Ohio Star Ball 40th Anniversary Celebration

Alex Havasi, Marilyn Fordnej, Sam Sodano, Ohio Star Ball

On November 16-20, 2017, Alex Havasi and Marilyn Fordney attended the 40th Anniversary of the Ohio Star Ball in Columbus, Ohio.

It is such a huge competition that it is held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel’s Regency Ballroom and Battelle Hall and in the convention center. This competition was the annual conclusion for the Fordney Foundation Junior and Youth Dance Series. On Friday and Saturday night, special entertainment was given after the 2-1/2 hours of professional dance competitions. The executive producers were Michael Chapman and Pamela Bolling.

The show began with aerialists and costumed stilt walkers that gave it a Cirque du Soleil flavor. Music was blasting. The first couple was Ben Ermis and Shalene Archer and who could forget their wonderful style. Next was Slavek Sochacki and Marzena Stachura. Then the well-known popular Broadway singer and actress, Linda Eder sang several ballads. Throughout the evening, were interspersed, titled, professional, ballroom dancers from long ago that many of the audience had not seen for years dancing as Linda sang, namely Andrea & Iveta Faraci, Artem Plakhotnyi and Inna Berlizyeva, and Pierre Allaire and Mirelle Veilleux. Then the wonderful dancing of Alain Doucet and Anik Jolicoceur.

What a treat it was to see these individuals dance in person. The 7th dance couple was Darius and Jolanta Mosteika. Next came Mikhail Vlasov and Quin Bommelje. The 9th couple that danced was Igor and Polina Pilipenchuk. Then Linda sang “Never Gonna Dance” as Delyan Terzlev and Boriana Deltcheva danced. We also got to see the following:

Cristiano Callegari and Mary Coombs

Andrea and Iveta Farci

Hya and Amanda Reyzin

Evgeny Dyachenko and Inna Ivanenko

Aida Moreno, Sam Sodano, Photo by Alex Havasi

As a special treat, Diana and Gary McDonald danced as a couple and then Gary did his famous Michael Jackson routine that brought the house down with loud applause and a standing ovation.  And to conclude we got to see the unforgettable dancing of the famous couple Edward Simon and Michelle Officer.

Next we saw two couples dance to Linda’s singing–Nazar Norov and Irina Kudryashova along with Dan Rutherford and Nicole Carroll Rutherford. To end the dance program was the well-known couple Eugene Katsevman and Maria Manusova dancing a Latin number. Wow what a night of dancing!

Award winning executive producer, Aida Moreno gave an informative historical speech about how she began with WGBH, created the Antiques Roadshow, and then produced Championship Ballroom Dancing renamed to America’s Ballroom Challenge for many seasons for Public Broadcasting System. She told about how the ballroom dance sport has grown in participants and high level of dancing.

John De Palma, Aida Moreno, Photo by Alex Havasi

Master of Ceremony, John DePalma began to read a letter written by the organizer, Sam Sodano. This occurred shortly after his wife, Marianne Nicole danced with Rufus Dustin. While reading the thank you letter, his voice began to break. The emotion was like electricity that filled the room and a good number of people were tearing up. It was a moment to be remembered forever.

Marianne Nicole, Rufus Dustin, Photo by Alex Havasi

Champions Give Back

On Sunday morning in the Practice Room, eight professional dancers offered an open forum of free lectures. They wished to share ideas and experiences to give back to the industry. Eugene Katsevman and Jonathan Roberts introduced the program. The forum included such professionals as:

Tony Meredith

Charlotte Jorgensen

Colin Philip James

Elena Kryuchkova

Giampierro Giannico

Gary McDonald

The event was well attended and everyone learned some handy hints to become better dancers for future competitions. The attendance at this program met with such success that it will be offered at next year’s Ohio Star Ball.  The pictures were taken by our co-founder, Alex Havasi.  In conclusion, this T-shirt message says it all:

Photo by Alex Havasi, Ohio Star Ball

Thought Of The Week:

Watch carefully, the magic that occurs when you give a person just enough comfort to be themselves –  Atticus



Shane Meuwissen is the Media Specialist for Fordney Foundation.  He is a former dance instructor who know works with his company Slow Motion Dance Videos capture the beauty of dancing. If you would like to learn more about Shane and his video work, visit his website https://slowmotiondancevideos.com/