Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dancing With The Stars - Finale!

By Natasha Oreshkina, co-owner of the Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Syracuse, New York

I will talk about the freestyle competition performed on Monday night before getting on to the finale.

Erin Andrews & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Erin and Maks performed a contemporary style dance along with beautiful music. I didn't understand the idea of the bed on the floor. Their movements were too busy. I couldn't see the dance in their performance.

Evan Lysacek & Anna Trebunskaya
Evan and Anna performed a rock and roll dance. It was dynamic and looked good on the floor. However, they didn't dance together and lost their connection.

Nicole Scherzinger & Derek Hough
Their dance was the best. They connected different dance styles and the mix was very interesting.

On Tuesday night's finale, Nicole looked like a champion. She had confidence. Evan, while performing his Quickstep, did not look so great. His feet were flat and he lost the lightness of the dance. The Quickstep should be light and you shouldn't drop your heel down. He needed to show the rhythm of the dance in his feet and he didn't.

Winner: Nicole Scherzinger! I was glad to be right about Nicole!

Ballroom Dancing Etiquette


by: Meg Sommers

Ballroom dancing is an art and it is also a form of socialization that has its own etiquette. Here are some really helpful basic tips that every novice ballroom dancer should take to heart. Even when they are not followed rigorously, awareness of these rules really helps improve everyone's dance experience:

Like other types of exercises or sports, selecting the right clothes is essential. If you're new to a dance studio, try to take note of the dancers' fashion sense and find clothes that are comfortable yet appropriate with the studio's culture. You don't want to look out of place with your fellow dancers. Keep in mind that your clothes shouldn't get in the way of you and your partner when dancing. Wearing clothes in layers can help you avoid wardrobe malfunction and embarrassment.

For everyone's safety and especially yours, wear dance shoes that allow you to move comfortably on the dance floor. Shoes with rubber soles such as sneakers can stick to the floor during turns and spins and this can lead to injuries. Shoes with leather soles are most suited for dancing. If you dance regularly, really consider investing in quality shoes designed for ballroom dancing.

Do pay attention to your personal hygiene as ballroom dancing is a partnership sport! In addition, there's a high chance of dancing with several partners. So take time to refresh yourself during breaks and wash your hands after using the rest room. Avoid eating pungent foods a few hours prior to the dance session, bring breath mints, and brush your teeth. Do not use too much fragrance as this can be irritating for some people, and if you tend to sweat a lot, consider bringing extra clothes.

The dance floor also needs proper care and maintenance. Do not bring food and drinks onto the dance floor as these can spill and cause potential injuries. Be careful of the accessories that you wear and choose items that don't fall off.

Whether you are having a lesson, participating in a dance practice party, competition or social event, you're going to share the dance floor with different people of different age groups, backgrounds, and ethnicity. This makes it very likely that you will encounter dancers who have cultural behaviors that are entirely different from yours. For example, it's possible that a shy person can be mistaken as being cold or unfriendly. So be sensitive to the attitudes and cultures of others.

While traditionally, men are supposed to ask the women out to dance, nowadays it is OK if done otherwise. Be polite when asking people to dance even when you're very familiar with them. Nodding towards them, snapping fingers, and waving towards the dance floor are inappropriate gestures when asking people to dance. Instead, you should walk up to them, make direct eye contact, reach out your hand, and ask them politely.

It is usually polite to simply accept an offer to dance. In some cases, it is OK to decline a request politely for some valid reason (e.g. that person has hurt you in the past). In this case, it is better not to dance that particular dance with anyone else.

The line of dance is the direction that dancers should follow and this is counter-clockwise. Dancers should have have at least a basic knowledge of where they should be on the dance floor. The dance for is divided roughly into three lanes:

Outer/Fast Lane:

Progressive dances such as the Fox Trot, Polka, Tango and Waltz should be done outside the floor.

Inner/Slower Lane:

This is for the slower dancers. They should let the faster dancers pass on the outside.


Stationary dances such as Cha-Cha, Mambo, Rumba, Salsa, and Swing should be done on the middle of the dance floor. The dancers should endeavor to stay aware and out of the path of those in the outer lanes.

Couples just coming onto the dance floor should give way to those who are already dancing, and men should take extra care of their partners and be prepared for urgent moves to evade a collision. The ladies should also look past their partners' shoulders to prevent up coming collisions.

Dancing should be more compact when you're on a crowded dance floor. When this is the case, keep your steps small and your elbows to yourself. You need to reduce the size of your turns and of course, as much as possible, try not to bump into other dancers. If you do collide with another person or couple, do not swear or blame them. Smile and apologize sincerely. Be considerate all the time and if you find dancers who aren't, do not pick fights with them. Just move to another section of the dance floor.

Novice dancers should never be ashamed that they are new. Everyone starts out as a novice, even today's experts. And it is definitely more embarrassing if you pretend to be a pro when you are not. Ballroom dancing is a learned activity and even long-time dancers need to brush up on their skills often. Do so with a smile!

Life's A Dance In Florida!


Get your ticket to ‘Life’s a Dance’ before they’re gone

Fred Astaire Dance Studio owners Victor Luna and Dawn Westberry present a star-studded evening of dance featuring local celebrities and cast members of ABC’s hit television series Dancing with the Stars.

The second annual Life’s a Dance benefiting Covenant Hospice will take center stage at the Pensacola Saenger Theater on Friday, June 4, 2010, from 7 to 9 p.m. Dance legend Corky Ballas and WEAR TV-3 news anchor Sue Straughn will emcee the event.

Don’t miss this stellar showcase by award-winning professional dancers Edyta Sliwinska and Alec Mazo, two-time champion Mark Ballas, Tony Dovolani and Chelsie Hightower. Due to a dance-related injury, Season 7 winner Derek Hough will not perform as scheduled. Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who is vying for this year’s title with partner Erin Andrews, will take Hough’s place in the all-star cast.

