orthopedic surgeon, UW-Health. The replacement worked, Kennedy says. “I was ecstatic and the pain was gone.”

She celebrated, appropriately enough, by hiking in Olympia, Washington only 12 weeks post-op.

When pain appeared in her left hip in 2007, Kennedy recognized the symptoms and didn’t delay seeing the doctor. She had a second hip replacement, again with tremendous results. She was finally “living life to the hilt.”

Let’s dance
While wintering in Florida, a friend mentioned ballroom dancing to Kennedy, who loves to dance. Kennedy thought it might be just the thing to add variety to her fitness routine, plus it sounded like a great deal of fun. In March 2008, she enrolled in ballroom dancing lessons in Florida and worked with her instructor to reach the beginner level.

When spring arrived, it was time to return to Madison, but Kennedy was determined to keep dancing and quickly signed up for lessons at the new Fred Astaire Studio, owned and operated by Peter and Linda Goethche.
Kennedy describes the partnership as a match made in heaven from the day she entered the studio and the instructors jumped into teaching her competitive material. Soon they suggested that she enter a Dance-A-Thon held in Oconomowoc at summer’s end. That was in May and the trio got to work. Kennedy had only about three months to learn numerous moves, including the smooth ballroom dances like the waltz, tango and foxtrot; as well as Latin-inspired dances like the rumba and the cha-cha.

To prepare, Kennedy took lessons twice a week, practiced every day at home and listened to the music repeatedly in order to memorize the perfect positioning of her arms, feet and head for each patterned dance.

At the studio, preparation was truly a group effort as Linda Goethche assisted with costuming, hair and make-up. Kennedy felt so cared for that she channeled all her energy into dancing her best— with astonishing results.

And the winner is…
At the Dance-A-Thon, Kennedy entered as a newcomer student, and had to perform in 72 two-minute heats over the course of two days. It was grueling, but fun and exhilarating, too. Kennedy says that with each step she thought about how far she had come and “what a miracle it was to be dancing competitively.”

Kennedy was completely shocked when judges announced the competition winners and her name was read for “Top Female Regional Newcomer.” Equally rewarding, she says, was the studio’s recognition for “Most Enthusiastic.” Of the trophy, Kennedy explains, “It is just the icing on the cake of an incredible five-month journey.”

Not one to rest on her laurels, Kennedy continued to dance through the summer, adding new steps along the way and she quickly reached the second level of competition.

In October, 2008, she competed in the open division exhibition with three
new dances in choreographed routines and garnered numerous first-place prizes.

Ballroom dancing gives Kennedy inspiration and motivation to stay healthy and active. Since she started dancing, her anti-inflammatory markers, a measurement for lupus, are the lowest ever, which doctors attribute to her high level of activity.

Only a few years ago, Kennedy was clawing her way out of bed to soak in scalding hot water before she could muster the strength or ability to move around. Now, spinning across the floor, the pain is gone, replaced, she says, with pure euphoria.

Monday, January 05, 2009

My Golden Dancers

The Telephone Line to Eternity

By Elita Sohmer Clayman

Sometimes when you need something, you do not realize it is in front of your eyes. Sometimes we yearn for a new person in our life to enhance our well being. We may search far and wide and people nowadays do something they never did in my time. They go to dating services online and many do find a person they eventually marry. Some do not find happiness on these sites.

Plato said that time is the moving image of eternity. It has been said that eternity is no where and no when.

If there is no where and no when then we certainly are in bad shape. We must believe that there is something out there for us to triumph over and then we can set a goal. A goal is a purpose and a target.

I have wondered in the past few years why the variety store is named Target and why it is so popular and succeeded where other stores of the same category failed and closed up. Perhaps it is in the name and alongside of economical prices and decent quality, it survived and seems to continue to prosper. It is not as if it is a store or stores with plenty of personnel to assist you. They often walk around doing nothing and unless you inquire of them about something, they ignore you. However, in this recession type of holiday economy we are enduring, they seem to have been advised to help the customers in a more pleasant manner.

So perhaps the name Target is a symbol of people coming into the facility and targeting their needs and accomplishing them easily and with low cost and fairly quality merchandise. The word Target means aim and goal. So goals are what we set when we begin to ballroom dance.

My aim in the beginning when I started lessons to dance was to do well but to win at least one trophy. I needed that one trophy to assuage my need of knowing that I was a good dancer. Dancing to me was a goal I needed to achieve. In the end or shall I say the beginning of satisfaction, I did win fifty-eight trophies and medals competing with several dance coaches. I had shelves built in my newly remodeled kitchen back then to display them. My son at age sixteen invited a friend over one day. He looked at the trophies and asked whose they were. I said they were mine. He looked at me and I could read his thoughts. This old lady won trophies dancing? I was only forty-seven years old then.

My mother had a cousin who was unmarried at about age forty. Her brother was a very wealthy business man and he made it his business to find her a soul mate. He introduced Rose to Ron and they hit it off and were married about six months later. The ceremony took place at the rich brother’s lovely home and Mom and Dad and I were invited. I was about twelve years old. It was a sweet rite and I was impressed that such an ‘old’ lady had gotten betrothed. They got up and did their first wedding dance and everyone was amazed that the bride and groom danced a lovely waltz and really looked quite masterful doing it. The perception of Ron and Rose was that they were two lost souls who had gotten together at the request of the wealthy brother Albert and everyone seeing them dance in such an artful way helped to change the homely perception of the two of them because they were unmarried and were forty something in age.

