Why do we dance? There are many reasons for one to start dancing, some of us have been training since we were children and some of us fell in love with it as we got older. The Today Show shared a beautiful story about a woman who always wanted to learn to dance. But it wasn’t until Elisabeth Smith’s husband passed away suddenly that she decided it was time to take action. Now, with over 200 trophies under her belt, she’s dancing into her future. This video feature of Elisabeth’s journey, proves that it’s never to late to pursue your dreams.
José and Aimée of Dance Teachers Academy sat down with Carolina Orlovsky and discussed how she pursued her dream of becoming a dancer.
At age 5, Carolina asked for dance lessons after watching the movie “My Fair Lady.” Her parents saw her love for movement, so they enrolled her in dance class… and she was awful.
Nobody starts off good, nobody does. I started off awful.
Most of the girls had already taken dance classes and were older than me, so I felt very out of place. I had this abundance of… I call it boy energy. Really active jumping and running. Kind of a daredevil. I wanted to push my limits. I didn’t separate like girls or princesses and behave this way. I didn’t have that association with dance. It’s athletic, you get to move and jump and fly and roll and spin and become something outside of a normal human and I wanted to be that.
A trip to Cuba in her senior year as a dance cultural exchange changed her life. Transformed by the people of Cuba who were rich in dancing, she auditioned and was accepted to the Alvin Ailey independent study program. Instead of working towards a college education she moved to New York City to pursue her dream of become a professional dancer.
Watch the full interview below
- 3-Times World Professional Rhythm Vice-Champion
- 3 Times U.S. Professional Rhythm Vice-Champion
- 9-Times U.S. Professional Rhythm Finalist
- World Mambo Champion
- 2-Times U.S. Mambo Champion
- World Professional American Rhythm Showdance Champion
Who is Shirley Ballas?
Shirley Ballas is a British ballroom dancer who specializes in Latin dance and has won numerous championships earning her the nickname, The Queen of Latin.
She started dancing at the age of 7. While attending her weekly Girl Guide class she noticed a ballroom dance class next door. She was fascinated with the class and started lessons the following Saturday. This was the beginning of her lifelong love affair with Ballroom and Latin Dance.
By the age 23 she had won all major titles worldwide. Some of the most memorable titles for her include: 3 times British Open Champion, European Champion and 10 times Open United States Latin American Champion.
Shirley Ballas & her history with Dance Vision
Shirley was a Latin coach for Wayne & Donna Eng c. 1984- c.1992. She was instrumental in helping them become 3-time United States Latin Finalists, United States Rising Star Vice-Champions, 3 time Blackpool Rising Star Finalists, and Eastern United States Champions. Wayne credits her with giving him the confidence to believe in himself.
When Wayne and Donna established Dance Vision, they didn’t hesitate to ask Shirley to film. Some of her instructional video titles include: Turns & Spin In Style, Latin Technique & Muscular Technique, and her latest International Latin Technique collection.
Strictly Come Dancing
In 1996, she retired from competitive dancing at Blackpool. In 2017 Shirley Ballas returned to Blackpool. to join the judging panel of Strictly Come Dancing, replacing Len Goodman as head judge.
Her judging style is a no nonsense approach. She’s a real stickler when it comes to technique but she is fair. She is returning as a judge for series 16 of the ballroom competition on BBC One this Fall. Fellow judges Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood, and Darcey Bussell, will also be back this year.
Wayne and Donna Eng are pleased to announce the 30th Anniversary of the Emerald Ball!
This year is bound to be bigger than ever before, and you won’t want to miss it! The Emerald Ball is one of the longest-running Dancesport competitions in the United States. It started 56 years ago under dance legends Ken & Sheila Sloan and now 30 years under Wayne & Donna’s supervision. The Emerald Ball attracts every status of dancer from beginners to professionals from Dancing With the Stars. It’s always the beginning and finale of the Dance Vision Circuit and a great place to see where your rank is in the national spotlight. Original organizer Ken Sloan will also be attending the big celebration!
Wayne and Donna Eng competing in the 1980’s
The Emerald Ball has an unmistakable and excitable charisma that has attracted dancers from all around the world! As Wayne says, it’s all about energy. He even uses an energy healer to help him incorporate his energy as effectively as possible while at the Emerald Ball.
A happy, excited energy always draws crowds of people, and we believe that’s part of the charm of the competition.
