Thursday, April 30, 2009

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The Benefits of Ballroom Dancing

From the Groton Times (CT):

To the Editor:

I started dancing a little over a year ago, and honestly I don’t know where I would be today without it. It changed my life in many different ways—my posture has improved, my breathing is deeper, my gait is more graceful, and my general outlook is brighter.

I’ve danced many other styles of dance, and I would have to say out of all the different types of dancing, ballroom would have to be my favorite. Dancing works every single part of your body, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. Ballroom dancing also combines many different styles of dancing. It’s critical, strict, on point. You have to be on time, with the music and with your partner.

Within ballroom dancing there are many different genres, so there are many opportunities to try a variety of dance styles. I can almost guarantee that if you try it, you will find at least one that you will like. I wish that more people, especially younger kids like me, would just give it a chance. It may look boring, but you will be very surprised how ballroom challenges you and keeps you coming back for more.

Timing is especially important when it comes to dancing, because the slightest bit that you are off from the music makes a huge difference. Being in sync with your partner and the rhythm is definitely one of the most challenging aspects of ballroom dancing. I take pride in being a ballroom dancer because it is so uncommon, especially for teenager, and it’s so beneficial in all aspect of my life.

Competing is also very thrilling. Last November I entered my first dance competition, the Tri Regional Ballroom Dance Competition. There are contestants from various different dance schools and more than 300 entries. My partner and I danced in 16 heats in the rhythm division dancing to the cha-cha and swing. We placed first in all 16 heats. I was completely shocked and had no idea that this good news was coming our way. I was not expecting to hear our names be called time after time.

If it wasn’t for my supportive family and my wonderful instructor Olga Golubko at the Fred Astaire dance studio in Mystic, I would not be the person that I am today. I am going to dance for the rest of my life.

Olivia Pentell


Astaire Awards Championships

Combine great dancing with a great opportunity to see the sights of a classic American city this summer!

It’s time to start making plans for AAC 2009, held in Chicago, Illinois on July 9-12. The AAC is being held at the Westin Chicago North Shore Hotel. Each guest room and suite has all the comfort and amenities you need. There is also a fitness center and indoor pool for those who are looking for a good workout along with their dancing. There are also many nearby attractions to enjoy in the area, such as gardens, high-end retail shopping, amusement parks, and racing tracks. Don’t miss out on the great city of Chicago, only a short drive away, where you can shop, visit world-renowned museums, sightsee, catch a professional baseball game, and sample the best deep dish pizza in the country! Hope to see you there.

EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION: MAY 7. See your local Fred Astaire Dance Studios instructor for more information.

The Power of Dance

By Karen Green, Assistant Director, Fred Astaire Dance Studios New England Region

Recently, the Fred Astaire Dance Studios New England Regional Office received a heartwarming reminder of just how important our role can be. Rogelio Garcia, co-owner of the Mystic, Connecticut Fred Astaire Studio forwarded this e-mail to our office:

Dear Fred Astaire Friends,
On Friday, February 6, 2009, we had yet another wonderful experience at Fred Astaire Dance Studios. Our son, Sam (who has said he might be interested in dance lessons), accompanied us to our lesson with the wonderful Olga. After that we returned for the dance party and Sam danced with not only his mother, but also with Olga and Pam (another student).
As usual, everyone was so warm and welcoming. Sam has had a tough couple of years dealing with epilepsy and cerebral palsy and he has been very sad. Thanks to a new karate program and his interest in Fred Astaire, we are seeing a different young man right now who is full of enthusiasm.
Don will be coming in sometime this week to talk about signing Sam up for lessons. I just wanted to let you know how walking into Fred Astaire Studios last April (for the first time) has changed our lives in so many wonderful ways.
Sincerely, Mary Maranell

After reading the e-mail, I emailed Mary to let her know how touched and grateful we were for her kind words. Then, at the beginning of March, I had the pleasure of meeting Mary, her husband, Don and 16 year-old Sam himself at our New England Regional Competition. The fact that Sam was even there was a big deal his mom told me. He had attended a comp last year with them, but the music made him very uncomfortable due to his sensitivity to loud noises. As a result, he spent the remainder of that competition in his hotel room.

This year was a different story and while we were at the comp I had a few minutes to talk with Sam. I expected a conversation with a shy, withdrawn young man where I had to do most of the talking. Instead, Sam seemed confident, sociable and more than willing to talk about his dancing. He did start the conversation by coming right out and asking why I thought he was so interesting. “Well, your mom told me that dancing has made some positive changes in your life,” I told him. “We’d like to share that with other people if that’s OK with you.” Sam agreed that he is stronger and experiences less depression now that he is dancing. Sam, who also has a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Karate, talked about the similarities between his dancing and his karate lessons. Although, as Sam pointed out, there is one major difference. “Some people think dancing is for wimps,” he said. “I challenge anyone in my karate class to get out on the floor and waltz for a while and then tell me how their legs are feeling!” He’s even considering giving up some Karate time to spend more time dancing.

Sam’s newfound enthusiasm for dancing not only had him cheering in the ballroom with the rest of the spectators at this competition, but now he is enrolled in dance lessons with Olga at the Mystic studio. Even better, his mother noticed that he is definitely happier and more outgoing than before he started dancing. “Even his seizures seem more in control,” she reported. “We think the dancing has given him more endurance so he doesn’t get so fatigued.”

We stood on the edge of the dance floor as Sam did the Rumba with Olga during a general dance at the comp. “It’s like I’m looking at a different kid,” she said, smiling as she watched him. “He talks about goals for the future,” she continued, “and about wanting to be a physical therapist. He didn’t talk about that kind of stuff before dancing.”

Happy Dancing Sam! Thanks for sharing your story and for reminding us all of why we do what we do!


In Quincy, Massachusetts on Saturday, March 7th, over 300 people gathered at the New England Dancesport Championships with over 3500 entries. The crowd was on their feet for Radostina Gerova and Plamen Danailov as they performed a six–dance show based on Broadway hits. Their final number, “You Can’t Stop The Beat,” from the show Hairspray was a blur of energy and enthusiasm that left the crowd inspired and cheering for more.

Plamen and Tina started dancing together in 2000. They have been the reigning Fred Astaire National Latin American Champions for two consecutive years. They are four times undefeated as the Bulgarian Latin American Champions. Plamen and Tina were Rising Star Latin American Finalists at Blackpool and are regular finalists at almost every national Dancesport Championship. Tina is an instructor at the New York Eastside Fred Astaire Dance Studio owned by Marina and Taliat Tarsinov.

“Tina and Plamen were terrific to work with,” said Karen Green, the competition organizer. “In addition, they were so friendly and personable with the crowd.” They even took time after the show to chat with several members of the audience including a young man who had been a student of Tina’s in the past.

“Our compliments to Marina and Taliat Tarsinov for developing another top-quality, professional, and gracious couple,” added Kim Haidinger, the New England Area Director. “Tina and Plamen were another fine example of the wonderful couples associated with the Fred Astaire organization.”

Cross Country Dance Championships 2009 Results

Congratulations to all the participants of this year's Cross Country Dance Championships!

