An Interview with Jenell Maranto

We have the privilege of sharing with you an interview from Jenell Maranto!

She is the owner and teacher with Jim Maranto of the Academy of Ballroom Dance in Phoenix, AZ.  Jenell is a Fellow of the Imperial Society Ballroom Branch and has produced numerous US Ballroom Champions. She is also a DVIDA examiner.

Let’s begin with, what was the most challenging dance routine you have performed or learned?

Every performance is challenging for me because I’m always nervous.

 

Your favorite dance performance?

My favorite thing is competition.  Competition is fun and makes me happy   Being alone on the floor performing is not as satisfying.

 

Who/what inspired you to start dancing?

When I saw Australian Ballroom Champions Kerry Wilson & Ann Harding perform in 1981 in Reno Nevada, I knew I had to lean how to ballroom dance.

 

What is your most memorable experience in dance?

My most memorable experience in dance was winning the U.S. Professional Smooth Championships in 1993-94

 

What is your favorite quote?

Once a mind has been stretched, it never regains its original shape.

 

What do you look for when judging a Pro/Am competition?

When judging Pro/Am I look for; Assured footing, balance over ones own feet, musicality, body stretch, and partnership.

 

What considerations go into turning Pro?

I was already a professional dancer before I learned ballroom so I didn’t know I had a choice but when my Pro/Am student – Jim Maranto won the U.S. American Smooth Championship we decided to turn Pro together and compete with the big kids.  I already owned my own dance studio and Jim joined me and started teaching. It was a great decision for both of us.

 

And finally, what would you like to tell dance students that you wish you knew when you started dancing?

No regrets, being in the ballroom dance business has always been great for me.

Stay tuned for more interviews!

Click Here to view Instructional videos by Jenell Maranto for Dance Vision

How To Tell The Difference – Social Latin Dancing

If you are new to the dance world, it can be difficult to tell dances in the same genre apart. Here’s a quick guide to few in the ever-popular social Latin dance category!

MERENGUE

Firstly, we’ll start with the simple and casual Merengue dance. Originally a Dominican dance (and the official dance of their country), Merengue is an easy dance to introduce a new student to Latin Dancing. It follows a very steady  1-2-1-2 beat with a simple hip motion that can be built upon later for other types of dance in the future. It’s a very social and lighthearted dancing, not nearly as passionate and intimate as most Latin dances.

CHA CHA

Cha Cha, or “cha-cha-cha!”  is one of the more popular social Latin dances. Made popular in the 1950’s when Americans often visited Cuba. It’s often used danced to with Latin Pop and Latin Rock with moves that are sharp and attention-grabbing. It’s rhythm is easy to master, of course. One, two, cha-cha-cha! But the technique is a bit harder to master. Basic Cha Cha steps consist of a rockstep and chasse. That rockstep and, of course, flourishes and hip movement, this playful dance one of the most loved Latin dances today!

 

SALSA

Originating from groovy and stylish 1970’s New York, Salsa dancing is a combination of dance styles. It’s based in techniques found in Cha Cha and Mambo with an influence of Swing dancing. The music it’s danced to has influence from African drums. The steps are usually two quick steps and one slow, and more advanced social salsa dancers will add flourishes and turns to add to their performance.

 

SAMBA

Samba originated in Brazil at the beginning of the 20th century. It is danced in 4/4 or 2/4 time and can be danced alone or with a partner.  This dance is very popular among Latin dances and is characterized by being danced to Samba music and the slight dropping movement that come with a small dropping action in basic steps.

BACHATA

Bachata is another social Latin dance originating from the Dominican Republic, named after Bachata guitar music. It’s a dance that is very close to the body and involves lots of hip swaying and turning. Typically the dance is done holding both hands but it tends to become more intimate, much like the tango.

 

Keep studying different types of Latin Dance and you will be able to recognize them with no problem. Never limit yourself to just the more popular ones! It’s wonderful and fun to know so many kinds of Latin dance and will earn respect among your peers.

 

Work Worth Doing

“Far and way the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

One of our favorite things about this interview is the emphasis that Forrest Vance has on positivity. Positivity allows you to view yourself with potential. It’s a form of visualization. You see yourself having a chance at success.

Of course, positive thinking does not come easily to most people. For most, it’s the opposite of their instinct. It is so easy, particularly as a new dancer, to become overwhelmed and want to quit. So how does one change a mindset from a negative to a positive way of thinking?

There’s never one answer that works for everyone, of course. One thing that successful people have in common is to work with pleasure toward their goals. Realize that what you want to do is worthwhile, important, and fun, and that it will continue even if you do not continue with it. Furthermore, by studying it, you become even more worthwhile, important, and fun (well, more so than you already are!).

This is not meant to discourage. In fact, it should urge you to chase after what you want before it slips from your fingers! There is so much to learn, so many techniques, so many people who love dancing just as much as you do. What good does it do anyone to stop before you even begin?

Do you allow dancing to encourage or discourage you? Do you feel like you’re getting a chance to be part of something you love, getting a chance to be good at something fulfilling?