For those who are looking to get away from the snow and heat things up on the dance floor or just want to try something new and fun, look no further than “Dancing from the Heart” presented by STORM Buffalo.
This is the dance choreography company’s third fundraiser to benefit the Variety Kids Telethon. Run by Tommy Radon from Fred Astaire Dance Studios, STORM continues their mission of bringing the joy of dancing into people’s hearts, as well as the community together to support a great cause.
“I do it to raise money for kids who are less fortunate and for people who can dance, or for people who want to be able to dance,” says Radon. “The other reason I do it is to show anybody in Buffalo that you can raise money through any type of talent, whether it’s dance or singing. You can do anything good out of what you are given.”
This year the Adam’s Mark Hotel will welcome a handful of experienced instructors, including professional ballroom dancers and special guests Elena Grinenko and Tony Dovolani, who were both featured dancers on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.
Elena and Tony are undefeated National and World Champions in the American Rhythm category of ballroom dance, having achieved two world titles together.
“Winning the world title made me feel like I was on top of the world,” said Grinenko. “I danced since I was seven years old and to finish your career on the top of your game is a dream come true for a person.”
Since then the two have retired from competing as partners and due to an injury, Elena has put most of her focus on coaching and her booking agency for dancers.
“When you retire and move on it actually takes a long time to adjust to the situation,” said Elena. “A lot of dancers switch their passion into teaching. We travel all over the country and share our knowledge with the dancers who want to succeed in their careers as much as we do in ours.”
Elena met Radon when he was one of the top instructors at one of the Fred Astaire franchises about five years, before he became owner of the Orchard Park studio.
“I’m super excited because just being there to dance or announcing something is one thing, but actually being able to teach somebody for the cause is different,” said Grinenko. “It’s the first time I’m going to attend something like that. It’s a great idea.”
Grinenko will be teaching Cha Cha, starting at 5 p.m., along with assisting her former partner Dovolani in teaching Rumba at 6 p.m.
Another one of the esteemed instructors who will be taking part in “Dancing from the Heart” is Buffalo’s own Sarah “Sarita” Hooper of Salsa for the Soul.
This marks Sarah’s third STORM event where she will be teaching an intermediate level Salsa class at 4 p.m., which she says will be challenging enough for the beginners, but should be perfect for the more advanced dancers.
All the dance workshops, running from noon to 7 p.m., welcome all ages. It’s also important to remember those participating are not required to have a partner or to have prior dance experience.
“I think it’s a beautiful thing when people are exposed to anything new and different,” said Hooper. “Especially things that are culturally enriching and can really add a lot of light to people’s lives, like dance, which is such a beautiful form of expression, it’s great exercise, it’s an awesome way to connect with other people and just have a lot of fun.”
Workshops are organized to run in two streams, one being Hip-Hop/Jazz dance and the other Ballroom/Latin dance. The Adam’s Mark is providing two separate ballrooms for the workshops.
Some of the other dance instructors participating in the workshops include Faaria of Oasis Dance Center, located in Amherst, who will start the day off by teaching a Belly Dance class at noon. Her class will then be followed by Eddie “Eddie Styles” Gutierrez, a b-boy and former crew member of the JabbaWockeeZ (MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew), who will be teaching Funk at 1 p.m. Radon will be teaching his own Lyrical Jazz class at 2 p.m., followed by a Jazz class taught by Ted Krzykowski from Buffalo-based dance company Lehrer Dance. To conclude the Hip-Hop/Jazz stream, at 4 p.m. Kiki Bernas, Artistic Director at Performing Arts Dance Academy located in Hamburg, will teach a Hip-Hop class.
To kick off the Ballroom/Latin stream at 2 p.m., Barbara Warren and Alden Stevens from Rochester’s DancEncounters, will teach Argentine Tango. This class will be followed by Ballroom dance professionals Vera and Vladimir Kosarev, who will teach Bachata at 3 p.m.
When the classes are finished there will be a break at 7 p.m. where Hors D’oeuvres and cocktails will be served outside the Grand Ballroom. Around 7:30 p.m. the Grand Ballroom will re-open for general dancing, while the winners of the basket raffles and silent auction are announced at 7:45 p.m.
Performances from the professional dancers go from 8 to 8:30 p.m. and will include Eddie Styles from the JabbaWockeeZ, DancEncounters, Oasis Dance Center, Performing Arts Dance Academy, Salsa for the Soul and Fred Astaire Dance Studios.
“There’s going to be Ballroom dancing, Vietnamese Waltz, Latin dances and Jazz dancing,” said Radon of the professionals who will perform. “It will be a bunch of different stuff.”
At 8:30 will be the check presentation to Variety Club Kids of Buffalo.
To close out the evening, the Grand Ballroom will be transformed into a Venetian-themed masked ball, complete with flair bartenders, fire eaters from Pyromancy, stilt walkers, jugglers, jesters, mimers and possibly even live animals. Music will be provided by a DJ from Absolute Sound. Refreshments and alcohol will be served. All ages are welcome. The masked ball will run from 8:35 to 11:30 p.m.
“It’s going to be a wild party,” said Radon. “It’s going to be a lot different than last year. This year it’s going to be an all out party, like the old Venetian way.”
Day passes are now available for $75, which include all workshops and entrance into the masked ball and also $25 evening tickets just to attend the masked ball. Due to the limited amount of tickets, people are encouraged to buy their tickets now. Tickets can be purchased online at heart.stormbuffalo.com or at Fred Astaire Orchard Park located at 3459 Amelia Drive in the Quaker Crossing plaza.
who can dance, or for people who want to be able to dance,” – Tommy Radon