Testimonials from students & instructors


Diana Easter - Professional Competitor

By using the hip lift technique, I feel connection to the floor, connection to my body, a strong connection with myself and my partner. I can feel specific muscles stretching and working doing simpler steps correctly. The result is a well placed body and clear actions. And toned muscles!!! Can’t forget that!  Natural actions are good, but structure and training is better.

Katy Photopoulos (with teacher Jonathan Green) - student, World Pro-Am DanceSport Series Rhythm and Smooth Youth Champion


Coming from a Latin background and transitioning into rhythm, the Hip Lift Technique is essential in giving my technique a solid base to build off of. The main components of the Hip Lift Technique are transformative in my training as a Rhythm dancer. The attention to detail and basic drills are exactly what I needed to properly execute the American Rhythm dances.

Luna Viva (with teacher Kristjian Burazer) - student

The HLT has been an invaluable tool for developing my American Rhythm dancing. It provides a clear method of learning and expanding the expression of movements. I have found that my capacity to learn and apply it to various aspects of my dancing has exponentially increased over the last few years. I enjoy the fact that it has a structure and framework that remains consistent and the potential to continue to evolve within it.

I'm ever so grateful and indebted to Sam Sodano and Bill Sparks for sharing their vision passion and perseverance and helping make my Rhythm dancing a greatly rewarding and fulfilling experience Also, so much gratitude to my coaches Kristijan and Anja in continuing to inspire and train me into persistently applying it and bringing my dancing to the next level.


Jason & Sveta Daly - Professional Ballroom Dancers

For a long time we were told to just bend our knees, but felt that our dancing was missing something because of the lack of structure. The "Hip Lift Technique" gave us the ability to understand how to use a soft knee, the standing leg, and delayed actions, enabling us finally to dance to our fullest!


Riccardo Pappi & Sabrina Moretti - Professional Competitors

Sabrina and I have danced for many years together and we are one of many couples who switched from Latin to Rhythm. As trained dancers, we use our bodies as a tool, so it isn’t that difficult for us to learn a different method of moving. The hard part we face when we first started to learn the new style was that everybody had their own opinion, but nobody was really giving us the structure we needed in order to make it work.

As of right now, we finally have an official method for this amazing style; it isn’t rocket science, but in fact is a simple and effective way to produce RHYTHM in the body. The best thing is that once you learn the mechanics it works for all 5 dances. When you have it in your body, you feel more control moving from foot to foot. We have a more grounded body weight on the floor, a deeper body action, and an original flavor to our competitive routines.

HLT has the consistency we were long looking for, and we really want to thank Sam for being the one to explain to us and the Dance World!


John Holzworth - Professional Competitor & Teacher

I have been a ballroom dance teacher for 11 years. I have always enjoyed watching my students come to life through movement. It amazes me to watch individuals change, grow and claim their personal power through dance. I have always enjoyed teaching performance, styling and technique, but after learning HLT it took my education and teaching to a completely different level. Not only was I able to learn a technique specific to American Rhythm, I could help students build a solid foundation that would eventually allow them to express their personality even more!

La Meri said it best... "The only reason for mastering technique is to make sure the body does not prevent the soul from expressing itself."

With HLT I am able to continue to grow as both a dancer and teacher!!


Sean Lyons & Anastasia Gordeeva - Professional Competitors & Teachers

We use the Hip Lift Technique because it is in our opinion, one of the clearest means of breaking down American Rhythm movement. It helps both pros and students develop the tools to show a distinct style for all dances within the genre! It has been very helpful for us as we transitioned to the American style, and we are thankful for the structure it will provide future generations of dancers.


Aleksandar Bonev - Studio Owner, Teacher & Professional  Competitor

I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn this technique. HLT provides a more distinct look in the American Rhythm style of dancing. The clarity and mechanics of movement can be clearly seen by the separation of foot, knee and hip action in the dancing. HLT clearly shows the difference between Rhythm and Latin and it is a technique that can benefit professional dancers, teachers and students of all levels.


Senzo Makhaye and Agnieska Strojek - Professional Competitors

As an international Latin dancers for a long time we have been lifting our hips to achieve diagonal stretch and when we switched to American Rhythm we wanted to know how we can represent this style the best as we can. Hip Lift helps us to be more rhythmical dancers and show our body dynamics.

Gil Aromas & Kristin Rummell - Professional  Competitors

We use the Hip Lift Technique in our teaching and our own dancing because it provides a clear structure to understand how to use your body's natural mechanics to be more grounded, balanced and stable in your dancing, regardless of your age, level or experience. Once you have that balance and stability, you can find more rhythm, musicality and shape in the rest of your body. HLT has given us the tools to broaden our dynamic range in movement and expression.


Maria Green - Pro-Am  Competitor

I found using the HLT method as an adult student to be very helpful. It is concise and clear, and therefore decreased frustration in the early learning stage. It is also very intelligible in its nature. Its logic enabled me to be able to practice and self correct, which made practicing time much more fulfilling and consequently, leads to faster visible results.


