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  • Manny Crisostomo /

    Barnaly Pande tutors Sergiy Vasylyev, 16, at her VIP Dance Ballroom Academy. Pande left postdoctoral work at UC Davis to pursue her passion for ballroom dancing.

  • Manny Crisostomo /

    Barnaly Pande won top ballroom teacher at the U.S. Dance Sport Championship, and her students have won awards as well.

Cathie Anderson: Woman steps up as dance comes calling

Published: Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012 - 11:36 am

Dance found Barnaly Pande, although she was born to an Indian caste that didn't encourage it.

Dance found her, though she had cringed at Bollywood movies as a teenager trying to fit into Western culture in her native Birmingham, England.

Dance found Pande, though she was busy doing postdoctoral work in crop genetics at the University of California, Davis.

"I tried some group classes," she said, "and within a week, I'd decided that I wanted to put more effort into it, and I started to take private lessons, and that's how it all started. After that, I started to compete fairly soon because I've always been competitive."

That was 10 years ago. Now the slow-quick-quick, slow-quick-quick rhythm of the fox trot comes naturally to Pande, as does the one-two-three, one-two-three of the waltz, so naturally that she's opened her own studio, VIP Ballroom Dance, at 1111 Howe Ave.

She left UC Davis five years ago and has slowly built a clientele by doing dance demonstrations and teaching in a gym, a church and a bar.

Ron and Mary Onodera drive from El Dorado Hills for lessons. Others come from as far as Stockton and Nevada City.

This year, Pande won top female instructor at the Emerald Ball DanceSport Championship in Los Angeles and top ballroom teacher at the U.S. Dance Sport Championship in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Her students Sergiy Vasylyev and Christopher Jones have won trophies for top gentleman dancer.

So, does Pande get winning moves from a certain highly rated TV show?

"Sometimes a student will say to me, 'Oh, you need to see so-and-so's routine or so-and-so's dress on 'Dancing With the Stars,' and it will suddenly remind me that there's this whole show that people are excited about, and I'll look it up online," she said. "I'm always teaching at the time when it's airing. By the time I get home, it's 11 or 12 at night, and then I'm back here at 8 in the morning."

Sales reps get the point

Sales representatives Diane Buckley and Jade Abay return year after year to the Connecting Point, a half-day event that brings together procurement officers from 60-plus state agencies.

The event is a one-stop shop for small businesses looking to land or expand their government contracts. Buckley represents Signature Repographics, and Abay closes deals for River City Office Supply, the 30-year-old business founded by her parents. Both firms are based in Sacramento.

"Each department has a different way of purchasing from small business, a different method," Abay said. "You get to talk to them and figure out what's the best way to go about it."

Buckley said: "I've been in sales my whole career, and … rarely do you actually have the procurement people from the divisions actually there at these shows, and that's what my experience has been here."

Register online at for the Tuesday event, or show up as early as 8:30 a.m. at the Citrus Heights Community Center, 6300 Fountain Square Drive. Workshops and networking begin at 9 a.m. and end at 12:30 p.m.

"People there are looking for things," Buckley said. "They'll tell you what they need and how to go about contacting them. I was able to get procurement for Caltrans immediately. I got a small piece of business from UC Davis. … I got the names of people for Sacramento State University."

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