Rather than using status to intimidate newcomers, the Emerald Ball encourages new dancers to set new goals and see where they rank. It also gives them a chance to participate in a dancesport competition and get a feel for it. For the pros, it’s the beginning of the circuit, the starting point for the rest of the year, and a chance to compete against friends and colleagues that come every single year. It’s even great for visitors and family members, particularly during the Pro and Show Dance portions. There’s something for everyone at the Emerald Ball!
Don’t miss the 30th Anniversary Celebration!
Katusha Demidova and Arunas Bizokas are an aspiring Standard Ballroom professional dancer’s dream come true. The couple took the title at Blackpool Dance Festival for the 8th year in a row!
Katusha and Arunas are the current World Professional Ballroom Champions, British Open Champions, United Kingdom Champions, International Champions, and 3 times United States Champions. From the beginning of their dance partnership, Katusha and Arunas took the Dancesport community by storm. One month into their dance partnership they won the Ohio Star Ball. Two months in, they were competing in the United Kingdom Open Championships. There they placed second among the top dancers of the world. By September of 2009, after dancing together for only two years, they won their first World Championship title.
The couple draws your eyes with their irresistible charm and a chemistry that can’t be faked. Katusha and Arunas now run Rogers Dance Center in Hackensack, New Jersey. The gorgeous dance studio where they teach everything from social dancing to dancesport competition training. Katusha and Arunas continue to improve and learn their dancing and pass on their wisdom and knowledge to students of all age.
Congratulations on winning first place in Blackpool for 8 years in a row, to one of the most loved and well respected dance couples around!
“What separates artists from ex-artists is that those who challenge their fears, continue; those who don’t, quit. Each step in the artmaking process puts that issue to the test.” – David Bayles
In addition to this wonderful interview of Toni Redpath by Dance Teachers Academy Podcasts, we thought we would throw in a few extra notes for our dancers – whether a beginner who is learning how to present themselves, or an experienced dancer struggling with their confidence.
When you see your role model doing what you wish you could, you have three options on how to view that person in relation to yourself:
- The most popular reaction is, “I’ll never be able to do that!” This view provides low sense of capability for yourself and an untouchable and unattainable talent toward your role model. This viewpoint provides nothing but paralysis and harmful self-criticism.
- Looking at the role model and saying “I’m better than him/her, he/she just doesn’t know it yet.” This fist-shaking view provides a superiority complex bred of insecurity for you, and dismissal of true value and skill of your role model. While this viewpoint does not lack confidence that is needed to be successful, you will likely feel above learning the building blocks of skills that will allow you to be technically correct in dance. This can cause you to have the reputation of a know-it-all with, realistically, very little knowledge.
- The healthiest view, which is “How can I do that?” Not only does it give you an honest view of yourself, of all your successes and your shortcomings, it gives you a realistic goal to meet.
Only with the “How can I do that?” view can you improve. We know, it sounds cheesy. Are you surrounded with knowledgeable, kind people who are honest with you? Do they build you up when you do something correct and offer you solutions when you’re wrong? Do you recognize your mistakes and congratulate yourself on your success? If you find yourself unable to view yourself as successful, consider what kind of criticism you’re accepting. Be kind to yourself and choose your company carefully. Dancing is supposed to be technically correct, but also FUN!
Ginger Rogers once said, “When two people love each other, they don’t look at each other, they look in the same direction.” While you may not always be in love with your Argentine Tango partner (or you might!), the intimate nature of the dance resonates with this saying. To dance the Argentine Tango is not to mirror each other; instead, it is about acting and reacting. The dancers have two very different objectives, working in tandem to create the beautiful tango. Let us further explain the objectives of each dancer.
Argentine Tango is a series of improvised movements that are executed by two independent individuals. There are no basic tango steps, no checklist of steps to complete before the end of a song. A good leader must have the sense about him not only to choose the next move, but to invite his partner to make that step in a way that is clear to her. She must accept the invitation, complete the movement, then regain her balance. Once she is ready again to follow, he invites her again.
The follower may indicate that she would like to stop for a moment and add an adornment, which the leader can accept and allow her to add to the dance, or he can choose to continue in the steps that he planned next. This allows the follower to add her own flair to the dance, and perhaps give the leader a moment of stillness to design their next move. The leader must be dependable, but flexible, and wait for his follower to be ready to follow him again. The follower must be agile, adaptable, and trust the leader.
If you are new to the Argentine Tango, try listening to your partner in this way. Leaders, wait for your follower to regain her balance before you invite her to follow you again. Followers, don’t be afraid to communicate that you want to slow down and add to the dance. Your personality and how you improvise together is what makes the tango so extraordinary!