Friday, November 26, 2010

Dancing With The Stars, Season 11 Finale

By Natasha Oreshkina, award winning ballroom dancer

I want to start off by saying that I am very happy that Jennifer Grey won the competition! She was definitely the winner and the best dancer!

For Jennifer's freestyle, everyone was waiting to see some dance from the Dirty Dancing movie and she didn't disappoint. Her "salsa-style" freestyle put her in first place!

I was glad to see Kyle Massey come in second place. His freestyle was a nice job, fun, to watch, and really showed his personality.

It was appropriate that Bristol came in last. Her "Jive-style" freestyle was fine but I would've preferred to see more knee action and jumps. The dance was too 'quiet' for me.

All in all, it was a great season! Happy Dancing!

Salsa In The Sky!

from chicagonow.com:

On Monday, the Ledge at the Willis Tower Skydeck had a first...

...in fact...it may be a first-time ever...anywhere...

...a Salsa was performed 1,353 feet above the ground, with a hazy Chicago Skyline as the stage.

Jesse DeSoto and partner Jaana Lillemagi from the Fred Astaire Dance Studio [200 North Michigan Avenue] performed a salsa on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, proving once again that you can do just about anything on those few little inches of glass towering over downtown Chicago.

"We've performed in some pretty unusual settings, but never anything as wild as this," said Dancing with the Stars pro alum Jesse DeSoto [who also owns Fred Astaire Dance Studio].

Click here to view the video!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Romance Lessons Every Man Should Learn from Fred Astaire

from news.yahoo.com:
Keri Withington
Fri Nov 19, 12:17 pm ET

Whether you are single and dating around, in a new relationship, or celebrating your golden wedding anniversary, you can always use a little more romance in your life. Whether you want to get the girl or impress the one that you have, you can learn something from Fred Astaire's classic movie Top Hat. Here are love lessons every man should learn from Fred in this movie.

1. Be confident, but not arrogant. Fred Astaire was not an attractive man; he was short and looked middle aged from his 20s. Yet he played the romantic lead in dozens of movies that were the blockbusters of his day. Learn from this. You do not have to look like Brad Pitt to attract girls' attention.

2. Dance with her. If you are a good dancer, then there's no excuse to avoid this one. However, she'll appreciate the gesture even if you can't dance. It doesn't have to be anywhere fancy, either. Light a few candles in the living room, put on a Norah Jones or Frank Sinatra CD, and ask her to dance. She'll like the romantic gesture, and who knows where a slow dance will lead?

Also, a great gift would be professional dance lessons for the two of you.

In Top Hat, Ms. Freemont (Ginger Rogers) is not interested in him at first. In fact, she's annoyed when he dances solo, and even when he tries to rescue her from a rainstorm. Yet the moment that the two of them start dancing together, it's magical.

3. Be persistent, but not overwhelming. If she doesn't seem interested at first, don't give up, but do back off a little.

Be dependable.

4. Send her flowers, especially when she's not expecting them. In the film, when she checks out of the hotel, the cleaners are shown clearing out a room full of flowers. You don't have to make it a regular event, but every once and awhile bring her flowers "just because". Also, learn what type of flowers she likes.

5. Don't be afraid to commit. Before they've even been on a real date, Fred Astaire declares that he's going to marry her one day. You don't need to make up your mind that quickly, but you should believe in the potential of your relationship. If you really want romance and love the woman you're with, then you need to be willing to make (and keep) commitments.

If you want more great romance ideas, watch the movie for yourself. Watching an old black and white musical may not seem like the ideal night in for most men, but invite your date/girlfriend/wife to watch it with you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dancing Over the City!


from buffalogrove.patch.com:

Buffalo Grove dance studio owner will perform a salsa 103 stories above ground.

Jesse DeSoto, owner of Fred Astaire Studio in Buffalo Grove, will attempt to set a world record Monday by dancing 1,353 feet over the city of Chicago.

With partner Jaana Lillemagi, he will perform a salsa on The Ledge at the Willis Tower's Skydeck. The Ledge features a series of glass bays that extend from the tower's 103th floor.

"We've performed in some pretty unusual settings, but never anything as wild as this," said DeSoto, an alum of "Dancing With the Stars."

The dance is scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday. DeSoto and Lillemagi plan to submit their feat to Guinness World Records.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dancing With The Stars, Season 11 Commentary

Week Nine

By Natasha Oreshkina, award winning ballroom dancer

This week, the semi-finals, each dancer had to dance one Latin and one Ballroom dance.

Kyle Massey's first dance was a Samba. There was a lot of shaking going on! He showed the character of the dance. His Argentine Tango was also a good routine, one of his best performances ever! He ended up with a total score of 58 out of 60.

The solo during Brandy's Paso Doble was great. I loved the routine. It was very emotional. Her Argentine Tango was perfect. She had a score of 57 out of 60.

Jennifer Gray's Cha-Cha was a perfect dance. She really looked like she came back from all of the stress and the strain of the show and was ready to compete! Her second dance, a Waltz, was very beautiful. Her score was 60 out of 60.

Bristol Palin's family was there to watch her dance. In her first dance, she showed more character than usual. Her Waltz showed some beautiful movement but she was definitely not the best dancer of the night.

I was surprised and disappointed by Brandy's elimination. As far as technique goes, Bristol should've gone long before. I've talked to students who are very disappointed. They don't understand why Bristol is still on the show.

My hope is that Jennifer Grey wins. We shall see next week!

Top 10 most shocking moments on ‘Dancing With the Stars’

from examiner.com:

After eleven seasons, fans of Dancing With the Stars have come to expect the unexpected. So, what were the Top 10 most shocking moments on Dancing With the Stars? Yes, the elimination of Brandy from the current season makes the list!

1.Marie Osmond faints in season 5. After performing a lively Samba with partner Jonathan Roberts, Marie Osmond faced the judges to hear their critiques. Len Goodman was right in the middle of his commentary when Osmond dropped to the floor like a rag doll. Host Tom Bergeron immediately went to an unscheduled commercial break, while fans across the country were left to wonder what happened. When the live show returned, Marie Osmond was standing and explained that she suffers from frequent fainting spells. This was definitely the most shocking moment on Dancing With the Stars.

2.Sabrina Bryan is eliminated during week six of season five. Sabrina Bryan was on fire during season five of Dancing With the Stars, and was even a favorite for winning it all. In week three, she received an impressive 26 out of 30 possible points. In week four, she received a perfect score of 30 for her powerful Paso Doble. So, why was she voted off in week six? The announcement was met with shock and anger from fans and the judges. Sabrina Bryan returned to Dancing With the Stars to dance an encore performance of her Paso Doble for the 200th episode.

