Exploring Dance with Billy Blanks Jr.Aug 30, 2018 03:55AM ● By Georgetta L. Morque
Dance fitness sensation Billy Blanks Jr., founder of Dance It Out (DIO), made history on ABC-TV’s Shark Tank and is the creative director of the Wall Street Theater in Norwalk and owner of Blanks Studios in Greenwich. He is a special guest at the 7th Annual Stamford Health, Health Wellness & Sports Expo 2018 (HWS-Expos.com), presented by WABC-TV at Chelsea Piers CT, October 20 to 21.
Can you tell us about your fitness philosophy?
My fitness philosophy is to make people feel good while they’re working out. I know that sometimes it’s hard for people to keep a consistent fitness regimen, so I always try to find a way to make it fun and enjoyable for all while still effective.
How did you get to Shark Tank?
This is not an easy answer. My son and I had been fans of the show for a long time. I was at a really bad place in my life financially. I was trying to figure out how to make money with this idea of helping people through dance so I could support my family; just teaching classes wasn’t cutting it. My son suggested I go on Shark Tank. At the time, I hadn’t seen any other fitness programs on the show. So I gave it a shot. I thought the worst that could happen for me would be learning a wealth of information. Come to find out, I made history on the show for being the first to say no to the deal, and then getting the first-ever shark to leave the tank to come and get me to accept the deal.
You’ve worked with many top artists. Can you give us a highlight or two of some special moments?
I have worked with many great artists. Here are two favorite moments.
Paula Abdul has mentored me since I was a kid. She’s like a big sister to me, and she gave me a valuable tool. At the time, I was an untrained dancer and could not pick up choreography as fast as technical dancers. She told me who cares if you don’t get every step, get one or two of the steps and perform it like your life depends on it. Then the rest will come because confidence is everything. That changed everything for me. I started to book professional jobs next to elite trained dancers because of my love and commitment to dance.
I had the privilege of directing a concert for the Wigs and Wishes charity at Madison Square Garden last year; it featured over 25 celebrities, recording artists and Broadway stars. At that event, it was so humbling to see how grateful each performer was to be on that stage. What an experience!
How did you get involved with the Expo at Chelsea Piers CT?
I was invited by Tamara Ketler of TMK Sports & Entertainment, the event producer, to be a part of the Expo. I was blown away by it, and have been doing it ever since. I’ve done events like this around the world but there is something so special about this. The exhibitors are really there because they want to be connecting with people. I feel such a sense of community and have learned some great stuff.
Why did you move from Los Angeles to Greenwich?
I’ve wanted to get back for quite some time to the East Coast where I was born. On my second trip out here, I met a vendor at the Expo, Chris Georgopulo, owner of Arthur Murray and Blue Sky Ideation. She saw my credits and said she knew a theater in need of an artistic director in Norwalk. Fast forward to today and I am the proud artistic director of the Wall Street Theater.
You will offer your class, Dance It Out, for free several times at the Expo. What can people expect?
I will give the class at three different times on October 20 from 11 to 11:30am, 1:15 to 1:45pm and 3:30 to 4pm, and three different times on October 21 from 11:15 to 11:45am, 1:30 to 2pm and from 3:30 to 4pm. I am excited because the location has been changed to the Expo floor. If you’re walking by or you see me... move and dance a little with me! I will be doing some easy to follow fun stuff from all around the world. Just visit HWS-Expos.com and download and sign the waiver and return it to TMK Sports & Entertainment to reserve your space now. I look forward to seeing everyone at EXPO 2018 and my Dance It Out classes!
Georgetta L. Morque can be reached at 914-548-4209 or [email protected]. The 7th Annual Stamford Health, Health Wellness & Sports Expo 2018 presented by WABC-TV, will be held at Chelsea Piers Connecticut, the world-class sports complex at 1 Blachley Road in Stamford, Saturday, October 20, 10am to 4pm, and Sunday, October 21, 11am to 4pm. Admission and parking are free. For more information and exhibitor and sponsorship opportunities, call 203-531-3047 or visit HWS-Expos.com. See ad, page 17.