Center Stage at the Music Hall

On January 27 at the Music Hall, student and professional ballroom dancers of the Tarrytown Fred Astaire Dance Studio will turn up the heat in "Hooray for Hollywood." Choreographed by former three-time United States champion David Hamilton, the show uses the movie musical as its theme in this stylized ballroom extravaganza.

The Tarrytown Fred Astaire Dance Studio was founded by Sasha and Olga Bylim, former three-time Ukrainian National Champions, US National Finalists, and Fred Astaire National Champions.

In addition to regular private lessons, competitions, and showcases, the studio’s students are given the opportunity to participate in an annual show at the Music Hall. "Five years ago, our studio was the first in New York State to take the dancing onto the stage," said Sasha. "A show in a theater is a very different experience — it has a story line, stage lights, and a special sort of excitement all its own. The experience allows our students to learn, grow, and express their love for dancing. It’s their moment to shine."

Ron and Sarah Gillespie, Tarrytown residents, have been studying at the dance studio for four years. "I have studied at other dance studios and none of them were half as much fun or as comfortable as this one," Sarah confided. She finds the studio to have a genuine warmth and camaraderie and says it plays a great part in her and her husband’s social life. She added that Sasha and Olga are beautiful dancers and she enjoys watching them and the other professionals dance.

Clark Montgomery of Hastings can’t say enough positive things about the studio and its show. "Sasha and Olga are fabulous people and performers, and David is an incredible chorographer. The professionalism of the show is remarkable." Having danced for twenty-two years and competed across the United States, he and his wife Prudence have been studying at the studio since its inception in 1998. The show will include more than thirty numbers: the cha-cha, waltz, tango, rumba, a special formation dance involving the Bylims and Montgomerys, and more. Rehearsals for the show began in August and dancers are now putting the final finishes on their routines before they move to the Music Hall. "We’re so fortunate to be able to perform in such a great landmark theater," Clark added.

Sasha and Olga hand pick their teachers and are proud to welcome the newest ones to their staff of eight: Eugene Yeremenko and Marina Yatsenko, finalists of numerous dancesport championships. Sasha says that dancing is not only a social skill, but also a benefit to one’s physical and mental well being. "Among our students are parents, doctors, and top executives. They may arrive stressed, but they leave relaxed and rejuvenated." Contrary to popular belief, one doesn’t need a partner to learn how to dance — the teacher acts as the partner. Patrons attending the performance at the Music Hall will receive a coupon for a free lesson.

While ABC’s "Dancing for the Stars" is inspiring some people to dance, Disney’s television special High School Musical is revolutionizing musical theater for youth. Over 300 children from the tri-state area auditioned for High School Musical and 132 kids were cast. The production is being presented by The Random Farms Kids Theater, a resident youth theater company of the Music Hall. “We had no idea what a phenomenon High School Musical was," says producer Anya Wallach. "The tickets began selling even before we started advertising. We’ve already added three additional shows!"

The show runs almost non-stop from February 2 through 11. Middle school-aged children perform the first weekend and high school kids make up the cast for the second weekend. Several performers have appeared on Broadway while others are having their first musical theater experience. Seventh grader and local resident Catherine Lillis said, “The show is a lot of fun and since I love to sing and dance, it’s perfect!"

Tickets may be purchased online at or by phone through TicketForce at 877-840-0457.

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About the Author: Karina Ringeisen