Archive of ‘Interviews’ category

e.K. at the 2010 NYC Salsa Congress: 3 Fabulous Women of Salsa!

The New York City Salsa Congress this year was filled with great dancing, great music, and great people. Thousands attended this year, and it was incredibly fun! Among the interesting figures present were some powerful, talented women, among the hottest names in salsa. I sat down and talked to some of them. We chatted about their dance background, the event itself, and what’s next for them. I asked them to reflect about the congress experience and the Salsa scene overall. They were fascinating, intelligent, and down to earth.

For example, Jami Josephson, the famed Salsa, Hustle, and Ballroom instructor, told me about how as a child learning to walk, she used

The beautiful Jami Josephson

 to walk on her toes. Her mother, thinking something was wrong with her, put her in dance class. Around the age of 19, she started ballroom dancing, which led her to a successful competitive career with current top National Rhythm dancer Jose DeCamps. Around 1998 however, she left the Ballroom world and became hooked into the world of Salsa, working particularly with Nelson Flores and Descarga Latina. On what she loves most about the Salsa world, she said “Well, Salsa comes from the heart. People dance with such feeling. The music is so rich. So that part is why I love it.”

I asked her about the event, and her role in it. “The cool thing about the NY Salsa Congress is that a lot of people come together and there’s just some type of unity that gets created, and everybody starts learning from each other.” She ran the Hustle room this year. “It’s been very successful,” she said. “Hustle, it’s an older style of dance from the 70s, but it has come back in the scene. I always say that the Salsa dancers back in the day used to steal from the Hustle dancers, and now, it’s the Hustle dancers stealing from the Salsa dancers… so it’s very crossed. I thought it was cool for people to see.” She thinks the Hustle will continue growing in popularity, and hopes to perhaps even see some West Coast Swing at next years’ Salsa congress, expanding the description of “Congress, Dance and Music Festival,” more literally. In the meantime, Jamie continues teaching in NYC, running teacher trainings to develop instructors as well, and choreographing for her team, the Rhythm Divas, who you can expect to see soon.

Shani Talmor modeling her shoe design for the Burju shoe line

I also spoke with Shani Talmor, Ismael Otero’s partner, known for her grace and style. From about the age of six, this beauty from Israel danced ballet, gymnastic/artistic, jazz and contemporary.  Around age 17, she saw salsa dancing on a beach in Israel, and was curious. She began at the Israeli Salsa Academy, doing On1 Cuban style rueda, and was soon put in the instructor course, after which she began instructing On1 Cuban rueda and On1 LA Style salsa. At a congress in the U.K., she met Johnny Vasquez, who asked her to dance with him. She picked up and moved to Spain to be his partner for three years. From about 2004 to about 2007 she was dancing in Europe, and in 2007 she moved to New York. She has been dancing with Ismael Otero, the On2/New York million-moves-man himself, for about four years now.

What does she like most about Salsa? “I love the music,” she said. “But I really like the fact that, what I do, I can go to a Salsa congress and meet so many different people from all over the world, and it’s beautiful to see how you have so many people from different backgrounds and different countries, different language, and at the end of the day, we just go out on the dance floor and it doesn’t matter where you’re from, what you’ve done with your life, who you’ve been with or stuff like that, and it’s just dancing. Two people become one. So for me it’s amazing, that connection on the dance floor.”

Ismael’s company, Caribbean Soul, debuted a new show at the congress. Shani also performed with other great salseras (Griselle Ponce, Anya Katsevman, and more) in a runway/dance show at the event. Shani wore a gorgeous shoe design of her own (it’s shining gold – she likes “shimmer everything, glitter everything”).

On the event itself, she said that she likes the fact that this congress is conveniently located in the city, with everything in the same hotel, and that there is such a variety of dancing styles present for great social dancing all night long.  And she looked very nice and well-dressed, doing it – she said she likes to wear short dresses to go out dancing, and prefers to get dressed up at congresses (“very classy stuff,” she prefers).