Performing a variety of dances from the tango to the two-step, studio instructors will partner with local celebrities including former state legislator DeeDee Ritchie; community philanthropist Donna Clark; WEAR TV-3 newcomer Bree Sison; Medical Center Clinic gastroenterologist Dr. Lakshmi Gopal; Levin Papantonio star attorney Fred Levin; Gulf Power senior engineer Antonio Terry; Great Southern Restaurant Group general manager Jean Pierre N’Dione; and founding president of Santa Rosa Young Professionals Jayer Williamson. Last year’s stars Roy Jones, Jr., Teri Levin, Malcolm Ballinger, Greg Litton and Dan Brask will reprise their roles for special dance numbers.

Following the show, VIP ticket holders will be invited to an exclusive casting party catered by Jackson’s at downtown hot spot 5eleven Palafox, 511 S. Palafox St., where they will eat, drink and mingle with the stars.

Tickets are still available in all price levels for $35, $50 and $75. A limited number of $150 VIP seats remain. Tickets may be purchased at the Pensacola Saenger Box Office at (850) 595-3880 or online at

Enter a special “You Be The Star!” prize drawing for your chance to win dinner for two at Global Grill before the show begins. Feel like a celebrity when you step out of a limousine by Afleet Limo Services, who will be waiting to take you home at the end of the night. Tickets are one for $5, five for $10 or ten for $40. Purchase tickets online at http://support.covenanthospice.or g/lad/drawing.html, or call Ashley Kahn, development specialist, at (850) 208-7123.

Dancing is a true celebration of life. Proceeds from this event support Covenant Hospice’s mission to add life to days when days no longer can be added to life.

For more information, contact Leah Harrison, development manager, at (850) 208-7122 or by e-mail at leah.harrison@covenanthospice. org.

Purdue Ballroom Team Competes On DWTS!


Purdue ballroom team competes in collegiate finals on 'Dancing with the Stars'

| | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

One of the best reasons to watch tonight's final episode of season 10 of "Dancing with the Stars" is that eight members of Purdue's Latin & Ballroom Dance Team will be competing for the collegiate championship. They'll be facing off against Utah Valley University for the trophy.

While viewer votes helped propel Purdue to the championship round, tonight it's all up to judges Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli, who will determine the winners.

"We've been training anywhere from 4 to 12 hours a day to prepare for this [cha cha]," said Purdue team member Sean Lyons, a freshman who hails from suburban Naperville.

Lyons, a freshman at the West Lafayette campus, who is majoring in management and finance, said he has had a great time meeting several of the pros and the celebrities, especially fellow Naperville native Evan Lysacek. "He is so nice."

Another Chicago-area team member is Tracy Matz, who hails from Des Plaines.
"I've been ballroom dancing for three years, but have studied other dance since I was 5" Matz said. "It's so exciting to be on national TV in front of millions of people. It's crazy!"

Like Lyons, Matz, a junior who is majoring in visual communication and design, has met her share of the show's celebs and pros, including Lysacek, Anna Trebunskya, Niecy Nash and all the judges.

Prior to their initial turn on "Dancing with the Stars," the Purdue team had never competed in "formation" dancing, which is what they are judged on for this particular competition.

"Formation dancing is really more of a West Coast thing," Lyons said. "We're all about partners and pairs, and letting each couple's personalities come through. So it has been a great learning process for us."

As for that formidable dance floor, looks can be very deceiving.

"The ballroom is way smaller than it looks on TV," Lyons said. "Just look when there are 8 people out on that floor at the same time. They take up the entire space."
The rest of the Purdue team members that will appear on "Dancing with the Stars" include:

--Josef Conner, a senior majoring in biological sciences from Galveston, Ind.
--Tiffany Lam, a senior majoring in dietetics from Hong Kong and West Lafayette,
--Kris Ezra, a senior majoring in aeronautics and astronautics from Winamac,
--Yitian Chen, a senior majoring in pharmaceutical sciences from Xi'an, China,
and Moon Township, Pa.
--Lincoln Slentz, a senior majoring in chemistry from Auburn, Ind.
--Dessi Moneva, a sophomore majoring in biochemistry from Greenwood, Ind.

The team competes in intercollegiate competitions throughout the year and
conducts classes, shows and social dances on or near campus.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New CBS Dance Show!


Paula Abdul to Star in CBS Dance Show
Back to the Article
by BWW News Desk

Paula Abdul has announced her return to the judges table and to television as she stars in a new TV series 'Got to Dance' on CBS. The show, which is based on a UK hit is, according to the Hollywood Reporter "The show is billed as broadcast's first all-ages, all-genres dance series -- "from ballroom to break dance, bhangra to ballet, and tap to tango." Acts will compete for a panel of judges, with viewers getting to vote for their favorites during the semifinals and finals."

Amateurs with raw talent from across the nation, either performing solo or in a group, can audition any form of dancing: from ballroom to break dance, bhangra to ballet, and tap to tango. The most talented and entertaining dancers will be invited to audition for the panel of judges, all world-class dancers themselves. The very best will perform LIVE in the Semi-Finals and Finals where they will battle it out for viewers who will vote to choose the GOT TO DANCE champion.

GOT TO DANCE has been a ratings sensation for Britain’s Sky 1, making it one of the UK’s top-rated pay television series this season.

