Friday, April 30, 2010

Dancing With The Stars - Samba & Argentine Tango Night!

Natasha Oreshkina, co-owner of the Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Syracuse, New York, is now providing commentary on and a preview of each Dancing With The Stars show.

On this week's show, the couples danced either the Samba or the Argentine Tango. The Samba is a particularly difficult dance, which required lots of hip action and bounce. Without hip movement and bounce action, the dance loses its effect. Most of the couples struggled with this.

When I judge a dance, I look for timing, teamwork (lead and follow, connection with partner, etc.) and technique.

Nicole Scherzinger & Derek Hough
Their Samba was very nice. I felt the character and mood of the dance. Although Len Goodman was tough when judging them, I felt that the dance was energetic and had the feel of a Brazilian carnival! I saw lots of bounce, rhythm, and hip movement.

Evan Lysacek & Anna Trebunskaya
This dance was a disappointment for him. Although he has nice lines in his upper body, which is great for lyrical dances, his Samba didn't look like it should've. His footwork wasn't good. He threw his leg forward but kept his body weight behind. He danced on a flat foot and had no bounce. There was no connection between his feet and the floor. His timing was not good.

Niecy Nash & Louis van Amstel
They gave a great performance. Their interpretation of the Argentine Tango was funny and fun to watch. Niecy really progressed this week. She had good position and leg action. Her movements were sharp and their lifts were great.

Chad Ochocinco & Cheryl Burke
Chad did better than usual this week. The Argentine Tango was a good dance for him. His attitude was good and was a strong lead. He looked powerful and sensual. He had good rhythm. He had a good connection with his partner.

Erin Andrews & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
I didn't like Erin's Samba as much as Nicole's. But it was exciting to watch and I really felt the character of the dance. I saw a lot of rhythm and hip action.

Pamela Anderson & Damian Whitewood
I enjoyed Nicey Nash's Argentine Tango more than Pamela's. I would recommend more technique for Pamela. She needed more rhythm. I didn't feel the energy although they had good lifts.

Jake Pavelka & Chelsie Hightower
Although Jake looked confident while dancing the Samba, his technique was lacking. I didn't see a lot of bounce. He needed more connection with the music. His dance looked too low - almost as if he was dancing everything from soft legs. The position of his feet was too open - that's why he lost the bounce and hip action.

The Swing Marathon was the highlight of the show! All the couples were on the floor showing off different styles of Swing. It was fun to watch!

Next week...the couples will be performing one of the dances from previous weeks. There will also be a Cha-Cha challenge!

So You Think You Can Dance New Season!


Twelve former SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE show favorites are set to return to summer's No. 1 series as All-Star Dance Partners. Skilled in various dance styles from Krump to Contemporary, the Season Seven All-Star Dance Partners are: Stephen "tWitch" Boss, Comfort Fedoke, Courtney Galiano, Anya Garnis, Lauren Gottlieb, Neil Haskell, Allison Holker, Mark Kanemura, Pasha Kovalev, Kathryn McCormick, Ade Obayomi and Dominic "D-trix" Sandoval. Each week, finalists will be partnered with a different All-Star dancer.

As previously announced, America's favorite summer series returns for its seventh season Thursday, May 27 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX with some exciting new twists, including 10 finalists competing and only one dancer eliminated per week.

Hosted by Cat Deeley, the hit dance competition series will inspire and amaze viewers as dancers skilled in styles ranging from Hip Hop to Ballroom compete to be named America's Favorite Dancer. Last season's winner, Russell Ferguson, danced off with a $250,000 cash prize, the title of America's Favorite Dancer and a cover feature in the March issue of Dance Spirit Magazine.

The 12 All-Stars are:

Stephen "tWitch" Boss
Representing: Hip Hop / Popping / Locking / Krump
Appeared: Season 4 (runner-up)
Memorable Routine: "Forever," a Hip Hop number choreographed by Dave Scott and performed with Comfort Fedoke

Stephen "tWitch" Boss was half of the partnership in the "Mercy" dance that earned choreographer Mia Michaels an Emmy nomination. This summer, he will star in "Step Up 3-D," and he soon plans to begin working with the Dizzy Feet Foundation. Currently, Boss belongs to the dance troupes "Breed OCLA" and "Chill Factor Crew."
Comfort Fedoke
Representing: Hip Hop / Krump / Popping / Locking
Appeared: Season 4 (Top
Memorable Routine: "Party People," a Hip Hop number choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo and performed with Mark Kanemura

Comfort Fedoke attended Booker T. Washington Performing Arts High School in Dallas, TX, where she was a featured dancer on the local dance television show, "Dallas Dance Club 21." Fedoke has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, including Brian Friedman, Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo, Chuck Maldonado, Miley Cyrus and Rosero, and has appeared on GLEE.