3.Christian de la Fuente suffers a ruptured tendon during his season 6 performance. During his April 29, 2009 dance with Cheryl Burke, Christian de la Fuente was unable to dip his partner as planned. The couple continued to dance until the point when a horrible mask of pain, loss of footwork, and an immobile arm made it clear that Christian could not finish as planned. He was sent to the hospital, missing the end of the show. Fuentes returned the very next night and announced that he had a ruptured distal bicep tendon, or in layman’s terms, a muscle in his upper arm was torn free from the bone. Fuente said that he was determined to continue on with Dancing With the Stars, delaying surgery until after the show. He eventually ended up in third place, behind Jason Taylor and winner Kristi Yamaguchi.

4.Donny Osmond smooches Bruno Tonioli in season 9. Donny Osmond and his partner Kym Johnson didn’t receive great reviews after performing their Rumba. Bruno Judge Bruno Tonioli was especially tough and made a comment about Osmond’s “airy fairy arms.” Right after the comment, Donny Osmond rushed over to Bruno, embraced him, dipped him, and gave him a great big kiss on live TV. “When he said ‘airy fairy arms’…and then he said, ‘Go to the dark side,’ something just snapped in me and it was a funny moment,” Osmond said after the incident. The shocking moment was talked about around water coolers for days and days.

5.Brandy gets eliminated, Bristol Palin moves on to the finals in season 11. Brandy was the darling of the leader board for many weeks. The judges loved her performances, with Bruno Tonioli saying, “Is that really brandy or is it Tina Turner in Mad Max?” after her Tango during rock n’ roll week. On the flip side of the coin, Bristol Palin landed at the bottom of the leader board for six weeks, but was still able to survive the eliminations Audrina Patridge, Rick Fox and Kurt Warner. When it was announced that Brandy was eliminated and would not dance in the finals, there was a collective gasp from the audience and the judges. Jennifer Grey, Kyle Massey and Bristol Palin were the chosen three. Afterwards, Brandy and her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy expressed shock and disbelief at their elimination. However, in the end, Brandy took the high road and said that she was grateful for the DWTS experience. If Bristol Palin actually wins, this list will most definitely change.

6.Misty May-Treanor withdraws from season 7. After tearing her Achilles tendon during rehearsals, the Olympian was forced to withdraw from Dancing With the Stars. Because the injury required surgery, she was unable to proceed in the competition. Her partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy was also sidelined for the rest of the season. Interestingly, only three perfect 30’s were given out in season 7, with all going to the season’s champion, Brooke Burke.

7.Season 8 pre-season injuries. Due to injuries received during rehearsals, Jewel and Nancy O’Dell were both forced to withdraw before the premiere show. Holly Madison and Melissa Rycroft stepped in at the last minute as their replacements. Rycroft had just two days to practice her routines before the premiere, but was able to tie for second place in the first week of season 8. Holly Madison was the third celebrity to be eliminated, and Melissa Rycroft finished in a very respectable third place, behind Gilles Marini and the season 8 winner, Shawn Johnson.

8.The surprising Kelly Osbourne. Nobody expected the reality star to do very well on season 8 of Dancing With the Stars, but Kelly Osbourne captured the hearts of America with her very first dance, a romantic Waltz with partner, Louis Van Amstel. Her scores fluctuated from a low of 19 to a high of 24 in weeks 2-5, but Kelly hit her stride in weeks 6-9. Making it into the finals, the suddenly trim Osbourne said she was ecstatic to have come so far in the competition. She credited her partner, calling Van Amstel “a friend for life.” Kelly Osbourne finished in third place, behind Mya and winner, Donny Osmond. To this day, Kelly looks more beautiful than ever and continues to serve as a commentator for E!’s Fashion Police. The once angst-ridden teenager credits Dancing With the Stars for her amazing transformation.

9.The season 9 swine flu attack. The Dancing With the Stars celebrities and pros work hard to avoid injuries, but in season 9, the swine flu wrecked havoc on the cast. Dancers Lacey Schwimmer, Derek Hough and Mark Ballas all succumbed to the dreaded illness. Derek Hough said this about his brush with swine flu, “My whole bed was drenched because I sweated so much. I had to sleep in the bathtub. I've been sick a thousand times but something was different about this -- I literally couldn't walk or move but I eventually went to the doctor and got some IVs in my arm because I was so dehydrated." Aaron Carter and his partner Karina Smirnoff were also infected with the swine flu, and were photographed rehearsing with masks on. Karina tweeted, “Today I feel worse than yesterday. This flu is merciless!" Everyone eventually got better, but the swine flu definitely left its mark on season 9, which was won by Donny Osmond.

10.Master P replaces son Romeo during season 2. At the last minute, Master P was tapped to replace his son Romeo, who was unable to compete. Although his scores were miserably low, Master P wasn’t eliminated until the fourth week of competition. Master P and Ashley’s Paso Doble holds the record for the lowest score in eleven seasons of Dancing With the Stars. His total judges’ score for that particular dance totaled 8 (4,2,2). It was revealed that by the fourth week, Master P had logged only 20 hours of dance practice (other stars had logged 100 by week 4). His continued presence was attributed to his strong fan base, as well as fans who saw him as the underdog or who wanted to "vote for the worst". After the departure of Giselle Fern├índez and his history-making Paso score, Master P was finally eliminated. The season 2 finals included Stacy Keibler and Tony Dovolani, Jerry Rice and Anna Trebunskaya, and Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke. Jerry Rice came in second place and Drew Lachey was crowned the winner.

How Ballroom Dancing Changed My Life

from more.com:

by "Dr. Deb" Castaldo Guest Writer

For years, I wasted my energies chasing a fairy tale. Then I took up ballroom dancing. and discovered parts of myself I didn’t know existed.
Curtain up! This Renaissance woman is reinventing her former shy self in bold ballroom style! I’m dancing on out my Act I and kicking up my heels in my Act II with a sexy cha cha cha complete with fringes, eyelashes, and heels! One morning a year ago, I woke up from a Viennese waltz dream, made a wrong turn in a shopping center parking lot, and landed on the doorstep of a ballroom dance studio. Now at age 54, I am waltzing my way out of the post - divorce doldrums into competitive ballroom dancing!

Ballroom dancing is waking me up to aspects of myself I didn’t even know existed. Each dance requires the expression of a unique persona: whether it’s the fun loving, energetic swing, the sultry, seductive rumba, the sexy, flirty cha cha cha, the romantic bolero, the elegant poise of waltz, the jazzy spunk of fox trot, or the passionate aggressiveness of tango, I’m embracing it all!

Ballroom dancing is more than just a hobby for me; it’s become a guide for my reinvention, and my lessons are teaching me much more than just dance steps. I am learning invaluable life lessons! What have I learned thus far?

