Thursday, January 28, 2010

Next Dancing With The Stars - Four Pros Will Be Cut


Although “Dancing With the Stars” doesn’t premiere until March 22nd, details are slowly beginning to leak out about season ten. Four professional dancers out of last’s season’s crew of 16 will be eliminated before the season even begins. Plus, the buzz continues to grow that Paula Abdul may be added as a fourth judge on the hugely popular reality competition series.

Many of the professional dancers don’t even know if they’ll be returning for season ten. That’s because the number of teams is being reduced by 25%. Last year, 16 stars began season nine. This season, only 12 stars will compete. That means 4 of the 16 dance professionals from last season will not return. The dancers don’t yet know who’s on the chopping block. Louis Van Amstel recently tweeted that the pros will learn their fates on February 8th. He said, “Only 20 more days before I find out about season 10 of DWTS. Hopefully I’ll be back.”

The following 16 professional dancers competed last season, but four will not return:

Alec Mazo
Dmitry Chaplin
Louis Van Amstel
Anna Trebunskaya
Edyta Sliwinska
Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Anna Demidova
Jonathan Roberts
Mark Ballas
Chelsie Hightower
Karina Smirnoff
Tony Dovdani
Cheryl Burke
Kym Johnson
Derek Hough
Lacey Schwimmer

The stars and their partners usually begin practicing several weeks before their first dance on “Dancing With the Stars.” That means rehearsals should begin in a month or so. As usual, the new slate of contestants will be announced live on “Good Morning America” during the week of March 1-5.

In more news, it’s been widely reported that ABC has offered Paula Abdul a $1 million development deal, if she agrees to appear on “Dancing With the Stars.” There is some speculation that Abdul has been asked to compete. However, if she accepts ABC’s offer, she will more likely become the fourth judge, joining Len Goodman, Bruno Tunioli and Carrie Ann Inaba.

With years of choreography and dance experience, Paula Abdul would certainly have the know-how to offer constructive criticism. On the other hand, if she competes, ABC will face backlash from fans that already complain about an unfair advantage due to previous dance experience. This happened to Mya, although Donny Osmond ultimately defeated the singer during last season’s finals.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

AstaireCollection Shoes

Hear what they're saying about our new line of AstaireCollection shoes:

"I have been wearing the same dance shoe for more than 15 years so it was a little traumatic trying a new dance shoe, but I was pleasantly surprised with the quality, comfort and support of the Astaire Collection FA02222 model. This shoe is very dressy and lightweight with patent leather and a suede top with good cushioning and arch and extremely comfortable. I travel with these shoes now and wouldn’t be without them.

Wanting a second pair for my base studio in New York, I also tried the AstaireCollection FA57231 - a nice looking casual shoe in brown calfskin leather with stitching on top. I found these shoes also to be very comfortable and the quality of the shoe is outstanding. So now I have Happy Feet and my feet never felt better."

- Lyall Bradshaw, Fred Astaire Dance Studios Executive National Examiner

Visit the Dance Store on the Fred Astaire Dance Studios web site for ordering information.

Ohio Star Ball 2009 Recap

By Armando Martin, Fred Astaire Dance Studios National Dance Director

The Ohio Star Ball took place on the third weekend in November, and, once again, record numbers of people and entries attended this very prestigious event. It was a very long week for those of us who judged the competition, but the culmination of the professional events was well worth the time invested.

The professional Latin Competition was not as exciting as it could have been due to the fact that the Latin World Championships was going on during the same weekend in Europe. Because of this, both the top two U.S. and Canadian couples were not in attendance in Ohio.

The one thing that was truly invigorating for me was the amount and the quality of Fred Astaire Dance Studio professionals in the field, and the fact that we had so many good placements. The semifinal of the World Smooth was full of our people, couples such as Greg and Gaby from New Jersey and Vladimir and Vera from Buffalo, New York. Making the final and dancing with great flair and class was Misha and Gal from the New York East Side studio.

In the Rhythm category, the same was true. Many of our couples graced the floor during the semifinal round, which, by the way, means that we will be seeing these couples in the finals in the years to come. Making the final of this World Rhythm event was Ricky and Albina from the Milwaukee Central Studio; they continued to impress the judges and dance great after their final placements at the USDC.

The Pro Rhythm Rising Star final was riddled with our FADS couples; four out of the six finalists were from our company.

The following is the list of all the Fred Astaire couples who made a real impact in the professional events. I’d like to send my congratulations to all of our couples and thank you all for making us all proud. Keep it up.

Jesse Benedetti & Kimalee Piedad, Ft. Walton Beach - 3rd in Professional Theatrical/Solo Exhibitions
Ricky Bentzen & Albina Habrle, Milwaukee Central - 5th in World American Rhythm & 6th in Rhythm Show Dance
Aaron DeSoto & Jaana Lillemagi, Chicago North - 1st in American Rhythm Rising Star
Ivan Dishliev & Marieta Nedyalkova, Phoenix - 3rd in American Rhythm Rising Star
Anatoli Gorolevici & Irina Gorolevici, Hanover - 6th in International Standard Rising Star
Nikolay Karchev & Robyn Zmudzinski, Milwaukee Central - 5th in American Rhythm Rising Star
Vicente Martinez & Megan Murphy, Chicago Downtown - 1st in Professional Theatrical/Solo Exhibitions
Aleks Nashev & Brittney Bartler, Chicago North - 2nd in American Rhythm Rising Star
Mikhail Zharinov & Galina Detkina, NY East - 4th in World American Smooth and 4th in Smooth Show Dance

Cheryl Burke Interview


Kristina Dorsey

In a month, Cheryl Burke should be back to doing what she does most famously: teaching celebs how to dance.