1. Ben Seifert, Houston Woodlands
2. Aaron DeSoto, Chicago North
3. Genadi Lulchev, Scottsdale
4. Chris Germain, Chicago North
5. Michael Housel, St. Petersburg
1. Irina Gareyeva, Hanover
2. Jessica Nail, Houston Memorial
3. Suzanna Vogel, Ft. Myers
4. Yelena Babyuk, Scottsdale North
5. Kelsey Koehler, Palm Harbor

1. Larry Collins, Ft. Myers
2. Chloe Hart, Ft. Myers
3. Krystal Espinor, Sugarland
4. Nisha Balsara, Houston Woodlands
5. Jessica Barrier, St. Petersburg


1. Milwaukee Central, WI
2. Chicago North, IL
3. Houston Woodlands, TX
4. St. Petersburg, FL
5. Ft. Myers, FL

1. Paul Ammeen & Sondra Ammenn, Hilton Head Island
2. Larry Collins & Chloe Hart, Ft. Myers
3. Wayne Lee & Colleen Lee, San Diego
4. Jim David & Maria David, Washington, DC
5. John Bittner & Judy Bittner, Burr Ridge

1. Andy Serio, Milwaukee Central
2. Thomas Payne, Houston Memorial
3. Don Jaffee, Hanover
4. Larry Collins, Ft. Myers
5. Jack Clifford, Scottsdale North
1. Bette Anne Duffy, Chicago North
2. Chloe Hart, Ft. Myers
3. Lois Springer, Scottsdale
4. Kim Adamle, Chicago North
5. Linda Varcoe, West Hartford

1. Eric Miller, Albany
2. Thomas Payne, Houston Memorial
3. Nicholas Rangel, Columbus East
4. Theo Talma, Albany
5. Gary Adams, Indianapolis
1. Gwen Davis, West Palm Beach
2. Anna Ilko, Columbus East
3. Margaret Cherpurko, Jupiter
4. Bette Anne Duffy, Chicago North
5. Darcy Ehrlich, Chicago North

1. Andy Serio, Milwaukee Central
2. Thomas Payne, Houston Memorial
3. Jack Clifford, Scottsdale North
4. Larry Collins, Ft. Myers
5. Stan Bloomenthal, Belmont
1. Kim Adamle, Chicago North
2. Krystal Espinor, Sugarland
3. Linda Moore, Scottsdale
4. Nisha Balsara, Houston Woodlands
5. Yu-Lan Lin, Belmont

1. Don Jaffee, Hanover
2. Carmine Cecchini, Palm Harbor
3. Larry Collins, Ft. Myers
4. Tim Duffy, Chicago North
5. Thomas Payne, Houston Memorial
1. Chloe Hart, Ft. Myers
2. Bette Anne Duffy, Chicago North
3. Margaret Mateeff, St. Petersburg
4. Mary Mitchem, Houston Katy
5. Minnie Freeman, St. Petersburg

1. Sarah Haworth, Milwaukee Central
2. Jessica Haims, Morristown
3. Randi Zedeck, St. Petersburg

1. Ricky Betzen & Albina Habrle, Milwaukee Central
2. Ken Hansen & Jackie Josephs, Milwaukee North/Chicago North
3. Andrei Abrashin & Morgan Jaunzemis, Buffalo
4. Ilya Velednitsky & Mandy Velednitsky, Milwaukee Central
5. Ivan Dishliev & Marieta Nedialkova, Phoenix
6. Aaron DeSoto & Jaana Lillemagi, Chicago North

1. Ricky Bentzen & Albina Habrle, Milwaukee Central
2. Ken Hansen & Jackie Josephs, Milwaukee North/Chicago North
3. Andrei Abrashin & Morgan Jaunzemis, Buffalo
4. Ilya Velednitsky & Mandy Velednitsky, Milwaukee Central
5. Ivan Dishliev & Marieta Nedialkova, Phoenix
6. Aaron DeSoto & Jaana Lillemagi, Chicago North

1. Greg Fidurski & Gabriela Jileva, Morristown
2. Ruslan Meshokov & Alexandra Nema, Albany
3. Anatoli Gorolevici & Irina Gareyeva, Hanover
4. Andreas Luetzner & Doreen Scheinpflug, West Palm Beach
5. Brad Adcock & Mira Cherkezova, Norwood/Gastonbury

1. Kevin Prothro & Carla Coulson, Houston Woodlands
2. Josh Tilford & Jennifer Barnes, Columbus East
3. Kevin Camarata & Jessica Nail, Houston Kingwood/Houston Memorial
4. James Fierro & Vera Kosarev, Buffalo
5. Adam Maynard & Rachel Nace, Columbus East
6. Topher Woods & Jennifer Cepeda, Milwaukee Wales

1. Valdimir Kosarev & Vera Kosarev, Buffalo
2. Misha Zadyraka & Hanna Kryvyk, Tarrytown
3. Sergey Smolin & Robyn Zmudznski, Milwaukee Central
4. Andreas Luetzner & Doreen Scheinpflug, West Palm Beach
5. Ben Seifert & Michelle Jones, Houston Woodlands
6. Josh Tilford & Jennifer Barnes, Columbus East

1. Aaron DeSoto & Jaana Lillemagi, Chicago North
2. Ivan Dishliev & Marieta Nedialkova, Phoenix
3. Nikolay Karchev & Robyn Zmudznski, Milwaukee Central
4. Aleks Nashev & Brittney Bartler, Chicago North
5. Slash Sharan & Ria Valenzuela, Milwaukee Central
6. Dan Skyler & Kimberly Schneider, Milwaukee

1. Misha Zadyraka & Hanna Kryvyk, Tarrytown
2. Nikolay Kralev & Gergana Slavova, Chandler
3. Chris Germain & Simona Polmova, Chicago North
4. Nathan Garibay & Julie Garibay, San Diego
5. Jesse Benedetti & Kimalee Piedad, Ft. Walton Beach
6. Ben Seifert & Michelle Jones, Houston Woodlands

1. Dan Skyler & Kimberly Schneider, Milwaukee
2. Eugene Yeremenko & Marisa Yatsenko, Tarrytown
3. Kevin Prothro & Carla Coulson, Houston Woodlands
4. Jesse Benedetti & Kimalee Piedad, Ft. Walton Beach
5. Ronald Guillen & Katie Guillen, Ft. Walton Beach
6. Joseph Hasson & Rozalynn May, Pinehurst
7. Kevin Camarata & Jessica Nail, Houston Kingwood/Houston Memorial

1. Jesse Benedetti & Kimalee Piedad, Ft. Walton Beach
2. Vicente Martinez & Megan Murphy, Chicago Downtown
3. Christopher Kane & April Knight, West Springfield
4. Anatoli Gorolevici & Irina Gareyeva, Hanover
5. Tim Edgar & Heather Skuczynski, Denver North/Denver

United States Dance Championship 2009

SAVE THE DATE for the most prestigious national dance championship in the United States:

United States Dance Championship
September 8-12, 2009
Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando in Florida

Dancing Is Not Only Fun...But Healthy Too!


By Debbie Gisonni

I thought I would honor National Dance Day with a reminder that dancing is not only loads of fun, but extremely healthy. Did you know you can burn as many calories dancing as you can swimming, running or riding a bike? Depending on the dance and the intensity—200 to 600 calories per hour.
Dancing improves flexibility, strength, balance, endurance and coordination. It reduces stress, heart disease, blood pressure and weight. Because it’s often a social activity, it helps elevate your mood. It’s also one of the few exercises you can do that is both weight bearing and aerobic. Just watch a few episodes of “Dancing with the Stars”, and you’ll see how difficult and exhausting dancing really is. The pros make it look so easy, but dancing uses muscles you never knew you had.
You don’t need to rush out and sign up for ballroom dance classes—especially if that’s not your thing. You know what kind of music and moves you like. It doesn’t matter what style dancing you prefer—ballroom, jazz, tap, salsa, belly dancing, hip hop, disco, square dancing or just dancing around your house alone (which I often do to change up my work-out)—any dancing will be fun and healthy. Just turn on the music and start moving to the beat!

Monday, April 27, 2009

My Golden Dancers

Poetry of the Foot and a Lyric to our Soul

By Elita Sohmer Clayman

Last year, as I was waiting for my husband to pick me up at the hair salon where I go every Saturday to get beautiful once again, I saw someone that I knew and had not seen for twenty years. She was my husband’s first cousin’s former wife. They divorced and quite bitterly, so the family never saw her after that event.

At first as I saw her approaching the salon’s door, I thought I will just ignore her unless she says hi first. We had not been close when she was married and in the family, only saw her maybe ten times in ten years. However, I thought, I will say hi and how are you and I did and she looked at me quizzically as if she did not know for sure who I was. She always had bad eyesight and wore very thick eyeglasses. I said how are you and she replied fine and proceeded in the salon, walking with her cane.

