Christian likes to joke that he must have been a television emcee in a past life. That’s how much he enjoys being in front of people. Whether he’s teaching a class or working one-on-one with a student, Christian’s engaging personality and naturally entertaining demeanor become an integral part of the learning experience.
Born in Lepizig, Germany, Christian began dancing at the tender age of four and never looked back. Over the years he has won several world-class professional titles including German Ten Dance Championship and North American Rising Star Smooth Champion, and placed as a finalist at several prestigious American Dance Sport Championships. In addition, Christian has guided several of his students to top honors in the competition arena. In 2011 alone, four of them became national pro-am champions. Christian exhibits the hallmarks of a well-rounded teacher, with specialties in American smooth, Latin Dance and International Ballroom. His talents as a choreographer have helped many students perform at the top of their game both in competition and showcase.
Christian’s versatility extends to emceeing special events, judging professional dance competitions and coaching many of the industry’s leading dance professionals, amateurs and pro-am competitors. A romantic at heart, Christian considers himself a “wedding specialist” and loves creating memorable dances for couples on their big day. More than anything, Christian strives to create an enjoyable, social environment at Fred Astaire Southbury, where students can come to dance, mingle, meet new people and have an all-around great time.
Paulo hails from southern Brazil with its brilliant colors and exquisite beaches. Here he developed a lively passion for beauty and culture, and a natural born hospitality, all richly enhanced by his Italian lineage.
As a result, he brings a wealth of talents to the studio. Paulo is a gifted professional photographer and has exhibited his work in many galleries. He also excels at interior design. In designing Fred Astaire Southbury, Paulo has set a new standard for luxury in a dance studio. He has created an atmosphere that embraces elegance yet caters to the students’ every comfort.
Whether he is planning a Friday night dance party, special event or monthly theme, Paulo’s eye for beauty and flair for presentation is evident in every last detail.
In addition, Paulo’s keen business skills, developed when he worked as an executive in bank management, cover the spectrum of administrative abilities
and strategic planning, keeping everything running smoothly at the studio.
In true “Brazilian style,” he makes all his visitors feel warm and welcome. Ask anyone who shares a dance with Paulo or engages him in conversation and they will tell you, he makes sure your time at Fred Astaire Southbury is an unforgettably enjoyable experience.
Our Dance Director Ivana Strancaric brings her own brand of star power to the studio.
She was born in Croatia where she gained fame and popularity
in that country’s entertainment industry, dazzling audiences in several dance productions.
Dancing since the age of 11, Ivana has competed in international competitions throughout Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Hungary where she won numerous championships. She has also coached and choreographed for many couples, guiding them on to the finals in competition.
Teaching dance is Ivana’s greatest passion. She has lent her instructional talents to everything from social dancing, wedding choreography and children’s dance to salsa and latin fitness. Ivana believes in an engaged and dynamically based method of teaching. But above all, she says, it should be fun.
Ivana fell in love with dance from the moment she took her first step. She experiences a joy and fervor when she dances that she is always eager to share with her students. For her there is no better feeling than to teach those who never imagined they could dance. She takes great pleasure in seeing the fulfillment they experience when they achieve what they once thought was an impossible dream.
The multi-talented Ivana is also a student of music and plays piano. In addition, she is fluent in several languages, including Croatian, English, Bosnian, Serbian and Italian.
Her favorite dance is salsa, and whenever she can, she heads for the nearest salsa club.
Born in Chishinau, Moldova, Vladimir began dancing at age of 8, specializing in standard in the open category. He has extensive experience in latin and loves performing in Moldovian traditional folk dance. Vladimir possesses a passion for instruction and teaches ballroom international, latin and American Style.
He also enjoys teaching social dancing, wedding couples and kids’ classes.
He has danced in many international competitions in Moldova and Ukraine as well as coached dance couples. Because of his well-rounded background, learning to dance with Vladimir is an enriching experience. You will become adept at form and technique and develop an enhanced sense of rhythm and movement.
You’ll also have a lot of fun. He keeps his students always with energy and focus…
Vladimir is an avid sportsman who enjoys going to the gym, biking, hiking,
swimming and he loves paintball. His favorites dances are the Waltz and Rumba, he finds very romantic, elegant and calm.
His favorite cuisine is his mother own cooking “Mamaliga”, a Moldavian specialty.
The first thing you notice about Amanda- besides her exceptional dance capabilities – is her sparkling personality. Vivacious and engaging with a magnetic charm, Amanda makes learning to dance an experience students really look forward to. She credits her outgoing nature to a childhood of extensive travel during which she learned to connect with people from all walks of life.
Amanda began dancing when she was four. She has studied many styles including ballet, tap and jazz and contemporary extensively for years and has worked as a performer and assistant choreographer. A former Fred Astaire student herself, Amanda danced competitively for five years, winning many championships as an amateur.
One only has to watch her on the dance floor to see how comfortable she is with various dance forms and their diverse expressions. With a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology and Exercise Science as well as a wealth of experience in fitness training, Amanda possesses all of the assets necessary to teach her students how dancing can enhance their flexibility, agility, mental focus and self confidence.