On "Dancing with the Stars," she has tranformed Emmitt Smith from a football player into a charismatic dancer. She helped little-known actor Gilles Marini become the smooth operator who ended up tangoing into second place.

And, OK, her stint trying to make over politico Tom DeLay into a dancing machine didn't quite work. Their run was cut short when he got stress fractures in both feet.

The next "Dancing with the Stars" season should be starting up at the end of February or the beginning of March, and Burke is still in the dark about the whole thing, including potential partners.

In the meantime, she's coming to Mohegan Sun on Thursday to debut a new series featuring reality TV stars. Called Reality Check, it's held at The Shops at Mohegan Sun. Burke will be dancing with fellow ballroom champ Genya Mazo and then autographing photos.Burke, 25, has won "Dancing with the Stars" twice, when her partners were Emmitt Smith and former 98 Degrees singer Drew Lachey.

One of her Burke's assets on the show is her ability to coach the stars well and to choreograph pieces that truly show them off to their best advantage.

She says that, with Lachey, he was a good performer coming in, and the technical part of dancing was the challenge. Smith's work ethic was tremendous, but he had never really danced before; he improved greatly over the course of the season and made the dances his own.She lucked out in those cases. The professional dancers have no say in who their partners are, Burke says. The producers do the matchmaking, and she thinks a lot of it has to do with personalities.

That's not the only thing out of the professional dancers' control. For the most part, they don't get to choose their songs; the producers do."

We can't plan ahead. So once we know we've gotten to stay another week, they give us a new dance and a new song," Burke says."It's hard because we have to choreograph that same night and come in (to rehearse it) the next day.

"If that sounds like a punishing schedule, well, it is."We don't really get any days off. It's seven days a week, and it's every day, every night working through your new dance, your routine," she says.

As for those two "Dancing with the Stars" mirror-ball trophies that she won, Burke says they've improved the construction as the seasons have gone on. Hers, though, are from early on, and she says there were times when letters ended up dangling to the side and "you start seeing the mirrors fall off the mirror ball." (They've since been fixed.)

While Burke gained favorable notoreity for winning "Dancing with the Stars," she experienced the inevitable downside of fame, too. She made tabloid headlines in 2008 for putting on a few pounds, enduring criticism even from a couple of her male colleagues. She said back then that she had just taken time for the first time in years and wasn't dancing seven hours a day.

Burke has since slimmed down again but says, "I think that whole situation has been more of an inspirational story. A lot of the people that come up say, 'That's such crap that happened to you.' It sent the wrong message out. I believe with a women's body, you don't need to be anorexic to be beautiful. ... I was never that skinny, skinny girl. I'm an athlete."

An athlete, yes, and a choreographer, too. Asked whether she might want to choreograph on, say, the Fox show "So You Think You Can Dance," Burke dodges the question for the most part, saying that "Dancing with the Stars" has been very good to her and that her loyalty lies there. She is contractually still tied to "Dancing with the Stars" as well. Eventually, though, she does hope to create her own show.

And she'll continue dancing."The way I express my feelings and myself is through dance," she says. With dance, too, you can always push farther. She says, "You're never done. You're never perfect."

So You Think You Can Dance NY Auditions


Hundreds of "So You Think You Can Dance" hopefuls poured into Manhattan's Hammerstein Ballroom on Monday, hoping to shake, spin and glide their way onto TV.

They may not be able to moonwalk like Michael Jackson or hip shimmy like Beyonce, but they all had superstar aspirations.

"This is my dream! All my family and friends have been calling, saying 'I can feel it, you're gonna do well," and tears just come to my eyes," said Jason Taylor, 21, who was born and raised in the Bronx, but now lives in New Britain, Conn.

Taylor got in line for the auditions at 6 a.m. wearing a black Yankees cap pulled on sideways over his braids and high hopes of earning a "golden ticket" from producers that means moving on to audition again in front of judges Tuesday or Wednesday.

Some contestants have made appearances on the show before, like Jamie Greco, 30, a horror movie writer and director who lives in the Bronx. His all-out "gender chameleon" dance audition was aired during Season 2.
This time around, he came armed with a towering fruit hat, a pink fringe skirt and a bag of vegetables to use as props.

"I looove dancing," he gushed. "I'm a little bit intimidated being around all these people with professional training, but I know the real me will shine through."

A powerful personality is key, agreed the show's hostess, Cat Deeley.

"Personality always wins through at the end of the day," she said. "It's the back stories. It's the sense of humor. It's the fun. All those kind of things that make someone have charisma, make people identify with them, make people get off the sofa and actually pick up the phone and vote. And that's not an easy thing to do."

The show will audition wanna-be stars between the ages of 18 to 30 in six cities this season, including Chicago, Nashville, Dallas, Los Angeles and Miami.

"Dancing is a huge part of my life and I've watched this show since Season 1," said Amanda Feliciano, 19, of Plainfield, N.J. "I've stretched and practiced. Now it's my turn."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Be Part Of The Action!

Cross Country Dance Championships
April 14-18, 2010
Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas, NV

One of the best events of the year is coming up soon! At CCDC, you will dance - both competitively and socially - as never before.

Challenge and reward yourself at this glamorous competition, which includes dazzling professional shows, gala dinners, fun parties, social dancing interludes, top competitive heats, and a world-class judging panel. Make your plans to attend this great event today!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Princeton, NJ Offers Full Instruction in Ballroom Dance


Perhaps a recurrent New Year’s resolution is to lose a few pounds, tone up a bit, and generally just get more exercise — the problem is you don’t care for the gym. The good news is there’s an alternative, and it’s fun!

