My New Venture – Training To Be A Ballroom Dance Teacher

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Back in July, my dance studio put out a notice that they were looking to train new dance teachers. Teaching dance is something that I have considered, but thought that I was not qualified to teach, so I never pursued it. Besides that, I really didn’t know how to do it, and to do it right. I saw the notice and even though they were looking for people of all levels, I still didn’t think that I would be qualified. So as it turned out, I was at the studio for my Argentine Tango lessons and practicing with my tango partner. He mentioned that he was going to do the training, so, I thought, well, why not? It can’t hurt to try. So now here I am, almost 3 months later and in the last month of my training classes and loving every minute of it. The training classes consist of doing all of the beginner classes at the studio. We received a list of the five figures for ballroom and social dances. Each month we have a progress check at the end of the month to see how we are progressing. We have to learn both the lead and the follow for the figures.

So now we are into our third month of beginner training. For the final progress check we were asked to write about what motivated us to dance. For me, it started when I was very young with the movies, Cinderella and White Christmas…Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen dancing to “The Best Things happen When You’re Dancing” and Cinderella’s Waltz. To this day, I cannot see enough of those scenes and movies. I have since added Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey’s final dance scene in Dirty Dancing to my top 3 list of favorite dance scenes. It has always been my dream to dance like any one those characters in the movies, but I never had the opportunity or the confidence to do it.

I took my share of jazz, ballet and tap lessons while growing up but never felt comfortable in the role of being a a dancer. I felt clumsy and awkward, so I stopped. In my early adult years I tried belly dancing which I liked but there were no studios that I knew of and only private lessons which I couldn’t afford.

So later on, after marrying and then adopting our daughter, we explored dance lessons, ice skating, sports, for her. She fell in love with ballet, so I became a ballet mom. I was immersed in my daughter’s world of ballet, her teachers (mostly Russian), lessons, rehearsals, recitals and competitions and as she got older commuting to NYC for her ballet training. The ballet world is different and I guess in some ways isolated from the normal world, but we loved it. I learned to hand sew tutus for performances and other dance costumes. I never minded not doing ballet myself because my daughter was such a beautiful dancer and I was busy with her life. In 2004, she went to college at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas and after she graduated (summa cum laude) majoring in English, History and a minor in British History. After she graduated in 2008 we moved to Fort Worth from NJ. I would drive past the Arthur Murray Studio on my way home from wherever I was and I would see the dancers dancing in the window, not unlike Richard Gere in the movie, “Shall We Dance” and just kept thinking about it. I was taking tennis lessons a few days a week (I did that in New Jersey too) and two ladies in my group class were telling me that I moved like a dancer. I never thought of myself as being graceful, but with them telling me that many times, I thought that I would try Ballroom dancing, so I started looking around.

There were three ballroom studios in the Fort Worth area. I didn’t look at Arthur Murray because it was too much money, so I checked the other two and ended up at the The Fort Worth Dance Studio (which is now a Fred Astaire Studio). The lady that owned the studio heard my accent and asked where I was from, and it turned out that she too was from New Jersey. So that was the clincher for joining that studio. I took the trial classes with my husband, but he had no interest in dancing, so I ended up doing it on my own. The studio turned out to be much more expensive than we could afford, so I couldn’t stay there and I had to move on. I was so attached to my teacher, he was very first ballroom dance teacher, he made it fun and gave me a love for it. It was so hard to leave that studio, I was used to my teacher and the people, I was comfortable there, but I had to move on. I then started ballet, Flamenco, Argentine Tango and salsa lessons and I also kept up with some ballroom privates at the studio I’m at now, DanceMakers of Fort Worth. I also went to Dallas for some swing lessons. I was hooked, addicted to dancing. My husband traveled so it was easy for me and a good way to pass the time. Dance is also a great release from everyday problems, everything else disappears while dancing, just like the song from White Christmas.

I spent much of my dancing years doing salsa, then Argentine tango, but never completely left ballroom. My daughter doesn’t dance anymore other than the occasional ballet class. She was accepted at TCU as a Ballet Major, but she had an ankle injury which prevented her from going en pointe, so she had to change her major. She has excelled in a different direction and is now an editor for a magazine in Dallas. I am still dancing every day, much of it now is for teacher training but I also do Argentine tango for the performance groups and to keep learning. I will be getting back to ballet probably next month, but I have completely stopped Flamenco. My goal with dance is to keep improving and hopefully to inspire those who would like to learn to dance, including those who think they are too old or as many say “have two left feet”. Neither one of those are true, and I am the perfect example of that. If someone wants to do something and has the will to do it, it can be done.

Thank you for reading this as always!

Laura