Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fred Astaire Dance Studios: Our Wish to You for the New Year

While I dance I can not judge, I can not hate, I can not separate myself from life.  I can only be joyful and whole. This is why I dance. - Hans Bos 

Dancing is just discovery, discovery, discovery. - Martha Graham

Discovering Joy Today and in Every New Year to Come

Dancing is a sport/art form/exercise/pasttime. 
It defies definition.

It is a paradox.

It is a prescription for healing without medicine.
It is freeing, not confining, though it constantly re-shapes.
It restores and re-vitalizes without a single smudge of makeup.
Carefully applied, it makes things whole again.

Dancing enlarges life
and the soul,
And its thrills last forever,
like memories of a bicycle ride, flying.

People together
beneath warm, bright lights
focus on learning
a new Dance of Life.
And from their efforts
discover a harmony 
that blends inside with out,
one they never thought was there.
The dancer who’s been properly taught
to think carefully about their steps
May then forget them all
to move joyfully and wholly,
with no second thoughts,
with respect for everyone around them, 
into what the next dance brings.

This word that defies the world's definitions
can define the world instead.

It can make it a better place. 

Wishing each of our dear Fred Astaire family members and the whole wide world a New Year filled with the benefits of dancing! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

How to FEAR NOTHING! (Even Asking a Woman to Dance), by Michael Amato, a Dance Student

{When Michael Amato, a student at Florida's Boca Raton Fred Astaire Dance Studio, sent us his thoughts on the great new life he's built for himself since he began his dancing lessons, he thanked us for asking him to tell about it: "Writing these words," he said, "further validates my choices and makes me proud to tell my story so that it might inspire others: fellow students, to show them that it is truly worth the investment and the effort, and instructors and studio owners, to show them that their efforts are appreciated and life-changing for us." We thank you, Michael, for your thoughtful, kind words.]

Michael Amato today, 'walking a little taller.'

I've always been fascinated by dancing. Whenever I went out I would enjoy watching others and I wished I could dance like them. But, like many men, I felt intimidated by it and was afraid I'd embarrass myself if I tried it.
  That all changed in January, 2013, when I met a woman who was a student at Fred Astaire in Boca Raton, Florida. She invited me to attend a guest party and after putting it off, I finally went on Valentine’s Day.
It was there that I met my instructor, Mariya-Khristina Shurupova, and from that moment on, my life was transformed. One of the things that I realized was how much fun it was! It was a slow start but my determination (and eventually, my enthusiasm) drove me to learn. Once I learned the basics of smooth and rhythm dances, I was on my way!
  My private lessons with Mariya and my second instructor, Sayra Vasquez, were the most fun I've had in years. Group classes and dance parties I attended helped me reinforce what I was learning. Soon I was feeling confident and brave! Asking a woman to dance was no longer an exercise in rejection, but one of joy and acceptance. I made great friends with the students in the studio, especially the women! They enjoyed dancing with me, which did wonders for my self esteem and confidence.

Mariya-Khristina Shurupova, Pro, and Michael
(his 3rd month of lessons)

  Then the weight started coming off. I think that was the best effect, one I never imagined would happen. People at work and the studio began to notice the change, not only in my physical appearance but in my attitude and how I projected myself. I would talk to my customers, friends, and family about my experience and they would always comment on how enthusiastic I sounded!

May 2013: At the beginning, a lesson with Shurupova
  Of course, the question of cost would come up and I would always point out that for me, the benefits of dancing lessons far outweighed the expense. How many of us go out and buy expensive clothes or cars thinking that will change things and make our lives better? Material things are satisfying at first, but once the novelty wears off, what are we left with? Learning to dance is something that stays with you for your entire life. It's a community of people who have fun and love what they're doing. My enthusiasm for, and devotion to, the craft impresses those I've shared it with, and I'm extremely proud of that.
 In August, 2013, I competed in my first dance competition. I danced nine times: the Rhumba, Cha-Cha and East Coast Swing. I was extremely nervous leading up to the first dance but just like my instructors told me, once the music started, the butterflies disappeared, and I danced with confidence, enjoying every minute! I placed first in seven dances and second in two, and I was hooked!
 The next big event was dancing in a production number at our showcase event in November. The rehearsals were a lot of fun and dancing in front of 350 people in the studio was more satisfying and enjoyable than I could have imagined. I'm looking forward to the next one with great anticipation, and I will dance with one of my instructors.
  What have I learned from this? FEAR NOTHING! Life is short, and I've wasted too many years wishing and hoping for something to come into my life that would make a positive difference. I've been a widower for the past 13 years and my wife loved to dance, so I can only imagine that wherever her spirit is, she's watching and smiling at me!
  Now that I've learned to dance I enjoy going to local ballrooms, knowing that I can ask a woman to dance and feel confident enough to carry myself on the floor. The proof of that was being asked to dance by women who saw me on the floor and wanted to dance with me! I find myself walking a little taller, with my head up, and filled with a feeling of accomplishment which carries over into my job. My only regret was not starting sooner, but fate and destiny made this moment the perfect time.
  The attached pictures reflect the changes in my appearance (backwards, actually). The third was taken during a lesson with Mariya back in May at 245 pounds! The second is with Mariya in August at the competition. The first was taken this week: now 215 pounds! The last picture is of the custom plate I had made for my car to express my new-found passion.

