● By Style
Photography by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group.
Folsom resident Michiko Cantor found dance when, in an attempt to overcome severe asthma and ailing health, her mother enrolled her in a ballet class.
Despite a dismal prognosis from her childhood doctor, Cantor thrived and grew to be an acomplished dancer. She now holds more than a dozen first place ballroom dance titles, inlcuding first place at the San Francisco Open and the International Grand Ball in Silver American Smooth.
AB: When did you realize ballroom dance was your passion?
MC: It was when I met my husband, Lon, who was (and still is) an avid ballroom dancer. We used to go out social dancing several nights a week. Then, I got really busy working, raising my daughter and keeping [the] household running, so I was absent from dancing for about 10 years. About seven years ago, with my husband’s encouragement, I started taking ballroom dance lessons to improve my overall health. Dancing keeps me feeling good physically, and therefore mentally too.
AB: When was the first time you were a ballroom dance competitor? What was it like to be on the floor with others competing for a title?
MC: It was about five years ago, when I danced in the City Lights Ball in San Jose. It was very stressful and I thought I would never do it again, but I won the scholarship on my first attempt to compete. The experience of winning gave me an extra boost, which I needed to overcome the difficulties.
AB: You’re a highlighted performer in the “Capital Dance Center Showcase” this month (February 9). What does it take to prepare for a performance of that caliber?
MC: I take notes from each lesson and go over them to prepare for the next lesson. I also get on the dance floor at least 30 minutes early—in order to mentally and physically prepare. Most importantly, I have the best teachers, Evgeny and Victoria Malko (the principal professionals of Capital Dance Center), who work very hard to bring out my best in every performance.
AB: Is there one particular style of dance you feel most comfortable performing, or one you haven’t tried yet, but would like to master?
MC: I compete in the American smooth style of dancing in all four dances: waltz, tango, foxtrot and Viennese waltz. My favorite is the waltz, but I’m currently working on tango.
AB: Do you have any performances scheduled or plans to compete in the near future?
MC: In June of this year, I’m performing in the third annual Sacramento Dance Showcase—the most prestigious event among ballroom and Latin dancers in the Sacramento region— where top dancers (professionals and amateurs) from all over northern California and Reno, Nevada, perform in the professionally produced event at Capital Dance Center.
AB: What would you like to say to aspiring dancers?
MC: Don’t wait until you have the extra time and money, because such a time will never come. Manage your time and money, and start now. Find the right teacher for yourself and don’t give up.