Courtney Galiano
Representing: Jazz / Broadway / Cultural / Disco / Contemporary
Appeared: Season 4 (Top 4)
Memorable Routine: "The Garden," a Jazz number choreographed by Sonya Tayeh and performed with Mark Kanemura

Courtney Galiano began her career as a New York Knicks City Dancer. Galiano has appeared in national television commercials and danced in music videos for Adam Lambert, Kat DeLuna and Daddy Yankee. Galiano loaned her voice talents to "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," performed in the television movie "Camp Rock 2" and appeared on GLEE and "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest."

Anya Garnis
Representing: Ballroom Standard / Ballroom Latin
Appeared: Season 3 (Top 12)
Memorable Routine: "Girlfriend," a Jive choreographed by Tony Meredith and performed with Danny Tidwell

Anya Garnis is currently a guest choreographer for SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE's U.S. and Australian versions, and has been a featured guest dancer on "Dancing with the Stars" and "Superstars of Dance." Her credits also include the Emmy Awards, the Academy Awards and the series "True Blood." Last fall, Garnis made her Broadway debut in "Burn The Floor" and toured the globe with the production.

Lauren Gottlieb
Representing: Jazz / Hip Hop / Contemporary / Broadway
Appeared: Season 3 (Top 6)
Memorable Routine: "Night of the Dancing Flame," a Jazz number choreographed by Wade Robson and performed with Neil Haskell

Lauren Gottlieb has worked with Shakira and Mariah Carey, and has appeared in "Hannah Montana: The Movie" with Miley Cyrus. Her television credits include GLEE, "The Ghost Whisperer," "Nip/Tuck" and "Teen Choice 2009," as well as commercials for Subway, AT&T, Old Navy and Nike. She recently completed work assisting Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo on the choreography for Cirque Du Soleil's "Viva ELVIS."

Neil Haskell
Representing: Jazz / Contemporary / Broadway / Disco / Cultural
Appeared: Season 3 (Top 3)
Memorable Routine: "Are You The One," a Contemporary number choreographed by Mia Michaels and performed with Danny Tidwell

Before competing on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, Neil Haskell worked with Twyla Tharp on Broadway's "The Times They Are A-Changin'." Shortly thereafter, Haskell landed a role in the television movie "The American Mall." His theater credits also include the off-Broadway production of "Altar Boyz," the original Broadway cast of "9 to 5" and "Girl Crazy" at New York's legendary City Center.

Allison Holker
Representing: Jazz / Contemporary / Broadway / Disco / Cultural
Appeared: Season 2 (Top
Memorable Routine: "Why," a Contemporary number choreographed by Tyce Diorio and performed with Ivan Koumaev

Allison Holker has been dancing since she was nine years old. Holker was featured in the tap dance show "Revolution" in New York and performed in the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Her television credits also include "High School Musical" and "High School Musical 2." Most recently, she performed and toured with "Ballroom with a Twist," which was choreographed by Louis Van Amstel.


Mark Kanemura
Representing: Jazz / Contemporary / Broadway / Cultural
Appeared: Season 4 (Top 6)
Memorable Routine: "Beautiful," a Contemporary number choreographed by Mia Michaels and performed with Chelsie Hightower

Since competing on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE and performing in the nationwide tour, Kanemura has toured with Lady Gaga, performed on "America's Got Talent" and the "61st Primetime Emmy Awards" and appeared in several music videos and commercials. His stage credits include "The Nutcracker," "Sweet Charity," "The King and I," "Grease," "Tommy" and "Gypsy."

Pasha Kovalev
Representing: Ballroom Standard / Ballroom Latin
Appeared: Season 3 (Top 6)
Memorable Routine: "Let's Get Loud," a Cha Cha choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin and performed with Jessie Peralta

Born in Siberia, Russia, Pasha Kovalev started dancing at age eight. Following a successful career in ballroom competition, he made appearances on several television shows, including SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, "Dancing with the Stars" and "Superstars of Dance." He has choreographed for both the U.S. and Australian versions of DANCE and recently starred in the Broadway cast and touring company versions of "Burn The Floor."

Kathryn McCormick
Representing: Jazz / Contemporary / Broadway / Cultural
Appeared: Season 6 (Top 3)
Memorable Routine: "At This Moment," a Contemporary number choreographed by Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden and performed with Jakob Karr

Kathryn McCormick began competing in her home state of Georgia at an early age with her local dance studio team, "Augusta West." During her junior year of high school, she was invited to join the Tremaine Dance Convention's Apprentice Company. In late 2008, she secured her first professional role as a supporting dancer in the "Fame" remake. McCormick was also chosen to dance on this year's Academy Awards.


