Champions Step Out For Evening Of Latin Dance!

Published: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 By: Christina Hennessy Source: CT. POST

As a couple practiced their moves on the dance floor, Manuel Trillo quickly drew up a rough sketch of the map of Spain from his seat beside a small round table. Dressed in black, save for his shimmery white tie, he had a bit of time before he had to teach a lesson.

"I was a fisherman," he said, pointing to a small dot off Spain's coast in the North Atlantic meant to represent Arosa Island. "I worked on the sea. I'd sell fish, octopus, whatever we pulled up."

It was the family business, and Trillo thought once he finished high school this would be his life. But such plans changed when, at the age of 20, he had a revelation during a visit to a cultural center on the mainland.

"I didn't know the world of dance," he said, recalling how he was drawn to watch couples doing the rumba and other dances. "I thought, `I want to dance. I want to learn how to dance.' "

He worked to find a teacher, and as soon as he started lessons, he realized that he wanted to be a dancer for the rest of his life. "I wanted more and more," he said.

These days, at least for the past four months, the Bridgeport resident has been working to make a new life for himself in the United States. After many years of winning competitions and appearing on such shows as the Spanish version of "Dancing with the Stars," Trillo is hoping to find continued success here. For now, he is an instructor at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Norwalk and is easing himself into his new schedule.

One date that is circled is Tuesday, Oct. 21, when he and Anastasia Zhitova, with whom he has won 28 major competitions in 11 countries, including top Latin and ballroom champs for Spain, will perform. They will join four other couples, including Shane and Shannon Jensen, silver medalists for the World Cabaret title, who teach out of the Metropolitan Dance Center in Stamford.

Latin Stars of Ballroom, which is produced by Bridgeport-based Premier Ballroom Dance, also will feature award-winners Walter