You can catch Shani looking fabulous with Ismael at their new studio location in New Jersey, at 682 Summit Avenue., where she teaches ladies styling classes, alongside classes in Salsa, great patterns from Israel, Bachata, and soon-to-come, Brazilian Samba and Hip Hop. In addition to performing locally and around the nation and world with Ismael and Caribbean Soul, she’s also working on upcoming routines for her ladies group, “Shani’s Girls,” and will be a part of Ismael’s upcoming 15 year Caribbean Soul reunion, so be on the lookout for that.

And finally, I spoke with the amazing and unique, Magna Gopal. She’s known for being so supremely talented that she’s almost entirely

Worldwide Renown Salsa dancer Magna Gopal

 self-taught, developing her style via social dancing. So I asked her how she began. “I actually got started dancing watching that movie Dance With Me, with Vanessa Williams and Cheyenne, a long time ago. I was living in Toronto at the time, and then I came across some flyer for dance classes.” She took a few lessons and just started going to the clubs.

That was ten years ago in Toronto. Today she’s NYC-based, but traveling often due to her high popularity. She moved to the city four years ago, and now considers this congress her “home congress.” But there’s more she likes about it: “it’s one of the biggest that I’ve attended, and it’s always frequented by so many people, I mean New Yorkers, so many locals, but as well as a lot of foreigners. And the dance floor and the dance space is excellent, and that’s a big thing. And then, it’s always got great bands, it’s always got awesome live music and a great set of shows, great instructors, and everything.” She also talked about the wonderful sharing between dance styles that’s happening now, with the Bachata, Hustle, and even Hip Hop being given room to be shared at the event. “I think the more you can expose people to different types of dances the better it is, it just opens everyone’s mind up, allows people to be more creative.” She loves, for example, “the strength and power of Hip Hop dancing,” and enjoys the incredible versatility of Salsa. “You really can do anything and everything you want with it.”

She shared one final excellent tip for dancers. “Always try and aspire not necessarily to learning as many moves as you can or as much styling and all that stuff but to really try and connect emotionally with your partner and the music,” she said. Ultimately, she explained, that will make your dancing much more beautiful. 

Magna will be traveling a lot coming up, to Suri Nam, Russia, and more, and she will soon release her new set of DVDs. You can check her out at her website.

And there you have it. There are many more fabulous women in salsa, of course. These three are really on top of their game, so we found some one-on-one time to learn from them. We at e.K. Clothing would like to thank them for the interviews, and for inspiring us all, salseras everywhere, with their dancing, artistry, and instruction. The congress was beautiful, such an amazing time!  Women like them made it more vibrant, alive, and fun! Now that you’ve gotten to know them a little better, be sure to be on the lookout for their new projects, performances, and classes, in NYC, LA, and beyond.

e.K. at the Joyce Theater: A Performance and “Dance Chat” with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company

For the 25th anniversary of the legendary Joyce Theater in New York City, they extended an invitation to Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company. It was only fitting, since the renowned, New York-based modern company is also celebrating its 25th anniversary. When the company was commissioned by the Ravinia Festival in Highland park, IL to create work honoring the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, they responded with three new pieces. Among them was Serenade/The Proposition, which they performed from November 10th – 15th at The Joyce.

The performance piece (interestingly, originally created and rehearsed in 25 days) explored “the nature of history.” It asked questions about what we know, what we think we know, and what we remember, while looking at the civil war, the late 1800s, and the role of Abraham Lincoln as a significant figure in the shaping our history from then to today. Live music – including beautiful new compositions – from a cellist, piano player, and classical female vocalist were accompanied by poignant speeches and poems, by and about Lincoln, history, America, and the time period, and recited mostly by the vocalist and a charismatic male narrator.

Meditations on race, change, and Lincoln’s life melted together in the very contemplative work. Said Associate Artistic Director Janet Wong: “We want to talk about our distance, first of all.” Repeating a line from the performance speech, Wong said it is about: “‘That woman,’ and me. ‘That man,’ who remembers his third grade class about that great man [Lincoln.] What do we remember? And, what has meaning for us?”

The show began with the dancers dressed plainly, in warm-ups and dancewear. At first, “they are who they are: modern dancers,” said Wong. They then appeared fully dressed in 18th century-styled dress that suggested period. The resonant audio of musicians, speech, and singing emotionally drew the audience in and led the performance through the wonderful crescendos of each visual phrase of dance.