The panel of judges, as well as information regarding auditions, will be announced at a later date. Details about the audition process will also be available on

GOT TO DANCE is a Shine Group format, created by Princess Productions and Shine TV and is produced by Reveille. Elisabeth Murdoch, Howard T. Owens, Mark Koops and Robin Ashbrook are executive producers. Distribution is handled by Shine International.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dancing With The Stars - SemiFinal

By Natasha Oreshkina, co-owner of the Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Syracuse, New York

Four couples performed both a Ballroom and a Latin dance this week. Nicole and Evan are currently tied for first place, with Erin next and Chad coming in last.

Nicole Scherzinger & Derek Hough (total score: 59/60)
For me, this is the best couple. Their Argentine Tango was dynamic and their Cha-Cha looked natural.

Evan Lysacek & Anna Trebunskaya (total score: 59/60)
Their Foxtrot and Paso Doble was artistic and strong.

Erin Andrews & Maksim Chmerkovskiy (total score: 56/60)
Erin is a strong competitor! Her Viennese Waltz was continuous, fluid, and well done. Her Paso was powerful and showed the character of the dance.

Chad Ochocinco & Cheryl Burke (total score: 52/60)
Chad and Cheryl were eliminated this week. I saw improvement in Chad's dancing since he started this competition but he wasn't on the same level as the rest of the contestants.

Next week: The finals, including the fun freestyle competition!

My Prediction: Nicole! She is the contestant that looks the most stable. She is stylish and dynamic in all her dances.

News From Portland!

News From Portland!

Fred Astaire’s Portland dance studio is located in the Ventuno Strata building in downtown Portland’s historic and vibrant Nob Hill neighborhood. The Dance Studio is a bright, open, 3,500-square-foot space with professional lighting, city views and elegant hickory hardwood dance floors that transport guests to a time of top hats, tails, spats and elbow-length silk gloves. Owners Jan Lampe and Alex Aillon are pleased to be a part of the Fred Astaire family and are overwhelmed by Portland’s immediate response to the opening of Oregon’s only Fred Astaire Dance Studio.

On April 29, Fred Astaire hosted Portland Uncorked, a social club for wine enthusiasts to meet new friends & network with others who love wine. It was an unusual twist on the usual Thursday night guest party. The evening was filled with gourmet Mexican fare, wine pairings and hot dance lessons at the studio. Over 200 guests enjoyed a night of delicious wine, salsa and even hotter salsa on the dance floor!

Fred Astaire’s Portland location has also been featured on two popular TV programs. Drew Carney, KGW News Channel 8’s “Out and About” reporter, broadcasted live from the studio for two hours Monday, May 10. Drew learned the Rumba in a short time and in his final segment performed his new found dance skills with Fred Astaire instructor, Jessi Reynolds. On Thursday, May 13, two instructors visited the KOIN TV Studio 6 set and performed the Tango and Swing for viewers. FADS Portland is one of the sponsors of “Weddings Portland Style.” The NW Examiner and The Oregonian have both featured articles about the opening of the new dance studio.

Portland’s Fred Astaire location was featured as a daily deal on the ever-popular Groupon site. The studio received such an outpouring of interest, management had to contact Groupon to end the deal once 1500 Groupons had been purchased! The studio has been extremely busy as these new customers visit for their lessons!

Thursday, May 20 is the official Grand Opening celebration for the studio. An evening of champagne, hors d'œuvres and dance exhibition will entertain local celebrities, press, students and friends of the studio. The studio will be offering a $20.00 grand opening special during the festivities, with all proceeds benefiting Young Audiences of Portland and SW Washington. Young Audiences connects classroom teachers with over 200 skilled residency and performing artists who provide programs in multiple artistic disciplines and cultures. Together they use the arts to make learning come alive for their students. Through Young Audiences' Run For The Arts, schools raise the funds to bring artists into their classrooms, pay for field trips to see performances and exhibitions and purchase art supplies. The studio is expecting over 200 people to this fabulous event and will present the donation at The Governor Hotel’s Heritage Ballroom during Young Audiences annual variety show, Mad Hot Anything Goes on Saturday, May 22.

The Dance Studio has been a flurry of activity since it’s soft opening on April 6. Information and news clips covering Fred Astaire’s Portland location are frequently updated on Facebook at Fred Astaire Dance Studio – Portland.

What to Expect at Your First Ballroom Dance Lesson


by: Meg Sommers

If you're new to ballroom dancing, you might be a little apprehensive coming to your first lesson at a dance studio. Exactly what happens? How difficult will it be? Who will be your instructor? What should you wear? Many questions will run through your mind. Here's some information to help you prepare.

When you arrive at the studio you'll be greeted by the studio manager and introduced to your instructor. In any of the Fred Astaire Dance Studios, teachers are experienced in teaching beginner students through advanced dancers. Your instructor will quickly make you feel at home in the studio environment.

You'll be asked if you have any short-term dance goals, such as an upcoming event or vacation, and what kind of music or dance styles you like. If you aren't sure which specific dances you want to try, your teacher will choose a few for you.

Don't worry if you haven't had prior dance experience; each figure will be broken down into very basic, natural movements. Under the guidance of your instructor, the lesson will never feel too fast or too slow and dull. It will go at your pace.

By the end of your first lesson, you'll probably be surprised just how easy it was to get started and you'll already be dancing a few steps in several different dances.

If you come alone, you'll get to dance the entire time with your “easy-to-dance-with” teacher. If you participate as a couple, your instructor will assign each of you your own responsibilities as the leader and follower so that you can succeed as a team on the dance floor.

You should wear comfortable clothes which allow easy movement. Dressing in layers is a good idea because as the session progresses, you'll get warm just as with any other exercise. You should wear shoes which fit securely on your feet – slingbacks and sandals are not good choices and rubber-soled shoes have a tendency to stick to the floor. So it's preferable to wear either a leather-soled shoe or, ideally, a ballroom dance shoe with suede sole. If you're a woman who normally wears a high heel when going out, we suggest you wear a similar heel height on your lesson.

