Monday, January 18, 2010

Students Put Their Best Feet Forward

From (Buffalo, NY):

By Mark Sommer

Dancing star and instructor Anna Trebunskaya took Buffalo by storm Saturday, turning the parquet floor of the Adam's Mark Hotel ballroom into a clinic for ballroom dancing.

Trebunskaya, from TV's "Dancing with the Stars," was participating in "Dancing for a Dream," a fundraiser of the Variety Club, which has a long history of supporting Women & Children's Hospital. The nine-hour event was sponsored by STORM, a nonprofit organization that raises funds through dance events.

Trebunskaya's 45-minute classes in cha-cha and rhumba were among 12 classes — from salsa and hip-hop to foxtrot and ballet — that continued throughout the day before the performance-packed evening.

"Ballroom dancing used to be older people's leisure activity, but I think "Dancing with the Stars' shows it really, truly is a sport — you have to be really athletic," the Russian-born Trebunskaya said shortly before leading the class. "It's not as simple as it looks."

She spends three months a year working for the show, on which she has been a fixture for four seasons. She said the show's popularity has made it easier for people to understand how she makes a living.

"Before — when you'd chat with people and they'd say, "What do you do?' and you'd say, "I'm a ballroom dancer; I'm a teacher as well.'

"They'd say, "Really, you can make money doing this?' Now I think everybody goes, "Oh yes, just like that program.' "

Trebunskaya admitted not having heard of stars she has been paired with, such as NFL football great Jerry Rice, because she is so immersed in the dance world. She said because of her busy dance schedule, she doesn't own a TV.

Grethe Vruarin, a University at Buffalo graduate student, was one of about 200 people in attendance by early afternoon. She was excited to dance to Trebunskaya's instruction.

"Not only is it a TV show that everyone watches — it's Buffalo, and we don't really expect it. It's cool," Vruarin said.

Trebunskaya, of course, wasn't the only instructor for the nine-hour marathon. Among them was local choreographer and STORM founder Tommy Radon, whose dancing credentials include earning "top NY instructor" from Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Radon taught one class and choreographed three others.

The variety of dance classes offered throughout the day was quickly apparent when the opening ballet class was immediately followed by hip-hop.

Keith Williams, who danced in both, said the ballet class was an eye-opening experience.

"Ballet was something I had never really done before, and growing up, I never was so fond of it. I've got a whole different perspective on it now," Williams said.

Williams performed a cartwheel and front flip near the conclusion of the hip-hop class, as dancers lined the outside of the dance floor. Fellow dancer Zeke Cicus, who weighs 285 pounds, concluded his series of moves with an unexpected split.

"This is very good for Buffalo," said Cicus, who like Williams is a member of the Eccentric Flow dance troupe at UB. "A lot of the kids were having a good time just coming to a place on the weekend and dancing. They're loving it."

Instructor Maria Ruffato led the dancers in constant sharp, then soft, gestures, with "popping," "locking," "sliding" and robotic movements.
Charmese O'Callaghan, a Niagara Falls dance instructor who teaches hip-hop, praised Ruffato's instruction and said she was having a great time.
So was Karon Cannon of Buffalo and a senior at St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute, who said he was pretty much a beginner — although his solo suggested a streak of modesty.

"It's a great experience. I haven't had any training, but I always wanted to learn. I'm really picking up new things," Cannon said.

Mary West of Grand Island, watching her 9-year-old daughter Teresa, liked what she saw.

"This is just completely awesome," she said. "It's an opportunity for her to learn so much. Not only does it help a great cause, but they're learning from such talented people who are in the business."

1 comment:

SmallBizPro said...

I had the pleasure of attending "Dancing for a Dream", taking classes (Anna's International Rumba class was fantastic!) and watching the incredible professional show in the evening. I've danced for almost 4 years at the Buffalo Fred Astaire Dance Studio and have enjoyed taking lessons from Andrei Abrashin (owner), Vladimir Kosarev, and Tommy Radon - all of whom danced in the professional show. It was wonderful to see so many styles of dance - from hip-hop to tap to the Viennese Waltz - danced by all age groups in full costume. Tommy Radon's undying love of choreographing, performing and teaching dance and for helping children is the reason his nonprofit organization, STORM, exists. All of us who know him are so proud of all of his accomplishments and of the fantastic job he and his staff did putting this fund-raising event together. We are all looking forward to next year! Dawn Santillo