Two of my favorite television shows are "Dancing With the Stars," and "So You Think You Can Dance?"
The odds are pretty slim that I'll be on either.
Tatiana Kazakova of south Charlotte was a finalist for "So You Think You Can Dance?"
A lack of hip-hop skills was the kiss of death for her.
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Born in Belarus (then part of the Soviet Union), Kazakova lived in Germany for five years, and in Ukraine for six years. Her father was in the Soviet military; her mother was a teacher of Russian literature.
Kazakova, 31, has been involved in dance almost her entire life. As was the Soviet custom, the government selected Kazakova at age 7 to focus her life on dance.
"The government decides if you have potential in an area, then they pay for you to concentrate your study in this area," said Kazakova. "I especially loved ballet and worked very hard."
She was accepted by the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet and told she looked as though she might grow too tall to be a star, and should probably concentrate her efforts on ballroom dance.
She trained intensely for years and didn't let her sponsors down. Along with successfully representing her country in International Dance Championships around the world, Kazakova is a two-time Ukrainian National Junior and Youth Latin Champion.
By the time she was 12, however, the Soviet Union was in deep financial trouble and soon fell apart.
"The government told my parents they must start paying for my expensive lessons, travel and cost of competitions themselves," Kazakova said. "I'm an only child, and my parents wanted to see me succeed. My grandmother worked hard to help pay for my dancing, and my mother worked and sold her jewelry, too. They believed in me."
At 16, Kazakova began living on her own to pursue her dreams. She taught dance to pay for her own lessons and competitions.
"I moved to Moscow when I was 18, found a partner and danced," Kazakova said. "I continued to teach dance to pay bills and for my personal advancement."
She also danced in the largest and most prestigious ballroom dance competition in the world, the Blackpool Dance Festival in England. In 2005, Kazakova moved to the U.S. to dance, teach and coach. Two of her good friends, Maxim Chmerkovskiy and Anna Trebunskaya, who appear on "Dancing With the Stars," encouraged her move.
Kazakova worked in New York, coaching one of her students to win the World Pro-Am Junior Championships in 2006. An opportunity to teach opened up in Charlotte, and she took it.
"I thought the city was beautiful, with nice people and lovely weather," Kazakova said.
While working here, she met and married Clement Joly from Montreal also a professional dancer and teacher. Together they opened Metropolitan Ballroom on Providence Road. They and other professional instructors give dance lessons in a fun, social setting.
Myra Chandler, a local dance competitor, says it's a wonderful place to dance. In the fall, Kazakova will begin a children's ballroom dance class.
Kazakova and Joly live with their 3-year-old daughter, Alissa, (yes, she dances), and their puppy. A true mover and shaker, Kazakova has followed her dream of dance through many moves to new and different cities and countries.
The dance website is www.metropolitan-ballroom.com.