Dance shoes aren't necessary for your first lesson, but if you'd like to shop ahead of time, we recommend you find and visit a local dance shoe store. They will help you select a pair of shoes appropriate for someone getting started in ballroom dancing.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

So You Think You Can Dance Premiere


The premiere of season seven (May 27, 2010) is coming up! Here’s the TV schedule!

Thursday, May 27 (8:00 PM – 10:00 PM) – Miami and New York City Auditions
Wednesday, June 2 (8:00 PM – 10:00 PM) – Chicago and Los Angeles Auditions
Thursday, June 3 (8:00 PM – 10:00 PM) – Nashville and Dallas Auditions, Vegas Callbacks Part I
Wednesday, June 9 (8:00 PM – 10:00 PM) – Vegas Callbacks Part II, Top 10 Reveal (Judges going to their houses)
Thursday, June 10 (9:00 PM – 10:00 PM) – Top 10 Intro Show

- Auditions actually went chronologically as: New York, Miami, Dallas, Nashville, Chicago, Los Angeles
- Schedule for the actual competition: performances Wednesdays 8pm (2 hours), results Thursdays 9pm (1 hour)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Let's Dance

Vida Vongsay’s real office doesn’t have any furniture, computers, calendars or other typical cubicle items. She doesn’t do much sitting, either.

Instead, Vongsay, a retired competitive dancer, teaches students of all ages from across Northeast Florida the art of dancing.

“That’s my office,” Vongsay said, pointing to an open dance studio with a mirrored wall and wood floor. “That’s where I am.”

Vongsay is a franchise owner of Fred Astaire Dance Studios, named after the famed Broadway and film actor and dancer. At her Arlington studio, she instructs dance of all varieties, from ball room and salsa to line dancing and the tango.

Students come to the studio to learn for special events, such as cruises and weddings, or simply to learn. Some are apprehensive.

“I always ask them, ‘Can you walk? Does your heart beat?’,” she said. “When they say ‘yes,’ then I tell them they can dance.”

While business at the studio was down somewhat last year because of the economy, business has picked up.

Vongsay has been dancing for 17 years and teaching for six, and couldn’t be happier.

“I love it,” she said. “Some people are asked what they would be doing if they weren’t doing their regular job, but I can’t see myself doing anything else.”

She’s incorporating that love into playing a key role in two upcoming events that prominently feature dance: the Jacksonville “Dancing with the Stars” competition May 1 to benefit Pine Castle and the “Celebrate Asia! 2010” event May 8 at the Hyatt.

For the local “Dancing with the Stars” competition, Vongsay and her staff have been training local celebrity amateur dancers who have garnered votes online and will be judged in person during the event. Proceeds will benefit Pine Castle, a nonprofit that assists adults with developmental disabilities.

“It’s going to be great,” she said.

She’s equally enthusiastic about the “Celebrate Asia! 2010” event that will commemorate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May. Vongsay is chair of the event and has been planning the most minute of details.

The celebration, which she expects will be a full house, will feature dance, music, food and entertainment from a number of countries.

“A lot of Asians love to dance,” she said as she adjusts a dragon costume in a spare room. “We’ve been working hard to make sure everyone will have a fantastic time. We have a lot of big names who will be there.”

Vongsay is enjoying the multiple tasks of event preparation and teaching.

“I just love what I do,” she said.

Monday, May 17, 2010

At 88, she got up off the floor to dance again


Posted: May 14, 2010 (5) Comments

Move over, Betty White.

Octogenarian Sara Shipe of Grafton - she's 88, same as Betty - gets the spotlight now.

White is coming off last week's wildly successful hosting job at "Saturday Night Live." Agreed, she was fabulous and funny.

But Shipe - who may be to ballroom dancing what White is to comedy - is no slouch, either. Topping off months of recovery from multiple pelvis and elbow fractures, she donned a sparkling dress and her dancing shoes and fox-trotted her way out of a Cedarburg rehabilitation center last month.

"It felt pretty good after lying in bed all that time," she said.

Now she's back to weekly dance lessons at Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Mequon and working out again with a personal trainer.

"I'm not quite there yet, but we're getting there," she said of her old dancing form.

Shipe took up ballroom dancing just two years ago and did well enough in a Milwaukee competition last December to win a championship trophy for an age group of dancers up to 25 years younger than she.

Shipe's daughter and fellow dancing student, Susie Rugg of the Town of Grafton, said that during that same period, her mother overcame a stroke, breast cancer surgery and radiation.

"And all this time, she kept dancing," Rugg said.

Shortly after winning a trophy for her "smooth" dances - the waltz, tango and fox trot - last December, Shipe took a spill while hauling a case of soda from her garage into the house where she lives independently. Her daughter was alerted by Shipe's personal trainer, who said Shipe didn't show up for her usual three-times-a-week workout.

The news wasn't good.

Shipe, who said she was on the garage floor for about an hour, doesn't remember much. But her daughter said she was in a lot of pain from elbow fractures and two fractures in her pelvis. She couldn't walk, let alone dance. She was hospitalized for a while and then spent three months at Cedar Springs Health and Rehabilitation Center.

Brooke Engelhart, therapy director at the center, said a therapist caught on to Shipe's interest in dancing and used that for motivation. And wouldn't you know? A new certified nursing assistant at the home, Jacob Schwanz, had been a Fred Astaire dance instructor and knew Shipe from the Mequon center.

Schwanz, 21, happily agreed to dance with Shipe on her last day in rehab, even if he wasn't scheduled to work that day. Rugg brought in her mother's outfit - a white gown glittering with crystals and small-heeled dancing shoes - and fixed her hair and makeup. She looked as glamorous as, well, Betty White.