Come trip the light fantastic at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Princeton at the Princeton Shopping Center. Opened in October, it has become a popular spot not only to learn a variety of ballroom dances, but to meet new friends, and enjoy a social and welcoming atmosphere — all while you exercise.

“Dancing is not just entertainment, it is a benefit for the body,” points out Millie Dhirmalani, owner, with Nadia Goulina and Ilya Ifraimov, of the studio. “While dancing, your body goes through a wide array of movements, involving an increase of motion, and the more you dance, the more your muscles will flex and extend. Most forms of dancing involve a series of bending and stretching, resulting in an increase of general flexibility throughout your body. By increasing your flexibility, you are also conditioning your body to prevent possible injuries.

“Because dance uses a myriad of muscle groups, you can expect your body to get toned in ways that might surprise you,” continues Ms. Dhirmalani. “Most people associate strength and toning with the gym, but many people forget that your own body can act as its own weight for your muscles. From dipping and turning to mastering the Latin figure eight, you utilize all major muscle groups, including legs, arms, back, and core.”

Magic Remedy
In addition, says Ms. Dhirmalani, because dancing is so much fun, it is also a great stress-reliever. “Many studies have shown how the art of dance can help improve your mind, body, and sense of well-being. It is a magic remedy for redirecting one’s focus. If you are concerned about work, your family, or your massive To Do List, for a short time, while you are dancing, your worries seem to disappear. When you come to dance, you leave your worries at home. Your personal time is just for you.

“The social benefits of dance also have a hand in decreasing stress. As you build friendships and participate in the group activities, this promotes relaxation and confidence and a sense of well-being.”

And it doesn’t matter if you are brand new to the dance floor or know the steps to all the dances. Beginners to advanced dancers are all welcome. Students are all ages — from teens and young adults on up to an 85-year-old lady — and all backgrounds. University professors, a former Navy Seal. a former boxer, housewives, and doctors and lawyers all enjoy dancing at the studio.

Some people come as couples, but the majority — and this includes guys — come alone, notes manager TJ Matthews. Sometimes, a visit to the dance floor can be a surprise, he adds. “One man came in with his wife, and it was a big surprise for her. They came in and took a class, and have continued to dance.”

Regular Student
Princeton resident Ledlie Borgerhoff has become a regular student and is devoted to ballroom dance. “I started coming just after the studio opened. I’ve always wanted to learn ballroom dancing. I had formerly studied modern dance and been active in the theater. Now, I’m passionate about ballroom dancing and come every day.”

“She has been working very hard, and now she will compete in an upcoming competition,” adds Ms. Dhirmalani.

Lessons, both group and private, are 45 minutes, and categories include smooth (waltz, foxtrot, tango, and Viennese waltz), and Latin or Rhythm (samba, rhumba, mambo, cha cha, and swing).

“First, we offer an introduction to all the dances, and teach the basic steps. Then we’ll develop a program around the student’s goals and ability. We customize the package for each student,” explains Ms. Dhirmalani. “Taking both private and group lessons is ideal. You learn the basic steps with the instructors, and then practice and work with other people in the group. We also have the Fred Astaire Trophy system, which includes different requirements students must meet in order to graduate to the next level.”
In addition, the students have opportunities to enter Fred Astaire competitions. Four students participated last weekend, and not only that, says Ms. Dhirmalani, “Other students from our studio went up to support them. There is great camaraderie here.”

That results in part from the welcoming atmosphere and personal attention given to each student. The attractive studio, one of 130 Fred Astaire Dance Studio franchises nationwide, features a full-sized ballroom, with a specially designed raised floor to alleviate stress on knees. Bistro chairs and tables are available for dancers and spectators, and complimentary refreshments are offered.

Special Dances
Ms. Dhirmalani, a former Radio City Rockette, is a national Fred Astaire champion, having entered regional and national Fred Astaire dance competitions, prior to opening the Princeton Studio. She not only loves ballroom dance, but is dedicated to sharing it with others. “I have always been passionate about dance, and now, we want people to know we are here to educate them in dance in a welcoming atmosphere.

“Also, we will choreograph special wedding dances for a couple about to be married, so that their first dance as a married couple can be special. Our instructors have also danced at events for the Princeton Chamber of Commerce and Princeton and Montgomery High Schools.”

She adds that in February, the studio will be host to the Princeton Adult School’s cardio-dance classes.

On Friday, January 22, it will also hold a special “Dancing With The Stars” performance, featuring professional ballroom dancers Tony Devoloni and Snejana Petrova. Dinner, cocktails, and dancing will be included. Tickets are $60.

Ms. Dhirmalani is delighted with the Princeton Shopping Center location and with the response both from dance students and the neighboring businesses. “The warmth and acceptance of being welcomed as a new person in the community has been wonderful.”

“We hope to partner with a restaurant and offer people a dinner and dance date night,” adds Mr. Matthews. “Bring back romance. Try dancing!”
Hours are Monday through Friday 1:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Weekends by appointment. (609) 921-8881.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dance Lessons - Part Of Woman's Makeover

From (Milwaukee, WI):

"Milwaukee Makeover"

By Courtny Gerrish

Imagine getting a chance to transform yourself... from the inside out.
One lucky woman won a complete makeover. We first met her the day she learned she'd won the makeover. Michelle Weber, who is from Waukesha, had already begun changing herself. She recently lost more than 100 pounds.

