If you were lucky enough to attend the Emerald Ball held at the Los Angeles Airport Hilton Hotel in early May, you would have seen this beautiful, elegant lady, one of the judges, on the fringes of the dance floor. That stunning lady turned out to be Karina Smirnoff and Fordney Foundation was very fortunate to have a chance to catch up with the world renowned beauty and talented professional ballroom dancer, in between her judging schedule.
Freddie Brock: Thank you Karina for sharing some of your time with us. I must say, I always thought you were so pretty, but seeing you in person, I think you are much prettier in person than on television!
Karina Smirnoff: Thank you.
FB: Karina please tell our readers where you are originally from?
KS: I was born in the Ukraine. I am half Russian and half Greek and the only child in my family.
FB: How did you become interested in dance?
KS: I started figure skating at 2 years old. I also started taking gymnastics, ballet, piano lessons and at the age of 10, I stated taking ballroom dance lessons.
FB: Give us a little background on how your career started?
KS: I started competing in ballroom dance in Russia at the age of 9 or 10 years old. But I had to give up my competing at the age of 14, as my mother and father moved to the United States, where we settled in the Bronx in New York. There was a small dance studio in Brooklyn where other immigrants studied dance and little by little I began to become skilled in ballroom dance with the lessons I was taking. After competing in a few amateur competitions in the USA, at the age of 19, I went to England and starting dancing professionally. In 1999, I started dancing professionally with Louis Van Amstel. I entered a professional dance partnership with both Louis Van Amstel and Slavik Kryklyvyy at different times in England, representing the USA and ended up winning the U.S.National Champion of Professional Latin American Dance 5 times. I have also won second in the world in this division.
FB: Wow, that is awesome, is all I can say!
FB: Since you are associated with ‘Dancing With The Stars,’ I’m sure our readers would like to know how you came to be on the show?
KS: While I was dancing in England, ‘DWTS’ reached out to me. ‘DWTS’ is based on the format of the British TV series ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ distributed by BBC Worldwide and was sold to America.
FB: As a note, Louis Van Amstel was also on ‘DWTS.’
FB: Do you have a favorite dance you love to perform, judge, etc.?
KS: It’s not so much the dance but the emotional feeling I attach to it. I can be affected by the dress, the mood I’m in and even the music. It’s all very emotional to me.
FB: Are there any dance organizations you work with?
KS: Yes, I work with low income schools in Las Vegas, Nevada. I bring dance awareness into their world.
FB: Speaking of children and young dancers, do you have any words of advice for our up and coming dancers who wish to compete successfully.
KS: Find a dance style or music you love. To get started, find a YMCA in your area or a dance studio. You have to start somewhere. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you can’t get it at first. Do what you love; you will find if you love it, it aligns with the rest of you. If you are passionate about your dancing, the rest will come. Dancing is a happy activity. We dance at weddings, ceremonies and celebrations. It is something we can all share at the end of the day.
We thank Karina Smirnoff very much for her time and for sharing some of the interesting details of her life and career with us. This was only a small part of her ongoing success story and I am sure wherever professional ballroom dance exists, we will be seeing a lot more of this stunning, professional ballroom dancer and star!
Thought Of The Week:
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” – Carl Jung