Meet the Arthur Murray Live Author Team: Tom Antonellis
Tom Antonellis is a textbook polymath.
You know, a jack of all trades, a renaissance man, or the enemy of anyone who is convinced that people should have a single, monogamous pursuit in life.
He's that guy.
And while this interview will reveal a lot about this polymath Arthur Murray manager, we're officially adding another role for this jack of all trades to play: Arthur Murray Live Author.
What is the AMLA? The Arthur Murray Live Authors ("AMLA") is a collection of writers with a first hand connection to Arthur Murray. Ultimately, their unique perspective, voice, and location will help to add more content and context to this website.
AML: How did you first get started with Arthur Murray?
TA: I took ballroom dancing in college (I actually helped to form my alma mater's Ballroom Dance Organization at Syracuse University where I have a BFA in Film). I would come home on vacations and breaks and teach my sister all my moves.
My friends began to associate both of us with dancing and my buddy Dan (who did my website thickskincreations.com) heard an ad on the radio around September of 1996 and let me know about Arthur Murray.
It took some doing for me to find my studio home and I needed a great deal of training. I started my Rumba to the side, my Cha-Cha on the 1, my Cuban Motion was backwards - I was a mess.
I have trained people to be ready to teach in one third the amount of time it took me to be trained.
AML: You've got some great side gigs going on, what are they, and do you have a favorite?
TA: Thanks for asking about them - I appreciate it. I am a professional voice over actor alongside my position with Arthur Murray. I love it for many reasons. I was always doing voices (again - with my sister - she'll inevitably come up a lot if you ask any questions about me) while we were growing up.
One of the greatest things about voice over is that I can sidestep "type casting". I can be, and embody, characters that I'd never be cast for if you saw me - maybe "embody" isn't the right word, but you get what I mean. Also, a great deal of my work an be done at my home recording studio, assuring that I do not incur absences from the dance studio that would be injurious to the important job I am tasked with performing there.
I'm also a comedian and comic writer, and my material is available on Amazon. Be forewarned, as with most comedians, some of my stuff will shock and may not align with the guy in a tie you always see at the dance studio.
But I have a passion for words and that's why I'm excited to write for the Arthur Murray Live Authors.
My love of language is evident in my book, "'Precipice Writings; and other Relanyms - a Book of Wordplay" (also on Amazon). A "relanym" (my invention) is an odd or whimsical word or phrase derived from a common word or phrase. Crafting one involves adjusting each portion of the word or phrase by replacing it with either a synonym, an antonym, or some such related word. A word that would fall under the same category as the original.
An example: Foxtrot would become "Wolf Cantor".
I'd be hard pressed to tell you what I am: Am I a dance teacher? A manager? A writer? A comic? A voice over artist? An impressionist?
And I'd be hard pressed to say which is my favorite.
Jerry Seinfeld called comedy a "survival business" and couldn't pick a favorite Seinfeld episode for that reason. He said, "it'd be like me asking you what your favorite intake of breath is. It's the one that allows me to get to the next one, I think." I believe I feel the same about the artists life I lead. I'm simply grateful to be surrounded by people who allow me to be me and to be an artist, communicator, and a teacher. My absolute favorite things to be.
AML: If you're not at liberty to share the information to this next answer, it's totally understandable, but being that you teach and manage so close to Hollywood, there's probably been a famous person or two in the studio. Do you have a favorite celebrity at Arthur Murray moment?
TA: Actually, I do. I have two. I'm still kicking myself for not asking her to put the endorsement in writing, but Jennie Garth, after her season on Dancing with the Stars, took lessons with us with her, then, husband Peter Facinelli (well known for the Twilight films). She told me in my office, and I can still see her face, "we've learned more here in two weeks than I did in the whole season on [the show]."
I was so moved that I failed to think like a manger at that moment and get the testimonial formalized.
My favorite cracking up of a student with quick wit was when I was teaching Alex Trebek and his wife. A Brahms Waltz came on the sound system and he said, "Ah, a Waltz" as if to point out to me that he could identify the 3/4 time signature. I responded with a spot-on Trebek impression and said, "oooh, I'm sorry. We needed it in the form of a question: 'What is a Waltz'."
His wife laughed harder than he did.
I've taught tons of celebrities and, at this point, the ones who have since moved on from the studio I can name: Reba McEntire, Wayne Knight (Newman on Seinfeld), Elizabeth Berkley, Jess Harnell and Josh Robert Thompson (if you were a voiceover artist, you'd freak at their credits), Andrew Goldenhersh (an amazing magician) and Stephen Root. And that's just the knee-jerk memory of celebs I've taught personally.
AML: Thank you for being a part of the Arthur Murray Live Authors group. What kind of articles are you most interested in writing?
TA: First of all - Chris, it would be hard for me to imagine a scenario where I would NOT want to be involved in something that is your brain-child. I am honored.
Well, I have a soft spot for the student, or the potential student, who doubts that they can learn. I have an affinity for humor (obviously). I love the teaching process, and I'm excited to give my two cents on that. I find it fascinating to observe how people learn and I have spent nearly half my life observing. I love the benefits that come from learning to ballroom dance. These are some of my favorite topics.
AML: Every writer has a sort of style, or personality, to the way they express themselves - how would you describe yours?
AML: If there was an article that completely fixed a problem for your current, or potential, students - what would the headline be?
TA: "Cancellations are the Enemy of Progress"
AML: If you can, can you elaborate on what being in this group means to you and how that might impact the readers?
TA: Moreso than any info I've given you about me and what I do, what I gravitate to, or how I identify myself - I am a student. I am as much looking forward to learning from the group and its readers as in sharing with the group and its readers.
George Carlin said that we "think in words, so the quality of our thoughts can only be as good as the quality of our words." I hope to reach people with my words on a visceral level and speak right to their doubts and questions, and give them what we give them on the dance floor: hope.
I already mentioned my respect for you, Chris, and for all that you and Daisey have accomplished both yourselves and through the many folks you have trained, and through the success of the staff and students of your studios - so being asked by a personal hero to contribute to this project is a thrill. I simply hope to justify your faith in me.
If there's one thing you learn fairly quickly with a dance hobby at Arthur Murray is that you don't have to pick only one dance to learn. You can learn and do everything that you choose, you can be a ballroom dancing polymath.
Or, for lack of a better relanym, a total Tom Antonellis.
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