She wasn't even sure she wanted to try for the makeover, she said. "It was hard, I contemplated, do I really want to put myself out there, do I really want to show people, hey, I weighed over 200 pounds before," she told us.
But she jumped right in and started the grueling regimen. Her package included a membership to the Wisconsin Athletic Club, complete with a personal trainer. Her sessions were every day, and she'd often start working out at 4:30 in the morning.

From there, Michelle went to work. But she also had to fit in skin sessions with Enhancing Light Laser Cosmetics, dental treatments with Modern Touch Dental, a new hairdo, and dance lessons at Fred Astaire.

The makeover is the brainchild of Kelly Becker, a local businesswoman who was herself the recipient of a total makeover on Fox's "The Swan" reality show a few years ago. She told us it changed her life.

"Just to make myself feel happy inside, to have a new outlook on life, it really helped me overall," she said frankly. The makeover helped Kelly so much, she wanted to offer the same experience to a local woman. So she started recruiting local businesses who all contributed to Michelle's new look.

Four months after Michelle began her makeover process, she got to "come out" in style at a gala event at Kenosha's Strawberry Creek, a golf and social club.

A crowd of family and friends gathered to see her big reveal.

Kelly announced Michelle's name, and she came through the doorways looking like a new person. The workouts trimmed anther 18 inches from her already slimmed body, she had a beautiful new smile, new hair, and new clothes.

"She's gorgeous," her husband said.

Michelle herself said she feels like a totally new person, more confident and happy. "Every minute was worth it in the end."

And to finish her big night, the once-shy young woman performed an East Coast Swing dance for the crowd.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dancing With The Stars - News About Next Season

Dancing with the Stars season 10 will thus kick off with a two-hour performance show on March 22, then another two-hour performance show the following week on March 29. During both times, viewers will be able to vote per episode. The first elimination night will take place after the second two-hour performance show.

The Dress Makes The Dance!


Looks count on TV dance shows

By Vincent Boucher
January 17, 2010

Right about now, in January, as the holiday glow fades and winter boredom sets in, die-hard fans of ballroom, hip-hop, tango and salsa may have a dawning realization: "So You Think You Can Dance" had its season finale the week before Christmas.

And "Dancing With the Stars" won't be back till March.

We'll miss the shows too -- as much for the highly inventive, undeniably glamorous costumes as for the riveting quick steps and rumbas.

The January lull gives us time to ponder and appreciate the work of designers who build the "looks" for both shows from the ground up, in the scant few days between one week's result show and the next week's competition -- with little to go on but a piece of music, a hunch and a ton of Swarovski crystals.

Costume designer Soyon An won an Emmy in 2009 for "So You Think" for doing something that had never occurred to her as a student of fashion design at the Otis College of Art and Design and the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. "I thought I was just going to work in a cubicle somewhere," she said.

But the South Korean native, whose family moved to Los Angeles when she was 3, found a different path when she started doing background extra work and "got to see what costume designers were doing backstage." Then a stint assisting celebrity stylist Jessica Paster with her red-carpet clients gave her an extra push.An, a veteran at 19 Entertainment (the production company behind "So You Think" and "American Idol"), took the lead design job at the show during last summer's Season 5, finished fall's Season 6 in December and will be back for Season 7 once a start date is set. In the meantime, she will be the women's costumer for "American Idol" for the season that began Tuesday.

When "So You Think" is in production, she starts her almost never-ending work week by hearing the music for each routine in meetings with the choreographers and picking a color scheme for each performing couple or group number."

Colors just pop into my head while I'm listening to the song," she said, adding that because the choreography is still in the works, she never gets to see it until after she has finished her designs -- and then only once at the dress rehearsal a day before the show. "I don't think fashion trends really influence my work; my thing is called deconstruction. I like to believe I know what's going on, but I also believe I'm a trendsetter," she said, citing influences as varied as cholo street style, Japanese cute, lots and lots of magazines, the Discovery Channel and her own travels. As the dances encompass hip-hop, ballroom and just about everything in between, any show can find her creating a colorful "little cupcake" mini, a slinky ombré disco dress and camo-print beaded fatigues. For the judges, "character" is the holy grail of the show, as the professional dancers try to disappear into the roles demanded by the set. Costumes can help make or break a routine as viewed from the proscenium stage.

"The costumes affect the way America sees the performance," said one of the show's judges, producer/director Adam Shankman. He cited contestant Karen Hauer's hip-hop turn wearing a bold yellow mechanic's uniform that obliterated her image as a ballroom dancer as well as modern dancer Noelle Marsh's gowned transformation for a fox trot.

Meanwhile, "Dancing With the Stars" -- which returns to the schedule in the spring -- is a celebrity-driven spectacle of barely there bodices flaunting spray-tanned cleavage, floaty fabric panels that dip and swirl along with the dancer's moves and campy touches such as plopping a Day-Glo green wig on contestant Kelly Osbourne to finish off a '60s look. Women aren't the only ones who put on a show: The professional partners and in-shape male stars bare arms and more in sheer beaded shirts, and they often sport biceps-friendly stand-alone vests. In one notable instance last season, dancer Derek Hough discarded his shirt altogether for just a wide sash in a steamy salsa number.

It's all entertainment, said costume designer Randall Christensen, also an Emmy winner and a former dancer. "I'm lucky to have an Edyta Sliwinska, who can wear a quarter-yard of fabric and get away with it." As each season progresses, he added, the celeb women ask for briefer and briefer costumes as they get in fighting shape. "We like to push it, and they're proud of their bodies," he said, "so why not show it?"

