Welcome to my life on the ballroom D - list

Thursday, December 11, 2014

how it works: Our Dance season and the grand finale

Many of my non-dancing friends ask how  dancing has a "sports season". Here's my attempt to explain it.

Unlike other sports, the dance season runs for 12 months, starting and ending in November of each year. Throughout the year there are 85 competitions that comprise our circuit. Events are held all over the country, where student dancers accumulate points. The points are tallied on a central website:


At the end of the year, dance students and dance teachers are presented with world pro/am Dancepsort series awards.

The Ohio Star Ball is considered the largest event in our industry, which serves as the grand "Super Bowl" style finale for the end of our dance season. It is held every November at the Columbus Conventon Center in Ohio.

Professional dancers also compete for the most prestigious titles at Ohio. The professional rounds are what you see televised on the PBS program.

The Ohio Star Ball has been traditionally broadcast on PBS, for over 30 years. Over the years the event has been retitled   for tv format. For a few years it was broadcast as "Champion Ballroom" and then later as "America's Ballroom Challenge"
For many years, the show was hosted by Juliet Prowse.

In later years it was hosted by:
Barbara Eden

 Sandy Duncan

Mary Lou Henner

 Jean Louisa Kelly

Jasmine Guy

This year the show will be hosted by Mary Murphy.

Outside the professional dancing and celebrity focus. Dance Students compete  with their teachers in a large scale arena.  Teacher/student partnerships are known As Pro/Am. This type of partnership means that one dancer is professional and dances as a paid service, while the other dancer in the partnership is an amateur, who dances as a client of the professional dancer.

All ages and levels compete in these competitions, from beginner to advanced. Dancers are divided by age and skill level.

Some of the divisions at Ohio Star Ball have over 50 couples on the floor.

There are 3 different ballrooms which run at Ohio during the week long event. The professionals dance at the end of the week in the main convention center arena.

Some of the most prestigious awards of our industry are presented at the Ohio Star Ball. For professionals, the crowned winner of America's Ballroom Challenege is the highest placement that one can receive.

For students, the most prestigious award in DanceSport is also presented, which is the Dancesport Series Overall Top Student Award. This year the award was presented to Lauren LaPointe .
Her teacher, Louis Bar, won the overall top teacher award, which is the highest honor for a dance teacher in our industry.

This year's Ohio was also a very happy moment for me, as it was my first time making it in the Top Ten Dancesprt Series  Line up.
I am very thankful to all my students who helped me achieve this top ranking. It was entirely due to their hardwork and support:

Judith Albarelli
Lauren Garrett
Alice Williams
Danielle Roeber
Dana Coppola
Tarang Mehta
Ester Servais
Lindsay Hayden
And Sophia D'Angelo

This year our students also helped the studio earn 13th place overall, which is also due to the help of:

Rebecca Gentry
Michael Albarelli
Dave Russell
William Zeisel
Terry Chasteen
Luca Madi

We're still downloading our pictures from this years OSB, so I'll post more pics from our experience soon. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Terpsichore, the muse that comes and goes.

Muses come and go very quickly, especially Terpsichore.

But as my friend Laurel Grey pointed out, Clio is forever. 

In the Fred Astaire/Gubger Rigers feature
 film Swing Time (1936), Lucky (Astaire), when asked by Mr. Gordon, why he wishes to learn to dance, answers: "To flirt with terpsichory"

Friday, October 31, 2014

Boardwalk Hall, our private tour

At the end of our recent trip to Atlantic City, we had a fabulous private tour of the World's largest pipe organ, ahead of a  screening of the 1925 Silent Film Classic, " The Phantom of the Opera". We are thankful to Mr. Robert Parkhurst, for allowing us to dance in the historic Andrian Phiilips Ballroom & for a fabulous tour.

Boardwalk Hall was built in 1929.
It is the original home of the Miss aamerica Pageant. Rebecca & Esther had fun with the Miss America statue which stands out front.
We were given a fantastic tour if the building by Mr. Robert Parkhurst, of the Historic Organs Restoration  Committee. In addition to raising funds to the restoration of the halls two organs, the committee so arranges for screenings of silent films in the historic Adrian Phillips ballroom.
On the afternoon of our visit, the committee was preparing for the screening of the Panthom of the Opera.

