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THE CONNECTION: MEET YOUR DANCERS
THE CONNECTION
MEET YOUR DANCERS
Picture by unknown
By Sammi Turano


Tell me about yourself and career.
Patricia Kaniowski:
I was born in Sydney, Australia in 1984. My parents migrated there from Poland. I began dancing at the age of 10. At 12 years old I was already an Australian Junior finalist and started competing internationally representing Australia at age 13. From then on, I won many championship titles in Australia and in England. 

As soon as I graduated from high school, Jason Gilkinson asked my partner and I if we wanted to join the international tour of Burn the Floor. I left Australia at 17 years old to pursue my dreams.

I then moved to England and competed on the international scene throughout my late teens. In my early 20’s I moved to the US for a dance partner and soon because a US Latin finalist. Throughout my 20’s, I continued my career as a professional, making national and International finals in the rising star and placing 22nd in the International Championships in the professional open to the world Latin division. 

In 2008, I joined a tour in the US called Ballroom With a Twist, which was originated by Louis Van Amstel from Dancing With The Stars. The tour combined performers from Dancing With The Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, and American Idol. I became dance captain and toured the states for 8 years performing Live in Theaters across the country and throughout Canada. 

In 2012 I retired from competitive dancing and continued performing. I started a real estate investment company with my partner Legacy Perez in 2013, and we continue flipping multi-million-dollar properties throughout Los Angeles. 

Legacy Perez:
I'm a professional dancer from Miami, Florida. After seeing a movie with dancers, I realized I wanted to be that dancer in the movie. So, I picked up and left Miami with 240 dollars in my pocket. I then ran out of gas in New Orleans, had to street perform to make enough money to get to Los Angeles. Exactly one month after arriving in Los Angeles I landed a commercial, and in less than one year I was on Gwen Stefani's world tour. I've performed with every artist in pop industry, as well as made it as a finalist on So You Think You Can Dance.

Fast forward to 2017, I have a successful multi-million-dollar business in real estate and I am a professional speaker in the entrepreneurial community.

CJ Bair:
I’ve been dancing professionally in this industry for over 10 years and enjoy everything that comes with it. I’m currently trying to navigate through a transition of still dancing and giving attention to my home staging business that I started with my partner and fellow Connection member, Tony. 

Tony Pututau:
I was born and raised in Provo, Utah. I started dancing when I was 13 years old. From when I started dancing until I was 24 I was heavily involved in the competitive ballroom dance world. When I was 17, I moved to London to train with the top coaches in the world. At that time, London was the main hub for ballroom dancing. After living there for two years I moved to New York City to continue my training. During my competitive years I became a US Junior (ages 13-15) National Champion and represented the US at the first ever Junior Latin American World Championship in Kiev, Ukraine. I went on to become a Youth (ages 16-18) National Champion and an Amateur (ages 18 and up) National Finalist. When I turned 24, I decided to hang up my competition shoes and move to Los Angeles to try my hand at the commercial dance world. I have never looked back. Los Angeles has been good to me. I have been fortunate enough to make a good living solely from dance.

Randi Strong:
I’m originally from Orem, Utah and have been professionally dancing for over 17 years. I reside in Los Angeles where my work is based out of. However, I do travel an extensive amount. Previous credits include So You Think You Can Dance Season 5, FOX, Netflix, Christina Aguilera, Arianna Grande, Fuller House, Gilmore Girls, Nike, and X Factor, just to name a few. About three years ago I started my own production company, which is just one of the many avenues that I am currently pursuing. My company, Strong Productions, produces custom live entertainment around the country for large corporations and live events. In addition to still performing (of course with The Connection), I also coach Olympic ice dancers on and off the ice. We focus mainly on movement, choreography, intention, connection with partner and the audience, performance quality and most importantly the mental strength it takes to compete at such a high level.