Actually, Rose was a registered nurse with a master’s degree and held a very elevated position at the hospital. She was in charge of many floors of nursing assistance and even had her own secretary and an office. Ron was a certified public accountant (CPA) and ran an office of fifty employees and he too was running a lucrative business. They just never met the right person or were too busy or whatever. When they met, it was a good match and they showed the world and the family that both of them were a very interesting couple. People at the wedding reception were more enamored of their ballroom dancing then of their scholastic and business accomplishments.

They thought of each of them as nerds or like the Yiddish word schleppers. Schleppers meaning people who just drag along in society and are not of much worth. So they were labeled that by their relatives and friends and no one ever saw anything too much of merit in knowing them. Albert, the brother knew his sister only needed to meet the right man and he saw the right man in Ron.A year later they had a beautiful litte daughter named Samantha and she grew up to be a ballerina dancing with an established ballet group.

Labeling people is a pastime in this country and it makes the insecure person feel more secure to attach a not so nice word to someone else and they in their own mind feel superior doing so. Robert Jacob Meyer who was my editor when I wrote seventeen years for the Amateur Dancer magazine saw in me the ability to write and to encourage ordinary people to go out and dance by reading my articles. He wrote me the other day an email that said “that Elita’s spirit is the telephone line to the world”. He did not state whether he meant the regular phone line or the cell phone line. He probably meant both and that my spirit in creating columns to psyche folks up to try dancing is one of longevity and eagerness. Bob Meyer was and is a competent writer himself and he wrote his own interesting column in the Amateur Dancers magazine for twenty-four years. I wrote for them seventeen years when Bob chose me to be the senior page editor. That was my good fortune. He was my mentor in the beginning and we had and still have a delightful friendship and though we have not seen each other in person since 2002, it still thrives via the emails and the internet.

I have been unable to ballroom dance for almost six months now due to the automobile accident we were in, but my intention to keep at this telling of my love for ballroom did not diminish. In fact, it increased due to the fact I could not dance because of injured shoulders and knees. My love for ballroom dance still was alive and many dreams I had while sleeping had me dancing and having fun and taking lessons. I always in the dreams was performing beautifully and never tired. The feet with the bunions from dancing were in perfect shape.

I was invited last year to write a column for a former teacher here in Baltimore for his website. I agreed but he gave me conditions that it only be an advice column on dancing and the health benefits. He did not want me to write of my own experiences or of others’ experiences or to compliment any one on their activities. I told him no. I write in the manner I write and I have been successful in doing so and I know that I have encouraged people to dance that would never have thought they could dance at an advanced age, a young age or possibly with a medical problem age. I showed his email to a dancing friend and he told me I did the right thing. He said this guy was not intelligent enough to realize that everyone needs encouragement and everyone wants stimulation to try a new project. The only medical advice that I am willing to dispense, not being a medical professional is that dancing is certainly a healthy way to exercise.

Epictetus, a Roman philosopher said “Keep company with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” The best advice one can receive is to be with the populace who never puts you down and especially for no reason. The spirit telephone line, the accomplished and unknown couple like Ron and Rose, the encouraging friends and teachers and the word target are all important. Our goal and our target
should be in our constant well-being, our health, our happiness and our contentment with our life. Keep your journey of life, Do not let your joy be behind you, let your joy always be in the front of your life.

Bob Meyer appreciated my talent and therefore, I encourage others to go out and dance, be uplifted, be full of spirit, be a line of talented people who love to dance. We show the world that the time we have here can be blessed with this lifestyle of exhibiting to them, that people like Albert who saw something special in Rose and then Ron, the Bob Meyers of this world who visualized greatness in me and Elita who now envisions dance talent in men and women she does not know yet exist to help others to be positive, powerful and productive.

Epictetus was surely a keen guy because he said keep company only with people who uplift you, I say keep company with people who elevate your mind and soul to reach and hold onto the glories of ballroom dancing and how you will feel once you have expertise in this glorious pastime. It is a delightful journey that will keep you on your ‘feet’ and you will be awakened to do your best. Never allow any one to lower your expectations of any thing you do in life whether it be in your job, your hobby, your dancing, your love life or your daily living. Keep company with individuals who perceive you as able, kind and talented and you do the same for them. You will both reap the rewards of being happy. You will be a telephone line to eternity Elita Sohmer Clayman December 2008 8th Article for Fred Astaire Dance Studios

You can email Elita at

Friday, January 02, 2009

SuperStars of Dance

Georgia Ambarian and Eric Luna have been selected to represent the United States in the new reality TV show, Superstars of Dance. The international dance competition is produced by Nigel Lythgoe and Simon Fuller, the masterminds behind American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. Lord of the Dance king, Michael Flatley has been selected to host show.

Georgia Ambarian and Eric Luna dance at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Cinco Bayou and hold three world and three U.S. cabaret championship titles. They also were the featured dancers with pop singer James Blount on an episode of Dancing with the Stars last season.

“It’s nice that our hard work was noticed,” Eric Luna said. “Nigel Lythgoe himself called us to ask us if we’d participate.”

Georgia Ambarian and Eric Luna are expert ballroom dancers specializing in cabaret dancing, a theatrical style that involves aerial movements and lifts. They’ll be competing against ballet dancers and even acrobats, depending on the contestants dance style the participating eight countries choose to send.

“We’re just going to go and perform the best way we can,” Georgia Ambarian said. “You can’t think of it as a competition. You have to think of it as your personal best.”

Superstars of Dance will premiere on January 4, 2009 at 8:00 PM ET on NBC.