So I thought to myself, next time I will not say hi because you did not care enough to ask me how I felt. The following week I saw a death notice in the paper with her name. The hairstylist told me that on that Saturday when I had said hi, she had her hair done and then went with her friends to see the French circus that was in town. At the conclusion, she dropped to the ground having had a major stroke and died a few days later.

When I heard this, I was shocked. I thought back and said to myself that I was glad I had said hi because of course, it was for the final time. I thought a silly thought. If I had known ( how could we ever) that she would be having a stroke and it was her final day on earth with all her faculties, could I, a mere mortal have warned her to go to a doctor and maybe she would be alive.

This is all nonsense on my part, but it is kind of a neat thought. If we could warn folks of bad things that might be happening to them so soon after seeing them, then we could save them. Also, if we could approach folks and tell them that something good was going to happen, would not that be splendid too?

When my mom was dying almost twenty-five years ago, we all sat in the hospital by her side and talked and watched over her, not really knowing if she could hear us or not.

Actually, she could because I mentioned to my brother and daughter who were there that Mom disliked a man in her office. He called her and constantly said Hi a Leah. Her name being Leah and the race track in Florida was Hialeah. It irritated her very much.

As we sat by her side, I told this Hialeah story to my brother and daughter and out of this quiet and dying woman, she opened up her mouth and said

“Yes and his name was Mr. Trimble.” So she heard my story and recalled his name from her memory and it had been probably twenty or thirty years since she had heard him call her that. Which proves in a way, that we often remember the not so good things as much as we remember the great things or happenings even at a time like this.

When I told this Mr. Trimble story to mom’s youngest brother he made an interesting comment that my brother, daughter and I thought quite unusual. He said that he was in a restaurant at the moment that mom died and he not knowing she had passed away received a phone call at the reservation desk of the establishment. They knew his name because he frequented it often and called him for this phone call. In those days, there were no cell phones and so Uncle Louie came to the phone and as he said hello, the person hung up. In his mind he said that must have been Mom to whom he was devoted to all his life, her being the older sibling and him the youngest of seven children. He said this was her way of saying goodbye to him. We all thought him a little egotistic thinking that Mom took time out to say goodbye to him when we had been sitting there for days in the hospital by her side. When I thought about it after the mourning period was over, I realized that he was not being pretentious; he was feeling wounded in not being there at the moment it happened and it made him experience peace in thinking him special that she ‘stopped’ and phoned him. That was ok with me because he had been a good and caring brother in her golden years. If that made him more comfortable, then it was fine with me. He was not an aggravating type person; he was an excellent sibling to her. It is better to be an Uncle Louie than a Mr. Trimble.

If we can help someone while we are here on this earth to improve their life in any way, then we should. Ballroom dancing and any sport is a way of enticing our heart to be active and our brain to be working. The orthopedic doctor told me to keep on moving my right arm because if it hurts and I let it sit idle, then it will never improve because of a lack of a workout. In the old days, when one had arthritis, they just sat and rested. Now, we are told to move on and exercise and get those muscles and body parts working because if we do not, they will atrophy. We will be the worse for it.

Our brains have to be stimulated and in a sense massaged by our using them to think, to read, to be active and certainly ballroom dancing makes us think with our brain first and our feet and arms second. When I first learned to dance, I was always looking down at my feet to see if they were moving well. I could not understand when the coach said “do not look at your feet.” I wondered how you dance and not see what you are doing. Of course, we all go through that thought and we all stop looking down.

Mr. Trimble annoyed my mom each and every day at work for years saying Hi a Leah and he knew he did and continued like a child to say it constantly. Actually, my mom did not call herself Leah; she shortened it to be modern to Lee. So he calling her Leah was really not referring to her, as she had dropped the “H” and I used to kid her that she was a modern woman way before women exerted themselves and changed things in their lives.

Sometimes I think it so marvelous of her to do that and I think about my own name which is constantly mispronounced. It seems that the more educated the person; my doctor especially constantly mispronounces my name. It is unusual, true and now that I am older I love being able to call up on the phone and say to a receptionist at a doctor or dentist office or salon or whatever, this is Elita. I am like Ann-Margaret, Madonna etc.

My name is pronounced E-Lee-Ta. The Ta is pronounced Ta and not Da like these educated souls say. My three grandsons could pronounce it right when they just learned to talk. I get annoyed like Mom did when it is pronounced incorrectly, especially when I have already corrected them many times. People who knowingly irritate other people should really step back and think how they would like to be agitated often when they have been corrected many times. It is a small thing but still an unnecessary irritant.

Mom was ahead of her time in dropping the “h.” I am ahead of my time by trying to correct someone and then saying to myself “forget it; it is not worth the effort.” Mr. Trimble should have been referred to as Mr.Dimble. That would have stopped him for sure. It is certainly more to one’s credit to be a soothing source to someone else rather than an aggravating person.

We should not annoy others and we can enhance their lives by actually saying hi to them, what’s new and let’s go ballroom dancing real soon. We can bring them to a social dance so they can see what fun they can have and how their brains will react to the music and the great atmosphere of a dance setting. We need not fear that this is the last time we will see them, so we are glad we talked because when they go out and ballroom dance, they will prolong their activities and approach their lives with great anticipation of doing something so worthwhile. The delightful time they have interacting with other people at the dance will certainly stimulate their lives and their daily living.

A friend of mine said that after reading my next article about angels on this earth, she always knew I was an angel. I do not know why she said that because we rarely see each other any longer, but we do email several times a week. So if in her mind, I am an angel, so be it and I will continue to steer people to go out and dance, even if they sit most of the dances out, just being there is beneficial.

I am glad I said hi that day to my husband’s former cousin, I am glad Mom could hear us talking and that we can say “her mind was there all the way to the last few moments.” She passed away about five minutes later after saying the Mr. Trimble line. She may not have been able to be active or walk, but the mind was still remarkably alert and that is what we are desire in our later and senior years. We can help our minds and our body parts to be vigorous and should try to ballroom dance when we have the opportunity,

Angels and good people do not annoy, do not mispronounce, do not ignore others, and do not sit around. We stay active, and we help where we can. This splendid thing called life deserves to be used in the right way and we shall do that and start now if we are not already practicing it as part of our lives. So to Mr. Trimble, wherever you may be, you are remembered for being quite naughty, we prefer to be remembered for being helpful endearing folks If in our lifetime, we point one person in the direction of ballroom dancing and that person enjoys it and prospers in doing this lovely action; then we will have been as the saying goes “an angel here on this earth.” The reason being is that if we assist someone even a stranger to us to achieve an ego boost from dancing, then we ourselves can rejoice and be proud of what we have attained. Angels do not dance, us living folks can dance, can enhance others’ existences. Thomas Carlyle said “existence is a little gleam of time between two eternities.” In this eternity, let us be productive and help someone new to dancing to gain that gleam that comes from poetry of the foot as John Dryden called it.

Poetry of the foot is surely a lyric to our soul.

Keep on Dancing

You can email me at

Fun Fred Astaire Web Site!

Check out this fun web site dedicated to Fred Astaire:

Dancing Camp for Kids in North Carolina


Sandhills Ballroom Dance & Fred Astaire Studio
300 Kelly Rd.
Pinehurst, NC 28374
Tel: 910-295-1106
Cell: 910-585-2572

Why Learn to Dance?
From Fox Trot to disco, dancing is good for the body and brain! There are many reasons people take dance lessons: it is a mild, fun form of exercise and helps reduce stress. It is a great social outlet or to meet a new people or can provide the opportunity for you to have fun doing something with that special someone!

Why Learn to Dance with Sanford Ballroom Dance & Fred Astaire Studio?
Our goal is to introduce and teach you the basic fundamentals of social dancing. During the six-week introduction to Ballroom Dance, you will find that dancing is a very enjoyable form of exercise. As you improve you may advance to our intermediate level of ballroom instruction. Both Private and group lessons are available, and our curriculum consists of several basic dances that will allow you to dance anywhere, with anyone, on any occasion! The most common dances are Fox Trot, Waltz, Tango, Rumba, Cha-Cha, Swing, Mambo, Meringue, Samba, Hustle, and by request Viennese Waltz, Bolero and the Paso Doble, just like on Dancing with the Stars!