What got you into dancing? 
Patricia Kaniowski:
When I was 10 years old, my parents took me to the movie theatre to watch Strictly Ballroom. I fell in love with ballroom dancing from that point on and took my first class. The rest is history!

Legacy Perez:
I was 15 years old, and went to a skating rink called Hot Wheels, and people were breaking in the middle where you rest. I fell in love with the movement.
CJ Bair:
I started dancing when my middle school offered a social dance course. They offered the class as a PE replacement. I was still closeted and too awkward around guys in the locker room.

Tony Pututau:
When I was 13 years old I had no idea what ballroom dancing was. My junior high school offered a social dance class and my mom bribed me into taking it. She told me I didn’t have to do Boy Scouts if I took the class. I hated Scouts, so I jumped on the opportunity. After my first class I was hooked.
Randi Strong:
I originally started gymnastics when I was 3 years old because my mom was a gymnast. Ballet lessons followed, and I found more passion in dance, so quitting gymnastics was the obvious next step. I started really taking it seriously when I was in the 5th grade and I made a company competition team. I knew right away that dance, performing, and entertainment in general was what I wanted to do forever.

What type of dance would you say is your specialty?
Patricia Kaniowski:
Ballroom and Latin Dancing 

Legacy Perez:
Bboy aka breaking 
CJ Bair:
Latin ballroom dancing/partnering is what I specialize in. I’ve dabbled in other styles, but ballroom is home for me.

Tony Pututau:
Latin American ballroom dancing is my specialty.
Randi Strong:
I am very fortunate to be trained in several styles of dance starting formally with jazz, ballet, tap, hip hop, and tumbling. It wasn't until about 7 years ago when I started training in the latin and ballroom styles all because I was on tour. The dancers I was touring the world with just happen to be world champions, so I would pull them aside all the time and ask them to teach me steps. I now work and choreograph almost everything in the ballroom and partnering styles, which I never thought would be the case. It's so interesting nowadays because you honestly have to be able to do a little bit of every style. You never know what a choreographer or director is going to ask for, and it's such a great feeling knowing that I have a lot of things to pull from.

What kind of dance do you still want to learn?
Patricia Kaniowski:
I would love to learn more adagio and contemporary. I find those styles so expressive and extremely challenging. 

Legacy Perez:
I love all movement and have performed Indian, jazz, contemporary and even ballroom. I am always a student learning.

CJ Bair:
I want to be a better hula dancer.

Tony Pututau:
I would love to learn real authentic Argentine Tango. This dance style intrigues me.

Randi Strong:
One of my dreams is to go and live in Argentina for an extended period of time and immerse myself in the culture and learn the Argentine Tango. The real Argentine Tango. That is on the calendar to happen at the end of next summer.

Tell me about dancing on TV shows. 
Patricia Kaniowski:
I personally help more behind the scenes of the TV shows. I’ve assisted in choreographing for So You Think You Can Dance and have helped some friends out who have been on TV who need creative input for choreography. I’ve also been an assistant choreographer on the movie Mordecai, starring Johnny Depp and Olivia Munn.

Legacy Perez:
It's amazing how the platform allows for us artists to express ourselves, and it is challenging at times, especially when you are live.

CJ Bair:
Dancing on TV you get a lot more takes unless it’s live, which is always fun because you never know what will happen.

Tony Pututau:
Dancing on TV shows can be very exhausting with long hours and lots of takes. The fun part about it is that you get pampered. Hair stylist, makeup artists and craft services.

Randi Strong:
Let me start by saying that it took me three years of auditioning and 2 years of failing to finally make it to So You Think You Can Dance by the third time. So, if I could say anything to any aspiring dancer it is to ALWAYS persevere. Dancing on TV shows is a lot different than what people see on TV. I remember being on So You Think You Can Dance and not even understanding the impact that we were having on the outside world. Your schedule is so jam packed with rehearsal, costumes fittings, interviews, meetings, hair/makeup, etc. You barely even have time to realize what is actually happening. One of my favorite parts about being on TV was all the people I got to meet, not even just on the show but on the national tour that followed. I got to have real interactions with fans of the shows and express my gratitude for all their support. Also, the choreographers that you are able to work with is just amazing. Mia Michaels choreographed the infamous 'Butt Dance' on me and it was for that and 'The Addiction' dance that she won a choreography Emmy. I am extremely grateful for the experiences that show brought to my life and continues to do so. I know that I would not have been the professional dancer and choreographer that I am today without it.

