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Ask The Experts: Tina and Gabriel Simon BallRoom etc. Dance Studio

Ask The Experts: Tina and Gabriel Simon BallRoom etc. Dance Studio

The Simons have owned BallRoom etc. Dance Studio for 12 years. They have won the Best of Asbury Park Press award for Monmouth County for 5 years...

Tina and Gabriel Simon
BallRoom etc. Dance Studio
2204 Route 35
Sea Girt, NJ 08750
(732) 528-6555

The Simons have owned BallRoom etc. Dance Studio for 12 years. They have won the Best of Asbury Park Press award for Monmouth County for 5 years, as well as the Best Place to Dance and the Best Studio in the USA (given by the ISTD – Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance) awards. BallRoom etc. was also the first dance studio featured by VocationVacations®. Their facility, 3,200 square feet of unobstructed floating dance floor, offers private, group, and wedding packages, in addition to various programs for children.

For people who have never danced before but want to take lessons, are they paired with spouses or do they each have individual instructors? Also, is there any special attire they need when they start?

We firmly believe that couples should be paired with each other.  After all, they have come to the dance studio to learn to dance with each other; singles would be paired with a dance instructor.  As for shoes and apparel, there are no requirements, but we do suggest you dress comfortably with shoes that stay on your feet; clogs and flip-flops do not work well. Try the dancing first, and then when it becomes a hobby you can buy ballroom dance shoes.

The ballroom dancing movie/ TV genre (i.e., “Dancing With the Stars” and Shall We Dance, with Richard Gere and J. Lo) has created the perception that dancing at a high level can happen in a matter of months. Can you set us straight on what it takes to get to that level…commitment, skill, etc.?

Commitment is the operative word. As with any sport, like golf or tennis, it takes time to perfect your swing or your serve. Ballroom dancing works the same way. The steps are easy to learn, but it takes time to develop the skills to look like they would in a movie or on “Dancing With the Stars.”  A realistic approach is to learn the basics, become a good social dancer, and then move on to the “show”-type dancing when you have a solid foundation built up in various dances. It takes hours and hours to look like the dancers on “Dancing With the Stars,” but if you take advantage of the groups and socials, and let your instructor know your goals, you can look like the stars, too.

There are those who‘d like to dance like stars, but also want to know if there are any health benefits. Also, would someone need to be “cleared,” so to speak, to engage in ballroom dancing lessons?

You want to approach ballroom dancing keeping in mind your personal physical ability.  Start at the beginning. I know we all want to jump right into the showy moves, but it is an unrealistic way to begin. Start learning the fundamentals, or in ballroom dancing it’s called the basics, and then move on to more challenging steps. The instructor should be working on a well-balanced dance lesson and pacing it to the individual’s ability and desires. Each lesson should consist of a warm up, with slower dances like rumba or foxtrot, then move on to the more physically demanding dances like cha cha, swing, hustle, and salsa.  If you are diligent in the pursuit of dancing, you will be amazed at how fast your skills will grow. As for benefits…ballroom dancing is a great way to exercise with out exercising.  The music and motion allow the body to produce endorphins, which is the feel-good mood that the brain produces. Studies have shown that dancing delays the early development of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Anyone with health issues and concerns about starting a ballroom dance program for exercise should definitely consult their doctor; but really, if you can walk you can dance.

Hypothetically speaking, what things should you look for as a potential ballroom dancing student when evaluating a studio?

So many things come to my mind as the “most important” thing to look for in a dance studio. I think each individual will have their own top questions, but here are some things to consider when evaluating a dance studio. Is the studio itself a place where you want to spend your
time? Is the environment clean, and are the staff encouraging and friendly? What kind of training and certification do the teachers have?  Do they offer events like group lessons and socials? Can you come to practice without additional charges? Is the student body of a like mind – wanting to learn, socialize, and grow together as big happy family? Will the studio cater to your needs and desires as to what you learn?

Everyone has a different skill and ability to pick up on the dance movements. What can an average student expect to learn in the first year?

The first thing you should expect is to learn that which you want to learn. Remember, it’s about you. Most typical dances range from the slower to the faster dances. In a year of participating in a dance studio, you can expect to become a good social dancer having several steps under your belt in various dances (mentioned previously) that you can execute at an event with relative ease. Providing you participate in what the studio has to offer, you can also expect to have a studio full of other dancers that have been sharing your experiences in learning and having fun on the dance floor.


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