Ade Obayomi
Representing: Contemporary / Jazz / Cultural / Broadway
Appeared: Season 5 (Top 6)
Memorable Routine: "This Woman's Work," a Contemporary number choreographed by Tyce Diorio and performed with Melissa Sandvig

Arizona native Ade Obayomi has toured with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal and appeared in the film "A Diva's Christmas Carol." His love of dance earned him a scholarship to Chapman University, where he also studied sound engineering. He recently performed on the 2010 Grammy Awards with Beyoncé, appeared in the music video for Rihanna's "Hard" and was a featured dancer on Alicia Keys' world tour.

Dominic "D-trix" Sandoval
Representing: Hip Hop / Breaking
Appeared: Season 3 (Top
Memorable Routine: "Make It Work," a Hip Hop number choreographed by Shane Sparks and performed with Sabra Johnson

Dominic "D-trix" Sandoval started b-boying in 1999 at the age of 13, and joined the Flexible Flav crew in 2000 to tour and compete with them. Sandoval was part of Quest Crew, who won Season Three of "Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew." He currently travels and performs around the world, and has performed for Ellen DeGeneres, Snoop Dogg, Usher, Pitbull, Sean Kingston and Donna Summer.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fred Astaire Dance Studio Opening In Portland, Oregon!


Portland, Ore. — A Portland franchise of the popular, nationally known Fred Astaire Dance Studios will celebrate its grand opening on Thursday, May 20.

The new 3,500 square-foot studio, located at 305 N.W. 21st Ave., above Cha! Taqueria, is owned by Alex Aillon and Jan Lampe and features two elegant ballrooms with hickory dance floors, high-tech lighting and audio systems.

“Dancing with the Stars has fueled a phenomenal rise in the popularity of ballroom dancing,” Lampe said. “And the response of the Portland community has been immediate and remarkable.”

Aillon, a veteran of national ballroom dancing competitions and the Fred Astaire organization, will be joined by five additional dance instructors offering lessons in waltz, tango, cha-cha, swing, rumba and foxtrot, as well as styles revived by Dancing with the Stars, including salsa, West Coast swing, samba, merengue, pasa doble and bolero.

Lampe said the studio will offer a grand opening special of two private lessons, two group lessons and party — a $250 value — for $25.

With the opening of the first studio on Park Avenue in New York City, Fred Astaire brought his immense talent out of glamorous Hollywood and onto the dance floors of America and the world. Today there are 140 Fred Astaire Dance Studios throughout North America. Fred Astaire Dance Studios/Portland can be reached at (971) 255-1918.

Monday, April 26, 2010

News From Westerville, Ohio!


A Defense Supply Center Columbus associate and his wife were recently named the top ballroom dancing couple in their age group at a statewide competition sponsored by their dance studio.

Bill McLoughlin, a customer account specialist in Maritime Customer Operations, and his wife head to the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Westerville after work for dance lessons two or three times a week.

On March 14, the McLoughlins joined competitors from all 12 Fred Astaire Studios in Ohio at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Columbus for the studio’s annual “Freddy Ball.” The event features a full day of dance competition judged by international champions of dance from around the country. All the time and effort paid off when the McLoughlins were named “Top Amateur Couple” in their 46-64 age group category.

The McLoughlins met while dancing swing classes at the Jitterbug Café in 1993. They started ballroom dancing in 1996 with a group class offered at the Downtown Dance Club. Additional group classes prepared them to waltz at their wedding in 1997.

They took a hiatus of five years from dancing when Bill became the deejay for the two dances he and his wife regularly attended, but they gradually got back to dancing and started classes last June.

“We knew a lot of steps from years of dancing, but felt we were missing something in style” Bill McLoughlin said. He said the studio has given them “the elements of frame, partnering
and expression that were lacking in our dancing. As one of the coaches who worked with us
said, ‘Steps are what you do when you’re dancing."

Interview With Tony Dovolani


'Dancing With the Stars': After Kate Gosselin, Tony Dovolani dances on

By Kate O'Hare

April 25, 2010 2:49 PM ET

Sitting in an airport, preparing to fly back to Los Angeles to perform on Tuesday's (April 27) "Dancing With the Stars" results show, professional ballroom dancer Tony Dovolani may have been eliminated from the competition last week, but he's not gone from the show.

"I love being part of our show," he tells Zap2it. "How long I last doesn't matter, because I get to have fun with all my friends there and enjoy myself."

Over the seasons, Dovolani has had his share of challenges, including, in Season 8, losing partner Nancy O'Dell to injury before competition even began but still taking his last-minute replacement, "The Bachelor" star Melissa Rycroft, all the way to the finals. Other partners -- such as country-music star Sara Evans, talk-show host Leeza Gibbons and model Kathy Ireland -- came with little dance experience.

