The TV program “Dancing with the Stars” debuted June 1, 2005.Six celebrities were paired with six professional dancers. Soap opera actress Kelly Monaco and her professional partner, Alec Mazo, won the trophy that season.The 14th season of “Dancing” aired March 19-May 5. Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver and his professional partner, Petra Murgatroyd, won.The show has shot to the top of the ratings, and viewers are smitten with ballroom dancing.“ ‘Dancing with the Stars’ made ballroom dancing cool, but you have to put in the time to learn and improve,” said dance instructor Bryon Chandler.Chandler and his dancer wife, Zenaida, own Charlotte Ballroom Dance Academy at 10916 E. Independence Blvd. in Matthews.The couple has more than 30 years of combined dance experience.Chandler grew up in Wilmington and served eight years in the military.“When I was participating in Operation Desert Storm, I wanted to do something to take my mind off the conflict and decided to take up ballroom dancing for fun,” Chandler said. “And what do you know, not only did I enjoy it, I found I was pretty good.”After the service, Chandler returned to Wilmington and began dancing at the Fred Astaire Studio. He was named the Open Smooth Champion of the Southeast and received the prestigious “Top Freddie Award” twice as a teacher and twice as an executive. “I had found my calling,” he said.Chandler moved with the Fred Astaire organization to Charlotte and began teaching and competing with his students. He eventually bought the franchise and moved it from Sharon Amity to the current site and went independent.“I had been with Fred Astaire since 1999, but going independent suits us better now,” Chandler said.Zenaida began dancing when she was 3. “I’ve always loved to dance,” she said.Originally from Middletown, N.Y., Zenaida’s father was in the Marines, and the family lived in many places, including Japan.“I was 4 then and remember playing on the roof,” she said. “We later moved to Winston Salem, and at 17 I started ballroom dancing with the Fred Astaire Studio there.”Zenaida has been awarded both the Show Dance and the Latin Champion honors for the Southeast. She has trained other champions and was one of the coaches for the Wake Forest University dance team.Chandler and Zenaida were single parents when they met. Their love of dance and fitness coupled with already having a child made for a good fit. The couple will celebrate their second anniversary in April.The two will be at the Gastonia “Dancing with the Future Stars” charity event in March. The Chandlers will be the professionals dancing with local celebrities to raise money for the local Boys and Girls Club.For more information, call 704-814-0119, or go to the Chandler’s website: http://CharlotteBallroomAcademy.com.
Friday, Nov. 30, 2012
Ballroom dancing is their passion
Bryon and Zenaida Chandler are professional dancers and instructors in Matthews. KAREN SCIOSCIA