So You Think You CAN’T Dance?
Most people believe that they have two left feet, but we believe that anyone can learn to be comfortable and have fun on the dance floor! It will take time to learn the various dances and a repertoire of steps. However, the learning is easy and fun. A steady approach with periodic practice will produce visible results in a short period of time!

Even Kids Can Dance!
Sandhills Ballroom Dance & Fred Astaire Studios is the largest ballroom dance studio in NC to welcome children ages 5 to 17. Many studios don’t accept dancers under age 18. However, we believe that children who would like to experience the joy of movement and even improve their manners should be allowed to learn! If your child would enjoy the chance to do what the celebrities do on Dancing with the Stars, our doors are open! We have produced youth couples that have won competitions…so start your child on the road to confidence and glamour today! Saturday classes set to start soon!

Boys Are Always Welcome!
Ladies’ man and movie star Patrick Swayze, hardcore NFL pro football Player Emmett Smith (of the Dallas Cowboys) and macho man Hulk Hogan (world champion wrestler and star of the TV reality show “Hogan Knows Best”) have one thing in common: they are all accomplished ballroom dancers. When a well-trained male dancer walks onto a dance floor, all women gravitate towards him. Want to become a ladies man? The fastest way is to train to become a handsome, elegant male ballroom dancer! Begin your journey today!

An Evening of Romance
Looking for a romantic and elegant evening away from the kids? How about taking your special someone dancing? Imagine the fun and excitement of learning the world’s most romantic dances, THEN imagine taking your partner out on the town. Couples can take group lessons or individual lessons.

Our well-trained, certified and capable instructors, who have worked with the instructors on Dancing with the Stars, are ready to help you begin a great new adventure, so call us today at 910-295-1106! We are open Mondays thru Saturdays to accomodate almost every busy schedule!
You are never too busy to DANCE!

DWTS Fabian Sanchez Dancing during Alabama's Hoover Day


By Amy Jones (Contact) Shelby County Reporter

Published Thursday, April 23, 2009

HOOVER — Families looking for low-cost fun should head to Veterans Park in Hoover on May 3 for the third-annual Hoover Day. The festivities will last from 1-5:30 p.m.

Events Coordinator Erin Colbaugh said the day would have plenty to choose from for entertainment.

The free event will include a car show; an exhibition tent with more than 100 Hoover businesses and organizations, ranging from cosmetic companies to hospitals and insurance companies; a kids’ zone with inflatables; and animals from the Birmingham Zoo, among other attractions.

Cintas Document Management will be at the event to shred any confidential or personal records attendees may want to bring.

There will be a ceremony at 1:30 p.m. to honor the veterans that have been memorialized in the brick plaza at the park. The Fred Astaire Dance Studio, with Fabian Sanchez of TV’s “Dancing with the Stars,” will have an exhibition at 2 p.m. A magician will perform at 2:30 p.m., and then the Alabama Blues Brothers will perform at 3 p.m.

Colbaugh said parking will be free at Spain Park High School, and shuttles will be provided to take attendees to the festival.

Colbaugh said event organizers were hoping to see at least 8,000 people come.

“Last year’s attendance was 7,600, so we’re hoping to see 8,000 to 10,000, or maybe even more than that,” she said.

Hoover Day is a way for Hoover families to enjoy a low-stress day with the community, Colbaugh said.

“It’s just a fun day at the park, and especially with the economy the way it is, people still want to participate in different activities throughout the year, and this is a great way to come out and do a lot of fun things at no cost,” she said.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ballas Hough Band's New Video

In this new video for the hit single "Do You Love Me," you'll see a lot of familiar faces:

Spring Bridal Fair - April 26th in Marshfield, MA


Marshfield - A historic wedding begins with a visit to the Daniel Webster Estate Bridal Faire, 238 Webster St., Marshfield, Sunday, April 26, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Future brides will have the opportunity to meet the South Shore caterers, floral designers, photographers, confectioners, skin care experts and more.

Bridal fashions will be shown by Country Weddings Bridal Boutique with bridal flowers by Kennedy’s Country Gardens. Many other florists will create charming bouquets and floral arrangements, and dancers from Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Hanover will be on hand to show the latest and hottest dances.

Konditor Meister Bakery and Veronica’s Sweetcakes will display confections and offer cake tastings, and prizes will be given away including the Webster Estate Mansion as the setting for your wedding shower and a resort trip by Brides Boston Magazine.

Sip a glass of champagne and enjoy hors d’oeuvres and desserts, while professionals show how to plan what every bride dreams of…a beautiful and carefree wedding day.

Tickets are $5 per person. For further details, photos, a listing of vendors and contact information, visit or call 781-837-7579 or 781-837-2403.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dancing Tips - Why You Should Do Your Medal Test

By Stanley Mc Calla

Last month, after conducting a medal examination for a few students at a studio, one student, with an inquisitive look, approached me and asked: “Excuse me Mr. McCalla, Do you think that doing the medal test is going to make me become a better dancer?

“Well absolutely” I replied. “How do you feel now that you have done the test?”

She said: “ I feel that I understand and have a better grasp of my elements”

She went on to tell me that she came from a ballet background and that she had to learn so much of the technique through a relentless series of exercises, before even experiencing the joy of moving to music. She added that by going through studying the medal test at Fred Astaire, she had experienced some similar technique as the feet position, even though the feet do not turn out as much in Latin and not at all in Ballroom. She also learned, at the same time, the different body positions as close, promenade, fallaway, open and parallel position etc…

So I said: “Miss C., you’re absolutely right! Not only that you are educating yourself in the proper Ballroom and Latin technique, but you are also learning to dance on your own two feet , action that will make the partnership between you and your teacher or any other leader more agreeable. For when you perform either in a showcase or a competition, you will pleasantly dazzle your audience and command attention.”

I personally think that Miss C. is on her way to becoming an outstanding dancer partly due to her pursuit of technical knowledge. I also think and strongly suggest that all of you should study and take your medal test regardless of your level. By doing so, I can guarantee that you will improve faster on becoming the dancer that you want to become.

If you haven’t done one medal test yet, I recommend that you ask your teacher about training for one.

You belong to a great Fred Astaire Dance Studio and organization that provides the best certified instruction in the world. You should go ahead and avail yourselves of one of the great benefit that your studio and teacher has to offer.

Until next time, happy dancing.

Stanley McCalla
Fred Astaire Dance Board Member & Examiner
National coach and adjudicator
Fred Astaire National Champion

Doctor Practices Steps For Dancing Contest


By Guy D’Astolfo

Call her the dancing doctor.

Dr. Elena Rossi, a neonatolgist, is the chairwoman of pediatrics at St. Elizabeth Health Center and associate chairwoman of pediatrics at Akron [Ohio] Children’s Hospital-Mahoning Valley.

She’s also putting on a clinic as a ballroom dancer in an ongoing show sponsored by Cleveland television station WEWS-Channel 5.

“Cleveland’s Dancing With the Stars” is headed into its fifth round of competition, and Dr. Rossi and her professional dance partner, Raymond Cedeno of Fred Astaire Studio in Willoughby, have survived.

The show is not affiliated with the popular TV series “Dancing With the Stars,” but it is modeled after it. The show started with 11 couples, each one a pairing of a local celebrity — like Dr. Rossi — with a local professional dancer. One couple is eliminated each week in online voting (

Each round is held at a different location in the Cleveland area.

Dr. Rossi is a Youngstown native who now lives in Boardman. She was asked to represent Akron Children’s Hospital as a celebrity in the competition and jumped at the chance.

She is not only the only Mahoning Valley resident on the show, but — as a 50-something — she’s also the oldest participant.