"I take that as a compliment," says Dovolani of the challenges thrown at him. "It means that I'm well-qualified as a teacher. Part of the reason maybe I get some more challenging ones or whatever you want to call it, is because they know that they're always going to be in good hands, and that I'll get the best out of them every single time."

This year, though, he only made it to week five, and that wasn't because his dance partner, "Jon & Kate Plus 8" star Kate Gosselin had much, or indeed, any, natural dancing ability.

"Kate's biggest strength and weakness," he says, "is that she can handle a lot and she has a lot to handle. She would show up for six hours, but she was present maybe for an hour of it. There were too many things going on outside that were distracting her from the actual task at hand.

"I take pride in saying that I can teach anybody to dance. I even taught her how to dance. I literally had to teach her how to walk the first week, how to walk in heels and how to walk to rhythm. This woman had never taken a dance step in her life. That's not an exaggeration; that's actually an understatement.

"The moment she was in front of the public's eyes, she froze. She had a lot of fears to battle, and I guided her through it. I did the best I possibly could with her, under the circumstances."

While the video clips showing the two at practice focused on drama, Dovolani says there was more to it.

"She had a book release recently," he says, "and she wrote a nice note in there that she really did have fun. Yes, I said 'fun.' I was pleased to see that, because that was my goal from the start, to make sure she had fun."

Asked what he felt when Gosselin's name was announced for elimination, Dovolani says, "First thing, I knew she was going to cry, so I kept tissues in my pocket, waiting for her. I knew she was going to cry, because I know her. People know her as this tough cookie. She is a tough cookie, but at the same time, she's a softie."

Realizing Gosselin would need a moment to compose herself, Dovolani spoke first to hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke.

"I spoke from the heart," he says. "It was not so much just about Kate, but about all the single parents out there. My heart goes out to them."

Regarding which of the remaining dancers will make it to the final three, Dovolani says, "My opinion is Nicole [Scherzinger], Evan [Lysacek] and Erin [Andrews]. I'm very impressed with Erin. She's great. She brought out a really good side of my buddy Maks (Maksim Chmerkovsky)."

This season, there are romance rumors swirling around Andrews and Chmerkovskiy, and around pro Cheryl Burke and her partner, NFL star Chad Ochocinco.

Dovolani, himself happily married with three children, says, "It's about dancing, really. If relationships develop out of it, great. If they don't, so what? They're all short-lived anyway.

"If you think back, have any relationships that have developed on 'Dancing With the Stars' continued? That's basically it. It's like a nice fling, almost like a spring love. It's for the moment, whatever.

"I'm not confirming anything. I'm just saying that the rumors sometimes are true, sometimes are not. That's why they're called rumors. Otherwise, they'd be called facts."

MamaFad In The News!


Ballroom dancing to help support sustained communities is one of the numerous and unique ways the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Mamaroneck (MamaFad) team contributes to health and well-being of the local community.

This year on May 6th, the Washingtonville Housing Alliance, a locally sponsored not-for-profit corporation working to preserve and enhance the quality of life in the Village of Mamaroneck and the surrounding area will be holding it gala fundraising event and MamaFad will be there to support and help those at the dinner have a truly memorable evening.

The music will be provided by the Mamaroneck High School Jazz Band and will have a feature trombonist leading the way.

The evening will be pure and simple fun, food, entertainment and exercise. And all this will help the Alliance continue their mission of constructing new housing and improving existing housing for low and moderate income residents.

Who could argue with an evening of music and dance, of American and Latin Ballroom that actively sustains culture, health and friendship across generations and cultures? Come join us in the fun of dance and contribution!

For more information, contact the Alliance at:
Washingtonville Housing Alliance
136 Library Lane
Mamaroneck, NY 10543
Phone: (914) 698-4299
Fax: (914) 698-7158
E-mail: infoATwashingtonvilleDOTorg

Local celebrities dance for Covenant Hospice

from (Pensacola, FL):

Lakshmi Gopal arrived at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in a white lab coat and orthopedic shoes.

Exchanging her comfy clogs for elegant heels, the 33-year-old gastroenterologist checked her pager one last time, then waited her turn on the dance floor.

"Aren't they gorgeous?" Gopal asked, gesturing at the instructors quick-stepping around the small studio. "I hope I look half as good out there."

But looking good is nothing compared to doing good for her community. Gopal is one of several local "celebrities" hoofing it for charity in Life's a Dance, set for June 4 at the Saenger Theatre. Proceeds from the second annual showcase, presented by Fred Astaire Dance Studio, will benefit Covenant Hospice.

"When they asked, of course I said yes," said Gopal, who works at the Medical Center Clinic in Pensacola. "I'm no dancer, but I love to have fun. And it's for a truly wonderful cause."

