Russian-born instructor who lives for ballroom teaches dancing skills to students of all ages
Dancers Marina Fridmanovich and Cesar Lozada evoke the spirit of Argentina with a spirited tango. Fridmanovich started dancing as a 4-year-old in Russia, competes internationally and teaches ballroom dancing. Lozada is a former student of hers and is now also a dance instructor.
Sweep her off her feet -- literally.
Gents, here's a time-tested tip for the roundelay of romance. If you want to stay in step with your lady, take her dancing.
If you really want to wow her, take a dance class with her. Never mind the fact that you have two left feet, are painfully self-conscious or find the whole business something less than manly. Get over it. She's worth it, right?
And what if you could take these lessons with a gifted Russian-born dancer steeped in international competition?
Enter Marina Alexandrovna Fridmanovich, 26, founder of the Mount Pleasant studio Elite International Dance Studio.
Growing up in the Siberian town of Krasnoyarsk near Lake Baikal, the world's oldest and deepest body of fresh water, may have imbued Fridmanovich with a thirst for superlatives. But it was a childhood spent in her father's dance studio that captured her imagination and her heart.
"He used to take us to the studio when we could barely walk, to baby-sit us," says Fridmanovich, who began dancing at 4. "We'd watch all the couples and were constantly begging him, 'When can we start?' I knew from the beginning that this was going to be my future. I could not live without dancing. I could not breathe without it.
"My father gave his passion to me and my sister, Natalia."
Though Fridmanovich graduated from piano school at the behest of her mother, she says it never crossed her mind to teach piano. It did cross her mind to cross the Atlantic.
She moved to Washington, D.C., in 2004 at 19 after having served an internship in the States in the summer of 2003 to learn English.
"I am very stubborn, and I was determined to come to the United States. My mom didn't even know about it until a month after I had left," says Fridmanovich. "It took one year to learn English, two years to learn English slang. And after three years, I was talking so much that everyone was getting tired of it."
Her sister arrived in D.C. in 2008 and now resides in Dallas. Their parents remain in Russia, where her father continues to coach dancers while giving and judging competitions throughout Europe.
As a professional ballroom dancer and certified dance instructor with seven years of teaching experience, Fridmanovich certainly has the chops. A member of the National Dance Council of America, she remains one of the highest-ranked dancers in the European Union and has been a finalist in numerous international competitions.
Although Fridmanovich still travels to vie in competitive dance events, opening her studio in January meant cutting back on that aspect of her career.
"Competing seriously means training for seven hours a day," she says. "I would like to do more than I can now, as I'm still very young. But running a business, learning as I go, means I have to be here to stay on top of things. I also had an injury at 19 that made me start focusing more on teaching.
"Fortunately, we created a competition class here at the studio, which is going really well, and we are prepared to go to a competition the first week of May in Atlanta. I'm planning on taking my students to lots of competitions. In the future, it is my hope to help develop competitive dancing in the Charleston area, where it has not been so much in evidence."
For those intrigued more by the idea of wowing 'em at a wedding or party than rigorous training, Fridmanovich and her staff of three male and two female instructors have introduced a range of classes, from the studio's principal forte of ballroom (American and international tango) and Latin dancing (cha-cha, samba, rumba) to social and wedding dance programs, dance workshops, children's dance classes, belly dancing and such fitness regimens as Dance Cardio, Barre Fitness and DanceSport.
"Next month, we are adding hip-hop and Argentine tango classes. Any variety of dance is still dancing; they are all connected. The age groups and skill levels we see varies. Some come to us with a skill set already there. Some know the steps and just need to polish their technique. But we absolutely accept beginners.
"In the competition class, most students are under 40. The oldest student I have had so far was 92. He had danced many years ago and just wanted to come and enjoy doing it again. He knew the foxtrot and waltz and rumba."
While Fridmanovich sees more female students than males, she says the classes contain a surprisingly good number of men.
"We are looking for more, though. This is something for couples, too. Dancing can be very romantic, too, not only at social events but in your own kitchen. But it takes patience, time and practice. You want to be able to do it well."
For a schedule of classes, visit www.elitedancecharleston.com.
About the Author:Born in Asheboro, N.C., Bill Thompson is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has worked as a feature writer, book review editor, film critic and columnist for The Post and Courier since 1980. A former sports writer in Virginia and in Florida, he also contributes articles on science and travel.
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