Vladimir Gorshkov is confident that he can teach anyone to dance, even those who profess to be thoroughly deficient in rhythm.
“Give me one month,” he insisted, with a confident grin. “If you cannot dance to your satisfaction, I will give you your money back.”
Gorshkov, teaming with his wife Irina, has competed professionally in ballroom dancing competitions throughout the U.S. and Europe. The couple opened Ballroom Elegance Dance Studio in Westport in 2002. Their latest endeavor is Ballroom DanceSport Center in Fairfield.
Victoriya Kolbenkova, a manager at the new venue and a professional ballroom dancing competitor, said the decision to come to Fairfield was sparked by the availability of the 1,300-square-foot space in Sportsplex@Fairfield, a development at 85 Mill Plain Road that is home to more than two-dozen athletics- and wellness-focused businesses.
“This is a great location with a lot of family-oriented activities,” she said. “We saw this place with its big windows, and we knew there is no ballroom dancing here in Fairfield for kids. So, we thought it would be a great opportunity to bring dancing to people.”
Their startup budget to create Ballroom DanceSport Center was roughly $30,000, with the costs going into the installation of a new floor, mirrors covering large swaths of the walls and a sound system. One aesthetic aspect of the space that was left untouched was the color palette on the walls: hot-pink upper half resting atop a battleship gray lower half.
“It has grown on us,” Kolbenkova said. “We thought it would be very comforting for kids and it would make a fun environment.”
With a soft opening in November and an official grand opening on Jan. 13, Ballroom DanceSport Center now has 30 students. Adult classes focus on ballroom and Latin dancing, and there is also a 10-lesson package for wedding party members who need a brush-up for their big-event dances. Children’s classes offer an introduction to various dances and dance-oriented birthday parties are also available.
Gorshkov said that while his Westport business primarily attracts adult students, this location has piqued the interest of a wider age range.
“We try to appeal to the younger audience starting at 3 years old,” he said, adding that he believed his oldest adult student was 70. “We don’t ask personal questions, that is my rough estimate.”
Kolbenkova stressed that dance lessons are beneficial for any age.
“For kids, it is good opportunity to learn awareness to people, to have good posture and learn how to properly behave,” she said. “It is very important to give them this opportunity to learn to be polite and have fun as well. For adults, it’s fun. We have a lot of couples come in and turn their minds from everyday life and just have fun.”
One inspiration that has driven inquiries at the center is the television show “Dancing with the Stars,” with prospective students asking if they could undergo flatfoot-to-graceful transformations similar to the celebrities on that show.
“We say, yes, absolutely,” Kolbenkova said. “We teach amateur couples to perform in competition.”
For Gorshkov, the secret to his teaching is to ensure students believe in their abilities.
“We ask everyone to try, even the people who say they have two left feet,” he said. “We hear that so often and it is certainly not true. Everyone has the ability to move to the music.”