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America's Ballroom Challenge


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PBS Premieres 'America's Ballroom Challenge'

A Two-Part, Two-Hour, Special Coming to PBS!

Part One: The Trials ~ Wednesday, February 1 ~ 8 p.m. ~ PBS

Part Two: The Finals ~ Wednesday, February 8 ~ 8 p.m. ~ PBS

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'Ballroom Challenge' Hosts Marilu Henner and Tony Meredith

The creators of the long-running PBS hit series, "Championship Ballroom Dancing" are back with an exhilarating new prime time special that takes viewers onto the dance floor and behind the scenes as ballroom dancing's elite go toe-to-toe to compete for the title of "America's Best."

Hosted by "Taxi" and "Evening Shade" actress Marilu Henner and Former U.S. Professional Latin American Dance Champion Tony Meredith, America's Ballroom Challenge shines a spotlight on 24 world-class couples as they attempt to Cha Cha, Samba, Waltz and Tango their way to the top.

"America's Ballroom Challenge" is the first program to feature all four major styles of competitive ballroom dancing: American Rhythm, American Smooth, International Latin and International Standard. Twenty-four couples

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The Dances ~ International Standard and American Smooth

"America's Ballroom Challenge" focuses on four divisions of competitive ballroom dancing:

International Standard and American Smooth are roughly equivalent

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The Dances ~ International Standard

"America's Ballroom Challenge" focuses on four divisions of competitive ballroom dancing:

International Standard and American Smooth are roughly equivalent

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The Dances ~ Latin and Rhythm

"America's Ballroom Challenge" focuses on four divisions of competitive ballroom dancing:

International Standard and American Smooth are roughly equivalent

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The Dances ~ Latin

"America's Ballroom Challenge" focuses on four divisions of competitive ballroom dancing:

International Standard and American Smooth are roughly equivalent

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The Dances ~ Rhythm

"America's Ballroom Challenge" focuses on four divisions of competitive ballroom dancing:

International Standard and American Smooth are roughly equivalent

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'Ballroom Challenge' Peers Into Dance

A Two-Part, Two-Hour, Special Coming to PBS!

Part One: The Trials ~ Wednesday, February 1 ~ 8 p.m. ~ PBS

Part Two: The Finals ~ Wednesday, February 8 ~ 8 p.m. ~ PBS

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Costumes await their turn on the dance floor

One of the attractions to ballroom dancing is the grace of the dancers' movements and the glamour of the swirling, sparkling costumes

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I am really looking forward to this. As impressed as I am with most on 'Dancing with the Stars', it will be cool to see what the real professionals can do.
I'm sure you're going to enjoy it because it's much more precise and intense in movement and expression. If you find yourself enjoying the show, you might want to check out a ballroom competition in your area.

My first one was the California Star Ball and it was a total culture shock! I went with my studio and my dance instructor but I felt lost all the same! I didn't expect to see these country club looking types yelling out the numbers of their favorite dancers at the top of their lungs.

I developed a sudden and unexpected case of shyness and just couldn't join in. It just seemed foreign to me to be dressed up in my finest and yell out at the dancers like I'm at a hockey game. I soon got over it though. I also wasn't ready for the amount of costuming (or lack thereof) and make-up involved.

Professional and even advanced ballroom dancers look really good far away or on camera but word of warning . . . up close -- pretty scary. It all made sense to me once I compared it to live theatre but at first glance, I was in shock!

Anyhoo, you can find many dance competitions all over the country so I'd recommend taking one in if you want to experience professional ballroom dancing competition in person. If anyone is interested, just give me the general area or large city near you and I'll do my best to find you the nearest competition. Of course, the Internet is also a great source or contact your local ballroom studio for local competitions.

Ivy -- I NEVER get tired of your avatar! There was one other poster's avatar that I liked almost as much but I haven't seen them for awhile. It was a box with an x in it and a kitty would appear every now and then. Cute, very cute!

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Part One: The Trials ~ Wednesday, February 1 ~ 8 p.m. ~ PBS

Part Two: The Finals ~ Wednesday, February 8 ~ 8 p.m. ~ PBS

The Hosts ~ Marilu Henner

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Marilu Henner

The host of "America's Ballroom Challenge" is Marilu Henner, an actress who has had many leading roles on television, in feature films and on the stage. "I'm delighted to be serving as host of America's Ballroom Challenge," Ms. Henner said. "Delighted because I've got dancing in my bones."