The dancing often moved diagonally across the floor – an artistic decision was made early in the company’s research, Wong explained in the “Dance Chat” following the performance. Lincoln stayed in a guesthouse the night before his assassination, and being such a tall man in a bed too short for him, he had to sleep on a diagonal, so the dancers symbolically also moved on a diagonal. They also often came together and, in a collection of energy, yelled “Hey!” before passing across the stage again.

There was a great respect for fall and release technique, especially release into the floor; the dancers surrendered to gravity in the partner work. And yet, there was a sense of weightlessness, with graceful upper body lines. Dynamic video projections, created by Janet Wong, played throughout the show, in sync with the music. The use of multimedia, now very common in dance, was a tool to instantly change backgrounds and transport the audience.

The costumes suggested period, as they were designed to do, without encumbering the dancers or distracting from the themes and performance of the work. Seeing the great movement of the eighteenth century style large circle skirts (and petticoats) and dresses on the women, and the classic jackets, collars, sleeves, and slacks on the men – you would never even know that they actually had no budgets for costumes. “We actually went into our storage,” said Wong. Things were loaned, items borrowed from here and there, and then color introduced – red in particular. Their ideas were shaped using what they had to work with.

At one point, the narrator said: “History is knowing nothing, to believing nothing.” Such weighted words were paired with tragic civil war imagery – especially of the female dancers as women surveying fields of the dead looking for loved ones – and the clear but emotionally weighted tone of the singer – especially as she sand the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The topic of “this republic of suffering” – torn apart by the war – was pervasive.

The male speaker also read this poignant statement: “This history is a place in which all truths are self-evident, and yet each one must be proven.” It was a fitting and memorable quote, settled between moments of dance, music, and imagery that questioned and reminded us about previous times of revolution, racial tension, and change, while forcing us to look at where we are now. When asked about the nature of freedom and justice, and what of history we all need to know to appreciate it, Mexican dancer Erick Montes responded during the Dance Chat by saying: “You need to know what relates to you… I believe that evolution comes from revolution. You need to know enough of the truth to fight for it.”

It all came together, in a show containing peaks and valleys of emotion, moments that gave chills, and ultimately, a beautiful presentation of racial harmony. The company is diverse in appearance, and that overtone of diversity added to the themes of their latest work in a fitting, even poetic way.

For more information on the company, including their history/mission statement and more, visit http://www.billtjones.org. To see upcoming performances at the Joyce, visit http://www.joyce.org.

Get to Know Carolina Cerisola

You may have seen Carolina Cerisola recently on World Superstars of Dance, representing Argentina as a solo. Or you may have seen her in a recent e.K. Clothing blog post video showcasing our skirts. Now you can get to know her further. Take a moment to read our interview with this talented young dancer.

How long have you been dancing, and how old were you when you started?
I have been dancing for 13 years, I started when I was 16 years old.

When did you know that you wanted to do this professionally?
I didn’t know this was going to be my profession. It just happened. When I was 16 I started and a few months later, I started doing shows and working as a salsa dancer in the best salsa clubs in Buenos Aires. At that time, it was more of a fun thing to do than a profession.

Tell me a little bit about your professional career (share some highlights with us).
I am just so surprised how my career [has] worked out. I was a salsa dancer for 5 years… I got to dance with Johnny Vazquez, and then life took me to a different direction-into the Burlesque/Cabaret world. At 21, I discovered all the Bob Fosse movies and that became my passion-along with the art of performing with live musicians.

My dancing has given me the chance to dance with talented artist like Sting, Justin Timberlake, and Mick Jagger, and the chance to collaborate with Heath Ledger.


One of Carolina Cerisola’s & Johnny Vasquez’s winning performances at the 2001 Mayan Salsa Championships

How has dance changed your life?
Dancing changed my life! I don’t know who else I would be with out it. I just can’t imagine. Dance is the way I express my emotions of anger, happiness, sadness, etc. It’s everything to me! I lose myself in it every night I perform.

What kinds of clothing do you like to wear while dancing?

The kind of clothing I wear is very important, especially when I perform. It puts me character and determines how I am going to dance. It changes my moves and it inspires me to dance differently. I really like to wear leotards.

Besides salsa, what are your other favorite styles of dance?