Friday, October 24, 2014

New Jersey State Open 2014

The New Jersey State Open started with a peaceful bus ride up from DC this year. The bus was nearly empty coming up, and had a convenient drop of at Bally's.

I've been told that the present day location of Bally's is the approximate  spot to where the show Boardwalk Empire took place. Although there are some historical discrepancies between true Atlantic City history and the scenes in the HBO show, it's fun to imagine the ealry days on the Boardwalk when walking into the modern day casino.

On my first day in Atlantic City, I strolled along the boardwalk, spotting odd sights and glimpses into the city's past.

I'm surprised by all the vintage architecture that remains standing  on the Boardwalk.
Walking along the boardwalk, was great fun, with perfect weather on a warm October day.
I spotted the now closed Showboat Casino and House of Blues. The boardwalk was still bustling though, even for October, and full of life.

Towards the end of my walk alone, I stopped to have my fortune told.
For $5 you can have your fortune told, or for $25 you can have your past, present, an future read from both palms. 

I'm not one to be overly superstitious, and I never speak a word of detail to a card or palm reader, but I am always amazed by the accuracy of past and present, which they seem to get right every time .

Mystics and Salt Water Taffy shops seem to equal each other by numbers in Atlantic City.

After a nice walk, I checked in at the historic Claridge Hotel. The hotel was offering a fantastic deal on Groupon, simply too good to pass up. The vintage hotel is Connected to Bally's, with clean modern rooms. On this particular weekend, rooms at the Claridge were priced $200 lower than Bally's.
The Claridge was but in 1930's, with many retro features included in it's modern restoration, it is very much in character with the HBO series, Boardwalk Empire.
A Boardwalk Empire themed billboard is only a short walk from the Claridge.
Rebecca and I had a fabulous time dancing in the Rising Star Division on Friday evening. After the professional rounds, we had time for some photos in the Claridge Hotel lobby.

The hotel staff was also kind enough to allow us to practice in their upstairs ballroom.

We enjoyed the vintage flavor of the hotel as much as we enjoyed the dance event. Roxanne, Susan, and Tom are the friendliest event organizers that you can meet, and their event is always top notch.

On Friday evening, our good friends,
Daria Zotova and Kirill Gorjatsev placed first in the Rising Star Professional Smooth Division.
On Saturday morning, we attended the daytime session to cheer for our students from GWU, who were competing in the American Smooth Pre-Champ Divison.
Antonio & Jasmine placed first in their amateur divisions, and we were all very impressed by their performance.

It was also nice to catch up with Anna Boyd, who was dancing with her new Pro/am Smooth partner, Gabor.

After the Saturday morning session,
We all celebrated with lunch at the Rainforrest Cafe. 

In the evening, Rebecca and I returned to dance in the Open Professional Smooth division.

Before the evening session began, the New Jersey State Open held a colors ceremony with our National Anthem. I am sorry to say that behind the scenes, only four dancers out of 18 present , joined at attention during colors, the rest stood behind the curtain disengaged, and one gentleman actually adjusted  his private parts during the National Anthem. Such acts, as I am learning, are not uncommon in the dance world.

Outside that, the evening went splendidly,  and the session continued on all fronts, with great success.

On Sunday morning , our group met up for breakfast at Teplitzky's, a famous 1950's breakfast spot.

After breakfast we went to visit Boadwalk Hall, the original home to the Miss America Pageant.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Exploring The Zeigfeld Theater

In July I attended the Manhattan Dancesport Chanpionships with Lauren Garrett.

During our trip we had the opportunity to visit several NYC attractions.

We had the opportunity to see Jersey Boys at the Famous Zeigfeld Theater. A press announcement for Smiles hangs in the lobby .
A film clip from Smiles contains the only known Footage of Fred Astaire dancing with his sister, Adelle.
We also got to see Marilyn Miller's shoes.

The lobby floor of the Zeigfeld.
 Costumes were displayed in the lobby with ther original feather plumes and accessories.

Twin Cities Open 2014