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Greenwich Dancer Cha-Chas His Way to the Top

GREENWICH, Conn. – Bob Blank is now an experienced dance instructor in Greenwich. But when he and his partner first hit the dance floor 13 years ago, “just the idea that we would someday be competing at national and international competitions would have been laughable," he said.

But that is just what they will be doing. The pair is rehearsing for a competition in Spain after recently placing second in Latin Dance in the Senior 2 category at the USA Dance Nationals in Baltimore.

“When we started dancing, it was all I could do not to step on her toes,” said Blank, 60, of his partner Martha Estevez, 55, who lives in New Jersey.

“The national competition was thrilling. We danced in front of a capacity crowd in the ballroom, and hearing them shout out our names was wonderful,” said Blank.

He and Estevez will be among three dance couples representing the United States from April 27 to 30 at the World’s Open Latin Dance event in Mallorca, Spain. They will compete against more than 70 couples, dancing the rumba, cha-cha, samba, Paso doble and the jive.

“Unlike 'Dancing With The Stars,' we’re amateurs and similar to the Olympics. Instead of just doing a routine, we have to be able to adapt along the way,” he said. “It’s a lot different than reality television where someone dances with a pro and everything is completely choreographed. We never know what’s going to happen.”

Blank says he and his partner have never been romantically involved, even after winning the national Latin Dance Championship for the Senior 2 age group in 2006 and 2007, as well as the 10-Dance Competition in 2007.

“People have a hard time believing that. But if we ever did date, I don’t think we could have lasted as dance partners this long,” said Blank.

His friends call him an inspiration to his students and other dancers.

“Bob is a great motivator and he makes dancing so much fun,” said Claudia DeVita, owner and director of Allegra Dance Studio in Greenwich. “He has a great passion for dance, and the dance community here is overjoyed Bob and his partner are competing at the World Competition. They really deserve it.”

Renata Shvarts, a dance coach, former dancer, judge and owner of Ballroom Dance Studios in Manhattan where the couple trains, said Blank’s success is “truly amazing."

“Bob started at an age when most competitive dancers have long hung up their dance shoes,” she said. “It’s very tough to compete once you pass 30 because it takes so much practice and discipline.

“Bob and his partner are one of only about 20 couples in the country that can dance at a very high level in their age group,” Shvarts said. “In Spain they will be competing against the top dance couples in the world in their category, and we’ll be rooting for them all the way.”

For further information, contact Blank at Bailamosdance.com or 203-667-0137.

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