Jack & Jill Competition Live

Watch the event live here!

Vote for your favorite dancer with the form to the right, and scroll down to learn a bit more about our wonderful contestants!

Contestants:

Aleia Burrows

I have danced all of my life. I probably knew how to dance before I knew how to walk.

At age 4, I was enrolled in Tap and Ballet. I kept with ballet training until age 12 where I converted to jazz. I danced jazz until age 19 where I took a break to focus on obtaining a degree, but went back into dance as a hip hop dancer at age 23 and did that until age 26.

After taking a 12 year break from dance to focus on family, I joined the Fred Astaire in Powell, then Delaware, in August of 2018. I began competing at Regional level just recently in March 2019. I love to perform with dance because I have so much fun doing it. I always have. The best compliment that I’ve received with Fred Astaire Studios is that I am so much fun to watch when I dance. I want to encourage others to have fun and appreciate life and dance is my tool for doing that, so I am very thankful for being a part of the Fred Astaire Studios community.

My favorite musical is My Fair Lady. I love the rags to riches story that lies behind it. It was also the first musical that I ever performed in back in High School and watching it brings back some really good memories.

 

Amanda Hays

Amanda is originally from Winthrop, ME. She studied the Vaganova method under Bossov Ballet Theatre for 10 years, and tried other types of dance (such as hula and modern) in college. Her and August have started their dancer journey just a few weeks ago and she has become a new bright light in the Fred Astaire Powell Dance family. She is excited to start ballroom and hopes to become competitive!

 

Bill Miller

I don’t like to perform. 

I’m an introvert and being watched is stressful. There are expectations at this point, and there is no comfort zone I can just fall into and let the world melt away. I do, however, enjoy dancing with my partner. At least during solos, we don’t have to worry about running into another couple. I really appreciate the closer bond that develops when you work on solos that doesn’t materialize during syllabus work. It’s mind-boggling to me that my partner trusts me to keep her safe while she’s upside down or over my head. A well-known coach once told me she enjoys the exercise of coming up with choreography that will challenge and expand my skill set, and it totally blows my mind that dancers the caliber of Taliat, Lynn, or Carrie actually know my name and look forward to working with me. I try to memorize the movements as quickly as I can so that my partner and I can focus on the dancing and turn it into “our” version of a story. I get excited when I get to push boundaries (like being lifted) and try new elements with my partner. It is a challenge to take on a different persona and put myself out there, and I believe that it is only the support I feel from this community of dancers that makes it possible for me to do so.

I don’t like to perform, but dancing brings joy to my life.

 

Brian Blackburn

I’ve been a musician since I was 5 when my mother first taught me to play the piano. Along the way I learned to play guitar, harmonica and sing.
Through high school I got my first exposure to choreography through musicals and show choir. My Fair Lady was my favorite production that we did. I started college as a vocal performance major and added classical guitar to my piano and vocal training. But I never really learned to dance.  A few years ago, I won a gift certificate for 4 lessons at FADS. I held on to it for 2 years before showing up in the spring of 2018 to give it a try.

A little over a year later and I’ve been able to compete and win at the National level.  Still kind of hard to believe. Most of the time I’m nervous and anxious about the dance – but somehow – it’s changing me.

All I Ask of You is one of the best love songs from a musical ever written. It’s a simple song that contrasts a love of freedom, choice and partnership with the control and fear of the Phantom.

My favorite musical is Les Misérables along with Music Man – but Phantom of the Opera is in the top 5! I’ve enjoyed developing and performing this song throughout the year with Gina Snyder.

 

Dale Dewiel

I am an engineer and teacher by trade and a ballroom dancer by passion.  My wife and I visited the Delaware studio as my wife was recovering from a lengthy surgery 10 years ago.  We had never danced a step in our lives but now we were realizing that life is too short to define it by what you “do not do.”  We were shy and overwhelmed, but after meeting the owner, Jose, and his great staff, we felt welcomed and knew that dance was going to be a great new part of our lives.  I quickly found that math and dancing do work together and through much patience, our teacher, Gina Snyder, has molded us into a dancing couple. 

