The popularity of celebrity-driven television dance competitions is catapulting the mesmerizing centuries-old art of ballroom into the modern psyche. “I don’t know if people really knew what ballroom dancing was,” says Anastasia Banderovskaya, co-owner of Dance Fever Santa Barbara. “But now people ask if they can learn to dance like Dancing with the Stars.”
Banderovskaya moved from Saint Petersburg, Russia, five years ago with her competitive dance partner, Vasily Golovin, to open Dance Fever Santa Barbara. They now actively compete throughout the United States, following more than 20 years of competing around the world, in which Golovin won Latin World and European championships and Banderovskaya once took the Russian national title.
Their studio tailors classes to clients’ desires but generally offers instruction in the five International Standard and five International Latin style dances. But many students simply come to learn social dancing. “They just want to be able to go to a party and know some moves,” said Banderovskaya. More serious dancers commute weekly from Los Angeles solely for Dance Fever’s instruction, so clients range from elite competitors to kids as young as 4 years old.
“I love the cute kids — they are always listening and trying their best,” she said. “I really care about how my students are improving. It’s like a gift.”
But dancing is also for the young at heart. One of Golovin’s clients is an unstoppable 72-year-old. “She does 32 dances in a row,” he said. “I am dying, and she is still dancing. She is very successful and is winning competitions everywhere.”
So while watching the TV dance competitions can make ballroom look impossibly intimidating, remember that Fred Astaire himself once admitted, “Some people seem to think that good dancers are born, but all the good dancers I have known are taught or trained.” So there’s a chance for even the clumsiest among us. But there’s other reasons to catch the fever, too. As one student said, “It just feels awesome!”