Name: Aliona Vilani Kavanagh
Born: 1 May, 1984 [age 31]
Marital Status: Married to Vincent Kavanagh [7th April, 2014]
Height: 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m)
Favourite Dances: Cha Cha Cha / Waltz
Aliona was born on 1st May 1984 in Kazakhstan. She moved to live in the United States aged 13.
At the age of 5, Aliona was enrolled in ‘Arts Gymnasium’ for classical ballet and performing arts. She started ballroom dancing in Russia when she turned 11 years old. Soon after this she began making the finals in Eastern European competitions.
In 1997, Aliona was invited to go to the United States to be a member of the ‘Kaiser Dance Academy’ in Brooklyn, New York. It was here that she started learning Salsa, Hip Hop and Jazz in the prestigious ‘Broadway Dance Center’ in New York city.
In 2000, she became a US National Champion in Ten-Dance in the Youth category.
In 2001, Aliona was selected by the National Dance Congress to be a part of the US Team in the Ballroom category that competed against the World Teams and won the Amateur Ballroom category for the US. Shortly after that she turned Professional, becoming the youngest professional dancer in that decade in America.
At age 17, Aliona finished High School with an Excellence Diploma in Visual Arts, Fashion Design and got involved in teaching adult classes and the Performing Arts programme for children. At the same time, she continued successfully competing in both Latin and Ballroom at professional championships all over the United States, being placed in the finals and receiving honour places in many major competitions.
Aliona moved to Los Angeles in 2006 and has continuing competing, dancing shows and teaching there since.
Aliona says ‘I was always blessed with having a great opportunity to train with the best teachers in the world. When I had just moved to New York I started training with Louis Van Amstel for Latin. After a year and a half my coach became Slavik Kryklyvyy who I’m thankful for to this day. Giampiero Giannico and Charlotte Jorgensen became my coaches for Ballroom and they gave me the personality, character and love for Ballroom dancing’.
She also took lessons from Allan Tonsberg, Vibeka Toft, Ruud Vermey, Espen Salberg, Peter Maxwell and Brian Watson. Once Aliona moved to Los Angeles, Shirley Ballas became her main coach for Latin and Victor Fung for Ballroom.
‘Being a teacher myself has been a major part of my life since I was 16. My parents moved to Florida and I stayed in New York after I finished High School so teaching both adults and children was my main income at the time. When I wasn’t competing or dancing shows I would teach up to 12 hours a day. Due to my experience and popularity I was hired to be a dance instructor for other dance teachers. I’m very supportive of my students and always make sure that while they’re having a good time they are advancing and pushing their limits. It’s always rewarding for me to see my students do a great job and if things don’t go as well then it’s even more rewarding to see them pull through’.