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World-Class Dancers Fall In Love, Open Closter Studio

Janis Kukainis and Aleksandra Mangileva
Janis Kukainis and Aleksandra Mangileva Video Credit: ventura dance center
Aleksandra Mangieleva and Janis Kukainis are the owners of Ventura Dance Center in Closter. Photo Credit: Matt Speiser
Aleksandra Mangieleva teaches two students at Ventura Dance Center in Closter. Photo Credit: Matt Speiser
Ventura Dance Center in Closter. Photo Credit: Matt Speiser

CLOSTER, N.J. — Closter couple Janis Kukainis and Aleksandra Mangieleva have been partners in dance and love.

Now they're trying a third alliance — in business.

"This is the greatest challenge to our relationship yet," said Kukainis, who opened Ventura Dance Center in Closter with Mangieleva last month. "But I feel I am very lucky to be able to take on this challenge with the person I love."

The couple hopes they can run their venture as well as they do a dance floor.

Kukainis and Mangieleva, who both come from dance-rich backgrounds, placed fifth in the United States in show-dance at the 2015 Dancesport Championships in Baltimore.

Kukainis, 33, was an 11-time national champion in ballroom dancing In his native Latvia.

Mangieleva, 28, began dancing in her family's dance studio in her hometown of St. Petersburg, Russia when she was 5.

Both came to the United States in their early twenties to advance their dancing careers, then found each other with different partners at a midtown Manhattan dance studio last year.

"We decided to start dancing together and it was pretty clear early on that there was something there," Mangieleva told Daily Voice.

Kukainis and Magieleva teach a variety of private and group dance classes, with help from a team of five instructors, In their 6,000 square-foot dance studio.

Students leave with more than just killer dance moves.

"It fills people with confidence," Kukainis said. "You are developing yourself in so many different directions."

It can also help bring people closer together.

"Dancing is the best therapy for couples," Mangieleva said. "We often see struggling couples who take a dance class together and it helps light that fire again.

"After all, dancing is what brought me and Janis together."

Ventura Dance Center is located at 540 Durie Avenue in Closter.

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