My name is Elka Hristova. I am the co-founder of DanceSport Education, an Arizona non-profit organization that brings the benefits of ballroom dance directly to the students, at their schools, in their classrooms. Ask me anything!

Elka Hristova
Jul 16, 2018

I am a management consultant by trade, specializing in small business start-ups, growth, strategic planning and financial recovery, with the biggest account - charter schools. My company is responsible for the creation, growth and strategic expansion of some of the best charter schools in Arizona, some of them topping the national charts.

But my passion, ballroom dance brought me to DanceSport Education. Coming from Europe (Bulgaria), I never thought that as an adult, I would be able to achieve one of my dreams - competitive ballroom dancing/dancesport. In Europe, if you have not started young in that direction, there are no opportunities in this sports afterwards. In the US, it is just the opposite - there are plenty of opportunities for adults in ballroom dance, and almost non-existent opportunities for kids. A major reason for that is the knowledge for dancesport, its availability, accessibility and huge financial barriers.

In 2016 we established DanceSport Education. Two powerful businesses - One in DanceSport - Imperial Ballroom, and one in Education -Education Team Partners (my company) joined forces and brought top-level management, organizational and ballroom dance expertise together. We work with a distinguished Advisory Board to guide us in our mission! 

DanceSport Education is an Arizona not for profit 501 (c) (3) organization. Our mission is to positively impact the lives of children and youth through ballroom dance.

WHAT WE DO

  • We bring ballroom dance with its many benefits to children ages 4 through 18 directly to their schools, in their classrooms. Our YouTube Channel
  • We engage long-term with the schools and their students. Our Twitter
  • We outreach to ALL students, including at-risk, low-income and students with special needs. Our Facebook
  • We offer complete DanceSport curriculum with a proven instructional methodology and top-rated, world-class professionals as our instructors. Our Instagram

OUR PROGRAM - #NotJustDance

DanceSport Education™ offers a complete DanceSport program for children and youth ages 4-18 with a systematic, specific, and sequenced curriculum. It is delivered with a proven instructional methodology by world-class DanceSport professionals, affiliated with and certified by Imperial DanceSport Instruction. The program is tailored to allow students to grow, learn, enrich and achieve as they participate.

However, this can be achieved with substantial philanthropic effort in two major areas: (1) increase outreach and (2) alleviate barriers to access.

With the current trends of diminishing public funding for sports and arts programs, and the inability of many parents to privately afford those, especially in low-income, at risk school communities, children and youth remain negatively impacted and are deprived of participating and experiencing the benefits of those opportunities. This also includes the students, who are homeschooled or study in distance learning programs, as well as those with special needs, for whom we will provide a venue so that they have access and opportunity to participate in those activities. 

We currently have 3 schools, that we are involved long-term. Two of them are located in the poorest areas of Phoenix. We are in our second year of program operation. It is a challenge, but at the same time, our satisfaction of working with the students is tremendous! They love the program and look forward to each and every one of their ballroom classes. The teachers and the school leadership recognize and witness firsthand the benefits of the DanceSport Education, as the students experience them! We get big support from the parents as well!

Ask me about my ideas, plans, the non-profit organization, ballroom dance, the schools, the students, our instructors, our supporters, our black-tie fundraising event, how you can get involved, ask me anything!

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"It is the little conversations that build the relationships and make an impact on each student!" Robert John Meeham

Oct 3, 5:51PM EDT0

Why are art classes like dance so important for children in their younger years? 

Dance and especially ballroom dance come with many benefits, which are so important for children in their younger years.

The research: Early childhood matters! Children are born learning. And what they learn in their younger years can change the course of their lives. Research is definitive that the behaviors set in childhood are a crucial component of a child’s healthy development and they get carried through adulthood. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that children are set on a healthy lifestyle path.

Additionally, high quality early learning is critical to ensuring that children are receiving developmentally appropriate care in a supportive environment. These relationships can provide lasting benefits to children, especially those, who are facing adverse experiences in other aspects of their lives.

Sources:

https://www.firstthingsfirst.org/early-childhood-matters/brain-development/

www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201506/physically-active-children-grow-be-healthier-adults

Our DanceSport Education program. We are completely aware of the benefits to set children on a healthy lifestyle path that they will carry thriugh adulhood. That is why, at DanceSport Education, we start working with children as young as 4 years of age. 

Quality Counts! At DanceSport Education we firmly believe in the paramount importance of high quality learning in a supportive environment. We also believe that quality instruction comes from quality teachers. That is a major reason for us to choose to deliver our curriculum with the highest quality of instruction by world-class, top-rated professionals, who have proven themselves as competitors and as instructors and coaches of numerous others – from kids to adults, to amateur and professional couples. If you take a closer look at their careers, they have been exposed to the highest quality world-class instruction. 

