Victoria Regan has a resume that dreams are made from.
From Dance Championships to Broadway, Victoria's credentials far exceed the world of ballroom dancing. As she prepares to join the judging panel for the Spring 2017 District Showcase, she shares her fondest memories, and her incredible dance journey as a competitor, an Arthur Murray consultant, and theater actress.
AML: You've got such an extensive dance and performance background, how did it all start?
The theater dance started at the age of 5. Ballet first, then throughout the years tap and jazz. I really loved it, but once I started the Ballroom competitions that was my 100% focus.
AML: Speaking of Ballroom, how did you get started with Arthur Murray?
My start with Arthur Murray's was in Atlanta, Georgia over 40 years ago! I was looking for a Performing Arts School to teach tap, jazz and ballet part time and as I walked down a steep set of stairs a young many came running up, grabbed my hand and said "Welcome!!" He explained that this was a Ballroom Dance School. I had seen all the MGM musicals, and knew Gower Champion's work as well as every Astaire musical, so I thought I could do that. That week I taught some disco classes.
AML: Did you have moment when you realized that this was more than just a job?
That first year I won Top Teacher and met Frank Regan, and the rest is history.
AML: A few years ago you, and the rest of the dance world, lost one of the great minds in this industry - Frank Regan. For those that never met him, how would you describe him?
Yes, losing Frank was a great loss to all. I would describe him as a Genius as would anyone who knew and worked with him. Equally, the word "eccentric" would also describe him, in a complimentary sense of the word. He was uniquely witty, and was a true scholar. One could discuss any subject with Frank, and laughter would always be woven into whatever was shared. He was generous to a fault and, honestly, did not have one enemy in the world, nor did he ever speak poorly of another. Frank was extremely eloquent and his vocabulary was as large as the dictionary!
AML: Any funny Frank Regan moments you'd like to share?
There were times where students or professionals loved the lessons but came out saying, "Frank gave a fantastic lesson, we're not sure of what he said, but it was brilliant!" He was kind, and was an icon both in the World of Ballroom Dancing and the Arthur Murray Organization.
AML: What were some of your dance accomplishments together?
Frank and I won all the Championships we could. The Canadian Ballroom and Latin, the United States Latin, North American 10 Dance, and so on.
AML: What direction did you decide to go once you both retired from competitive dancing?
After we decided to retire I opened a theatre arts school in Montreal with 200 kids. It was very successful, and had great recitals full of all the styles and the talent was extraordinary. There were not many, if any, performing arts schools in Montreal where we were based for 7 years.
That is when the bug hit me again and I started going to New York City to study whenever possible. Frank and I decided to go our separate ways, and my choice was to go to New York City. Many told me it was too late, and statistically it was! Too old, I did not sing, and had not really studied acting. However as timing, luck, and tremendous desire would have it, my first audition was "42nd St" and I got it. There were three full days of auditions with 1000 people, and the final cut was made with Gower Champion at the helm. Once that happened, and we opened, I studied nonstop daily keeping up with the demands of singing, acting, and dancing. It kept me occupied, and in NYC, for the next 20 years.
AML: Did you ever completely say goodbye to the theater?
No. I never did and most likely never will. There will always be an involvement in part. My energy is now primarily with consulting in ballroom, but some of it is still coaching kids and mentoring them for Musical Theater.
Who knows, Broadway may call again!
AML: Do you have a Favorite Dance Memory?
There are so many but if I have to choose I would say the opening night of my first Broadway Show, The Original company of "42nd Street."
There were many reasons for this being memorable. It was an incredible spectacle directed and choreographed by Gower Champion. The cast chosen was extremely talented and hand picked and it was a humbling experience to have been one of many that auditioned. In addition, this opening day was a historical day in Musical Theater History.
There were 23 curtain calls and, sadly, Gower Champion passed away that afternoon. None of the cast knew about his passing until after all of the curtain calls. It did create a memory of both joy and sadness. The show was a big hit for years and turned out to be a favorite Dance Memory for many.
AML: Care to share your funniest dance moment?
It is funny now since this moment happened a long time ago! Peter Maxwell (Former World Champion) and I were dancing in a venue called Jacob's Pillow.
It was one of the prestigious and well attended venues for premiering new Dance Companies. It was opening night for "Peter Maxwell's Ballroom Dance Company" featuring 3 couples. Peter and I showed off a fabulous Milonga. We danced it perfectly. Then came the bow at the end of the number. Well, the audience was standing so we had to take a long bow! It was here that I lost my balance and fell backward directly into the scrim, which is a see through backdrop to cover the band that was upstage.
I landed somewhere between the piano and bass and was stuck.
Peter actually left the stage and, there I was, like the spiderwoman that could not get unattached! A sight to behold. Thank goodness there was no photo of "my funniest dance moment." I can still replicate the fall in slow motion.
AML: Thinking of your unique background of both the stage, and the dance floor, what are some things that you love to see in a great dance routine?
I like to see a theme that interprets the music and the dancers play characters requiring some acting skill. Beautiful and skilled movement along with choreography that the dancer, or dancers, can achieve quite easily. Making an audience feel something is the key, regardless of the level. It is possible.
AML: What's your Arthur Murray Consultant message to all the students out there?
You chose the best place to discover your passion!!! Enjoy it to the max.
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