Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dancing With The Stars, Season 11 Commentary

Week Two

By Natasha Oreshkina, award winning ballroom dancer

Michael Bolton was eliminated this week although I thought he got better since the week before. His dance was a strange interpretation of the Jive. The choreography wasn't good for him. Bruno was too mean and his comments were too tough. The problems with the dance wasn't Michael's fault. Chelsie created the choreography and it just wasn't a good idea.

"The Situation" danced a Quick Step for a score of 18. Compared to last week, he improved but he needs to work on his balance and musicality next week.

Margaret Cho danced the Jive for a score of 18. This style of dance worked better for her since personality plays a big part in the Jive. She seemed more relaxed and was much improved in general.

Florence Henderson danced the Quick Step for a score of 19. What a beautiful woman! She can really move and dance! She made the Quick Step look easy and elegant.

Three couples got the same score when they did the Jive: Brandy, Kurt Warner, and Eric Fox. Brandy's Jive was not as good as her dance last week. I was expecting more from her. Maybe "Latin" is not a good style for her. Her outfit was also a little strange. There are some technical points that she needs to work on, including pointing her toes. It seemed as if the Smooth style worked better for Brandy than Latin.

Kurt Warner performed better than he did last week. This dance was better suited for his style. It looked like he was having fun!

Eric Fox's Jive was good, an especially hard dance for a big guy. His dance was full of energy.

Kyle Massey and Bristol Palin both danced the Quick Step and both got a score of 22. I still don't see Bristol as a performer. She needs more confidence but she's working hard. Kyle is a great guy! He made this week's dance look awesome, just like last week. He has excelled in both styles of dance. Although his was not a classical Quick Step, it was still fun to watch.

Audrina Patridge's Quick Step (score 23) was lovely. She looks like a dancer.

Jennifer Grey is still in first place with a score of 24. Her Jive, which had difficult choreography, was incredible to watch. She looked amazing.

Looking forward to next week. Feel free to post comments and I will answer back!

What To Expect...

What to expect at your first ballroom dance lesson

If you're new to ballroom dancing, you might be a little nervous about your first lesson at a Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Many questions will run through your mind. What will happen? How difficult will it be? What should you wear? Here's some information to help you prepare.

What to expect when you arrive

When you arrive at the Fred Astaire Dance Studios your instructor will quickly make you feel at home in the studio environment.
You'll be asked if you have an upcoming event or vacation, and what kind of music or dance styles you like as well as what your short-term dance goals are. 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. Under the direction and guidance of your instructor, the lesson will never feel too fast or too slow and boring. The instructor will go at your pace.
If you partake as a couple, your instructor will give each of you your own responsibilities as the leader and follower so that you can succeed as a team on the dance floor.
By the end of your first lesson, you'll probably be amazed just how easy it was to get started and you'll already be dancing a few steps in several different dances.


Wear comfortable clothes to allow easy movement. Dress in layers 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. Sandal, slingbacks and flipflops are not good choices. If you usually wear high heels when going out, we suggest you wear a similar heel height on your lesson.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Burn The Floor

from the Sacramento Bee (CA):

'Burn the Floor,' in Sacramento through Oct. 10, turns ballroom dance on its head
Published Monday, Sep. 27, 2010

It's been more than a decade since producer Harley Medcalf created "Burn the Floor," a Broadway dance production that makes its next stop Wednesday night in Sacramento. He remembers ballroom dance as a dusty art form the public rarely talked about back then.

"In 1999, when you mentioned the word 'ballroom,' people would look at you like you were crazy," said Medcalf.

Then professional dancers started stepping into the limelight, starring in reality TV shows like "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Dancing With the Stars." Almost overnight, the buzz surrounding the dance genre had been reignited.

"It's the new rock 'n' roll," he said.

Premiering in Bournemouth, England, "Burn the Floor" has sold millions of tickets in more than 30 countries and 160 cities. The two-hour production takes audiences on a journey through the evolution of ballroom, from the Viennese waltz and fox trot to the cha-cha and samba. Two vocalists and two percussionists also perform throughout the show.