 The journey of the rest of my life has started and I'm off on the right foot (or should I say the left foot LOL!) I don't know where it will lead me, but I know I'll enjoy the trip. The next thing would be to find the right partner to share this with, and thanks to my new found dancing skills, I know she will be the next love of my life.

Appreciatively yours,

Michael Amato  


Friday, December 13, 2013

New Book Affirms FADS Dance Teachers are Professional 'Unstickers'

We first posted this article for you here more than a year ago. Back then it was called “Dancing with the...," by Karen Amster-Young, a warm, witty, tongue-in-cheek account of Karen and her husband’s first dance lesson at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Manhattan. 

We are thrilled to announce that “Mr. and Mrs. Clueless” (the term Karen herself uses to illustrate their lack of dance knowledge), and their fabulous experience with us have now been immortalized in a wonderful book called The 52 Weeks, by Amster-Young and Pam Godwin!

Renamed “Dancing With My Star,” our story begins on page 3, and it is surrounded by other stories Amster-Young and Godwin acquired through “a year of discovery.” There are more great pieces in the book by guest writers, and we also get expert advice on how to live a life of discovery from a psychiatrist, a nuclear cardiologist, and a half-dozen more highly-educated professionals.  

In ‘Note to the Reader,’ the authors explain that “The 52 Weeks was conceived as a fun idea between two good friends. Our plan was to get going again, get unstuck and just feel better….,”

Sound familiar, Fred Astaire Dance Studios teachers? And, teachers, whether it was your intent or not, we know that because much of your life’s work involves new students, you often need to address this exact theme:  how to help people “get going again, get unstuck, and just feel better.”
Know that what you do matters. And know that what you do, you do very well. It takes dedicated people with high levels of skill to bring about positive change for people, which is why we, at Corporate, dedicate this story to you.  All the good you do doesn't stop at the edge of the ballroom floor, ladies and gentlemen we know that, and we thank you.
‘Dancing with the...’ first appeared October 13, 2011 on Amster-Young and Godwin’s co-authored blog, The 52 Weeks. The book by the same name resulted from a collection of their blogs, drawn from their experiences as they tried out “one new thing every week for a year — from test-driving Maseratis to rock climbing to dance lessons.”

So glad that dance teacher was in the Manhattan studio that day, ready and eager to help!

 Read 'Dancing With My Star' below...

The 52 Weeks: the authors — Karen
Amster-Young (L) & Pam Godwin

'Dancing With My Star'

‘You write better than you dance,’ my husband joked as we awkwardly tried to do the Rumba. The last time we took a dance lesson was the obligatory, “I am twenty-something,” pre-wedding dance lessons 100 years ago. Let me put it this way:  the year I got married the average price of gas was 1.05 per gallon, Princess Diana and Prince Charles separated and Gotti was sentenced to life in prison.  Back in 1992, our first dance as Mr. and Mrs. Clueless was Eric Clapton’s ‘Wonderful Tonight’ and I didn’t need anything even remotely similar to SPANX Shapewear. And just by coincidence, Scent of a Woman was released in the theaters and we all watched as Pacino danced the Tango at the Plaza.

Mr. Sometimes-still-Clueless is a closet Dancing with the Stars fan.  On the rare occasion when he isn’t working and has a few moments before his ridiculously early bedtime, my daughter and I will catch him watching the show. He used to try to hastily switch channels to hide his addiction; he finally just relaxed about it when the newest season made its debut. I actually find it pretty endearing:  a pretty big, football-watching guy glued to an addictive dance show on television to unwind.  I am glad he finally ‘owned’ it so I could write about it.

