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September 23, 2009 > Dancing stars

Dancing stars

By Alyson Whitaker

In recent years, reality TV shows such as "Dancing with the Stars," "America's Ballroom Challenge," and "So You Think You Can Dance" have piqued interest in a sport that had previously gone largely unnoticed. Water cooler conversations now include critiques of performances, costume design, and choice of music. The glitz and glamour of ballroom dance isn't just for national TV however - the magic can be witnessed up close right here in the Tri-City area!

Fremont's own Premier Ballroom Studio is pleased to host the first annual Pacific Grand Ball DanceSport Championships on Saturday, September 26, followed by the Premier Ballroom Studio Club Dance Competition and Congress on Sunday, September 27.

This event is organized by two of Bay Area's finest dancing couples: Aira Bubnelyte & Tomas Atkocevicious and Laura Fan & Hristo Minev.

Tomas and Aira are former Lithuanian Professional Standard Champions, Blackpool Professional Standard Rising Star Vice-Champions and U.S. Nationals Professional Finalists. They currently live and teach in the San Francisco Bay Area, nurturing a new generation of dancers.

Hristo and Laura are the owners of Premier Ballroom Studio and currently compete in the International Standard Rising Star Professional division. At Premier Ballroom Studio, their goal is to share their love of dance and bring all forms of dance to the Greater Bay Area community.

"We're excited to add new competition to Northern California's Ballroom Dancing calendar and continue to promote ballroom dancing in the Bay Area and beyond," says Laura Fan, organizer and owner of Premier Ballroom Studio. "The ballroom dancing community has grown tremendously. It's an honor to be part of this dancing "revolution" and make ballroom dancing available to dancers of all levels, whether they choose to just watch, want to dance, or go all the way to competing."

Saturday, September 26, kicks off the two-day event with amateur and pro/am competitions for both International Style and American Style Ballroom.

International Style is the most commonly competed style around the globe, with two different categories: International Standard with Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Quickstep and Viennese Waltz, and International Latin with Cha-Cha, Rumba, Samba, Paso Doble, and Jive.

American Style has recently spread beyond the U.S. and is starting to be danced in other areas around the world as well. The American Style has categories that parallel those of the International Style: American Smooth with Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot and Viennese Waltz, and American Rhythm with Cha-Cha, Rumba, Bolero, Mambo, and East Coast Swing.

The varying styles have their commonalities, as well as their differences. For both, female dancers wear a flowing, elegant gown, and gentlemen don a tail suit or tuxedo. When they set foot on the dance floor, you'll see International style dancers gliding together across the floor in closed frame, whereas the American style dancers will alternate between closed and open, much like modern day Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. Want to know more? You'll have to come and experience it for yourself!

The day will conclude with a fantastic professional showcase featuring the Bay Area's own Professional Latin couple, recent champions at International Grand Ball in San Francisco: Pasha Barsuk and Natalia Barsantseva. Pasha is Rising Star Latin U.K. Open, and Blackpool finalist, U.S. Pro Open Finalist and has performed on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." His partner, Natalia is Russian Cup Champion, Russian Open Amateur Finalist, and U.S. National Amateur Finalist. This is a must see show - the audience is sure to be mesmerized by their skill and passion for dance.

On Sunday, September 27, Premier Ballroom Studio opens their doors to its first ever Club Dance Competition and Congress. Much like the day before, Sunday will be packed with amateur/amateur and professional/amateur competition, this time in Club Dances: Hustle, Salsa, West Coast Swing, and Argentine Tango.

While each dance has its own individual profile, club dances earned their name because they are danced socially in clubs, whether a Swing Club, Salsa Club or even a traditional Argentine Milonga.

Come out and experience ballroom dancing with its full glamour, athleticism, and beauty and immerse yourself in the energy and joy of the dancers. Whether you're an aspiring dancer, wallflower, or have two left feet, you're sure to catch a bit of the magic.

Pacific Grand Ball
Saturday, September 26 and Sunday, September 27
Premier Ballroom Studio
4181 Cushing Parkway, Fremont
(510) 683-9228

Go to for a complete schedule of events. Tickets prices start at $10 for the daytime session and $20 - $40 for the evening session and the professional show.

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