Directed by ballroom dance champion Jason Gilkison, the dance numbers are split into two acts and four segments. It starts with a comparison between traditional ballroom and what the company does, moves into the swing clubs and the Latin Quarter, and ends with current ballroom expression.

Medcalf said the show tries to step away from the predictability of a ballroom competition, making the dances more about each dancer's personality and unique form of expression.

"What we're looking for are the rebels of the ballroom dance floor," he said. "They're doing things outside the expected norms of a ballroom competition."

Seven of this production's dance "rebels" are from the hit show "So You Think You Can Dance." (The show forces dancers to perform outside of their genre.)

"It's a dance company, but no one is forced to be like the person next to you,' said Anya Garnis, a finalist on Season 3 of "So You Think You Can Dance." Garnis joined the Broadway production last year with dance partner Pasha Kovalev.

Also included in this year's touring production is Robbie Kmetoni, a contemporary dancer and winner of this year's "So You Think You Can Dance Australia."

The piece Kmetoni performs in the opening act of "History Repeating" with salsa dancer Janette Manrara is a fusion of cha-cha and contemporary dance.

"Some of the lifts and throws they do in that number are death-defying," Medcalf said.

"Burn for You," a rumba performed by Garnis and Kovalev, also puts a contemporary spin on the traditional ballroom dance style.

Garnis said there is no overall story line to the production; each number acts as a short story that's left up to the audience to interpret.

She said both the reality television show and "Burn the Floor" have opened up her mind about ballroom dance.

"It's ballroom reinvented," said Garnis. "We try to push boundaries."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dancing With The Stars, Season 11 Commentary

Week One
By Natasha Oreshkina, award winning ballroom dancer

Opening night for the new season was a great kick off with 12 celebrities, ranging from actors and actresses, athletes, singers, and reality TV stars, performing, and this season looks like it will be much stronger than the last season!

After the show, I quickly divided up all the couples into three different categories based on their performances.

I placed three couples in the "Needs Improvement" category: Margaret Cho, "The Situation," and David Hasselhoff.
Margaret Cho (along with partner Louis van Amstel) danced the Viennese Waltz to a very strong piece of music but she made it into a comedy and this wasn't good for the V. Waltz. Her dance wasn't smooth or elegant and I wouldn't be surprised if she was eliminated early.
"The Situation" (with partner Karina Smirnoff) did not have enough time to practice his dance. Although Karina, because she is such a strong professional dancer, can make anyone look good, "The Situation" needs to concentrate on his posture and focus on being a strong leader.
David Hasselhoff (with partner Kym Johnson) danced the Cha-Cha. He is a great actor but he needs to work more on his posture and concentrate on timing. Dancing is not just entertainment; there has to be some technique there as well.

Six couples fall under the "Has Potential" category: Michael Bolton, Florence Henderson, Kurt Warner, Bristol Palin, Audrina Patridge, and Brandy. All of these dancers did a great job for the first week!
Michael Bolton (with Chelsie Hightower) has musicality but I was expecting more from him. We use a lot of his songs to dance to! His dance wasn't smooth and he did not have good posture. He also wasn't leading his partner.
Florence Henderson (with Corky Ballas) was very focused and is definitely a hard worker. It will be interesting to see what Corky, who is a very strong choreographer, will do with her since she is so willing to work hard.
Kurt Warner (with Anna Trebunskya) danced the Viennese Waltz. I didn't like his performance. He was too stiff. I didn't see any flow or elegance to his movement.
Bristol Palin (with Mark Ballas) had good hip movement in her Cha-Cha. She looked nice on the floor and not particularly stiff. She has a very strong professional partner so it'll be interesting to see how she progresses.
Audrina Patridge (with Tony Dovolani) was the first to dance last night. She performed well under a lot of pressure. I was happy to see that Tony has a much better partner than last season.
Brandy (with Maks Chmerkovskiy) danced the Viennesse Waltz. She seemed to be very focused. She looked fine and her lines were good but she wasn't as good as other couples performing the same dance.