Coincidentally, I’ve been wanting to take dance lessons… again, if you count 1992. ‘Mr. Dancing-with-the-Stars’ seemed okay with it, actually; it was finding the time together that was difficult. I wanted to do something as a couple that was new, active, fun and out of our ‘couple comfort zone.' I also wanted to learn a few moves that would surprise my body and give me a sense of accomplishment.  The fact is, like most people, we’re ‘average’ dancers – if that. Of course, over the years, mostly in our 20’s and 30’s, there were some tequila-infused moments when we actually thought we were pretty good but  the Salsa? No way. The Tango? Yeah, right.  I just wanted to know what these dances were all about. Would they feel sexy? Would I feel like a fool?  Was I 20 years too late?  So I called Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Manhattan. When in doubt, think Fred and Ginger, I thought to myself when I booked the lesson.

This location was pretty close to Bloomingdale’s. As we arrived for our first lesson, I was glad it was 9:30 at night and the store was closed. I may have been tempted, just for a minute, to beeline to the Lancome counter.

After an elevator ride to the 5th floor, we were greeted at the studio door by Desi. She was terrific on the phone, so it was no surprise she was the same in person.  I looked around at the big dance floor, lights and huge photo of Fred and Ginger and started to feel a bit hesitant.  Thankfully, we were soon greeted by a cheerful, pretty instructor named Gala.  She was warmly friendly and immediately made me feel comfortable.  We chatted for a few moments on the dance floor, then she casually inquired about our wedding song and before we knew it, it was playing.  Okay, this was a bit corny but it did the trick: we laughed and started following her confident lead, doing the Rumba and stepping a bit on each other’s toes. I had selected a “sampler” private class so we went from the Rumba to the Hustle to the Tango and Salsa all within 45 minutes.  When necessary, she danced with each of us and never made us feel uncomfortable or awkward.  I loved it.  I loved doing this with my ‘oh-so-busy’ husband and I loved not being on the treadmill or doing my usual tedious stuff.

By the end of the session we were moving a little less awkwardly and smiling, showing a little more spunk in our steps despite the fact that it was past a certain someone’s bedtime. That is what mattered most – our moods.  I am definitely considering doing this again. Certainly with Gala as our teacher and definitely when Bloomingdale’s is closed.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Knight's Take

Do You Have the Competitor's Edge?

by Stephen Knight
Stephen Knight,
Co-National Dance Director,
Fred Astaire Dance Studios

In October, I was at the Fred Astaire National Dance Championships in Orlando, Florida, with three very exciting nights of professional competition to look forward to! 

One of the most amazing things I noticed while I was watching all the swirling, smiling competitors is that there are many up-and-coming talented new couples hitting the dance floor. Since the West Coast Dance Championships in sunny San Diego are just around the corner (January 16-18) and CCDC (in Atlanta for the first time) will be here before we know it (April 22-26) this is probably a perfect time to educate our new competitors and, perhaps, even some of our seasoned ones, on what it really takes to be really good at competition.
Really good at competition, like these people
(if you so choose)! 

1. It starts with rehearsals – good ones.

 “Rehearsal“ means a minimum of practice 2 hours a day at least 6 days a week. “Good” means working with your partner as a member of a team, and not arguing about what he or she or you might have done wrong. Remember, your dance partner does not make mistakes on purpose; that’s the reason why we practice and rehearse! Try treating your partner like you expect to be treated, and you will find you’ll get to your goals a lot faster without the wasteful setbacks that arguing causes.

We all put on our dance shoes one foot
at a time...

2. The next most important thing you need is a super support team. 

That may consist of your management team at the studio, coaches you have chosen to work with, the people who design and create your costumes and anyone else you feel you need to help you get to your desired goal. At times, you may need a personal trainer to help keep you at the physical level that your sport requires, so don’t hesitate if this is the case. I had a trainer most of my career because it kept me physically and mentally stronger, which allowed me to be more prepared and capable when I competed. It paid off, believe me!

A support team like the folks at FADS (these wonderful people are from
 our Madison, WI, studio) can make a huge difference in your
dancing career -- and your life's happiness!

3. Now I'm going to address the never-ending battle of grooming. 

This is so important because of the impression it makes on the judges. Costuming can make or break any couple in a competition. So, if you are going to invest the time and finances it takes to rehearse, be coached, cover entry fees, buy airline tickets, and pay for hotels, let's make sure that grooming is the very last problem we could possibly have! “Properly groomed” simply means we’re in costumes that enhance our bodies, with makeup and hair done correctly. There are plenty of professionals in these areas who are at your disposal, and they will love to help make you look like a champion, so invest just that little bit more for their services, then watch it pay off in a grand way!