Life's a Dance will feature a cast of familiar faces. Fred Astaire instructors will be paired with local notables including Gopal, DeeDee Ritchie, Donna Clark, Bree Sison, Fred Levin, Karen Collins, Antonio Terry, Jean Pierre N'Dione and Jayer Williamson for a dance competition. Dancers from the hit TV series "Dancing with the Stars," including Edyta Sliwinska, Alec Mazo, Derek Hough, Chelsie Hightower and Tony Dovolani, will perform in a showcase.

Victor Luna, an award-winning dancer who runs the Pensacola dance studio with partner Dawn Westberry, has been busy choreographing routines for the extravaganza.

At a recent group rehearsal, he hurried from dancer to dancer, dispensing advice over the thump of the music.

"Some routines are going to be a surprise," he said, smiling. "We definitely want to keep people guessing."

Pensacola attorney Levin insisted that his performance would be the most surprising of all.
"I'm going in cold," he said, a teasing grin on his face as he stood watching the other dancers. "I'm not having one rehearsal. That's the only way they could get the other guys to agree to compete. I'm just too good, otherwise."

Unlike the coolly confident Levin, most local competitors needed a little encouragement. Fred Astaire instructor Omar Hammad, 23, said the first and most important step in the rehearsal process was "building trust."

"Most of these people don't have a lot of dance experience, so, as an instructor, you want them to trust you and feel confident and comfortable," Hammad explained. "You want them to have fun."

Luna, who called on his "Dancing with the Stars" pals to appear in the benefit, said this is a remarkable event for the area.

"Nowhere else can you see this level of dancing, or these big names," he said. "Last year was amazing, but this year will be even better."

Leah Harrison is a development manager with Covenant Hospice, a nonprofit organization which provides services to patients and their families during times of life-limiting illnesses.

She said that last year's benefit raised $30,000.

"This year, our goal is around $35,000," Harrison said. "It was such a successful event for us, and we're thrilled that there is so much community interest."

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dancing With The Stars - Season 10 - Movie Night!

By Natasha Oreshkina

Natasha Oreshkina, co-owner of the Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Syracuse, New York, is now providing commentary and a preview of each Dancing With The Stars show.

Movie night was fun to watch! Here are my thoughts on the dances we saw:

Niecy Nash & Louis van Amstel
Score: 18
They danced a Jive from La Bamba. This was a great dance to compliment Niecy's style. I recommend that she concentrate more on her footwork, specifically bouncing on the feet, not from the upper body.

Chad Ochocinco & Cheryl Burke
Score: 18
Although their Quickstep was fun to watch, it was a bit uneven. Chad was not always connected with his partner and his frame needs to improve. He had better rhythm and footwork this week but his upper body position is too tight and his shoulders are still too high.

Erin Andrews & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Score: 22
They danced a Jive from Pulp Fiction and did a great job. In my opinion, the beginning part of the dance with Maks looking at a menu lasted a little too long! Erin seemed a little nervous; she needed to relax more. Her movement wasn't as flexible and sharp as it could've been. But they presented a good mood and character of the dance.

Pamela Anderson & Damian Whitewood
Score: 21
Their Quickstep was from the movie 9-5. I would've liked to see more musicality. The Quickstep needs good and clear rhythm and Pam was a little heavy in her movements.

Jake Pavelka & Chelsie Hightower
Score: 23
They performed a Cha Cha from Risky Business. Jake took a big step forward this week. His dance had lots of movement and he presented a good mood and character. He had a good connection with his partner also.

Kate Gosselin & Tony Dovolani
Score: 15
They were eliminated this week after their Foxtrot from The Breakfast Club. She performed better than Week #1 but worse than last week. It was clear she didn't remember her routine and focused on Tony for help. She had no connection with the audience. Tony was patient as he tried to teach and inspire her but this week she looked more like she was walking on the dance floor than dancing. The Foxtrot should've been flowing, elegant, and graceful.

Nicole Scherzinger & Derek Hough
Score: 29
Nicole just keeps getting better each week! It really will be a fight to the finish between Nicole and Evan! Her Tango from Pretty Woman was very sharp and powerful with beautiful lines and good rhythm. In my opinion, Nicole was a bit too strong and stiff when she danced the Tango.

Evan Lysacek & Anna Trebunskaya
Score: 27
They danced a beautiful rumba. I saw a lot of hip movement. His dancing was very musical with good balance and posture. He presented a great connection between the character of the dance and the music.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dancing With The Stars, Season 10 Commentary

By Natasha Oreshkina

Natasha Oreshkina, co-owner of the Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Syracuse, New York, is now providing commentary and a preview of each Dancing With The Stars show.

This has been an interesting season with celebrities of all different ages and abilities and personalities. It was wonderful to see Buzz Aldrin, at his age, perform and enjoy dancing. Just goes to show that no matter what your age is, you can still dance and have fun!