We firmly believe that children should start their dance and ballroom dance journey with this kind of quality expertise and care! Quality instruction and high levels of expectations are key for student success – in education, in dance and in life!

Last edited @ Sep 22, 11:05PM EDT.
Sep 22, 6:40PM EDT0

Little Conversations

Sep 22, 2:32AM EDT0

FROM THE BALLROOM TO THE CLASSROOM: QUALITY COUNTS

Quality instruction comes from quality teachers! A good ballroom dance teacher must be a very good dancer and competitor as well! 

"A great dance teacher is the product of their great dance teachers.  I have experienced watching great dancers who have no capacity/language for teaching. I believe if you grew up learning from great educators, you will have all the tools and talent to be successful. " 

Scott Black, Arizona Dance Coalition

Our DanceSport Education instructors have been recipients of the highest quality ballroom instruction, which resulted in their proven success as professional ballroom dance competitors – they possess top US and world ranking. I firmly believe that children should start their dance and ballroom dance journey with this kind of quality expertise and care! High quality instruction and high levels of expectations are key for student success – in education and in dance! 

Last edited @ Sep 21, 10:04PM EDT.
Sep 21, 10:02PM EDT0

FROM THE BALLROOM TO THE CLASSROOM: QUALITY COUNTS

Quality instruction comes from quality teachers! A good ballroom dance teacher must be a very good dancer and competitor as well! 

“.... The stature and professionalism and elegance of your teachers are beyond my wildest imagination. And the most amazing thing is their kindness and patience with the students. Their enthusiasm is infectious. They are so much fun to watch in action! Thank you for bringing this opportunity to our school!”, Deborah Summers, Superintendent of Mission Montessori Schools

Our DanceSport Education instructors have been recipients of the highest quality ballroom instruction, which resulted in their proven success as professional ballroom dance competitors – they possess top US and world ranking. I firmly believe that children should start their dance and ballroom dance journey with this kind of quality expertise and care! High quality instruction and high levels of expectations are key for student success – in education and in dance!

Last edited @ Sep 21, 11:12PM EDT.
Sep 19, 7:35PM EDT0

Artem Plakhotnyi is the co-founder of DanceSport Education. Today is his birthday! Wish him HAPPY BIRTHDAY and support his fundraiser!

Artem is a world-class ballroom dance professional at Imperial Ballroom Dance Company and an incredible person, teacher and coach! He has dedicated the celebration of his birthday to the organization! He is raising $5,000, which will bring the benefits of #ballroomdance to ALL #students at their #school, in their #classrooms! How exciting this is! Artem's Birthday fundraiser 

We started this program in 2016 and currently the students of 3 schools in Metro Phoenix. We work with ALL students at the school - regular and special education, English language learners. The majority of our students are disadvantaged - low income, come from one-parent, or no parent households, are in foster care... Our program serves as the Character Education, Anti-bullying and Physical Education for the students at the schools! With your support, we will be able to increase the number of students, make the program school-wide and offer it to many other students! 

Sep 18, 6:29PM EDT0

Grit

Last edited @ Sep 12, 8:35PM EDT.
Sep 12, 5:21PM EDT0
In terms of creating both triggers and pressures, what do you think your NGOs are good at, and what should they be considered to enable both?
Sep 6, 1:56PM EDT1
What is the most soul-satisfying thing you have ever done in your life that left you with a sense of contentment and peace within yourself?
Sep 6, 11:55AM EDT1

Holding Hands: Trust and Respect

Last edited @ Sep 5, 6:48PM EDT.
Sep 5, 6:20PM EDT1
In “DanceSport Education” do you encourage trial, error and riskier programming to see what works?
Sep 5, 4:39PM EDT0
How many DanceSport Education schools do you plan to set in the future?
Sep 5, 10:11AM EDT0
What are the major challenges of running an NGO?
Sep 5, 2:44AM EDT0
How did you promote DanceSport Education in 2018 and what marketing strategy do you use today?
Sep 4, 9:57PM EDT1
Do you also think that a dance teacher has to be a very good dancer as well? Do you have great dance teachers at Dance Sports Education?
Sep 4, 12:58PM EDT1

Should a dance teacher be a very good dancer as well? 

Quality breeds quality! I firmly believe that quality instruction comes from quality teachers. Also, in the case of ballroom dance and its competitive sports form, dancesport, I believe that the good ballroom dance teacher must be a very good dancer and competitor as well.  