"You are so pahfect, my dahling!"

4. The last qualification for being a great professional competitor is good sportsmanship. 

Obviously, in any competition there will be winners and losers. It is so important to lose gracefully!  But I have seen far too many times when couples act unprofessionally due to a particular result and I'm here to tell you FOR SURE that it does not fare well with the judges. That impression of you will stay with them for a long time. So, do yourself a favor when you don’t like what you’ve heard: go up to your room and have your pity party there, out of sight of anyone who could form a bad image of you!! The players and the results will change all the time, so just learn from your mistakes and move on. Remember, this is not just about being a good dancer; you must also be a good winner and a good loser — to put it in a nutshell, a good person! That alone, my friends, will take you a long way in this industry and help assure you a long and prosperous career.
You? A sore loser? No way! You'd better just
get over yourself, now, y'hear me? 
So keep dancing, everybody, pay attention to the words of wise dancers (like Fred here), and no matter where you are in your ride right now, enjoy your trip to the top!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

He's Not Just Dedicated -- He's 'Fred"icated!

Ron (Cuddles) Bailey's 'Fred Tat'

My name is Ron "Cuddles" Bailey. I first walked into the Youngstown Fred Astaire Dance Studio Sept 29th, 2011, with my future daughter in law, Anna. I wanted her and me to have a special dance for their June 2012 wedding. Kristin Dobson was our instructor. From that moment  to now, my life has had the wonder of dance in it. 

My wife, Chub, had been sick, in and out of hospitals and nursing homes a lot. In February of 2012, I completed in my first mini match. Chub was attending. She and Anna arrived, and Travis Manero [Youngstown's owner] personally escorted Chub in, making sure she had a very good seat. I completed 22 dances with Kristin and Chelsea Cherie. Later, Anna told me that Chub was in awe. She said, “Ronnie is always happy, but now he is in a complete new world.” She loved watching me dance.

March of 2012 was not a good month for Chub. She was in ICU most of the time and on a ventilator. In between working and visiting her, I would spend time at the studio. By now the studio had become more of a chapel to me. By now the instructors and fellow student had become very special to me. My love for dance and their support was getting me through a difficult time. Plus, I was having my own health issues with pulmonary fibrosis.   

On October 1, 2012, I lost my loving Chub. Almost 400 people attended her calling hours. Among them were Travis and Kristin, plus several of my fellow Fred Astaire students.

The following month, I was in my first Regional competition. Kristin and I preformed my first solo dedicated to Chub and me. That same month, the studio held a Zumba Thon benefit for pulmonary fibrosis.

I have now attended several Regionals. I not only had a wonderful time dancing, but through them, have now met more wonderful Fred Astaire instructors and fellow students. I am truly blessed to have so many fellow dancers as friends. 
Cuddles, having a blast at a Competition
I have never had a tattoo. I never got one until I was 60 years old. I have four now, and each one has a very special meaning. I got my first in 2010 when I lost my dad. In 2012, I got one for my beloved state of Iowa. My third was for my dear Chub, who was also a veteran of the USAF. My fourth I got in February of 2013. This I call my Fred Astaire Tat. I am proud of each of my tattoos. Each one holds a special place in my heart.

Travis Manero, the owner of Fred Astaire Dance Studios,Youngstown, first contacted inStep about Cuddles' tattoo. At that time, Travis said of Cuddles: "Wait until you talk to this gentleman. Everyone at the studio absolutely loves him."  Well, Travis, we talked with him and it's clear why you said that. And his story about what everyone at your studio has done for him, and what dancing has done for him...well, it made our day!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dancing: It's the Gift of a Lifetime

Stanley McCalla is a US Ten Dance Finalist, Fred Astaire National Smooth Champion, FADS National Dance Board Member, & National Coach and Adjudicator.

Dear Readers,

A few months ago on a Saturday night, I visited a salsa club in my area known for its sizzling Latin music and electric atmosphere.

After sitting down with a drink, I found my attention drawn toward a dancing couple that was executing some rhythmic moves and interesting turns.  They were musically fluid and their rhythm was catching.  They used intricate steps that were well blended together, and a nice communicative dynamic transpired through these two individuals.

Then I realized that they were using some steps taught at our studios, and they were technically quite efficient. I was still trying to figure them out when all of a sudden, they spun in my direction, looked toward me, and smiled.  I suddenly recognized them. 

