Katie Miller, Broadside Correspondent

Since its inception, So You Think You Can Dance has proven that America really can dance. And this past season, one of Mason’s own was pulled into the spotlight.

George Mason University alum Yana Blinova, a competitive dancer and teacher, was invited to help choreograph a rumba and a cha-cha for two SYTYCD couples.

Already a nationally-acclaimed competitive ballroom dancer, choreographing for SYTYCD proved to be another achievement for Blinova.

“There are two accomplishments I am proud of,” said Bilnova, “one was winning the World Championships in 2006 as a Pro/am. Second, I was proud of appearing on So You Think You Can Dance twice to help choreograph. That is pretty great for me because there are so many good dancers in Los Angeles, but I was the one that was asked.”

Although the Latin rumba with Tony Meridith was not broadcasted, Blinova’s cha-cha coaching session with Meridith did broadcast on July 12, Season 5 Episode 18.

While Blinova did not major in dance at Mason, she was already actively competing while attending. In fact, dancing has been always been a part of her life.

“My parents are professional ballroom dancers. They opened up a dance studio for Ballroom Dancing in Alexandria, Virginia (Dance Studio Lioudmila) where I was first introduced to ballroom.” said Bilnova. “I don’t think I would’ve taken dancing so seriously or live the life I live now if not for that studio.”

Even though choreographing for SYTYCD was a humbling experience, it was also a new challenge for Blinova.

“The couples were very inspiring. Very devoted, committed, extremely talented and they knew how to have fun. And being on stage gave me an adrenaline rush.” said Blinova. “There was so much I wanted to teach them in four days, I had to be careful not to overwhelm the dancers. It was a fantastic experience.”

As a competitor and teacher, Blinova understands the difficulties of such a physically taxing activity, but she feels that the experiences and benefits make up for it all.

“Teaching and then practicing can have its toll on your body. However I love my job and I will never regret my choices. I get to travel and compete, meet new people, keep in shape and wear beautiful costumes and jewelry; my job can move with me wherever I plan to move,” said Blinova.

Considering that Blinova teaches dance for a living, the art form is not just a recreational activity, but a way of life. If she weren’t a dancer, she knows to be happy she would have to be in an environment full of movement and creativity.

“If I didn’t dance, I’d either work in the health industry or compete professionally in another sport. I cannot sit still in an office. I’ve tried. I’m not crazy about working in clinics either, I’ve tried that too. Physical, competitive, artistic work is best for me,” said Blinova.

Blinova currently teaches and competes with her husband and partner, Krasi, at their Orange County Ballroom in Orange County, Calif.