* Always step out on the floor with confidence, head held high
* Keep your chin up and flash a beautiful smile even if you stumble
* Stay grounded physically, mentally, and emotionally or you will fall
* You must learn to dance well alone and hold yourself up
* Leaning on a partner too much can drag you both down – literally!
* A great partnership requires absolute trust, close connection, give and take, and great communication
* It’s not about winning, it’s about the perseverance and patience needed to keep going along the way

My Act I was predetermined by the fairy tales I heard as a little girl that said that a woman’s true value was attached to her ability to catch a man and become a mother. I married my first boyfriend at age 22. I was a shy, dependent small town girl with no voice, terrified to speak up for her needs. Stuck in a marriage of emotional disconnection and little intimacy. The possibility of divorcing and forging a new path never occurred to me in my young adulthood.

My Act I created the necessary momentum I needed for my Act II. My reinvention began when I turned 35 and something in my gut woke up. I found the courage to take a quantum leap out of a marriage that was slowly destroying my spirit. I have been a “no marriage no kids” woman for the past 16 years. Becoming divorced without children at midlife brought me face to face with a triple whammy of stressors: divorce, childlessness, and aging. For many women like me, living “out of sync” in a married, mothering world still carries with it an internal sense of stigma, shame, guilt, and failure.

My divorce was initially a traumatic disruption of the fairy tale life I was “supposed” to have as a woman. The first decade of my single life was consumed with remarrying ASAP.

I revved up into a frenzy attending one singles’ event after another. I worked out, looked my best, smiled a lot, and updated my style. I tried to strike the right balance: sweet, sexy, funny, smart, not too smart, confident, and not too confident. I was busy pleasing everyone else. After ten years of searching, lots of dating and several significant break-up’s and make-up’s…I was exhausted!

Then my A-HA moment finally clicked! I was a victim of those ridiculous fairy tales from my childhood! What if my “no marriage no kids” life was an amazing opportunity and I was missing it? I was buying into beliefs of “the marriage/motherhood mandate”: that any life other than marriage and motherhood wasn’t good enough. I realized I was living “in the mean time”, chasing an untrue fairy tale and putting my authentic self on hold!

My life was stuck in an unending intermission.

I finally had to shift my focus away from what was missing and wrong with my life to all that was right and beautiful about it. I finally stopped asking: “how can I find a man, why haven’t I found one, and what must I do to be enough?” I started asking, “how can I get on purpose, give and make a difference, where are my gifts and talents, and how can I use them?”

Once I stopped wasting energy, I got totally resolved to redesign my life. I kicked myself into high gear to go BIG after my dreams! Now fifteen years into my reinvention, many of my dreams have come to pass: marching at Lincoln Center in New York City to receive the Ph.D. degree, my first published book arriving on my doorstep, hosting my first radio show, and starting my own business: The Center for Couples and Family Solutions.

Being divorced without children doesn’t define me any more. I have stopped living “in the meantime” as if my life is not good enough. My “no marriage no kids” life has been a precious gift that has afforded me the energy, passion, and time to give back and live at full throttle! NOW! I am moving confidently on in the direction of my own dreams, living the best life I can imagine!

And if you are asking, what’s going to happen in Act III? Grab your popcorn! I’ll be pursuing absurd goals and trying to achieve the impossible. No matter what my age, how wrinkled, or how out of shape my menopausal body becomes, I’ll be strutting my ballroom diva stuff, waltzing away going for ballroom gold! 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3……



Debra D. Castaldo, Ph.D. is host of Solution Talk on Rockland World Radio, Adjunct Faculty at Rutgers University. She is also the author of Divorced without Children: Solution Focused Therapy with Women at Midlife.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Horry County Dancing With the Stars

from thesunnews.com:

Dance competition aids education, symphony
By Steve Palisin

"Annnnd one," he would say, counting off to start some box steps as part of the waltz they will dance Saturday evening during the third annual "Horry County Dancing With the Stars."

The fundraiser, at Grande Dunes Marina Inn in Myrtle Beach, helps the Business/Education Expectations (BE2) Partnership/Early College High School, based at Horry-Georgetown Technical College in Conway, and the Long Bay Symphony of Myrtle Beach. It's modeled after the No. 1-rated TV show on ABC, which has two weeks to go this season.

Practicing with Gonzalez at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio he owns in Myrtle Beach, McGrail said they have been at work perfecting their performance piece by piece since August.

"I found out I have all this energy," said McGrail, "energy I didn't know I have."

The Longs resident teaches Zumba exercise classes and enjoys assisting area fundraisers with organizations such as the Long Bay Symphony Guild, of which she is a member. She said she took the baton handoff for this event from Charles Jones Evans, Long Bay's music director/conductor.

"I volunteered," she said, noting Evans danced among the "stars" last fall.

Gonzalez, a Loris resident, cracked his knuckles after adjusting his tie for the rehearsal with McGrail.

"To me, this is fun," he said.

His patience and constant reassurance as they worked on smoothing out some portions in their routine kept McGrail smiling almost the whole time.

"I'll let you go," he said, "but we'll cut this way. ... Annnnd good."

Anytime McGrail felt unsure about a sequence, she would sound it out as Gonzalez held her arms.

"Step, step, stop," McGrail said.

Gonzalez also made sure McGrail knew which way to face during their dance. Pointing to the mirrored walls in front and back of them, and to the studio door and front windows, he said the audience might be seated in tables, "this way, this way and this way." However, if the stage surroundings differ, he wanted to make sure they would not lose their orientation during their big dance.

"You're going to be fine now, OK?" Gonzalez told McGrail, who replied with a hug.

'Having to pace myself'

Another participant in "Dancing With the Horry County Stars," Melvin Fields of North Myrtle Beach spoke about his partnership with professional Debra Hughes.

"We spend a lot of time on the dance floor," he said of work begun in August. "A lot more time than I thought it would be."

Fields said he always has enjoyed dancing but had never done it within a pair.

In this home stretch for the past week or so, Fields said they work out several times a week in North Myrtle Beach, and he spends "at least an hour a day" doing steps on his own.

"I got a lot of lifts in my routine," he said. "I'm having to pace myself ... doing the finite things such as hand positions."

With a son in 11th grade in the Early College High School, Fields said he's happy to devote himself to dance for this charity, which since 2006 has motivated average-scoring, underachieving and well-prepared high schoolers for success in college.

Fields' dance counterpart, Hughes, has taught the art for 30 years.

"It's just encouraging and nice to see people getting back into the ballroom," she said, "and knowing that ballroom doesn't mean old."

Hughes said ballroom dancing tackles many different steps, such as the rumba, jive and cha-cha-cha.

"'Dancing With the Stars,' she said, complimenting the TV show, in its 11th season, "has helped that a lot. You can do it with all different types of music. It's not just for older people anymore."

After each session with a student, Hughes sees the benefits on the faces of her students.

"It brings joy, togetherness for people, great self-esteem and a sense of self-accomplishment," she said.

Hughes said she started out in telephone sales at a dance studio.

"I was looking through the window," she said, "and thinking, 'You know, I bet I can do that.'"

