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Popularity of TV dance shows inspires new interest in ballroom, salsa

Popularity of TV dance shows inspires new interest in ballroom, salsa
John Heller/Post-Gazette

Monday, November 23, 2009
By Sara Bauknecht, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09327/1015578-51.stm#ixzz0YTNTQHXg

Ballroom and Latin dance have sashayed their way into living rooms across America with shows like ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" inspiring many to put down the remote control and put on their dancing shoes.

"I started watching 'Dancing with the Stars' when I was a [college] sophomore," said Chaya Hiruncharoenvate. "I watched the season with [Spice Girl] Mel B ... I saw her Viennese waltz and it looked fabulous and I got the inspiration, 'Wow, I want to do that someday.' "

Hiruncharoenvate, 22, of Bangkok, Thailand, joined Carnegie Mellon University's ballroom dance club his junior year at CMU. He has studied ballroom and Latin dance ever since and has participated in competitions in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

"I think 'Dancing with the Stars' has given more awareness of ballroom and Latin dancing to regular people," he said. The ABC show ends its ninth season tomorrow night.

The popularity of ballroom and Latin dance has been growing since about 2000, and television dance shows have boosted -- not created -- this popularity, said Angela Prince, director of public relations for USA Dance. The Florida-based organization is the nation's governing body for Dance-Sport, or competitive ballroom and Latin dance.

Television networks would not have taken a gamble on producing a reality show about ballroom dancing if it wasn't already growing in popularity, Prince said. "Dancing with the Stars" is based on the successful BBC series "Strictly Come Dancing."

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