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Ballroom dancer Fabrizia Felella

Fabrizia Felella

Fabrizia Felella

For the last five years, Fabrizia Felella has walked past the Fred Astaire Dance Studio on Michigan Avenue each day on her way to and from work. Her curiosity piqued, she finally mustered the courage to walk through the doors, and she hasn’t looked back since. A dedicated ballroom dancer in her spare time, Fabrizia has competed on the regional and national level, bringing home a host of trophies along the way. None of this would have been possible without the world-class instruction she has received from Fred Astaire Dance Studio (www.fredastaire.com).

A relative newcomer to ballroom dancing, she has long been a fan, regularly watching “America’s Ballroom Challenge” on PBS. “I was fascinated with not only the amazing dancing but the beautiful costumes,” Fabrizia enthusiastically recalls. Ballroom dancing has become a passion as well as a pastime, and the studio has become an invigorating stepping-off point from her job as senior sales manager at the Sofitel hotel. “I have my lessons two to three times a week and I go after work each day for at least 40 minutes,” states Fabrizia.

When she first started, she bought three private lessons and a group instruction. Her instructors knew she had what it takes to compete, and motivated her to keep practicing and taking lessons. Never in her wildest dream did she think she would take ballroom dancing to the next level. “I can be a little shy and introverted at times,” she explains. “I didn’t think competing was for me!”

Before she knew it, she was taking part in the Fred Astaire Dance Studios quarterly regional competitions in Rosemont. And this past October, Fabrizia took part in the National Dance Championships in Orlando, where she was judged on both closed patterns and open routines. In the world of dance, closed patterns involve basic movements like under-arm turns and the box step. Open routines focus on choreography learned from the coaches and instructors. Fabrizia came in second in the smooth open and closed division, second in rhythm closed and third in rhythm open. “I prefer the rhythm dances, but feel that I am better in smooth,” she explains. Fabrizia continues to compete regionally to hone her skills and maintain momentum for the nationals.

Fabrizia is currently gearing up for the Cross Country Dance Championships in Las Vegas in April. This is a chance for Fred Astaire students from across the United States to test their skills. She has also participated with a large pool of incredibly experienced dancers at an independent competition in Minneapolis. These national events are usually four days long, with one day being devoted to relaxation and sightseeing.

Under the rigorous-yet-supportive tutelage of skilled Fred Astaire Dance Studio instructors like Jesse DeSoto and Andre Santore, Fabrizia has truly blossomed. After each competition, she purchases videos of her performances to watch with her instructors, and determine what ground she has gained and where she needs to improve.

Not only has Fabrizia mastered the art and technique of ballroom dancing, she has met a lot of great people along the way. It’s true, many of them are her opponents on the dance floor, but she enjoys interacting with them nonetheless. “When we are competing on the road, we are traveling as a region,” she explains. “This is my extended family!”

As Fabrizia gears up to compete, she completely transforms herself, her lean figure gracefully flowing across the dance floor in gorgeous gowns, stunning jewels, detailed hair pieces, tanned skin and perfect makeup. “I am telling a story each time I dance.” she explains. She sees each performance as an opportunity to immerse herself in a new character. (And getting all dolled up certainly boosts her confidence in her routines!)

Ballroom dancing has made a significant impact on her life. On a business trip to Los Angeles, Fabrizia visited the “Dancing with the Stars” studio, and she has worn an ensemble created by Emmy Award-winning costume designer Randall Christensen. Fabrizia is incredibly disciplined in all aspects of her life, and she has an enormous amount of fun in her new avocation. Every day, she strives to become better and better. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect, and given Fabrizia’s tireless work ethic and boundless talent, she is well on her way to perfection!

About Alanna Chiefari

Alanna Chiefari is a 2007 graduate of Saint Mary’s college-Notre Dame. She has been writing for Fra Noi since the winter of 2011 and is absolutely thrilled to feature young Italian-American adults who are off to a great start. Alanna has been working as a client associate on a wealth management team for Merrill Lynch since May of 2007. In her spare time, she loves exploring Italian culture by reading books, trying new restaurants and meeting Italian Americans who are benefiting the community. Follow her on Twitter at @LannaDionne.