Some of the other celebrities include former Cleveland Browns player Al “Bubba” Baker (eliminated in Week 2); Elizabeth Kucinich, wife of U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (eliminated in Week 4); Cleveland Indians mascot Slider (still in it); and a host of Cleveland-area TV, radio and political personalities.

Dr. Rossi and her husband became interested in ballroom dancing a few years ago and regularly go to dances. She’s also a fan of “Dancing With the Stars.”

“It’s a fun thing to do,” she said of the Cleveland competition. “The nurses are behind me. ...They have signs up in the hospital that say ‘vote for Dr. Rossi.’

“It’s a light-hearted thing,” she continued. “We deal with life and death every day. This is kind of fun.”

In addition to her work at St. Elizabeth’s and Akron Children’s, Dr. Rossi is an associated professor of clinical pediatrics at North East Ohio Universities College of Medicine.

She is also an ambassador for March of Dimes and vice president of the Touched by Nathan Foundation.

She and her husband, Donald Somers, have two children, Donald and Allyson, both in college.

Pro Dancer Competition on Dancing With The Stars


You get to pick a new dancing pro for next season!

We are putting the future of "Dancing With The Stars" in YOUR hands with our inaugural Pro Dancer Competition. Six professional dancers will compete for the opportunity to be part of the next season of "Dancing With The Stars".After each performance, judges will comment on the dances but you, the fan, will vote and decide who will stay and who will leave! Phone lines and online polls will open at the top of each performance show so that fans can vote for their favorites. Phone lines will stay open for 30 minutes after the end of the show. Online voting will remain open until noon (Eastern Time) the next day.Here's how it works:

Week 1: Six dancers will dance. Each fan can vote up to 6 times during the voting period. The female dancer and the male dancer with the fewest votes will be eliminated.

Week 2: Four dancers will dance. Fans can vote up to 4 times during the voting period. The dancer with the fewest votes, whether male or female, will be eliminated.

Week 3: Three dancers will dance. Fans can vote up to 3 times during the voting period. The dancer with the fewest votes, whether male or female, will be eliminated.

Week 4: The last two dancers will dance. Fans can vote up to 2 times during the voting period.

Week 5: The dancer who received the most votes will be announced on the show.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Astaire & Rogers, On Demand at Comcast

By Nicole Alexander, Communications Coordinator, Corporate Communications for Comcast Corporation

Before “Dancing with the Stars”, “America’s Best Dance Crew” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” there was Astaire-Rogers. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are among the most successful and well-known dancers in American history. Together, this dancing and acting duo made ten films. To this day, "Fred and Ginger" remains an almost automatic reference for any successful dance partnership. Many classical dancers and choreographers acknowledge their importance and influence on dance today. Now, you can see what they were all about – Comcast has ten films featuring Astaire and Rogers available now including, Shall We Dance, Swing Time and Top Hat. So check out the pair that has inspired the dance craze of today On Demand in the “Movies & Events” folder under “Movie Collections.”

Dancing With The Stars - Week 6

A Teacher's Perspective

By Debra Stroiney

Oh Gilles…. I was actually disappointed by your dancing this week. Jive was just not your dance but you did a good job with something that is so difficult. This goes to show you that everyone has dances they excel at and dances that are more difficult to learn. I felt that the speed of dance was taking away from some of the things that Gilles usually does best. But this will help him to learn that even if the dance is fast you can’t compromise the things that make the dancing good, such as arm styling, character, and performance.

Well here we go with the judges this season. They have been relatively good about giving appropriate scores throughout but to me the scoring was off last night. Unfortunately I was siding a lot with Len. Even if the audience doesn’t want to hear Len’s negative comments, it has to be realized that Len is the only one who is truly a ballroom judge; everyone else has a dance/choreography background. So even if it is harsh what he says is usually correct. First, with Lil' Kim. She performed an excellent number. Great use of the music but there were some mistakes I saw she made and Len was correct in saying that there wasn’t a lot of Jive in the routine. So why did Carrie Ann and Bruno give her 10s???? It wasn’t a perfect routine/performance. 10 = perfect!! Second, I feel that Shawn’s Rumba was better than Melissa’s. Melissa got a point higher, not too far off. I felt Shawn flowed from one step to the next where as Melissa’s was a little choppier. It also seems they are trying hard to get Steve-O off the show. I am not saying he is a great dancer but that was one of his best dances. I couldn’t believe some of his arm extensions… his fluidity was not there but he tried.

I actually like Lawrence and Ty’s Jive. They both did well with a dance that could have been awful for them. After seeing how mechanical they were in the Paso Doble I was cringing a little when they started their performance but each of them did a solid routine. Even Ty who the judges didn’t like so much put out a performance that was better than his Cha-Cha and Paso. I find the Jive harder than both of these dances. So I was impressed he held his own.

Prediction: I would normally say Steve-O but he has had an impressive fan base over the past few weeks so I am not sure if that will be the case again this week. If the fans come through again the bottom 2 tonight will be Ty and Lawrence.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Caring For Dancing Feet


When you see a ballerina twirling gracefully, or watch Fred Astaire sweep Ginger Rogers across the dance floor in an old movie, you probably don't think about the stress their feet are undergoing. But dancing puts an enormous strain on feet and ankles. Sprains, stress fractures, corns, calluses and blisters are all among the unfortunate consequences of dancing without proper attention to the feet. The first thing to keep in mind is that your shoes should be comfortable. If they're painful when you put them on, you can be sure that they'll be worse after a night of dancing. There are shoes specially designed for aerobic dancing. No matter what type of dancing you'll be doing, pick appropriate footwear. Do some warmup exercises to loosen up your feet and ankles before going out on the town for a night of dancing. It pays to get your feet used to the activity. Finally, have your feet checked by a foot specialist. Tiny abnormalities can become big problems if they're not identified and corrected ahead of time.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

My Golden Dancers

Embroidered Into Our Hearts
By Elita Sohmer Clayman

I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in love even when I do not feel it. These words were written during the Holocaust by some Jewish people. Even then, they had faith which is hard to believe that people involved in terrible times still believed in better days.

Maybe, in this day and age, we can apply those words to our lives right now. Everyone wears different glasses to see the world. It doesn’t mean it corrects their vision in seeing things. They may perceive things differently than you and I do. That does not mean either of us is right or wrong.

Nyugen Binh came to this country from Vietnam many years ago. When she came, she was only seven years old. She barely could speak English, and the kids in the classroom made fun of her speech. However, when she was in math class, she excelled and then the classmates began to respect her for her intelligence. They no longer saw her as an immigrant who could not speak the language. They viewed her as a really smart seven-year-old that was in their class and would surely learn to speak well. The different glasses they viewed her with gathered her respect from them because of her ability in the mathematical category.

Many times when we go to social dances, we view someone new to dancing as mediocre because they are hesitant in doing a dance or to try a new step. We see ourselves as being very efficient in dance because we have been doing it for a long time. We sometimes forget that only several years ago we were in their shoes - dance shoes, that is.

When I first started to dance in 1977, I had the desire to dance with my teacher in a showcase at the studio. I trained for about six months with a weekly private lesson with him and then another one with my husband. The solo lesson I had with the professional teacher was difficult because I was learning a routine with an opening and closing theme.

Eventually I was ready to perform. I went out and bought a gorgeous green chiffon dress with ruffles and green satin dance shoes for my feet.

We rehearsed and rehearsed and when the day of my first showcase approached I was overwhelmed with happy anticipation and nervous apprehension. I thought that perhaps I would call him at home and tell him that I had a bad cold. No, that would not work. I thought I would not show up on time at the studio. No, that was not right. Then I thought why not go out and be brave and perform. At that time I was about 44 years old. I was slim, trim and full of vim.

The Saturday approached and in the morning I took my two children who were 17 and 13 to the mall where we ate a light lunch and went to a movie. My husband was working and he would be home by five p.m. When we came out of the movie I realized that it was still five hours to show time at the studio.

My children each had a party to attend in the evening so they were occupied and I was on my own. As the time approached my nerves were really active. We got to the studio about 8:30 and we were told to go into the changing room and to put on our dance clothes. The teacher came over and warmed us dancers up with a preliminary dance to get our feet ready.