Mark and Jenny were students at my studio, and a year ago, I had the privilege to coach them. I was very happy to see them together dancing so well and exuding so much harmony and fun on the dance floor.

The song ended and, as he shook my hand vigorously, Mark told me that taking lessons at Fred Astaire Dance Studios was one of the best investments that he ever made. Jenny added this (and I quote) all because of our dancing the quality of our entire lifestyle has changed for the better, and we love it! Thank you so much!(unquote).

That encounter certainly made my night! In fact, it made my week!

I had the feeling then that these people 'had it made,' toothat Fred Astaire Dance Studios had impacted their lives in really powerful ways, and that isit really isexactly what our studio and all the Fred Astaire Dance studios in the nation are about: to make a difference in people lives by teaching them how to dance. It sounds simple, and it is, but what an incredibly positive change it makes!

If everyone danced, we would all bring the world to a happier and healthier state of being, literally one step at a time. So, I think it is really important to pass on the message of dance. It's the gift of a lifetime.

If you know a friend or a loved one that could use a lift, a new social direction, more exercise, or a great place to belong, think about directing them our way. Your gesture might just be the push they need to bring them into a life that is filled with fun, friends, music, and dance.  

What could be better?

I'm raising my hat to you and to your future dancing friends --

Stanley McCalla
Dance Director, Fred Astaire Dance Studio Mamaroneck

Friday, November 15, 2013

"I Never Would Have Believed!": A Student Reflects on His NDC Experience

L to R: Yasmeen Sahira, Pro, Dave Forecki, and Dajana Stanic, Pro
Fred Astaire Dance Studios of Greenfield, WI, would like to thank Dave Forecki for representing the studio so well at his first National Comp! Dave made the Greenfield studio extremely proud when he won the Top Bronze Showcase Male award with his number, “I Wanna Be Evil”. What a great job, Dave!! 

“There are experiences that remain forever in your memory, says Dave. "After receiving a free dance lesson to Fred Astaire Studio from a wedding expo which I attended with my son and his fiancĂ©e a year and a half ago, I never would have believed I would be competing at a National Dance Competition, much less winning ‘Top Bronze Showcase Male’. 

"The grandeur and splendor I viewed, the grace and talent I observed, the comradery and support I received from the instructors and students from my region and the confidence I developed are some tangibles I experienced at the NDC in Orlando which will be the impetus for me to become a better dancer. It is an experience that is truly life shaping. As one of my instructors said, it's like a regional competition —on steroids!” 

Dave performed at  NDC with Greenfield Pros Yasmeen Sahira (to Dave's right)
and May Lee (to his left). The trio is shown here with Luann Pulliam
 and Joe Trovato

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

No ice ice baby?

“Somewhere along the line, the concept that ice facilitates healing became conventional wisdom. Sorry, that wisdom is wrong." 

Joshua J. Stone has so many letters after his name, his diplomas could probably double as wallpaper. He’s an MA, ATC, NASM-CPT, CES, PES, and FNS…but, other than FNS (which means Fitness Nutrition Specialist), we didn’t examine every impressive credential. However, we did learn that he’s a former sports medicine program manager for the National Academy of Sports Medicine who, he says, has provided “rehabilitation and performance training for many Olympic and pro athletes.” 

Joshua Stone recently blogged “Why Ice and Anti-inflammatory Medication is NOT the Answer,” about the overuse of cryotherapy, or ice for injuries. He posted a similar subject back in July. “The controversy surrounding the topic,” he later wrote, made his July post “one of the most popular blogs I’ve written” — which is why we’re presenting his latest comments here. This is not our recommendation, folks, but just one person’s opinion. You should always consult your doctor for any injuries you have. 

According to Stone, “Ice, compression, elevation and NSAIDs [which stands for Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naprosyn] are so commonplace that suggesting otherwise is laughable to most. Enter an Athletic Training Room or Physical Therapy Clinic: nearly all clients are receiving some type of anti-inflammatory treatment (ice, compression, massage, NSAIDs, biophysical modalities, etc). I evaluated a client the other day and asked what are you doing currently – ‘Well, I am taking anti-inflammatories and icing.’” But Stone doesn’t agree this therapy is always best. “Why do you want to get rid of inflammation and swelling?” he asks, and he asks it for both long-term cases, as occurs with arthritis, as well as for acute [sudden] injuries.

Stone quotes Dr. Nick DiNubile, The Physician and Sports Medicine Journal’s editor-in-chief, who “once posed this question: ‘Seriously, do you honestly believe that your body’s natural inflammatory response is a mistake?’ Much like a fever, inflammation increases body temperature to kill off foreign invaders; inflammation is the first physiological process to the repair and remodeling of tissue. Inflammation, repair, and remodel. You cannot have tissue repair or remodeling without inflammation.” 

