Friday, September 20, 2013

Mike Baris Bio

Mike Baris is a certified dance professional and wedding dance specialist, with accreditation from the North American Dance Teachers Association. He is a nationally ranked instructor who competes regularly at events throughout the country.

At the encouragement of his grandmother, Mike Baris began social ballroom dancing at the age of 11, in Pawtucket Rhode Island. Mike's early childhood mentor was Bob Barber, a former member of the Harry James Orchestra. At the time Mike began dancing, Bob was in his late 80's, instructing in varied dance halls in the Rhode Island area, including the former Hillsgrove Ballroom and the historic Rhodes on the Pawtuxet. It was during this time that Mike was introduced to the dancing contemporaries and venues of his grandmother's era, from formal dancing styles in ballroom, to polka and folk dancing that he learned as a student with the German American Society.

While in high school, Mike continued his dance training under Ann Delmar, director of the Providence Fred Astaire Studio. He later moved to Chicago to train at Liberty Dance Studio. From early on, Mike expressed an interest in competition and instruction in ballroom, but his ambitions for dancing were interrupted in 1999, when he enlisted in the United States Navy. An avid swimmer, Mike served honorably in search and rescue operations onboard the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt and U.S.S. Ponce. His experience abroad was documented in the March 2002 edition of Vanity Fair, which covered the longest at sea deployment of any US ship since World War II. During his six year enlistment, Mike was deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Between deployment periods, Mike still found time for dancing, enrolled at International Dance Studios in Virginia Beach, training under Melinda Spencer. Mike continued to train and compete part time in ballroom until his honorable discharge from the service in 2005. After his enlistment in the Navy, Mike relocated to Washington, DC, and began dancing professionally in 2005. Under principle direction of Ron Bennett, Mike became firmly established in the DC and Maryland area, competing with his students at events all over the country. Based in DC, Mike is currently training under Nick Short and Heidi Unkle.

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