After studying ballet and jazz for 12 years, Hughes realized she had a gift for ballroom dancing and choreography, and went on to own her own studio in Colorado for 12 years.

'Great bond'

Giving lessons, Hughes takes pleasure in developing a relationship with each student.

"It's a great bond," she said. "You grow together, like a family."

Helping a charity event only adds to the incentive to deliver on the floor, Hughes said, "to know I'm doing great work and helping in the community."

Marsha Griffin is the coordinator for "Dancing With the Horry County Stars" and a consultant for the Early College High School.

"This community is coming together for this event," she said. "It just surprises me every day what everybody does."

She and David Bernardo, who has helped expand the marketing of the event, said for people who cannot attend but want to help the school and symphony, voting for a star is easy anytime at www.horrydancing.org. Votes are purchased for a $10 donation. Griffin hopes the event's total can match or exceed the total raised last year, $109,000.

"Everybody in this county can have a part in this event," Griffin said. "The dollars really add up."

Back at Fred Astaire, McGrail commended Gonzalez for doing double duty for the big dance. He also will share the stage with Dode Washington, an obstetrician/gynecologist in Myrtle Beach.

"I'm sharing him with another woman," McGrail said. "Not only his wife, but another lady."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dancing With The Stars, Season 11 Commentary

Week Eight

By Natasha Oreshkina, award winning ballroom dancer

This week, the celebrities had to perform two dances: one ballroom dance and one "Insta-Dance" where they didn't know what song they were dancing to until the very last minute. It was interesting to see how the couples improvised, with such short notice.

Kyle Massey's first dance was a Viennese Waltz. Lacey was hard on Kyle during the rehearsals, trying to improve his footwork, and his performance was great and very clean. For the first time, he didn't look just like a comical kid. He danced the Jive for the Insta-Dance and it was full of energy and fun to watch. His total score was a 56 out of 60.

Brandy performed a Waltz first. It was a perfect performance. She looked emotional during the dance. Her Insta Dance was a Cha-Cha. She received a 57 out of 60. Maks didn't agree with the judges scores.

Kurt Warner's Waltz looked polished and graceful. He did a good job. I could tell he really improved. Kurt and his partner, Anna, looked beautiful together. Their Cha-Cha was also a lot of fun. His final score was a 48 out of 60. They were, sadly, eliminated this week.

Jennifer Grey's Quick Step was dynamic and had great character. It was nice to hear the judges tell Jennifer and her partner, Derek, that they looked like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers! Their second dance was a Rumba, which was beautiful, very lyrical, romantic, and with nice motion. They tied with Brandy for first place with a score of 57 out of 60.

Bristol Palin danced an Argentine Tango at first. It was the lowest score of the night. Her performance was OK. She still needs to work more on the character of the dance. Her second dance, a Samba, was all over the place. She was inconsistent during the dance. One moment she looked to be in the mood of the dance and then the next minute, she looked like she forget her steps and was really confused. Her score was a 47 out of 60.

On to the semi-finals next week!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"My grandfather was Fred Astaire"

from westseattleherald.com:

By Steve Shay
2010-11-07
If you ask Tyler McKenzie about his grandfather, he might dance around the topic. That's because his grandfather was Fred Astaire, and he is shy about discussing it. But he did, with the West Seattle Herald, and seemed to develop a bounce in his step recalling hanging out with perhaps the greatest dancer in the world.

Full disclosure, they were related through marriage, but Fred and Tyler were as close as any grandfather and grandson, he said. Tyler's father, Richard, married Fred Astaire's daughter, Ava, (pronounced AH-vah) who raised him.

"My parents divorced when I was very young, and my mother passed away when I was seven, so my brother and I then lived with my father in West Hollywood and that's when he married Ava," said McKenzie, 50, a real estate broker with Windermere, formerly at their Alaska Junction office and now manager at their Green Lake office. He lives in West Seattle and serves as Delridge Neighborhood Development Association Board Chairman.

Richard's McKenzie Gallery was very successful. He painted realistic portraits of stars including Barbara Stanwyck, Tyler recalled, adding that they moved into a relatively modest home in Beverly Hills.

"I'd see Fred frequently when we were living in Beverly Hills." he said.

"In 1972 when I was 11 my parents went on a trip to Europe, came back, and said, 'Kids, we're moving' and just packed us up and we went to London where we lived for three years," said Tyler. "They found a home in Ireland. We moved there from London. I finished my high school in Ireland. My parents still live there, in County Cork.

"He actually came to Ireland to do a film, Purple Taxi," said Tyler of his famous grandfather. "We spent a significant amount of time together traveling around there then.That was in 1977. My mother was his closest confidant, especially after his sister Adele died." (in 1981)

Long before Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire began his career performing with his sister Adele when he was just four and she was six. They were born in Omaha. They toured the country with their mother, Ann and Ann's sister.

"They were a performing dancing dual," Tyler said. "Many people don't realize that until Adele retired she was the bigger star.

"I knew him well," Tyler said of Fred. "We played pool together and talked about stuff. He was a lovely, considerate, interesting man. But I was very cognizant of the fact that despite the fact that he was my grandfather, he was something else that was very meaningful to everybody," said Tyler. "We'd be walking down the street on our way to dinner and the world would stop because people would stop on the street and gasp when they recognized him. It was a bizarre feeling to be moving with the spotlight, and to be just outside the shadow of it.

"I think Fred Astaire embodies elegance," Tyler continued. "He had gravitas in that he was gifted, a physical genius. My mother would tell me he didn't work out, didn't adhere to any physical regimen to be any stronger or more nimble. But he rehearsed constantly and with absolute deliberation over and over again so that by the time a number was on the big screen it was indeed perfect.

"It was a product of excruciating difficult work and very long hours," he said. "And so that grace is the embodiment of hard work. He was a hardworking man who was able to manifest that in absolute elegance. But he did have a gift. He was imbued with a natural precision that was his genius. Where his craft came into play was his ability to tap it, to release it. He performed since age four. That's all he knew."

