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CHAIRPERSON

Jackie Rogers
Florida

I began Ballroom dancing because...
"As I child in England I loved sports. I used to watch “Come Dancing” on TV and seeing that show inspired me to take ballroom dance lessons when I was about 13 years old."

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EMCEE 

John DePalma
Florida

I began Ballroom dancing when...
"When I was in college my best friend was working as a Fred Astaire dance teacher and I was working in retail. He didn’t have a car so, I’d pick him up after work. Usually I’d go into the studio, chat with people, and stay for the parties. At that time men were a hot commodity, so the women students would pull me out onto the floor and teach me a few moves.

This was the 1970s and the recession hit so my retail hours were cut back. When I went to the studio after finding out my hours were diminished, the studio owner said, ‘How was your day?' I said, ‘Not so good. I need more hours to pay for college’. She said, ‘Why don’t you work here? You’re already here every day, you know all the students and staff, and you come to all the parties!’

So I took my 8 week college break and trained to be a specialist, teaching new students and planning their program. I thought I was just earning money for college, I never expected to make this my career."
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Relief Emcee
Mark Brock
Ohio

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JUDGE

Mark Brock
Ohio

I began Ballroom dancing when...
"I was playing for the Chicago Fire in the World Football League and got released. My girlfriend’s dad managed an Arthur Murray Studio and she suggested that I see him for a job while I waited to play ball again. When I went for the interview they asked, “Why do you want to be a dance teacher?”, I replied, “I kinda need the money”. Apparently I was the only person with that answer and I got hired. It turned out pretty well because after four more years the writing was on the wall that I wouldn’t be a pro ball player and I was loving the dancing."

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JUDGE

Martin Cawston
Wisconsin

I began Ballroom dancing because...
"Growing up in England, my mom and dad could not get a babysitter so they dragged me to their ballroom dance class. I was a horrible little 7 year old and wanted to do everything that my dad did. After two weeks the teacher told my parents to enroll me in a children’s class."

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JUDGE

Nathan Daniels
Minnesota

I began Ballroom dancing because...
"I had just finished college and was getting ready to go to law school. I was at a club in New York dancing hustle when a guy came up to me and said, 'You’re a really good dancer. Have you ever thought about teaching?' I hadn’t, but he was convincing and he owned a studio. Six weeks later I was a dance teacher and I have been for 39 years, so it must have been the right thing."

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JUDGE

Maria Hansen
California

I began Ballroom dancing when...
"I was going to nursing school in Dallas and needed a job to help me pay for college. I was looking for something in the evening and answered an ad for a Fred Astaire Dance Studio. They had a really great training class and I was hooked. After 3 years there I knew that I wanted to pursue a competitive career and in order to do that should move to either California or New York. I chose California and that was that. I was really lucky to have great teachers and mentors at Freds."

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JUDGE

Denise Jourdaine
California

 

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JUDGE

Stephan Kraul
California

I began Ballroom dancing because...
"Growing up in Germany, my older sister was into competitive ballroom dancing and I would go with her to watch. She was terrible. When I was 8 years old she signed me up for lessons. I loved it right away. We did formation teams, medal programs and then advanced to competitions."

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JUDGE

Chantal LeClerc
Georgia

I began Ballroom dancing when...
"Whe I was 11 years old my mother forced me to take ballroom dance lessons. It was the worst year of my life. I was very shy and a slow learner. Each week before my lesson I had a hard time sleeping I was so worried. At the end of the year we did a little group cha cha dressed in ugly costumes. And our little group had a mini-competition against each other. My partner and I came in dead last. Afterwards my mother told me that I didn’t have to take ballroom dance lessons the next year. I think she felt sorry for me. She was very surprised when i told her that I wanted to sign up for the next series to prove that I could do it."

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JUDGE

Kimberly Mitchell
Ohio

I began Ballroom dancing because...
"Both of my parents are British Champions and they own a dance studio in England. I didn’t have a choice about dancing. I grew up in a dance studio….literally!"