"A great dance teacher is the product of their great dance teachers.  I have experienced watching great dancers who have no capacity/language for teaching. I believe if you grew up learning from great educators, you will have all the tools and talent to be successful. "  Scott Black, Arizona Dance Coalition

Our instructors have been recipients of the highest quality ballroom instruction, which resulted in their proven success as professional ballroom dance competitors – they possess top US and world ranking. I firmly believe that children should start their dance and ballroom dance journey with this kind of quality expertise and care! High quality instruction and high levels of expectations are key for student success – in education and in dance!

I have experienced that myself in ballroom and in ballet! Learning from those who have high achievements and have experienced success is a blessing! It makes a huge difference.

Our instructors at DanceSport Education have proven themselves on the competition floor and off- when instructing others.

At DanceSport Education, we deliver our curriculum with the highest quality of instruction by world-class, top-rated professionals, who have proven themselves as competitors and as instructors and coaches of numerous others – from kids to adults, to amateur and professional couples. If you take a closer look at their careers, they have been exposed to the highest quality world-class instruction.

We are so excited and proud to have this incredible talent dedicate part of their time to share their love and top-level expertise with the children and youth at the schools! Below is a comment from Deborah Summers, Superintendent of Mission Montessori Schools, one of our schools, which has embraced the DanceSport Education program:

“.... The stature and professionalism and elegance of your teachers are beyond my wildest imagination. And the most amazing thing is their kindness and patience with the students. Their enthusiasm is infectious. They are so much fun to watch in action! Thank you for bringing this opportunity to our school!”

Meet our instructors. Their short bios are a true testimony of my belief that quality instruction comes from quality teachers and dancers. Enjoy watching their professional performance videos and their work with the students at the schools that I have included in this answer.

Artem Plakhotnyi: A world class, top-rated DanceSport professional, Artem was born in Ukraine and began dancing at the age of 6. He comes to the U.S. as an accomplished DanceSport athlete at the top of his field: 3-times Ukrainian National Champion and gold medalist at the Under 21 World Championship.

Inna Berlizyeva: A world class, top-rated DanceSport professional, Inna was born in Ukraine and started her dancing career at the age of 9. She comes to the U.S. as an accomplished DanceSport athlete at the top of her field: 3-times Ukrainian National Champion, and 3-times Slovenian National Champion.

Inna and Artem moved to the United States in 2005, where they formed a competitive partnership and continued their career as professional DanceSport professional athletes and instructors. They proudly represent the U.S. at world and international championship and events.

To this day, they have a remarkably successful professional career – they are winners of major U.S. competitions and winners, finalists and semifinalists in the world’s most prestigious and competitive professional DanceSport events. Their talent, inspiration, and hard work brought them to the highest levels of achievement and recognition – Top 3 in the U.S. and Top 15 in the world.

Professional performance – Inna and Artem:

In the classroom: "Show Me Your Right Foot"

First Waltz 

Egor Abashkin

Egor Abashkin is a world class, top-rated DanceSport professional. Egor was born in Moldova and began dancing at the age of 7. He comes to the US as an accomplished DanceSport athlete at the top of his field – Moldovan National Champion, as well as World and European Champion with the Moldovan National DanceSport Formation Team.

Egor is a recipient of the highest sports achievement award of the Republic of Moldova – “Honorary Master of Sports”, primarily awarded to Olympic athletes only, recognizing him as a distinguished national athlete for his sports achievements and contributions to the field of DanceSport in Moldova.

In 1999 Egor moved to the United States, where he continued his professional career as a DanceSport athlete. To this day, he has had a remarkable success as an athlete – he is a two-time US vice champion and three-time US champion in Amateur Ballroom, Professional Rising Star winner in the US and England (Blackpool), and finalist in major US (Ohio Star Ball) and international DanceSport championships (UK Open).

Professional Performance:

In the Classroom: First Waltz

Rose Dimov and Donovan Dominguez

Donovan and Rose are dedicated, passionate, and hardworking dancers, who bring excitement and emotion on the competition floor. They believe that in many cases, hard work trumps talent, and this is exactly what produces success. Donovan and Rose are currently ranked in the top 12 in the U.S. and second in the nation for Arthur Murray World American Rhythm Professional Championships. They are winners of the Professional Rising Star American Rhythm at Ohio Star Ball, considered the biggest ballroom competition in the U.S. Donovan and Rose are determined to reach the top of their dancing potential. They train under the watchful eye of top U.S. and world coaches.

Professional performance:

In the classroom: Cha-Cha

Roland Kyle

Roland was born and raised in Cottonwood, Arizona. He started dancing at age 14 through a ballroom program at his high school, American Heritage Academy, a charter school in in his home town.