Then, in front of staff, other patients and family, the pair of Schwanz and Shipe stepped out for the 90-second turn on the dance floor.

"It was really inspiring," Rugg said.

But that's her mom.

Shipe, mother of four, was a teacher and elementary school principal in Pennsylvania before retiring. Ten years ago, she moved to Grafton, near her daughter, needing a lift in life.

Rugg, who's been a gym teacher, dance team coach, diver dreaming of the Olympics, mother of two, homemaker and, currently, a psychotherapist, set an example. She turned to dancing first.

Rugg, 62, said she was overweight and a longtime smoker who finally took a look at herself five years ago.

"I said, 'That's it!' I declared food my enemy and threw away my cigarettes. I refused to die a chubby old, frumpy woman."

Rugg began to dance, hired a trainer and lost 55 pounds, so far. She's gone on to national competitions twice, she said - taking third place in rhythm dance routines last year behind two 18-year-olds who took first and second.

Shipe said after watching her daughter - "she looked so good" - she decided to do the same thing. She describes her daughter as "a lot better, more agile." Rugg returns the compliment, saying her mother is "extremely graceful," but someone who can "put on the ham" for applause, too.

"Dancing with the Stars" is must-see TV for these two, and Shipe bragged that she danced with Tony Dovolani - one of the show's professional dancers who this season was paired with Kate Gosselin.

"I was better than she," Shipe said, and who's to argue? Gosselin and Dovolani were booted from the mix last month.

As if to warm up to the challenge of overcoming broken bones, Shipe and Rugg both recalled a near disastrous accident at a dance competition earlier in 2009. Shipe caught her heel in a hallway rug. She tripped and flew up against a wall, cutting her forehead and requiring 33 stitches.

"This woman's crazy!" Rugg said, recalling how her mother danced the next day anyway.

"She said, 'Maybe I'll get some sympathy votes for it,'" Rugg recalled.

So the show - and the dance -goes on.

Three Things Most People Don't Know About Ballroom Dancing


By: Blaze Smith

First, it improves your poise and the presence that you take with you. It makes you more comfortable with your appearance and physique. If you get past your fear of dancing in front of many people, you become at ease in situations like meeting new people, speaking in front of a crowd, and sharing your knowledge to others. People around you become intrigued, fascinated, and see you in a different way than the way you perceive yourself. You're no longer afraid of the way you speak, the way you write or the way you craft a software program. A lot of people have gotten away from understanding how their physical presence is being observed by other people.
Next, taking dance lessons can be good for releasing stress. Many people are worried that they're unsure if they can make it. It's actually a simple thing to do. You start to relax and you become absorbed as the music is played. You dance with a nice person that's in front of you, remember the steps, and think about the laws of dance from your teacher. It's like playing a sports activity. It's very absorbing for a lot of people. The rest of the world may not melt away but your problems or issues tend to go away. Unlike meditating wherein you're in a sleep state, dancing makes you very focused and connected especially if you like the music or the song. It's like being in a car, singing out loud while driving fast! It's a "��yes"�� moment yet safer. You're also invigorating your body and building those endorphins out there. Everybody knows that those make you feel better. It's like watching a good movie that makes you laugh. Instead of just sitting and watching, you become part of the movie wherein you are actually moving around yourself. It really takes you into another place.

Lastly, if you follow and listen to your teacher's suggestions, it definitely gets you to use your core muscles and be more aware of working on your posture. Some people find they lose a couple of inches around their waists after toning these areas. They look slimmer & taller and fit into clothes differently. It's an aerobic exercise wherein you will burn off calories and lose weight if you come to the studio regularly. Even if you're not worried about losing weight, you get to tighten and tone your muscles especially the midsection area.

Let's go dancing!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dancing With The Stars - Era Night!

By Natasha Oreshkina, co-owner of the Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Syracuse, New York.

This week, the couples did two routines and I was happy to see that Nicole Scherzinger finally earned a 10 from Len Goodman! Nicole and Derek are now in first place with 59 points out of 60. Close behind are Evan Lysacek & Anna Trebunskaya and Erin Andrews & Maksim Chmerkovskiy.

Nicole Scherzinger & Derek Hough (total score: 59/60)
Nicole's first dance was a Foxtrot and it was a joy to watch. Nicole and Derek portrayed a nice love story. She looked great without any stress. For their second routine, they danced a 1950s Paso Doble. I didn't know how they were going to pull that one off but the dance was perfect. I have no critiques!

Evan Lysacek & Anna Trebunskaya (total score: 53/60)
Evan's first dance was a Waltz. I didn't care for this dance's choreography. In my opinion, waltzes should be more progressive, flowing across the floor, but Evan's dance didn't have that kind of movement. Then he danced a futuristic Cha-cha. Usually, Evan's Latin dances are weaker than his ballroom dances but in this case, his futuristic movements worked very well.

Erin Andrews & Maksim Chmerkovskiy (total score: 53/60)
Erin's first dance, a Tango, was great. She had phenomenal legs and she pulled off a difficult, entertaining jump in the beginning. I really enjoyed the choreography. For her second routine, she danced an 80s Rumba. This was another dance with great choreography. Erin and Maks looked good together. She was very flexible with beautiful top lines. Her dance was smooth and lyrical.

Chad Ochocinco & Cheryl Burke (total score: 45/60)
Chad's Tango needed more polish. I loved the presentation but he needed to work more on the character of the dance and the connection with his partner. His 60s Jive was very high energy and a good dance overall.

Niecy Nash & Louis van Amstel (total score: 43/60) ELIMINATED
Niecy's Viennese Waltz was very pretty but she needed more flowing actions and her transitions weren't clear enough. There was too much pull and push in the dance. Her 1990s Paso Doble didn't have enough control and balance. The dance's choreography was difficult with interesting elements but I didn't care for the music and it didn't seem to fit Niecy's personality.

