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Capezio Athlete, ballroom dancer Vard Margaryan

Ballroom dancers Vard Margaryan with his partner Sofya Fil. Photo courtesy of Vard Margaryan.

By Stephanie Wolf of Dance Informa.

From Armenia to New York City, Capezio Athlete Vard Margaryan is taking up some major ballroom dancing real estate, and showing no signs of slowing down. Well versed in not only ballroom, but a variety of styles, including ballet, Margaryan has raked in the accolades on the dance floor during his four-plus-year competing career with his partner, Sofya Fil — winning awards and titles like 2011 United States Mambo Champion, a silver medal at the Ohio Star Ball, Fred Astaire National and World Rising Star American Rhythm Champion in 2010 and 2011, and number Fred Astaire Top Teacher Awards.

While his schedule of teaching, competing, performing, touring and being an ambassador for ballroom dance keeps him literally and figuratively on his toes, Margaryan took a few moments to speak with Dance Informa about his dancing roots, his impressive work ethic and his aspirations for the future.

Take us back to when you first discovered dance.

“I am originally from Armenia, and I started dancing at age five with Armenian national folk dancing. After that, at 6, my mom took me to a ballroom company because, at that time, ballroom was very popular in my country. I started to dance ballroom, and I was the first kid to go to all the competitions. I continued to dance ballroom, earning some championship titles in Georgia, the country. Then, in 2000, my coach went to the United States. So I stopped doing ballroom and I continued pursuing my dancing career in ballet. I started to work with Armenian Ballet Theatre, with which I went to Egypt and Dubai. In 2003, I missed ballroom dancing and went back to it.

Vard Margaryan with Sofya Fil

Vard Margaryan with his partner Sofya Fil. Photo courtesy of LNT Photography.

In 2006, I worked with the Armenian Army — actually the dancing army, through which I served with my dancing. From 2006 to 2008, again I traveled Egypt and Dubai doing ballet. During that time, my coach traveled back to Armenia. I went to her, and we had a lot of conversations about bringing me to the U.S. I finished serving in the army. Then she sent me an invitation for the United National Dance Championship in September that happens in Florida...and later another invitation for Ohio Star Ball in November. So I visited the embassy to get a visitor's visa. That was my big chance.”

When did you know that you wanted to do it professionally?

“I love dancing; I cannot be without dancing. When I used to win all the competitions, I realized that it was something that could be my future — I could create my future, it could be my career. When my coach came to the United States, I lost hope that I could become a professional dancer because I really loved her. At that time, there was no one else in the country [I worked as well with]. From my teen years, my dream was to come to United States. So, I stayed in touch with my coach.”

You also had a noteworthy stint in the ballet world. Can you tell me about that and how it has affected you as a ballroom dancer?

“Ballet is the strongest foundation that every dancer must have. No matter what type of dancer you are – ballroom, jazz [or] hip-hop – you have to have that training because ballet is the foundation of any dance career. It teaches you how to hold your balance and center; it makes you flexible. I'm grateful I did it all those years, and continue to do ballet training, as it helps with my ballroom career. Every time I compete, I get asked if I do ballet. I then ask, ‘How do you know?’ And they tell me they can see it in my dancing; it shows right away.”

What is it about ballroom dancing that captivated you?

“Once I'm on the dance floor, I don't think about the competitive aspect. I just enjoy what I do. I enjoy what the audience has to say after I finish the competition. That is everything to me, rather than placing first or second. Competitive life is difficult and stressful. And while winning is a great feeling, you have to remember you are a performer. I have that competitive part inside me, but it's about the performance.”

Ballroom dancers Vard Margaryan and Sofya Fil

Vard Margaryan with his partner Sofya Fil. Photo courtesy of LNT Photography.

Take me through your daily schedule in New York City.

“My schedule is crazy! Usually, I wake up at 7/7:30 a.m., then I drive my car to the studio. After that I take the train into Manhattan, because that's where I practice with my partner. I rehearse until about 11 or 11:30 a.m. Then, I take the train back to work. My work starts around 1 p.m. and goes till 10 p.m. every day. During that time I teach and coach. Then I get back home around 11 p.m. It doesn't leave me much time, but to take a shower and go to sleep before midnight because I have to wake up early the next day and do it all over again. By the end of the week, I travel for competitions, usually Friday through Sunday. Sometimes I teach or coach on Sunday. If I don't compete, I often have shows I've been invited to perform in or I judge competitions.

For most people, the weekends are for family or to enjoy recreational activities. But, for me, weekends are for my competitive traveling. My suitcase never goes into the closet; it's always on the road.”

Any thoughts on the next generation of competitive ballroom dancers?

“My job is very stressful, but, mostly, it's very interesting and I love my job. [When a student first comes to a lesson] they are nervous and don't look happy, but, when they are done, they are jumping and smiling. That for me is everything. I love what I do because, for 45 minutes, I can make someone so happy. Where, I come from we don't have this type of stuff — maybe for the kids, but not for the adults. When I do my job here, I feel like I'm doing it for my parents and grandma. I appreciate what I do and really love all of my students. Every day, I learn something new from my students.

Dancing keeps you young; it keeps you motivated, inspired. The new generation is coming more strongly because [people of all ages] are getting involved in dance. I saw this when I participated in So You Think You Can Dance. Dancing is not only about the arts; it's about the people and connections. I can see that in the new generation, which makes me very happy.”