Times Union Newspaper Article

Internationally Renowned Dancers Call Jacksonville Beach Their Home

School of ballroom dance

Internationally Renowned Dancers Call Jacksonville Beach Their Home
Pavel Cherdantsau and his wife, Svetlana Rudkovskaya, compete in ballroom dance competitions around the United States. They’re among the top professional ballroom dance couples in the country and with their dance teaching skills, they could live and work in many large cities, including New York City.
Instead, since 2003, they’ve lived in Jacksonville Beach and teach at Dance Alday Studio near their home.
They teach all week then fly to different cities every weekend to participate in competitions or take lessons from former national and international champions.
With an international airport 30 minutes away, it’s the best of both worlds, Cherdantsau said. “We travel a lot, and we get to live in a warm climate.”
It’s nice living two blocks from the beach, he said. But in the past year they’ve made it there only once because they spend so much time dancing and teaching dances such as samba, cha cha, rumba, waltz, tango and foxtrot.
“Because of them, we’re known to have a high quality of teaching in Jacksonville,” said Dance Alday owner Allan Alday.
“They are one of the hardest-working professional couples in Jacksonville,” said Ralph Ramirez, owner of Boleros, a cultural arts center in the Regency area. “You can see their passion.”
Saturday, April 17, the couple will display their passion during a live dance and video show at Boleros to celebrate the center’s 10th anniversary. The hour-long multimedia presentation will feature the dances for which they’ve won awards.
Interest in ballroom dancing style competitions has grown in the past several years, thanks to the popularity of television shows such “Dancing With the Stars,” Alday said.
“This is going to be a great show that Jacksonville has not seen,” he said.
Cherdantsau, 33, and Rudkovskaya, 34, grew up in Minsk, Belarus, where ballroom dancing has long been popular and where parents sign their children up for lessons at very young ages.
When they were children, Belarus, between Poland and Russia, was part of the Soviet Union. It became an independent country in 1991.
Cherdantsau began taking ballroom-style lessons at age 6, and began competing at 10.
He soon started winning, and from age 14 to 18 he was the country’s champion in his age group.
Rudkovskaya didn’t start taking lessons until age 13, but soon began competing as part of a formation team that danced choreographed routines.
By that time, Cherdantsau “was already a star,” she said.
“I was coming up, and we were competing against each other with different partners.”
About that time, their country split from the disintegrating Soviet Union, which threw the financial system into chaos. Parents could suddenly no longer afford the luxury of paying for dance lessons because $100 in the old currency was suddenly worth about a penny in the new, Cherdantsau said. …