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Dance Moves

One of the most popular television shows this summer was Dancing With the Stars. B-list celebrities such as John O'Hurley, Kelly Monaco and Rachel Hunter dressed up in fine attire and competed for the tacky trophy. Kelly Monaco and her partner received a perfect score in the last episode to win the title.

According to entertainment reports, there was some controversy surrounding her win. John O'Hurley was a clear favorite throughout the show. And there have been suspicions that network honchos planned to have Monaco win, since she appears on an ABC soap opera. But controversy aside, it was a surprise hit, and millions of viewers tuned in to watch the competition.

"I think it brought back a sense of romance and how much fun it is to have someone dance in your arms," says Linda Lowell, manager of Studio West School of Dance. Lowell, who used to compete professionally, says it was incredible to see what was accomplished. "I don't think people realize how difficult it is to remember the routines.

"Dancing is not horse racing with a (clear view of) whose horse won by a nose. There's not always a clear-cut winner. It's subjective. If we were both competing, maybe a judge likes your style over mine."

Lowell's studio will host the Summer Dance Expo 2005 at the Hilton El Conquistador Resort, 10000 N. Oracle Road, on Saturday, Aug. 20. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and costs $5. A lunch break takes place from noon to 1 p.m. It is requested that spectators not wear jeans or shorts, to keep the event more formal. Ladies should bring a sweater, as the ballroom is kept cool.

The event will be run like a ballroom dance competition, with dancers critiqued by judge Jenell Maranto, a former United States ballroom champion. But instead of a placement at the end, dancers will receive feedback.

"I felt it was better for them to get a critique," says Lowell. "It gives people a goal." Dancers will receive feedback from their particular studio within a week of the event.

There are 60 dance students entered in the expo, from the three studios in Tucson: Studio West, Arizona Ballroom and Shall We Dance. Instructors enter students at one of five levels. Students may enter pro-am (with their instructor) or am-am (with another amateur dancer).

"There will be three to four couples on the dance floor at the same time, dancing to predominately ballroom music," says Lowell. "They will dance in heats that are 1 1/2 minutes long."

The day will be broken into various segments, highlighting particular dance styles. From 10 a.m. to noon, smooth dances such as the foxtrot, waltz, tango and quick step will be performed. From 1 to 2 p.m., country Western dances will be highlighted, ranging from the country polka to West Coast swing. From 2 to 4:30 p.m., the Latin division takes the floor featuring dances such as the salsa, rumba, cha cha and swing. From 4:30 to 5 p.m. dance professionals from the participating studios will perform.

Audience members can try out their dancing legs during the expo as well. "There will be breaks and a sprinkling of general dancing throughout the day," says Lowell.

For student dancers, Lowell says, there will be required attire for each type of dance. For the smooth dances, "the ladies will wear a flowing dress or cocktail dress, and the men will wear a shirt and tie up to a tux and tails. The country Western dancers will have a country Western look. (During the Latin segment), men will wear a knit, form-fitting shirt and black pants. The women will wear a Latin-style dress with fringe, ruffles or something slinky."

With a variety of dances and attire, it is important to note that the predominant style of dancing during the expo will be American-style ballroom dancing as opposed to international-style. There are differences in technique. "For example, with the American-style foxtrot and waltz, you don't have to touch your partner at all times. With international-style smooth dances, you cannot break contact," says Lowell.

A dancer since 1978, Lowell teaches a variety of dance styles at her studio, which she opened in 1980. It stands as the oldest dance school in Tucson. "We teach all forms of social dancing--ballroom, country, salsa, swing, tango. ... We teach people to get ready for a special event," she says.

But for those without a special event on tap, the Summer Dance Expo will give audience members a chance to "hear beautiful music and see a variety of ballroom dancing." Perhaps they will even see a dancing star.

More by Irene Messina

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