Christensen knows from his own experience the importance of costumes to a dancer: "I learned years ago that when you take the dance floor, they start judging you that minute, and the costumes are a huge part of that." Ideas come from favorite designers such as Gaultier and Cavalli but also from "the classics," such as Ralph Lauren and Chanel. But because he grew up watching the "Sonny and Cher" and "Carol Burnett" TV shows, his biggest inspiration is Bob Mackie, because, he said, it was such "huge fun" to see what the designer would come up with every week. "

For the '70s, he was really pushing the limits," Christensen added, mentioning outfits worn by Cher and Mitzi Gaynor. Sometimes network censors cut to a face shot when a Mackie costume was too revealing.

Christensen believes the influence of his show has women of all ages "asking for a little bling, asking to be sexy" when they go shopping. Once, looking at the beaded bras on display at Victoria's Secret, he thought, "Did we do that first or did they?" Beyond television, dance-influenced fashion has captured the imagination of mainstream designers such as the always-opinionated "Project Runway" alum -- and onetime break dancer -- Jeffrey Sebelia. As the new designer for the L.A.-based casual-wear line Fluxus, his dance-driven spring collection was full of body-conscious ruching and tulle-like sheer modal knit. "It's hard to pinpoint why," Sebelia mused. "When I started looking into fabrics and doing research, it just seemed to be a good time to be doing this."

Characteristically, his inspiration was a little darker. "In this so-called recession," he said, with "this sense of poverty, I was also thinking of one of my favorite movies, 'They Shoot Horses, Don't They?' "Sebelia unwittingly hit the nail on the head with his mention of "Horses," Sydney Pollack's's 1969 saga of Depression-era dance marathons in which couples competed for money by dancing until they literally dropped from exhaustion. Maybe the TV dance revival is the reality-show version of a dance marathon, where everyone sits at home voting on which dancers will ultimately get the big prize.

But at least today's contestants are dressed a whole lot better.

Students Put Their Best Feet Forward

From (Buffalo, NY):

By Mark Sommer

Dancing star and instructor Anna Trebunskaya took Buffalo by storm Saturday, turning the parquet floor of the Adam's Mark Hotel ballroom into a clinic for ballroom dancing.

Trebunskaya, from TV's "Dancing with the Stars," was participating in "Dancing for a Dream," a fundraiser of the Variety Club, which has a long history of supporting Women & Children's Hospital. The nine-hour event was sponsored by STORM, a nonprofit organization that raises funds through dance events.

Trebunskaya's 45-minute classes in cha-cha and rhumba were among 12 classes — from salsa and hip-hop to foxtrot and ballet — that continued throughout the day before the performance-packed evening.

"Ballroom dancing used to be older people's leisure activity, but I think "Dancing with the Stars' shows it really, truly is a sport — you have to be really athletic," the Russian-born Trebunskaya said shortly before leading the class. "It's not as simple as it looks."

She spends three months a year working for the show, on which she has been a fixture for four seasons. She said the show's popularity has made it easier for people to understand how she makes a living.

"Before — when you'd chat with people and they'd say, "What do you do?' and you'd say, "I'm a ballroom dancer; I'm a teacher as well.'

"They'd say, "Really, you can make money doing this?' Now I think everybody goes, "Oh yes, just like that program.' "

Trebunskaya admitted not having heard of stars she has been paired with, such as NFL football great Jerry Rice, because she is so immersed in the dance world. She said because of her busy dance schedule, she doesn't own a TV.

Grethe Vruarin, a University at Buffalo graduate student, was one of about 200 people in attendance by early afternoon. She was excited to dance to Trebunskaya's instruction.

"Not only is it a TV show that everyone watches — it's Buffalo, and we don't really expect it. It's cool," Vruarin said.

Trebunskaya, of course, wasn't the only instructor for the nine-hour marathon. Among them was local choreographer and STORM founder Tommy Radon, whose dancing credentials include earning "top NY instructor" from Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Radon taught one class and choreographed three others.

The variety of dance classes offered throughout the day was quickly apparent when the opening ballet class was immediately followed by hip-hop.

Keith Williams, who danced in both, said the ballet class was an eye-opening experience.

"Ballet was something I had never really done before, and growing up, I never was so fond of it. I've got a whole different perspective on it now," Williams said.

Williams performed a cartwheel and front flip near the conclusion of the hip-hop class, as dancers lined the outside of the dance floor. Fellow dancer Zeke Cicus, who weighs 285 pounds, concluded his series of moves with an unexpected split.

"This is very good for Buffalo," said Cicus, who like Williams is a member of the Eccentric Flow dance troupe at UB. "A lot of the kids were having a good time just coming to a place on the weekend and dancing. They're loving it."

Instructor Maria Ruffato led the dancers in constant sharp, then soft, gestures, with "popping," "locking," "sliding" and robotic movements.
Charmese O'Callaghan, a Niagara Falls dance instructor who teaches hip-hop, praised Ruffato's instruction and said she was having a great time.
So was Karon Cannon of Buffalo and a senior at St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute, who said he was pretty much a beginner — although his solo suggested a streak of modesty.

"It's a great experience. I haven't had any training, but I always wanted to learn. I'm really picking up new things," Cannon said.

Mary West of Grand Island, watching her 9-year-old daughter Teresa, liked what she saw.

"This is just completely awesome," she said. "It's an opportunity for her to learn so much. Not only does it help a great cause, but they're learning from such talented people who are in the business."

