Fred Astaire Dance Studio Professionals Bring Ballroom Dancing to Wheelchair Community in St. Petersburg, FL
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Fred Astaire Dance Studio Professionals Bring Ballroom Dancing to Wheelchair Community in St. Petersburg, FL

August 02, 2018 // // St. Petersburg, Florida - Fred Astaire Dance Studio owners Manny Herrera and Maria Sidnjova hold firm their belief that the timeless art of ballroom dancing should be accessible to everyone. Now with the help of World Para Dance Sport, they are living that mission in St. Petersburg, Florida. Having recently returned from America’s first introductory training course to Para Dance Sport in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Manny and Maria are excited to offer ballroom dance instruction to persons in wheelchairs at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in St. Petersburg North (11032 4th St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33716) and St. Petersburg Central (7019 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg). The goal is to spread awareness about wheelchair dancing, a sport far more popular in Europe and Asia but gaining a foothold in the United States.

More than two dozen professional ballroom dance instructors from around the country came to Bloomfield Hills to learn the basics of the sport, dancing styles, wheelchair techniques and skills and judging criteria. Mexico’s MariCarmen Legaspi served as the lead instructor of the course. Legaspi helped develop the Mexican Para Dance team, which took five medals including one gold at the 2017 World Championships. Four-time Paralympic swimming medalist Cheryl Angelelli, co-founder of the Dance Mobility Wheelchair Dancing program in Bloomfield Hills demonstrated Para Dance at the training with her dance instructor-partner Tamerlan Gadirov.

Manny, a Cuban native who developed his passion for ballroom dancing through cultural upbringings in his hometown of Havana, is excited to help World Para Dance Sport take a major step forward introducing more people with lower limb disabilities to the fun and fitness benefits of ballroom dancing.

“The mental, physical and emotional benefits that ballroom dancing has to offer are amazing. As a ballroom professional, I feel an obligation to make ballroom dancing accessible to everyone,” Herrera said. “The Para Dance training course welcomed instructors like me from around the country to learn how we can introduce wheelchair ballroom dancing to our communities.”

Maria, the 2017 Fred Astaire National Professional Smooth Champion, says the training will not only help her bring wheelchair ballroom dancing to St. Petersburg, but was inspirational as well.

“Dancers like us are passionate about what we do, so seeing that passion in the eyes of this underserved community was overwhelming,” she said. “We’re hoping to line up some local partnerships immediately to introduce the wheelchair community here to ballroom dancing.”

Fred Astaire Dance Studios of St. Pete Central and St. Pete North are currently looking for local partnerships with community organizations that serve the wheelchair community in Tampa and St. Petersburg. For more information, visit and


Matt DeMargel
Fred Astaire Dance Studio

SOURCE Fred Astaire Dance Studios



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