Latest Articles

Lead with Enthusiasm and Joy - Anna Shahbazyan

Samantha Stout | December 02, 2020

Anna Shahbazyan discusses how psychology and dance are intertwined and her philosophy for following joy. Anna and Samantha chat about working with children on the Autism spectrum, and why its important to look at every dancer and every partnership as unique. She provides insight into what catches her judges eye for Latin and Smooth dancers, and gives tips on how to navigate emotion in dancesport both on and off the floor.

Anna Shahbazyan is a Professional Smooth and Standard dancer. She was a Blackpool finalist in American Smooth, and a Rising Star vice-champion at Ohio Star Ball. Anna holds a Master's Degree in Psychology and is the owner of AS Dance for Autism. Her work teaching dance to children and teens with special needs earned her the 2016 NDCA Community Service Award. She is also the co-organizer of the City Lights Open in San Jose.


The Man behind the Ohio Star Ball - Sam Sodano

Samantha Stout | November 18, 2020

Sam Sodano discusses the origins of the Ohio Star Ball and the adjustments being made to keep it a safe event during the pandemic. Sam and Samantha delve into his own dance journey beginning at Arthur Murray, striving to put a focus on personal education and betterment, and the evolution of his understanding of the teacher-student relationship. He also provides insight on what he wishes more professional instructors would avoid doing with their dancesport students, and how it can't be all about the business in order to be successful.

Sam Sodano is a legendary figure in the US Ballroom Dance world. He is a former North American Latin Champion, the organizer of the Ohio Star Ball, an adjudicator, judge, and lecturer. He created the World Pro-Am Dancesport Series, the Fordney Foundation, the Best of the Best Dancesport Challenge, and is the co-organizer of such events as the Arnold Youth Dancesport Classic, Holiday Dance Classic, and the Atlanta Open.


Just have Fun - Jago Ayllon

Samantha Stout | November 11, 2020

Jago Ayllon is the man behind Utah Salsa and has been a member of the Salt Lake Salsa and Bachata community for over 15 years. Jago and Samantha discuss the intricacies of the Salsa style of dancing, how it differs in approach from ballroom dancing, and how its focus on fun and play make for an inclusive social dance experience.


When in Doubt, Focus Out - Marisa Hamamoto

Samantha Stout | November 04, 2020

Marisa Hamamoto shares her journey and the struggles she overcame, from being an Asian American ballet dancer, sexual assault and rape in her teens and early twenties, suffering a spinal stroke and facing paralysis, and facing harsh rejection from the ballroom dance community and dance entertainment business. She and Samantha discuss the important questions ballroom dancers and studio owner should be asking of themselves, and steps that we can all take toward a more diverse, inclusive, and equal dance world.

Marisa Hamamoto is the creator of Infinite Flow and Scoops of Inclusion. Infinite Flow is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit and professional dance company composed of dancers with and without disabilities, using dance to promote inclusion and innovation. Scoops of Inclusion is a short film and learning platform led by multi-racial dancers with and without disabilities, empowering kids to celebrate differences and take part in creating a world where we each feel we belong.


She's Got Rhythm - Ksenia Stavrica

Samantha Stout | October 28, 2020

Ksenia Stavrica is a current Professional Rhythm Finalist. She discusses her journey from dancing as a 10-dance Amateur in Russia to a Professional Rhythm competitor in the States. Ksenia and Samantha discuss the cultural differences in ballroom dance instruction between the two countries, and Ksenia's learning experiences as a teacher.


Finding Her Way Back to Dance - Donna Edelstein

Samantha Stout | October 21, 2020

Donna Edelstein discusses her journey from ballet to ballroom, and how she found success as an adult in the sport. Donna and Samantha also discuss the importance of putting your own stamp on your dance style, lessons she's learned as a ballroom commentator, and what sets her competition apart from the rest.

Donna Edelstein is a former Pro-Am Champion in Standard, Latin and Smooth. She went on to become a Champion Professional dancer in Smooth and Standard. Donna is currently a coach, judge, adjudicator, invigilator and commentator, as well as the owner of The Snow Ball Dancesport Competition.


The Girl With the Tree Tattoo - Katie Flashner

Samantha Stout | October 14, 2020

Katie Flashner discusses her experiences as a Pro-Am Smooth competitor and her blog, "The Girl with the Tree Tattoo". Katie and Samantha discuss the difficulties in navigating the teacher-student relationship, the perception of dancing tattooed, the benefits of solo practice, and how to find motivation at the finish line.

Katie Flashner is the author behind "The Girl with the Tree Tattoo" blog, as well at the "Dance Diaries" and "The Solo Practice Guide for Ballroom Dancing". She also has won numerous awards as a Pro-Am competitor in American Smooth.