Ms. Henner's breakthrough as an actress came in the late 1970s, when she starred as Elaine Nardo in James L. Brooks' hit TV series "Taxi," alongside Judd Hirsch, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, Tony Danza, Carol Kane and Andy Kaufman. She later starred in "Evening Shade," a CBS sitcom that also starred Burt Reynolds, Hal Holbrook, Charles Durning and Ossie Davis.

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Marilu Henner as Elaine Nardo in 'Taxi'

Ms. Henner has appeared in more than 30 films with such leading men as Richard Gere, John Travolta, Steve Martin, Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Keaton and Tom Berenger. But her first professional acting work came on stage as Marty in the touring company of "Grease," a role she later played on Broadway.

Even in the midst of her film and television work, Ms. Henner has continued to take roles in musicals. She played to rave reviews as Roxie Hart in the 1996 Broadway revival of "Chicago," and later as Annie Oakley in the national touring company of "Annie Get Your Gun."

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Marilu Henner, Rhea Perlman and Richard Kind on Broadway in

'The Tale of the Allergist's Wife'

Ballroom dancing has been part of Ms. Henner's life ever since her childhood in Chicago. Her mother, Loretta Henner, was president of the National Association of Dance and Affiliated Arts. She also ran the Henner Dance School in a northwest Chicago neighborhood for 20 years. Ms. Henner said, "it was disguised as a three-car garage."

Marilu took her first dance class at age two and, like all the Henner children, began teaching classes herself at 14. She went on to study with the Illinois Ballet Company before going into theater. "I grew up watching ballroom dancing, loving it, studying it, watching my mother teach it," Ms. Henner explained. "So this is like coming home for me."

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Marilu Henner's best-selling book

Ms. Henner's new role also ties into her recent focus on health and fitness. She offers online nutrition, fitness and lifestyle classes at her Web site, hosts a new television series called "Shape Up Your Life," and has written a series of New York Times best-selling books on the subject.

"Ballroom dancing is a beautiful art form

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Part One: The Trials ~ Wednesday, February 1 ~ 8 p.m. ~ PBS

Part Two: The Finals ~ Wednesday, February 8 ~ 8 p.m. ~ PBS

The Hosts ~ Tony Meredith

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Tony Meredith

The co-host of "America's Ballroom Challenge" is Tony Meredith. Tony was born in San Diego, California. Growing up in a home filled with music by his musician father, Tony started to dance as a toddler. His love of dance grew as he watched "American Bandstand" and "Soul Train," learning new dance steps and keeping up with the latest dance moves.

After he replied to a newspaper ad seeking dance teachers, there was no looking back. He was trained by the dance legend and former co-host of "Championship Ballroom Dancing," Ron Montez. When he partnered with Melanie LaPatin, it created an upstoppable combination.

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Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin

Since 1983, Tony and Melanie have traveled the world representing the United States 12 times in the Professional World Latin American Dance Championships as the United States Professional Latin American Dance Champions.

As a team, they have captured over 100 first place trophies. As stated by Tito Puente, with whom they guest-starred, "Here are two people who have taken dancing to the utmost of professionalism and class around the world."

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Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin

Whether it's dancing for 40,000 spectators at the Tokyo Dome in Japan, participating in the "ESPN DanceSport Championships" at Madison Square Garden or opening for Gloria Estefan at the Copacabana in New York City, Tony and Melanie lend their dancing expertise to each and every step in their dance journey.

Tony and Melanie have brought their thrilling dance style to multiple venues with amazing exhibition performances such as the Congreso Bacardi de la Salsa in Puerto Rico. According to Andrea Mineo of "News 12 Long Island," Tony and Melanie are "an elite partnership and exhibit remarkable artistry."

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Tony Meredith puts on his judges shoes

In addition, Tony and Melanie are in high demand as coaches of top dancers around the world and as choreographers for actors in film, television and Broadway. Their feature film performances include "Dance with Me," "The Thomas Crown Affair," "Let It Be Me" and "The Last Days of Disco."

Possessing a versatility of styles from cha-cha to swing, tango to hustle, mambo/salsa to rhythm and blues, this pair has succeeded in captivating audiences worldwide with a blend of skill, artistry and emotion.

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  • 11 months later...

