Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Who Is The Guest Judge On DWS This Week?

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

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

Tampa Bay Star Kicks Up Her Heels!

By Susan Thurston, Times Staff Writer

Published Thursday, September 24, 2009

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

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

"Never!'' she said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 24, 2009

DWTS Double Elimination!

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

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Golden Dancers

Happiness Is...

By Elita Sohmer Clayman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep On Dancing

Senior Couples Have A Ball Competing!

From signsonsandiego.com:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

United States Dance Championships 2009!

We are proud to announce that many Fred Astaire Dance Studio professionals won big at the recent USDC, the most prestigious dance championship in the United States. Congratulations to all our competitors and special congratulations to:

Marat Bakh & Kristina Staykova – 7th in American Rhythm
Jesse Benedetti & Kimalee Piedad – 1st in US Cabaret and 2nd in World Professional Cabaret/Exhibition
Ricky Bentzen & Albina Habrle – 5th in American Rhythm
Aaron DeSoto & Jaana Lillemagi – 5th in National Rising Star American Rhythm
Chris Germain & Simona Polmova – 6th in National Rising Star Smooth
Victor Luna & Dawn Westberry – 3rd in Theatrical Dance
Aleks Nashev & Brittney Bartler - 4th in National Rising Star American Rhythm
Vicente Martinez & Megan Murphy – 2nd in US Cabaret and 3rd in World Professional Cabaret/Exhibition
Adam Maynard & Rachel Nace – 9th in US Cabaret
Ruslan Meshkov & Alexandra Nema – 3rd in Open Rising Star International Standard and 3rd in National Rising Star International Standard
Ilya Velednitsky & Mandy Velednitsky – 2nd in National Rising Star American Rhythm

Monday, September 21, 2009

Forecast For Season 9 of Dancing With The Stars!

From mlive.com:

A footwork forecast for Season 9 of 'Dancing With the Stars': Watch out for Donny Osmond

By The Grand Rapids Press
September 20, 2009, 6:25AM

"Dancing With the Stars" is like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates -- you never know who you're going to get, and Season 9 of ABC's top-rated dance competition bears this out more than any other spin around the ballroom floor.

The ninth season of "Dancing With the Stars" returns at 8 p.m. Monday on ABC. The first round of competition continues at 8 p.m. Tuesday, followed by the results show at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Oh, there are the usual suspects -- a football player (Michael Irvin), a light heavyweight champion (Chuck Liddell), and an all-grown-up child star (Melissa Joan Hart). Those would be the cherry-filled cordials and nougats; no one is surprised by their presence.

But a few of the casting calls caused a national kerfluffle indeed, and none more than former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R), aka "The Hammer," who at 62 is either a great defender of conservative values or a crooked politico who should be wearing a prison jumpsuit, not sequined pants, depending on your personal political views.

After the shock of his casting sunk in, however, the public has appeared to warm up to the guy: A recent TV Guide.com poll has him and professional partner Cheryl Burke handicapped in the top spot, above even Donny Osmond!

That's just wrong, folks. Because clearly, it's Donny's contest to win or lose. Not only is he a former teen idol, but the dude's been prancing around in be-dazzled costumes since he was a kid. He has my votes, definitely. I've been cheering for good ol' Donny since I happened upon him belting out "Hound Dog" on his '70s TV show with sister Marie, and I'm betting millions of women will remember him fondly. Can't you just see him, misted with chemical bronzer, those Osmond teeth gleaming like the sun, hoofing it all the way to the Mirror Ball Trophy?

Donny, Tom and the rest of the extra-large (too large!) 16-contestant cast will face a few new dances, including the Bolero, Charleston, Two-Step and Lambada, as well as the mid-season triple-threat of double eliminations.
Who will have a leg up on the competition, and who will have a leg in a cast? According to "Stars" pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy, look for Mark Dacascos, "The Chairman" and host of Food Network's "Iron Chef America," to sizzle, as well as young popster Aaron Carter (coupled with Maks' ex-fiance Karina Smirnoff), R&B singer Mya and, naturally, Mr. Osmond. And he also thinks his own partner, "Entourage" actress Debi Mazar, can go the distance as well -- big surprise there.

Here's my semi-annual, sight unseen, footwork forecast:

1. Donny Osmond and Kym Johnson
Kym's a two-time runner-up, and millions of ladies still have a slight case of puppy love for Donny.

2. Melissa Joan Hart and Mark Ballas
Mark is the defending champ and could become the first pro to win three Mirrorballs with cute and lovable "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" Melissa.