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JUDGE

Marianne Nicole
Florida

I began Ballroom dancing when...
"My mother brought me and my brother to a Fred Astaire guest party. So, I was there as a guest. They had pros demonstrate the different levels of dance, and I thought, “This is nice.” When I saw the open level with lifts and everything I said, “Where do I sign up?” I was a student for two years, and then went to work for the studio and the rest is history."

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JUDGE

Denis Rogers
Florida

I began Ballroom dancing because...
"As children, my twin brother and I were a pretty successful tap dance team in England. We used to dance on the Ted Steele show which was popular at the time. In my teens I was working at a rat research farm to earn extra money when I found out that my tap dance teacher was looking for a ballroom dance instructor. It paid more than working at the rat farm, so that inspired me to learn to ballroom dance."

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JUDGE

Cher Rutherford
Florida

I began Ballroom dancing when...
"I saw Bobby and Sissy dance on the Lawrence Welk show and my interest in ballroom dancing started. When I was 17 years old I would just sit in my car and watch the people dancing at the Arthur Murray studio in Louisville Kentucky. Finally I got up the nerve to go in and ask about lessons and they told me I was too young. When I was 19 and in college I answered an ad to train as a teacher for Fred Astaire Dance Studios. The minute I started training class I loved it."

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JUDGE

Sam Sodano
Ohio

I began Ballroom dancing when...
"I was a teen and I wanted to be a broadway dancer. I went to New York to take a jazz class and right away knew it wasn’t for me. Then I tried the Arthur Murray studio in my hometown. I was 17 years old and enrolled in the bronze program. While in high school I was voted “Best Dancer” and was also on TV, on the Clay Cole show, which was like American Bandstand. All of those things together helped me know that I wanted a career in ballroom dance.'"

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JUDGE

Bill Sparks
Ohio

I began Ballroom dancing when...
"After a ballet injury I had moved back home with my mom. I was driving to my favorite restaurant and made a wrong turn. There was a sign that said, Arthur Murray - Dance. The word dance caught me and I stopped in to see what it was all about. They heard about my dance background and offered me an audition for teacher training the following day. 

Overnight we got about 14 inches of snow. I was getting ready for my audition and my mother said 'Where are you going in all this snow?' I said, 'Mom, I have a job interview and I just know that the woman that owns the studio will be there — even with the snow.' She was there, and I did my waltz audition with turned out feet and knees, but they hired me because I could learn quickly. My first week I was soaking up information and watching training videos. At the end of that week their advanced male teacher left, and they said to me, 'You’re a teacher now.'"

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JUDGE

Mark Weiss
California

I began Ballroom dancing because...
"My initial interest in dance was in show choir during high school. Then after one short semester of college I was looking for a job and found an ad for a dance teacher with Dancers Studio in St. Paul Minnesota that said, “No experience necessary, will train". That very same week I saw Championship Ballroom Dancing on PBS with Juliet Prowse and that really peaked my interest. About two months later I was teaching my first lesson. I still remember the couple, and the lesson."

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JUDGE

Viola Jordan Weiss
California

I began Ballroom dancing because...
"When I was 17 years old I was burnt out on ballet. My parents were taking lessons at Wane Eng’s studio, and bought me lessons to try out ballroom dancing. At my first competition I really got hooked when I saw the pros compete. By age 19 I started training class to become a ballroom dance teacher."

CHAIRPERSON

Jackie Rogers
Florida

EMCEE 

John DePalma
Florida

SCRUITINEER

Ava Kaye
California

REGISTRAR

Amanda Ashcraft
New York

MUSIC DIRECTOR

David Innis
 

DECK CAPTAIN

Justin Deehr
Wisconsin


JUDGES

Mark Brock
Ohio

Martin Cawston
Wisconsin

Nathan Daniels
Minnesota

Maria Hansen
California

Denise Jourdaine
California

Stephan Kraul
California

Chantal Leclerc
Georgia

Kimberly Mitchell
Ohio

Marianne Nicole
Florida

Denis Rogers
Florida

Cher Rutherford
Florida

Sam Sodano
Ohio

Bill Sparks
Ohio

Mark Weiss
California

Viola Jordan Weiss
California