Never mind that Dee Claiborne is a 4−foot, 11−inch 64−year−old woman.
She can tango and cha−cha with the best of them. Inspired by the ABC show “Dancing with the Stars,” Claiborne enrolled in ballroom dance classes nine months ago. “You always want to dance in your head, thinking ‘I would love to be able to do that,'” Claiborne said. “I’m a believer you have to get out of your comfort zone in order to grow.”
Ballroom dancing is sizzling in dance studios across the country and the Ozarks. The trend has been propelled by shows such as “So You Think you Can Dance.” Once viewers get off the couch and into dance studios, they discover the benefits of dance.
“It’s hot with all ages,” said Don McCarty. “Before it used to only be adults; I have 6 years old all the way up to 80.” It’s a good thing to know when you’re 15. You know; for the ladies.
Shane Thompson smiles and nods when asked if girls are impressed he can ballroom dance. There’s been a surge in interest among people his age.
“I think it brought more people who are younger, like teens, but it also brought more people to dancing,” Thompson said.
For the past year, Debbie Clause, owner of Springfield School of Dance, has received several calls a week inquiring about ballroom dancing.
“They just want to learn to dance like ‘Dancing with the Stars,'” Clause said. “Unfortunately, I don’t teach that type of dance. I teach children, ballet, tap, jazz.”
After 32 years in business, she has seen this swell of interest twice before, once when the disco craze hit and then when swing dancing swept the nation. Both times she added classes to meet the demand and is toying with the idea of adding ballroom dancing. Clause will attend two conferences this summer to learn more about ballroom dancing.
The trend is to be expected, said Kelly Frey, who owns Step by Step dance studio.
People call her and say they want to learn ballroom dancing, but they don’t know what that encompasses. “There is a whole genre that falls under those: foxtrot, rumba, cha−cha, waltz, tango,” Frey said.
Under that umbrella, the tango has been requested the most.
“They like the flair, the attitude which they have seen on (television). The waltz is a timeless dance. It never loses its appeal for couples,” Frey said.
Tim Dougherty, 34, and his wife began taking private lessons with Frey five months ago. It’s something they’ve always wanted to do, and have discovered it’s great exercise. “It’s excellent. Especially the Latin stuff; you don’t stop moving. I have to admit with the salsa we were sore in our hips,” said Dougherty.
Doug Bloch, 58, and his wife finally found time to fulfill their interest in dance.
They’ve been enrolled in classes with Frey since April 2006.
“It’s something we both enjoy doing. We spend time together. The physical challenge. Then it gives us an opportunity to socialize,” Bloch said.