Thursday, November 15, 2012
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Bringing Brighter, Better Days: Westwood's Autism Workshop Spotlights the Incredible Benefits of Dance
by Nancy LaPierre
Author-therapist Victoria Marin, who features her autistic son in her popular children’s book, Aiden’s Waltz, brought her Waltz For Wellness workshop to the Westwood Fred Astaire Dance Studio on Saturday, October 13, to shed light on the benefits of ballroom dance for those on the autism spectrum.
|Jaclyn Laurino, a Westwood FADS professional dance teacher, teaches Bryan to dance|
- communication — partners engage in eye contact, invite their partners to the dance floor and discuss the dance process
- friendships — dancers develop and nurture a trusting relationship with their partners
- self-confidence — we teach dance steps in the method that is best suited to autistic learners. Mastering steps and movements leads dancers to feelings of success and accomplishment
- mental processing — ballroom dancing to classical music opens brain pathways and improves mental organization and learning
Thursday, October 04, 2012
~by Carmen Champagne
The party runs from 5-8 p.m. and will be emceed by a Fox on-air talent. Swag bags and raffle tickets will be available to purchase with a portion of the event proceeds going towards breast cancer research and local breast cancer programs through . For a full schedule of events, visit Hartford Magazine.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Friday, June 22, 2012
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Kelle writes, “We are so proud that they chose us amid several independent competitors!”
|Kelle and David Chancellor|
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
Friday, May 25, 2012
Monday, May 21, 2012
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Thursday, May 03, 2012
Thursday, April 12, 2012
The ballroom is filled with dancers and onlookers alike. The dance floor is a sight to behold: women sparkling from head to toe with sequins, hair flourishes and embellishments; the men all in black. It's so very impressive at 8:30 in the morning!
It's the American Rhythm Bronze Single Dance Divisions and the dancers are pumped. A swamped up version of Willie Dixon's, I Just Want To Make Love To You is blaring through the speakers. Each couple takes turns performing their best East Coast Swing. They have 45 seconds to wow the judges with the moves they've been faithfully practicing at Fred Astaire Dance Studios over the past year.
This is Cross Country Dance Competition at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Competitors from all over the country come to participate in Fred Astaire Dance Studios' largest national dance competition.
I arrived at the hotel the afternoon before and was able to catch the Solo Exhibition Division. This was more of a theatrical dance showcase, complete with costumed dancers performing to less traditional songs (like Maniac from Flashdance and Warrant's Cherry Pie), in shiny turquoise leg warmers, 'metal hair' wigs and concert tee shirts. It also gave this writer a strong indication that CCDC was also about cheeky fun as well.
This morning as the competition hopefuls milled around the breakfast buffet, I was able to chat with Edward Black, a student at the Clear Lake studio in Texas. This was his second competition, having attended his first Astaire World Championships in San Juan, Puerto Rico last summer. When asked how he was enjoying the challenge he replied with a big grin, "My feet hurt!" Edward started ballroom dancing in January of 2011 and he clearly enjoyed his new pastime.
Obviously, CCDC is off to a magnificent start . . . stay tuned for more updates!
