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Holiday Gala at Stepping Out Studios

by Bonnie Rosenstock
December 12, 2008
Stepping Out Studios
37 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10010
646-742-9400
Whoever said that those who can't do, teach, has never been to a Stepping Out Holiday Gala. On Friday, December 12, the premier dance studio at 37 West 26th Street, hired an incredible band, Los Bandidos, for their students to practice the various dance styles they've learned in their classes all year, offered food and drink aplenty, and the instructors demonstrated that they are not only marvelous teachers but they also dance marvelously.

For the annual professional dance show, about twenty of the Stepping Out instructors performed their specialties – waltz, lindy hop, modern Latin, Argentine tango, cha cha, hustle, fun theater, rumba, theater arts and two-step/quickstep – in the spacious holiday-decorated Grand Ballroom. Many are first-rate choreographers as well as national and international dance competition champions, noted Talía Castro-Pozo, co-director of the studio, actor, ballroom dancer and instructor. However, because there was an important competition this weekend in Las Vegas, some of the staff, the best-ranked dancers in the country, like Joanna Zacharewicz, the current American champion in rhythm/Latin dancing, were not available. In addition, the hustle champions, who also call Stepping Out home, were out because of injuries. "A few of the stars are missing tonight," said Castro-Pozo, who introduced the dance numbers, "but I think it's a show worth watching. They are wonderful performers."

First on the bill was the beautiful Tetyana Bilych as a holiday shopper who is waltzed around the studio space by Tony Scheppler and Donatus Nacajus, two handsome mannequins who come to life. Bilych, in a shimmering tight-fitting white gown edged in delicate gossamer and accessorized with a flowing matching scarf, was a picture of elegance and grace and "enjoyed it very much," she said.

Scheppler, who choreographed the waltz, has competed all over the U.S. and holds dance titles in theatrical. He is only one of six dancers in the world to be invited to compete in Blackpool, England. He wants to go back with Erin Bomboy, his theatrical partner, both of whom shone in their emotional duet of spectacular lifts, spins and turns, inspired by Celine Dion's "Last Kiss." "It's music that gets everyone," Scheppler declared.

"In the theatrical division we do cabaret, adagio, modern, ballet, ballroom, lifts and tricks. It's a mixture of everything," he explained. "With this piece [choreographed by Michelle Officer], we want to keep people on the edge of their seats. That's what we do best."

Sarah Larocca, a ten-year Stepping Out dance instructor, and Alfred Meléndez, who started out as a student in her beginning tango class, choreographed their Argentine tango together. "Alfred was very talented and the studio pushed him and he took the teacher training," she related.

Larocca admitted that she would rather dance than perform. "The real tango is a social dance, but it'll be fun tonight," she said just before their dazzling performance. For Argentines María Jose Sosa from Mendoza, and partner Walter Perez from Buenos Aires, tango is in their blood. "I do other dances, but for me they are boring," said Sosa. "I love tango. It's my passion." Added Perez, "I love any chance to dance and to express my art."

For sheer fun theater, Carolyn Kelly and Tamara Van Leeuwen interpreted Madonna's "Santa Baby" as doll babies. Dressed in matching pink tutus and licking large all-day suckers, they mugged and danced about the studio with verve and inventiveness. "The feeling was great, and we felt rejuvenated," said Kelly. "The audience was involved with it, and we had a ball."

And with every leap and bound of the Stepping Out performers, so did the awestruck audience.
Holiday Gala

Holiday Gala

Photo © & courtesy of Sarah Hart


Disco Ball

Disco Ball

Photo © & courtesy of Sarah Hart


Dancing under the mirror ball

Dancing under the mirror ball

Photo © & courtesy of Sarah Hart


Letting loose!

Letting loose!

Photo © & courtesy of Sarah Hart


Los Banditos

Los Banditos

Photo © & courtesy of Sarah Hart


Doing the Electric Slide long after Midnight

Doing the Electric Slide long after Midnight

Photo © & courtesy of Sarah Hart


Photo © & courtesy of Sarah Hart


Still at it!

Still at it!

Photo © & courtesy of Sarah Hart


Spectacular dancing!

Spectacular dancing!

Photo © & courtesy of Sarah Hart

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