Ballroom Instructors

Artistic Director

Mayo Alanen

Long before he achieved notoriety on “Dancing With the Stars”, Mayo Alanen was earning the respect of his classmates in the local dance studio. Mayo began his training at the age of thirteen in El Paso, Texas. Dancing was the perfect fusion of all of his interests: sports, music and creativity.

His unique talent and dedication lead to a scholarship from Brigham Young University, allowing Mayo to compete with its prestigious Formation Team. While on the team, they won the International Standard Championship at the world’s most stringent competition, the Blackpool Dance Festival.

Shortly afterward, Mayo was recruited by Gary & Diana McDonald to teach in their renowned New Jersey studio. He partnered with Lisa Vogel, competing professionally in the American Smooth Style. They rose to the top of their division in record speed; placing 3rd in the World Championships in 2008.

2009 began a new partnership with former World American Smooth Champion, Michelle Officer. With the goal of winning the World Championship in sight, they rigorously train to perfect their art.

Mayo is a dedicated teacher of his craft and is certified to the highest level in every dance style. He travels extensively sharing his gift, and thus enabling the dreams of others. Mayo has most recently committed to bringing world class instruction to our local ballroom community. His vision is to create a syllabus that will allow continuous growth for our Dance Crazy participants.


  • 2009 “Dancing With the Stars” Pro Dancer Competition
  • 2010/2009 Broadway’s “Champions of the Dance”
  • 2010/2009/2008/2007 Heritage Dancesport Champion
  • 2008/2007 Featured on “America’s Ballroom Challenge”
  • 2010/2008/2007 World Smooth Finalist
  • 2010/2008/2007/2010 United States Smooth Finalist
  • 2008 French Open Champion
  • 2007 Top Teacher Award Manhattan Dancesport Championships
  • 2007 United States Rising Star Smooth Championship
  • 2004 International Standard Formation Team Champion

Guest Instructor

Jessica Haims

Jessica Haims has been surrounded by dance her whole life but until 2 ½ years ago she had only watched from afar. She was brought up learning ballet, and took a few ballroom lessons for fun but had never seriously dedicated a study fulfilled with ballroom dancing till she was 16. Jessica had wanted to go to a friend’s house and the only way she could get there is if she waited at her mom’s dance lesson to be dropped off afterwards. Mrs. Haims was dancing a tango and after Jessica had witnessed it she took her first tango lesson instead of going to her friends house. From that moment on, she new she wanted to be a dancer as her career and enveloped her self into studying ballroom dancing. She took extra classes in high school in order to graduate early and use the time to focus on dance before attending college in the following months. Ms. Haims began studying with Maruisz Zakrzewski however he moved to Las Vegas; she continued to study with Greg Fidurski.

Ms. Haims and Mr. Fidurski worked together very well and quickly made their mark in the Pro – Am A division, soon becoming a Fred Astaire National Champion and world finalist at the Ohio Star Ball. Beyond ballroom dancing she is highly involved in the belly dance community and uses this dance to help women build confidence and embrace their femininity. With her dancing, she hopes to one day have a studio and build a national program that helps teenage girls with body image issues using dance as a form of therapy.

Now a sophomore in college, Ms. Haims is a Women Gender Studies major with a Minor in Spanish. She continues to travel around the country competing with Mr. Fidurski while continuing her studies, acknowledging that while you should always follow your passion, education is also very important. She believes in teaching students that it is significant to never give up and stay determined, because as she has shown her self with hard work you really can make it in any aspect of your life.

She has lived her career and passion through these words and hopes that they will influence each life she can touch.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common then unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Calvin Coolidge

2011 Competition Finals Judge / Guest Instructor

Khyrstyne Barton & Yuri Nartov

Khyrstyne Barton was born in Texas, but spent most of her life living in Utah, where she started dancing at an early age. She has experimented with tap and ballet before she tried ballroom at the age of 9. She danced into her early teens, placing in the finals of major USA competitions; in 2005 winning Junior USA Ten-Dance Championship.

Yuriy Nartov started his ballroom career at an age of 7 in Moscow, Russia. At the age of 12, he moved to Chicago, where he continued his development as a dancer. Yuriy also had a successful youth career placing in the top 6 of numerous competitions around the US. In 2005 he won USA Youth Ten-dance title among others.

Together they began their partnership in New York City, which became their home. They have only been dancing for a year and a half, beginning their amateur path as a strong, vibrant couple. With their hard work and dedication they began their steady climb to the top of the dancing ladder. In only a year, they placed in the top 40 of the worlds best 300 Rising Star Amateurs at Blackpool, 6th among the top amateurs of North America at Ohio Star Ball, and recently placed 4th Nationally in Standard and 3rd at Ten-dance.

Besides being full-time dancers, they both attend college; Yuriy focusing on economics, and Khyrstyne majors in Special education. They both have a passion for a fun game of tennis. In their free time, they enjoy spending time with their friends, strolling around Central Park, biking, and rollerblading.

2011 Competition Finals Judge / Guest Instructor

Ben Bartholomew


  • Top 15 Desert Classic IDSF International Open Standard 2010
  • 3rd Place U.S. National Amateur Smooth Championship 2011
  • Runner-up California Star Ball Amateur Smooth Championship 2011

Dance Crazy Certified instructor

Rita Russell

Rita Russell has been an independent ballroom dance instructor and coach primarily at The Ballroom on Sunset in Latham, New York, where she gives private lessons and group classes in ballroom dancing. She has also been a certified Dance Crazy Instructor since 2009; an Arts in Education dance instructor for Albany BOCES since 2008; and, prior to that, a Dance Crazy volunteer and assistant. In addition, Rita has served as choreographer for several productions for the Schenectady Theater for Children, has directed and choreographed for local theater productions, and has over twenty years experience in community theater in both acting and directing.

Rita has been trained in ballroom dancing since 1998 at various area studios including Arthur Murray Dance Studio, Lorraine-Michael’s, Fred Astaire Dance Studio, and DDB School of Ballroom Dancing. She has also studied with various national and international coaches including Pierette Chartier, Daniel Heroux, Peter Billet, and Jennifer and Stanley McCalla. She has competed in ballroom dancing in both the American and International styles of dance in national and international pro-am ballroom competitions.