Published: Sunday, October 24, 2010, 6:00 AM
By Kathy Kemp -- The Birmingham News
Even on the telephone, Fabian Sanchez sounds like his hips swivel.
"Hey babe, what's up?" asks the Birmingham-area dance instructor, best known for his turn as actress Marlee Matlin's pro partner during their appearance in 2008 on "Dancing With the Stars."
But don't get the wrong idea. Fabian, 38, is a family man who loves talking about "my beautiful wife," Jackie, and their 8-year-old son, Ty. He's teaching his boy to play soccer, like he did as a child growing up in Colombia. Fabian's dad, Freddy, an architect, moved his family to Birmingham for a job when Fabian was 12. Check out Freddy's artwork at www.freddysanchezart.com.
Fabian and Jackie own and operate the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Hoover (979-4777). Although he no longer competes on the pro circuit, Fabian is a four-time Fred Astaire national champion and earned, with Christina Penatella, the title of World Mambo Champions in 2006.
His friendship with dancing pros Tony Dovolani and Maksim Chmerkovskiy opened the door for Fabian to dance with Marlee in 2008. The "Dancing" producers called him with the news they'd found his perfect match in the fiery deaf actress. Fabian and Marlee remain close, texting each other weekly to catch up on family goings on.
Fabian still talks with the producers, who tell him they are searching again for another match to bring him back. Fabian says he would love to dance with J.Lo or Shakira to show off his Latin flair. Meanwhile, he dances at special events, such as the Nov. 1 "Dancing with the Silver Stars" awards tribute hosted by the UAB Center for Aging. Area celebrities will pair with Fabian and Jackie Sanchez and others in the ballroom at The Club. For info, visit www.uab.edu/dwtss or call 975-5659.
Fabian never misses "Dancing with the Stars," seen Mondays at 7 p.m. and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC 33/40. He was impressed by Florence Henderson, who was voted off last week, and is blown away lately by Brandy and Jennifer Grey. He also likes Audrina Patridge and has empathy for Bristol Palin.
"She is the true, average person just learning to dance," Fabian says. "Some people may not like her mother, but Bristol is so sweet and cute and easy to like."
The same might be said of Fabian himself, a talkative, love-of-life kind of guy who enjoys meeting new people. He doesn't teach as much in the studio these days, preferring instead to help coach his son's soccer team and spend time with Jackie and their large extended family.
Life is good, Fabian says, with or without the swiveling.