Pointing to the results of a study at the Cleveland Clinic, Stone notes that cells in damaged muscles automatically respond to acute injury through engulfing and destroying foreign bodies, such as bacteria, that could threaten the organism as it heals. A sudden injury also  causes muscle cells “to produce a high-level of Insulin-like growth factor, which is required for muscle regeneration” and prevention of muscle cell death. He notes a 2010 study by two researchers from the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry, which concluded that “‘overwhelmingly, NSAIDs inhibit or delay fracture healing.’ And you want to stop this critical process of healing by applying ice, because inflammation is ‘bad’?,” he asks.

“Somewhere along the line,” Stone explains, “the concept that ice facilitates healing became conventional wisdom. Sorry, that wisdom is wrong. I had someone tell me the other day, 'We need to ice, because we need to get the swelling out.' Really? Does ice facilitate movement of fluid out of the injured area? No, it does not.”

But the human lymphatic system, Stone says, does. “’The lymphatic system is a ‘scavenger’ system that removes excess fluid, protein molecules, debris, and other matter from the tissue spaces.’” Swelling tells the lymphatic system to go to work, a natural control that’s important to maintaining the body’s equilibrium.

“If swelling is accumulated,” Stone says, “it is not because there is excessive swelling, rather it is because lymphatic drainage is slowed. The thought that ice application increases lymphatic flow to remove debris makes no sense.” He offers this analogy by the author of “Iced! The Illusionary Treatment,” Gary Reinl: “Take two tubes of toothpaste, one is under ice for 20 minutes, the other is warmed to 99 degrees. In which tube will the toothpaste flow fastest? It does not take an advanced physics degree to know that answer.

“What might surprise you,” he continues, “is that ice actually reverses lymphatic drainage and pushes fluid back” into areas of injured tissue. In fact, a 1986 study showed that when ice is applied to a body part for a prolonged period of time; it affects the lymphatic system in such a way as to actually increase the amount of local swelling and slow the body’s removal of unwanted cell debris.

Stone sure isn’t crazy about ice, so it’s no surprise that his view on RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is that it, too, “is bogus.” In his opinion, the “I” for ice is not its only problem: “Rest is not the answer. In fact rest causes tissue to waste.”  Stone asserts that the evidence shows that injuries heal better through exercise or another form of movement that actually promotes protein, gene, and collagen formation.

“I ask health care professionals to do one thing, just try it,” suggests Stone. “Pick one client with chronic musculoskeletal pain, skip the ice, skip the NSAIDs and try to use light exercise as a repair stimulus. Then, try skipping the ice on a client with an acute mild injury. The outcomes might surprise you.”

Friday, November 08, 2013

"Dear Deborah...", A Thank You from Molly MacDonald, Pink Fund founder

'Thank You for the Courage and Joy You Demonstrated by Dancing'

Dear Deborah,

I am one of the thousands who have watched in awe your joyful dance just before undergoing your double mastectomy.

As a Survivor, I know all too well the combination of anxiety, stress, relief, fear, anger, sorrow etc., that fills us as we face surgery!

I, for one, was frankly pissed off!  Crying, complaining and generally unhappy as I lay in the pre-op room waiting for surgery. 

I wish I had thought to dance. It would have relieved all of my anxiety about the surgery!

I think about it a lot now, because the organization I founded and have the privilege to head, The Pink Fund, had our first Dancing with The Survivors event in September with Fred Astaire Dance Studios. Five breast cancer survivors danced with joy with professional partners from Fred Astaire. (They had the benefit of private lessons, donated by Fred Astaire Dancer Studios in Bloomfield Hills, MI.)

I know you are just a few days out of surgery, but I wanted to reach out to you and thank you for the courage and joy you demonstrated by dancing and asking others to do the same.Your spirit and the video will inspire others to find courage and joy in their own breast cancer journey. And of course, it speaks volumes about you!

When you are feeling better, and if you are so inclined, I would like to invite you to dance next year with a professional partner from Fred Astaire Dance Studios for our Dancing With the Survivors event. I have copied our partners with Fred Astaire, so they too can pass on your "dance."  

Warmly and with gratitude!


