Sky Sotheby’s real estate associate Karen Chandler bought ballroom dance lessons for a boyfriend’s special birthday three years ago and—wouldn’t you know—“he hated it and I loved it,” she says. “That relationship ended, and my dance relationship carried on.”
With no previous dance training, Chandler’s gone on to win ballroom awards at the state and even international level.
Her instructor-partner, whom she met at Fred Astaire Studios and with whom she has moved to the Sara Dance Center, is Sid Pocius, an internationally acclaimed ballroom dancer from Lithuania.
“Our first competition was a statewide competition in Palm Beach through Fred Astaire,” she says, “and I won first place for top student.”
Chandler competes in the smooth dance category (waltz, fox trot, tango) and in the Latin dance category (salsa, samba, merengue, cha-cha). “Latin is really my favorite,” she says. “I just like the energy.”
Chandler, who moved to Sarasota in 1990 and has been in the real estate business for 14 years, specializes in the luxury market and works out of Sky Sotheby’s Siesta Key office.
Last summer, at the Millennium, an international competition that took place in Tampa, she won first place in the Silver division in samba and cha-cha.
“I was thrilled because it was international,” she says. “It’s a little scary, but then the adrenaline gets going and you stop thinking about how many people are watching and you follow your partner.”
Chandler has two costumes: a short, sparkly dress for Latin dances, and an elegant, flowing gown for the smooth dances. “It is such a girly thing,” she says, “You do your hair and heavier makeup, false eyelashes, nails, the whole nine yards. It’s like dress-up for adults.”
She hopes to compete this month in the Florida DanceSport Championships at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. As usual, a whole crew of friends will be on the sidelines cheering her on.