How did you get involved in that?
Patricia Kaniowski:
Referrals are where most of my opportunities have come from. Though competing in ballroom for so many years, you realize what a small circuit it really is, and you get to know the other dancers well. You work together on different jobs, build working relationships and then help each other out.

Legacy Perez:
Through auditions. I felt I wanted to make an impact in people's lives, and show others that they can do it if I can.
CJ Bair:
Just direct bookings or booking the audition.

Tony Pututau:
Every TV job I’ve done has been through my dance agent.

Randi Strong:
I grew up dancing at the same studio as Alison Holker (So You Think You Can Dance Season 3) and I remember saying, "I want to do that. And I can do that." That was what sparked the flame and I never looked back.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Patricia Kaniowski:
The highlight of my career is absolutely when I made the top 22 in the World (out of approximately 600 professionals competing). As a professional ballroom dancer, you train approximately 5 hours each day and make a lot of sacrifices, both personally and financially. It was a moment when I realized my hard work paid off and not to mention, the competition was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London, which dancing there, was a dream come true.

Legacy Perez:
I would say my highlight was dancing on Mariah Carey's tour because I grew up listening to her.

CJ Bair:
Friendships and memories made through all the amazing people you meet and connect with through the years.

Tony Pututau:
The highlight of my career has been the incredible friends I’ve made and the places I’ve been able to visit.

Randi Strong:
I don't think it's just one moment. I look back on my career and can remember so many amazing memories, but then I look at my career today and I'm in love with it as well. It's all about what you create and how you respond to each experience that makes it so great. A specific moment that always comes back to me is when I take bows at the end of any show. It's all the hard work and time you have put in, and to see an audience appreciate that is so cool. You can't even see faces in the audience, it's just you on the stage for a split second with the blinding spot light and the echo of applause. Definitely a feeling that I don't forget.

Tell me about your tour?
We are a dynamic group that performs for private events and corporate events across the US. We create a one of a kind, custom performance based on our clients needs. We love sharing our talent to audiences all over the world. It’s a show that combines different dance styles with some of your favorite dancers from hit TV shows. Dancers from different worlds fused together for the soul purpose of entertaining and love of movement.

How did you get involved?
The Connection all met while doing Ballroom With A Twist. We formed a close friendship after so many years of traveling and working together, and realized that we absolutely loved working together and sharing our love for each other and dance with everyone. We knew we had a special connection right away as friends, and as the years went on and we started developing our own businesses outside of dance as well, we realized that we had the skill set to start a business as dancers and performers with our closest friends. 


What can fans expect to see?
Fans can expect to see a story. We can create high energy, tricks and fast footwork, or a more soft, heartfelt performance full of emotion. We are like no other group as we combine dance styles such as breaking, hip-hop, ballroom, contemporary and adagio. Our group is so amazing at leaving everything on that dance floor and giving our audiences an EXPERIENCE. When you leave, you may not even know why, but you will feel good, uplifted, and inspired.

How is touring different than dancing on TV?
Dancing to a live audience is so much more personal than dancing on TV. When you’re dancing to a camera it’s hard to connect to your audience. Having that support and energy from live audience, touches us and helps us be more open and vulnerable with them.

Who are some dancers you still want to work with?
Patricia Kaniowski:
I would love to work with Jason Gilkinson once again. He is such an amazing creative and talented choreographer. I would love if he could work with The Connection.

