New European Dance Champions in Mountain View
Wondering who will be selected for the upcoming season of "Dancing with the Stars," which starts on March 18, triggers fond memories about the previous "all-star" season. Season 15 dazzled audiences, celebrities, professional dancers and the judges with an array of spectacular talent.
So many world-class dancers were invited to participate in the show, both on-camera and behind the scenes as coaches or choreographers. As a result, I had the good fortune to renew a friendship with two international champions who were originally trained in Eastern Europe, Arkadiy Polezhaev, born in Russia, and Natalja Panina, born in Ukraine.
This impressive couple joined me and two other pros in a Cha Cha tribute to Tito Puente's classic hit "Oye Como Va." Working with them last year as performers and as fellow coaches for Emmitt Smith's Bolero routine was a personal highlight of 2012.
Eastern Europe has a longstanding reputation as an origin for artistically gifted dancers, deeply committed to the highest standards. Arkadiy and Natalja are perfect examples, having garnered either top championship standings or exceedingly high marks at prestigious competitions in the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy, France, Austria and Japan.
Their credentials include international accomplishments on "Dancing with the Stars." Arkadiy reached the semifinals in the Russian version of the show. Natalya served as a choreographer for versions of the show in Denmark and the Netherlands. Now they have also contributed to the U.S. version.
Each started dancing early in childhood, Arkadiy beginning at age 7 and Natalja at age 4. Realizing they had found their "calling," they received instruction from several of the world's top coaches, quickly excelling in major competitions as young amateurs and soon after as mature professionals.
After achieving individual distinctions in competitive rankings, coaching and choreography, they formed a dance partnership in the Netherlands in 2008, specializing in Latin American styles.
In addition to ballroom dance, Natalja studied ballet, classical music and composition for many years. Arkadiy graduated from the Russian West Siberian Academy of Arts and Dance with an emphasis in choreography. Whether teaching or performing, they draw upon their diverse backgrounds, musical knowledge, and superb partnering skills to create dramatic – yet seemingly effortless – Latin patterns. They design routines that touch the heart and reach the soul.
Arkadiy and Natalja taught ballroom dancing for two years at a studio in Dallas before recently relocating to the Bay Area, close to Mountain View. Astonished by how beautiful it is here, they are eager to absorb the vitality and scenic wonders that are part of the California lifestyle. As you may have guessed, I'm thrilled to announce they have joined our staff at Cheryl Burke Dance.
I encourage you to stop by and simply watch them perform or teach. Often the first reaction of both new and experienced dancers who observe this dynamic duo is a burst of inspiration, a desire to learn more about the art of dancing – whoever their instructors may be or whatever studio they choose for a "home base."
While the addition of Arkadiy and Natalja obviously benefits students in our studio, I believe it also benefits the entire local dance community.
Hope to see you on the dance floor!
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