Dance is not just dance. Dance is life, joy, learning, and most of all… growth.  I have learned that a limit is something I pass through on the way to a new goal.  Dance is the active art of meeting new friends and building relationships with the added benefit of dance pants and fancy music.  Dance is learning to trust your teacher and learning to trust yourself.  Dance for me is not growing better; dance is growing Newer into new and uncharted territories.  If you think you want to…try.  If you think you can’t…trust.  If you think you can…grow.  Thank you to the FADS family for the great years you have given my wife and me.

 

Davie Esau

When I first started dancing at age 82 in March 2011, I never expected to be performing at 90 in the showcase, “Bye Bye Blackbird” at a national competition. Thank you to my teacher and friend, Jose Rivera, and the entire Powell studio.  My favorite Broadway musical is “Phantom of the Opera” I love the music and the storyline. 

I enjoy performing because it is fun and I value the comments and scores of the judge. The benefits from performing are physical and emotionally beneficial. Thank you to Marina Tarsinov, Taliat Tarsinov, Lindsay Jones, Powell studio staff and students who have treated me in such a thoughtful caring manner.

 

Ellen Gustafson

Ellen is a master of faking it until she makes it. She has been dancing for the last 4 years with Fred Astaire Dane Studios and this is her 3rd Regional Showcase. She has had the opportunity to compete at both the Regional and National level. She continues to participate in studio formations including co-ed and all girl numbers. She enjoys working on her smooth along with her instructor August and loves social bachata. 

Ellen’s favorite musical is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She really enjoys the music and the creativity of the individual theater companies.  No two shows are ever alike.

 

James Tier

In the spring of 2015 I watched a movie titled, “Shall We Dance”.  I thought, I would like to learn how to do that one day.  Then, the first week of April, 2016 I decided I would give this Ballroom dancing sport a try.

Since I have started taking Ballroom lessons at the Fred Astaire studio in Delaware, I have had the privilege of working with a super dance instructor and I’ve had a great overall dance experience.  Each instructor has taken time to share better techniques, knowledge and demonstrations in how each dance step should be performed.  

The added bonus is the wonderful community of friends I have made there, whom I have the utmost respect for. I look forward to seeing each one throughout the week.

 

John Houser

I started dancing in mid-July this year.  My favorite Broadway musical is Beetlejuice….I saw it with Gabby in New York…my teacher/coach Gabby motivates me to learn different styles of dance and progress to my capabilities.  I enjoy the challenge.

I thought Beetlejuice was funny and entertaining.  When I came to Fred Astaire Dance Studio, I wanted to learn a few basic Latin dances and loved the positive feeling from dancing, from my instructor Gabby, and from how nice everyone on the staff were, so my goals changed to see how much I could learn.  It is also great exercise.  I signed up for contests to push myself to learn more and to be able to evaluate how well I am progressing. I am looking forward to the journey.

 

Karen Pruett

On April 16th, 2014, Kevin and I made a decision that would change our lives forever.  I lost my sister to a failed brain surgery late the previous year and we had decided that we were going to live our lives to the fullest in her honor.  On that date, we walked into Fred Astaire Delaware and our lives have not been the same since.  Neither of us had previous dance experience, but it didn’t matter.  The loving, caring staff took us under their wing and helped us learn how to dance.  In the last 5 ½ years we have been on an incredible journey.  With the studio we have travelled to Argentina, travelled to Spain, been on a dance cruise to the Caribbean and travelled to other US cities on mentoring trips.  We have performed at everything from fitness centers and grocery stores to festivals and malls.  We have competed in competitions in Las Vegas, Houston, Orlando and several regionals here in Ohio.  In 2015 we won Top Amateur Couple in Orlando, and we have won numerous awards both individually and as a couple.  We are so thankful for our Fred Astaire family at Powell (formerly Delaware) and also our extended Ohio Region family.  We love you all!  As for our favorite musical, we both like 7 Brides for 7 Brothers.  We love the music, the dancing, the colors and the story line is fun.  We love a good underdog story.

