Ashley Sanchez, soon to be a senior at Gulliver Prep, is such a talented ballroom dancer that she actually opens for the Dancing With the Stars tour. Sanchez is a two-time Latin Ballroom National Champion in the Youth Division. She also placed third in the World Championship. A year earlier, she finished fourth in the world competition.
Sanchez dances in pro-am events with Andre Paramonov, a Canadian champion with his wife Natalie. Paramonov is also Sanchez’s coach at the Gold Coast Ballroom in Coconut Creek.
Sanchez has also trained with Dancing With the Stars champ Karina Smirnoff, who won the Mirror Ball Trophy last year with actor J.R. Martinez. “She comes once a
workshop in our studio,” Paramonov says.
Sanchez started dancing at a young age, taking lessons in all types of dance. But at age 12, she decided that she wanted to pur- sue ballroom dancing. She ended up at the Goldcoast Ballroom in Coconut Creek, where she takes lessons from the Paramonovs.
Andre Paramonov is her dance partner in the pro-am competitions that she enters.
“He’s the pro and I’m the amateur,” Sanchez says.
Paramonov is a staunch believer in Sanchez’s ability.
“She totally deserves all the attention she gets,” he says. “She is quite a special girl. She’s been a wonderful student and her family has been extremely supportive.”
He adds that she has won so many com- petitions, he can’t remember them all. Luckily, Sanchez remembers the moves for all the Latin dances. Her favorite is the Cha Cha.
“Because I’m Cuban and it’s natural to me,” she says.
At 17, she is still an amateur with the ambition to go pro. But she says she’ll wait and hopefully win a few more titles first.
“The smart thing to do is win titles in the amateur division,” Sanchez says. “I have the title in the youth division. I can win it one more time this year.”
She can continue to compete in the amateur division until she turns 21. Sanchez practices often, usually making the drive to Coconut Creek daily as the day of competition gets closer.
“If I’m just training on my own or just practicing, I go three or four times a weeks,” Sanchez says.
These days, she also teaches ballroom dancing at the University of Miami.
“They have a ball- room dancing team,” Sanchez says. “Every Thursday I go and teach them. I hope to use that to get into UM. I want to study sportsmedicine.”
One of the reasons she likes ballroom dancing is that it is not limited by age.
“I think that with ballroom dancing, you can dance forever,” Sanchez says. “You can be seven years old or 80 years old and still be on the dance floor.”
At Gulliver, Sanchez dances with the school dance troupe, the Sundancers. She has incorporated some of the Latin ball- room moves into the dances they do at school. But she is happy that the dance group performs all types of dances because being able to dance jazz, ballet, hip hop and modern dance is a plus for her ballroom routine.
“I feel like it’s actually helping me now in what I do,” Sanchez says. “You need to have the core dances. I’m learning to appreciate it now that I’m older and I see this helping me in the future.”