I love jazz and Fosse style [jazz].

Tell us what’s coming up for you, career-wise.

Career wise, I’m not sure, but I know I am going in the right direction (where ever that may be). Life always takes me to the most unexpected places, so I just let it be that way. I have been producing a night once a month call THE FLOOR (myspace.com/thefloorimprovnight) with my partner Sascha Escandon, and since last year our goal has been to produce live shows anywhere in the world.

Quick Q&A:

Zodiac sign: Sagittarius
Nationality/hometown/where I grew up: Argentina, Buenos Aires
Favorite hobby: Cooking
What I do to relax: I go to the Korean spa. I go to this specific one called NATURA and get a body scrub and massage.
Scariest moment from dancing: Knee surgery, end of 2006
Best memory from a town I danced in: In Italy with Johnny Vazquez, and working with the most amazing dancers in Cuba shooting a music video for Zucchero
Must-have back-stage/pre-performance ritual: Pray
What I like to collect: Great experiences
Favorite guilty pleasure: Food of all kind
Favorite song: “La Belleza” by Silvio Rodriguez y Luid Eduardo Aute
Favorite time of day: Morning
Favorite city: Buenos Aires
What I would do with more free time: Travel the world
Favorite pastime: Sleeping
Favorite ice cream flavor: Dulce de leche
Favorite animal: Dogs
Favorite music: All kinds
Favorite subject in school: Writing
Favorite thing to do on weekends: Swim in the ocean, paddle boarding, mountain biking, etc.
What makes me happy: My friends
Major goal(s) as a dancer: Produce and direct


Carolina and her partner Jordi Caballero performing an amazing Tango routine

You can find out more about Carolina by visiting her website, http://www.carolinacerisola.com, or her MySpace, http://www.myspace.com/carolinacerisola. See more of Carolina and Christian Oviedo improvising after our shoot here.

See? At e.K. Clothing, we dress the best – and the rest. For affordable, stylish dance wear sure to satisfy all bodies and dance levels, shop now at http://www.ekclothing.com.

At “The Arnold” part 2: Fashion for the Fit Physique

Most of us know that we have to dress in a way that flatters our unique shape. More educated fashionistas know that dressing well for your body type is, in fact, of primary importance. After all, without a good sense of proportion, then color, texture, accessories, hair, and makeup matter little.

Fit, conditioned bodies have unique fashion advantages and challenges. Cardio workouts, clean eating, and lifting weights add a little extra muscle to a female frame. But, while healthy living does a body good, fit chicks know that certain clothing styles don’t.

What works well to show off (or soften up) a  fit physique is individual – it varies from woman to woman. Where are the women who know all about fitting fit looks? At the Arnold Sports Festival – the nation’s largest fitness expo – of course. I spoke with some of them, including well-known competitors and spokeswomen, about fashionably dressing a more fit body.

Monica Brant-Peckham, an icon of the fitness world, shows off her figure in a sexy photo shoot.

“Monica Brant Peckham.” That’s one of the most well-known names in fitness. A prominent and successful competitor since 1991 (she’s now 38), her body has adapted to the demands of her profession – nowadays she says she only trains shoulders, back, and legs (high-rep, for conditioning, “just because I enjoy circuit training for my legs”). When I asked her about personal style, she said that she prefers variety: “I wear all different styles, I don’t have one particular style that I wear more than others, it just depends on my mood and what I’m interested in wearing, I guess.” What kind of a dress might she wear on a night out? “Well I would wear a dress if I felt like I wanted to wear a dress, first of all, I don’t necessarily always want to show off a physique, sometimes I like to be more covered and conservative and sometimes I like to maybe show a little more skin.”

Halter tops can be flattering for women with nicely developed shoulders. Monica’s take? As long as they don’t hurt your neck with an uncomfortable tie at the back, they work. “It depends on the dress, but those are nice, those are flattering,” she said. We recommend our Scalloped Rhinestone Dress, or our Crystal Band Halter Top, to show off nicely defined shoulders.

Monica added: “If I wear a skirt, then… probably mid-thigh.” If you have legs that toned, a mid-thigh-length skirt offers the perfect opportunity to show them off. (Our Ruffle Mini Skirt, or the shorter and slightly more daring Ruffle Mini Mini Skirt will certainly show off great gams! Couple any skirt with a matching dance panty for convenient, worry-free style).

