Viet Voice

She Can Dance, and Do Nails

by Kimberly Pham | January 6, 2011 | Bookmark +

Mai Ngoc Tran, a nail tech of seven years, is the winner of “You Can Dance”, a reality TV show and ballroom dance competition that aired on the Saigon Broadcasting Television Network (SBTN) and Saigon Entertainment Television (SET).

Tran, a nail tech based out of San Gabriel, Calif., never would have dreamed she would win a dance competition. She took up martial arts at an early age and was often teased by her sister for being a tomboy. Her professional dance partner, Erik Cyr, helped fine tune her strength and flexibility that would ultimately give her an edge and help her through to the finals.

Finding the time to practice in between dance sessions, work, and family proved to be difficult. “I would get to the salon a little early and in between customers practice dancing in a back room,” Tran remembers.

Professional dancers were invited by Dancesation to take part in the show. From July to October, professional dancers partnered with Vietnamese contestants from all walks of life to compete in ballroom dance. “We are a purely not-for-profit organization and our main mission is to grow the awareness of competitive and artistic international ballroom dancing in the Vietnamese community. We were struggling for a while, but this show really helped us get a strong foundation,” says Jennifer Nguyen, VP of marketing for Lexor and member of Dancesation. Nearly 10,000 votes were counted for the final show, a record in Vietnamese-American television history.

Dancesation is made up of everyday professionals, from dentists and nurses to engineers, who share in the love of ballroom dance. Dancesation raised $15,500 from the show to benefit SAVICE, a charity with the mission to build schools and create educational opportunities to underprivileged children in Vietnam.

Tran and other “You Can Dance” contestants also had the opportunity to perform in Asia Entertainment’s ASIA DVD 67 set to be released on January 7, 2011.

Now that the show is over, it’s back to a normal life for Tran. “We practiced for months and we’ve made a lot of friends. The whole experience felt like we were going back to school with old friends. Before the show, I felt like I didn’t know my own beauty or potential. Now I am more confident and comfortable with myself, a confidence I did not have before," Tran says.

Dancesation is made up of everyday professionals, from dentists and nurses to engineers, who share in the love of ballroom dancing.

For more information on “You Can Dance” and to see full episodes of the show, visit


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