 

Kevin Pruett

On April 16th, 2014, Karen and I made a decision that would change our lives forever.  Karen had lost her sister to a failed brain surgery late the previous year and we had decided that we were going to live our lives to the fullest in her honor.  On that date, we walked into Fred Astaire Delaware and our lives have not been the same since.  Neither of us had previous dance experience, but it didn’t matter.  The loving, caring staff took us under their wing and helped us learn how to dance.  In the last 5 ½ years we have been on an incredible journey.  With the studio we have travelled to Argentina, travelled to Spain, been on a dance cruise to the Caribbean and travelled to other US cities on mentoring trips.  We have performed at everything from fitness centers and grocery stores to festivals and malls.  We have competed in competitions in Las Vegas, Houston, Orlando and several regionals here in Ohio.  In 2015 we won Top Amateur Couple in Orlando, and we have won numerous awards both individually and as a couple.  We are so thankful for our Fred Astaire family at Powell (formerly Delaware) and also our extended Ohio Region family.  We love you all!  As for our favorite musical, we both like 7 Brides for 7 Brothers.  We love the music, the dancing, the colors and the story line is fun.  We love a good underdog story.

 

Laura Masonbrink

Laura Masonbrink is new to the world of ballroom, but dance has been a part of her life for a long time. Originally from Indianapolis, Laura took ballet, tap, jazz, and modern at the dance school associated with Butler University all through childhood and high school. She also studied and performed with Indianapolis Ballet Theater (as it was called at the time), participated in a few musical theater productions, and performed in her high school show choir and on the dance team with the marching band. Good times!

College and grad school brought a bit of a dry spell in dance, but she continued her love of music by playing her violin in university and community orchestras throughout the years. She dabbled in Irish dance shortly after moving to Columbus (a while ago!) and settled on Zumba and yoga to stay in shape after becoming a mom (also a while ago!) She started slowly dipping her toe in at Fred Astaire in early 2020, and is having a great time learning new skills and styles of dance. Laura is excited to participate in her first regional competition next month! 

 

Melissa Stilp

I have been watching Dancing with the Stars since I was 8 years old and quickly fell in love with ballroom dancing. I was a dedicated fan of the show throughout high school and often thought to myself… “In another life, I would have been a ballroom dancer.” Flash forward to my college years when Fred Astaire Dance Studios came and did a demonstration class at the fitness center where I worked.  The FADS staff and students that I met that day completely changed my life! I realized that being a ballroom dancer did not have to remain a dream but could become a reality! At that time, I still had two years left of nursing school and a pretty busy workload, but I still tried to take a lesson or two each month and go to the Friday parties. After graduating and landing my dream job as a NICU nurse, I was finally able to pursue my other dream: ballroom dancing! Joining this dance family has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. I have found wonderful friends, people who love me and challenge me to be the best version of myself, in dance and in life. I have learned so much through dance: confidence, courage, dedication and perseverance.  I have learned to be patient with myself, to let go of perfection and strive for simply “better than yesterday.” I thank God for my Fred Astaire Powell Family; they have truly blessed me in more ways than I can count and I am so excited to continue this wonderful adventure and see where this road will take me. 

 

Olivia Jacobs

Since I was 14 years old all I wanted to do was become a history professor at a well known college. I took multiple history courses all through high school and loved them all so much but realized that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to further my education to the degree that was required to be a professor. My senior year I decided to not go to college and take a year off to travel and figure out what I wanted to do for my career. After I got back from my living abroad experience in Ireland, I signed my first contract with Fred Astaire Powell and have been dancing almost every day since. I’ve always loved dance and theatre but never thought I was good enough to do it professionally. The support of my teachers, friends, and coaches made me realize that I am good enough if I put my mind and heart into what I do and I have decided to become a ballroom instructor. Dance has helped me overcome my trauma and come out of my shell and be myself. I truly wouldn’t be where I am today, mentally or dance wise without the love and support of every person at my studio.