“Body Esteem: Piece of Cake & Peace of Mind” with Author Susan Walker, M.S., L.P.C.

On this episode of Dance Teachers Academy, Aimée Méndez & Jose Tolentino sit down with Susan Parish- Walker during the 30th Anniversary of Emerald Ball. Psychologist Susan Parish- Walker, who is also a student of  Aimée, discusses her book “Body Esteem: Piece of Cake and Peace of Mind.” Our body esteem is a topic dancers and all people are challenged with at one time or another.

Body Esteem teaches you how to think positively about your body and your appearance.

  • Overcome emotional eating
  • Develop self-confidence and self-efficacy 
  • Find an exercise that fits your personality
  • Create your signature style
  • Stop comparing yourself to others on social media

For many years it has been shown that if people are physically fit, they experience better physical and phychological health. Now, Susan Walker has added another dimension of healthy living and that is the importance of body image and self-esteem. A well-written and highly informative book. Order Body Esteem here. 


On this episode of Dance Teachers Academy, Aimée Méndez & Jose Tolentino sit down with Nazar Norov during the 30th Anniversary of Emerald Ball. Nazar Norov reveals the pressures of competitive dancing in a transparent and honest way and stresses that even though communication is challenging, it is key.

Watch the full interview below on Dance Teachers Academy’s You Tube below!

“This is not a job, it’s a way of life” Ohio Star Ball Organizer Sam Sodano

On this episode of Dance Teachers Academy, Aimée Méndez & Jose Tolentino sit down with Sam Sodano during the 30th Anniversary of Emerald Ball. Sam is the founder of The Ohio Star Ball, which begins today November 19 -24th. The Ohio Star Ball is celebrating 42years and Sam has developed this Championship into the largest Pro/Am competition.

“I feel a competition is like your home…treat people as if they come into your home”

-Sam Sodano

Watch the full interview below on Dance Teachers Academy’s You Tube below!

John DePalma “The Voice of Ballroom” Interview with Dance Teachers Academy

On this latest episode of Dance Teachers Academy, José and Aimée interview the unmistakable voice of the Master of Ceremonies John DePalma. The sound of his engaging voice has been an important part of the dancesport experience. There is no denying why he is known as the “Voice of Ballroom Dancing.”

During the interview, they also explore all the “backstage” challenges of a dance competition and discuss his upcoming dance competition Capital Dancesport Championships August 21-24th, 2019 at Hilton at Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia.

A Dancer’s Movement to Stop Sexual Abuse

Broken Silence

Available Now on Amazon

Dancing is more than the action of combining a series of steps and moving to music. Dance is a form of expression and  communication.  It is a way to worship.  For dancer and “Transformational” Coach, Jean Dorff, dance was a way to heal.  In his internationally best selling book Broken Silence: Living with Passion and Purpose after Sexual Abuse, A Dancer’s Story, he shares how dance helped him heal and find his inner strength and passion.  

4-time British Open to the World Professional Latin Champions, Jukka Haapalainen and Sirpa Suutari describe his book as “A brave and touchingly honest account on this silenced, harrowing topic. This subject must no longer remain hidden, anything to give a voice to too many of those broken ones.”

Jean is the founder and CEO of the non-profit organization A Dancer’s Movement to Stop Sexual Abuse.   

The foundation’s three main focus areas are:

Support and coaching – To overcome the trauma of sexual abuse and help them to lead a thriving life instead of just surviving

Raising awareness – In society through speaking events, social media outreach, and building a community of dancers and people who care for this cause, either within or outside the nonprofit.

Education and empowerment – Women, men, especially young adults. A Dancer’s Movement to Stop Sexual Abuse has developed specific workshops and trainings to educate people about this topic.

The foundation firmly believe that through these focus areas, the silence and isolation from sexual abuse can be broken and replaced with awareness and the ability to take empowering action. This will result in a lower number of sexual abuse victims, and better lives for those struggling with past traumas.

“It’s my goal to inspire people to  discover and use their unlimited potential to empower them and to create a life of purpose, passion, health and abundance, leading to their destiny, despite or perhaps because of what they have been through.”

Dance Teachers Academy recently sat down with Jean Dorff  to discuss the sexual abuse he endured as a child and how his passion for dance helped him to overcome his ordeals. Jean reads a powerful excerpt from his book.

Jean Dorff




Achieving Optimal Posture Without Damaging Your Body

Why does it hurt when I dance?

Do you love dancing, but hate the fact that you have to see the chiropractor after every competition? Are you unable to get your head in the position your teacher wants it or if you do manage to, you just can’t maintain it? Do you ever wonder why this is happening to you, why is this so hard, and what can you do to fix it? 

Optimal posture

As we all know, posture is extremely important in dancing, not only for aesthetics, but also for our health. If we do not have optimal posture, our body compensates in various ways which often manifests itself as pain.  Optimal posture is the state that our bodies are in when all of our bones are lined up properly, allowing us to have perfect balance and also giving us the ability to release all tension and stress from our muscles and joints. Optimal posture gives us the ability to move freely and naturally.

Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesiology

Maria Hansen, like many dancers, has suffered injuries.  By the time she retired, she couldn’t get out of bed without assistance.  Her neck couldn’t support her head.  In healing her own body, she found correcting some muscle imbalances with a personal trainer extremely helpful.  He was a graduate of the CHEK Institute in California. CHEK (Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesiology) practitioners focus first and foremost, on postural correction and then implement a functional training program geared toward the sport that you do. She decided to study at the institute and learn more about the function of the body from a different perspective.

On this episode of Dance Teacher Academy, Maria discusses how you can create the correct dance posture and look without being in pain.

Maria Hansen is a 7 Time United States Ballroom Finalist and has been a representative for the United States in the World Ballroom Championships. She was also the United States Vice Ballroom Champion and a Former North American Showdance Champion. Maria is the co-organizer of Vegas Open Dance Challenge. In addition to coaching, Maria is a Check Practitioner.

How To Pursue Your Dance 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

Carolina’s Achievements

  • 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

Carolina’s Social Media

Judging at the Emerald Ball

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?