photos: Curt Worden

Born in Kazakhstan, Nikolai Shpakov grew up in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, in the Ural mountain region, the only child of an architect father and an attorney mother. He started dancing "before I learned how to walk," he says, first Russian folk dancing, then jazz, and finally ballroom when  he was 10 years old (both Latin and Standard).
After college, Nikolai was inspired to study law by his mother, a nurse who went back to school to become a lawyer. He thought that dance would be a "serious hobby." But it was in his blood, and he and his female dance partner, Yana, competed successfully in the Ural/Siberian region for several years. In his third year of school, he and Yana were offered the chance to come to New York City to teach ballroom.
He decided to follow his heart, and he and Yana emigrated to America in late 1998. Read more...

New York Times

The first time Ernesto Palma asked Nikolai Shpakov
to cha-cha at a Chelsea dance studio, back in 2014,
the Russian ballroom dancing champ demurred.
"The idea of dancing another man was confusing," the 40-year old Shpakov tells The Post. 
"Who leads? Who follows? I had been dancing with girls since I am 10- I just didn't have an interest."
But after cheek-to-cheeking with Palma for.a fund- raiser that year, the Westchester based dancer changed his tune. Read more...

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"Quality of the dance floor is excellent and overall condition of the studio is the best in Westchester. Instructors are great and the dance socials are well attended and music is really great." -Paul Okura


"Beautiful studio, excellent instruction - overall a top quality ballroom/dance studio to go to. Highly recommend it to anyone interested in dancing." -Meg Nakamura

"I had my 40th birthday party at the Exclusively Dance Studios and could not have asked for a better experience! The hall was impeccably decorated, the music tracks handpicked to my preferences and the food oh so delicious! I asked for several dance lessons for my guests and Alexei and Lola did a superb job teaching us how to waltz, swing, line dance and salsa. 
The dance studio is beautiful, and the owner Nikolai is responsive and accommodating. I highly recommend this place!" -
Olesya Govorun

"The staff - always helpful and encouraging." -Peggy Park Mautner

"Beautiful dance floor, great sound system, clean and beautifully decorated." -Elizabeth Armentano