Does she like to show off her incredible body everywhere she goes? “Absolutely not,” she laughed. “I like to cover up just like everyone else, I like to be conservative and I do not like to show off my physique every where I go.” (We understand, there’s no need to constantly be on display.)

Tracy Grogg, a surgical tech and part-time personal trainer, worked the vendor booth this year for The Fitness Factory in Columbus, Ohio. She’s a married 36-year-old mother of six, but you’d never know looking at her. Tracy lifts five days a week and does cardio five to six days a week (and she competed in Figure for the first time in April 2008). “I guess my arms are the most noticeable, I tend to wear arm shirts, dresses that show off my arms,” she says. (And nice arms they are. If you’re in the mood to show off your toned arms, a la Michelle Obama with a signature sleeveless look, we might suggest one of our tank tops.)

Tracy also likes skirts above the knee, because at 5, 2,” they make her legs look a little longer. In general, though, she says: “I don’t show off too much off… I don’t want to look too over-muscular, so I watch what I wear, nothing too skimpy.” As a closing point, she added: “I still like to wear a little loose, a little baggy, comfortable clothes, I don’t tend to wear tight things. I’m more comfortable that way, less self-conscious about how I look.”

Timea Majorova models a toned body for Muscle & Fitness Hers magazine issue.

Timea Majorova, 34, is a famous spokeswoman, international model, and former professional fitness competitor of eight years. At 5, 9″ and about 130 lbs, she looks gorgeously lean and shapely. “I love fashion, and I love dressing up sexy,” she says, in her lovely European accent. “I like… showing my body. But I [also] love fashion, I like the combination of extravagant, and athletic, and elegant.”

“You like to show off when you go out?” I asked her. “Oh yeah, definitely.”

Timea is unafraid to take risks in her search for athletic yet elegant fashion. For an athletic type with such a forward fashionable attitude, we might suggest a look with a long, sexy slit on the bottom – check Classic Flare Pant, or our Cleopatra Skirt (visit the pants and skirts pages to see full looks on our models.) Be a little daring by wearing one of our sequined bras beneath a blazer, or seek a body-hugging top with feminine details (perhaps something like this or this.)

Zivile Raudoniene takes the stage in top form at the 2009 Arnold Classic, where she took the top title in the Figure division.

And finally, I spoke with Zivile Raudoniene, 27, who has been competing for 11 years, and won the 2009 Arnold Classic Figure International competition (and now appears prominently on the Arnold Classic homepage). She works out five to six days a week, and is incredibly fit and beautiful in person. “I like like classy, sexy style,” she says, in a light, pretty accent. She likes short dresses – they show off her legs, which she works very hard (“Why not?” she asks). She also says she likes her abs, but probably wouldn’t wear something to show them off going out. (But if she wanted to, we might suggest our Draped Cut Out Dress, Fringe Halter Top, or Short Coined Halter Top. Our Sheer Sleeve Dot Long Sleeve Top is another subtle option to show off what you’ve got.)

Talking to these women, it was clear that, a) while they enjoy dressing well, they don’t overdo it simply because they can (read: simply because they have amazing bodies that allow them certain fashion freedoms). They also demonstrate that b) fitness – looking and feeling great – has no age limit. And finally, they remind us that c) if you have a fit physique, you should celebrate it – but express your body confidence your way, through your personal style choices.

At “The Arnold”: Youth Competitors, Coaches, Judges and Parents Talk About What’s Appropriate in Youth Dance Wear

Every March, a metropolitan college town in the middle of Ohio is transformed when the Arnold Sports Festival (aka the “Arnold Fitness Weekend”) takes over the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Originated by Arnold Schwarzenegger, it includes the largest fitness expo in the world, with about 700 vendor booths. An estimated 165,000 visitors and 17,000 athletes attend viewing and participating in many sports, from archery to cheerleading. And, of course (with Arnold’s bodybuilding legacy), there is the professional and amateur men’s and women’s bodybuilding, and women’s fitness and figure competitions.

