Where (and How) to Go Dancing with the Stars

  @ibtimes on May 12 2009 2:48 PM

© ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Lance Bass and Kristi Yamaguchi
give T+L some tips on how to samba, waltz, tango, and more when traveling.

Planning a trip to Brazil and
want to dance the samba like a local? One famous dancer can help: “Practice
near a puddle,” says Lance Bass. “Step up and over it before going down into
the knee on the other side.” Of course, he should know—Bass displayed his dance
moves not just with iconic boy band ‘N Sync, but also during an appearance on
Dancing with the Stars.

 With seven seasons under its
belt and a regular viewership that sometimes tops 20 million, Dancing with the
Stars—whose the finale airs on May 19—has clearly hit on a passion point. But
what about when it’s your turn on the dance floor? Now that everyone’s a
critic, cutting the rug while you’re traveling can seem, well, a little more
daunting than it did in the pre-DWTS days. The new level of scrutiny might even
prompt a few of us to take dance lessons.

 So we’ve rounded up hot spots
to perfect the world’s most iconic dances and found some DWTS stars to offer
insider tips on bringing these steps to life. If you’re looking to rumba in
Miami, for example, you’ll want to check out the old-school Cuban big band at
the Ritz-Carlton in Key Biscayne and heed Jane Seymour’s advice: “Imagine you
have ‘snake hips,’” she says.

 Learning to dance on location
is exactly what Wall Street analyst Anita Saha (who’s also a fan of DWTS) did,
with a nine-day tango tour in Buenos Aires.

 “What I admire most about
Dancing with the Stars,” Saha says, “is its message that total
novices—celebrities or not—can hold their own given the right instruction,
time, and dedication.” So she booked her trip (which combined formal
instruction, social dancing, and sightseeing) through DanceSport, a New
York–based Latin dance studio. On her return, not only was she confident enough
to enjoy a newly tango-centric social calendar; she even auditioned to be a
tango-dancing film extra.

 Even for those of us not
interested in casting calls, there are lots of reasons to combine dance lessons
with a vacation. For one, learning a dance form in the country where it was
born—the Viennese waltz in Austria, the samba in Brazil—can provide a deep
sense of cultural appreciation.

 Dance travelers “come home with
an understanding of the culture on a cellular level,” says Dancing with the
Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba. “Dance is much more than just entertainment in
other cultures; it has meaning and depth and a true place in their social
structures.”

 Another plus to vacation
dancing is the ability to transcend spoken communication. Most forms of
cultural immersion require at least some linguistic ability, says Paul
Pellicoro, owner of DanceSport studio, but “there’s no language barrier with
dance.” (For confirmation, ask anyone who’s just spent a night samba-ing in Rio
how many times the Portuguese pluperfect came up.)

 Lastly, letting go of your
inhibitions and feeling like the Lord of the Dance can be much easier when
you’re far removed from anyone who knows you as, say, Lord or Lady of the
Marketing Department.

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“Once you are away from your
everyday surroundings, you have more space to let yourself go,” says Bruno
Tonioli, a judge on Dancing with the Stars.

 According to the show’s cohost,
Samantha Harris, that sentiment even holds true for actual stars. “Hugh Jackman
told me that he and his wife took dance lessons in Latin America,” Harris says.
“And they just adored it.”

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