I put three couples in the "Strongest" category: Kyle Massey, Eric Fox, and Jennifer Grey.
Kyle Massey (with Lacey Schwimmer) is the youngest celebrity on the show this season. He had the best Cha-Cha. It was a fun performance and he had good musicality. I was also happy to see that he had good technique. It'll be interesting to see how he does in ballroom. I suspect that his Latin dances will be stronger for him.
Eric Fox (with Cheryl Burke) had great posture! He holds his himself very nicely and his lines and movement were very smooth. I thought it would be hard for him because of the difference in Eric's and Cheryl's height) but his dancing was elegant and nice. There was a huge difference between Kurt and Eric - the two athletes on the show! Eric and Cheryl are one of the strongest couples in the competition.
Jennifer Grey (with Derek Hough) performed an emotional dance to music from the famous movie, Dirty Dancing. Her dance was very lyrical. Jennifer and Derek are another strong couple in this competition. I predict that she'll do well in Latin also.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Congratulations to these Fred Astaire couples for their outstanding results at this year’s United States Dance Championships!

Open To The World Professional Cabaret Championships
1st place – Eric Luna & Georgia Ambarian, Ft. Walton Beach, FL studio
2nd place – Jesse Benedetti & Kimalee Piedad, Ft. Walton Beach, FL studio
5th place – Vicente Martinez & Megan Murphy, Chicago Downtown, IL studio

US National Professional Cabaret Championships
1st place – Eric Luna & Georgia Ambarian, Ft. Walton Beach, FL studio
2nd place – Jesse Benedetti & Kimalee Piedad, Ft. Walton Beach, FL studio
4th place – Vicente Martinez & Megan Murphy, Chicago Downtown studio

Open Professional American Rhythm Championships
6th place - Ken Hansen & Christina Penatello, Westwood, NJ studio

Open Professional American Smooth Championships
3rd place – Mikhail Zharinov & Galina Detkina, NY East, NY studio

US Mambo Championships
2nd place – Brittney Bartler & Aleks Nashev, Buffalo Grove, IL studio

US National Professional Theatrical Dance Championships
1st place – Jesse Benedetti & Kimalee Piedad, Ft. Walton Beach, FL studio
3rd place – Justin Guilmette & Katie Guillen, Ft. Walton Beach, FL studio

Rising Star Professional American Rhythm Championships
1st place – Brittney Bartler & Aleks Nashev, Buffalo Grove, IL studio
5th place – Aaron DeSoto & Jaana Lillemagi, Buffalo Grove, IL studio
6th place – Ronald Guillen & Katie Guillen, Ft. Walton Beach, FL studio

Rising Star Professional American Smooth Championships
5th place – Chris Germain & Simona Polmova, Buffalo Grove, IL studio
6th place – Peter Hahn & Juliet Thibadeaux, Norwalk, CT studio

Friday, September 10, 2010

Odds To Win New Season Of Dancing With The Stars!


Top Three
Jennifer Grey & David Hough (7/2)
Rick Fox & Cheryl Burke (11/2)
Mike "the Situation" Sorrentino & Karina Smirnoff (7/1)

Pick to Win DWTS11
Jennifer Grey & David Hough (7/2)

Dancing With the Stars - Odds to win Season 11*
Audrina Patridge - 8/1
Brandy - 3/1
Bristol Palin - 20/1
"The Hoff" David Hasselhoff - 10/1
Florence Henderson - 25/1
Jennifer Grey - 7/2
Kyle Massey - 18/1
Kurt Warner - 20/1
Margaret Cho - 12/1
Michael Bolton - 10/1
Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino - 7/1
Rick Fox - 11/2

*odds courtesy of Bodog.

Local Duo Takes First in Dance Championship


Friday, September 3, 2010

Missy Keller and Joe Hasson are instructors at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Pinehurst.

The pair recently won the Astaire World Championships in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Hasson was exposed to ballroom dancing at an early age.

"Both of my parents are professional ballroom dancers and own Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Pinehurst," he says. "Whenever my parents taught, I was usually there, so it became a part of my life."

