See also: Categories: Instructors, Adjudicators, Dancers, Organizers, Ballroom, Standard
Hometown: Minsk, Belarus
Current location: Old Bridge, New Jersey
- World-Class Adjudicator
- Competition Organizer
OverviewRita Gekhman-Algarra was born in Minsk, Belarus into a small family. Her father was an engineer and her mother, a math teacher who later became one of the first computer programmers in the country. Her father passed away when she was three years old and she was therefore brought up by her mother and grandmother.
As long as she could remember, Rita has been captivated by the majestic combination of movement and music, whether it was ballet, gymnastics, figure skating, etc. She had an extensive collection of rare pictures from USSR magazines, newspapers and flyers, all of which related to dancing, music and any kind of artistic expression involving movement and music.
At the age of 7, Rita was accepted into the school of rhythmical gymnastics and at the same time, began music school playing the piano. She graduated from music school at 13 and decided to quit gymnastics.
That very same year, her mom attended a Ballroom Dance competition in Vilnus, Lithuania and suggested that her daughter give it a try. Rita fell completely in love with Ballroom Dancing from the first lesson. Soon after, she was accepted into a Ballroom company and together with her partner, became one of the leading couples in Belarus. She still continued with her regular education and graduated from college with an M.A. in Mathematics. She became a math teacher.
In 1990, when Rita was pregnant, she immigrated to Israel. Her son Tal was born 5 months later. Three weeks after his birth, Rita began dancing again and naturally started working a full time job as a high school math teacher in Ashdod, a town 30 minutes south of Tel-Aviv. As if that was not enough, she started teaching dancing as well. She became a very busy person in a very new country with a new language.
With her partner Gena Kigher, they became the first Israel Latin American Amateur Champions in 1991. They represented Israel in the World Latin American American Championships in Oslo, Norway. After that time, she was the Israel National Amateur Champion in the Latin, Standard, 10 Dance and Classic Show Dance divisions.
In 1995, Rita turned Professional and starting dancing with a new partner, Garry Gekhman. Together, they represented Israel in numerous World and European Championships. It was at that time when they started traveling to Europe for lessons with Oliver Wessel-Therhorh, Pamela McGill, and Graham Oswick, among others.
A New Life in AmericaBy 1999, Rita realized that her teaching career was interfering with her dancing. With the help of her two good friends, Igor and Polina Pilipenchuk, they all moved to America and began working in an independent dance studio in New Jersey.
Garry and Rita were eager to learn and develop their dancing and technical knowledge further. It was then when they started taking lessons abroad with the some of the best teachers in the world: Michael and Vicky Barr, Marcus and Karen Hilton, and Kenny and Marion Welsh to name a few.
Back in the United States, Garry and Rita continued practicing and studying with Katusha Demidova and Jonathon Wilkins. Hard work started to pay off in 2002 when they became the first couple to win the United States National Open and Closed Rising Star Championships in the same year. They started making Rising Star finals in England shortly after that. They made the U.S. National Championship final twice.
Among their memorable victories in the Open Standard division were such prestigious competitions such as the Yankee Classic, World Masters, Philadelphia Dance Festival, Constitution State Challenge, North East Invitational, Maryland DanceSport Championship, and Virginia State Championships.
Throughout their career, they competed in Classic Show Dance as well. Preparing and competing in this style gave them great satisfaction and results. With their “Chicago” show number, they became the World Classic Show Dance second runners-up. Their number, the "Freakazoid", combined a futuristic and robotic look with Ballroom Dancing and became very famous all over the world. With this number, they finished second in the World Championship held in Kiev, Ukraine. They won the U.S. National Championships twice with this number as well. The highlight of their career was an invitation to perform the Robot Show dance in Blackpool in the year 2008.
This was the couple's last public performance as Rita decided to retire from competitive dancing and to focus on teaching and judging. It was the time for the new generation of her family to continue what she had started. Dancing was now a family affair. Her son Tal Livshitz is a very serious Amateur competitor.
Just when she thought she would never dance again in front of a large audience as a Professional, Garry and Rita received an invitation from the television show “Dancing with the Stars”, which Rita states was "one of the best experiences of her dance life."
Coach, Adjudicator, and Competition OrganizerRita is currently helping to raise a new generation of champions by the instruction that she offers in Paragon Ballroom in Roselle Park, New Jersey. She takes great pleasure and pride from her students, from Junior to Senior levels. Both her Junior and Senior students are U.S. National Champions and Finalists.
Rita is also one of the organizers of the Kings Ball DanceSport Competition with Igor and Polina Pilipenchuk. In addition, she is the proud new organizer of the International Grand Ball together with husband Maurice Algarra, to be hosted in San Francisco on July 27-29, 2018.
Rita is a Championship Licensed Adjudicator and National Judge for the National Dance Council of America (NDCA) specializing in International Style Standard, International Style Latin, American Smooth, American Rhythm, and the Theatrical Style. She is also an adjudicator for the World Dance Council (WDC).
HobbiesOther than dancing, Rita loves reading, hiking, and spending time outdoors. She enjoys Broadway, museums, traveling, as well as learning about history and different cultures.
- First Israel Latin American Amateur Champion (1991)
- Represented Israel in the World Latin American Championships in Oslo, Norway
- Israel National Amateur Champion in the Latin, Standard, 10 Dance and Classic Show Dance divisions
- First to win the U.S. National Open and Closed Rising Star Standard Championships in the same year
- 2-time U.S. National Championship Finalist
- Yankee Classic Professional Standard Champion
- World Masters Professional Standard Champion
- Philadelphia Dance Festival Professional Standard Champion
- Constitution State Challenge Professional Standard Champion
- North East Invitational Professional Standard Champion
- Maryland DanceSport Professional Standard Champion
- Virginia State Professional Standard Champion
- World Classic Show Dance second runner-up with the number "Chicago"
- World Show Dance Vice-Champion with the number "Freakazoid" (Kiev, Ukraine)
- 2-time U.S. National Champion with Show Dance number "Freakazoid"
- Blackpool Show Dance performer of "Freakazoid"
- Performed on “Dancing with the Stars”
- Holds an M.A. in Mathematics
- Graduated from music school at the age of 13
- Garry Gekhman (1995 - 2008)
- Gena Kigher
- Oliver Wessel-Therhorh
- Pamela McGill
- Graham Oswick
- Michael Barr
- Vicky Barr
- Marcus Hilton
- Karen Hilton
- Kenny Welsh
- Marion Welsh
- Katusha Demidova
- Jonathon Wilkins
- International Grand Ball, Co-Organizer
- Kings Ball DanceSport Competition, Co-Organizer
- Paragon Ballroom, Instructor
- Certified Dance Instructor
- Championship Licensed Adjudicator and National Judge for the National Dance Council of America specializing in:
- International Style Standard (Championship Certified) - North American DanceSport Teachers Association
- International Style Latin (Championship Certified) - North American DanceSport Teachers Association
- American Smooth (Championship Certified) - North American DanceSport Teachers Association
- American Rhythm (Championship Certified) - North American DanceSport Teachers Association
- Theatrical Style (Championship Certified) - Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing
- World Dance Council (WDC) Adjudicator
- Certified - National Dance Council of America