Get Hot, Hot, Hot at the Ridgefield Playhouse

From (Ridgefield, CT):

"Not everyone has to dance like the people they see on TV," says Christoph Lawatsch, manager of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Ridgefield. "Everyone can dance, you just have to start with the basics."

The perfect opportunity to try out Latin dancing is at the "Dancing with the Stars -- Sizzling Salsa" event at the Ridgefield Playhouse Thursday.

Professionals from the Fred Astaire Studio will be teaching participants the basics of the salsa, tango and meringue.

For dancers who want a chance to show off their moves, a competition will be held after the lessons. Audience members will vote for the couple they think had the best dance, and the winner will receive tickets to a show.
Allison Stockel, executive director of the Ridgefield Playhouse, organized the evening, which includes a margarita tasting and salsa party in the lobby before the dancing begins. There will also be an after-party where everyone can cool down with music and food courtesy of Southwest Cafe of Ridgefield. Employees from Adam Broderick Salon and Spa will be at the event too, providing make-up tips and applications so participants can get the perfect look for when they go out dancing.

"It's a cheap way to have some fun," Stockel said.

The event is being hosted by the Danbury Hospital Spirit of Women program. Spirit of Women is a national program aimed at helping women become more engaged in health and wellness. According to Andrea Rynn, director of community, public, and government relations at Danbury Hospital, the program helps empower women to take better care of themselves through eating right, exercising, and taking time to focus on their own personal needs. Rynn says Latin dance is a great, fun way for women to get up and move.

"Latin dance steps are easy to learn," Rynn added. "And you don't have to be an expert to have fun with it."

Members of the Spirit of Women program will be on hand to answer health questions and talk about how to join their program. Their goal is to show how exercise can be enjoyable, and that dancing is a great way to get the heart pumping.

"The event will show you the power of dance," Stockel said.

"Dancing with the Stars -- Sizzling Salsa" is set for THursday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the event are $5 and can be purchased on the Ridgefield Playhouse Web site, or by calling their box office at 203-438-5795.

Friday, January 15, 2010

News About Dancing With The Stars, Season 10


When Dancing with the Stars' 10th season returns on March 22, there'll be fewer couples on the dance floor.

ABC entertainment president Steve McPherson said Tuesday that he likes airing two cycles of the show each year, but thought last season featured too many couples. He said Season 10 will be limited to 11 or 12 at the most.

This time around, the first elimination will take place after the second episode, and will be based on the judges' scores and votes from the public for the first two episodes.

The Season 10 cast has yet to be announced.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My Golden Dancers

Dancing is Like a Box of Chocolates

By Elita Sohmer Clayman

Some months, it is hard to find an interesting topic to write about. Even though it is January, February is the month of love, Valentine’s Day. The first Valentine’s Day that I was going with my husband occurred only four months after we had met. I did not expect much and I did not get much. He gave me a five pound box of chocolates and I was so thrilled that I did not open it up for two months. I let it sit on my bureau dresser and kept looking at it all the time.

I loved the heart shaped red box with the bow on it and the smell of the delicious chocolates. The box could have been empty and I would have still loved it for the thought and all the things I hoped would come true from this first offering. The things did come through and we married two years later.

Many dancers feel great anticipation after starting on their first lesson. We started on November 2, 1977 and after we went down in the elevator of the dance studio, I had this premonition that tonight was the beginning of a new plateau in our lives. So it was and it evolved into weekly dance lessons, competitions for me and Saturday night social dances at the studio where we took these lessons. The next day after the first lesson, we rode down to a music store in a small mall and bought six dance records.

We would go down to our family room in the basement and roll up the rug and try to remember what we had learned the previous night. We wanted to become good dancers and we knew that practice surely made us closer to perfect. We took notes as the teacher gave us instructions and tried to decipher what he had said the previous evening. I even bought a small tape recorder and began to tape in audio mode the whole lesson to help us remember his teachings.

Those were exciting moments in my life, the beginning of a dream that I always wanted to be a ballroom dancer. Now I see advertisements on the television that hurray ballroom dancing is back. Back from where I say? It never left, we knew it never disappeared; we knew it was alive and well.

Many email me that ballroom dancing has influenced their life to the point that it is a necessary need they have to do it, spend money on it and enjoy it. Even some dancers who now are unable to go out and dance due to some physical ailments or problems with their shoulders or knees still go to dances and sit around talking to other dancers and use it as a social tool even though they cannot really dance a lot there that day or evening. They feel that just being there in the dance environment is cause enough to dress up, pay and if they can only dance one or two dances, they have accomplished and continue on their dream. They may not be able to cha-cha the way they used to years ago, but they can still enjoy the music and the beat and listening to the music is also therapy to their hearts and ears.

The Valentine heart box of candy when opened consisted of about twenty different kinds of shades of chocolate. So is the box called dancing when opened. There are many varieties of dancing and like the chocolate may appeal to one person and not the other person. The interesting thing is like the box of chocolates, dancing is sweet and delicious and we do not know what to expect when we bite into a piece that looks a bit like something we have not discovered before this moment. We can try it and if we do not enjoy it, we put it aside or in the case of candy, we throw it away. We cannot destroy something in dancing by tossing it aside, but we can save it for later or for never or for when we are more ready to ‘taste’ it and savor it.

Many readers write about their first experience taking that initial lesson. They have fear, they have anticipation of something great, they have feelings intensified by the unknown and lastly they have hope. Hope that they will excel in this at some point and that they will eventually view it as a hobby of delight and an hour of fun and knowledge. That is exactly what I imagined after the first lesson with our coach, a young man about twenty years or so in age from us. That did not matter. He had the tools we wanted and he gave us the love of dancing that we still adhere to. He encouraged us and complimented us and gave us the hope that we could become great.

