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2018 Dancing Stars of Augusta, GA


Dancing Stars of Augusta

Matt Watson 

Matthew Watson has been born and raised in a dance studio.  He is a fourth generation ballroom instructor, and current Dance Director at Ballroom in Motion, whom many consider to be Augusta's Dance Academy.  Matthew has been directly trained under the most highly regarded dancers in the world.  He and his professional partner Elena, are currently training under Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine, the current United States & World Champion.  He has also trained under nationally known dancers on the hit TV Show "Dancing with the Stars" such as Louis Van Amstel, Jonathan Roberts, & Karina Smirnoff.  He has performed in and directed the Atlanta Ballroom Dance Theatre, as well as traveled the country doing professional shows.  This marks the 3rd consecutive year that Matthew has been a apart of Dancing Stars of Augusta.  Working alongside with the Alzheimer's Association means a lot to the Watson Family, as they currently are dealing with a family member in stages of Dementia and Alzheimer's.  The staff at Ballroom in Motion are proud to be a part of this wonderful event to help find a cure.

 dancing stars of augusta

 Teena Marie 

Teena Marie was born into a family which owned Arthur Murray Dance Studios.  She took her first dance lesson at age 5, started competing and performing at age 11, and was a champion by the age of 15.  She began her teaching career 2 weeks before her 18th birthday and has consistently won top teacher awards for excellence.

In 1989 she sold her studio in New Haven, CT, when she married her husband Rick and moved to Augusta.  In 1990 she brought her expertise in dancing and teaching to the Garden City.  In 1992 she opened The Ballroom Dance Center where she trained many of the area's ballroom teachers and students, alike.

In March of 2002, Ms. Marie opened Ballroom in Motion to pursue a personal goal of having a dance studio that put students first.  "Teaching dance has always been about the students.  It must be fun, easy and quick.  Everyone is different, with individual wants and needs.  Our students are the most important asset we have and that's why we do everything possible to make their dance experience unforgettable."  As the slogan says, "BALLROOM IN MOTION WITH TEENA MARIE IT'S THE FUN PLACE TO BE!"  In 2009 Ballroom in Motion with Teena Marie became the first studio in our region to host a professional ballroom Dancesport competition, The Garden City Dance Challenge, drawing dancers to our area from all over the country.  Ballroom in Motion has taken community service, through fundraising, to a new level.  The philosophy of the management is that when you have incredible community support for your business it is your responsibility to give back to that community in whatever way you can.  Ms. Marie has brought her fundraising expertise to many area projects, including the yearly Miracle Ball benefiting the Children's Miracle Network, The Wounded Warriors Project, Fischer House, The Pink Party benefiting University Hospitals Breast Helath Center, Relay for Life and her yearly support of Toys for Tots.  Beginning in 2013, she will give her time and talent to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association with Dancing Stars of Augusta. This is Ms. Marie's 4th consecutive year as a studio sponsor for this event.  As artistic director she has most recently helped to raise more that $180K for SafeHomes of Augusta's "Fake it to Make it".

 dancing stars of augusta

 Leslee Bruner 

Leslee's love of dance began as a young child after taking her first dance class in Jazz, Tap and Ballet.  As she matured her interest turned to ballroom dancing.  She entered her first competition at age 15 and didn't look back.  Like her sister Teena Marie, Owner of Ballroom in Motion, Leslee is a third-generation ballroom instructor.  

She has continued to dance and compete and is currently training with Matt Watson; Dance Director at Ballroom in Motion, in competitive Ballroom and Rhyth styles.

Leslee has had the privilege to receive coaching from the reigning world rhythm champion Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine as well as other high ranking champions.  In addition to teaching, Leslee has had an integral part in the success of Ballroom in Motion, working as Director of Operations.  She is an instructor, choreographer and manager of Ballroom in Motion's boutique.  

Leslee's full time job is as a Mortgage Loan Processor for Fidelity Bank Mortgage.  She has worked in the mortgage industry for the past 16 years.  This is the 2nd year Leslee has been a part of Dancing Stars of Augusta.

 dancing stars of augusta

 Vince Di Girolamo 

Vince Di Girolamo was born in Marsala, Italy. He and his parents immigrated to New Jersey when he was a young boy. After serving three years in the U.S.Army, he entered the Federal Civil Service where he ended his distinguished career as the Comptroller for the U.S. Army Signal Center and Fort Gordon. He is an Alumnus of St. Leo University and of the Army Management Staff College.Vince started dancing New York Hustle in his twenties along with some other ballroom dances. After a respite he returned to ballroom at Ballroom in Motion. He routinely attends monthly dances with the Hustle and West Coast Swing  ("Swustle") group in Atlanta and is a member of "Hustle in Atlanta". He is also the director of Hustle music on his friend's website where he goes by the name Vinny Boom Box.