3. Natalie Coughlin and Alec Mazo
Inaugural winner Alec may not have a dazzling personality, but it's wise never to underestimate an Olympian on this show. Partner Natalie's won 11 medals in swimming.

4. Aaron Carter and Karina Smirnoff
He's cute, and he's got rhythm. Remember how far that got Cody Linley a couple of seasons ago?

5. Debi Mazar and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
The "Entourage" star and Maks are getting along like gangbusters, and he really, really wants to get his hands on that mirrorball.

6. Ashley Hamilton and Edyta Sliwinska
Everyone loves Edyta, and the son of George Hamilton and Alana Stewart may be just quirky enough (he's actually hilarious) to rise above the pack of better known "celebs."

7. Mya and Dmitry Chaplin
L'il Kim was astounding last season, and maybe Mya will follow in her footwork. Plus Maksim said she's one to watch -- and he's seen her dance, after all.

8. Michael Irvin and Anna Demidova
The former Dallas Cowboys wide-receiver could thrown down, like former NFL/"Stars" greats Emmitt Smith, Jason Taylor and Warren Sapp. Or he could fall flat, a la Laurence Taylor.

9. Kathy Ireland and Tony Dovolani
Tony took bronze last season with Melissa Rycroft, and, as supermodels go, Kathy's pretty cool and somewhat relatable due to her weight struggles of late.

10. Mark Dacascos and Lacey Schwimmer
I would rank this kitchen star higher, but the word online isn't good. Likeability is key.

11. Macy Gray and Jonathan Roberts
Jonathan and partner Belinda Carlisle were eliminated first last season, but he definitely will go farther with Grammy-winner Macy.

12. Tom DeLay and Cheryl Burke
He is the most buzzed-about contestant this year, and Cheryl knows how to shape a winner. But DeLay's 62, and at least half of voters are Democrats.

13. Chuck Liddell and Anna Trebunskaya
Ultimate Fighting Championship champ Chuck is called "The Iceman," which doesn't sound very warm and fuzzy at all.

14. Kelly Osbourne and Louis van Amstel
Louis last danced with Priscilla Presley in Season 6, and look how that turned out. Plus, we all may have a bit of Osbourne fatigue.

15. Snowboarder Louie Vito and Chelsie Hightower
Chelsie finished fourth last season with Ty Murray, so she's fresh on everyone's minds. But with the Winter Olympics still six months away, Louie's off everyone's radar.

16. Joanna Krupa and Derek Hough
I know Derek won Season 7 with Brooke Burke, but if there's anything the public won't have it's a pouty supermodel. Anyone who saw an episode of "Superstars" this summer knows what I mean.

Dancing Pros Make Key Adjustments

From hublsj.com:

Each season of 'Stars' brings new challenges

by Mike Hughes TV America

This is what life is like, if you're dancing with the stars.

Chelsie Hightower is rushing through Los Angeles traffic. She just finished a class, is heading to a rehearsal with "Dancing With the Stars" partner Louis Vito - and has an interview while she's driving.

"It's just go, go, go," she said. "That's what my life is."

And Tony Dovolani is juggling coasts. He flew home for his twins' first birthday and their sister's first day of school; then he was back for "Dancing" rehearsals with Kathy Ireland.

Life is crowded, he said, especially when he's obsessing over choreography. "You have a lot of sleepless nights, being up at 4 in the morning worrying about it."

These two seem like opposites - a young blonde, 20, from Utah, in her second "Stars" season; a veteran, 36, from Kosovo, in his eighth. Together, they offer a glimpse of the show's dance pros.

At times, things work splendidly. For instance:

• Dovolani received a 2006 Emmy nomination for his choreography of a jive piece. In his first "Dancing" season (the second for the show), he finished third with pin-up star Stacy Keibler.

• Last season, her first on the show, Hightower finished fourth with rodeo star Ty Murray; Dovolani finished third with former "Bachelor" choice Melissa Rycroft.

This time, Hightower is with Vito, a snowboard champion. "I thought he'd be kind of chill," she said. "(But) he's just a really good guy and a very good, hard worker."

Athletes do thrive on the show. In one three-season stretch, they had two firsts (Emmit Smith and Apolo Anton Ohno) and a second (Jerry Rice). "They know what it is to be good at something," Hightower said. "And they have a real work ethic."

That's the part that varies from star-to-star. Each sets the time and place for rehearsals.