Keller, whom Joe Hasson taught, started her dance career at the age of 5 with ballet, tap and jazz.

"I continued dancing until I was 13," she says. "After three years, I missed dancing and wanted to learn ballroom dancing. I got addicted and at the age of 18, made the decision to become a professional."

Keller says that she competed as often as possible when she was a student.

"My first competition as a junior, I competed in the Word Pro-Am Dance Championships in the Bahamas, where I won my first amateur title," she says.

"Hard work and practice are important," says Hasson, who adds that he enjoys studying on his own and devotes most of his free time to practicing.

He also feels that eating right and extra workouts prior to a competition are helpful.

"I always visualize my routines and techniques," he says. "I have a third person watch and make suggestions."

Keller says she is still figuring out what works best for her.

"Performing is something I have always loved," she says. "The excitement of what lies ahead just before hitting the floor is an amazing feeling I can't describe."

Hasson says he had a good feeling about their chances of doing well going into the Astaire World Championships.

"We had the support of friends and family," he says.

Keller agrees that she expected to do well, but not necessarily to win.

"Keeping a positive attitude going into an event and throughout a performance is always a great attribute to have," she says, although she adds that she was a "nervous wreck" during the week leading into the competition.

Hasson and Keller competed against 14 other couples.

"I knew that we had to make the top six to be in the finals," Hasson says.

Keller says her favorite dance is the rumba.

"The character of the dance is one that I feel I can lose myself in," she says.

Hasson likes the mambo.

"I like the fun and excitement of the music, and the guy gets to be the cool one, showing off the lady," he says.

Keller says she was shocked when she learned they had won the championship.

"I feel it's definitely a good way to start my career, and it's a step in the right direction," she says.

Hasson adds, "It was fantastic, and I'm ready for the next one."

And at the next one - the International Grand Ball, in San Francisco, Calif. - he won first place in the Rising Star American Rhythm Division.

"Being a competitive dancer takes a specific desire and mindset," says Keller.

Hasson advises dancers to "just start."

"If you don't start you won't ever get there," he says. "There is a plan and a formula; you have to have guidance and practice, practice, practice. Being around competitive dancers from around the world, starting with my parents to today's world champs, has inspired me to compete at as high a level as it will take me."

And Keller and Hasson say that it's never too late to compete.

"Competitive ballroom dancing is something anyone of any age can accomplish with the right preparation," she says.

"If you want to compete there are competitions for every level," Hasson adds. "With the right dedication and desire, you can accomplish any of your dancing goals, as a social or competitive dancer."

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Applying Makeup For Ballroom Dance Performances


By Michelle Aveyard, eHow Contributor

Makeup for ballroom dance competitions must be more dramatic and heavily applied than day-to-day makeup, which can leave dancers looking washed out and pale under the bright stage lighting. The makeup must accentuate the dancers' features for judges and the audience, who will be sitting far away from the stage. Most makeup is applied to the female dancer's face, but her male partner does need to darken his skin for maximum visibility.

1.Apply skin tanner or bronzer to both male and female dancers' faces, to keep them from looking washed out under the lighting. Apply to all visible skin, including face, chest, arms and neck, to keep the complexion consistent.

2.Cover the woman's face with liquid foundation. Set with powder, to keep the makeup from running.

3.Apply a bright-colored blush to the woman's cheeks. Use a great deal more blush and a brighter color than you would typically use, to distinguish the cheeks and cheekbones.

4.Line the woman's eyes with a dark liner to accentuate their shape and make them seem to "pop" from the stage. Coat each lid and its inner crease with a bright-colored shadow. Attach artificial lashes to the upper lid with eyelash glue. Coat lashes with mascara.

5.Outline her lips with a dark lip liner. Fill in with a long-lasting, smudge-proof lipstick in a bright color. Finish with a shiny lip gloss.

Tips & Warnings
• The dancing as well as the lighting can cause the dancer to perspire, so look for foundations and powders that are long-lasting or waterproof.
• Use a stick or cream blush, which will last longer.
• Dancers often use more than one shade of eyeshadow, and will coordinate the colors with their costumes..

