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.
Wingenroth, L. (2018 Nov. 30). Doctors in the U.K. Will Soon Be Able to Prescribe Dance Classes. Originally posted in https://www.dancemagazine.com
It’s become a colloquialism—or, we admit, a cliche—to say that dance can heal.
But with a new initiative launched by British Health Secretary Matt Hancock, doctors in the U.K. will soon be able to prescribe dance classes—along with art, music, sports, gardening and more—for patients suffering from conditions as various as dementia, lung problems and mental health issues.
Termed “social prescribing,” these interventions aim to complement more traditional treatment methods and offer an alternative to over prescribing medications. “We’ve been fostering a culture that’s popping pills and Prozac, when what we should be doing is more prevention and perspiration,” said Hancock in a speech earlier this week, as reported by Smithsonian.
And though they may not be doctor-prescribed, programs in the U.S. show just how significant an impact movement can have as a form of treatment. For instance, when Mark Morris Dance Group’s successful Dance for Parkinson’s Disease program was profiled in the Journal of Neural Transmission in 2016, researchers found that patients who took 16 classes over eight weeks showed a 10.4 percent improvement in overall movement, a 26.7 percent improvement in walking and a 18.5 percent improvement in tremors. In 2010, researchers from the University of Missouri found that The Lebed Method, a low-impact dance class for seniors, improved balance and gait, thereby reducing the risk of injury due to falling. Plus, additional studies have shown that dance can reduce anxiety, improve cognitive functions and more.
In other words, the Brits are probably on to something. Pilot programs across the U.K. are already underway, and the initiative is intended to take full effect by 2023.
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.
The Latin champion has been lighting up the dance world with her spitfire personality and incredible skills since she was young as 18. Now she aspires to improve and contribute to the dance community, teaching classes and workshops. She also created the Attitude Belt to help aspiring dancers with posture issues.
What do you look for when judging a Pro/Am competition?
I’m looking for precision of steps and ease of movement.
What interests me is the well roundedness of the performance. I like to see clean and clear execution of the steps as well as smooth, pleasant energy of the delivery. I like to see strength and enthusiasm in the dance. As much as we all like to put a lot of artistry and our own interpretation into our dancing, what I always recommend to my clients is to stick to readable, elegant movements. If the artistry takes away from the strength and stability it’s not worth it. First a Pro Am dancer needs to look independent and fully in control and than we can expand into more fun, entertaining things.
What does partnership mean to you?
Partnership to me means we are in it together.
It means we have well chosen goals and a common path to accomplish those goals.
We are supporting each other every step along the way and we are each other’s biggest fans. We both take the responsibility of making sure we are moving toward our goals. When one person is not feeling up to par the other person takes over and tries to help. It’s a team – in our case a small one, just 2 people,but a powerful one. A team should always encourage and support each other.
What was your biggest challenge when you first started dancing?
My biggest challenge in the USA was that I did not speak English. Often times I could not understand what I needed to do or I could not express what I wanted to do and what I wanted my partner to do.
Even teaching was very difficult – I will always tell my students do what I do not necessarily what I am telling you.
What considerations goes into turning pro?
The biggest thing for me is evaluating if you truly want to be a dancer – or do you just want to dance a little bit as a hobby.
Are you willing to work hard and make sacrifices to get what you wish for. What I mean by that is being a dancer means dancing is your life. It is want you breath, what you eat, who you become. I tell my friends I wear my dance glasses all the time – I look at the world through those glasses. There is nothing else I would rather do than dance. If you are ready to commit to that – then I believe you will be a great professional. You will be a great competitor as well as great teacher. Your love for dance will help you to be committed not only to your own improvement as a dancer but also to the improvement of your students.
It’s amazing how when you want something very much and are willing to do whatever it takes, things usually align themselves in such a way that even the impossible becomes possible.
The right people will show up in your life and they will guide you to where you need to go.
How did you come up with the Attitude Belt?