Last season, Hightower flew to Texas for intense work with Murray. His wife (singer Jewel) was rehearsing at the same time, until an injury stopped her. "My heart kind of broke for her," Hightower said. "We were all bummed out; she'd worked so hard on it."

Some stars have limited rehearsal time. "If you only have three hours a day, you go with it," Dovolani said. "If you have seven hours, you go with it."

He also adjusts to height. Dovolani (6-foot) has ranged from the 5-foot Marissa Winokur and 5-2 Susan Lucci to the 5-10 Ireland and 5-11 Keibler. "That makes some difference in terms of balance and footwork," he said. "You need to work with each one differently."

Mostly, he's just happy to be a dancing pro. "I grew up in the former Yugoslavia, watching Fred Astaire movies," he said. His dad (a top executive) encouraged him; he went from folk to ballroom.

The surprise came when he moved to the U.S. at 15. In the land of Astaire, things were scarce.

"For years, we didn't see any ballroom dancers on TV," Dovolani said. "It was a secret society."

He found the Fred Astaire Dance Academy and has gone on to win five national and international titles. Meanwhile, ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" brought new attention.

At times, he's been warned it would be difficult. A Broadway choreographer told him Winokur was a bad dancer; Ireland said the same thing about herself.

Dovolani disagrees. "Fred Astaire said everyone is born a great dancer."

Still, some seem born with more greatness than others. Hightower grew up in Utah, a place where dance is big. Top teachers were flown in from New York; she won a national championship at 11.

She finished in the top six in the 2008 season of Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance." The tour led to her next break: "Katrina saw the show and talked to me," she said.

That's Katrina Smirnoff, a "Dancing With the Stars" pro. Soon, Hightower was changing shows, networks and dance styles. Her go-go-go life was going faster.

Dance show’s star had early dreams

Published: September 21, 2009

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

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

He’d fallen in love with dancing at age 4. "When I was 3 years old, my dad tells me I showed interest in music and dance, so he took me to classes where I learned how to learn instruments and a dance class. In Kosovo, it’s very big to do folkloric dancing, ballet but also folkloric dancing,” he says.
"I quickly realized I didn’t want to be behind an instrument while everybody else was dancing. So, I quit taking music lessons and just wanted to do dance lessons. I was 4 years old,” he says.

When "Dancing With the Stars” returns at 7 tonight, Dovolani will team with model-designer Kathy Ireland. This marks his eighth season on the 9-year-old show. He missed Season 1, as he was preparing for his first world title in ballroom dancing when he was invited to join.

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

"I was 15. I started working as a dishwasher because they didn’t accept our diplomas here, and I was already in my second year in college back home. I was one of the brainiacs.”

He decided to take up ballroom dancing. The day he walked into the Fred Astaire Studio, he vowed he would be a dancing champion.

"In 1998, I represented the United States in the world championships, and in 2001, I won my first PBS championship, which was the United States title.”

He kept on winning, and he trained Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez for the film "Shall We Dance?” in which he had a small part.

Dovolani insists anyone who can walk can dance. "No dancer was born a dancer. Every dancer has been taught.”

Thursday, September 17, 2009

DWTS Curse!

From eonline.com:

Safety measures be damned. The new season of Dancing With the Stars hasn't started yet, but already the injury count is one two and holding.

Kathy Ireland received seven stitches in her leg when a day at the beach turned into a day at the emergency room.

The accident happened on Sunday, when the former model took partner Tony Dovolani's advice to "go out and have fun" on what may—should she prove to be any good at this dancing thing—have been her last free day for quite some time.

Unfortunately, she failed to heed the latter half of his advice, which Dovolani also told her children: "Make sure she doesn't do anything to injure herself."

Here's what went down...

Ireland decided to take her son Erik surfing in Santa Barbara. During a wave run, the 46-year-old former Sports Illustrated swimsuit fixture bashed the board against the side of her leg, splitting it open.

As luck would have it, she managed to keep her treatment in the family. Her husband, Greg Olsen, is an ER doctor in Santa Barbara. He happened to be on duty at the time and stitched up Ireland himself.

While the injury probably won't help Ireland, her rep said it is not expected to hurt her, with the model (like the previously injured Tom DeLay) still set to participate in Monday's premiere.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Patrick Swayze Honored On DWTS

From etonline.com:

One of the biggest shows on TV is reportedly set to pay tribute to Patrick Swayze.

The 'Dirty Dancing' star will be honored on "Dancing with the Stars" in a special tribute this Sept. 23, according to People.