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Dancing With The Stars, Season 11 Commentary

Week Seven

By Natasha Oreshkina, award winning ballroom dancer

This was another shocking week with a surprise elimination. All the couples were asked to perform a new interpretation of an old routine. But first they participated in a Cha-Cha Challenge. Team Kristi included Rick Fox, Kyle Massey, and Bristol Palin and Team Appollo had Kurt Warner, Brandy, and Jennifer Grey. Team Kristi's performance was bright and fun but Team Appollo was much more technically proficient. Team Appollo ended up winning.
Onto the couple dancing:
I was glad to see Jennifer Grey gain control of her emotions and perform well this week. It's very difficult to come back after losing the first place position. Their Tango was very musical and had beautiful lines.
Brandy's Foxtrot was danced to the song, "Fever." I saw Brandy lose the steps a couple of times but she still performed nicely. Her lines were good for the most part but she needs to look at the whole line, not just her spine but her head and neck too. Her head position was wrong so it didn't look like she completed her lines.
Both Jennifer and Brandy had scores of 37.
Kurt Warner and Rick Fox also tied. Rick had a fun number with interesting costumes. I was shocked and disappointed that he was eliminated this week. He should've been in the final 3.
Kurt's Tango was strong. But he needs to understand that he needs to use his hips to create the sharp movement that the Tango requires, not just his upper body (arms). This would've given the dance more dynamics and speed. But he did express the drama of the dance and looked like he had confidence.
Kyle Massey's Paso Doble earned him 35. This was his best dance yet, in my opinion. He showed the character of the dance and had nice movement.
Bristol Palin's Viennese Waltz received 33 points. She should've been eliminated already. Although she didn't forget her steps this time and had better footwork, the emotional-level of the dance wasn't there. I'm not noticing a big improvement in Bristol from where she started at the beginning of the show.

Ballroom dance team takes spotlight

from wellesleynewonline.com:

By Anna Tupper-Bridges '14

Copy Editor

Moments before a ballroom dance competition starts, the dancers take a deep breath, stand up straight, and, according to dancer Lena Mironciuc '13, "find themselves." Then, they focus on their partners. "It's magical, it feels so good when it's done right," Mironciuc said.

Getting that moment right, however, takes more time than some may think. Dancers on the MIT Ballroom Dance Team often practice three hours a day, five days a week, in addition to five hours each on Saturday and Sunday. The 15 Wellesley dancers on the team travel two hours each day to get to MIT and back.

At practice, the dancers, who (about 100 in number), dance four different styles of dance: International Latin, American Latin, International Standard and American Standard. Latin styles include the rumba, cha-cha, jive and samba. American styles include waltz, foxtrot and smooth. Each person typically dances one or two styles and has one partner per style.

Mironciuc describes the intense, time-consuming partner relationship by saying, "it's like marriage except for not." Partners spend hours on end with each other dancing in the MIT student center or other buildings on the MIT campus. Co-captain Rebecca Graber '11 attributes the team's cohesiveness to the numerous hours spent together. "I cemented a lot of my closest friendships at Wellesley via post-practice gossip sessions on the Exchange bus. Whenever two team members get together, talk always turns to ballroom, no matter where they are or what they're doing."

The team, which is composed of both undergraduates and graduate students, is coached by a variety of professional dancers. Coaches are national champions who hold titles such as "US Representative to the World Senior Championship" (Didi von Deck) and "North American Champion" (Larina McRaven). Mironciuc says the coaches are "very strict about practicing" but also excellent teachers.

Team members typically compete several times a semester for both semesters. They travel to schools on the East Coast such as Harvard, UConn, Brown, Yale and Columbia. Couples are the only ones who have scores, not teams. Couples are entered in one of five divisions: Rookie, Bronze, Silver, Gold or Open. All dancers begin at the Rookie level until the end of their first semester dancing. Once in Bronze, they advance to the Silver level either by dancing for an additional two semesters or by earning seven points, which are earned by either winning first (three points), second (two points) or third (one point) place in a competition. In order to move up to Gold, they must earn seven points, and the same applies to Open. Once dancers reach the Open level, they have much more freedom with respect to the types of moves they can perform on the dance floor.

The Rookie and Bronze levels typically have the largest number of participants. So far this year, a few newcomers have already won first place in their competitions. "I'd say we're headed for a pretty solid run," Graber said. Mironciuc, too, has had strong performances this season. She placed first in the International Silver Cha-Cha/Rumba event and first in the International Silver Samba/Jive event (both times dancing with Anthony Kozloff) at the UConn Husky Classic. Up to 800 couples will participate in any given competition.

For Mironciuc, competitions make the numerous hours of practice and travel time worth it. "I love performing. I have my makeup on and costume on and I get to dance."

Moments before a ballroom dance competition starts, the dancers take a deep breath, stand up straight, and, according to dancer Lena Mironciuc '13, "find themselves." Then, they focus on their partners. "It's magical, it feels so good when it's done right," Mironciuc said.

Getting that moment right, however, takes more time than some may think. Dancers on the MIT Ballroom Dance Team often practice three hours a day, five days a week, in addition to five hours each on Saturday and Sunday. The 15 Wellesley dancers on the team travel two hours each day to get to MIT and back.

At practice, the dancers, who (about 100 in number), dance four different styles of dance: International Latin, American Latin, International Standard and American Standard. Latin styles include the rumba, cha-cha, jive and samba. American styles include waltz, foxtrot and smooth. Each person typically dances one or two styles and has one partner per style.

Mironciuc describes the intense, time-consuming partner relationship by saying, "it's like marriage except for not." Partners spend hours on end with each other dancing in the MIT student center or other buildings on the MIT campus. Co-captain Rebecca Graber '11 attributes the team's cohesiveness to the numerous hours spent together. "I cemented a lot of my closest friendships at Wellesley via post-practice gossip sessions on the Exchange bus. Whenever two team members get together, talk always turns to ballroom, no matter where they are or what they're doing."

The team, which is composed of both undergraduates and graduate students, is coached by a variety of professional dancers. Coaches are national champions who hold titles such as "US Representative to the World Senior Championship" (Didi von Deck) and "North American Champion" (Larina McRaven). Mironciuc says the coaches are "very strict about practicing" but also excellent teachers.

Team members typically compete several times a semester for both semesters. They travel to schools on the East Coast such as Harvard, UConn, Brown, Yale and Columbia. Couples are the only ones who have scores, not teams. Couples are entered in one of five divisions: Rookie, Bronze, Silver, Gold or Open. All dancers begin at the Rookie level until the end of their first semester dancing. Once in Bronze, they advance to the Silver level either by dancing for an additional two semesters or by earning seven points, which are earned by either winning first (three points), second (two points) or third (one point) place in a competition. In order to move up to Gold, they must earn seven points, and the same applies to Open. Once dancers reach the Open level, they have much more freedom with respect to the types of moves they can perform on the dance floor.

The Rookie and Bronze levels typically have the largest number of participants. So far this year, a few newcomers have already won first place in their competitions. "I'd say we're headed for a pretty solid run," Graber said. Mironciuc, too, has had strong performances this season. She placed first in the International Silver Cha-Cha/Rumba event and first in the International Silver Samba/Jive event (both times dancing with Anthony Kozloff) at the UConn Husky Classic. Up to 800 couples will participate in any given competition.

For Mironciuc, competitions make the numerous hours of practice and travel time worth it. "I love performing. I have my makeup on and costume on and I get to dance."

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

How "Dancing with the Stars" was born

from reuters.com:

Wed Nov 3, 2010 1:17am EDT
By James Hibberd

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - In 2004, the BBC rummaged through its library and dusted off "Come Dancing," a ballroom-competition series that launched in 1948 and ran for nearly five decades.

