by Faith Bennett
Ballroom dancing may seem like an antiquated mode of courtship, but anyone who has taken lessons at Fred Astaire Dance Studio should be able to confidently argue the benefits for modern individuals or couples. Fred Astaire Dance has two studios in Jacksonville – one at the Beach and the other in Arlington – both of which boast of an excellent staff of instructors, including national champions Pavel Cherdantsau and Svetlana Rudkovskaya who will be representing the U.S. in the 2012 World Dance Council’s Championship. I recently had the pleasure of taking classes at Fred Astaire Dance and speaking with a few instructors and students.
Dance Instructor Justin Erwin said that clients’ reasons for coming to Fred Astaire Dance were as varied as the people themselves, though he did mention that they get a lot of clientele who are preparing to dance at weddings. Both the Beach and Arlington locations often have nights out. On these occasions, members meet at the studio and travel together to a location such as Mambos or Boleros where they can show off their new or finely tuned skills in public.
At a recent night out members flaunted their salsa, rumba and merengue at Mambos, and all seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience. Nights out, private parties and guest parties provide an extra something that you cannot get from only attending private lessons. Through the parties and nights out, members are able to see that certain styles of dancing aren’t just for the dance studio or wedding dance floor but also for nights when they want to go out and have fun, flirt or even have a few drinks.
The private lessons offered at Fred Astaire Dance are varied and range from just a little assistance to competition dance to simply introducing dance to novices. They teach smooth dances like the waltz and foxtrot, but they also offer Latin dances like the salsa and rumba; club-friendly dances like the hustle, the adaptable swing, and of course the ever-valuable tango.
Learning these dances can teach students posture, poise, confidence and how to properly twirl someone on the dance floor (a skill that is just as useful at a discotheque as at a salsa club). The lessons learned really can be applied every day. Even if your preferred style of dance is closer to Rihanna than Ginger Rogers, taking dance lessons can help an individual dance with the music instead of just during the music.
The dances also teach patience and discipline and, most often, teamwork, but they are taught in a way that would hardly overwhelm or exhaust a less seasoned dancer. The instructors always ask participants how they want to look and feel when they dance because, as noted by Erwin, while some people want the technique down flawlessly, others just want to know the basics so they can have fun and feel more confident.
The introductory package includes four private lessons, three group lessons and two parties for less than $200, and it’s an experience that can be quite fulfilling. So if you’re looking to better your posture, improve your confidence or add something impressive to your own list of talents, Fred Astaire Dance Studios are absolutely something to look into.
Fred Astaire Dance Studio
by Faith Bennett