Still I thought that perhaps I would slip out the door, call my husband on the cell phone and I would go home without performing. Then I realized that was wrong. So I put my best foot or feet forward and said to myself “let’s do it.”

I was second to perform and when they called my name out I went floating onto the floor with the teacher by my side. My nerves lessened and before I knew it I was even enjoying myself. While I was performing, an obnoxious audience member yelled out at me as I floated by “smile baby smile.” I guess I was not smiling but that was not the proper thing to scream out at me. I took it in my stride and smiled and finished up to a lot of applause.

Afterwards I was proud of myself and realized that I even kind of enjoyed it. Now I had the performance shot in the arm stimulus and I thought what fun this had all been. I really wanted to chastise that loud mouthed man who told me to smile. I guess he did not mean it nastily but it sounded that way to a very anxious dancer who really had butterflies in her stomach and toes.

I vowed that I would never do that to anybody else, scream out like that. No one needs to hear that admonition while they are trying hard to accomplish something new.

At my Weight Watchers meetings, praise and commendation is the sweetest of all greetings. We are taught there that two ounces of lost weight is a victory and just coming to a meeting class is certainly success.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 1749-1832 said “One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”

Reasonable words are indeed powerful. Words can heal and words can hurt. I would rather be the recipient of encouraging words and I always speak encouraging words to anyone I see. I always taught my children it they could not say anything nice, say nothing at all. Mom taught me that and I always tried to live by that thought.

When we are dancing and going to a dance and there is a new dancer there for the first visit, it is our obligation as a seasoned dancer to speak with them and to enlighten them with words of confidence and happiness. We can tell them how well they are doing even if that is a small lie but a white lie. That entices them to continue on and to go forward and not be depressed because they think they cannot emerge with a fine career so to speak in social or competitive dancing. One simple word can inspire them to continue on with this new event in their life that not only is good for their health but excellent for their mind.

So anytime you are at a dance and you being the experienced dancer versus the new person on the dance floor, do a mitzvah (good deed) and go and make some conversation with the novice dancer. Tell him or her that tonight is a new journey for them and the road may have a few detours but that the avenue will be full of bright lights, no stop signs, just green lights that say go. The going will be sweet and full of happy days and nights and mostly a feeling of self assurance.

Goethe also said “Whatever you can do or think, you can.” We should all be in the CAN mode because whether we are senior citizens, almost senior citizens, twenty somethings or forty somethings our goal is to have fun dancing, learning, socializing and attaining self confidence in this bold power we are trying for. We are never too young or too old to be educated in something new and by doing something new to us we gain the ability to procure the power that comes with added knowledge.

Knowledge is power and power is as Bertrand Russell said, “The desire increases with the habit.” The habit Horace Mann said “is weaving a thread of it everyday and we cannot break it.” These dancing threads are strong and once they they are woven into our hearts nothing can tear it apart. Our hearts are sewn with these strands and sewn so securely that we never want them to rip away. They are embroidered into the lace of our minds.

Keep on Dancing

You can email me at

New Dancing Memoir


A Year Of Living Dangerously: One Woman's Journey From Beginner To Winner

By Lydia Raurell

One morning, fifty-five-year-old Lydia Raurell stumbled across an ad in the local paper that read "Walk in Monday, dance out Friday." She did just that. A year later she reigned atop the national leader board--a first for a newcomer. This is her amazing story, recorded in her own words and in over one hundred breathtaking color photographs.

For the first time ever, immerse yourself in the magical world of ballroom dancing--a world where the details count--the shoes, the many dresses, the hair and the makeup--and the competition is stiff. While shows like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance have introduced ballroom dancing to millions of Americans, very few of them know what competing in dance is like. By following Raurell across the country on her journey to the top, readers will gain intimate knowledge of what the competitions entail, and what it takes to succeed.

Dancing With The Stars - Week 5

A Teacher's Perspective

By Debra Stroiney

Every week, no matter which dance, Gilles comes out and gives an amazing performance! He should consider doing more dancing in his entertainment career. He has learned so many things so quickly. He is truly a natural dancer. Now that he talked about his martial arts background I can see where some of his skill comes from. Participating in martial arts helps with balance, posture and coordination. I have one thing to say about Len’s comment that the routine was hectic…. I think that the routine was hectic because of the music. If they did not dance to the beat of the music then they would have been criticized for that. I showed this routine to someone who has never danced before and she even commented that the music was very fast and not that great. Speaking of the Paso Doble music, it makes me laugh at the songs they chose for this dance. For a show dance some of them are appropriate but I do empathize with the celebrities who have to learn the more difficult technique of this dance as well as dance to music where you can barely hear the beat.

This week of dances is one of the toughest. Both of these dances are difficult to first learn. The steps are simple but the technique and timing is difficult to learn and make or break the dance. I also think the scores reflected the more difficult dances. The higher scores were those who choreographed simpler routines and spent more time on the technique of the dance.

I have been surprised at how well Lil Kim has been doing with her dancing. The judges seem to like her a lot. They tend to praise her more than Shawn Johnson. I am wondering why they criticize Shawn more? Because she is an athlete and younger? They both received the same score in Viennese Waltz. I saw Shawn’s as being a little better; there was more substance to it.

I am actually surprised David Alan Grier was eliminated this week but it goes to show you that the votes really do count. David always had solid performances but never impressed the judges. Unfortunately, he must not have had a strong fan base either. Now there is evidence of just how much of a fan base Steve-O really had but it came through this week. There are times that he looks very uncomfortable while dancing but the viewers wanted to see him back. They must find him entertaining!

Fred Astaire Dance Studios Dance For Kids' Benefits


Feel The Heat Benefits Kids On The Block April 17

posted April 8, 2009

Feel the Heat Impact 2009, an annual fundraising event to benefit Chattanooga's Kids on the Block, will be held on Friday, April 17, at Pier 2.

Guests will board the stationary boat which will be turned into a “sassy salsa” club and be greeted by the Kids on the Block.

The evening will include food, specialty drinks, salsa dancing and a silent auction. Salsa exhibitions by Dean Botting of Fred Astaire Dance Studio and dance instructions by Patti Turner and Michael DiAngelo will be held throughout the evening.

All proceeds will benefit Chattanooga's Kids on the Block to help continue its educational programs free of charge to schools in the 12 county service area.

The festivities will begin at 7 p.m. boarding the pier, where guests will check in and begin the bids on items in the silent auction including a Disney World package for four, 2010 Predators game package, accommodations in Charleston, Gatlinburg and other locations, winery tours, evening cruise package for six, and much more.

While bidding on silent auction items, guests will have the opportunity to win a jewelry item from Brody Jewelers as well as other items including a Dell Inspiron Mini 9.

A buffet will be served beginning at 7 p.m. and an open bar will be available until midnight. Guests will enjoy salsa dance exhibitions and dance instructions throughout the evening while dancing to music provided by Sound Force Entertainment.

For the past 29 years, CKOB features life size puppets designed to teach children and adults about social concerns and differences in a non-threatening manner giving them skills to stay safe and healthy. The programs are free of charge to schools in 12 different counties thanks to funding from United Way, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, Mental Heath Association of Middle Tennessee, Chattanooga Area Brain Injury Association, Tennessee Donor Services, among others, individual donors and fundraisers.

Tickets for the event are $80 for individuals and $150 per couple, which includes the buffet, open bar, specialty drinks, and dancing.

Additional information and ticket purchases can be made by calling the Chattanooga's Kids on the Block office at 757-5259 or

Monday, April 06, 2009

My Golden Dancers

Ashley and Beliefs
By Elita Sohmer Clayman

Ashley, a daughter of a friend of mine, received a prayer necklace for a gift. The directions said to open the charm's lid and to put your prayers in it and then to close it and wear it. We assumed that by doing so the prayers would come true. Ashley told her mom that she wanted to take it to her church day care center and to add a prayer to the necklace and to “splain” (explain) to the teacher all about this necklace.