It is important to show the style and technique of each dance and I'm happy to see that ALL the couples have improved each week with that. Next week, it's the semi-final round!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dancing With The Stars - College Competition Night!


Monday, 10 May 2010 04:57

AUBURN — DeKalb High School graduate Lincoln Slentz will show off his mambo moves during the results show of “Dancing with the Stars” Tuesday at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Slentz, a chemistry major, is part of Purdue University’s Latin and Ballroom Dance Team.

He is one of eight people selected to perform a minute-and-a-half routine as part of an amateur college dance competition. The routine will take place in front of a live TV audience during the reality show, which features amateur celebrity dancers partnered with professionals.

If Purdue wins the competition, the team will appear on the final show May 25.

Dan Rutherford, who teaches at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Indianapolis, told Purdue coaches Daniel Dilley and Yuehwern Yih about the opportunity to compete on the show. Only undergraduate students are allowed to participate. Older students, who had intended to apply, were ineligible. So, Slentz and seven others were asked to learn a mambo routine.

The group started practicing the dance two weeks ago.

“It’s not one of my favorites, but it’s a lot of fun,” Slentz said. “It’s a dance I’m not used to doing. … The technique is slightly different than what I’m used to.”

Slentz spent four years in DeKalb High School’s show choir and band, and his desire to perform didn’t leave when he turned his tassle to graduate.

“I absolutely love performing for people. It’s something that I’ve loved to do forever. It’s a passion of mine. After studying for an entire semester, I wasn’t getting that,” Slentz said.

“Lincoln is a great kid,” said his high school choir director, Shelley Johnson. “He’s an all-around excellent music student. … One of those kids you never want to have leave your program. He’s still got the bug to perform.”

Slentz often participated in musicals and had the lead role in “Hair” during his sophomore year at Purdue.

After seeing a flier advertising a call-out for the dance team early in his college career, he joined the group.

“I’d had no ballroom experience at all. I had little bits of framework, but didn’t really know what I was doing,” Slentz said. He added that he had an occasional tap-dance or hip-hop lesson.

He and his partner, Tracy Matz, go to lessons twice a week and then practice between six and 15 hours per week. He learned the routine for “Dancing with the Stars,” but can’t give away too many secrets.

“We learned it. Quickly is a relative term. We practiced a lot. In the grand scheme of things, we probably learned it quickly,” Slentz said.

Slentz and his fellow dancers will fly to Hollywood Monday morning.

“It will be nonstop until we take a red-eye back sometime Tuesday night,” Slentz said.

“We’re all very nervous. We’re all very excited, too. I won’t say it trumps how much we’re nervous. The girls are going to be basket cases, and we’ll probably be freaking out, too,” Slentz said.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Students show off their best moves at ballroom dance competition

from (Ft. Myers, FL):

By Evangelia Ganosellis • eganosellis@news- • May 9, 2010

1:10 A.M. — For 72 fifth-graders from six local elementary schools, Saturday was all about the

For two hours, all eyes were on them as they did their best tango, merengue, fox trot, rumba and swing.

For 10 weeks, they'd practiced ballroom dancing for the Dancing Classrooms program, a national
initiative administered locally by The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools.

Saturday's event, Colors of the Rainbow, was their grand finale.

Students represented their schools by wearing certain colors while they danced.

But it wasn't all about dancing. The program is intended to help kids build confidence and social

"It gives our kids an opportunity that they otherwise wouldn't have," said Ronda Martin, assistant principal at Tice Elementary.

Along with Tice, students from Bonita Springs, J. Colin English, Spring Creek, Franklin Park and
Edgewood elementary schools competed.

Six girls were paired with six boys from each school.

"At the beginning it was kind of weird because we had to touch each other, but then we got over our fears," said 11-year-old Vanessa Cambiano from Spring Creek Elementary.

For Cambiano, the best part of the program was getting to know the other kids.

Taurick Bautista, 11, also of Spring Creek, agreed.

"I had plenty of fun," he said. "We all kind of had a good time and just hung out."

Parents, teachers and administrators cheered the students as they glided around the tile floor of
Miromar Design Center in Estero.

Some shook pom poms, and others waved signs as they rooted for dancers.

But the crowd roared as everyone shouted out the color their child or student represented, in hopes of swaying the judges' opinions.

Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah, Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington and Circuit Judge Kathy Sturgis judged Saturday's dance competition.

In the end, Bonita Springs Elementary came out on top.

"It was so much fun," said Parker Hazen, a Bonita Springs Elementary student.

Although he wasn't a dancer before, ballroom dancing came easy to the 11-year-old, with swing
his favorite.

His least favorite? "I don't hate any of them," he said. "I like them all."

DWTS Formation Team Showdown!!!

Vote Tomorrow!

On the May 11th episode of Dancing With The Stars, Purdue University's Ballroom and Latin Formation Team, coached by FADS Area Developer Dan Rutherford, will face off against UC San Diego's Dancesport Team as part of an amateur college dance competition. The winners will then move on to the final round on May 25th.

Dan has coached the Purdue Team for the past seven years, and they are currently the #1 Rhythm team in the country! The eight dancers on this formation team will be dancing the Mambo on Tuesday night. Please cast your vote for Purdue and tell your students to tune in and vote also!

Stepping In Time!

Read here how one man rediscovered his love of dance.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Dancing With The Stars - Cha-Cha Challenge!

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.

I was impressed by Monday night's performances. Everyone did a great job compared to last week. I saw a big improvement in all couples.

Pamela Anderson & Damian Whitewood
This couple was eliminated this week. They danced the slow waltz. Their dance was graceful and flowing. I really saw the elegant, romantic character of the dance. Pamela's footwork improved but her upper body position needed to be stronger. Score: 24.