The British state broadcaster planned to revamp it into a celebrity edition titled "Strictly Come Dancing." Before its U.K. premiere, producers flew across the pond to shop the concept to U.S. networks. Armed only with a pitch and some generic footage, they received a less-than-enthusiastic response.

Executive producer Conrad Green: The BBC rang me and asked if I wanted to do "Dancing." I thought it was such a strange idea. Strange, but brilliant. Dance hadn't been on TV in a featured way in years, and it's one of the oldest forms of human entertainment.

Talent agent Greg Lipstone: I was representing the BBC. I thought "Dancing" was incredibly interesting because it worked on so many levels. It wasn't just a dance exhibition; it was about music, fashion and performance. It was clearly something different.

ABC programing executive John Saade: It was pitched to (ABC alternative series/specials senior VP) Vicki Dummer and I with this sizzle reel of the best ballroom dancing they could find, but it was everything you feared the concept would be: fairly stiff ballroom dancing. Everybody had the same reaction we had -- very quaint, very cute, very British -- but not a show anybody would watch. We just didn't see it.

Green: What weren't their concerns? "American Idol" was definitely helpful since you didn't have to explain the format. But a lot of people tried to make a lot of Idol-like shows and failed, and people had started to think Idol was nonrepeatable.

Lipstone: Everybody turned it down. (They all said), "Ballroom dancing won't work on American television."

The first season of BBC1's "Strictly Come Dancing" aired from May-July 2004. Producers pitched the show to U.S. networks again and again were rebuffed. Even with Fox's "American Idol" rocking the Nielsens since 2002, executives were convinced ballroom dancing was too passive and old-fashioned. When the BBC's second cycle of "Dancing" launched in October to mammoth ratings, producers tried to persuade U.S. executives to watch an episode of the format they had already turned down.

Green: It was a show people didn't want, but Richard refused to give up. He was quite insistent.

Former ABC alternative programing chief Andrea Wong: I remember I was having this drink with (executive producer) Richard (Hopkins). Everybody had passed on the show -- frankly, including us. I was explaining to him all the reasons I didn't think it would work: It would skew too old, ballroom dancing is not a tradition in the United States. He said, "Please take a leap of faith; you've got to try it." He asked me to watch the show. I took the DVD into the office the next day.

Saade: Our entire department sat down to watch it. Even though we didn't know any of the celebrities or the dance styles, it was really compelling. It was like the Olympics: By watching the show, you become an expert in professional ballroom dancing. At the same time, you're comparing your reaction to the dance versus the judges' reaction. And then there's the emotional component of whether you like the dancers that prompts you to vote and try to save your favorites.

Wong: We couldn't take our eyes off of it. Nobody wanted to fast-forward. At end of the episode, we looked at each other and were like, "Are we crazy?" We wanted it.

The programmers pushed ABC's top executives to take a chance on the show, including then-entertainment president Stephen McPherson and Walt Disney Co CEO Bob Iger.

Saade: It wasn't like Steve said, "I believe in this 100%, go do it." He was like, "I believe in your passion -- if you believe in this, go do it." Bob was one of the biggest supporters of the show since he had been in the U.K. and saw an episode.

Wong: The great thing about Steve was he always trusted his people. He responded to passion.

Saade: Compounding all this was the amount of press coming out of the U.K. about the show. There was this voting controversy going on. Sitting on the plane, there were three articles in the Daily Mail about the show.

Other factors played a role, too. VH1 made a competing offer for the format, and an Australian version of the series -- titled "Dancing With the Stars" -- debuted to strong ratings. ABC gave the ballroom-dancing show a modest initial order: six live episodes, cast-contingent, planned for summer.

Lipstone: It debuted in Australia, and it was working and that helped -- it gave everybody more comfort. It's not just a U.K. phenomenon.

Wong: The way we convinced everybody was to make it cast-contingent: "If you don't like the cast, you can pull the plug."

But it was difficult to convince celebrities to risk their most valuable commodity -- their reputations -- by ballroom dancing on live TV for a panel of judges. Executives started the search by asking stars like Pamela Anderson (who finally agreed to appear on the show last season), then scrambled to find just about anybody.

Wong: It was hard to get the first cast because we had no proof of concept in the U.S.

Saade: We loved that initial cast, though obviously we were going for a slightly different cast initially. We were going through name after name.

Green: You can never start these shows from scratch and have great names. We approached loads of people. A lot of the people who subsequently appeared on the show said "no" in Season 1.

Wong: I remember being on the phone with (former Bachelorette Trista Sutter) and others trying to convince them do it: "This is a huge hit show in the U.K., it's a great opportunity to amplify your career or move it in different direction, people love watching people take risks, and you become a hero to people for doing it."

The casting of heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield was a turning point. Holyfield and Sutter joined actress-model Rachel Hunter, singer-actor Joey McIntyre, former "Seinfeld" actor John O'Hurley and actress Kelly Monaco as the show's first cast.

Green: We weren't happy with the cast until we got Holyfield. That was what made me think we got a headline: -- Evander Holyfield is going to ballroom dance; I got to watch that.

Saade: Holyfield had a certain stature and was somebody whom you would never expect to see ballroom dancing. It's captured the absurdity of the show -- a professional boxer dressing up in sequins and tuxedo and ballroom dancing.

Wong: He really caused men to say, "Maybe I should take a look at this."

Saade: We had one person left to go. We were two days past deadline when (casting director) Deena Katz was able to land O'Hurley.

ABC and producers began preproduction. Tom Bergeron and Lisa Canning were tapped as hosts.

Bergeron: My agent called and said, "ABC wants you to host a summer series, and you're gonna do it -- it's live TV." I'm all, "What aren't you telling me?" She says, "It's a big hit in England." Right, right. "You have to promise you'll look at the DVD of the British version before you say no." OK, what is it? "It's a ballroom-dancing competition." I said, "Why don't you just get me an infomercial, and we'll just call it a career?"

Green: We knew we needed to pace it up, get more stuff happening faster (compared to the British version). Adding Tom as a host helped enormously. The fact it looked like "The Lawrence Welk Show", like a ballroom from the 1950s, helped too. It didn't look like an Idol wannabe.

Saade: We thought of every obvious dumb title you can think of. We had the concern that "Dancing With the Stars" hit it so hard on the head that it may be a turnoff. At the same time, the name was simple and explained the premise as well as anything.

Wong: One of the biggest challenges was how to promote the premiere -- there was no footage (the show is live). We had to cut promos out of British footage.

As a live show with an orchestra, "Dancing" wasn't cheap. But the cost was a minor concern compared to the mounting industry perception that the show would prove to be an embarrassing flop.

Wong: Nobody thought it would work. They were licking their chops. We said, "Look, it's not going to be a middle-of-the-road show. This was going to be a spectacular success or noble failure."

