The Fordney Foundation is honored to interview Garry Gekhman. Garry has so many accomplishments that he achieved in the dance world, you almost need a guide to keep up with him. As you will see in this interview, he is inspiring and a fascinating individual with many talents.
Garry Gekhman is also making history with the Fordney Foundation, to help us launch our brand new Fordney Foundation store. We will be selling Garry’s wonderful children’s book that he wrote and published. A portion of the proceeds will go to charities.
Freddie Brock: Garry, where are you originally from? How old were you when you first started to dance?
Gary Gekhman: I was born and raised in the former USSR in the territory of the Russian Federation. I started ballroom dancing at age 8 years old. At the age of 19, I immigrated to Israel where I continued to study the art of competitive ballroom dance and at the age of 27, I came to the USA in 1999.
FB: Give us a little background on how your career started? Also, tell our readers
how many different hats you wear in our ballroom dance world? In other words, all the things you currently do? Don’t be shy here; we know you represent ballroom dance well!
GG: When I was in second grade, my friend Andrey invited me to join him to go to a ballroom dance class he had just signed up for at the local Palace of Culture. I went with him. That’s how my journey began!
Fast forward to the present day-I run dance events, a dance studio, and published my children's book. So, I’m a dancer, performer, manager, organizer, a creative force, thinker (I’d like to think an innovator), and always a student, continuing to learn new things.
FB: You have many personal achievements and awards you received throughout your life, please share with our readers some highlights and unforgettable moments from your dance journey.
GG: I think the two strongest highlights in my dance career were winning the U.S. Rising Star Open to the World, making the final. That was a major breakthrough, and winning that event was AMAZING! A second great achievement was making fourth position in the final at the Blackpool Rising Star Dance Festival. The elated feelings of seeing the whole audience, welcoming finalists to the floor mixed with physical tiredness was even more amazing! Thirdly, the standing ovation we got at Ohio Star Ball after performing our winning entry to the World Championship was pretty spectacular too. There are a few other highlights that were exceptional, but these three are most memorable.
FB: One memorable moment for sure would be when you met your longtime dance partner, Rita Gekhman Algarra. Tell our readers how you met Rita and how long you’ve been dancing together?
GG: I met Rita in Israel 13 days after my arrival, as a new immigrant to that country in 1992. But our journey together did not start until 1995. Since 1995, we’ve danced together for 14 great years until we retired as competitors in 2008.
FB: We know you own a dance studio. You teach adults as well as children. What led you and Rita to become dance instructors and studio owners? And what do you want our readers to know about why they should be involved with your dance studio? Start by telling us the name of your studio and where it is located?
GG: We’ve always wanted to share our passion of dance with those who are interested in learning to dance. And now, more than ever, is the right time and opportunity to give back.
Rita is teaching her students at Paragon Ballroom in New Jersey. She is a popular coach and judge. I own a dance studio in Northern Virginia in Tyson’s corner named Tyson’s Ballroom and Dancesport Center. We offer a wide range of dance activities. Besides high-level competitive and social ballroom and Latin dance instruction, we offer dance fitness classes. Before the pandemic we had ballet and hip hop and a few other styles. We always try to offer our students the best of the wonderful dance world!
FB: The Cherry Blossom Dance Festival is right around the corner. You are the organizer of this event to take place April 17 – 18, 2021. Can you explain to our readers what you mean by “Crossing Borders to Reunite our Dance World as One?”
GG: The pandemic pushed us (the whole world) into survival mode. Online classes and events started to take place more and more, offering a unique way to learn the art of dance. Because it became the only way that students and dance teachers could get in touch with each other, other opportunities were born out of necessity. One of them was the creation of truly international events without needing a visa to enter the country. At this time, we have Italian, Chinese, Russian, Israeli, and Spanish dancers joining without leaving their local dance studios. They get to display their craft in front of American and international audiences. It’s a unique experience for many, some of which never would be able to dance on actual American soil because of visa, money, or other issues. They are now able to be judged by the best judges in the world ( we have an international panel of adjudicators). On top of that, dancers are also being offered the opportunity to be able to learn the art of dance from amazing international stars, a day after the competition. This literally is “washing off the borders!"
FB: Since this event is both pre-recorded and live ( both online), please tell us why our dancers should be excited to be part of this event?
GG: Dance enthusiasts are always excited to dance and show their craft to the audience. It’s true, the ambiance is different in face to face events but when not many countries are open for travel than online competition gives a great option to feel “ normal.” And I love this option a lot.
FB: The other aspect of your career is that you are an author. Congratulations on transitioning your talents from one media to another! What made you want to write a book for children? Will there be more books coming?
GG: The idea of the book came to me suddenly. The book is actually my biography and I would tell this short story a lot of times, when people were asking me a question: How did you start your dance journey?
When I came up with the idea to write the story and share it with the world, I thought it would be met with good response because there is a lesson in it: focus, passion, hard work and perseverance will shape you to become who you want to be and where you want to be in life in spite of bullies, difficulties, and obstacles of different sorts.
As for writing more books, yes, I've thought about that. I always say that “EVERYTHING STARTS WITH THE THOUGHT.” I’m planning to continue to write children's books with good lessons in them and eventually come up with a screenplay.
FB: Wow Garry, that is fantastic. We'll be looking forward to what comes next! When you start writing screenplays, well there you go again, adding more hats to your already artistic career!
FB: The Fordney Foundation is very excited to have your book be the first publication represented in our new Store. The name of this book is Little Yura Loves to Dance.
To purchase Garry’s book, you can go to the Fordney Foundation home page, scroll down until you see, Little Yura Loves To Dance, click on Buy Now tab and it will take you to this link: https://www.dealzvault.com/products/little-yura-loves-to-dance-book-for-children-and-adults.
Thank you Garry for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak to us. It is very rare that we get to interview people like you, who have an award winning dance background, as well as finding time to become a dance instructor, coach, adjudicator and an organizer of a competition, as well as becoming an author and so much more.
We feel that our readers and future dancers of the world can only benefit from people like you and Rita. The Fordney Foundation appreciates how you “pay it forward” and wish you continued success in all aspects of what you do for dance, now and in the future!
Here is contact information for people who would like to get in touch with Garry Gekhman and/or the Cherry Blossom Dance Festival: www.cherryblossomdancefestival.com.
Founder & CEO
Lead dance instructor
Tysons Ballroom & Dancesport Center
+1 732-309-6352 Mobile
+1 877-393-2623 Office
+1 703- 957-2911 Fax
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Cherry Blossom Dance Festival:
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Organized By Garry Gekhman
***We have received contributions from individuals who would like to have a dear relative or friend who passed on remembered that loved to dance or was a dance aficionado. We call these memorial contributions. Perhaps you would like to have someone memorialized in this manner. Make a donation and give us their name. We have on our website a yellow brick road to engrave their name to a brick as a memorial to that person. This contribution will assist future generations of dancers and help keep young people more positive and healthy.
Thought of the Week:
"Dance is the hidden language of our soul" - Martha Graham