The beloved actor made a guest appearance on the show during its first season -- showing his friend John O'Hurley some moves in rehearsals. He also came out to show his support by attending the finale.

"We have some very fond memories of [Patrick] coming to help us when we were a tiny little show way back when," "Dancing"'s executive producer Conrad Green tells the mag.

"He was one of the few people to integrate dance with being an A-list actor," Conrad adds. "He inspired many people and many of our pros to dance. We want to honor the great moments he's brought to film by getting our dancers to do their interpretation to some music from his films."

First DWTS Injury!

From accesshollywood.com:

LOS ANGELES, Calif. --
Tom DeLay has suffered a “Dancing” injury, but it’s not enough to keep him from the ballroom.

The 62-year-old Republican, who has been paired with professional Cheryl Burke, revealed on Tuesday morning he thought he had a significant foot injury.

“Old age is catching up to me, may have a stress fracture in my foot. no worries, it’ll take more than that to keep me off the dance floor!” he Tweeted.

But a short while later, he revealed the injury wasn’t as severe as he first thought.

“No stress fracture! It is a pre-stress fracture. I live for another day,” he wrote.

“Dancing With the Stars” instituted new practice rules for the ninth season of the show, limiting contestants to just five hours of rehearsal a day. Last season, Access Hollywood’s own Nancy O’Dell and singer Jewel had to drop out before the show even started due to injury, while Gilles Marini, who made it to the finals, underwent surgery as a result of his “DWTS” experience.

Tom continues to work on his ballroom moves, something Cheryl recently told Access hasn’t been easy for the man who was known as “The Hammer” while working in the United States House of Representatives.

“We’re getting there. Slowly but surely,” Cheryl previously told Access. “But at the end of the day, this is something completely out of his element and I think he’s such a brave man for going out in front of millions of people… You know, he’s not going to be the best dancer of the bunch. That’s for sure. But hopefully he’ll bring something new and different. Bring out his personality. Hopefully it’ll change what his image is all about.”
The new season of “Dancing With the Stars” debuts on Monday, September 21.

Celebrate National Ballroom Week!

National Ballroom Dance Week is September 18-27. The Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Rochester, Minnesota is celebrating this week by offering group lessons for free 9/20-26. Classes include popular dances, such as the Fox Trot, Tango and Waltz, and will also teach technique and rhythm.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Golden Dancers

Caress Someone’s Soul

By Elita Sohmer Clayman

In Corinthians, Chapter 13, it is stated:

Love is patient, love is kind
Love is not jealous; it does not put on airs
Love is never rude. Love is not pompous.
Love never gives up
Love is eternal
Love endures all things
Love is not quick tempered and does not brood
Love does not rejoice in what is wrong

The whole thing was recited at my great nephew’s wedding ceremony last month in Michigan. He, being Jewish, married a Christian girl, and they had a deacon there for her religion and a rabbi for his religion.

The rabbi said all marriages are intermarriages because even though it is said that opposites attract, people are different and that is really ‘intermarriage.’ That is really true and a different assumption on marriage.

I find that a very interesting theory. It is true that everyone is different and that is what makes the world go round. I find that in everyday life being different is a good thing. If everyone were the same then it would be dull and uninteresting.

My son married an Asian girl and our two families have bonded in a deep and loving way. I did not know what to expect upon meeting them and they in meeting us. We joined immediately at the first encounter and our love for our children, my son and their daughter brought together two faiths and two cultures.

There was no fear on either side. We were there to be receptive to our children and their choice of a mate. Our love for our child did not put on airs or be pompous. Our love believes all things and hopes all things and is eternal.

We can also apply this to our dancing activity. When we are at a dance, we should never be rude or pompous to a new person attending the dance. We should not be impatient when they are trying to do a step or dance among others on the dance floor. We should not act as if we are rejoicing if they falter; we should not rejoice if they get upset over something they are doing. We should tell them not to give up or go home if they get frustrated. We should tell them that once they learn to dance, it will eternally be bringing them happiness.

Many new dancers get so unhappy when they cannot perform the way they want when they are new at the dance party. They may not be able to tell the type of song being played and they may get irritated if someone corrects them when asked to dance with a stranger.

Many years ago there was a man named Jerry (not my husband Jerry) who would come to the dances and constantly correct his wife if she made what he thought was an error while they danced. He would call her to the side of the dance floor and show her the mistake and correct her in front of people. She was a timid lady and did not like being shown the errors Jerry thought she was doing. Finally, I heard he built a dance floor and an addition to his home so they could practice because he thought himself better than her in their dancing hobby.

