"Up Close and Personal”
"My first real job began with a Dental Surgeon who was about 80 years of age. It just so happened that the equipment was about the same age, so that position was short lived. I soon landed a job in the accounting department of the Coca-Cola Company which was a wonderful company with some terrific perks. As luck would have it I soon held the titles of Miss Coca Cola, Miss DeKalb County and went on to win the talent segment of the Miss Georgia pageant. It looked like my career in dentistry and accounting had come to an end.
It was in Atlanta that I discovered the world of ballroom dancing . One evening a call came in from Frank Regan, a well-known competitive Ballroom and Latin champion living in Montreal. He was looking for a Professional Dance partner. This sounded like a great idea and I jumped at the chance. It meant relocating to Montreal allowing more time for rehearsals, coaching, traveling and demonstrating. The partnership was a success and we were awarded the titles of the U.S. National Latin Champions, Canadian Ballroom and Latin Champions (5 X), N. American Ten Dance Champions and more.
By this time both of us wanted to branch out in the field of Performing arts. I opened a Performing Arts Center in St. Huberta french community, while Frank continued coaching and choreographing for television and stage. "The Academy of Performing Arts" registered 200 French Canadians between the ages of 7 and 16 that were anxious to get on stage for the yearly recitals. Opening the Academy renewed my passion for musical theater and New York was calling. Frank chose Toronto as his new home.
Just before moving to New York I formed another working partnership with a former World Latin Champion, Peter Maxwell. After relocating to NYC he formed a Ballroom Company . It debuted at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and was a huge success. Directly followng t he performance, the company signed with Columbia Artists.
Not long after Jacob's Pillow I had a call to audtion for a new Broadway show. This was to be my very first audition in New York City and the rest is history. In 6 weeks “42nd Street” previewed in D.C. at the Kennedy center, then opened on Broadway at the Majestic Theater. Opening night had something like 23 curtain calls and was one of the most exciting nights on Broadway to this day. Unfortunately, Gower Champion had become extremely ill during rehearsals and passed away that afternoon. The next 10 years was spent studying, auditioning and performing in industrial shows, soaps, commercials, concerts and whatever experiences I could gather. One of the best experiences came upon receiving a call to audition for the Broadway Musical "Grand Hotel” based on the film and directed and choreographed by Tommy Tune. It was an ideal role because it required the art of ballroom dancing combined with some beautiful lifts. The "Countess" was blind in the play symbolizing that love is blind. My partner was Arte Phillips and while I kept us grounded , he saw to it that all the lifts were seamless and as light as a feather. We shared the Broadway stage for a short while and then joined the tour for 2 years.
Another production of the show was to open at the North Carolina Theater and this time I was offered the role of Grushinskaya originated by Lilianne Montevecci and Cyd Charisse. Grushinskaya was an aging Russian Ballerina who spoke with a French accent and was desperate for love. This was also an ideal role as she was an aging ballerina. The part of aging was not unfamiliar but dancing around on pointe was!! It was well worth it though because there were some great love scenes that made up for the pain.
My life has been consumed with work but with work like this, who needs to play? The world of Musical Theater and Dancesport continues to inspire me to open new doors for growth as a teacher, performer and person.
Victoria continues to travel internationally as a Dancesport trainer, adjudicator and lecturer . After residing in New York City for over 25 years she now resides in Tampa, Florida. Victoria started a Drama Club at the Woodrow Wilson Middle School that was a 4 month program ending with a musical revue titled, "Broadway Bound". She has been involved with programs at Patel Conservatory and is on the Faculty of Broadway Theatre Project founded by Ann Reinking and Debra McWaters.
Aunt Vicki is the title she is most proud of due to her two remarkable nieces, Andrea who has her own clothing line kucoon.com and Allison who spends all of her time and talents on the Broadway Stage.