Turning the beat around

Aaron Santos Ordaz of Elegance in Dance (left) and Dance partner Maha Kashani of Cincinnati Bell during a rehearsal for Aaron Santos Ordaz of Elegance in Dance (left) and Dance partner Maha Kashani of Cincinnati Bell during a rehearsal for "Dancing with the Dayton Stars."

Miss Maha does the Tango …

By Maha Kashani


Aaron Santos Ordaz of Elegance in Dance (left) and DaAaron Santos Ordaz and Miss Maha practicing the Tango. Photo courtesy of Peter Wine with Media Moment.

When Stephanie Ricker from A Special Wish Foundation approached me at a Generation Dayton event and asked, “Hey Maha, can you dance?” I laughed and responded, “Give me a couple cocktails with some good music and sure I can dance!”
I did NOT expect to hear what she said next, “Would you consider participating in the Dancing with Dayton’s Stars competition?”
I replied “Of course, but I’m not a star …”
Turns out that writing for the Dayton City Paper DOES have its perks.
The Three Hearts, Sue Miller, Dona Niswonger and Cyndi Scarpelli, will host their 6th annual Valentine’s Dance and Original Dancing with Dayton’s Stars competition on Friday, Feb. 18 at the Schuster Center to benefit A Special Wish Foundation.
Being asked to dance alongside Pam Morris, president and CEO of CareSource; Rita Beck, an area realtor and fundraiser for TWIGS; Bryan Bucklew, president and CEO of Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association; Phil Parker, president and CEO of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce; and Dr. David Roer, vice president of Pediatric Associates of Dayton to help raise money for A Special Wish Foundation was an honor.
My good friend Katt Saliba is a professional ballroom dancer and is a previous Dancing with Dayton’s Stars champion. It was comforting to know she would be able to provide me help and guidance along the way.
The next step was getting my partner. That’s when Aaron Santos Ordaz entered the picture. After meeting for the first time at Sidebar to enjoy a Two-Step, we hit it off instantly. Aaron is a very positive, high-energy and competitive person, so within moments, I knew he was the perfect instructor and we had this competition in the bag.
Fast-forward to January and it was finally time for my first lesson at the Elegance in Dance studio in Centerville. I was anxious and arrived early, which, if you know me, then you know that says a lot. We quickly decided that dancing the Tango would be a great fit. Not only did we look the part (us both having dark skin and hair), but this flirty and sensuous “cat and mouse” dance was a great fit with our personalities. The first lesson was pretty easy; I’d even venture to call it a breeze. I went home that night feeling very confident about conquering the Tango. Or so I thought…
We soon realized that although I am Middle Eastern and could shake my hips, I had zero flexibility and balance, which, in dancing, is kind of a huge problem. It took a lot of stretching, an investment into a Power Balance band and a few lessons where I left thinking, “Does Aaron really think I can become an acrobat contortionist overnight?”
But after several practices, long nights and throbbing feet, I was finally able to shift, swing, stretch, pivot and balance while keeping my arms up, elbows out, shoulders down, hips forward, neck straight, knees bent and NOT looking at my partner. I mean, I’m the queen of multi-tasking, but doing all these things while dancing a choreographed routine? These dancers are amazing. Besides the fact that my whole body has been sore for the last month, I’m almost there.
Sure, I watched “Dancing with the Stars.” My favorite contestant was the incredibly talented and drop-dead gorgeous Nicole Scherzinger. Not only did she bring the heat and take home the Season 10 trophy, but Nicole also has connections back to the Gem City. She studied theatre arts at Wright State University. Ultimately, her flawless week nine Argentine Tango was the inspiration and foundation for my routine. Nicole made it look easy … a false impression.
Once we landed on “Bust Your Windows” by Jazmine Sullivan (the “Glee” version), everything started to fall into place. I know I drove Aaron crazy because I had my laptop or Blackberry at every lesson playing Nicole’s Tango video over and over saying, “Can we try this?” “How about that?” “Wow, that looks cool!” I was never taking into consideration the fact that Nicole is a professional dancer and I sell Blackberrys for a living. Ultimately, we were able to incorporate some of her dance moves into our routine and I’m thrilled with our end product. Now, let’s just pray that I don’t trip and face plant during my performance!

The 6th Annual Valentine’s Dance and Original Dancing with Dayton’s Stars competition is Friday, Feb. 18 at the Schuster Center to benefit A Special Wish Foundation. Please consider supporting A Special Wish Foundation by purchasing raffle tickets (one for $5 or five for $20) for a 7-day Caribbean cruise. Visit www.aspecialwish.org or call (937) 641-4263 for more details.

Miss Maha Special Offer:
I’ve had such a great time training at the Elegance in Dance studio with Aaron Santos Ordaz and Sara Andrews from The Dayton Dance Centre that I wanted to present everyone with a special opportunity to “Jump into Ballroom.” Check out www.Facebook.com/TheDaytonDanceCentre and take advantage of this beginner’s package offering two 30-minute lessons from my instructors for only $10.

Reach DCP freelance writer Maha Kashani at MissMaha@daytoncitypaper.com.

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