One of the most important things to us as a dancers is our posture -but what exactly does it means to have a good posture?
Good posture meant correct alignment of the bones. When the bones are correctly aligned there is efficiency and ease to our movement. I compare it to driving a very well aligned car – it is smooth, easy and fun. It is the same with our bodies. When our bones are where they supposed to be in relationship to each other, our movement is smooth but powerful at the same time, it’s strong and elegant and therefore its very pleasant and enjoyable to look at it.
My attitude belt helps us with the correct alignment of the pelvis and the spine . This contributes to beautiful posture and helps with the ease of the movement as well as great presentation and performance.
It is a very simple, easy to use practice tool that gives you constant feedback on your alignment even when you are busy working on something else.
You are a Latin Champion. Why did you choose to focus on this specific style?
I come from Poland where I started to dance. International style was the only style available. We never knew that American style even existed.
I fell in love with Latin dancing back home in my native country and so when I come to USA I just continued my Latin journey – and I loved it every part of it.
Your favorite dance performance?
My favorite performance was at the Blackpool competition with Donald Johnson when we won our British Latin Rising Star Champion title. That was definitely a night I will remember forever.
It was special from the very beginning. I remember that year we worked so hard not only on our dancing but also on our mental strength. We were ready, we were strong, well rehearsed, confident,and excited – it was just the right mix of everything all together. I was so happy and excited to share with the audience my skills and my love for dance. I was not scared at all – I was nervous of course but in a positive uplifting way – there was no fear – just pure joy. And the fun part of it was I knew good things would happen that night. I had no doubt in my heart.
That night was a fantastic, one of a kind experience. As a dancer we all are working toward that – to be able to be free and competitive at the same time. To enjoy our own skill and to be impressive to others. It is truly unforgettable. You literally feel like walking on clouds.
Who/what inspired you to start dancing?
I started to dance when I was in grammar school in Poland. I was always a very active, wanting to move child. I saw an advertisement for Ballroom dancing and thought that could be fun. I asked my parents to take me to a class – they gladly said yes. So after church on Sunday they would drop me of for an hour to dance and that was it. My competitive side kicked in and I was hooked for good.
What would you like to tell dance students that you wish you knew when you started dancing?
I would like them to remember that the judges are not against them but rooting for them.
We are always looking to find good things not your mistakes. Do not be scared of us but share with us your skill and your love for dance. Unfortunately our job is to place all the dancers in the order we think it fits but that does not mean we do not like what you do.
“Thinking – the talking of the soul with itself.” – Plato
Training Your Mind To Dance With A Goal!
You work toward training your body to be toned, strong, and graceful. You practice choreography until you can do it backwards and with your eyes closed. You train your body every day to level up in the Dancesport world. But what about your brain?
You can train your brain just like any muscle in your body. If you’re dedicating your entire life to dancesport, it should always be working toward a specific goal. It can be something simple, like mastering a specific move or a choreography. It can also be something huge – win Blackpool Dance Festival 2019. Become the next US Championships.
No matter what your goal is, here’s a list of how to train your brain to reach your goals:
- Write down your overall goal. Look at it every day. Write specific, concrete steps. Write down your goal so you have one focus for everything you do.
- Set yourself a date to complete your goal. This helps avoid procrastination or distraction. If you find something worthwhile to add into your list of to-do’s that extends the goal date, then great! Just stick to your plan as it evolves.
- Set higher long-term expectations, and lower short-term expectations. Break up with the idea that you’ll turn into your idol tomorrow. A high expectation with a long term goal is, “I’ll be the next US Champion!” A low expectation with a short term, reasonable goal would be something like “I’m going to perfect this technique.”
- Work on something toward your goal EVERY SINGLE DAY. Small changes in your life grow into larger accomplishments, working similarly to a staircase. Each step up is stacked on the step before it, but you can’t get till the top until you’ve taken every step.
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!
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!