Friday, December 13, 2013

New Book Affirms FADS Dance Teachers are Professional 'Unstickers'

We first posted this article for you here more than a year ago. Back then it was called “Dancing with the...," by Karen Amster-Young, a warm, witty, tongue-in-cheek account of Karen and her husband’s first dance lesson at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Manhattan. 

We are thrilled to announce that “Mr. and Mrs. Clueless” (the term Karen herself uses to illustrate their lack of dance knowledge), and their fabulous experience with us have now been immortalized in a wonderful book called The 52 Weeks, by Amster-Young and Pam Godwin!

Renamed “Dancing With My Star,” our story begins on page 3, and it is surrounded by other stories Amster-Young and Godwin acquired through “a year of discovery.” There are more great pieces in the book by guest writers, and we also get expert advice on how to live a life of discovery from a psychiatrist, a nuclear cardiologist, and a half-dozen more highly-educated professionals.  

In ‘Note to the Reader,’ the authors explain that “The 52 Weeks was conceived as a fun idea between two good friends. Our plan was to get going again, get unstuck and just feel better….,”

Sound familiar, Fred Astaire Dance Studios teachers? And, teachers, whether it was your intent or not, we know that because much of your life’s work involves new students, you often need to address this exact theme:  how to help people “get going again, get unstuck, and just feel better.”
Know that what you do matters. And know that what you do, you do very well. It takes dedicated people with high levels of skill to bring about positive change for people, which is why we, at Corporate, dedicate this story to you.  All the good you do doesn't stop at the edge of the ballroom floor, ladies and gentlemen we know that, and we thank you.
‘Dancing with the...’ first appeared October 13, 2011 on Amster-Young and Godwin’s co-authored blog, The 52 Weeks. The book by the same name resulted from a collection of their blogs, drawn from their experiences as they tried out “one new thing every week for a year — from test-driving Maseratis to rock climbing to dance lessons.”

So glad that dance teacher was in the Manhattan studio that day, ready and eager to help!

 Read 'Dancing With My Star' below...

The 52 Weeks: the authors — Karen
Amster-Young (L) & Pam Godwin

'Dancing With My Star'

‘You write better than you dance,’ my husband joked as we awkwardly tried to do the Rumba. The last time we took a dance lesson was the obligatory, “I am twenty-something,” pre-wedding dance lessons 100 years ago. Let me put it this way:  the year I got married the average price of gas was 1.05 per gallon, Princess Diana and Prince Charles separated and Gotti was sentenced to life in prison.  Back in 1992, our first dance as Mr. and Mrs. Clueless was Eric Clapton’s ‘Wonderful Tonight’ and I didn’t need anything even remotely similar to SPANX Shapewear. And just by coincidence, Scent of a Woman was released in the theaters and we all watched as Pacino danced the Tango at the Plaza.

Mr. Sometimes-still-Clueless is a closet Dancing with the Stars fan.  On the rare occasion when he isn’t working and has a few moments before his ridiculously early bedtime, my daughter and I will catch him watching the show. He used to try to hastily switch channels to hide his addiction; he finally just relaxed about it when the newest season made its debut. I actually find it pretty endearing:  a pretty big, football-watching guy glued to an addictive dance show on television to unwind.  I am glad he finally ‘owned’ it so I could write about it.

Coincidentally, I’ve been wanting to take dance lessons… again, if you count 1992. ‘Mr. Dancing-with-the-Stars’ seemed okay with it, actually; it was finding the time together that was difficult. I wanted to do something as a couple that was new, active, fun and out of our ‘couple comfort zone.' I also wanted to learn a few moves that would surprise my body and give me a sense of accomplishment.  The fact is, like most people, we’re ‘average’ dancers – if that. Of course, over the years, mostly in our 20’s and 30’s, there were some tequila-infused moments when we actually thought we were pretty good but  the Salsa? No way. The Tango? Yeah, right.  I just wanted to know what these dances were all about. Would they feel sexy? Would I feel like a fool?  Was I 20 years too late?  So I called Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Manhattan. When in doubt, think Fred and Ginger, I thought to myself when I booked the lesson.

This location was pretty close to Bloomingdale’s. As we arrived for our first lesson, I was glad it was 9:30 at night and the store was closed. I may have been tempted, just for a minute, to beeline to the Lancome counter.

After an elevator ride to the 5th floor, we were greeted at the studio door by Desi. She was terrific on the phone, so it was no surprise she was the same in person.  I looked around at the big dance floor, lights and huge photo of Fred and Ginger and started to feel a bit hesitant.  Thankfully, we were soon greeted by a cheerful, pretty instructor named Gala.  She was warmly friendly and immediately made me feel comfortable.  We chatted for a few moments on the dance floor, then she casually inquired about our wedding song and before we knew it, it was playing.  Okay, this was a bit corny but it did the trick: we laughed and started following her confident lead, doing the Rumba and stepping a bit on each other’s toes. I had selected a “sampler” private class so we went from the Rumba to the Hustle to the Tango and Salsa all within 45 minutes.  When necessary, she danced with each of us and never made us feel uncomfortable or awkward.  I loved it.  I loved doing this with my ‘oh-so-busy’ husband and I loved not being on the treadmill or doing my usual tedious stuff.

By the end of the session we were moving a little less awkwardly and smiling, showing a little more spunk in our steps despite the fact that it was past a certain someone’s bedtime. That is what mattered most – our moods.  I am definitely considering doing this again. Certainly with Gala as our teacher and definitely when Bloomingdale’s is closed.

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