He was truly obnoxious. I saw him dance with other ladies and do the same thing. One of them never came back to the studio because he made her feel insignificant and incompetent. She was there for pleasure and not to be called down by the likes of him. After a while, the owner cautioned him not to ever do that again to anybody including his wife or else he would be banned from that studio.

As Corinthians says, love is patient and love is kind. That is what we experienced dancers should be to our fellow new dancers so that they rejoice and believe they can do all things. Corinthians also says that love should endure all things; we can make these folks endure the beginning of learning to dance and put them in good spirits while they accomplish it.

I heard a line on television: “We should caress each others’ souls.” How lovely if we all could at least once a day or once a week caress another person’s soul to leave them feeling full of spirit.

Robert Jacob Meyer, the former editor of Amateur Dancers magazine for twenty-four years and my editor for seventeen of them, wrote me the following in an email recently: ‘May your outers reflect the treasures of your inners.’ I took it to mean that what I write in my articles is reflecting the joys and happiness I have in my dancing mind and in my normal life.

If we all could treasure our inner thoughts, then we will be caressing others too and making peace in their souls.

Love is never rude and not quick tempered like the man Jerry. We should remember to rejoice that the new dancer is there and protect him or her by being kind, patient and helpful. Then we have caressed someone’s soul and they will continue to dance and we will feel good about ourselves because we were patient, not rude. We have rejoiced in the truth that ballroom dancing can enhance a person’s life and we have helped a stranger revel in this.

John Quincy Adams said, “The power to do.” We have the power to show that love is patient and love is kind. By encouraging their soul to dance and to enjoy the rewards of dancing, we have shown a different form of love. To dance with your feet and arms while using our minds is surely what Adams meant. We have the power to do and doing something for another person is pure gold and another form of love.

Who Will Win Dancing With The Stars?

From msnbc.com:

Laying odds on ‘Dancing’: Who will win?
Osmond has the stage experience, but Hart may have the fans necessary

By Linda Holmes

Handicapping a season of "Dancing With The Stars" gets harder as every rule grows an exception. Football guys get close to the end — except Lawrence Taylor. Pretty, inoffensive young women get knocked out early — except Brooke Burke. People without name recognition have no real chance — except Gilles Marini.

There are few reliable rules anymore, so all you can do is look at who has natural advantages and disadvantages. After that, it's anyone's guess how it will play out.

In this extra-large season with its 16-member cast, let's look first at the advantages.

Stage experience: Donny Osmond has spent years doing glittery stage shows like "Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." What's more, his crafty partner, Kym Johnson, has brought out the best in an unlikely mix of hams from Jerry Springer to Joey Fatone. Especially with her help, it could work for him.

Musical background: Singers are a mixed bag, with Mel B and Joey Fatone on the high end and Belinda Carlisle and Master P … not so much. But on balance, it's always good to have rhythm, which could help Mya, Macy Gray, and Aaron Carter.

Nostalgia: Melissa Joan Hart has been famous for a long time, spending many years, for better or worse, as a tween star. She's stayed on the radar making cutesy ABC Family movies, and plenty of people know who she is. In many seasons, just having a base to build on is enough to carry you a few weeks while you try to learn to actually dance.

Being an underdog: Lots of people seem like they might be bad dancers, but it takes a certain kind of underdog to capitalize on that quality. This year's most likely candidate? Kelly Osbourne. She's struggled with her weight and her image, she has a weird family, she seems like the world's unlikeliest ballroom dancer, and she's not without flashes of charm as a general matter. If she turns out to have any ability whatsoever, she will seem brilliant just for not falling on her face.

The right athletic skills: Mark Dacascos, who appears on the U.S. version of "Iron Chef," is almost as unknown this year as Gilles Marini was last year, but his real background is in martial arts — and more specifically in martial-arts movies. That could make him a natural fit. Anyone who's done demanding physical choreography is a step ahead of this game.

Interesting combinations: Swimmer Natalie Coughlin is an Olympic athlete, but she's also sort of a babe. And Joanna Krupa is a model, but as she demonstrated on "The Superstars" this summer during a stormy pairing with Terrell Owens, she's also outspoken and sharp-tongued. Those could both turn out to be combinations of traits that might have some extra appeal to audiences.

Two left feet
So who might be at a disadvantage?

Division: You may love or hate Tom DeLay, and you may take those feelings a little more seriously than with an actor or a model. Getting a lot of votes is largely about nursing broad support, not just passionate support. Oddly, this is something DeLay — partnered with two-time champion Cheryl Burke — has in common with Michael Irvin, whose football career and personal life have been controversial. You don't get far being polarizing, as pundit Tucker Carlson learned from his early exit.