Things You'll Need
• Skin tanner or bronzer
• Foundation
• Powder
• Blush
• Eyeliner
• Mascara
• Eye shadow
• Artificial eyelashes
•Lip gloss

Ballroom Dance Etiquette


Etiquette and Beyond
Success in a social activity requires awareness of accepted norms of behavior. The importance of dance etiquette to the social dancer can hardly be overstated. Etiquette is important everywhere, but especially in dancing, a delicate activity where unpleasantness has no place.

Dance communities tend to be fairly small, giving a nice self-enforcing characteristic to dance etiquette. Inconsiderate individuals may temporarily enjoy themselves at other dancers' expense. But they quickly develop a reputation, mostly unbeknownst to them, and become outcasts. A good reputation, as a considerate and enjoyable partner, is a social dancer's best asset.

In the following we touch on a few of the more important aspects.

Never blame your partner for anything that may happen on the dance floor. Not if you want him/her to dance with you again.

A request for a dance must be accepted under almost all circumstances. If you decline a dance, you yourself cannot dance until the end of that song.

No unsolicited teaching on the dance floor! There is a good chance this will make your partner feel small and humiliated. Not exactly a great way of encouraging him/her, or others, to dance with you.

Do not monopolize a partner on the dance floor. Dancers are polite and rarely say no to a dance, but this is no carte blanche to impose on their kindness. Dance with everyone, and let everyone dance.

On the floor, be considerate of the other couples. Exercise good floorcraft; do not cut other couples off; no aerials or choreographed steps on the dance floor.

What we discussed so far is usually considered the domain of dance etiquette. Anyone who consistently violates the rules of dance etiquette will eventually be shunned in the local dance community, so the first step towards success in dancing is to follow the rules of dance etiquette. Once we have mastered the etiquette, it is time to move beyond it and learn what else can we do to become popular in the dancing circles. The remainder of this article is dedicated to that topic.

Audrina Partridge & Tony Dovolani Practice For DWTS


Audrina Patridge's 'Dancing With The Stars' Partner 'Pumps' Her Up
Former 'Hills' star says Tony Dovolani is 'such a great teacher.'

By Kara Warner (@karawarner)

Now that we know the season 11 "Dancing with the Stars" cast and the celeb/pro-dancer pairings, we're left wondering about partner chemistry and what dances the pairs will roll out when the show premieres September 20.

When MTV News caught up with Audrina Patridge between a flurry of photo shoots, wardrobe fittings and rehearsals recently, she said she's having a great time so far, particularly working with her dance pro, Tony Dovolani.

"He is amazing," she said. "He's such a great teacher. He's very professional, and we have a lot of fun together. It's really fun. I look forward to going to rehearsal every day."

Patridge added that dancing with a partner might spoil her for all other forms of dance. "I almost like dancing with a partner better, because they're leading you and you have someone next to you, so it pumps you up to dance and move to their movements," she explained. "I love it."

The former "Hills" star said she hasn't yet mastered a particular step — since they've only had a few days of rehearsals — but she's having fun learning so many new things. "[During our first rehearsal] I learned so many different things," she said. "It was really just getting to know my way of learning; I'm a visual learner."

One movement she said she's going to have to practice is spotting, a technique dancers use to focus their turns and keep from getting dizzy.

"I practiced doing all the pique turns, [but] I need to practice spotting, because I get a little dizzy," Patridge admitted. "Those are probably the most challenging for me right now: spotting and spinning without getting dizzy."

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

DWTS Pairings!

Jennifer Grey & Derek Hough

Bristol Palin & Mark Ballas

Brandy & Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Margaret Cho & Louis Van Amstel

Audrina Patridge & Tony Dovolani

Florence Henderson & Corky Ballas

Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino & Karina Smirnoff

Kurt Warner & Anna Trebunskaya

Rick Fox & Cheryl Burke

David Hasselhoff & Kym Johnson

Kyle Massey & Lacey Schwimmer

Michael Bolton & Chelsie Hightower