Natalie Crandall - Professional Competitor with partner Oleksiy Pigotskyy

I was a competitive Pro/Am student for 15 years before becoming a Professional. As a student I always loved dancing Rhythm but never quite understood the technique and common thread that is now being taught as HLT. In 2012, I decided to move to Arizona to work specifically with Decho Kraev and Bree Watson. At the time they were already 2x American Rhythm National Champions. My ultimate goal and dream was to become a Pro/Am US Champion and I knew in order to make that dream a reality, I had to train with the best.

The first 3 months of my training, I only worked with Bree on the Hip Lift Technique before I even started to dance with Decho. I must admit that at first I felt as though I was starting over with my dance training. As the time passed though, I started to understand how HLT embodied the unique rhythmical elements of American Rhythm music.

As the years went on, I went from just making a final, all the way to an undefeated Pro/Am US National Champion. I was also lucky enough to have been chosen by Sam Sodano to perform on America’s Ballroom Challenge with Decho in order to showcase the HLT technique to a National audience.

I am forever grateful to Decho, Bree, Billy, and Sam for completely transforming my dancing career and solidifying my love for American Rhythm. It is a technique that is completely teachable to students of ALL levels and ages from newcomer to professional! I believe this technique will benefit all individuals for many years to come!

Akiko Birch - Pro-Am Competitor

As a dance student, HLT has helped me transition from social dance to competitive ballroom dancing. As a beginner student, I was just copying steps and movement, but never learned how to develop the movement correctly. HLT gave me the structure and a series of drills that I can work on my own, which is allowing me more chances to work on partnering at my lessons and really have fun dancing at the competitions as I gain more confidence. I still have a lot more to learn from HLT, but the more I learn and work on the technique, the more I enjoy my own achievements in dancing.


Anja Burazer Imamovic & Kristen Burazer - Professional Competitors

Hip Lift Technique has made a significant difference and improvement to our dancing. We’ve always understood the importance of great technique.  HLT provides a great understanding of movement and how to develop your dancing to the highest level possible. Coming from International Latin style, we thought that American style was almost the same. However, HLT has fully changed our thinking and made us understand the importance of it. Now that we are fully aware of HLT and applying it to our dancing, it has made a tremendous impact on our dancing. We intend to keep learning, practicing, and applying all the detailed nuances of the Hip Lift Technique.


Sandy Buckholz - Pro-Am Competitor

I started dancing amateur American Rhythm just prior to the Hip Lift Technique being introduced. I was confused by the inconsistency I saw in my style of dance. The HLT made the American style so clear for me and gave me a basic structure of technique that I could carry through all of my dances. It made sense and it IS what defines American Rhythm. As an amateur, it has helped me improve my dancing as I continue to master the actions and footwork of the HLT. Thank you Sam Sodano for your vision and Bill Sparks for your passion and patience in introducing this to my dancing!


Toshko Kondov & Kristen Dobson - Professional Competitors


While growing up, all my training was in the International Styles of dance. When I transitioned to American Rhythm, naturally I wanted to understand the basic fundamental structure of the style. It wasn't until my wife and I started working with Sam Sodano and were introduced to the Hip Lift Technique did we get a definitive understanding about the actions used and the distinct difference between Latin and Rhythm. HLT is incredibly detailed, logical, and most importantly, the mechanics of the movement are applicable to the music and tempo.

One of the essential things HLT achieves is it allows us to use a delayed action, without affecting the posture in a negative way. The terminology and vocabulary used to describe HLT makes it easily transferrable not only to professionals, but dancers of all levels. We are firm believers that the Hip Lift Technique is the way to go and hope that it spreads even more, thus defining American Rhythm in a clear and definite way. We also feel it is a unique opportunity to be able to learn this method from the man who created it, Sam Sodano!


Terre Paulson - Pro-Am Competitor

I had taken a couple of years to step away from competing. My dancing in American Rhythm in the past did not include the HLT style. I found a new Pro, Dmitry Demidov from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. In our first lesson he asked me what I was looking for from him. I told him I wanted to work on and compete in American Rhythm with the HLT.

This was the start of an amazing dance journey. We have been working HLT for over a year year now. I have never danced like this in my life, using my whole body, moving to the rhythm of the music like it should be done. People that see me dance now say to me "We know you were a good dancer before, but you look so fabulous now." And it is all due to Sam and his development of HLT.

Thank you Sam and Bill Sparks for promoting it and Dmitry Demidov for teaching me. I see the huge difference in dancers at the comps that use this technique compared to the dancers that don't. Judges are also seeing it . . . I notice in their placement of the winners.

Jonathan Green & Rachel Grumblatt - Professional Competitors


Rachel -
 Coming to the Ballroom world from a ballet background, I was accustomed to having a clear structure for every movement. When I first began teaching Ballroom, I felt that I was missing this clarity in my Rhythm dances. Hip Lift Technique gave me the structure that I had been lacking both my dancing and teaching.

Jonathan - What is great about HLT is that it provides the student with the foundation to move his or her dancing forward to the next level. The Hip Lift Technique teaches the student to understand their movement systematically so that they can then replicate and apply HLT in each dance. This allows the student make quick progress and to improve their dancing.


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