Legacy Perez:
I want to work with dancers that have tuned in to moving with feeling. Not necessarily specific dancers, but all around the best.

CJ Bair:
Anyone.

Tony Pututau:
I would love to work with Mandy Moore. She’s so accomplished and she seems to bring out the best in everyone she works with.

Randi Strong:
I don't know if I would say there are specific dancers I want to work with. However, I am always looking to work with new people who bring something special to the table. I absolutely love meeting new people, hearing their stories, where they're from and how they got here. You can always learn something new from literally anyone.

Now choreographers would be a different story. I get the opportunity to work again with the critically acclaimed Tony winner, Andy Blankenbeuler. I absolutely cannot wait for that! When you get a chance to be surrounded by professionals who are on another level, it immediately requires you to up yourself a level. That's what it's all about right? Growing, learning, becoming better than you were yesterday. I truly believe that if you can place yourself with the right people and give yourself a chance, opportunities will suddenly present themselves.

What else are you working on?
Patricia Kaniowski:
. We are really working on our branding right now. We have a couple live performances coming up in December. We are also in the new stages of speaking to different charities and partnering up with them.

Legacy Perez:
I have a dance related online product that is going to change people's lives. It's called “Behind The Movement," and I can't wait to launch.

CJ Bair:
Like I mentioned a little before, the cool thing about our group is dance isn’t the only thing we do, but it does bring us together. Tony and I also stage homes in Los Angeles and teach dance.

Tony Pututau:
My life partner, CJ Bair, and I have a home staging business that we started about a year ago. So, we’ve been balancing that with our dance company, The Connection.

Randi Strong:
I am currently producing a Christmas show for the third year in a row. The Americana at Brand in Glendale has a tree lighting ceremony every year, and my company puts on the show that leads up to the big finale with fireworks. I start rehearsals for a major motion picture film starring Christian Bale, with rehearsals beginning the middle of this month. On top of all this, I'm also currently traveling and training the Olympic ice dancers with movement coaching and choreography. While this schedule of mine keeps me extremely busy, it is by design and I wouldn't have it any other way.

What would fans be surprised to know about you?
Patricia Kaniowski:
Fans would be surprised to know that I am a stock day trader and a real estate investor. I have a very logical and analytical brain. I guess that’s what I love about Ballroom dancing. It’s a creative outlet, but also very technical at the same time.

Legacy Perez:
That I almost got kidnapped at 12 years old. Having that vivid memory has allowed me to work harder than I probably would have, had it not happened.
CJ Bair:
I’m half Tongan.

Randi Strong:
I love to play pool and have become quite good at it. Not professional in any capacity, please don't get confused! I even have my own cue that has my name engraved on it.

What are you watching on TV these days?
Patricia Kaniowski:
I tend to watch very little TV. I enjoy Netflix series and documentaries. However, my guilty pleasure is the OC Housewives!

Legacy Perez:
I rarely watch TV, but I love watching motivational videos that give me sentimental value.

CJ Bair:
All the Housewives, Kardashians and any other reality TV. I’m all about it.

Tony Pututau:
I love to watch Vice News on HBO and every city of The Real Housewives.

Randi Strong:
I'm obsessed with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I think the writing is genius and Titus is one of the best characters I have ever seen. I also will never ever get sick of watching Friends. Any season, any episode. I love them all.

Anything else you want to tell America?
We hope that the take away for anybody reading about us or our stories is to follow your passion. You have control over your entire life, how you react, how you treat people, all of it. We hope that by telling our stories, people will see that it's not always glamorous or just what you see on TV or posted on social media. That what we do we work really hard for and have done so for many years. Follow your dreams, because they do come true and we promise you that.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT! We love hearing from our fans and appreciate their support more than you will ever know. Sending lots of love and positive thoughts.

Follow us on social media to see where you can catch a live performance close to you and all the latest news and fun stuff we are working on!

IG: @theconnectionla
Twitter: @TheConnection19
Facebook: @connectionla

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