I have always been grateful to him because he helped a couple in their 40s to feel that 40 was young to begin to learn to dance. The learning is easy; it is the continuing on and reaching for the stars. Like my Valentine box of candy way back in 1958 given by a young man to the young lady he was starting to court as they called it then, our assorted dancing box was full of enticing tastes of dancing. I am glad that I opened it up and did not let it sit there. That is my dancing and not my candy.

When we bought our first little doggie, we named her Candy because she was white and fluffy like a cotton candy on a stick you get at a carnival. Our second doggie many years later was named Rhumba and I need not explain why other than to say she moved her hips like she was doing that dance.

So go and open up that Valentine box of imaginary candy and think of it as a container of ballroom dancing opportunities. Sweet, delicious, delightful and enticing. The most important part is that it is better than the candy because it will not stick to your hips, it will make your hips move and heart feel happy. Go rhumba or cha-cha or waltz. Whatever you accomplish for those four minutes will make your life sweeter and - best of all - no calories used up. In fact, calories will disappear as you dance your way to a sweeter life.

Keep On Dancing.

Elita Sohmer Clayman
Baltimore, Maryland
January 2010

Vito Aiming For Big Dance


Vito aiming for big dance
Sunday, Jan. 10 2010

Perpetually rumpled and shaggy, relatively anonymous and absolutely committed to non-conformity, 5-foot-5 and a blank slate when it came to dancing, snowboarder Louie Vito was both an improbable invitee and participant for "Dancing With The Stars."

"Who would have thought they'd want somebody from snowboarding?" he said at the U.S. Olympic Media Summit last fall in Chicago.

But he considered the offer to take part in a show seen by an estimated 22 million people a week a once in a lifetime opportunity, certainly for himself but also for his sport.

"I think it's about to hit the mainstream hard," Vito said.Reflecting the conflict between the sports' aspirations to grow and gain further recognition while staying true to its Gen X roots, Vito said he had to contend with "haters" who accused him of selling out by taking part. Fellow snowboarder Steve Fisher, though, wasn't among them."I'm proud of the little guy," he said.

Vito, a prime contender for the U.S. team to be determined later this month for the upcoming Vancouver Olympics, scoffed at the naysayers, saying he wasn't going to suddenly try to be "Mr. Cool" instead of a snowboarder.

"That's who I am," he said, "and that's who I'm going to portray on the show."

Considering how cleaned-up Vito looked during his partnership with dancer Chelsie Hightower, that might be a matter for debate. And as someone who got into his sport largely because "no one could say you have to do it their way," he found it a challenge to have to do disciplined steps.

But there's little doubt that his appearances reaped publicity for U.S. Snowboarding, even if he was eliminated in Week Six with judges cracking wise about Vito saying "he got all wacko" on one dance and looking "slightly dazed and confused" on another.

Those labels, of course, have been thrust on Vito and his brethren almost since they began their uneasy alliance with the Olympic movement in 1998. Snowboarders have claimed 14 medals since, including seven in the 2006 Turin Games. But they also have had trouble superimposing their free-spirited culture over the stodgier Olympics, resulting in controversies such as several failed drug tests and the Lindsey Jacobellis incident in Italy.

Jacobellis finished with a silver medal in snowboard-cross after crashing while hot-dogging with the gold medal within her grasp. Her act was completely consistent with the slacker ways of snowboarding and utterly contrary to the Olympic ethos.

During a teleconference afterwards, Jacobellis treated it rather casually, saying, "It's just a race, and anything can happen." That stoked a veteran Olympic reporter, who responded, "Just a race?! Not an Olympic gold?!"

Jacobellis responded that she had just won the first silver ever in the event, "So you have to give me something." But the call ended abruptly with her in tears.

Vito began training for the reality show in mid-August and immersed himself in the competition, an event he expects to help him in more ways than one. Beyond the exposure, Vito reckoned that training in dance for four to six hours a day helped his conditioning and flexibility.

"My (hunched) snowboard posture doesn't really work for the ballroom," he said.

When it was over, Vito said he had no idea he would be so "bummed" not to win.

But he also said that competing in Vancouver on the Olympic stage would be "a breeze" after being under such high-profile pressure — against the grain as it might have been.

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Host For Dance Your A$@ Off!


Former Scary Spice Mel B has signed up to host the second season of "Dance Your A$* Off," a reality-TV weight loss show in which contestants battle to shed the pounds on the dance floor. Each week, the competitors are scored according to their weekly weight loss and their elaborate dance routines.

Mel B, a former contestant on Dancing with the Stars, said: "After the birth of my second daughter, I wanted to find a fun and effective way to drop the pounds and get back in shape.

"I realised I didn't have to look far to find the answer. Whether I was dancing around the house with headphones on or on stage with the Spice Girls ... I learned firsthand that dancing was the key to shedding off the pounds and keeping them off."

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Fred Astaire Dance Studios Set To Open In Freehold, New Jersey


The rumors (and window signs) are true: the Fred Astaire Dance Studio is coming to Main Street. Owner Amanda Tilghman took some time to fill us in on when the studio will open and what it will have to offer Freehold-area twinkle toes.

"We're looking to open in the next two weeks, hopefully," she said. "We just have to get the maple floors down and finish the decor. It's really a great space."

When they open, a range of dance classes including salsa, waltz, tango, cha-cha, and mambo will be offered. Individual classes will run from $25, with class packages starting at $275. The studio will also host private parties on Friday evenings.