Molly MacDonald
Founder, President
877-234-PINK (7465)

Molly MacDonald, President of the Pink Fund, shares a moment of 'joyful dance'
with Evan Mountain, the owner of Fred Astaire Dance Studios, Bloomfield Hills,
at the Pink Fund's 'Dancing With the Survivors' event in Warren, MI on 9.26.13.
The studio's efforts helped raise over $60,000 for The Pink Fund.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Finding harmony in life through 'good moves'

Rae Josephs
The benefits of dance are well-documented: it's great for one's health; a fun social activity and a great confidence booster, as well as a skill that stays with someone forever.

In a recent article in Quintessential Barrington, Rae Josephs, Area Director of Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Illinois argues that dance supports long term good health through "the zen of mind and body together, along with a support team filled with encouragement," which can be found in a good dance studio.

Depending on one's perspective, life is short and the way one chooses to fill that time makes all the difference  good or bad. 

Josephs  prescribes a "40-minute solution" of two to three dance sessions a week (40-minutes each) to achieve the ultimate goal of "full improvement, body and mind" through the benefits of dance. It's a fact that this closeness of lessons can change one's lifestyle for the better part of the 'good moves' for enriching one's life.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

NDC Orlando - Day Five: The last waltz

All good things must come to an end; this year's NDC is no different. It's been invariably described by many attendees as the best competition yet everything from the venue, to the ballrooms' decorations, to the incredibly spirited performances by the students and professional competitors have made these championships wildly successful. 

Saturday's matinee session kicked off with the Smooth Proficiency, Smooth Open Single Dance Championship, Smooth Multi Open Dance Championship, Smooth Open Scholarship, Argentine Tango, International Latin Closed and Open Single Dance, and International Latin Multi and Scholarship Divisions. The energy of the past four days continued on with the dancers showing no signs of fatigue leading up to the awards and champions showcase. Of course the party in the evening right on the heels of Halloween was spectacular! 

NDC judges (and friends) in their finest costumes
Spooky music, witches casting spells, and the jumbo video screens ablaze created the perfect atmosphere for the high energy pro show choreographed by Joe Trovato. 

Co-National Dance Board Director, Stephen Knight makes a pretty princess.

Friday, November 01, 2013

NDC Orlando - Day Four: A pictorial

Another busy day, another busy matinee session as competitors vied for top placings in the American Smooth Bronze Closed Single Dance Divisions, American Smooth Bronze Closed Championships and Scholarships, American Smooth Silver and Higher Closed Single Dances, and Silver Closed Multi Dances and Scholarship Divisions. 

The evening capped off with the Proficiency International Ballroom Divisions, International Ballroom Closed and Open Single Dance Divisions, International Ballroom Closed and Open Multi and Scholarship Divisions, Pro/Am Cabaret Division and the highly anticipated Professional Divisions. 

A new award named for Linda Joy who recently passed.
Galina and Misha Zharinov, winners of the Linda Joy American Smooth award.
(Front) Chris Germain and Bette Anne Duffy, Chicago North

Cathy Goshorn of Sarasota receives a massage.

Linda Gill and Ruslan Meshkov, Ft. Lauderdale

(L-R) Chris Simon, Elizabeth Ragacion, Leona Hatz, Debbie Dietrich, Pamela Baden, Ann Sanders, Daniel Blain, back row, Phillip Gutierrez of Houston Memorial.  
Tim Duffy and Ria Valenzuela, Chicago North. Tim, his wife, Bette Anne, and his son, Kevin, are all competing at NDC this year. 

Pamela Baden and Phillip Gutierrez, Houston Memorial

Thursday, October 31, 2013

NDC Orlando - Day Three: In the pink of things

It's amazing to watch dancers start at 8 AM and sustain an incredible amount of energy to keep going till nearly midnight for nearly five full days.
In honor and in support of the Breast Cancer Society, competitors in today's matinee sessions are sporting a touch of pink.

What does the ballroom floor look like mid-morning? Something like this — with a touch of pink.

The morning began with competitors taking their proficiency dances, allowing them to warm up for the upcoming open and multi-dance rounds.

Warming up for the long day ahead.

