In the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, international ballroom and Latin-dance instructor Anastasia Banderovskaya provides opportunities for people of all ages to learn social and competitive ballroom dance through her company, Dance Fever.
Banderovskaya began competing in ballroom dance in Russia when she was only 4 years old. In 2014, she moved to Santa Barbara to share the authentic styles of ballroom dance within the community. Dance Fever offers lessons and training in a variety of styles, including ballroom, Latin, and dance fitness in addition to social events for students.
I recently met up with Banderovskaya at her studio, Santa Barbara Dance Center. On display in the lobby were many awards and certificates honoring the company’s performances and instructors. The atmosphere was warm and friendly, and Banderovskaya was thrilled to be there.
What inspired you to get involved with ballroom dance? I was dancing all the time as a child. My mom finally couldn’t handle it anymore and insisted that I go to a dance studio to dance there. The ballroom studio was the closest to where I lived. I started going to competitions within a year and got first place in international standards with my partner, who was a year younger than me — I was 4, and he was 3!
What is the overall mission of Dance Fever? There are two main goals we have. In Santa Barbara, not many people know about ballroom dancing. Our first goal is to grow the ballroom-dance community in Santa Barbara. Second, …we want to inspire a young generation of dancers and also give adults a space where they can enjoy time together learning how to dance.
What are your social dance classes like? We offer ballroom dancing for beginners as a way to attract more people. We teach styles like mambo, swing dancing, and American cha-cha. At our social parties, we set up food and drink so people can come dance and socialize with each other. Social dance is mostly for people who want to have fun and enjoy; they don’t care about competitions. They just want to dance for themselves and for each other.
How about the competitive lessons? Our students go to international standard and American-style competitions for ballroom dance. The competitions are mostly in L.A.; it’s very popular there. In our group classes, we simply work on ballroom technique. For competitions, the dancers will take private lessons, and we give them different choreography based on the individual.
Where do you draw inspiration for the choreographies? From our hearts. We definitely look at each dancer’s age and skill level and try to build choreography for their unique style. Some dancers are very skilled at turns or have beautiful strong arms, so we will try to highlight that for them.
What can people take away from lessons with Dance Fever? For kids, we teach them how to be responsible, to represent, to work with a team, and listen. We teach them how to listen to music and how to be able to move to it. For adults, it’s very good for health. I’ve learned recently that ballroom can be beneficial to people fighting terminal illness. It can boost their mood and enhance their overall quality of life.
What do you want the community to know about Dance Fever? A lot of people in Santa Barbara don’t really know what ballroom dance is. I want to tell the community that it’s very elegant, like a waltz for example. The costumes are beautiful, and ballroom dance is very good for your health. You can be any level, any age, and you will still be able to learn.
Dance Fever is organizing its Christmas dance piece, Blizzard, a Viennese waltz. Classes have already begun, but it’s not too late to join. They take place Tuesdays at 7:45 p.m. and Thursdays at 7 p.m. at the S.B. Dance Center (127 W. Canon Perdido St.). The fee is $7 per class. The group will perform at the Annual Downtown Holiday Parade on Friday, December 4. For more information, call 929-7174 or see sb.dancefeverstudio.com.