Bergeron: I was sold on it being six weeks of retro live TV. I thought at best it might come back for six episodes every summer.

Lipstone: In the industry, people thought it was incredibly risky.

Green: Everybody thought it would fall on its ass. I heard an executive who passed on it at another network said, "If that works, we should all resign."

On June 1, 2005, the "Dancing With the Stars" premiere drew 13.5 million viewers -- the biggest summer debut for a reality series since "Survivor" five years earlier."

Green: We knew it worked when Holyfield got told off by the judges.

Lipstone: It was instantaneous. The minute that it hit the air, you saw the reaction.

Saade: The reaction was everything we hoped. It was bemused and confused, but passionate. A lot of, "What do think you're doing?" and "This is the weirdest thing I've seen on TV." It was the biggest sigh of relief when the fast nationals (ratings) came out at 7:15 a.m. (the next day)

Although there were some hiccups...

Green: (During the season), Kelly (Monaco) had her wardrobe malfunction live on the air. Her bra popped off, and she spent most of the dance holding it up. After that, they were particularly vigilant on the five-second delay and instituted that women had to wear pasties. A lot of characters in the ballroom scene were eccentric, too: A staffer held our wardrobe hostage for days after she took it home. We sent a producer to stake out her hotel and get it back. We had to get the dancers to bring them their own clothes from home to the finale in case we couldn't get their costumes.

ABC renewed "Dancing" for a second season, and the show quickly became a power player. Moved from summer into the season, the cast was expanded, a second night was added for a results show and the network began running the series in the fall and spring. Five years later, "Dancing" remains one of the most-watched shows on TV."

Saade: There was more fear going into the second cycle; we didn't know if it was a flash in the pan or going to sustain. And getting celebrities -- after 12 cycles, it hasn't gotten any easier. But there's an energy that runs through every single episode. Everyone who's been on the show says it's a blast. It's that father-daughter dance at a wedding; it's the senior prom.

Wong: It sort of grew from there. It catches fire and builds every season. It was one of those sets that made you smile. I used to love being on that set.

Green: We created our own world right from the outset. We got just the right level of irony: not being too pompous and embracing the inherent stupidity of what you're doing. It's helped the careers of a number of people, and it occupies a warmhearted spot. A lot more people are doing ballroom dancing now. We don't profess to be an important show, but we make people happy. If that's the show's legacy, that's a pretty good legacy.

Monday, November 01, 2010

All The Pros Over The Years!

To celebrate the 200th episode of Dancing With The Stars today, let’s take a look at all the professional dancers who have participated throughout the years on this hit show. What does it take to earn a spot as an instructor to the stars?

(Some of these names you’ll recognize but others you may not…)

Louis Van Amstel
Appearing in seven seasons of DWTS, Louis Van Amstel is an accomplished, Dutch-born ballroom dancer. He has also appeared as a choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance. His dancing achievements include US Professional Latin American champion, 7-time Dutch National Amateur Champion, World Professional Showdance Champion, Professional World Latin Finalist.
His best showing on DWTS was on season 9 with partner Kelly Osbourne; they came in 3rd.

Corky Ballas
Corky is a retired professional ballroom dancer who has been on DWTS for two seasons. He is also the father of two-time DWTS champion Mark Ballas and has trained many other DWTS professionals, including Karina Smirnoff, Julianne & Derek Hough, Tony Dovolani, Edyta Sliwinska, Alec Mazo, Brian Fortuna, Jonathan Roberts, Anna Trebunskaya, and Jesse DeSoto. He holds several Latin dance championship titles, including Open To The World International Champion, Open to the World British Champion, and eight-time undefeated US International Latin Champion (along with famed partner Shirley Ballas). Corky and Shirley were known as one of professional competitive Latin Dance's most successful couples ever.

Mark Ballas
Mark Ballas has won Dancing With The Stars two times (with Kristi Yamaguchi and Shawn Johnson) and appeared in 6 seasons. He is the son of Corky and Shirley Ballas. His achievements include becoming the British Juvenile Ballroom and Latin American Dance Champion, US Open To The World, British Open To The World, and International Open To The World Junior Latin American Champion, and Junior Olympics Gold Medal winner. He is also a signer and songwriter for the Ballas Hough band.

Inna Brayer
Inna Brayer was paired with actor Ted McGinley on the seventh season of DWTS. She was born in Russia and made the rounds of the international dance competition circuits. She has represented America in several competitions, including the World Championships. With former partner Pavel Pashikov, Inna was recognized as the National Amateur 10-Dance Champion. She also competed in 6 world championships.

Cheryl Burke
Cheryl is a Latin Champion dancer and two-time Emmy nominated choreographer who has been on Dancing With The Stars for 10 seasons. She won back-to-back disco ball trophies with partner Drew Lachey in Season 2, and then with Emmitt Smith in Season 3. Her dancing achievements include becoming the World Cup Professional Rising Star Latin Champion and Ohio Star Ball Rising Star Champion. She was also fourth in the US in the Under 21s division.

Dmitry Chaplin
Dmitry is an International Latin dancer and Emmy-nominated choreographer who was also a TOP 10 finalist in Season 2 of So You Think You Can Dance. He has starred on DWTS twice before and finished in second place with his partner Mya in Season 9. His dancing achievements include becoming a World Class Latin Finalist and US National Amateur Latin Champion Finalist.

Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Maks is a Ukrainian-born Latin Ballroom dance champion, choreographer, and instructor. He owns four dance studios in the New York City area and is one of the creators of Dance Team USA, a non-profit organization dedicated to training dance sport participants. Participating in 9 seasons of DWTS, Maks has come close to getting that shiny disco ball three times. He made it to the finals with boxing champ Laila Ali in Season 4, finished in second place in Season 5 with Mel B, and last season a close third with Erin Andrews.

Ashly Costa
Ashly is a professional Latin dancer from Highland, Utah who starred on the ABC television series Dancing with the Stars for the first three seasons and returned for Season 10 to partner with famed astronaut Buzz Aldrin. With partner Jonathan Gulledge, Costa has won several Amateur Ten Dance titles. She also partnered professionally with Rick Robinson on the professional Latin circuit before retiring.

Anna Demidova
Anna won the professional dancer competition on DWTS and went on to partner with Michael Irvin on the following season. Michael and Anna were eliminated in the seventh week of that show. She is a Russian-American ballroom dancer who was an Under 21 Ballroom Finalist at Blackpool and placed second in the Rising Star International Standard Division with partner Andrei Begunov.

