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All About Dance » Latest Dance NEWS » Championship Ballroom Dancing is Back on TV

Championship Ballroom Dancing is Back on TV

by PBS Television/NDCA PR Dept.
Date Published:
February 6, 2006

Championship Ballroom Dancing is Back

Date published: Tue, January 17, 2006
Date added to ADN: Tue, January 17, 2006
Source: National Dance Council of America
by PBS Television/NDCA PR Dept.
Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing!

Ballroom Dancing Goes Back to its Roots
As America’s Ballroom Challenge premieres on PBS in February!

You can always count on PBS to be one step ahead of the game––one “dance” step, that is. Long before shows like Dancing with the Stars, Ballroom Bootcamp, and even Dance 360 waltzed onto the small screen, PBS brought the excitement, glamour, and sensuality of ballroom dancing to living rooms across America. Now, the creator of the long- running PBS hit series Championship Ballroom Dancing, is back with an exhilarating new PBS primetime special that takes viewers onto the dance floor and behind the scenes as ballroom dancing’s elite go toe-to-toe to compete for the title of “America’s Best.”

Hosted by Marilu Henner (Taxi, Evening Shade, Broadway revival of Chicago) and Tony Meredith (former US Professional Latin American Dance Champion), America’s Ballroom Challenge, a two-part, two-hour special, premieres Wednesday, February 1 at 8pm ET on PBS.

Part One, The Trials: Wednesday, February 1
Part Two, The Finals: Wednesday, February 8

Produced by Moreno/Lyons Productions and presented by WGBH Boston, America’s Ballroom Challenge is the first program of its kind to feature all four of the major dance styles of competitive ballroom dancing: American Rhythm, American Smooth, International Latin and International Standard. Six couples will compete in each of the four dance categories, and one will be named the champion of each style. Then the final four winning pairs each will perform one last time in a “Best of Show” grand finale. So, who will cha-cha, samba, tango, and waltz their way to the top? An expert panel of international judges will decide.

“We originally brought ballroom dancing to TV because we thought viewers would be drawn to the brilliance and expressive nature of the genre, and we couldn’t be happier that mainstream America has begun to really show an interest,” says Aida Moreno, producer of America’s Ballroom Challenge. “This new special has it all––the extraordinary talent, the competition, and the passion.”

Co-host Marilu Henner’s breakthrough as an actress came in the late 1970s, when she starred as Elaine Nardo in James L. Brooks’ hit TV series Taxi and later in the CBS sitcom Evening Shade. Ballroom dancing has been part of Ms. Henner’s life ever since her childhood. Her mother was president of the National Association of Dance and Affiliated Arts and ran the Henner Dance School (“disguised as a three-car garage”) in a northwest Chicago neighborhood for 20 years. Marilu took her first dance class at age 2 and, like all the Henner children, began teaching classes herself at 14. She went on to study with the Illinois Ballet Company before going into theater.

“I’m delighted to be serving as host of America’s Ballroom Challenge, because I’ve got dancing in my bones. I grew up watching ballroom dancing, loving it, studying it, watching my mother teach it. So this is like coming home for me,” Ms. Henner said. “This program reflects two of my greatest passions: good health and song-and-dance. Ballroom dancing is a beautiful art form – one that the contestants on our program take to its highest level. But it’s also a fabulous workout – a wonderful way for Americans of all ages to get in shape and stay there.”

Henner’s co-host is Tony Meredith is a world-class performer, choreographer, competitor and coach. Meredith is a former United States Professional Latin American Dance Champion and has been a featured performer and consultant for film, television, and Broadway. He also has been a coach and choreographer for entertainers Vanessa L. Williams, Pierce Brosnan, Rene Russo and Susan Sarandon.

America’s Ballroom Challenge is a production of Moreno/Lyons Productions, LLC, and is presented on PBS by WGBH Boston. Funding is provided by the World Federation of Ballroom Dancers and Arthur Murray International.

Viewers can learn more at

Moreno/Lyons Productions, LLC, is a Boston-based production company formed by Aida Moreno and Stephen Lyons, two longtime contributors to public television. During a 24-year career at WGBH, Moreno worked on a wide range of programs, from Julia Child and Company to Candidates '88 with Marvin Kalb. She is best known as the creator and original Executive Producer of the PBS megahit Antiques Roadshow. Lyons is the former Senior Editor for Program Development at the WGBH Science Unit, where he helped launch series on topics such as evolution, string theory and ancient technology.

WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer, the source of fully one-third of PBS's prime-time lineup, along with some of public television's best-known lifestyle shows and children's programs and many public radio favorites. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards…even two Oscars. In 2002, WGBH was honored with a special institutional Peabody Award for 50 years of excellence. For more information visit

Press Contact:
Amy Zall
National Senior Publicist
WGBH Boston