Preventing Dance Injuries - Maria Hansen

Samantha Stout | October 07, 2020

Maria Hansen and Samantha discuss the importance of understanding movement and alignment for ballroom dancers and dance instructors. Maria explains how her training through the CHEK Institute and the Baricchi Institute inform her coaching style, and they discuss the difference between external and internal awareness. Maria also breaks down her winning showdance routine, the infamous "Toilet Paper Dance".

Maria Hansen is a 7-time US National Professional Ballroom Finalist, Ohio Star Ball Showdance Champion, current NDCA adjudicator and judge, a certified Postural, Correction, and Movement Specialist through the CHEK Institute, and a co-organizer of the Vegas Open.


More Than Just Shoes - Ilia Kolosov

Samantha Stout | September 30, 2020

Ilia Kolosov is the major distributor for the Aida Dancewear Brand in the United States. He discusses how he became "the shoe guy", what sets Aida apart from other shoe brands, and why its so much more than just the sale that keeps him going. Ilia and Samantha chat about the challenge of authentically connecting with ballroom dancers at events and what pushed him to become a life coach.


NBC Dance - Nick Bloxsom-Carter

Samantha Stout | September 23, 2020

Nick discusses his dance experience from Cotillion to SYTYCD. Nick breaks down the behind the scenes differences between the production of the different commercial dance TV shows he has been a part of, his experience dancing for UVU, why cross-training has been so important to his dance education and why the ballroom team wasn't for him.

Nick Bloxsom-Carter has been dancing and teaching for over 15 years. He is a graduate of Utah Valley University with a bachelor's in dance and business, and has performed with many local dance companies including The Vibe Touring Company and Utah Metropolitan Ballet. He is most well know for his performances on Dancing with the Stars, making the finals on Live To Dance and making the top 20 on So You Think You Can Dance Season 9.


Capturing The Dance

Samantha Stout | September 16, 2020

Ryan Kenner discusses his process for capturing the perfect dance moment, tips for ballroom dancers to increase their chance of getting the ideal photo, and how his competitive experience makes him a better photographer.

Ryan Kenner is a professional dancer and the owner of Ryan Kenner Photography, providing high quality dance photography for ballroom dancers.


Treu Dancing - Casey and Kayci Treu

Samantha Stout | September 09, 2020

Casey and Kayci discuss meeting and competing as part of the BYU Latin and Ballroom Tour Team, why they are passionate about 10-Dance, their plans for remaining Amateurs or making the move to Professional, and their vision for the future of dancesport in Utah.

Casey and Kayci Treu are United States Amateur 10-Dance Champions, World and UK Amateur 10-Dance Finalists, World Amateur Rising Star Latin Finalists. Seperately, Casey is also a 2X US National Youth Latin Champion and Youth National 10-Dance Champion and Kayci is also a 2X National Amateur Cabaret Champion.


He's got Rhythm - Aaron Pierce

Samantha Stout | September 02, 2020

Aaron Pierce discusses the culture shock of moving from the East Coast to Utah, the challenges Aaron faced when becoming a member of the UVU Tour Team, and the differences and similarities between Arthur Murray, Fred Astaire, and independent studios. They also chat about how your perspectives on dance and instruction change over time, and Aaron's new goals and focus for his competitive career.

Aaron Pierce is a former 2 time US National Amateur Rhythm Champion, former member of the Utah Valley University Tour Team, and current Professional Rhythm Finalist.


The Ballroom Music Man: Brent Mills

Samantha Stout | August 26, 2020

Brent Mills talks about music, dance, musicality, theatre, choreography, artistry, performance and so much more! Brent shares his thoughts on how music and dance are intertwined, how he approaches choreography differently from hip-hop or contemporary choreographers, and his dance, music and choreography experiences over the last twenty years.

Ever wonder why one song can be played for a Waltz, a Tango, and a Cha-Cha? Want to know why you should reconsider that "Phantom of the Opera" showcase? If so, then this interview is for you.

Brent Mills is the owner of BallroomPlaylist and the Music Mills App, providing music content for dancers and studio owners. He has also served as the Music Director for numerous competitions, was the 2x US Cabaret/Theatre Arts Champion, served as a music editor and consultant for 4 seasons of So You Think You Can Dance, and holds a BA in Piano Performance from Berklee School of Music in Boston, and a BFA in Dance from BYU.


Talking with a Titan: Ron Montez

Samantha Stout | August 17, 2020

Ron Montez is a former 7-time undefeated US Professional Latin Champion, the recipient of numerous awards and honors, judge, adjudicator, and co-organizer of both the Aloha Ball and Las Vegas Lights Dance Challenge. We discuss his early career with Arthur Murray, turning professional, how costuming and performance has changed over the years, and the pros and cons of one-day events versus multi-day events.