Ashley, even at her young age of three and half, knew the reason behind prayers and what prayers mean to the majority of us. You need not be religious (any religion) to pray and to believe and to hope. I saw a license plate with the word BELIEVE on it. I thought that maybe it belonged to a clergyman of any faith and how appropriate that was. However, when the person got out of the car on the parking lot, I saw it was a senior citizen. I approached her and said what nice wording that was and she told me how that came about.

She said when she was a young girl, they had very little money and things were done so frugally in her home that she often prayed that they would have enough money for food and some meager clothing so she could go to school and not be ashamed of her looks.

Her old grandmother told her to always believe that tomorrow would be better and the day after that even better. So ever since there were vanity license plates, she had the word of believe on hers.

Vinda Riley of the Midwest wrote to me about her wanting all her life to be a dancer of any kind. When she was a youngster, she wanted to be a ballerina and they could not afford it. When she was newly married, she wanted to take ballroom dance lessons and she could not afford even group lessons in a recreation center. As the years went by, her desire increased and finally when the dance movies came, especially the first Japanese movie called Shall We Dance, her desire overwhelmed her. She saw it five times and identified with the man in the movie. So she went out and signed up for a short course of group lessons at a local dance studio. Needless to say, that hooked her and she is still dancing and still learning and has five trophies for her competition days. She said she always believed it would happen and perhaps waiting so long made the event more special. Now she goes twice a week for lessons and twice a week for social dancing and she finally convinced her husband to accompany her. Now they believe together and have fun with their new found happiness.

When I was young girl, there was a movie theater about eight blocks away from our house. In those days, you walked everywhere or if you had about fifteen cents to spare, you took a streetcar. So I saved my fifteen cents each way and walked the eight blocks to see a movie called The Red Shoes starring Moira Shearer. As I remember these many years later, it was about a girl who wanted to be a dancer and these red shoes that were her inspiration. On the way back from walking to the movie, it got a tiny bit dark as the days were getting shorter and this was the beginning of wintertime. I had to walk by an old and gray looking building that was a convent. It was very dreary looking and also a very dark day. I quickly moved my pace up to walk faster past this sad looking building and I pretended that I was Moira Shearer wearing my red ballet shoes. I imagined that I had come to this old, creepy building and that I danced for the folks in there to give them a piece of the outside world since I was told they never left the convent other than for funerals. I thought that maybe if they saw a young person dancing, they could smile and be happy. I pranced by the old building and as I did, an elderly nun came out I guess to get some air. She smiled at me and said “How are you, my dear young one, and why are you walking by so fast?” I replied that “I was running home from the movie and it was getting late and did not want my mom to worry about me.” She said “You are a good girl and may God bless you all the days of your life and you should always be good to your mom.”

I never forgot her saying that and many years later I saw that the Red Shoes was made into a video tape and I thought how nice if the old nun was living and I could send her a copy of the movie. Of course, she was not, it was like fifty years later and she was old then and I was about fourteen or so. I figured she knew that someday I would be wearing red dance shoes and she had blessed me with her words and that is why so many years later I took up ballroom dancing which is not ballet but you can wear red shoes if you want.

Always remember, if you have the desire, it is never too late to start a hobby. A friend of mine retired with her husband and they chose to live in Williamsburg, Virginia which is quite a distance from her home here in Baltimore, Maryland. She built a nice home and had to make new friends and start a new life at this senior time in their lives. She emails me that now she is taking up golf and is the only female in the class and she loves it. She is doing something that she wants even though it is later on in her life and she is having fun doing it. She joked that the teacher is quite young and cute.

Ballroom dancing is a sport that can be started even if you are a senior. When we first started to dance, we went to a competition in Florida. I competed in a few dances and saw that the ladies who were seniors and then some were dancing with their teachers as Pro-Ams and were having the time of their lives. They dressed up, they danced, they had fun and they had a marvelous social life. I was only in my early forties and felt quite young compared to these seventy and some eighty year old ladies. They were spry and dedicated and gorgeous to watch. As they won their competitions and took hold of the gigantic trophies that were given, I thought how wonderful that these senior ladies could go out on the dance floor and participate in this fantastic sport-hobby and that they excelled in doing so.

From Ashley to the nun to Vinda Riley to my friend Gloria in Williamsburg, Virginia to me, Elita, we all BELIEVE IN WHAT WE WANT TO BELIEVE IN and that is beautiful. As long as we believe and as my Dad used to say “Tomorrow will be good, the next day better and the days after than wonderful.” Take up your ballroom dancing, your golf, your desire and believe that you can always add a prayer as little Ashley wanted to do.

Ballroom dancing knows no age limits as to starting times. Ballroom dancing knows no restrictions as to what you can and will be able to comprehend. You can go out there and begin when you are ready and it will be waiting for you. One of the definitions of ready is to be on ‘one’s toes.’ How appropriate because that is what we are doing, being on our toes and resolving to accomplish and to do their best at this time in their senior years. No senior moments for these ladies, they were accurate, excellent and delightful.

Ashley, Vinda, Gloria, Elita and you, my dear reader are going to put on your red shoes, black shoes, gold shoes or any shoes and go on the journey of dance either today, tomorrow or real soon. Your shoes of any color will promote your dancing your way into excitement and passion. Someone once said that passion is the wind necessary to put everything in motion. The motion becomes emotion and from then on your dancing will take hold of your life and your life will be full of passion and glorious days and evenings.

Always keep on dancing and believing.

You can email me at

'Puttin' On the Ritz: Fred Astaire and the Fine Art of Panache, A Biography'


From The Wall Street Journal:

By Peter J. Levinson

Excerpted from "Puttin' On the Ritz: Fred Astaire and the Fine Art of Panache, A Biography" by Peter J. Levinson, with permission from St. Martin's Press. All rights reserved.

Chapter Four

Fred and Ginger

Almost a month before Fred and Phyllis were married, RKO announced it was sending a camera crew to Brazil to film background and aerial scenes for its forthcoming musical production, "Flying Down to Rio." A succession of casting notices followed in the film press. The volume of publicity was designed to alert the movie audience that "Rio" was going to be a major film musical. (1)

RKO was an acronym for the combination of the Radio Corporation of America and the theatre chains of Keith and Orpheum. The film company was established in 1928 when Joseph P. Kennedy (yes, that Kennedy) persuaded David Sarnoff, the chairman of RCA, to venture into the movie business. The company, at first, showcased RCA's sound on film. However, by 1933 its yearly film slates were extremely unpopular, and RKO was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

Merian C. Cooper had replaced David O. Selznick as production chief at RKO. While trying to move "Flying Down to Rio" and other films into production, Cooper was heavily involved in putting together an adventure film about a giant ape captured on a small South Pacific island who wreaks havoc while being held captive in New York. It was to be called "Kong."

Earlier in 1933, Cooper had signed Ginger Rogers to the studio. By then, Rogers was a film actress having appeared in twenty-five films. She had recently made a significant impression in "Gold Diggers of 1933," still considered rather a milestone musical of the Depression period.(2) Her rendition of "We're In the Money" was one of the highlights of the movie.

When Fred reported for work, he had no idea who had been assigned to work with him since the final casting for the picture was still incomplete. For a time, Dorothy Jordon was seriously considered by Cooper as Astaire's dancing partner. She had been Adele's understudy in "Funny Face." Jordon, however, ultimately married Cooper and left with him for Europe on their honeymoon as the picture moved into production.(3)

On the third day of filming, Astaire was informed that Ginger Rogers might be appearing in the film, but he still wasn't at all sure if she was going to be dancing with him since of late Ginger had concentrated on playing several dramatic parts.(4) He questioned whether she was that interested in a dancing role. When it was ultimately decided that she would be cast opposite Fred, they had a joyful reunion and looked forward to working together, this time as dance partners. Ginger helped him to become more comfortable working with the camera.(5) Already a seasoned actress, she possessed tricks of the trade that Astaire was not yet familiar with.

