Alla Novikova began her dance training at a ballroom studio called Edelweiss in Saratov, Russia, when she was 9 years old. She was immediately recognized for her natural talent and work ethic, placing third at the Russian Open just three months after beginning ballroom lessons. The lessons she learned at Edelweiss shaped her career and provided the foundation she needed to open her own ballroom studio: Work hard to prove that you're good enough to be here, and give honor to the experiences that brought you to where you are today.
As the young Novikova began winning more and more regional and national competitions, the cost of her training and competing quickly became a burden on her parents. "My parents and I would often give up dinner so that I could take a dance class," she says. When she was 12, the teachers at Edelweiss gave her a few students to train in order to make some extra money. Here, her true passion bloomed. "Within a year of teaching, my schedule was completely booked, and the dancers I was working with were becoming good," she says. "By the time I was 20, I had a large amount of talented students who'd been with me for seven years, and I decided to stop competing in order to focus on educating." At 22, she and her husband, ballroom dancer and teacher Alex Novikov (whom she met while training), moved to the U.S.
In 2012, they opened their own studio in San Dimas, California, and named it Edelweiss Premier Ballroom, after their hometown studio in Russia. "We picked the name because we wanted to honor our dance parents, and show them that our futures are a representation of our previous experience." They train dancers from ages 3 to 90, including their 12-year-old son, Daniel Novikov, who made history just six months ago by winning the under-12 Latin Championship at Blackpool in England two years in a row.
Novikova says her drive to prove herself, and her desire to show respect to her roots, has helped her create the successful studio she runs today. The advice she has for anyone who's looking to do the same? "Be professional," she says. "Don't scrimp on the talent you bring in. Give your students high-quality teachers. Do your best from the heart, and create an atmosphere that is happy for your dancers. Just do it."
GO-TO WARM-UP "Rumba walks are the best warm-up for a ballroom teacher/dancer."
FAVORITE BALLROOM SHOE BRAND "Aida Dance Shoes."
ENERGY-BOOSTER FOODS "I don't eat chicken or red meat, but I love fish, cheese, nuts, fruits and vegetables."
IDEAL DAY OFF "A day at the beach with my family."
BIGGEST SUPPORT "My husband. Without him I wouldn't be who I am. We support and motivate each other. He gives me stability and love. Only with him can I be myself and fly."