Tilghman, who also owns a children's dance studio in Jackson, decided to open an adult studio in Freehold out of fondness for the area.

"I've always liked Freehold, always ended up here no matter where I was living," Tilghman said.

Classes will be taught by Tilghman, who studied ballet in Europe and danced with the National Opera of Ukraine, and a male dance instructor who studied and danced throughout Russia.

Spotlight On Life Gala In Wisconsin


You are invited as the National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin (NKFW) hosts a sneak preview of the newest sport at the 2010 NKF U.S. Transplant Games -ballroom dancing!

The "Spotlight on Life" Gala will be held Saturday, January 30 at the MequonCountry Club. This black-tie optional event will be a celebration of the"second chance at life" given through organ donation and the science oftransplantation.

The spotlight will shine brightly on Wisconsin's "Medical Stars." You will delight in watching professional and amateur dancers from Fred Astaire Dance Studios perform on behalf of each of Wisconsin's transplant centers: Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin, Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center,Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, and University of Wisconsin - Madison!

Each couple will showcase a style of ballroom dance from the Night Club,Latin, and Smooth dance divisions, which will be featured at the 2010 NKFTransplant Games. The fate of the dancers will be in the hands of the audience as votes are cast for their favorite performance.

In addition to the ballroom dance exhibition, guests will enjoy a delicious dinner and cash bar along with the musical talents of the Jeannine RiversGroup.

Ticket prices range from $40/ticket to $80/ticket. Proceeds will support transplant recipients, living donors, and donor family members who will beattending the 2010 NKF U.S. Transplant Games as part of Team Wisconsin.

Please visit to purchase your tickets!


Guests attending Spotlight on Life will receive special rates at our hosthotel, Best Western Quiet House and Suites in Mequon. The special one-night rate of $65 (SAVINGS of up to $135!!) includes complimentary shuttle service between the hotel and Mequon Country Club along with complimentarycontinental breakfast on Sunday Morning! Make sure to mention "Spotlight onLife" when making your reservation (262-241-3677).

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Schools That Rock!

From (Naples, FL):

Kickin’ it old school: Immokalee Middle School students get a lesson in ballroom dancing

Friday, January 1, 2010
COLLIER COUNTY — Immokalee Middle School students didn’t just run into holiday break.

They salsaed, waltzed and cha-chaed into it.

“It’s a whole lot of fun,” eighth-grader Jevon Alberique said of dancing. “At first I didn’t want to do it, but it has been one of the best things we have done.”

The Immokalee Middle School students performed as part of the Schools That Rock program, which returned to the school for its third year.
Schools That Rock teaches the students how to swing, salsa, merengue, waltz and cha-cha within a two-week span.

The program was created and sponsored by Bradenton-based World Dance Arts Foundation. It was brought to Immokalee Middle School by a donation from Eva Sugden Gomez, a Naples woman from a philanthropic family.

“I am a ballroom dancer. That is my hobby. When I heard about the World Dance Arts Foundation’s program, I knew I wanted to contribute to it,” she said. “Dancing is social. It teaches you about setting goals. And it is participating in something that is fun.”

The curriculum needs a sponsor because the Collier County School District doesn’t have the $3,000 per school to spare to bring it to local middle schools.

“We are very fortunate to have this partnership so that students have this experience,” Immokalee Middle School Principal Abel Jaimes said. “This is an opportunity to celebrate the hard work our students have put in.”
Immokalee Middle School students taking physical education participated in the program under the guidance of professional dance instructor Molly Cook, of Naples.

“I love them,” Cook said of her students. “I hope this gives them a sense of accomplishment, a sense of dignity and hopefully a knowledge of ballroom dancing.”

On the day of their performance, the students’ teachers, peers and parents came to the cafeteria to watch the fruits of their labor. The students entered in pairs of two, dressed like they were headed to a school dance.

As the first group of students walked onto the floor, their faces looked nervous. But once “Jingle Bell Rock” began playing through the speakers, their nervous faces broke into smiles, even if they occasionally stepped on their partner’s foot.

Some even counted as Cook, with her Santa hat on her head, reminded them to keep their heads up.

“It’s pretty fun. It’s been interesting,” said John Gonzalez, a 13-year-old seventh-grader. “I like the cha-cha. It’s fun and it’s the one I know.”

The program first came to Collier County a few years ago, when Community School of Naples parent Debra Stevens got the first Schools That Rock going at Community School.

“The goal is to get all of the middle schools handled,” she said. “It teaches them an art form that encourages respect. It is creative and multicultural and stretches their knowledge of music.”

Stevens admits the students are reluctant at first, but said by the end of the class, they are looking forward to it.

Hilda Lozano certainly thinks that’s true. She and her husband, Artemio, came to see their daughter, Loura, dance. Loura chose her father as her dance partner for the open dance competition at the end of the performance.

“She was excited. She’s been showing her dad at home,” Lozano said as she watched Loura merengue with her father. “It’s good. They need to learn something different.”

Aisa Gonzalez, a migrant resource teacher at the school, was asked to dance by eighth-grader Dave Rouzard. The two won the open dance competition.
“I love doing this and he can dance so well,” she said. “It’s wonderful and the kids love (Cook).”

The feeling is obviously mutual as Cook hugs her students at the end of the performance.

“They all touch me ... When they get out there, I get goose bumps,” she said. “They blow my mind every time.”

Immokalee Middle School, which was the first school Cook taught the program at, also has a special place in her heart.

“These kids are so appreciative,” she said. “(They) made my Christmas.”