RJ Capak PhotoVideo

I’m a former Dance Champion winning awards from 1978 – 1994, and still active in the Dance Community. I have since started the Ballroomology.com website, which is dedicated to The Art of Ballroom Dancing, its history, preservation, and any other relevant dance news.

Living in Boston, Massachusetts, I began my dance career at the age three, trained in all styles of dance, but somehow ending up a ballroom dancer. One of my fondest memories is entering a dance competition when I was 15 years young. After two days of competition, I won the “Little Miss Lovely” beauty pageant-talent contest in downtown Boston at the John Hancock building. Winning a new stereo and a scholarship to the Hart Modeling Agency, I attended a series of summer classes in TV spokesperson, fashion, commercials and make-up, ending with my first set of professional head shots. Our graduation involved a big runway show, and as we were rehearsing, I convinced the director to let me dance and choreograph the show. She seemed surprised a little reluctant but agreed. For the routine, I chose the song “Dance To The Music.” from Sly and the Family Stone. The show was a great success, and I graduated with honors.

Afterwards, I decided I was not a model, but a dancer. So I continued my dance training.in the Boston area.

As long as I can remember, driving home at night we would pass a studio in Wellesley, Massachusetts. called “The Mary French Dance Studio”. I would always see the ballroom dancers through the huge glass windows as we drove by and I loved it! This continued for a few more years and by this time I was attending Mass Bay Community College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and still passing by Mary French Dance Studio. One day out of the blue the director of the Hart Modeling Agency called me. She was opening up her own agency and wanted me to teach some classes for her new students in movement, poise and runway walk. And as fate would have it, she was renting space at the Mary French Dance Studio. In between classes I would walk around the dance studio looking at the pictures of dancers on the wall, like Sissy and Bobby from the Lawrence Welk Show, but this one couple stood out, Bob Medeiros and his partner Sheryn Hawkins. He had a Valentino, Elvis Presley charisma way about him.

I graduated college in 1977 ready to head to Broadway, but through a series of karmic events ended up dancing with Richard Diaz as a professional ballroom dance couple. Mr. Diaz had recently left the Fred Astaire chain already an established champion. We trained to compete in the American Style which at the time was Foxtrot, Swing, Bolero and Mambo.
Commuting from Boston to NYC, Mr. Diaz and I took Afro-Cuban Jazz classes with all the greats at the time. I remember taking jazz dance classes at Phil Black Studio in Times Square when NYC was deliciously seedy. Below the dance studio was the Tango Palace, which had the Taxi Dancers, and we would have to climb past them and their “cliental” passed out on the staircase to get to the dance studio. After learning and practicing dancing in the studio all day, we went clubbing at the Corso to dance to the live music of the Latin bands. Eventually we became known for our unique style and rhythms.

1982 or 1983, we signed up for a competition that was being held at the Bradford Hotel in downtown Boston. Advancing to the final, we placed third. First was the amazing Charlie and Jean Penatello, second was Patrick Taverna and Rebecca Francour. BUT, we had taken straight first’s in the Mambo across the board. Still a vivid memory for me today.
That night, after that competition, a somewhat familiar looking, dark lion haired man approached me pointing his finger at me and said “You, you’re my girl! Be downstairs tomorrow morning to partner me in my seminar.” Toward the end of the evening when we were winding down I mentioned the incident to Mr. Diaz about what this man had said to me and Mr. Diaz’s eyes popped out of his head and calmly told me I had been picked out of the crowd by none other than the greatest latin dancer in the world, Mr. Bob Medeiros. And then it dawned on me where I had seen him before, the pictures of him and Sheryn Hawkins were all over the walls of Mary French’s studio.

The next day Bob Medeiros and I danced a Bolero for the crowd. I had never experienced anything like him before in my world of dance and now I was spoiled for life.

Bob Medeiros, The first official United States International Latin Style Champion in 1971. Bob was a natural, so fluid, authentic and innovative in his choreography and rhythms.
Bob, who was now based out of Miami, came to NYC to coach myself & Mr. Diaz, where he skillfully guided us to become the First World Champions for the United States in Mambo.
Later in years Bob and I danced together in shows and performances. It was a magical time, a surreal experience. Bob was my mentor, coach, confident and friend. Outside of dancing, we would go to the theatre and horse back riding as often as possible.

Unfortunately, Bob died in 1993.

After many hours of research, emails and phone calls, I was able to get hold of Bob Medeiros’ personal Super 8mm Films of his Competition Dancing with his partner Sheryn Hawkins. These two were a Match Made in Dance Heaven, they stood out from the rest of the field.

The Super 8mm Films were sent out to be converted to Digital Video files, where they have been edited, with a Music Sound Track and Narration added. Now everyone can see how talented Bob Medeiros was as a Dancer, and learn from his innovation.

After the Competitive Dance scene, I toured the world as a coach, choreographer, and performer, as well as becoming a certified Yoga, Fitness, and Pilates Master instructor. I’m still involved in Ballroom and Latin Dancing via adjudicating, lecturing, and organizing events throughout the United States.