Monday, April 09, 2012
Schedule of Events
April 11 – 15, 2012
WEDNESDAY April 11, 2012
#1 Wednesday Afternoon
12:00 PM Proficiency International Ballroom Grading Divisions
12:15 PM International Ballroom Single Dance Divisions
1:15 PM International Ballroom Open Championship Divisions
1:30 PM Fred Astaire Dance Alliance Scholarship Divisions
2:05 PM Proficiency International Latin Grading Divisions
2:12 PM International Latin Single Dance Divisions
3:12 PM International Latin Open Championship Divisions
3:36 PM International Latin Multi-Dance Championship Division
3:45 PM Fred Astaire Dance Alliance Scholarship Divisions
4:30 PM Solo Exhibition Division
5:54 PM Novelty Division
6:21 PM Showcase Production Division
7:15 PM Pro/Am Cabaret
7:45 PM Argentine Tango Divisions
8:50 PM Proficiency Smooth Grading Divisions
10:10 PM Proficiency Rhythm Grading Divisions
THURSDAY April 12, 2012
8:00 AM American Rhythm Bronze Single Dance Divisions
6:00 PM American Rhythm Silver & Above Single Dance Divisions
9:10 PM American Rhythm Bronze Open Single Dance Divisions
FRIDAY April 13, 2012
8:00 AM American Smooth Bronze Single Dance Divisions
1:00 PM American Smooth Silver and Above Smooth Divisions
2:55 PM American Smooth Open Single Dance Divisions
5:52 PM American Smooth Open Championship Divisions
8:00 PM Professional Championship Divisions
SATURDAY April 14, 2012
8:30 AM Smooth Multi-Dance Championship Divisions
9:58 AM Fred Astaire Dance Alliance Scholarship Divisions
11:10 AM American Rhythm Open Single Dance Divisions
12:45 PM American Rhythm Open Championship Divisions
2:45 PM Rhythm Multi-Dance Championship Divisions
4:07 PM Fred Astaire Dance Alliance Scholarship Divisions
7:15-8 PM Cocktail Party - St. Croix and Patio
8-9:30 PM Gala Banquet and "Cirque D'Astaire" themed dance show
Thursday, April 05, 2012
Beloved husband, father and grandfather passed peacefully Tuesday, April 3.
Don never lost his love of singing and piano playing and moonlighted at piano bars and serenaded many a family member at special occasions.
In his later years Don joined his brothers Charles and Chester in the family business founded by their late father Charles Louis Casanave and Fred Astaire as Vice President of the Fred Astaire National Dance Association. In this role, his charm and grace shined and he was a mentor to many.
In his own words, one of Don's greatest sources of pride was his happy and fulfilling 25-year marriage to Sally Lincoln Casanave.
He is survived by his faithful and loving wife Sally, son Jean-Marc, daughter in law Pam, daughter Ondine, son in law David and grandchildren Miles and Marcela.
Fred Astaire Dance Studio
151 SE Mizner Blvd
Boca Raton, Fl 33432
Donations can be made in his honor to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
~by Carmen Champagne
I have a free Friday night!
What to do, what to do?
Stay home and watch a movie with Ben & Jerry?
Go out for drinks at a bar where the sports announcers on the multiple TVs do battle with the music piping through the overhead speakers?
I don’t think so.
No, tonight I’m going dancing.
It never dawned on me that regularly scheduled social dance parties would be the norm at Fred Astaire Dance Studios. But in hindsight, it makes perfect sense. If you are learning how to dance, you want the opportunity to practice…and not just to the radio in your kitchen. The intuitive instructors at Fred Astaire know this and provide the perfect setting to dance the night away…
Off is the fluorescent lighting in the studio this evening. Instead, festive, clear twinkle lights line the walls and small spot lights are strategically placed creating a warm and festive vibe. Music is playing, refreshments are laid out and the waiting area is filled with students, the teachers welcoming and greeting all. I am not sure how the evening is going to go, but I slip into my sandals and make my way towards the group. I feel a tap on my shoulder just then and turn around to find Tobi asking if he might have a dance. Of course!
The evening passed in a delightful whirlwind. Cha-chas, tangos, rumbas and waltzes. I danced with Tobi and the other teachers. I danced with students of various skill levels. I danced all night. And as I twirled around from partner to partner, I got to learn a little bit about them. The mood was light and easy. This was not the time for instruction and rules of learning. This was the time to enjoy dance. Purely. And honestly, I had the time of my life.
Stay tuned for the final episode of Champagne Social, Friday February 17th!
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Monday, February 13, 2012
That's a photograph of the letter that was waiting for me when I arrived to work on Friday morning. To say I was delighted, would be putting it mildly. I had a smile plastered on my face all day long.
Abbie is a fan and asks:
Q. Why do you enjoy dancing and what inspired you to perform and video tape it?
A. Dear Abbie :)
I enjoy dancing because it makes me feel happy when I'm doing it. I love music too. All kinds of music. And sometimes when I'm listening to music, my toes tap or my feet stomp. I just want to move. I thought taking lessons would help my toes tap and my feet stomp a little bit better. You see, Abbie, I happen to be kind of klutzy. I've been known to walk into poles or trip up the stairs for no good reason (I even broke my toe once doing that trip up the stairs bit...true story). I was hoping that maybe I would gain a little grace by taking dance lessons.