Jason and Sveta Daly are former National and World Professional Rhythm Finalists, owners of Dance Daly Ballroom, and co-organizers of the San Antonio Classic. Jason and Sveta discuss their very different paths to becoming Professional Rhythm dancers, and we chat about the challenges of teaching adults, judging pro-am dancers, the evolution of American Rhythm as a style, appropriate fashion for dancesport competitions, and planning for 2021.


The DanceCast Experiment: Max Sinitsa

Samantha Stout | August 03, 2020

In episode #16 of Love.Live.Dance's podcast, Ballroom Chat, we talk with Max Sinitsa. Max is a former 3-time US Amateur Smooth Champion, US Professional American Smooth Vice-Champion, World Professional American Smooth Finalist, and the host of the DanceCast Experiment. Max discusses how he began dancing, why he believes that a strong foundation has contributed to his success, his thoughts on the advantages of recording your own dancing to review, the challenges that dancers face in pro-am events, and his upcoming project, the DanceCast Experiment. We also discuss his decision to retire from competitive dancesport earlier this year.


In episode #15 of Love.Live.Dance's podcast, Ballroom Chat, we talk with Marzena Stachura and Slawek Sochacki. Marzena and Slawek are 4-time undefeated US and World American Smooth Champions, Owners of Dance United Ballroom Academy, Owners of Dance Vision Mastery Camp Las Vegas, Co-owners of The Royal Ball.

We discuss how online dance lessons can be incredibly effective during this challenging time, how Marzena and Slawek credit hardwork and dedication to their successes, how the SRDS is bring the joys of the American Smooth style to Russian dancers, and why they choose to see the positives in cancellations and closures.


In episode #14 of Love.Live.Dance's podcast, Ballroom Chat, we talk with American 9-Dance competitor and instructor Tony Nunez about his dancesport experiences.

Samantha and Tony discuss his experiences as a professional dancer, the challenge of portraying your authentic self on the dance floor, and the importance of making sure that inclusivity and diversity become the norm in the ballroom dance industry. We take on the issues of race, gender, elitism, and ability differences in dance, and what each of us in the industry can do to improve and push towards progress.


Discussing Lindy Hop: Anthony Chen

Samantha Stout | July 13, 2020

In episode #13 of Ballroom Chat, we talk with competitor and instructor Anthony Chen about his preferred dance style: Lindy Hop. We discuss the history of Lindy Hop, how the competitive experience of Lindy differs from typical ballroom dance events, his work with the non-profit organization Salt City Swing, and his thoughts on the future of the lindy hop dance style.

Anthony Chen is known for being playful, musical, creative, and clear on the dance floor and holds first place titles from events such as Lindyfest, Montreal Swing Riot, Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown, and the International Lindy Hop Championships. He strives to build a healthy and positive swing dance community, and he founded the non-profit organization "Salt City Swing" in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he teaches not only the dance of Lindy Hop, but also the history of the dance and its ties to American Swing-era music.


Learning about Casino Rueda: Cesar Rojas

Samantha Stout | July 06, 2020

This week, we talk with Cesar Rojas about Casino Rueda. We discuss the history of salsa and the Casino Rueda dance style, how this social dance is opening doors for people to learn more about Latin dances, and the importance of finding your dance community.


This week, we talk with Hope Jackson about her start in the dancesport industry, her time dancing on the television shows So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With The Stars, her latest endeavor teaching as an instructor with Dance Vision, being a brand ambassador for Aida Dancewear, and balancing her additional activities in modeling, dancing, and hair and make-up.


Michael Johnson is a US Professional Ten Dance Finalist, coach, Dancesport adjudicator, owner of Dance Majic Dance Studio, published author, and host of the Majic for Life Podcast. We talk about his start in the industry, the mindset of a competitive dancer, his podcast, and how to effectively communicate dance instruction online.


Ian Gillett is a US Pro-Am National Champion in Smooth and Standard, a World Masters Pro-Am Champion in Smooth and Standard, World Pro-Am Champion in Smooth, a Regional Examiner for DVIDA, Former Collegiate Assessment Director for USISTD, and several times over Top Teacher Winner. We talk about his start in the industry, the importance of a good foundation, returning to the basics at every level, and the evolution of Standard and Smooth dance styles.


A conversation with Kimberley Mitchell. She is a two time US Professional Latin Champion, coach, judge, adjudicator, and invigilator. We talk about her start in the industry, the preparation process to get showcase ready for the 40th Anniversary of the Ohio Star Ball, her thoughts on when and how to restart competitions, and the importance of finding your own authentic style.


