Mystic Fred Astaire studio’s dancers win big at Dancesport competition in Groton

Dance instructor Victoria Rivera of Groton and Jim LaCoursiere of Montville competed in the Dancing with Our Heroes gala during the 47th New England Dancesport Championship on March 10 at the Mystic Marriott. (photo courtesy of Jim LaCoursiere)
Dance instructor Victoria Rivera of Groton and Jim LaCoursiere of Montville competed in the Dancing with Our Heroes gala during the 47th New England Dancesport Championship on March 10 at the Mystic Marriott. (photo courtesy of Jim LaCoursiere)

Several area residents participated in the 47th New England Dancesport Championship, including first-time competitors and first-place winners.

Fourteen regular students of the Mystic Fred Astaire studio were among the more than 300 dancers who participated in the regional competition, hosted by Fred Astaire Dance Studios at the Mystic Marriott in Groton.

Local dancers included Dyana Fonda of Westerly; Mei Li and Ivelisse Colon from Stonington; Bob and Lisa Romano of North Stonington; Eric Hickey, Hilda Smith and Tom Salazar of Groton; Merina Corby and Hisae Kobayashi of New London; Melissa and Lauren Kearney of Gales Ferry; and Odera Taylor of Mystic.

Colon took first place in the open smooth championship group A and third place in the open smooth championship group B. Fonda took second place in the silver closed smooth championship.

Dance instructor Victoria Rivera, who also competed and won fifth place for top instructor, said several dancers were first-time competitors. The Romanos competed for the first time as a couple, and Salazar took third place in the social bronze closed smooth championship and second place in the social bronze closed rhythm championship. Rivera also noted Lauren Kearney’s participation in the juniors competition, where she won two first-place medals.

The competition concluded with Dancing with Our Heroes, a gala featuring instructors from 24 Connecticut Fred Astaire studios paired up with veterans. Rivera competed in the foxtrot group with Jim LaCoursiere of Montville, an Air Force veteran who said he enjoyed learning how to dance and “going from six left feet to three left feet” through the program.

The Dancing with Our Heroes gala raised more than $70,000 for the Fisher House.

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