I brought along the camera because well, if it didn't inspire people to try to dance themselves, they might at least get a kick out of watching my silly antics. However, the teachers at Fred Astaire really know their stuff and I learned a lot from them. Maybe my bumbling days are over!
I'm glad you have enjoyed the series. Our last episode of Champagne Social airs on Friday. Hope you tune in!
Friday, February 10, 2012
Thursday, February 09, 2012
What I noticed first when I entered the studio that evening for my group lesson was that the male students outnumbered the female students. I thought I needed to move to Alaska to get those kind of odds. Who knew all I had to do was head to my local Fred Astaire Dance Studio? The reception area became filled with jovial banter and laughter as students came in, removed their coats and changed into their dance shoes. Though I was new to the group, they welcomed me right into the fold.
The super chic and stellar dance instructor, Nicole Jeurgens, would be leading this evening’s lesson. The dance being taught was the cha-cha. These group lessons were important, Nicole explained, as a way to gain your own sense of balance. So while you want to offer resistance to a dance partner, you do not want to rely on them for balance. You must be able to stand on your own before you can merge with another.
Yeah, I know, I know. I won’t even type it out loud.
Nicole explained and demonstrated the cha-cha as well as a variation on the basic step while the entire class followed along. We spent the remainder of the time going over the newly learned moves in our own space.
After class, staff announced that the following Friday would be a social dance night. What? FADS regularly puts on social dances right at the studio so you can mix, mingle and practice your moves. What a brilliant idea! I’m in.
Hope to see you there!
Tune in for the dance party extravaganza Friday, February 10th on the next episode of Champagne Social
To watch previous episodes of Champagne Social on our Youtube Channel, click here.
Thursday, February 02, 2012
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
Dancing, Dating and Life’s Lessons
~by Carmen Champagne
Over the years I’ve developed a sound belief that there are only three options available when life hands you lemons (well, four, if you count making lemonade):
- Change yourself.
- Change the situation – this means altogether removing yourself from it.
- Change your mind – in other words, your attitude. Just quit fighting the inevitable and accept the lemons. Fully. Zero resistance.
While I’ve done my share of all three, it is the practice of letting go of resistance that is always foremost on my mind. So imagine my surprise when Tobi began our third lesson with an exercise in — of all things — resistance!
“In dance,” he explained, “You need to offer some resistance to your partner in order to feel where they are leading you. “
Ha! The irony of this statement struck me as too funny.
But then I thought, well, perhaps that might explain a few things about my lack of skill as a dancer (and dare I say a dater, as well). Either total resistance or none at all.
Tobi brought me to the wall in the studio, and had me stand in front of it, palms outward in front of me, touching nothing but air. Alternately, I was made to touch the wall by moving forward on the balls of my feet until my palms met with just the slightest of resistance. Could I feel the difference, he wanted to know. This insightful exercise taught me that a certain amount of resistance is not only good, but is absolutely necessary if you want to dance with a partner. Hmmm…
Tobi got his point across — and scored some extra points from me besides! This eye-opening moment revealed itself as the dawning of another of life’s lessons.
The rest of our time was spent going over the basics of tango. My new found knowledge in place, I confidently followed along as Tobi explained the steps. The character of the tango comes to life when dramatic flair is added to it. My love for all things theatrical made me a more than willing participant.
Well, folks, although I’m going to play it a little cool…show a little resistance:) but I really think I have met the dance of my dreams…
Tune in for my very first group lesson on Friday, February 3rd on the next episode of Champagne Social!
To watch previous episodes of Champagne Social on our Youtube Channel.
Friday, January 27, 2012
Thursday, January 26, 2012
~by Carmen Champagne
Just like everyone else, my life is hectic. There is work and errands to run, various appointments to keep, tending to my children’s needs-- all during the week between my first dance lesson and second. Oh, right; and there’s the holidays. I didn’t give much thought to my upcoming session with Tobi until it was time to go again. So, perhaps it wasn’t odd that I found myself more than a little bit nervous driving to the studio that evening.
When I arrived, Tobi was as gracious as ever and informed me of our lesson plan for the evening; a recap of all the dances we had covered on the first lesson, and he also would be introducing a new dance as well. Yikes! Would I remember everything?