Living your Dance: Molly King

Samantha Stout | May 25, 2020

A conversation between Samantha from Love.Live.Dance and guest Molly King, West Coast competitor, instructor, published writer, podcaster, tiny home owner and overall awesome human being. We talk about how to 'Live Your Dance', the joys and challenges of owning a tiny home, her book 'Don't Stress', and the importance of living a whole life.


Dancesport Rules Updates: Rozana Sweeney

Samantha Stout | May 18, 2020

This week we talked with Rozana Sweeney from Art & Style Dance Studio. We talked about how the current situation is affecting dance studios and competitions, potential ways this will change how Dancesport events are conducted, the 2019 NDCA rules updates to syllabus events, and what you can do to stand out in front of a judging panel.


Custom Dancewear Design: Marcos Martinez

Samantha Stout | April 27, 2020

A conversation with Marcos Martinez, owner of the dancewear brand MMD. We talk about the custom dancewear industry, Marcos' process for creating unique garments for his clients, and training for competition under quarantine.


A conversation between Samantha from Love.Live.Dance and guest James Cook, West coast swing dancer, competitor, and instructor. We talk about the differences between Ballroom Dance and West coast swing, navigating different social dance scenes, and how to be responsible for your own growth.


A conversation between Samantha from Love.Live.Dance and guest Amanda Wolf, owner of Studio 101 and Pittsburgh Wedding Dance. We talk ballroom in quarantine, the move to online teaching, how the wedding industry is changing and adapting, and where we see dance instruction can improve for the better.


For those that missed the announcement, on September 14th, 2019, the National Dance Council of America announced that a couple -- for purposes of competitive dancesport -- will now be defined as a leader and follower without regard to the sex or gender of the dancer. Accordingly, same sex or gender-neutral couples are now able to compete with opposite-sex couples in all competitive ballroom dance…


Things To Know Before Your First Dance Lesson

Samantha Stout | August 05, 2019

Whether you are a social dancer, taking dance lessons to prepare for a wedding, a couple looking for a few moves for your first dance, or a seasoned competitive dancer, there are a few things you should know before you prepare for each lesson. It’s not easy, otherwise everyone would do it. Students of mine will often say that I refer to learning to dance like learning a second (or third) language…


2019 Las Vegas Lights Dance Challenge

Samantha Stout | June 01, 2019

Love.Live.Dance's instructors and students regularly participate in local, regional, and national dancesport competitions. These competitions give students an opportunity to show off their new skills and to benchmark their progress alongside their peers. Most recently, the studio participated in the Las Vegas Lights Dance Challenge, a one-day ballroom dance competition in May 2019 at Harrah's…


Announcing a New Wheelchair Dancing Group Class

Samantha Stout | September 13, 2018

If you follow the Love.Live.Dance social media pages, you probably saw that I teased that I was embarking on a new adventure — becoming a certified wheelchair dancing instructor. Thanks to the American Dancewheels Foundation (ADF), I am now a certified instructor in the sport, and I will be starting a wheelchair dancing group class as discussed below. Here’s a little bit about the sport, the…


Top 5 Father-Daughter Dance Songs

Samantha Stout | August 05, 2018

Searching for the perfect song for your father-daughter dance? As part of many of our wedding dance lessons, we asked to help with father-daughter dances. These are always fun and special dances to add to any wedding, but sometimes it can be hard to think of a fitting song. In order to jump start your selection process to find THE song for your special day, here are my top 5 song suggestions from…


Swing into Wedding Season

Samantha Stout | May 14, 2018

If early indicators are anything to go by, swing is the dance style that everyone wants for their wedding in 2018. However, before you go to an instructor, you should probably know that there are nearly ten different varieties of swing! While it’s certainly not required, being familiar with some of these sub-genres before booking your wedding dance lessons can certainly make your first lesson…


Wedding Season 2017 Wrap-up

Samantha Stout | September 26, 2017

As the traditional “Wedding Season” for dance studios comes to a close, let’s look back on the most used songs of 2017. This is by no means a national trend list, simply the songs that were most used by my clients, and clients of the studio where I teach. Popular Wedding Songs of 2017 Goo Goo Dolls – “Come to Me” I’ve mentioned my thoughts on this song previously. It took me by surprise that…


Wedding Dance Lessons - Do's, Don'ts and FAQs

Samantha Stout | August 11, 2017

You’re getting married! Congratulations! If you’re thinking about taking lessons for any of your wedding dance needs, here are some important things to keep in mind before you start. Let’s start with the Positives! DO: Research and price compare dance instructors in your area. Many studios offer bridal or wedding packages at a discount to their normal private lesson packages. Take a look at…