Dave Gould was assigned as dance director for the movie, but Fred found himself drawn to the keen, foreword looking ideas of Hermes Pan, Gould's assistant, who had a great physical resemblance to Fred, although Pan was slightly taller. Pan, had, of course, worked with Ginger in "Top Speed" on Broadway. He had never seen Fred perform but remembered, "he was already famous for doing broken rhythm dancing… on the beat, off the beat, back and forth."(6)

On the first day of shooting, their rapport was immediate when Pan showed Fred the way out of a troubling bit of choreography by suggesting he execute a tap "break." At that moment, whether he realized it or not, Fred Astaire had found his muse. Basically, they thought exactly alike about film dancing. A lifetime association was born. Fred once referred to Pan as "The rock ... He doesn't make any fuss about anything." (7)

Pan reflected on their association by saying, "I didn't influence his style because he was already a star when I was starting out. People naturally influence each other whether it's unconscious or not. Later on, I could see certain moves or attitudes he would never have done before." (8)

Fred was called "Fred Ayres" in the "Flying Down to Rio" screenplay. It was a halfhearted attempt to establish his name with moviegoers. He was signed for $1,500 a week, and due to overtime wound up making $10,000 on the film.

The movie opens in a Miami hotel where Fred appears as the best friend of Gene Raymond, the bandleader/songwriter/aviator. (Vincent Youmans wrote the film's score.) Raymond has on camera romance with the Mexican beauty, Dolores del Rio, who entices Raymond to fly her to Rio de Janeiro for the grand opening of the Hotel Atlantico.(9) In Miami, in a scene that was originally tinted in a rose color, but never released in that form, Fred and Del Rio dance a tango together. Unfortunately, no sparks flew in their number.

Ginger was billed fourth and Fred fifth in the film. Their roles were incidental to the plot and their characters have no interrelationship. While Ginger sang "Music Makes Me," as the vocalist in Raymond's band, Fred is seen playing the accordion in the band. Fred's version of "Music Makes Me," along with the title song, supplied Fred with another two-sided hit record. He also lead the band in the spectacular, well remembered title number in which a bevy of leggy chorus girls pose seductively and then dance while strapped atop the wings of the biplanes flying in formation above the Atlantico Hotel. (10) Though this sequence was the essence of camp, made possible by rear projection and process shots, film audiences marveled at how vivid and absolutely incredible it was.

What excited movie audiences even more, however, was Fred and Ginger dancing together to "The Carioca," shot at a cost of $600 as a major production number shot in a mere three days on a set representing the Carioca Casino in Rio. (11) Buoyed by Ginger's suggesting, "Let's show them a thing or three," Fred grabs Ginger's hand and they sprint determinedly onto the dance floor. The impact of their dance causes the other dancers to back away to give them more room. This is followed by twenty-five couples in Brazilian costumes, then a group of black Northern Brazilians, who add even more variations to the Latin dance number. Fred and Ginger return for a spectacular finale, dancing atop seven pianos, arranged to form a circular dance floor. (12)

(1) "Starring Fred Astaire" by Stanley Green, Burt Goldblatt, Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, (1973), Page 58; (2) "Starring Fred Astaire" by Stanley Green, Burt Goldblatt, Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, (1973), Page 58, 59 (3)"Fred Astaire: A Wonderful Life" by Bill Adler Carroll & Graf Publishers; 1st Carroll & Graf ed edition, (1987), Page 90; (4) "Steps In Time" by Fred Astaire, The Cooper Square Publication Edition, New York (2000), Page 185 (5) "Fred Astaire: A Bio-Bibliography (Bio-Bibliographies in the Performing Arts) by Larry Billman, Greenwood Press, (1997), Page 13 (6) "Fred Astaire: A Bio-Bibliography (Bio-Bibliographies in the Performing Arts) by Larry Billman, Greenwood Press, (1997), Page 13 (7) "Oral History Collection of Columbia University," 1983, Beverly Hills, by Mr. Higham, Page I-4 (8) "That's Dancing! From the jazz singer to the present day, some 1500 musical have been made in Hollywood" by Tony Thomas, Harry Abrams Inc., New York (1984), Page 92 (9) "Starring Fred Astaire" by Stanley Green, Burt Goldblatt, Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, (1973), Page 63 (10) "Starring Fred Astaire" by Stanley Green, Burt Goldblatt, Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, (1973), Page 64 (11) "Flying Down To Rio" RKO Production Papers, Special Collection, UCLA Library (12) "Starring Fred Astaire" by Stanley Green, Burt Goldblatt, Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, (1973), Page 65

A Different Spin On Dancing


Class with wheelchairs opening up new world, connections for all partners

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Hold All Calls - We Have A Winner


Posted by Bob Ryan, Globe Staff March 31, 2009 11:02 AM

I confess to a guilty pleasure: I love "Dancing with the Stars."

Don't mean to alarm anyone, but I like dance. I was quite the 10-year-old tap dancer, if I do say so myself. I am a huge fan of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, especially Astaire.

I'll watch any Astaire-Rogers movie (I mean, she was flat-out gorgeous, which is a nice bonus), and Kelly's acrobatic style is amazing, but I am here to say that the single greatest dance number in the history of Hollywood was the Astaire-Eleanor Powell "Begin the Beguine" collaboration in "Broadway Melody of 1940." This premise is completely non-negotiable.

So what does any of this have to do with sports? Simple. My initial interest in this particular program was Jerry Rice. I was curious, and he delivered the goods, finishing second. This made dancing chic, and so we have had the succession of athletes, from Emmitt Smith, who won the whole thing; to Clyde Drexler, who was horrible; to Appolo Ohno (another winnah); to Gille Villeneuve (yet another winnah); to Kristi Yamaguchi (yup,still another winner); and now to Lawrence Taylor, who is a middle-of-the packer.

This year we are, I think, four weeks in, and I am here to tell you it is over. For in this year's competition we have the single greatest dancer in the history of the show. His name is French actor Gilles Marini, and he is astonishingly good.

On Monday night he danced an Argentine Tango. Omigod. I thought Carrie Ann Inaba was going to leap over the table and rip off his clothes (she's pretty hot herself). I mean, she needed to get hosed down. Bruno Tonioni is naturally exuberant, but this performance taxed even his enormous powers of verbal approbation I'm telling you; Gilles Marini is both disgustingly good-looking and even more disgustingly talented.

The judges gave him three 10s. It's hard to get a 10 out of salty Brit Len Goodman, who twice gave scores two rungs below each of his colleagues last night. Three 10s is rare.

The public may not agree, but my advice to the people who run this show is do whatever you have to in order to make this "competition" come out right. It would be a collosal embarrassment, as well as a laughable miscarriage of justice, if this man does not win. I really don't see any reason to continue. Gilles Marini is the best dancer DWTS has ever had.

About halfway through his number, I said to my daughter, Jessica, "This guy is so good I don't think you could tell which was the professional and which was the amateur." Keep in mind that his partner is two-time winner Cheryl Burke.

And what does Carrie Ann Inaba say? "You can't tell who is the professional and who is the amateur!" Swear to God.

Case closed.

Snoopy Makes A Bid For Dancing With The Stars

Fred Astaire Dance Studios Presents Annual Show

Fred Astaire Dance Studios presents annual show

The Fred Astaire Dance Studios of Wisconsin will present its annual ballroom dance show, Dance Fantasy, at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts in Brookfield.

The show will feature professionals and students from its seven Wisconsin studios.

The shows begin at 6 p.m. Friday, June 12, and Saturday, June 13.

The Brookfield studio originated in 1998 and is part of a franchise that has 110 studios across the United States.

The studio's instruction varies from ballroom to country-western to salsa and nightclub dancing for all ages and abilities.


ADDRESS: 14870 W. Greenfield Ave.

PHONE: (414) 466-8000

HOURS: lobby hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday; drive-through hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday


BUSINESS: Fred Astaire Dance Studios

ADDRESS: 2445 N. 124th St.

PHONE: (262) 796-1121