The theme for tonight's show is "Movie Night" where different types of dances are performed from different movie scores. I'd like to mention some favorite couples of mine so far on the show:

Evan Lysacek & Anna Trebunskaya: Evan has a lot of potential, although he's clearly not used to partnering. He needs to concentrate on leading and his footwork. His upper body (arms and spine) looks great! But with his footwork, he looks like he's sliding and skating on the dance floor! He needs to work on his heel leads. Last week's Tango was a big improvement; his footwork was much better.

Nicole Scherzinger & Derek Hough: Nicole could be the winner! They are my favorite couple so far. I like how she looks on the dance floor - her hair, makeup, and costumes. She looks flexible and she has lots of natural skill. With last week's Rumba, she looked nervous but her lines and positions were very elegant. Nicole and Derek have a good connection in their partnership.

Niecy Nash & Louis van Amstel: Niecy is a great example for everyone. She is flexible and open and not afraid to express herself. Niecy and Louis have a great partnership.

Chad Ochocinco & Cheryl Burke: Chad is another one who has great potential but his posture is not good. I don't see any improvement in his posture at this point either. He has sharp movements but his shoulders are too high.

Pamela Anderson & Damian Whitewood: Last week, Pamela's rumba was very sexy with a very impressive split at the end.

Kate Gosselin & Tony Dovolani: This is a hard partner for Tony because Kate is nervous and not flexible. She has problems remembering the choreography. But last week's show proved that Tony is a great teacher. Her Tango looked like she was actually dancing.

Recommendations for all celebs: Concentrate more on technique and posture!

A Marriage Made On The Dance Floor

from (Bedford Hills, NY):

Some marriages are made in heaven. Others are made on the dance floor.

When Yuri Tsarev was a 15-year-old ballroom dancer in his native Belarus, his coach advised him to partner up with a 13-year-old dancer named Elena.

“He said she’d be good, and I said, ‘OK,” Tsarev says in a matter-of-fact manner.

Coach’s intuition? Kismet? Or both? Whatever it was, it is clear from the way Elena and Yuri Tsarev flirt with each other that they have chemistry behind and beyond the footlights.

That chemistry helped them become seven-time ballroom champions in Belarus. Now they have translated that experience into a franchise of their own, the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Bedford Hills.

The Tsarevs were among the wave of Eastern European dancers who emigrated to the U.S. with the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991. (They arrived here in 1993).

“It was always in the background of my mind,” Yuri Tsarev says. “I had a lot of relatives here. We came here to the world championship and decided to stay because there were more opportunities.”

There was never any doubt that those opportunities would be in the sphere of dance.

“It’s not just an occupation,” he says. “It’s like our life, like our religion.”

The Tsarevs had some contacts with the Fred Astaire Dance Studios Inc., which was founded by the big-screen hoofer in 1947 and which later pioneered hiring Eastern European ballroom champions as teachers.

In 2002, the couple opened their Fred Astaire franchise.

“Business is good,” Yuri Tsarev says. “People want relaxation and entertainment.”

What they get is a whole lot more, says student Bira Rabushka.

“I feel both (Elena and Yuri) have that special talent to find out where the niche is for each student,” she says.

Rabushka, a Goldens Bridge resident who recently retired as a violinist with the New York City Ballet Orchestra, has been studying ballroom dance with the Tsarevs for almost four years. She describes the experience as an infectious combination of an exercise high and an emotional response to the music.

“It’s physically and emotionally very satisfying,” she says.

But it’s also demanding, and not just because of the intricate patterns that make up each dance. As Yuri Tsarev explains – punctuating his words with crisp movements in typical dancer fashion – ballroom dancing is accompanied by a code of courtly conduct.

Elena and Yuri Tsarev in their Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Bedford Hills.
“(Americans) look at it as exercise,” he says. “But ballroom dancing goes with the culture. Without the culture, there’s no ballroom dancing.”

That blend of discipline and delight is evident as instructor Andrey Savenko works carefully with student Carol Steiner to the beat of Elvis Presley. (The studio is hosting an Elvis 75th-birthday party May 14.)

“I love to dance,” says Steiner, a Mount Kisco resident who’s been studying at the Bedford Hills studio for three years. “But I hadn’t danced in years. Now here I am, dancing again.”


Dance, American style

What’s up with the categories?

What is commonly referred to as ballroom dancing actually consists of 10 dances, five each in the International Standard and the International Latin categories. Under International Standard, you have the waltz, the tango, the fox-trot, the quickstep and the Viennese waltz. International Latin contains the rumba, the samba, the cha-cha, the paso doble and the jive.

In the U.S. and Canada, you also have the American Smooth and American Rhythm categories. American Smooth has the waltz, the tango, the fox-trot and the Viennese waltz. American Rhythm has the rumba, the cha-cha, East Coast swing, the bolero and the mambo.

