Arthur Murray Thousand Oaks - Vancouver Dance-O-Rama

Team Thousand Oaks Takes on Vancouver Dance-O-Rama

We are so proud of our Thousand Oaks Team – they just returned from an amazing 2017 Dance-O-Rama Competition in the beautiful city of Vancouver, Canada. Sandy D’Elia and Van Anh Chandler traveled with their instructor Edwin Cabrera to compete in Vancouver against 20 plus Arthur Murray studio branches.

The festivities began on Thursday with an excursion to Grouse Mountain, Vancouver’s premier attraction that offers a variety of cultural, educational, and outdoor adventures to choose from. They took an amazing trip on the Skyride to see the beautiful Vancouver area from above.  Our dancers felt the temperature drop and saw the snow enveloped mountains as they arrived at the lodge. They were greeted by 1st Nation People and escorted to a scenic restaurant where they sat with the Santa Barbara, Lake Forest, and Long Beach Studios. They all danced the night away and returned to the hotel under the moonlight.

The true fun began on Friday and Saturday. The competition and its festivities took up both days in their entirety and our students participated in an array of individual heats.  They all danced different styles of dance, from Ballroom to Rhythm dances. Friday and Saturday are always known for their ambiance and elegance. This year’s Friday night was a “Heritage” themed night, in which everyone brought out costumes to make the night fun and exciting. Saturday was a “Crystal City” theme, featuring crystal chandeliers, silver table cloths, and beautiful white chairs adorning the ballroom.

Saturday night was definitely the student favorite. Not only was it an elegant evening, but it was also a night of strong professional competition. It was Van Anh and Sandy’s turn to sit back and enjoy watching their instructor, Edwin Cabrera, compete with his partner Stefanie Merritt (from Team Woodland Hills).  Join us in congratulating these two on their achievements: Semi Finalists in West Coast Swing, Semi Finalists in Open Professional Smooth, 5th Place in International Quickstep, and 5th Place in Open Professional Rhythm. Bravo!

Our very own Brittany Peterson represented Team Thousand Oaks with her partner, Orion Gullet (from Team Woodland Hills) at this competition. Join us in congratulating these two on their achievements: Semi Finalists in Open Professional Smooth and 3rd place in International Quickstep.  Well done Brittany and Orion.

Like most live performances…you just have to be there to appreciate it – the professional competitions will blow you away! Our professional dancers did an incredible job, but we want to shine the spotlight on our amazing Thousand Oaks students to show you just how far these ladies have come.

Van Anh Chandler started at our studio as a beginning dancer nearly 11 and a half years ago. Yes, I said 11 and a half years ago! Over that time, she moved up through the different levels and is now working as a Gold student. It is awesome to see a student that works their way through the program – Bronze, Silver, and Gold is no easy feat.

Initially, Van Anh came into the studio trying to mend a broken relationship by trying an activity that would involve both partners. She fell in love with dancing from the very first few lessons. If you can believe it, Van Anh had no dance experience before stepping into our studio (except if you count 70’s style Jane Fonda style exercise and years of Tae Kwon Do).

Arthur Murray Thousand Oaks - Van Anh Chandler

Van Anh says “I love my dancing more and more each day as I learn.” She measures her progress by attending all of our different events and competitions. She has competed in 16 of the major Dance-O-Rama competitions and has significantly grown as a dancer after each one. Of course Van Anh has her occasional self-doubts, but she approaches her dancing with incredible pride and dedication.

At the end of the day, Van Anh loves the roller coaster of emotions because it really solidifies her dancing goals and overall purpose. Edwin has been a major factor in her journey and always takes strides to get Van Anh to believe in herself. Through sound coaching and years of experience, Edwin helped her learn how to be part of a two-person team on the floor.

Van Anh walked away with some amazing awards and accomplishments in Vancouver. Among them were: Smooth Rhythm 6th place Finalist (from a quarter final), 2nd place in All Around B, and 5th place in Rhythm Scholarship B. All in all, Van Anh loves dance because she gets to express herself through her dancing: “Every day I am thankful to be part of this incredible journey.”

Originally, Sandy D’Elia came into our Arthur Murray over 12 years ago because dance always has been her passion and she wanted to add Ballroom Dancing to her dance toolkit. From the early age of 3, Sandy knew her first love was dance. She learned a little bit of jazz but mainly focused on the Bolshoi Ballet Method. She started as a ballet soloist and was promoted to principal ballerina for the Buenos Aires Ballet company at age 15.  Sandy continued as a skilled ballerina until age 22, when she then retired.  Later in life, ballroom dance paralleled her ballet experience, but pushed her to learn new techniques that were very different from what she knew.

Sandy has grown in her Ballroom dancing over the years in such a way where she now feels the movements internally and actively expresses the way they make her feel. She has attended more than 20 competitions and studio showcase events. She received some of the highest awards in her competitions at Vancouver Dance-O-Rama.

Arthur Murray Thousand Oaks - Sandy D'Elia

Like Van Anh, Sandy competed in the Gold level competition. Sandy confidently shared with me before the competition that she was “ a place where the music fills me rather than just the technique.”  In the Arthur Murray world, the greatest achievement for any instructor or student is winning the coveted “Scholarship A” category.  Sandy did just that! She received 1st place in Smooth Scholarship A, 1st in All Around A, and 2nd in Rhythm Scholarship A.  Three cheers for Sandy!

Here at the Arthur Murray Thousand Oaks and Woodland Hills locations, we are so proud of both our students and instructors.  We must say farewell to another amazing, successful, and memorable Arthur Murray event. Until next time…Unique Dance-O-Rama!

Live, Love, Dance, and Enjoy!
Christy Melgoza

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