Outside of the studio, Amanda loves to travel, work out, and continue to study nutrition and wellness. She frequently travels to New York City for Hip Hop and dance workshops and loves to hit the local salsa clubs on the weekends.
One of the world’s foremost championship dancers, Julia Mincheva brings a wealth of talent to Fred Astaire South Windsor. A native of Russia, Julia began her dance training at five years old and went on to pursue competitive ballroom and Latin dance. She has won several championships throughout Russian and Europe where she performed in Ballroom and Latin programs. In the youth category, she was Moscow Closed Champion in International Standard on several occasions, as well as Ten Dance Champion.
Between 2003 an 2005 alone, won seven titles, including: London Open Dance Championships Professional Ballroom Semifinalist; International Championships Professional Rising Star Standard Finalist; Dutch Open Professional Classic Showdance, 2nd place; Dutch Open Professional Ballroom (World Series) Semifinalist; Russian Professional Standard Championships Finalist; Dutch Open Professional Classic Showdance, 3rd place and Grand Prix Open Professional Standard, 3rd place.
In the United States, Julia has won numerous regional titles and was World Finalist in Classic Showdance in 2005. With her former partner, Christian Lange, her credits include U.S. Rising Star American Smooth finalist and North American Smooth Champion.
She has been teaching since she was 13 and is a nationally certified dance instructor in four styles: Ballroom, Latin, Standard and Rhythm. When she in not teaching, Julia loves to spend her time in artistic venues, visiting museums, going often to opera shows, Broadway plays and ballet presentations. Julia also spends a great deal of time practicing Yoga. Fashion is Julia’s second love.
Damiano’s first love was ballet, which is excellent training for a ballroom dancer.
He started dancing at the New Haven Ballet School when he was five and remained there until the age of seven. A year later he turned to ballroom, training under Ecaterina Liubenco at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Glastonbury and placing First in many regional and independent competitions.
He returned to ballet at age twelve and went on to study with some of the world’s finest ballet masters including Joseph Albano who found the Hartford Ballet, and Alexi Tchnerichov a graduate of the Bolsho Ballet in Moscow. At 14 Damiano won a full scholarship to train with the Bolshoi Ballet at their summer intensive in Connecticut and later went on to win scholarships to study at several prestigious ballet schools where he performed on stage and perfected his skills in male technique and partnering.
With such an outstanding background in classical dance Damiano was a natural to excel at ballroom dancing and has become a great asset to our studio. Years of embracing the discipline required to be a proficient ballet dancer have served Damiano well and at only eighteen years old he already demonstrates superlative poise and ability with every type of ballroom dance from rhythm to smooth. He is a dedicated and supportive instructor with a special kind of charm that shines through his excellent instructive ability.
As if that isn’t enough talent for one person, Damiano is also a seasoned musician who started playing the Piano at the Hartford Conservatory at the age of three, taught himself the guitar when he was eleven, plays in several rock bands in Connecticut and released his first album earlier this year. In his spare time he enjoys to playing video games, practicing his music skills, playing pool and riding his bike.
A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Nevena brings extensive training in contemporary & ballet to her dance career. She graduated from Belgrade’s National Ballet School in 2009, where she performed in the ImpulsTanz Festival, assisting renowned choreographers David Zambrano, Andrew Harwood and Joe Alegado on the performance of Earth. Since her graduation, she has taught at the National Ballet School and worked with the BITEF Dance Company on productions including Jasmin Vardimon Company’s Yesterday in 2013, as well as The Divine Comedy, Carmen in 4 Rounds and Otelo. Over time, her unique talent in dance drew the attention of film makers and several acting roles in short artistic movies and commercials followed.
With her grounding knowledge in contemporary dance and her smooth tone Nevena teaches an impeccable ballroom dance lesson while helping her students to evolve the technique and physical boundaries in between – traits which are sure to enhance her dance instruction.
Her passion for both dancing and teaching brought her to Fred Astaire in 2015. where she made her ballroom debut at The 50th Colonial Classic, in which she won 2nd Place in Professional Closed American Smooth Bronze & Silver Division.
Nevena brings a positive attitude, welcoming smile, and enthusiasm to the dance floor – attributes which are an asset to teaching students of every age. Because of her well-rounded background, learning to dance with Nevena is an enriching experience. You will become adept at form and technique and develop an enhanced sense of rhythm and movement. You’ll also have a lot of fun.
Nevena enjoys exploring nature and working with animals, helping raise money for their support and care. In her spare time, she loves being with family and friends, and listening to good music. Through her world travel Nevena has developed a special appreciation for fine food and wine. With such a joie de vivre, it is no surprise, she likes to laugh a lot.
Prince Freddy of Southbury
Meet Freddy, Fred Astaire’s adorable new mascot. He’s a male mix breed of chihuahua and dachshund. Little Freddy was born January 6, 2012, the same day as Fred Astaire Southbury’s first practice party, so we consider it kismet that we found each other.
Prince Adopted from a mobile animal shelter care on Monday, when Hurricane Sandy blew through Connecticut, Freddy considers himself a survivor. But he is also a party animal in the true sense of the word. “I love Southbury and that’s why I’m very excited to be here to play with everyone and enjoy all the dancing,” barked Freddy, with those big puppy dog eyes.