Sorry about the delayed heads up on this one but the Second Season has begun! I watched it last night and it was absolutely breathtaking! It debuted Wednesday at 8 p.m. on PBS here in San Diego so I hope it's the same across the other public broadcasting stations. It repeats here on Thursday at 11:30 p.m. Please check your local listings to make sure your day and time match.

Here's the blurb I got from my Dancing Association:

Don't miss the debut of "America's Ballroom Challenge!" Watch as the American Smooth finalists twirl and sway through the Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot and Viennese Waltz. Then each couple shows off their creativity in a solo piece. Who will represent the American Smooth division in the Grand Finale on February 28th? Tune in and find out.

When to Watch

(Check Your Local Listings)

"America's Ballroom Challenge: Second Season"

Episode 1: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 -- World Professional American Smooth

Episode 2: Wednesday, February 7, 2007 -- World Professional American Rhythm

Episode 3: Wednesday, February 14, 2007 -- World Professional International Standard

Episode 4: Wednesday, February 21, 2007 -- World Professional International Latin

Episode 5: Wednesday, February 28, 2007 -- Grand Finale

Schedule

(Pacific Standard Time, San Diego)

American Smooth

Dancers compete in the American Smooth category on PBS.

Wednesday, January 31 -- 8:00 p.m.

Friday, February 2 -- 2:00 a.m.

American Rhythm

Dancers compete in the American Rhythm category on PBS.

Wednesday, February 7 -- 8:00 p.m.

Friday, February 9 -- 2:00 a.m.

International Standard

Dancers compete in the International Standard category on PBS.

Wednesday, February 14 -- 8:00 p.m.

Friday, February 16 -- 2:00 a.m.

International Latin

Dancers compete in the International Latin category on PBS.

Wednesday, February 21 -- 8:00 p.m.

Friday, February 23 -- 2:00 a.m.

Grand Finale -- All Dance Disciplines

Champion Dancers from each of the four disciplines, American Smooth, American Rhythm, International Standard and International Latin, compete in the Grand Finale to determine the couple who will be crowned with the ultimate dance title, "America's Best" on PBS.

Wednesday, February 28 -- 8:00 p.m.

Friday, March 2 -- 2:00 a.m.

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"America's Ballroom Challenge: Second Season"

Episode One: World Professional American Smooth Championships

Wednesday, January 31 ~ 8 p.m. ~ PBS

Episode Two: World Professional American Rhythm Championships

Wednesday, February 7 ~ 8 p.m. ~ PBS

Episode Three: World Professional International Standard Championships

Wednesday, February 14 ~ 8 p.m. ~ PBS

Episode Four: World Professional International Latin Championships

Wednesday, February 21 ~ 8 p.m. ~ PBS

Episode Five: World Professional Grand Finale

Wednesday, February 28 ~ 8 p.m. ~ PBS

Tradition and elegance . . . seduction and sizzle . . . Ballroom is back! From the producer who first brought the magic of competitive ballroom dancing to television, "America's Ballroom Challenge" returns to PBS.

Returning as host is stage and screen actress Marilu Henner. Marilu has a long list of credits on her resume including "Taxi," "Evening Shade" and the Broadway revival of "Chicago." Joining Marilu again as co-host is former U.S Latin Dance Champion Tony Meredith. Tony lends his expertise as a previous successful competitor with his partner, Melanie LaPatin.

Broadcast in stunning High Definition, "America's Ballroom Challenge" once again takes viewers onto the dance floor as the series expands in the super-heated prime-time competition, shot at the world's largest ballroom dancing competition in Columbus, Ohio. It also goes behind-the-scenes as 24 world-class couples compete for the ultimate dance title, "America's Best."

Expanding from two to five full-hour episodes, this season of "America's Ballroom Challenge" dedicates one full hour to each major style of competitive ballroom dance: American Smooth, American Rhythm, International Standard and International Latin.

The first four episodes begin with the six finalist couples in each style competing as a group, performing the required dances in their category. Then, the dancers have a real opportunity to shine, performing a show dance solo with all eyes on them alone. Each program ends with the crowning of one couple, the champions in that style of dance.

In the fifth and final episode of "America's Ballroom Challenge," the four champion couples compete across dance styles in an exhilarating "Grand Finale," performing two pull-out-all-the-stops solos each. At the conclusion of five grueling hours of competition, an international panel of judges makes its decision. Only one couple will be named "America's Best."

In addition to the competition on the dance floor, the new season of "America's Ballroom Challenge" features an inside look at what goes on backstage at the competition and insights on everything from hairstyle design to the secrets of judging.

