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April 23, 2008

Media Contact: Hannah Buchanan
Public Affairs Specialist
News and Information
The University of Texas at Tyler

'Dancing Star' at UT Tyler Reflects on Time at University

Peterson and his partner at a dance event

Charlie Peterson of Tyler is one of many seniors at The University of Texas at Tyler who anxiously awaits graduation this May. Not only does he hold the title of graduating senior, but also owner of the Tyler-based Ballroom Dance Company and professional ballroom dancer.

It has been said, “Dancers aren’t made of their technique, but their passion.” That statement can be true for Peterson, who began dancing at age 12. He helped establish a student-wide interest in ballroom dancing by offering ballroom, Latin and Swing dance classes at the UT Tyler Herrington Patriot Center.

“I have a passion for teaching others the art that is now my profession,” Peterson said.

He also was one of three students who participated in last year’s “Dancing with the Tyler Stars,” a local fundraiser benefiting Tyler AIDS Services that is based on the popular ABC Network television show, “Dancing with the Stars.” Peterson served as an instructor/dance partner for the event.

Looking back at his time at the university, the speech communication major said he will always remember the quality professors who took time to encourage him – both off and on the dance floor.

“I’ve established some great friendships with some of the professors here. They have been great mentors. I will probably carry those friendships with me for the rest of my life,” said Peterson, who began competing professionally at age 18.

Peterson at a dancing event
Peterson’s dance beginnings began with reluctance and despise – at first.        

“I’ve been ballroom dancing for almost 11 years. My mom actually made me do it when I was 12, and I hated her for it. No 12-year-old boy wants to take swing dancing lessons with his sister,” he said with a laugh. “But after six weeks, I thought, ‘Well this isn’t so bad.’”

Peterson is now one of the very view professionals between Dallas and Atlanta, Ga. He has trained under national and world champions.

“I’ve trained under Mark Ballas’ father. Mark is a current teacher on the ‘Dancing with the Stars’ show, and his father has already sent two of his top students on the show,” Peterson said.

As a UT Tyler sophomore, he served on the UT Tyler Student Senate and as president of the UT Tyler Students of Free Enterprise, Social Dancing Society and Swing Dance Society. He also provided contract work with several ballet companies that have performed at the UT Tyler R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center.

Upon graduation, Peterson hopes to move his company to Dallas and marry his fiancé, Tonya, who also is a professional ballroom dancer. He said although his company will move, he will keep a branch in Tyler open for East Texans to enjoy.

For more information about Ballroom Dance Company, visit http://www.ballroomdancecompany.net.

One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 90 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 6,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.

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