Niecy Nash & Louis van Amstel
Their Quickstep was great. This dance is usually hard to perform because of its high speed. Niecy's Quickstep was light and she had good rhythm throughout the dance. However, they lost contact during the chasse. Score: 25

Chad Ochocinco & Cheryl Burke
His posture was much improved this week. He looked stronger and taller (maybe because Tony Dovolani worked with him!) He had good arms during his Viennese Waltz and his lines were extended. During the turns, however, he collapsed his spine so that was why his hips looked as if they'd dropped down too much. Score: 25

Erin Andrews & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Erin's Quickstep was very interesting and dynamic. She had good rhythm throughout however there was some problem with syncopation during the chasse where her position collapsed and her upper body moved too much. Score: 27

Nicole Scherzinger & Derek Hough
Nicole gave a great performance! Her slow waltz was elegant and smooth. I saw swing action, rise and fall, and flowing movement. I would've liked to see more connection between the partners, especially during the rotations. Score: 27

Evan Lysacek & Anna Trebunskaya
Evan's Argentine Tango was dynamic, aggressive, and sexy. He had great footwork and sharp action. Score: 30

Cha-Cha Challenge!
The Cha-Cha challenge was a great idea. It was new for the couples to work together as a team.

Lady GaGa Team: They were nice and strong. They changed the picture during the dance by traveling around the floor. It was interesting and dynamic to watch. They had a good speed and the couples had a great connection with each other.

Madonna Team: This team wasn't as good as the Lady GaGa team. I didn't feel they were as dynamic. They seemed heavier and didn't move around the floor as much. Also, their technique was not as good as the other team.

Next week: All couples will be dancing 2 dances. One of those dances will be from a specific decade. Maks & Erin will be dancing the Swing from the '80s.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Competition Videos Now Online!

Videos from the Fred Astaire Dance Studios national competition, Cross Country Dance Championships, are now online! Click here to view the video gallery.

Stepping' Out With Tony Dovolani

from (Fairfield, CT):

He spends a lot of his time in Hollywood—in rehearsals, costume fittings, television appearances, choreography sessions, performances and training practices—but the Dancing With the Stars professional dancer calls Stamford his home

s soon as Tony Dovolani arrives at Stamford’s Parkway Diner, the lunch crowd begins to eat him up like the blue-plate special. A fan checks her false eyelashes and asks the Dancing with the Stars celebrity to pose for a picture. A group of middle-aged men discreetly text their wives. One beckons Tony to their booth with a special request: “She’s a huge fan,” he says about his wife as he hands Tony his BlackBerry and asks him to say hi.

The ballroom star has just gotten off a plane. He hasn’t seen his wife and three adorable kids in days, and he’s racked up enough frequent-flier miles in the past year to make him a first-class grouch. Still, his mood in the diner is relaxed and gregarious. “It’s me, Tony Dovolani from ABC’s Dancing with the Stars,” he says into the BlackBerry. “And I am here at the diner in Stamford where I used to work.”

This casual eatery on High Ridge Road, once called the Country Diner, is the place where Tony likes to say he took his “first steps.” It was here that the teenage Tony, a refugee from the war in Kosovo, learned English waiting tables. It is the place where the proud ethnic Albanian figured out a distinctly American truism: “If you make people happy, you get great tips and make a lot more money, which I did.”

And Stamford is where he got his first taste of the salsa, the rumba and the cha-cha. Those sexy, powerful Latin dances would take Tony to the highest levels in international ballroom competition, making him a two-time world champion in American Rhythm style.

That title—as well as his dark good looks and abundant charm—would earn him his first turn as a professional partner on ABC’s popular reality ballroom competition. There, his nine-season quest (so far) for the tacky but coveted mirror-ball trophy would make him as much of a star as some of the major and minor celebrities he waltzed into the studio ballroom on our TV screens. And it all began in Stamford, says Tony, of his improbable rise from diner dishwasher to ballroom’s leading man.

Tony, who lived in Stamford for sixteen years after his family’s 1989 escape from Kosovo, has a story that is captivating for its Hollywood-movie plot lines. And we haven’t even covered the part where he proposed to his wife, Lina, on their first date, taught actor Richard Gere how to waltz and played ballroom bad boy in the 2004 movie Shall We Dance?

“If someone told you his story—that he escaped to this country when he was just fifteen and became a star—people might think you were making it up,” says John DePalma, one of Tony’s first ballroom instructors in Stamford. “It is such an American dream story it almost seems impossible. But it’s all true. And if you knew Tony, you would understand how he made it all possible. He is that determined a guy.”

Coming to America
Raised in Kosovo’s capital of Pristina, Tony (born Ditron) was the middle child in a middle-class family of ethnic Albanian Muslims. He led a life of privilege until his homeland was fractured by political and social conflict in the 1980s. His father Munir’s elite status as chief executive at a computer company made the Dovolanis targets for persecution, arrest, even murder. “We had to leave,” Tony says. “We were very much in danger and we had no choice.”

Granted political asylum, Tony, his father, younger brother Fisnik and older sister Laura came straight to Stamford. (Tony’s parents are divorced and his mother remains in Kosovo.) Here the family had the support of Tony’s uncles, established stonemasons, as well as the city’s tight-knit Albanian American community. “Christian, Muslim, it doesn’t matter. If you are Albanian, they are there for you.”

Despite the anchor of community, the upheaval was still enormous. “My dad went from being the chief executive to the doorman at the Regency Towers,” says Tony, who found work as a dishwasher and put his Kosovo dreams of being an architect on hold. In Pristina, math and science were his strongest subjects. Here, he tried Stamford High School but quit after four days. “It was a waste of time for me to learn things I already knew. My family needed the money more, so I walked out and went back to the diner.”

