Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Healing Power Of Dance

A Fred Astaire Dance Studio owner in Crestview, Florida reflects on the dance business...

By J. David Colon, Crestview, Florida studio owner

"Our business is unlike any other" is a statement often used in the dancing business. I was enchanted by this business a few years ago and my wife Erika and I opened our very own studio in Crestview, Florida on December 2007. We have had the opportunity to impact people’s lives in amazing ways, but nothing has compared to the story I’m about to share.

Madilyn Lopez is eight years old; she is full of energy and loves to smile. Her mom, Michelle, enrolled her in our Kids’ class in September of last year. A few months later, Madi, as we like to call her, partnered with Lucas (also from the Kids’ class) as an Amateur couple. Michelle and her husband, Burt Lopez, made it a priority to bring Madi to the studio since Madi loved dancing so much. On April 21, the Lopez family and several of our students joined us at a local restaurant to watch Georgia Ambarian and Eric Luna perform on Dancing With The Stars. That following Saturday, tragedy struck.

On April 25, Burt Lopez, Deputy Sheriff for Okaloosa County, was shot and killed in the line of duty. This tragedy shook our whole county, and our main concern at that moment was the well-being of Madi. Madi’s next lesson with Lucas was scheduled for the following Monday but we had decided not to bother the family with any phone calls about lessons. To our surprise, Madi showed up for her lesson. Her head was down, her face was sad, and her eyes were red from so much crying. She hugged her instructor for a second and then turned to her partner, Lucas, to dance a Hustle. The moment she grabbed his hands, something amazing happened; her eyes lit up and her smile brightened the room. While Madi was dancing, her stepsister, who had brought her in for her lesson, explained that Madi had requested to come to our studio because she did not want to cry anymore and she wanted to be around happy people. We were the happy people, the ones that for a few minutes that day allowed her to be a kid again, away from a reality that only brought pain and sadness.

None of us at the studio had expected any of this to happen. We were even more surprised to find out that the funeral had been moved from Friday of that week to Thursday so Madi could compete at a Newcomer’s competition held at the Fort Walton Beach studio. Over 20 family members showed up to watch Madi compete. A week later, she danced at our first showcase.

Madi has been an inspiration to her family and has given them the strength to move forward. For us, she is proof that our business goes beyond dance steps, fancy dresses, and shoes. What we do taps into the very deepest emotions of the human heart; what we do not only provides comfort, IT HEALS. Our business is truly unlike any other.

1 comment:

Elita Clayman said...

I read your article on Madi and how the dance studio helped her to heal and continue on.

Twenty-five years ago when my mom, a senior then was very sick and in the hospital for weeks and weeks (they kept you then to try and heal you-not like now when insurance kicks you out) and I would go and see her and be sad.Then later on that evening I or my husband and I took our lesson or lessons and for one hour my mind was peaceful and happy not worrying about Mom and her situation. I have written many times on that subject as I write articles for Fred Astaire newsletter and blog and I always state what dancing means to everyone and to me=mentally too.

God bless you and the studio for helping this child cope in some manner.

Elita Sohmer Clayman
Fred Astaire Columnist and on the Rene website too