Jesse DeSoto
Jesse DeSoto competed on only one season of Dancing With The Stars, Season 3 with model Shanna Moakler. They finished in tenth place. Jesse's list of accomplishments include: Nevada Star Ball Rising Star American Rhythm Champion, Ohio Star Ball Rising Star American Rhythm Champion, U.S. Dancesport Championships World Mambo Finalist, Cleveland Dancesport Champion, Crystal Ball American Rhythm Champion, St Louis Star Ball American Rhythm Champion, Indiana Challenge Open American Rhythm Champion, California Open American Rhythm Champion. He also owns two Fred Astaire Dance Studios in the Chicago area.

Tony Dovolani
One of the most recognizable faces in the professional dancing world today, Tony is a professional dancer and actor. Getting his start at a Fred Astaire Dance Studio, he went on to become the World and US Rhythm champion. He also coached Jennifer Lopez and had a small part in the hit dance movie, Shall We Dance. On Dancing With The Stars, he has made it to third place three times with Stacey Keibler and Melissa Rycroft.

Brian Fortuna
Brian is a professional Ballroom and Latin dancer, specializing in street-style Salsa. In addition to choreography and instruction, he is adept at choreographing and teaching wheelchair ballroom dancing. Brian danced with Shandi Finnessey on season 4 of DWTS. He has also starred on the UK version of DWTS, Strictly Come Dancing. In 2004 and 2005, Brian won the North American Top Teacher competition and was the Imperial Dance Sport Champion. Brian is a certified judge by the United States Terpsichore Association. Brian appeared as a featured dancer in the film The Aviator.

Elena Grinenko
Elena was the undefeated U.S. and World Rhythm Champion with Tony Dovolani. On the third season of DWTS, she was eliminated in the first week with partner Tucker Carlson. She returned the next season to dance with Clyde Drexler. They were the fourth couple to be eliminated. In 2010, Grinenko represented the U.S.A. in the Second Dance World Championship (celebrated in Mexico) with Paul Barris.

Andrea Hale
Andrea only participated in the second season of DWTS with partner Kenny Mayne. They were voted off during the first week. She competes in both standard and Latin styles of dance. Her list of accomplishments include: North American Champion, 2 time U.S. National Champion, 4 time U.S. Representative to the World Dancesport Championships, highest ranking couple in International Championships - United Kingdom Championships - and British Open Championships.

Chelsie Hightower
Chelsie, an Emmy-nominated Latin ballroom dancer, is an alumnae of So You Think You Can Dance. She was the US Worlds Finalist and represented Team USA in the Latin Style at Blackpool (coming in third with her team). On Dancing With The Stars, she has gone as high as 4th place with partner Ty Murray in Season 8.

Derek Hough
Derek is a former world Youth Latin Champion dancer and a current member of the Ballas Hough band. A multi-talented entertainer, Derek also performed on London's West End and played the lead in Footloose. He has been on 7 seasons of DWTS and has won the competition twice, with partners Brooke Burke and Nicole Scherzinger.

Julianne Hough
Julianne, Derek Hough’s sister, has also won the DWTS mirror trophy ball two times with partners Apolo Anton Ohno and Helio Castroneves. She is a professional dancer, having won the Latin Youth Championship at Blackpool, and is also a professional country music singer.

Kym Johnson
Kym is an Australian dancer, model, and TV celebrity. She was the Australian Ballroom Champion and represented Australia in the world 10 Dance Championships for 2 years. She also was part of the world tour of the Burn The Floor Production and appeared in the hit dance movie Strictly Ballroom. She won season 9 of DWTS with partner Donny Osmond.

Charlotte Jorgensen
A Danish dancer, Charlotte has only participated in the first season of DWTS. Her partner was John Hurley and John and Charlotte eventually won the championship in a controversial “dance off” with Kelly Monaco. She was the World Amateur Champion and won the Professional Rising Star Championships at Blackpool. She was also Richard Gere’s dance instructor for the hit dance movie Shall We Dance.

Nick Kosovich
Nick is a professional ballroom dancer and Emmy-nominated choreographer who specializes in American Smooth and International Ten Dance. An internationally respected figure in the ballroom world, Nick competed for 36 years having represented in seven Professional World Championship events. He won the United States American Smooth Championships and finished second in the 2004/5 World Classic Showdance Championships. He partnered with Tatum O’Neal and Vivica Fox on DWTS.

Alec Mazo
Alex won the first season of DWTS with partner Kelly Monaco. He is married to fellow dancer Edyta Sliwinska. He was the 5-time US National Finalist. Alec has been in the movies Dance With Me and The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons.

Jonathan Roberts
Jonathan was the World and US Smooth champion with partner Valentina Kostenko and US Rising Star Latin Champion with his partner and wife Anna Trebunskaya. He has competed on all the seasons except for 3, 7, 10, and 11 of DWTS, getting as far as 3rd place with Marie Osmond in season 5.

Fabian Sanchez
Dancing with the Stars professional dancer Fabian Sanchez is a highly accomplished professional ballroom dancer. He started dancing and competing in 1992 and has since then gained several recognitions from different championships. Among his titles are the United States Rising Star Champion and the United States Open American Rhythm Finalist. He was also a four-time Fred Astaire National Champion. In 2006, he won the United States World Mambo. Sanchez and wife Jacqueline own and run the Fred Astaire Dance Studio located in Hoover, Alabama. Sanchez is also active in his career as a choreographer and a coach. On DWTS, Fabian partnered with Marlee Matlin on season 6.

Lacey Schwimmer
Lacey was the winner of multiple youth championships and one of the top 4 finalists on the hit dance TV show So You Think You Can Dance. She danced at the MTV Movie Awards 2008 alongside Adam Sandler and was cast to dance in Adam Shankman's film Bedtime Stories starring Adam Sandler. On Season 7 of DWTS, Lacey was partnered with Lance Bass and they finished in third place.

Edyta Sliwinska
Edyta was a four-time US finalist in Latin dancing. She competed in the first 10 seasons of DWTS, getting as far as second place with partner Jason Taylor in Season 6. Her professional awards include becoming the Emerald Ball Latin Amateur Champion and winning first place in the International Grand Ball and the Holiday Ball. She is married to fellow dancer Alec Mazo.

Karina Smirnoff
Karina is an acclaimed dancer. Her achievements include becoming five-time US National Champion, World Trophy Champion, and Asian Open Champion. She is the first woman to ever make the British Professional Final with three different partners. The highest score she’s gotten in DWTS was on season 3 with partner Mario Lopez; they finished in second place.

Anna Trebunskaya
Anna’s many achievements on the dance floor include becoming the International Grand Ball Champion, US Rising Star Latin Champion, and Blackpool Rising Star Latin Finalist. She is married to fellow dancer Jonathan Robers and has made it to the finals twice during her time with DWTS, with Jerry Rice and Evan Lysacek.

Damian Whitewood
Damian is an Australian champion dancer who has performed on DWTS in the U.S. and So You Think You Can Dance in Australia and Holland. He also is a cast member of the ever popular Burn The Floor stage production. He partnered with Pamela Anderson in Season 10; they were the 6th couple to be eliminated.