By Deborah Bostock-Kelley
In November, Dance Excellence Ballroom is celebrating its fifth anniversary in its Oldsmar location. Owners Stefan and Traci Dobrev’s expectation has always been in the name. Excellence in dance training, staff, and competition.
“We worked hard to cultivate the reputation of excellence with positive energy and attitude,” said Traci. “When Stefan and I were starting to think about the name for the studio, we tossed around a lot of ideas, but excellence was the only word that we came to that represented and embodied our commitment to being excellent, not only for our students but our staff.”
In an industry with an extremely high turnaround, Dance Excellence Ballroom is recognized for having instructors with longevity. The staff remains loyal because the owners genuinely care about their dance and professional development and empower them to be a success.
Quarterly training helps the team remember what sets them apart, which allows them to do better, and what stretches them to go further. The teachers are held accountable not only by their employers but by their peers.
“We’ve established ourselves as the best studio in Tampa Bay,” Stefan explained. “That’s not just the two of us; it’s our incredible staff.”
He’s not boasting. From stellar social media reviews, dance students, and staff testimonials to competitor studios, Dance Excellence Ballroom is the raised bar to which all others aspire to reach.
The bar is set at the highest rung.
Stefan, a dancer since the age of 7 and a Bulgarian National Dance Champion, and Traci, a ballet dancer since age 5 and competitive gymnast since middle school, pride themselves on having a studio everyone wants to be part of.
“We want to inspire excellence in ourselves and others,” said Traci.
Stefan and Traci love to witness firsthand the transformation of someone learning to dance for the first time. The two relay numerous stories over the years of introverted teens, adults, and senior citizens that blossomed through the social community of dance and came out of their shell. They discover self-confidence, grace, and poise, and the ability to communicate with others. The very youngest dancers learn the importance of manners.
The couple thinks its extremely important to put down the cell phone and tablet, take a break from the isolation of social media, and facilitate a connection in real life through dance.
Dancing can aid in those suffering from dementia and PTSD and has been prescribed as part of therapy for healing.
Stefan and Traci are hugely involved in getting children with special needs into a dance and competition. Each Saturday, a dance class is held for children with special needs. They regularly donate to organizations like Revolution Dance and Dancing Lions that work with children with different abilities. Their voices break when they proudly tell of these children who knock a performance out of the park.
“I remember watching them thinking about how amazing it is how they learn – what they can do. We love seeing the huge smiles on their faces,” said Traci.
Excellence in training for competitive dance is as easy to show as the studio, students and instructors have earned hundreds of trophies in regional and national events since the studio first put down roots in Oldsmar in 2014.
Students range from ages 4 to 82.
In January, the couple is organizing a dance competition in Innisbrook. Because of their spotless reputation in the industry, competitor studios are scrambling to register to be part of their event.
Though competitive dance instruction is a large portion of what makes up Dance Excellence Ballroom, it is far from the only part.
Whether a student is seeking private lessons or more interested in a group setting, Dance Excellence Ballroom has a class for all interests, teaching social dancing, the all-important first wedding dance, and classes in American Cha-cha, Rumba, Swing, Bolero, Mambo, WestCoast Swing, Merengue, Salsa, Hustle, Samba, Argentine Tango, Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz and International Cha-cha, Samba, Rumba, Paso Doble, Jive, Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, and Quickstep.
Stefan and Traci also host themed dance parties.
The pair’s goal is to create a place where anyone – no matter what the level of experience – can feel safe in a comfortable, nonjudgmental space and have a fun time – the reason why the studio was born.
Couples often come as a ‘date night,’ leaving the kids with a sitter to disconnect from the stress of the workday and find something to bring them closer together. Empty nesters use dance as a shared activity, an outlet to help them learn to be a couple again.
Traci said, “In a dance lesson with a couple, you can instantly see where the challenges are, and identify very quickly if they have a good working relationship with one another. Once you work through the rough stops, it becomes an enjoyable thing for them to do together. It not only builds their dance skills, but it bonds them because they have to work together to solve a problem. ”
Stefan added, “These days, couples have so many different separate activities. We offer a fun way for them to actually be together.”
Dance Excellence Ballroom is located in the Oldsmar Plaza at 3730 Tampa Road, Suite 7. They are open Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information about group or private lessons or dance parties, visit www.DanceExcellenceBallroom.com or call (813) 814-0099.