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Fred Astaire Dance Studio struts to 4th straight win
Posted: Thursday, May 19, 2016 11:47 am
Written by Adedamola Agboola, published in the Manhasset Times
For the fourth year in a row, Eugene Yeremenko’s Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Manhasset has won the Cross Country DanceSport Championships in Winsconsin.
The championships, which were held on April 22, 23, and 24, are one of three national championships that takes place every year among the Fred Astaire Franchised Dance Studios.
This year’s event featured 50 participating studios, more than 100 instructors and more than 150 students.
“We couldn’t be happier to be considered a top studio for the most famous name in ballroom and Latin dance studios,” Yeremenko said. “It’s an honor and a tribute to our terrific staff and all the wonderful students.”
School student Mille Munich won a bronze medal for females and fellow student William Hiller won a bronze medal for males.
Hiller and his wife Carol Hiller, won the gold medal for top amateur couple in the student category.
Yeremenko and two teachers in the Fred Astaire studio in Manhasset — Alex Costa and Marisa Yatsenko — won first, third and fifth respectively place in the Overall Teacher Award category.
Yeremenko opened the studio location with his childhood friend Yatsenko, in 2010 after working in studio’s Westchester County locations.
“We met in Ukraine and we were dance partners. We’ve danced and competed professionally together as partners since we were six year old,” Yeremenko said. “Our families are very close.”
Yeremenko, 32 and Yatsenko, 29, both immigrated from Ukraine.
“We’ve always wanted to make a career out of it and when the time was right and the opportunity came, we jumped at it,” Yeremenko said.
The Manhasset Fred Astaire Dance Studio, which is located at 20 Park Ave., teaches various dances from cha cha, tango, foxtrot, rumba to swing.
“We teach pretty much everything. You know like Dancing with the Stars,” Yeremenko said. “The best way to describe it is ‘fun’ because the people who come to the studio enjoy it. Some people go to the gym, some people like to dance.”
Munich, who lives in Floral Park, said dancing is not only an enjoyable activity, but that the health benefits have been remarkable.
“In addition to having fun, I find that dancing benefits my brain and body like nothing else,” she said. “I’ve maintained weight loss and increased my flexibility and posture.”
Members of Yeremenko’s dance studio all share different reasons why they decided to join a dance studio.
For some, it is fun to dress up and dance.
“Doing a jazzy foxtrot wearing tails with a top hat and cane with a fabulous professional partner in a real theater in a national competition before judges who are world champions. Now that is a real blast for a born couch potato,” said Hiller, a resident of Port Washington.
For others, it was meant to be a creative outlet.
Christina Vricella recalled joining taking dance lessons in 2014 as a way to explore her creative soul.
“Dancing has not only enabled me to express my feelings, but further embrace life’s blessings,” Vricella said. “The instructor’s love of dance is not only infectious, but they are also driven and enthusiastic to pass this joy on to each of their students.”
“They enjoy it. Not only that, we have get togethers, professional presentations,” Yeremenko said.
Yeremenko said the studio’s youngest member is 30 years while the oldest is 80 years.
“We’re good but no one knows about us,” Yeremenko
The Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Manhasset is one of only three locations on Long Island.
To see the full article in the Manhasset Times, click here.
Dance in Manhasset
Dancing with financial stars
Yatsenko, along with her dance partner and fellow instructor, Eugene Yeremenko, have doubled and tripled their revenue in the three years since they opened a Fred Astaire Dance Studios franchise in Manhasset. The partners teach students – from preteens to seniors – the Cha-Cha, Swing, Hustle and various other steps, and some have competed in national competitions.
In February, the studio added to its trophy case the “Top Studio” award at the 2015 Platinum DanceSport Classic in Miami. Dancers earned such recognitions as top overall male and female students, top amateur couple and top newcomer. Yatsenko received the award for top female teacher after placing second for the top overall teacher award.
Yatsenko brought this type of prestige to Massachusetts-based Fred Astaire Dance Studios, a company created by the namesake dance legend in 1947 that has grown to 158 studios. She and Yeremenko settled in Sleepy Hollow and began teaching dance at one of the company’s nearby studios in 2006. By then, the duo had danced together for eight years and were crowned Ukrainian National Champions and competed in many world and European championships representing their homeland.
