Dancing In Charlottesville Part 1

By: Autria Godfrey
By: Autria Godfrey

November 8, 2006

A reality show concept that could have easily been laughed off as the next "Joe Millionaire," "Dancing with the Stars has swept into the homes of America and landed in ABC's top 5 highest rated shows.

Our area is one helping drive those ratings. Meet newlyweds Sarah and Vinny Tullo, just two of the many bitten by the dance bug.

"We like to watch 'So You Think You Can Dance' and 'Dancing With the Stars' and stuff like that," Sarah said.

With that intrigue, they strapped on the dancing shoes, and gave it their best whirl, letting accomplished ballroom dancing instructor Terry Dean introduce them to the sport.

"Normally when a brand new person comes in, we get them doing five or six dances in a half hour, and they're dancing them. So we're doing it, it's not perfect but they're dancing them to music," Dean said.

Perfection still in the distant future, within minutes the couple mastered the intricate steps of the Salsa and the Tango, still struggling with both timing and technique.

"It's a lot harder and a lot more rigorous, but we didn't realize it would be as much fun as it was," Sarah said.

Thanks to these reality shows, the sport of ballroom dancing has seen a dramatic increase in popularity, both nationally and here in Charlottesville.

"Everywhere I go people are talking about this show--'Have you seen it, have you seen it?' So now I have to make sure I record it because I'm always here," said Dean.

Dean said his studio has seen an increase in students, but it's important to be realistic and know it takes time to dance like the stars.

"Dancing is one of those things like any other sport. I think it's all a matter of how much you put into it. You put a lot into it and you get a lot back."
in what you You can get people dancing pretty quickly but to learn techniques and everything like that and get good at it it takes a while," Dean said.

After only two lessons, the Tullo's are making significant progress and continue to get inspiration from their red-carpet role models.

"Now when I watch dancing with the stars, I'm like, 'I need to learn that,' or something like that," Sarah said.

Initially leaning on stereotypes, Vinny was less than thrilled to tell buddies he spent his Friday evenings waltzing across the wooden floor, but is now pleasantly surprised with this new-found fun.

"I said that for a while and then finally I was like, 'Fine, I'll go." And then he did a bunch of fast songs [on] the first day and so it kind got me into it, then it was fun.

World-champion ballroom dancers? No, not anytime soon, but both agree they're satisfied just taking it one step at a time.

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