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The Short Version: Since 1947, Fred Astaire Dance Studios has inspired confidence in dancers of all ages and experience levels. Its private lessons, group classes, and practice parties give singles and couples a chance to broaden their horizons and create romance on the dance floor. Fred Astaire Dance Studios’ signature move is to open its doors to beginners and encourage outgoing men and women to give themselves over to the music, the laughter, and the heat of the moment.
At the beginning of “Silver Linings Playbook,” Pat Solitano is full of doubts, fears, and suspicions. He’s so fixated on reuniting with his ex-wife that he can’t see the silver lining. Not until Tiffany Maxwell asks him to dance, that is. Tiffany is grappling with grief, guilt, and shame, so she turns to dance as a creative outlet.
Tiffany and Pat enter a local dance competition as novices and learn to let go of their pain by losing themselves in music. The offbeat couple becomes enthusiastic and expressive as dancers, and they fall in love with each other’s unique style.
Blockbuster movies often show couples gracefully dancing into each other’s hearts, but “Silver Linings Playbook” points out that you don’t have to be a poised professional to find joy while dancing in someone’s arms. You just have to be you and own it.
Fred Astaire Dance Studios has taken that idea and run with it by offering beginner-friendly dance lessons and dance competitions in which men and women can express what’s in their hearts.
American dancer Fred Astaire co-founded the studio chain in 1947 to share his love of dance with students and instructors. He recognized the benefits of dancing and led the way toward building self-confidence, becoming healthier, and creating meaningful connections on and off the dance floor.
Ann Rasmussen, Director of Marketing and Communications with Fred Astaire Dance Studios, told us learning to dance can also lead to romance if you follow the right steps. “Dance lessons are great for people trying to make themselves feel more confident and appealing,” she said. “It gives you something fun and interesting to do with someone you don’t know that well.”
Dance is the universal language, and it offers an easy way to break the ice in social settings. People are drawn to dancing queens (and kings) who have the confidence to turn any gathering into a dance party. Dancing is a skill that everyone can appreciate, but it’s particularly useful for establishing chemistry and intimacy with a special someone.
Fred Astaire Dance Studios teaches students how to get those positive vibes going and impress your audience and partner with smooth moves and deliberate steps. The studios employ dance instructors who have professional experience on dance floors around the world and who love to share their expertise with clients of all ages and ability levels.
“The thing our dance instructors all have in common is a passion and a joy for dance,” Ann told us. “We teach them how to teach the Fred Astaire curriculum, but the joy of dance is inherent — that’s something they bring to us.”
Fred Astaire Dance Studios offers a Three-Tiered Method that includes a combination of private instruction, group lessons, and practice lessons. The studios have step-by-step lessons on every style of ballroom dance, and some have even expanded their repertoire to include line dancing, Zumba, yoga, and other exercise classes. Each studio customizes their classes to meet demand in the local community.
Couples can enjoy specialized attention during private instruction and then learn from engaging group work and practice parties. Many couples spend their date nights learning the steps of a favorite ballroom dance, and some even choreograph a routine for a special event. The instructors cater individual lessons to the couple’s needs and skills, and then they give students a chance to gain more experience in group classes of about 10 people.
Group classes typically take place on a set day of the week and focus on a particular type of dance. The instructor encourages everyone to switch up their partners, even those who come with significant others, so they can get a feel for different styles of dance. Singles and couples who show up week after week for these group classes tend to get the hang of it pretty quickly, and their confidence grows with every lesson.
“After one lesson, you’re on your way to competent dancing,” Ann said. “We’ve found scheduling lessons close together can help people learn faster, more thoroughly, and it keeps people motivated and having fun along the way.”
Every studio makes it easy for beginners to jump into the action and give ballroom dancing a try. In addition to private and group classes, student can attend Fred Astaire Dance Studios practice parties really let loose, have some fun, and test their skills. These parties bring dance students together and give them the chance to show off their moves while meeting new people.
Singles enjoy mingling in this friendly setting. The lighthearted and nonjudgmental atmosphere encourages students to approach someone new and ask them for a dance. Even early on, many dancers relish the chance to put their newfound dance techniques into practice and make some magic happen on the dance floor.
“Learning how to be poised and patient and how to engage and interact with people is important,” Ann said. “It’s something we can all use a little help with. Whether you’re a 12-year-old boy or single divorcee, those social situations can be intimidating, and our job is to break down that intimidation and make it fun.”