Quickly promoted to waiter, the job became his course in all things American. “I knew three words, ‘Hi, I’m Tony.’” He messed up orders, bringing out salmon instead of an omelet on his memorable first day. But he always learned from his mistakes and survived by turning his
limitations into entertainment for his customers. “I made fun of myself. If I screwed up, I laughed. If they made fun of me, I didn’t mind. I wanted to learn. I am a very firm believer that if you want to be in America, you have to embrace the culture … and I wanted better tips.”

Then, one fateful day, a diner cook showed Tony a flier. The former Fred Astaire Dance studio at the Ridgeway Shopping Center was offering a free lesson. Tony, who began studying Albanian dance at age three, worshiped iconic American dancers. “I loved Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. I loved Michael Jackson. To me, America was musicals and happiness. Seeing Fred Astaire’s image on the flier was enough for me to check it out.”

On the Dance Floor
“Let’s be honest here,” remembers John DePalma, who now owns the Metropolitan Dance Center at the Ridgeway and has been master of ceremonies on the PBS series Championship Ballroom Dancing. “Tony had more on his agenda than dance lessons. He also wanted to meet girls. Tony came to class wearing piles of gold chains, hip-hop clothes and spoke with a crude accent that made him sound like he was taking English classes in the Bronx.”

But when he danced, those rough edges were smoothed away. “We were all like, ‘Wow,’” recalls John. “Tony had no inhibitions when he moved. He just got it.”

John says his teenage student was remarkable for his equal commitment to ballroom dancing and family. “Every time it was time for Tony to sign up for a new series of lessons, he would say, ‘First, let me go home and talk to my father.’ This was a family where everyone had to turn over their paycheck. But every time, Tony would come back and say, ‘My father would like me to continue.’”

Within a year, with his sights already set on professional dancing, Tony asked John about teaching, a bold request considering his lack of experience. “But there wasn’t a lot to discuss,” says John. “He was already better than most of the professionals on our staff.”

Teaching would pay for Tony’s lessons and his first professional coach, Marianne Nicole, John’s wife. For nine years, while Tony taught and prepared for competition, he stayed at the diner for the tips, which grew as he entertained his customers, dancing his way to tables with plates lined up his arms.

In the meantime Tony began competing, first in American Smooth. Then he switched to Latin-themed American Rhythm when he partnered with Elena Grinenko. They won their world titles —a rarity for American dancers—in 2005 and 2006. “It was my proudest moment,” says Tony, who received the call to join the Dancing with the Stars cast shortly after the first title. “I felt like I was finally giving something back to this country.”

Tony’s fellow Dancing with the Stars professional Maksim “Maks” Chmerkovskiy says his best friend’s success has everything to do with his experience fleeing an oppressive regime. “When you come over here the way he did, dodging bullets, you take nothing for granted,” says Maks, who emigrated from Ukraine. “And Tony is an athlete. To get to the top of your game, in any professional sport, you don’t go out there thinking, ‘Oh I hope I come in second.’ You want to win.”

Tony reluctantly left Stamford four years ago as his TV career took off. Since the job and his other commitments require so much travel, he wanted his growing family closer to his siblings who now live near Stamford. “I think it kind of amuses the neighbors that one night I’m on T42V, and the next day they see me pulling in the driveway.”

Feeling at Home
“When I left Kosovo, Stamford really became my home and I miss it,” says Tony. “I like the vibe and the energy. I have my old students. My coaches. A lot of people who are important to me.”

High on that list is Charlotte Johnston, a teacher at Turn of River Middle School. Tony calls his former ballroom student “my second mother.” She is honorary grandmother, or “TuTu,” to his children, and she often drives him back and forth to the airport. They became close after Tony coaxed her into taking a dance lesson with him at Stamford’s former Terrace Club, where they both went to dance social ballroom on weekend nights. They ended up touring the United States together as a winning Pro/Am team. “Charlotte taught me English, while I taught her to dance,” Tony says.

Charlotte remembers a confident instructor eager to learn the American way. “Sometimes he would be in the studio and say something and immediately know it was wrong or off somehow. He would say, ‘Charlotte, what did I say? What did I do?’ He would ask me questions and I would explain things to him.”

Nothing about Tony’s success surprises Charlotte, including his choice to stay close to Stamford. “He is comfortable with a simple, middle-class life. Happy to come home to his family. He doesn’t have a need for a lot more,” she says.

Tony’s marriage to Lina, a doe-eyed fellow Albanian he met on a blind date arranged by his sister, has been a strong foundation as his fame grew, his close friends say. For years Tony was known for his playboy ways on and off the dance floor, but he seems to have settled easily into the role of family man. “I knew the minute I saw her walking across the parking lot that she was my wife,” says Tony.

The downside to celebrity is the lack of time Tony can give to his family. When we first met, he had flown home on a red-eye flight after Dancing with the Stars rehearsals. Though exhausted and eager to see his children—Luana, Adrian Ditron and Ariana—he sat down to chat and did not complain. “I wanted this,” he says. “All of it. I did it for my family and I embrace it. I don’t have a lot of patience for celebrities who complain, who won’t sign autographs or do interviews. I don’t understand it at all. I am like, ‘Excuse me? Didn’t you want to be famous?’”

Which explains his latest act. After Tony taught Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez and Stanley Tucci to dance for their roles in Shall We Dance?, he was cast in the film in the small but memorable part of Slick Willy. He liked the role enough to pursue more film work. Last month he began filming Pumping Up, an Angel Light Pictures production.

Yet Tony has no designs on leaving Dancing with the Stars. “I love the show, and I will come back as long as they will have me,” he says.
The guy from the diner still has that mirror-ball trophy to win.