UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (PIX11) — Have you ever dreamed of competing on “Dancing with the Stars?” If you’ve ever wanted to compete on that level or you just wanted to have fun ballroom dancing, why not try a workshop. A new workshop at The Juilliard School may just be right for you.
It’s the first ever ballroom dance workshop at Juilliard, and all of the participants have one thing in common: the love of ballroom dance.
About 60 people signed up for the $150, three-hour workshop at Juilliard. There were all levels of ballroom dancers in the studio.
Yu Chen Liu is legally blind and finds ballroom dancing as a great way to connect with others. “I have so many angels putting their fingers on my hand, telling me what step to do, so I memorize that step and it’s not that bad,” Liu said.
Rodney Pepe-Souvenir, another ballroom dance student, wanted to challenge herself. “I love ballroom dancing,” Pepe-Souvenir said. “I love watching ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and I thought this would be an excellent way to get a flavor of what ballroom dancing is all about.”
A couple, both Bangladeshi musicians, came all the way from Georgia to attend the workshop.
“I am sometimes rigid,” said Negib Hague, a tabla musician. “I do woodworking. I do different things, but adding a new expressive form to your body, that’s what was very interesting.”
“They want to feel the music with their whole body. Some come for flexibility. Some come to just be in a group with like-minded people. That’s really beautiful to watch people make friendships and do it through the performing arts,” said John-Morgan Bush, the dean of the extension division at Juilliard.
The couple teaching the class, known as DNA, are world class dance champions. They are Ukrainian born and want to bring their love of ballroom dancing to others. At the same time, they still worry about what’s going on in their homeland.
“I feel a big part of my brain is just constantly focused on that,” said Antonina Skobina, who lost her grandfather during the war. “It never leaves my mind. It’s constantly in me. I can’t just not think about it.”
Her partner, Denys Drozdyuk, said it’s a dream come true for him. “I graduated from Juilliard. I studied here. So it is very special to be back. To be teaching ballroom is a one-of-a-kind experience,” Drozdyuk said.
On Wednesday, the Ukrainian-born, award-winning dance couple will be performing at a benefit at Juilliard. Come this fall, these workshops will be offered once a semester to those wanting to try.