His DanceSport career started in 2008 as an amateur ballroom competitor, while still attending high school. Roland followed his passion for ballroom dance and his dream of becoming a professional DanecSport athlete, and in December, 2016 Roland turned professional, after a great competitive amateur career of dancing both International and American Stiles of ballroom. He is student of Artem Plakhotnyi and Inna BerlizyevaToday he competes professionally in American Smooth style with pro partner Samantha Rose Swart.

Professional:

In the classroom: First Waltz at Create Academy

Last edited @ Sep 23, 4:39PM EDT.
Sep 19, 4:08AM EDT0
Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Sep 4, 1:45AM EDT1

Thank you for your question!

I am blessed to know and work with 3 AMAZING people, with whom I co-founded DanceSport Education. They have and continue to play a mjor role in DanceSport Education - creating the organization, crafting the vision and implementing its mission. We are the "movers and the shakers". It is so exciting ta have them as partners!

Artem Plakhotnyi and Inna Berlizyeva, top world-class ballroom dance competitors, instructors and entreprenuers, owners of Imperial Ballroom Dance Center, Scottsdale, Arizona, the studio with the highest quality ballroom program and instruction for children, youth and adults.

Artem Plakhotnyi is the co-founder of DanceSport Education. Today is his birthday! Wish him HAPPY BIRTHDAY and support his fundraiser!

Artem is a world-class ballroom dance professional at Imperial Ballroom Dance Company and an incredible person, teacher and coach! He has dedicated the celebration of his birthday to the organization! He is raising $5,000, which will bring the benefits of #ballroomdance to ALL #students at their #school, in their #classrooms! How exciting this is! Artem's Birthday Fundraiser 

We started this program in 2016 and currently the students of 3 schools in Metro Phoenix. We work with ALL students at the school - regular and special education, English language learners. The majority of our students are disadvantaged - low income, come from one-parent, or no parent households, are in foster care... Our program serves as the Character Education, Anti-bullying and Physical Education for the students at the schools! With your support, we will be able to increase the number of students, make the program school-wide and offer it to many other students!

Alexander, my husband and also business partner in our management consulting business is one of the driving forces behind DanceSport Education. 

#NotJustDance #BallroomdanceImpact 

#BallroomInSchools#BallroomClassrooms 

#DanceBenefits

Last edited @ Sep 18, 9:43PM EDT.
Sep 18, 6:47PM EDT0
What are the major challenges that you have faced to establish DanceSport education in schools? Has your project been rejected by any schools? What were the reasons?
Sep 2, 6:35PM EDT1
What are the most important lessons you want your students to learn from you?
Sep 2, 11:03AM EDT1

Crafting Champions: Little Conversations

Last edited @ Sep 5, 7:01PM EDT.
Sep 2, 4:39AM EDT105
Why are art classes like dance so important for children in their younger years?
Sep 2, 4:26AM EDT1

Donna, Thank you for your question! Great question! I will post several updates/parts to it. Please chack back for updates. Thank you!

Why are art classes like dance so important for children in their younger years?

Dance and especially ballroom dance come with many benefits, which are so important for children in their younger years.

The research: Early childhood matters! Children are born learning. And what they learn in their younger years can change the course of their lives. Research is definitive that the behaviors set in childhood are a crucial component of a child’s healthy development and they get carried through adulthood. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that children are set on a healthy lifestyle path.

Additionally, high quality early learning is critical to ensuring that children are receiving developmentally appropriate care in a supportive environment. These relationships can provide lasting benefits to children, especially those, who are facing adverse experiences in other aspects of their lives.

Source: https://www.firstthingsfirst.org/early-childhood-matters/brain-development/

We are completely aware of the benefits to set children on a healthy lifestyle path that they will carry thriugh adulhood. That is why, at DanceSport Education, we start working with children as young as 4 years of age. 

Quality Counts! At DanceSport Education we firmly believe in the paramount importance of high quality learning in a supportive environment. We also believe that quality instruction comes from quality teachers. That is a major reason for us to choose to deliver our curriculum with the highest quality of instruction by world-class, top-rated professionals, who have proven themselves as competitors and as instructors and coaches of numerous others – from kids to adults, to amateur and professional couples. If you take a closer look at their careers, they have been exposed to the highest quality world-class instruction. 

We firmly believe that children should start their dance and ballroom dance journey with this kind of quality expertise and care! Quality instruction and high levels of expectations are key for student success – in education and in dance!

Last edited @ Sep 22, 6:38PM EDT.
Sep 22, 3:19AM EDT0
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