Interview with Daniella Karagach


Daniella Karagach, alongside her partner Iman Shumpert, won the 30th season of Dancing with the Stars. Daniella attended FDR, where her mother, Ms. Karagach, is also a member of the Guidance Department.  The New Dealer was lucky enough to speak to her about her love for dancing, how her time at FDR went, and what this win means to her.

The New Dealer: What was your time at FDR like? Do you have any memories you want to share? 

Daniella Karagach: I liked FDR, as I got to spend the years with my friends, many of whom are still my closest friends today. I also had some fantastic teachers and counselors. The Talent Show was lots of fun, since I always kept my dance life private. It gave me an opportunity to dance in school. School was quite challenging, as I had dance rehearsal/practice every day after school. On the weekends, I had to travel to competitions, many of which were international.  It was hard to balance it all. 

The New Dealer: What was it like being at a school where your mother worked? 

Daniella Karagach: It was good and bad. It was good, because I got to eat home food in her office during lunch- and did not have to worry about getting to and from school. My mom is my best friend, so I like to have her around. But…..I had no privacy. Teachers would, “offer her,” information all the time. She knew my every move. At one point, I asked her to change a teacher for me. She refused. She said there are no special privileges when I am a student. At the time, I thought this was so unfair! However, now I understand where it was coming from.   

The New Dealer: How did you get started dancing? When did you decide it was something you wanted to pursue?

Daniella Karagach: I started ballet when I was 3. My mom was a ballet dancer, so dance runs deep in my family.  I think I do not have any memories where I was not dancing. I started Latin dance at 6, and ballroom at 11. My mom had twin students who competed in ballroom. She took me to a lesson, and the rest is history. I always knew that I wanted to dance. I had severe ADHD as a kid, so it was difficult for me to focus on stuff for long periods of time. Dancing helped me burn off this energy. It was a central part of my life. I think, as I was very successful very early on, I knew it was my thing. It is my passion. 

The New Dealer: How did you get on Dancing With The Stars? What was the experience like?

Daniella Karagach: Dancing with the stars gives me the opportunity to do what I love while meeting some pretty awesome people. Our partnerships on the show are truly special and unique. 

The New Dealer: How does it feel being celebrated and recognized for your amazing talent?

Daniella Karagach: It feels incredible to put your heart and soul into something, and see the results. I am so grateful for it all.       

The New Dealer: Why was it important for you to come back to FDR after winning Dancing With The Stars?

Daniella Karagach: It was very important for me, as I have not seen my mom for 4 months. The trophy is for her. She will be keeping it safe. My mom is my best friend, and she is a big part of the celebration for me. I also wanted to give back to my school. My mom loves FDR. She was always asking for Iman to send something to our students, so they can be inspired by him. My grandfather was a professional goalkeeper for Moldova, so athletics run deep in our blood. I thought bringing Iman in person would be much better than something signed by him. I did it for the school, and for my mom.  

The New Dealer: Any advice or tips for students who might want to pursue dancing as a profession?

Daniella Karagach: I think if a person has passion, talent, and is willing to work hard, they HAVE to follow their dreams. Regret sucks. Just go for it with everything you have. 

A big CONGRATS to Daniella for her amazing accomplishment! She is an inspiration for all of Cougar Nation!!!