Anonymity: While Chuck Liddell has a low profile in the kind of frothy pop culture that often produces "Dancing" contestants, he is a big deal in Ultimate Fighting circles and even hosted a show on Spike, making him not as anonymous as he might seem. Louie Vito, on the other hand, is a snowboarder who only turned pro in 2006. While Vito's partner, Chelsie Hightower, made a silk purse out of the adorable sow's ear that was Ty Murray last season, Vito is even less known, and lacks a famous spouse like Jewel as an entry point.

Representing for moms: Kathy Ireland could be a great dancer, and she'd still be a very unlikely candidate to go far, because women who represent the "mom" demographic — specifically including former models Paulina Porizkova and Rachel Hunter — have had it rough. Leeza Gibbons, Gisele Fernandez, Tia Carrere … even Susan Lucci only finished sixth, and she should have had the most obvious crossover with the "Dancing" audience that one can possibly imagine. This is also likely to be a problem for character actress Debi Mazar, who lands right on the "vaguely familiar" spot that rarely works well for anyone.

Head-scratchers: Ashley Hamilton may be the strangest person to ever be chosen for this show. At least when Gilles Marini was known only for his largely wordless and entirely pantsless turn in "Sex And The City," it was a recent movie. Ashley Hamilton is really only known for having been briefly married to Shannen Doherty years ago. They'll tease the angle that he's the son of former "Dancing" contestant George Hamilton, but in the end, he's not even someone where you'd say, "Who?" He's more someone where you'd say, "Why?"

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tony Dovolani Is Living The Dream

From bnd.com:

Tony Dovolani helps provide the fancy footwork on Dancing With the Stars'

By LUAINE LEE, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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

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

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

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

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

When "Dancing With the Stars" returns next Monday, Dovolani will partner with model-designer Kathy Ireland. This marks his eighth season on the nine-year-old show. He missed Season 1 because he was preparing for his first world title in ballroom dancing when they invited him to join.

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

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

His father, who was a CEO of a computer company and his mother, a chemist, had divorced when Tony was 14. "When I came here it was sad to see on TV there was no dancing," says Dovolani, who's wearing a rose-colored T-shirt, jeans and a red baseball cap.

"The closest thing to it was 'Star Search.' I used to look for different channels. And one time I was working at the diner till 3 in the morning and the only time I could find anything that resembled dancing in the movies was at 3:30 in the morning at Nickelodeon. One of the cooks at the restaurant where I was working got an invitation to the Fred Astaire Dance Studio. I asked him where is this? I couldn't even speak English that well. He took me to it, and as soon as I walked in, that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was 16."

He'd seen ballroom dancing contests on PBS before. The day he walked into the Fred Astaire Studio he vowed, "I'm going to win that one day. The owner of the studio said, 'Sure, sure let's get you dancing first.' In 1998 I represented the United States in the world championships and in 2001 I won my first PBS championship which was the United States title."

He kept on winning, and trained Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez for the film "Shall We Dance?" in which he had a small part.

Dovolani insists anyone who can walk can dance. "No dancer was born a dancer. Every dancer has been taught ... Even walking takes rhythm. As long as you simplify it and understand each person's personality you can actually teach them how to dance. One of the things about the Fred Astaire system is they teach you the art of teaching so each person possesses four different personalities - two being strongest and two being weakest. If you can recognize that on a person then all of a sudden you know how to teach them."

The four types, explains Dovolani, are analytical, driven, amiable and expressive. "For an expressive person there's no point is teaching left-foot-right-foot because they won't understand. You just have to show it to them and tell them about an emotion they're going to feel it. An analytical person, like an IBM person, I would teach them in a very much broken down system like 1, 2, 3, 4.

"The amiable person is a very good listener, so those people you can talk all day long and they'll never answer back, so until you stop they won't try it. Then a 'driver' you simply point them in the right direction."

Married for 10 years to Lina (he proposed four hours after they met), Dovolani has three children - fraternal twins, 1, and a daughter, 4.

"I'm living my dream," he sighs. "I'm a strong believer if you don't enjoy what you're doing now you can't think about tomorrow because you can't change the past and you can't do anything about tomorrow unless you work really hard about what happens today. My only hope in life is that my kids look at me the way I look at my dad."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance - News About The New Season

From usatoday.com:

The structure of the sixth-season competition, which goes from auditions to viewers picking "America's favorite dancer," will be the same, but with new touches. Darnell says a new permanent judge will join Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, and he won't say who — but it won't be ex-Idol judge Paula Abdul.

