Unique Dance-O-Rama- 25 Years Strong, and the Students Tell Us Why

When students begin their dance journey, there’s really no telling where it’s headed and how many different times the route will change directions. Even for the most competition-minded person, the thought of dancing on the floor while being critiqued or placed, results in a resounding “No.”  However for many students, that journey will lead them to one of the many fantastic Arthur Murray Dance-O-Rama competitions.

For 25 years now, in our very own back yard,(one of the largest and with the highest participation) Unique Dance-O-Rama in Irvine, CA has been impressing the masses. Once a year, ballroom dancers from all over the globe attend this magnificent affair. Professionals and Amateur dancers of every different level and age category will gather, creating beautiful memories and sharing their love of dance on the competition floor.

With 2017 being the 25th anniversary of Unique Dance-O-Rama, it was sure to be the most memorable of all. Students and Staff that attended early arrival were invited to experience Pageant of the Masters, artwork that truly comes to life. The Friday night dinner show dancers shared the floor with a ‘68’ low-rider Chevy Impala equipped with hydraulics. This car had no lack of rhythm…

Naturally, we couldn’t resist getting some feedback and hearing a few testimonials from the very people that make this event such a success.


“My dance journey began 4 years ago, both as an escape from a very toxic and abusive relationship, and an opportunity to learn how to salsa dance. I was preparing to accompany my Mom to the Oxnard Salsa Festival in 2013. Never did I imagine after reluctantly walking through those glass doors at Arthur Murray Thousand Oaks that I would be where I am today!  Never in a million years did I imagine that I’D be the one on the dance floor wearing all the fringe, sparkles and fancy dresses. I’m embracing 10 different dance styles (ironically, salsa is not one of them) and competing in one of the biggest dance events Arthur Murray organizes!  I will be dancing over a 2-day period and going up against many other students from close to 50 different studios around the world!

In my 4-years at AMTO, I have been able to heal my spirit through dancing. I’ve become a better person and made so many new friendships that I will cherish forever.  My friends at Arthur Murray have become my second family! Since my first taste of event dancing less than 3 months into my time at the studio, I was hooked!  It has become my goal to compete in this event, although circumstances have kept me from doing so the past 2 years…  However, I made a promise that upon my return from my one-year in Djibouti, Africa that I would participate in Unique Dance-O-Rama 2017!  I am a woman of my word! I have arrived!

To my Arthur Murray friends, family, teachers and staff:  Thank you for making such a profound and positive impact on my life!! This is a BIG achievement for me.”

Nicole DeBrauwere, Arthur Murray Thousand Oaks

Q: How do you think competing in a big dance competition such as Unique DOR brings couples closer together?

“Competing in a DOR brings couples closer together because of the need to focus and practice, help each other with difficult steps or routines, and to rely on each other which develops an unspoken dance communication.  The Biggest benefit – both physical and mental health and happiness- it is the best way to stave off Alzheimer’s.”

Q: What was your favorite Moment?

“Our favorite moment was when we won the Full Bronze Amateur Three Smooth Competition – and had no idea what to do!  We had only been full bronze for six months.  We would also add that participating in a Dance-O-Rama is especially great for relatively new couples like us because of the exposure to wonderful dancing and developing friendships.”

-Jerry & Debbie Walker – Arthur Murray Redlands


Q- Why should students participate in an event like this?

A-“This was my first Dance-O-Rama and the love of dance permeated the event.  My joyous experience was the result of a wonderful collaboration with the studio, my instructors, the other competitors and the judges. It’s no secret that I’ve discovered a new passion – but I hadn’t envisioned competing. One day my instructor asked me if I’d be interested in going to a party where I could dance all day.  That was my introduction to the competitive side of Ballroom.  When I’m on the competition floor I am expressing my love of dancing.  Unique Dance-O-Rama is three full days of dancing, so this was an opportunity not to be missed. The improvement in my dancing, my confidence and the feeling of fun expanded day by day and moment by moment.”  Dance people are truly wonderful people!  I’m looking forward to more…!”

Q- What was your favorite moment dancing in the competition?

A- “With three full days of dancing there were many wonderful moments.  Stepping on the floor to dance was thrilling and when I danced well it felt even better!  The highlight was the All-Around, which came at the very end of the competition.  My desire was to have my last two dances showcase the evolution of my dancing over the course of the event.  When the music started Orion and I floated around the floor on a cloud doing a wonderful waltz.  The next dance was swing, which is such a happy dance.  It was the perfect conclusion to three wonderful days on the dance floor.  When the music stopped and we walked off the floor for the last time tears of joy welled in my eyes.  I felt a wonderful high that was added to by a Silver Medal – the icing on an incredibly beautiful cake.”

-Edie Fasano, Arthur Murray Woodland Hills

Q- What do you feel you get out of participating in Dance-O-Ramas ?

A– “I feel that by participating in DOR’s I validate the efforts and hard work my teacher and I put into our Pro/Am partnership. I also truly feel I learn so much from my ballroom friends and it is so exciting to be part of such a wonderful community of ballroom lovers. In addition I get inspired to grow in my own skill level by witnessing higher level dancers. Overall, DOR’s are the culmination of hard work meets glamour and it allows my teacher and I to perform to others and share our love for ballroom. Every Dance-O-Rama feels like a beautiful family reunion full of glitz and glam.”

-Maria Swanson – Arthur Murray Temecula

Q- As a student that has been to 10 Dance-O-Rama competitions (9 of them being Unique), what makes you come back year after year?

A- “Like any athlete I am naturally competitive, I use competitions, especially Dance-O-Ramas as the checkpoint in my improvement. But it’s not the only reason I go back every year, it’s primarily the people. I get to see friends I haven’t seen in a year and witness their improvement and cheer them on.”

-Darlene Bergantzel, Arthur Murray Woodland Hills

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