Apart from some divergence in actual dances, what’s the real difference between the International and the American styles?

It’s not only the combination of steps, says Yuri Tsarev, who owns the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Bedford Hills with wife, Elena.

“International must be done with full connection with the partner,” he says.

American-style, which allows for individual movements and more space between partners, is “more expressive, with more variety,” Tsarev adds.

“In International, you’re limited with the amount of steps. But you polish the steps. With American, there are more steps. But you don’t need to polish as much.”

Friday, April 16, 2010

Their swing-and-sway much more than OK

From (Staten Island, NY):

A dance extravaganza replete with Mardi Gras theme, a Bourbon Street background and festive balloons provided the perfect backdrop for the 2010 Fred Astaire Regional Metropolitan Dancesport Championships in the grand ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel in Atlantic City.

Taking home top honors during the ballroom dance competition weekend event were Halina Molinowski of Great Kills and Tottenville’s Caylie McAree.

Halina, a first-time ballroom dance competitor, not only scored multiple first-place awards but was named overall top student in the Novice Division.

Halina danced with instructors Marco Garcia and Kelly Gilmore, who doubles as director of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Grasmere, to both slow and rhythm dances in the professional/amateur category. Halina was awarded first places with both instructors in Fox Trot, Waltz, Tango, East Coast Swing, Rhumba, Cha-Cha, Merengue, Salsa, Mambo and Hustle.

The Saturday evening grand banquet found Ms. Molinowski presented with an overall top student trophy alongside her proud instructors.

Also taking home top honors with instructor Marco was 7-year-old ballroom dancer Caylie McAree, who also represented Fred Astaire last November at the Fred Astaire Northeast Dancesport Championships in Mahwah, N.J. — at which time she danced with Marco for the studio’s Holiday Showcase held on Staten Island in December. Caylie is also an accomplished gymnast.

Scoring first place in all her dance entries with Marco, Caylie danced Merengue, Cha-Cha, East Coast Swing and Rhumba as a newcomer, as well as dancing at the Bronze Level in the juvenile (under 12) age category.

“We were definitely winners this time in Atlantic City,” boasted Gilmore. “But,” says he, “it had nothing to do with luck! Both of our dancers were well-rehearsed and performed even better on the dance competition floor than they had in rehearsal.”

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ballroom Competition Gets Hearts Beating In Support Of The U.S. Transplant Games

By Josie Cowell

It is no secret that ballroom dancing is good for you, mind and body. A fun and exciting way to get in the exercise that is so important for good health, dancing gets the feet moving and the heart pumping. Getting the heart pumping is about more than dancing though; with more than 100,000 Americans waiting for organ transplants, organ donation is more urgent than ever. In honor of that need, the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Madison and dancers from across Wisconsin gathered at 7:00 pm on Friday, March 12th to participate in Team Match at the Madison studio, a chance not only to enjoy ballroom dancing and a bit of friendly competition, but also to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation. Proceeds from the event and donations will be given to support Team Wisconsin in this year’s U.S. Transplant Games.

Team Match is a bi-annual competition that brings together ballroom dancers from all over Wisconsin. This spring’s Team Match is being hosted by the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Madison, and will include amateur and professional participants from the Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Madison, Wales, Pewaukee, and Menomonee Falls. Madison Studio owner, Peter Goethche, says “Team Match has always been a great way for students at Fred Astaire Dance Studios throughout Wisconsin to get together and engage in a fun, competitive event; this year, we wanted to make it about more than friendly competition. Since this is the first year that the Games will be having ballroom dancing as an event, we thought that this was the perfect opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation.”

The biennial U.S. Transplant Games, hosted by the National Kidney Foundation will be held in Madison, WI from July 30th to August 4th. The event is a testament to the success of transplantation, and a wonderful way to honor the donor families and living donors who make transplantation possible. Over 8,000 recipients and donors are expected to attend the event. Fred Astaire Dance Studios, a national franchise of dance studios will be sponsoring the ballroom portion of the event, and the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Madison is excited not only to be the winner of 2010 Team Match Top Studio Award, but to be able to do their part raising awareness about the importance of organ donation!

For more information about Team Match and how to help support Team Wisconsin in the 2010 U.S. Transplant Games, please contact Josie Cowell at 608-833-2623 or

Cross Country Dance Championships 2010!

Fred Astaire Dance Studios staff and students from around the country will be in Las Vegas this week to compete at the Cross Country Dance Championships! Held at the Luxor Hotel, the CCDC is a whirlwind event filled with competitive heats, fun parties, dazzling professional shows, and many social dancing interludes.