Lythgoe, also an executive producer, plans one show where the top 20 dancers show off their specialties outside the competition. "In the past, they were just thrown straight into competition, and if they were fabulous at hip-hop we may have given them ballroom, and nobody knew how good they were."

On results shows, he wants to feature professional dance companies. "We're looking to do a group competition with all different stars of dance, not just hip-hop but ballroom, clogging, ballet, Latin-American formation-style dancing."

Dance will feature guest judges for auditions; Lythgoe would like to see more guest performances like Katie Holmes' appearance last season. Although nothing is scheduled, he has hopes for Abdul, with whom he worked when he produced Idol. "I'm still talking to Paula, and I'd still like her to come on the show."

More Information On New Season of DWTS

The schedule for season nine of Dancing With The Stars is as follows:

- Two-hour performance shows every Monday, beginning on September 21(8:00-10:00 p.m., ET) through November 16

- One-hour results shows every Tuesday, beginning on September 29 (9:00 -10:00 p.m., ET) through November 17

- Season Finale on Tuesday, November 24 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET)

A variety of new elements will be incorporated into routines involving all couples. Four new dance styles -- the Bolero, the Charleston, the Two Step and the Lambada -- will also be introduced. The middle stages of the competition feature the return of the "Dance Off," where contestants will perform a dance style of their choosing to fight for their spot in the competition. There will also be three consecutive double eliminations!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Dancing In The Dark

From The Band Wagon (1953):

"This Is My Sport"

By Catherine Brill, Copywriter

Joe Tafuri hated to dance. He only entered the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Mamaroneck, New York to purchase a gift certificate for his wife’s birthday, choosing that studio because of its convenient location a few minutes away from his house.

Two and a half years later, he’s hooked.

An Inspirational Student
After beginning his lessons with his wife, Beth, he decided to take some individual instruction from Meg Sommers, the owner of the studio, in order to strengthen his technique and become a stronger lead. He now competes in the pro/am division four times a year. Beth and Joe also compete as an Amateur couple. Joe dances at the studio Monday – Friday with both Meg and his wife. "There is never a time when I don’t look forward to working with her [Meg]," Joe says. This year, Joe attended the Atlantic City competition in March and the Astaire Awards Championships in July. At the AAC, Joe and Meg won the American Smooth A division and placed 6th in the B division. According to Joe, "Meg always makes me look good."

In turn, Meg credits her student as "inspirational" and "fabulous." "One of the great rewards of teaching is meeting someone like Joe. He constantly surprises me as he deals with the challenges and frustrations of learning how to dance," Meg states.

Joe is not someone with a lot of free time on his hands. With 25 years of experience in the advertising business, he is the Vice President, Advertiser Sales at the Tennis Channel and a former senior executive at SONY. But even with the constant high pressure and hectic nature of his job, he keeps his dedication to dance and ballroom competition.

The Challenge Of Dancing
For Joe, dancing is a sport. With a diagnosis of osteoarthritis in both knees, he had to stop playing tennis in recent years but now that he is ballroom dancing, he is able to get the exercise that he needs."Competing is a great way to challenge yourself," he believes. He prepares for each event in the same way an athlete trains, committing himself to each lesson with focus and intensity. The second he steps out onto the dance floor, the pain in his knees fades as he gets caught up in the rush and excitement of competing.

Something For Everyone
During his time with the Fred Astaire Dance Studios organization, he has grown to appreciate our system of teaching. Although preferring the individual attention and level of detail that comes with private lessons, Joe understands that our studios offer a wide range of services and programs for everyone – from the enthusiast looking for a social past time to the competitive dancer eager to win titles. "There is something here for everybody."

The Power Of Dance
Joe’s experience is a wonderful testimonial to the power of dance. We thank you for your commitment to dance and wish you the best in all your future performances!

Who Wears DanceLife Shoes?