“No one can come in off the street, even with dance training, and purchase the franchise right,” Yatsenko said of opening her studio in February 2012. “You have to qualify; you have to know the system that they go by.”
Yeremenko said that, depending on location and design, the costs merely to open a studio can range from $60,000 to $150,000. The partners in July 2011 landed a 2,400-square-foot unit, formerly occupied by a dry cleaner, at 20 Park Ave. in Manhasset.
After obtaining zoning approval and building permits, they built their studio and had to drum up business from scratch. On establishing the franchise, they signed a noncompete agreement to not sign up students from any other Fred Astaire Dance Studios locations. But advertising and the all-important location – near a transportation hub – generated business from the start.
“Business-wise, we’re in the right location,” Yeremenko said. “Our town is great and we’re right across from a train station, so people saw us as soon as we opened.”
From the outset, they have consistently exceeded financial benchmarks set for the studio. They exceeded their first-year goal of earning in the range of $100,000 to $150,000 and doubled their numbers in 2013. Last year, the studio’s revenue fell within the $500,000 to $700,000 range.
People seeking group dance classes won’t find them at the studio. Instead, Yatsenko and Yeremenko tailor their lessons to individual clients, and once or twice a month they invite award-winning coaches to help choreograph dances and coach them and their students. On average, lessons costs from $80 to $115 for students, 80 percent of whom are 30 or older; 5 percent are teenagers.
While the partners have won multiple Fred Astaire national and regional championships, Yeremenko nevertheless attributes the studio’s success mainly to the managing and motivational skills of his partner.
“She is one of the best instructors in the industry and the country,” he said of Yatsenko. “She keeps the dancers very motivated; she inspires students to come back and to go to competitions, and that’s what brings the business to the studio.”
Dancing toward a brighter future
Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2014 1:44 pm –
Dr. Sari Gold and her daughter Emily next month will showcase the ballroom dancing skills they’ve learned at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Manhasset as part of a fundraising event to support the non-profit Empower Nepali Girls, which provides educational opportunities for young women of the Asian nation.
The benefit, called “Fred Astaire Manhasset Dances to Empower Nepali Girls,” will take place at the studio on Sept. 7 and feature professional performances, a free dance lesson and an information session about the organization.
Tickets start at $75 at the donor level, $150 at the supporter level and $40 for children. Gold said 100 percent of the proceeds benefit Empower Nepali Girls.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun, that I can guarantee,” said Gold, a psychiatrist who lives in Great Neck. “They’re very high-energy people, so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Empower Nepali Girls was founded by Dr. Jeffrey Kottler, a California-based therapist who in his travels to Nepal in the early 2000s decided to help educate young girls from the local villages.
The cost to educate a child in Nepal at the time was $50 per year, Gold said, and has since increased to $150 per year. Empower Nepali Girls now serves more than 200 girls.
Gold met Kottler at a therapy conference four years ago, and upon hearing his story became inspired to participate.
“These girls are often seen as a burden to their families and are sold to servitude, like sex slavery, or marriage,” Gold said. “Kottler really saw how few opportunities there were available but that there was plenty of opportunity for him to help.”
Gold and Emily have traveled to Nepal with Empower Nepali Girls in each of the last two years, offering supplies and educational opportunities as well as career training in journalism and nursing, among other fields. They plan to visit Nepal again for three weeks in December.
“It’s really inspiring for them because these girls are around my age, so they see other girls their own age helping them break out of this culture they were born into,” said Emily, who in September will begin her senior year at Great Neck North High School. “We’re not just there to provide financial help, but emotional encouragement as well.”
For their third trip to Nepal, Gold decided to enlist the help of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Manhasset, whose instructors she said also became inspired to host the fundraiser after hearing Kottler’s story.
“We didn’t just want to build a school for girls,” Gold said. “It was much more important to change the whole culture of education, particularly for girls, in Nepal.”
Gold said uneducated Nepali parents are often tricked into offering their daughters to people who enter their villages claiming to offer employment opportunities who then sell the girls into the sex trade.
But by educating the young girls and finding them constructive employment opportunities, Gold said, Empower Nepali Girls has made real progress in changing the culture of the region.
“We’re empowering women and girls all over the world, which is I think something we take for granted in this country,” Emily said. “It’s so hard to reach these corners of the earth. This work is important.”
Check out our feature on Fox5 NY!
Check out our Feature on Fox5 NY!