At the Arnold Juvenile, Junior, Youth, and Collegiate Dance Sport Classic, visitors can also enjoy watching impressive youth dance sport competitors. At this year’s Arnold Classic, I spoke to youth competitors, parents and coaches about what’s appropriate and expected for youth dance attire. (We’ve recently introduced a kidswear section at e.K. Clothing so it’s only fitting that we bring you this relevant content).

Alexandra Gutkovich, 9 (but turning 10 this month), and John Gaylan, 13, are a compact pair at about 4, 4″ and 4, 9″. However, their size means little – they dance with incredible power and precision that rivals their longer-limbed competitors. As winners of the J4 Latin 3-Dance, and the J4 Latin 5-Dance, they looked coordinated and smooth in earth tones of green and brown. Halina Gutkovich, Alexandra’s mother, said that her little girl should wear for practice “something comfortable” that “still looks beautiful.” She added “It’s a beautiful sport, and presentation and beauty [are] a big part of the sport, and practicing is also a big part of the sport, so she has to look beautiful all the time.”

Alexandra said that she prefers a “fit” look. Her young partner agreed; although he is extremely adept at guiding her around the floor, he added: “I wouldn’t really want her to wear… like, a very loose, baggy kinda thing, it would be harder.” He did say that it depends on the fabric, but generally prefers that it be “stretchy and light.” And, rather than Alexandra showing movement through loose cuts, “usually, I’ll wear either fringes or ruffles,” she said.
After a special showcase performance for event founder and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Arnold Youth DanceSport competitors Alexandra Gutkovich and John Gaylan, ages 9 and 13, are greeted by the man himself at the 2009 Arnold Classic

Benito Garcia is one of three coaches for the fantastically talented competitive team. He mentioned a preference for the couple to wear “mainly dark gear, black, so they can see the line much better close, as well as at a distance. It’s mostly about the line… They’re being judged, so they need to be able to present the line at a distance. Appropriate practice gear is a big part of that.”
He values a “covered & simple” look, especially for the youth. Simple… understated. You know, keep it very classy. That’s one of the great things about this sport – it teaches elegance, class, honor, respect.” And, of course, as a knowledgeable coach, he reminded that “comfort is very important because if they’re not comfortable, they’re going to show it in their expression.”

That’s right, parents – keep it simple, classy, and appropriate for the age and dance-level. For great youth options, check back for more of our girls designs. And, keep the little ones dancing, as they build the confidence in how they move, and in how they look.

Next week: Fit women, including top fitness and figure competitors at the Arnold Classic, talk about dressing a more toned physique, and their everyday personal style.

At the 2009 Chicago Salsa Congress: Chicago Dance Supply

Chicago is a town brimming with dance, and dancers need lots of stuff. You know, dance shoes, shoe brushes, the right tights or pantyhose, leg-warmers, practice-wear, and performance-wear. They buy special foot tape, wrap bandages, shoe inserts, toe spacers, hair clips, and headbands. They even wear jewelry with dance shoe charms – little things to subtly broadcast participation in one of life’s more beautiful activities. With so many dancers in the “windy city” in need of so many special things, Chicago Dance Supply, an e.K. Clothing retailer, must have quite a long list of customers. They catered to locals and visitors alike at this year’s Chicago Salsa Congress.

CDS has been located in the charming Chicago neighborhood of Andersonville for the past six years. “We sell anything you could possibly need for any form of dance,” says manager Kim Bouvier Sturm, who is also in charge of the buying of products. “Everybody that works there is a dancer,” she added. “Most of us are professionals. I myself danced in Las Vegas for 11 years professionally.” Her previous professional life is no surprise – Sturm is a tall woman with a graceful control of even the simplest movements. With her straight, relaxed posture, and long, lithe, toned figure, she looks every bit the trained dancer.

Nicole, Leni and Kim representing Chicago Dance Supply at the Chicago Salsa Congress 2009

Nicole, Leni and Kim representing Chicago Dance Supply at the 2009 Chicago Salsa Congress

On either side of the CDS display booth, which sat just outside the main ballroom of the congress at the Westin O’Hare hotel, racks of e.K. Clothing dressesskirtspants, and more beckoned to passing salseras. “We love e.K. Clothing,” said Sturm. “Number one… it’s very easy to fit on most women; great choice of colors, and very reasonably priced.” (Aw – we’re blushing now!) 