Some of the top dance couples in the world today are wearing DanceLife Shoes when they dance:

Andrei Kazlouski & Kate Kapshandy, Blackpool Latin Amateur Finalists
Artem Plakhotnyi & Inna Berlizyeva, Open Pro Finalists (US Finalists)
Chris Germain & Simona Polomova, Rising Star Finalists
Decho Kraev & Bree Watson, Open Pro Finalists (US Finalists)
Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine & Liana Churilova, Open Pro Finalists (US Finalists)
Eric Luna & Georgia Ambarian, US & World Champions
Gherman Mustuc & Iveta Lukosiute, World 10 Dance Champions
Ilya Ifraimov & Amanda Reyzin, Open Pro Finalists
Joe & Leisa Howard, US 9 Dance Champions
Pavlo Barsuk & Natalia Baranteva, Open Pro Finalists (US Finalists)
Peter & Alexandra Perzhu, Open Pro Finalists (US Finalists)
Slawek Sochachi & Marzena Stachura, Open Pro Finalists (US Finalists)
Thomas Lewandowski & Isabella Lewandowski, Open Pro Finalists (US Finalists)
Urs Geisenhainer & Agnes Kazmierczak, Open Pro Finalists (US Finalists)

Ballroom Bash In Indianapolis

Join the gang from Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Indianapolis, IN for The Ballroom Bash, a city wide showcase where all Indianapolis dance schools are invited on Friday, September 18. Students and professionals from Fred Astaire Dance Studios will perform. Tickets are available at the studio. Call the studio at 317-291-6500 to reserve your ticket today!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Determination Is His Partner

From the Chicago Tribune:

Dancer with cerebral palsy refuses to be led by lifelong disability
By Patrick Ferrell
September 2, 2009

When 22-year-old Brent Sapit stepped onto the dance floor, his shoes may have been the only indication he wasn't quite like the other ballroom dancers.

"To accommodate the [ leg] braces, I wear size 15 shoes," Sapit said, "which makes it very, very hard to try to be graceful on the floor."

Yet Sapit, whose cerebral palsy was diagnosed when he was just months old and who walks with a cane, moved just as fluidly as the others in a competition for those new to dancing."

You put him next to everybody else and it looks exactly the same, like they're really having fun," said Shannon Konczal, one of Sapit's instructors and partners at the recent competition at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Hoffman Estates.

His dancing caps a journey that started when doctors told his mother 20 years ago that her toddler may never be able to walk."At that point, Brent was still commando crawling," Linda Sapit said. Doctors warned that he likely would need a wheelchair."

He could advance far beyond anything," she remembers them telling her, "but you're going to have a lot of physical therapy and surgery with him."

His parents credit Brent's mobility -- and his ability to dance without a cane -- to his attitude and a then-groundbreaking surgery called selective posterior rhizotomy he had at age 2 1/2 . Doctors cut the spinal cord nerves that cause muscle tightness and spasticity in the legs of patients with cerebral palsy, according to Dr. Deborah Gaebler-Spira, a pediatric physiatrist who oversees the cerebral palsy program at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

Gaebler-Spira, who has treated Sapit since he was 21 months old, said he was an ideal candidate for the surgery because of his quest for mobility. The surgery requires years of physical therapy to be successful."

They do have to reinvent themselves as far as how they move," she said.Linda Sapit said her son had a breakthrough less than three months after the surgery. She still gets excited when she recalls what happened."

He was watching this little boy walking on a walker, and he said, 'Mom, I really want to walk,' " Linda Sapit said. "Dr. Gaebler got this excited look on her face ... and I looked at them and said, 'What do we do?' They said we give him a moving walker and see how he does."They give him this moving walker ... [and] he pushes himself up on this walker -- and it was this walker with wheels -- and he starts walking."

There wasn't a dry eye in the house," she said. "Here is this little kid walking, and it was so amazing. He had this smile on his face like you wouldn't believe."

Through the years, Brent Sapit has progressed to using two four-pronged canes, then one pole cane.The Orland Park resident and 2005 graduate of Sandburg High School became enamored with ballroom dancing after watching the first season of the TV show "Dancing With the Stars."

"They were so balanced and graceful, and I thought, well, I need to work on my balance," he said. "It was really just something to see the contestants gliding across the floor, and I really fell in love with it."

But Sapit became truly hooked in 2007 when Heather Mills, a former model and ex-wife of Paul McCartney, competed on the show."Halfway through the season, I found out she had an artificial leg and I thought, darn it, if she can do it, I can too. And I've got both legs," Sapit said.

So, he enrolled in the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Tinley Park. The competition in Hoffman Estates was a chance for the studio's newest dancers to pit themselves against others. Sapit had won a gold medal in Special Olympics swimming, but never competed against those without disabilities.His team placed third.

Now, Sapit has decided that his next challenge will be dancing without his cumbersome leg braces.

"I'm going out next week to get a regular pair of dancing shoes," he said.
Copyright © 2009, Chicago Tribune