The theme for the Saturday night banquet and show is "Dancing Around The World," featuring music and dances from a variety of countries. We are also excited to have a panel of distinguished judges at this competition, including Dancing With The Stars alums Corky Ballas and Elena Grinenko.

Friday, April 09, 2010

CCDC News! Captiva woman dances for national title

from (Florida)

A Captiva woman with barely any dance experience is now on her way to a national dance competition. And this amateur dancer is positive she has the right moves to win.
With the right rhythm and the right steps, Susan Scott could become a national dance champion, even though she's only been dancing for four months.

"Her understanding of technique, her partnering, her movement... it's brilliant. She's a prodigy. She learns very quickly," said Steve Wilkie, owner of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Fort Myers.

Wilkie met Scott in January during a local "Dancing with the Stars" charity event. He randomly selected her as his dance partner, and they did the Cha Cha to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean."
Wilkie knew it was the beginning of a beautiful partnership.

"So he said, ‘I can take you to Vegas. It's the most outrageous and expensive.' And I said, ‘Well, you know you hit my right buttons!'" Scott said.

The outrageous idea was to enter in a five-day national competition in Las Vegas with just a few months to train. The competition is next week.

It's right around the corner and they've been practicing around the clock.

For the past two weeks, they've logged at least three hours of practice every single day. Scott even installed mirrors in her art studio in Captiva, so she could practice even more at home.
"She's very unusual," Wilkie said. "She's driven and motivated to the point of being borderline insane."

To earn the title of "Top Newcomer," Scott had to learn every American and international dance style from the Tango to the Fox Trot to the Waltz. In the process, she's lost 17 pounds.
With days left before the big dance, the duo says they're ready to take the lead and take home first place.

"I am going to win. I'm not doing this not to win," Scott said.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Twitch Signs On For Next Season Of So You Think You Can Dance!


"So You Think You Can Dance" executive producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe made a stunning announcement on Monday (March 29), outlining the major changes coming to the dance series this season: Not only will there be just 10 finalists chosen in Vegas, but those finalists will be partnered with a new "SYTYCD" alum each week of the competition.

Lythgoe promised to reveal which of the show's "all-stars" have signed on to return via Twitter and he wasn't lying.

"I am thrilled that representing the various dance genres of Popping, Locking, Krump etc in the All-Stars Dance-Pool from Season 4 is TWITCH," Lythgoe tweeted Tuesday morning.

No surprise there, considering Stephen "tWitch" Boss -- who is starring in the upcoming "Step Up 3D" and "Stomp the Yard 2" films -- was easily one of the most likable and talented contestants ever to grace the "So You Think You Can Dance" stage and was clearly beloved by the judges as well.
But who else fits that bill?

Shall we do a little armchair casting on which other show alum should return?

Our list...
Benji Schwimmer: Not only did he win the second season of the show, but his expertise in West Coast Swing has already brought him back to the series as a choreographer.
Travis Wall: The contemporary finalist from Season 2 could very well find himself nominated for an Emmy after the choreography work he did during seasons 5 and 6 of "SYTYCD."
Dmitry Chaplin: The international Latin ballroom dancer went on to "Dancing with the Stars" fame, partnering with celebrities like singer Mya and "Girl Next Door" Holly Madison, but he's returned to choreograph for "So You Think You Can Dance" as well and was nominated for an Emmy because of it.
Dominic Sandoval and Hok Konishi: The Season 3 B-Boys went on to win MTV's "America's Best Dance Crew" post-"SYTYCD" and are two of the show's most memorable faces. Also, we just want to see Dom hit on host Cat Deeley some more.
Sara Von Gillern: One of the brightest smiles of Season 3, the B-Girl has great style both on and off the stage.
Lacey Schwimmer: The West Coast swinger was the first "So You Think You Can Dance" alum to join "Dancing with the Stars" as a series regular pro, but she's not on the show this season, so perhaps she's free to do her thing on "SYTYCD" once again.
Katee Shean: The Season 4 stand out won the "Top Girl" distinction while on "So You Think" and is arguably the best female dancer to ever do the series.
William Wingfield: Though he was eliminated prior to the finale of Season 4, his skills as a Debbie Allen-trained dancer yielded some of the most beautiful and technically-sound performances in "So You Think You Can Dance" history.
Janette Manrara: The salsa spice girl was a fan and judge favorite in Season 5. In fact, when she was eliminated, Nigel publicly stated that he had wanted her to win the competition.
Evan Kasprzak: The Broadway boy is not only lovable, but one of the only former contestants to be an expert in this particular style.
Jeanine Mason: The season 5 winner is a star through and through.
Brandon Bryant: The contemporary dancer from Season 5 can pretty much do anything.
Russell Ferguson: The Krumper who won Season 6 didn't get to go on Tour, but returning to "So You Think You Could Dance" could be a consolation prize for that. Plus, we love him.