The second season of "America's Ballroom Challenge" will also allow viewers to see breathtaking dance exhibitions featuring other top couples in a range of styles

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  • 2 weeks later...

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Episode One ~ American Smooth Championship

American Smooth competition proved to be an exciting night. Mazen Hamza & Irina Sarukhanyan handily won the showdance competition with their intense and unusual martial arts inspired routine. However, it was not enough to score them the championship.

That honor went to Group dance winners and previous champions, Ben Ermis and Shalene Archer-Ermis. They will return on Wednesday, February 28th to face the three other champions for the title of "America's Best."

The Finalists

American Smooth Champions

Ben Ermis and Shalene Archer-Ermis

Nashville, Tennessee

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Ben Ermis and Shalene Archer-Ermis

Ben and Shalene were married a few years ago, after successfully teaching and dancing together since the early '90s. Neither of them danced as children, but they caught the dancing bug while training to become teachers. After a few years of dancing in the Standard division, they switched to Smooth and have been strong competitors in that category ever since.

They are very sophisticated dancers with long, picture-perfect lines. When they're not working on their own routines, they both love to teach, and frequently compete in Pro-Am divisions with their students. They announced their retirement from competition at this year's Ohio Star Ball.

American Smooth -- Second Place

Kostadin Bidjourov and Carrie Babcock

Upper Montclair, New Jersey

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Kostadin Bidjourov and Carrie Babcock

Kostadin and Carrie formed a partnership the way many other competitors do

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Episode One ~ American Smooth Championship

Exhibition Dancers

Michael Mead and Toni Redpath

San Diego, California

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Michael Mead and Toni Redpath

Michael and Toni retired from competition in 2002 as one of the top couples in the world. Michael, originally from England, only began dancing when he was 18, after deciding that a career in accounting was not for him. Toni was a successful competitor in Australia and Norway before she became a teacher in England and eventually the U.S.

She and Michael met in California, and after setting records as a professional couple, they were married in 2000. They continue to teach and coach competitive couples, and occasionally choreograph for TV and film.

Jim Maranto and Darla Davies

Phoenix, Arizona and Keswick, Virginia

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Jim Maranto and Darla Davies

A chance meeting at an obscure dance studio in Charlottesville, Virginia brought Darla and Jim together in 2002. Jim, a two-time National Professional Ballroom Champion and a nationally-renowned instructor, has taken Darla from the beginner level to many bronze and silver championships and titles. Darla continues to train hard across all four dance styles. Both dancers also love golf, tennis, and travel.

Kamil Studenny and Katya Trubina

Toronto, Ontario

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Kamil Studenny and Katya Trubina

Kamil and Katya, both aged 20, are Canadian youth Latin Champions. They have been dancing together since September of 2005. Katya was born in Ukraine and immigrated to Canada at age 15, where she continued to take classes in a wide variety of dance styles.

Kamil is originally from Poland, but has lived in Toronto since age 3. Although once an accomplished hockey player, Kamil decided that dancing was his true passion and chose to pursue it exclusively after elementary school.

Both partners plan to become professional dancers in the future. Currently, they are very active in the dance community in Toronto, doing TV commercials, teaching kids, playing parts in movies, and performing in various charity events.

Kiki Nyemchek and Nesya Serebro

Teaneck, New Jersey and Staten Island, New York

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Kiki Nyemchek and Nesya Serebro

These energetic teenagers (aged 15 and 13) have been dancing together for almost two years, and have won many titles throughout the United States and Europe. Dance is a huge part of their lives, and in addition to practicing five days a week, they both travel extensively for competitions.

Both study at Rising Stars Dance Studio and are part of DanceTeam USA. Kiki has a long tradition of dance in his family and recently won accolades for sharing his talents with other kids on a "Good Morning America" competition that paired ballroom dance kids with boys and girls who had no dance training.

Winson Tam and Anna Kus

Mississauga, Ontario

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Winson Tam and Anna Kus

Winson and Anna are a competitive young couple. Aged 12 and 13, they have recently won major 10-dance competitions in the United States and Canada, including the Ohio Star Ball. Both come from dancing families.

Winson's father began dancing in Hong Kong and encouraged his son to get involved at age seven. Anna's older brother got her involved at age three, and now her younger brother dances as well. In addition to dancing, they enjoy playing soccer, and both swim and run to stay in shape.

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