After changing into my sandals, we progressed onto the dance floor and started with the Foxtrot. Poised in formation, Tobi gave my right hand that familiar squeeze and immediately my right foot responded accordingly. Tobi started by counting and reiterating the steps we were making and then changed the course of our conversation, asking me about my children. What are their names? How old are they? Were they excited for the upcoming holidays? I answered, all the while we continued to move about the dance floor. When we reached the conclusion of our box step, Tobi pointed out that I had been correctly doing the dance steps while focusing on something else entirely. Well done, Tobi. Well done.
Practice of the Rumba netted the same successful results. Yay, me!
Next, it was time to learn the Waltz. Now, when I hear the word, “Waltz”, I immediately envision white-haired, stodgy old men in black tuxedos and overly-starched shirts (perhaps even a monocle in hand, used to survey the choice of available dance partners), and the women have pointy noses, overdone curls and dour looks. They stand around the floor talking with each other in small circles, pretending to drink punch all the while wondering if they will even be asked to dance at all. In other words, I felt it was a bit outdated and stuffy.
But I paid attention as Tobi explained to me that we would be using the same box steps as we had during the Rumba just performing them in a different order. We would also elongate our stride so as to cover more ground on the dance floor. I followed his lead and absolutely FELL IN LOVE with this dance. Moving backwards, my steps longer, I noticed a definite lilt in my gait as Tobi glided us all over the ballroom floor. I was elegant. I was graceful. It was a straight-up fairy tale moment and I was the beautiful princess dancing with the handsome prince. Had I known how, I would have curtsied at the end of our Waltz.
We ended with a recap of the Swing dance and Tobi added turns to the mix. What fun! The swing is just so enjoyable and more laid back and was a fine way to end the lesson.
The icing on the cake for the evening…Tobi advised me that our next lesson would include my introduction to the Tango.
Catch up on the entire series here.
Friday, January 20, 2012
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
~by Carmen Champagne
When I walked out of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio after completing my first lesson, my steps were light. I felt truly giddy. And while a far cry from being the next Ginger Rogers, I had begun the beguine.
What a fantastic experience! Charmed by the charisma, good manners and consideration extended to me by Tobi and the other instructors on staff at the studio, I felt as though I had stepped onto the set of a glamorous 1950s Hollywood movie (and not just because there was a camera there either). The studio was brightly lit and elegantly decorated. The hardwood floor sparkled and beckoned to me.
I was taken aback when Tobi extended his arm to guide me onto the dance floor. I believe that was the first time that I was ever properly escorted onto a dance floor. And that gesture alone made me feel like I was in capable hands. Past experiences at social dance usually turned into a battle of wills between dance partners and me as I was reluctant to allow them to lead (surely, they didn’t know what they were doing). This would often result in frustrated and stilted dance moves on both our parts and an exasperated dance partner stomping off the dance floor in a huff. Now that I was here and knew that I was dealing with someone who was professionally trained in dance, I had resolved to forgo the urge to lead. I was here to learn.
What impressed me the most on that first day was the fact that though there were thousands of different dances in existence, with Fred Astaire’s conceptual method of teaching they were able to break down all those dances into just two categories: Smooth and Rhythm. Really? That sure made the task of taking on several new dances a whole lot less daunting.
Over the course of my 40 minute lesson, Tobi introduced me to one smooth dance; the Foxtrot, and two rhythm dances; the Rumba and Swing. His instruction was clear and uncomplicated. I noticed that he would squeeze my right hand whenever we practiced a dance step. This was an excellent signal for me to always start with my right foot, as I was supposed to. This simple, consistent reminder allowed me to keep my attention on what Tobi was actually saying in the moment rather than trying to keep dance patterns running through my head. Interestingly enough, I found that when I kept my eyes and attention on Tobi, I glided across the dance floor. If I turned my focus to my feet, I stumbled. Huh? Who would have thunk?
At the end of the lesson, Tobi and I scheduled my second lesson and he advised me not to practice.
So it was with a bit of nervous apprehension that I showed up for my second lesson. Why did I listen to Tobi?? I should have practiced! I was going to make a spectacle of myself for all the internet to see.
Click here to watch Episode Two now!
(if you missed episode 1, you can watch it here)