They have it all – so, whether you buy e.K. Clothing or otherwise, next time you’re in Chi-town and looking for a new look, stop by Chicago Dance Supply for all your dance wear needs.

Coming next week: Top dancers at the 2009 Chicago Salsa Congress on dance wear for stage performance.

At the Ohio Star Ball: Top Dancers on Practice Wear

It’s the créme de la crème for American ballroom dancers. To many, ‘Ohio’ is ‘the real national championships,’ where dancers at all ages and levels, and from all over the world, come to compete for six days every November. What began as a one-day event 31 years ago is now The Ohio Star Ball, the nation’s largest ballroom dance competition, an enormous event that fills the Greater Columbus Convention Center and hosts thousands of competitive entries in American Smooth and Rhythm and International Standard and Latin divisions.

There are 70 judges, three chairmen, three MCs, 7 scrutineers, 2 DJs, 9 Deck Captains, and a 300+ page program, all coordinating competitive heats that run on a meticulous time schedule. OSB hosts the U.S. National Collegiate Championships, with competitors from 47 different colleges and universities, and the World *Pro/Am Championships in all four ballroom styles, as the largest Pro/Am competition in the world today. When you aren’t watching the competition, visit one of the dance camps with top coaches and industry professionals. Or enjoy the shopping – over 40 vendors of costumes, shoes, music, and other tricks-of-the-trade items fill the second floor. 

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s ‘The Big One.’

Top dancers come to the Ohio Star Ball for a friendly and festive atmosphere, a week of great performances, and fierce competition. So, what do they prefer in practice wear? I asked them.

This year’s 2008 World Pro-Am International Ten Dance Champion was Tina Bletnitsky (with partner Nikolay Czarnecki). To win such a prestigious title, one must master the five International Standard styles, and also the five International Latin styles. This requires hours of practice, so this ten-dance competitor must know what she’s talking about when she says: “In practice wear, I think it’s really important for it to feel comfortable, so it’s fitted on your body, it’s not interfering with your practice choreography.” She also prefers “sheer skirts for standard, sheer so you can see your footwork and your legs.” World Pro-Am Youth Latin Champion Michelle Andronov similarly said: “I like to practice wearing dance pants or capris because you can see your footwork.”

Looking for sheer? we would suggest our Diagonal Sheer Striped Pant or our Sheer Striped Gaucho Pants.

Looking for pants and Capri pant styles? Check out the Classic Flare Pant, or the Slit Cuff Capri Pant, made with stretch for ideal comfort and fit.

Emily Takhatarov, World Pro-Am Teen Latin Champion, said she needs “something that stretches, that doesn’t ride up.” And Karen Hauer, Professional American Rhythm Finalist with partner/husband Matt Hauer, has the body to wear just about anything, so it’s no surprise that in addition to “stretch,” she likes a fitted look. “I like tight to the body, everything fit to the body. I like seeing the silhouette of my body,” she said.

Splitshot on Ballroom Floor

Pictured above: Pro Rhythm finalists Matt & Karen Hauer (left), Professional Rising Star Latin Finalists Yuliya Zubovay and Andrei Svirydzendka (right).

Yuliya Zubovay, a Professional **Rising Star Latin Finalist with her partner Andrei Svirydzenka, concurred: “I would say black, and I like to practice in pants.” And Juliya Zavadska, also a Professional Rising Star Finalist (with partner Sharone Levit), added: “It’s really important for me, something that will show me, my personality.”

They all have their preferences on style and fit, but almost all of these dancers said “comfortable” first, when asked what was important in practice wear. At e.K. Clothing, we use fabrics with 6% – 8% stretch, for a comfortable and attractive fit. Check out our affordable variety of practice styles at http://www.ekclothing.com, where you’re sure to find something comfortable and suited to your style personality.

* Pro/Am is an abbreviation for Professional/Amateur, as in students (the amateurs) competing with their teachers (the professionals).
** Rising Star is a division for up-and-coming professional competitors.
-Photo of Zubovay/Svirydzenka by Tony Eng/DecaDance Photography

Coming next week: What do top dancers prefer in social dance wear?