Partial Heat Results for Thursday Matinee

Heat 597: L-B #42  American Rhythm Bronze Closed Championship (C/R/SW)
1st #217 L-B Karen Odom/Sasha Tsyhankov, Greensboro, NC
2nd #348 G-B Dr. Chris Wilson/Emilia Goldberg, Milwaukee Central, WI
3rd #139 L-B Lori Chowanec/Ken Hansen, Red bank, NJ
4th #103 L-B Suzanne Niedland/Sergh Aliev, W. Palm Beach, FL
5th #171 L-B Linda Gill/Ruslan Meshkov, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
6th #187 L-B Susan Schmitt/Kurt Roberts, Pewaukee, WI

Heat 598: L-A #42  American Rhythm Bronze Closed Championship (C/R/SW)
1st #223 L-A Angela Fuller/Dmitriy Volodko, Greensboro, NC
2nd #221 L-A Julia Napolitano/Ilya Velednitsky, Milwaukee Downtown, WI
3rd #143 L-A Sarah May/Yuriy Herhel, Tarrytown, NY
4th #163 L-A Debbie Winston/Jhondarr Lopez, Houston Woodlands, TX
5th #310 G-A Stephen Dorsett/Stephanie Schlueter, Houston Woodlands,TX
6th #180 L-A Yuliya Gaukhman/Tim Pennenga, Sarasota, FL

Heat 599: L-C #42  American Rhythm Bronze Closed Championship (C/R/SW)
1st (1/1/1) #171 L-C Linda Gill/Ruslan Meshkov, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
2nd (2/2/2) #180 L-C Valerie Alston/Tim Pennenga, Sarasota, FL
3rd (6/3/3) #219 L-C Mary Early/Marko Urosevic, Trumbull, CT
4th (3/5/5) #103 L-C Marie Romano/Sergh Aliev, Jupiter, FL
5th (4/4/6) #195 L-C Jan Robertson/Ben Seifert, Houston Woodlands, TX
6th (5/6/4) #178 L-C Susan Gulzeth/Robert O'Bryant, Willoughby, OH
7th (7/7/7) #145 L-C Joanne Gilliam/Roger Howell, Birmingham, AL

Heat 598: AC-B #42  American Rhythm Bronze Closed Championship (C/R/SW)
1st (1/1/1) #344 AC-B Amarik Singh/Shveta Singh, Burr Ridge, IL
2nd (2/2/2) #331 AC-B Mark Lesczcewicz/Susan Lesczcewicz, South Barrington, IL

Heat 599: G-JR #42  American Rhythm Bronze Closed Championship (C/R/SW)
1st (1/1/1) #312 G-JR Kevin Duffy/Chloe Obrzut, Chicago North, IL

Heat 600: L-B #44  American Rhythm Silver Closed Championship (C/R/SW)
1st (2/1/1) #195 L-B Annette Monks/Ben Seifert, Houston Woodlands, TX
2nd (1/2/3) #135 L-B Nicole Haufe/Ronald Guillen, Ft. Walton Beach, FL
3rd (3/3/2) #102 L-B Lynn Magnesen/Caleb Aleman, Burr Ridge, IL
4th (4T/4/5) #104 L-B Diana Best/Alosha Anatoliy, Greensboro, NC
5th (6/5/4) #308 G-B Bob DeMarco/Jacqueline Rodriquez, West Palm Beach, FL
6th (4T/6/6) #189 L-B Katyusha Schaffer/Andrei Rudenco, Ft. Meyers, FL

Heat 601: L-C #44  American Rhythm Silver Closed Championship (C/R/SW)
1st (1/1/1) #151 L-C Susie Rugg/Nikolay Karchev, Milwaukee North, WI
2nd (2/2/2) #139 L-C Linda Fischer/Ken Hansen, Red Bank, NJ
3rd (3/3/3) #200 L-C Dawn Morehead/Yuriy Simakov, Durham, NC
4th (4/4/4) #135 L-C Vicki Mackarvich/Ronald Guillen, Ft. Walton Beach, FL
5th (5/5/5) #340 G-C Van Rojas/Tiana Ramirez, St. Petersburg, FL
6th (6/6/6) #198 L-C Dr. Gloria Halverson/Slash Sharan, Milwaukee, Central, WI

Heat 603: L-B #48  American Rhythm Open Championship (C/R/SW/B/M)
1st (1/1/1/1/1) #194 L-B Vicki Barbera/Jonah Schneider, Indianapolis, IN
2nd (2/2/2/2/4) #226 L-B Deborah Muzio/Evan Wellemeyer, Glastonbury, CT
3rd (3/3/4/3/3) #215 L-B Lynn Magnesen/Mark Thomas, Burr Ridge, IL
4th (4/5/3/4/2) #195 L-B Annette Monks/Ben Seifert, Houston Woodlands, TX
5th (5/4/5/5/5) #187 L-B Susan Schmitt/Kurt Roberts, Pewaukee, WI
6th (6/6/6/6/6) #129 L-B Bette Anne Duffy/Chris Germain, Chicago North, IL