Elena Grinenko is a professional National & World ballroom dance champion, choreographer, and instructor.
Elena Grinenko was born in Moscow, Russia, USSR, where she began ballroom dancing at the age of seven. It was a very odd choice at that time, especially for the granddaughter of a General in the Red Army. The ballroom style of dancing was not something the General thought his granddaughter should do. As the head of the family, he was not too happy about her choice. But, like any loving grandfather spoiling their grandchildren, he allowed her to dance, because Elena fell in love with the ballroom immediately.
In her first few months of dancing, her teachers noticed that Elena stood out of the crowd. She really had that special something. Immediately her teachers paired her up with an experienced partner, one who had already danced for a few years and had some titles behind him. Instead of beginning with simple and fun things for kids, Elena had to learn dance sport routines and get ready in a few short months to compete. In her first year of dancing, Elena became a champion of Moscow in her age category. Ballroom dancing is very popular in the country. To win this first important medal, Elena competed against 180 other couples.
Aside from Ballroom Dancing, Elena has had training in ballet and Russian folk dancing. Back then, in Russia, USSR, folk style dancing was part of the Ballroom program. She has also participated in the Ballroom Formation Team of Russia, and had some basic musical education.
In her Junior & Youth career, Elena became a Moscow, Russian and Soviet Union Finalist in all divisions of ballroom dancing: Standard, Latin and 10-dance. Elena won many more competitions all over the former soviet republics. After the USSR separated and Russia joined the world dance sport organization, Elena, together with her partner Sergei Soloviev, was one of the first couples to represent Russia on the World Championship. Elena’s partner at that time was three years older and at the age of only thirteen, she was Vice Champion in a first Youth (16-18 years of age) Russian Championship.
In 1994, while still competing in the youth category, but with a different partner Michael Nadtochi, Elena won the Moscow and National Championship titles in the Latin Division. That same year, she became a world semi-finalist in the Latin category, her country's finalist in the standard division and her country's champion in the 10-Dance category.
In many schools in Russia, you can choose your major in 8th grade for the last two years of school (school was only 10 years). Elena was an A student and chose to major in high mathematics and geometry. After graduating from high school in 1995, she made a choice to proceed with her Dance career rather than math. Elena was accepted into a very prestigious "ART ACADEMY" of Russia to study many different forms of dance, acting and art.
Elena was unusually young to be entering the Professional world of ballroom dancing. At that point in her life, she knew that immigrating to America would open other doors for her dancing. In order to get an O-1 visa, she needed to turn Pro, and so her decision was made.
In 1998, Elena received the O-1 Visa for extraordinary people and immigrated to the United States of America. Two years later she received a Green Card. Elena became a United States Citizen in 2008.
In just a year of competing in the United States of America, in Professional category, she became a National rising star finalist. Together with her partner, Michael Nadtochi, Elena won an award for “Top Rising Star Couple of the Year”.
In 2002 Elena partnered with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Their first competition happened to be the Closed American National Rising Star Championship. They won in all the dances. Together they went on to win the International Rising Star Championship. Within six months they became one of the top twelve (semi-final) Professional Dancers in the World.
Also in 2002, Elena and Maksim starred as one of the leading dancers in a Broadway show created by one of the world's Latin Champions Louis Van Amstel, called "LATIN FUSION". In 2004, they also starred in the show's follow up "LATIN REVOLUTION." Right now it developed into popular show "BALLROOM WITH A TWIST" which is performed all over the country.
2005 was a year of change for Elena. Elena decided to dance with Tony Dovolani. After just five weeks of preparation for competition, the partnership was so strong they won their first title together by sweeping all the first places. Together they became National and World Champions in the American Rhythm Category. They continued to compete and won many more competitions all over the country. They have recently retired from dance sport competitions, but continue dancing and working together.
Elena Grinenko is a familiar face on television. Many of The Dance Sport Championships were broadcast on channels all over the Europe. World Cup – Kremlin Cup on Russian TV Channel and Eurosport. She has been on the show American Ballroom Challenge – Americas best couple, which was broadcast on PBS in United States.
Her claim to fame is her role on ABC's hit "Dancing with the Stars"
She was partnered with anchor Tucker Carlson in season 3. Tucker Carlson is a conservative political commentator currently best known for formally being co-host of Crossfire, CNN's once-popular and lively political debate program. Crossfire aired nightly before a live studio audience from George Washington University's Jack Morton Auditorium in Washington, D.C. Carlson hosted a show on PBS called Tucker Carlson.
And NBA Legend Clyde Drexler in season 4. One of the game's all-time great guards, Clyde "The Glide" Drexler was known for his high-flying yet seemingly effortless swoops to the basket. A perennial All-Star and a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Dream Team, Drexler twice led the Blazers to the NBA Finals. It wasn't until he joined the Houston Rockets midway through his 12th campaign, however, that he finally earned a championship ring. In 1987-88, he placed fifth in the balloting for the NBA. He received Most Valuable Player Award. Clyde was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He is currently the color commentator for Rockets home games.
Elena performed with such artists like: Jesse McCartney, Music legend - Lionel Richie, Willa Ford, Nick Lachey, Grammy Award winner - LeAnn Rimes, The Rock Band “Survivor”, Nelly Furtado, MeatLoaf, Joss Stone And many more…
Elena together with Joey Lawrence did a promotion for “Dancing with the Stars” workout Book. Jive, Samba and Tango your way into the Best shape of your life
Elena and her costars from “Dancing with the Stars” participate in the opening number for ALMA Awards along with Mario Lopez and Eva Longoria-Parker
She also appeared in the ABC show "Here Come the Newlyweds" (where recently married couples compete in a variety of challenges for an ever-increasing cash prize). Elena was teaching couples how to Tango and preparing them to competition. One of the couples that Elena was teaching end up winning this dance contest.
Elena also guest stared as a judge on the “Reality Obsessed” show
Her Professional partner Tony and Elena organized and choreographed an opening number for Christmas Parade in Disney world in 2007. With participation of costars from “Dancing with the Stars” and Joey Fatone, Drew Lachey (winner of 2nd season), Helio Castroneves (winner of 5th season), Sabrina Bryan. Hosted by Regis Philbin, Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest and broadcasted on ABC.
She also appeared as a celebrity dancer on Univision and Telemundo on the Segundo Campeonato Mundial de Baile 2010 with Paul Barris - Second world championship - Dancing for a Dream.
Elena Grinenko has also made guest appearances on many more talk shows, like The View, Good Morning America, ABC news and so on...