DS of Augusta 

Elena Gallegos

Elena Gallegos is an instructor at Ballroom in Motion with Teena Marie. Elena is 21 years old and has been dancing since the young age of 3. She has trained in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, gymnastics, and has been training in ballroom for 12 years. Within the last few years Elena has trained under many prestigious dancers such as, World Mambo Champion Eddie Ares, three time reigning World and American Rhythm Champion Emmanuel-Pierre Antoine, and Karina Smirnoff from the hit TV show “Dancing with the Stars.” Ms. Gallegos was also a lead dancer in Eddie Ares' “Atlanta's Ballroom Dance Theatre,” performing all around the Southeast. She is a United States Pro-Am finalist as well as the winner of the prestigious Super-Star Dance Series Rhythm Challenge at the Hotlanta Dance Classic. Ms. Gallegos and her partner Matthew Watson are currently competing in Professional Rising-Star Rhythm all around the United States, and plan to bring world titles back to the CSRA. Elena is excited and humbled to be participating in “Dancing Stars of Augusta” for the fourth time and is hopeful that this event will help find a cure for such a terrible disease.

 dancing stars of augusta

 Cristell Reyes 

Cristel Reyes is a mezzo-soprano opera singer, voice instructor, and dancer who hails from her native land Puerto Rico.  Currently,  Ms. Reyes resides in Augusta, GA where she has performed for a variety of organizations, including the Ballroom Dance Center, Augusta Choral Society, Most Holy Trinity Choir, Musical Theatre Workshops, Augusta University Music Department, and the Harry Jabob Foundation.  Cristell studies opera under the direction of Dr. Linda Banister and is currently teaching voice lessions at Musical Theatre Workshops.  She is the Executive Director of the Columbia County Choral Society.  Cristell's love for dance began in 2011 when she first took lessons at local studios.  Over the past 5 years, Cristell has implemented a rigorous dance training schedule and is now considered to be among the best insturctors in Ballroom, Salsa, West Coast Swing, and Argentine Tango.  After briefly working for some local studios, Cristell came to the realization that she did not want to work for others any longer and wanted to have a bigger impact in the community.  After months of hard work, Cristell opened Fusion Ballroom in January  2016.  Their vision is to create a studio where all the dances cross paths.

 dancing stars of augusta

 Ricardo Diaz 

There is no doubt that Ricardo Diaz was born to dance. From his younger years in Puerto Rico to his current residence in Augusta, Ricardo and his siblings have been dancing the nights away and are no strangers to the dance and business communities. Having previously owned a Latin night club in downtown Augusta, as well as a dance studio in Aiken, SC, Ricardo brings his vast knowledge to the floor at Fusion Ballroom. He is the lead instructor for Latin dances, and has driven the students at Fusion Ballroom to improved levels of dance. Ricardo is looking forward to his first competitions with these students later this year. He is a proud father, and is excited for the opportunity to dance at Dancing Stars of Augusta.

 DS of Augusta

 Santrena Hammonds

Santrena is a native of Augusta,GA that has an undying love for the stage ever since the age of 6. With a dance background that expands over 17 years, she has studied dance styles such as Modern, African,Hip Hop, Liturgical, Ballroom, and Latin. She has danced and choregraphed for events such as, The Augusta Players Presents "The Wiz",  the "Get Happy" commerical, halftime show dancer for Augusta Colts Arena Football team and a host of many religious events. She was also a member of Third World Entertainment dance troupe under the direction of Kenneth Ross. After graduating from Augusta Technical College in 2009 with an Associate's Degree in Marketing, Santrena decided to pursue her love for Ballroom dancing with intensive training at the Ballroom Dance Center where she recieved her teacher's certification in Ballroom in 2015. She has been competing in the Ballroom circle since 2012 which allows her to experience a deeper level of understanding of ballroom technique and stage performance.  Santrena has completed her Bachelors Degree in Organizational Management from Voorhees College in 2017 and is currently a dance instructor at Fusion Ballroom of Augusta which she calls her "Dance safe haven".  Santrena is happy to be part of  Dancing Stars of Augusta, and she inspires to spread hope through dance to everyone affected by the Alzheimer's Disease.



 Male Holder

 Randy Rollen 

Randi took his first ballroom class when he was 15 and has loved it ever since.  But it was not until after graduating high school in 2016 that he realized this was his passion. After taking classes from local studios, he began his intensive teacher training at Fusion Ballroom. Along with his training sessions at Fusion, Randi visits other studios in Atlanta vigorously seeking growth opportunities. This is his first year working with Dancing Stars of Augusta and considers it an honor to even be considered to work alongside an organization with such a worthy cause. 





 female holder

 Ruxandra Lemnaru 

Hello everyone! My name is Ruxandra  (Ruxi) Lemnaru and I am originally from Romania. Being an adventurous person, right after graduating from University of Bucharest I took an opportunity to come to the US with a teaching exchange program. My husband , Gabriel Lemnaru and I came to Aiken, South Carolina in 2003. We fell in love with the place and people, and have been living the American dream ever since. We have a spoiled rotten yellow lab, Jazzy (6) and we love to travel.  I am a secondary special education teacher and I love what I do.  

I am passionate about dance and I take every chance to express my creative spirit through this beautiful form of art. This year,  I am honored to be part of Dancing with Stars of Augusta, GA and raise awareness and funds for this noble cause , defeating the Alzheimer disease. 

                        DS of Augusta                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Megan Arrington

This experience fostered a love for dance that led her to The Ballroom Dance Center when she was 15.  Megan excelled as a student and became an instructor with The BDC when she turned 18, teaching for almost seven years.  She is nationally certified through DVIDA with both Associate and Master of Dance degrees.

Megan is now a licensed cosmetologist and will be completing her studies this summer to become a licensed barber as well.  She currently practices her craft at Beautiful Blessings Salon in Martinez, GA.

Thoroughly enjoying her participation in Dancing Stars of Augusta the first two years the event was held, Megan is excited to once again contribute to the fight against Alzheimer’s this year.