Fred Astaire exuded happiness and love whenever he danced. His passion and poise made him famous. After he retired, he sought to pass his dance techniques and his joyful spirit on to future generations through his dance studio. The first Fred Astaire Dance Studio opened on Park Avenue in New York City.
“Some people seem to think that good dancers are born,” he once said, “but all the good dancers I have known are taught or trained.”
Training good dancers became Fred Astaire Dance Studios’ central mission. Today, the studio has expanded into 180 locations worldwide with experienced instructors who teach every style of dance imaginable. Throughout its history, Fred Astaire Dance Studios has welcomed newcomers to the dance floor, and it aims to continue that inclusive tradition in the coming years.
In 2019, the studio plans to introduce a virtual dance initiative that will empower individuals to learn “10 Dances in 10 Minutes.” The self-study program can help beginners familiarize themselves with the steps, so they feel more confident and prepared for an official dance lesson at Fred Astaire Dance Studios. The team came up with this idea to encourage more men and women to come out of their shells and experience the joy and many benefits of dancing at the studio.
“We’re looking to do something to help men feel as comfortable as women do taking that first step,” Ann said. “The program will allow people to try ballroom dancing from the comfort of home.”
Fred Astaire Dance Studios will also be introducing a new website this spring and opening an online dance store in the near future. The site redesign will focus on helping beginners get into dance, understand what’s in store, and outfit themselves for success, making the experience fun and positive for both students and studio dance instructors.
“It’s a testament to the company and especially the people in our studio network that we’ve been so successful with so many of our students staying for years and years,” Ann said. “We become their family, which is really fun to see.”
Fred Astaire Dance Studios fosters a warmhearted, nonjudgmental, and close-knit community that spans the globe. The community includes people of all skill levels, ages, and backgrounds. “We’re proud of our sense of community. We call ourselves FADS,” Ann said. “Just watching the smiles and feeling the energy at our studios and competitions gives you a wonderful feeling. One of my favorite things is to hear our student stories and see their transformations.”
Some students take dance lessons for fun, while others are interested in exercise, training for competitions, or preparing for their wedding receptions. Some show up with a partner who doesn’t know how to dance and others start dance lessons on their own.
If you pop by a Fred Astaire Dance Studio, you may see young couples putting together dazzling first-dance routines, or teenagers practicing for an upcoming dance, or empty-nesters laughing as they get their groove back.
In the last few years, many millennials have taken an interest in dance professionally and personally, and they’ve enthusiastically joined the FADS community. Many singles and couples work on their dance moves so they don’t end up being wallflowers at a wedding, nightclub, and other social situations. Some become confident enough to join regional, national, or international dance competitions organized by Fred Astaire Dance Studios.
“Our competitions offer fun, supportive, and exciting ways for our students to hone their skills and try something new,” Ann said. “It’s a chance to get out of your comfort zone.”
Whether your goal is to go viral on YouTube or to get noticed at a dance party, you can get active and improve your relationships one step-ball-change at a time. Since it opened its doors, Fred Astaire Dance Studios has set the stage for many confidence-boosting, spirit-lifting, and life-changing stories.
“It’s an energy that is warm and joyful and most importantly 100% nonjudgmental,” Ann said. “Our mission really comes through on the studio level — that’s where the magic happens.”
So, what does Fred Astaire Dance Studios suggest, in terms of a fun and creative dance-date experience?
First, contact any Fred Astaire Dance Studio location and let them know you’d like to take advantage of their Introductory Offer for new students and craft a private dance lesson for yourself and your date. They’ll help you with schedule and planning.
Then, you should talk to your date in advance and confirm they’re game. Dance lessons can be an awesome, out-of-the-box way to get to know someone, but you definitely want to make sure it’s something your date will enjoy first. Sharing the idea in advance and including your date in planning also lets your date know that you care about their desires and preferences — which gets things off on the right foot (so to speak).
Couples also have to dress the part. There’s no hard and fast dress code, just wear what’s comfortable, but remember: no athletic shoes (the rubber soles stick to the floor and make movement difficult). For men, FADS suggest leather-soled shoes and for women, shoes they’d go dancing in! Clothing should allow for freedom of movement and should not feature tassels, beads, wide sleeves etc. that might slap your dance partner during spins.
Finally, continue the fun! After your dance lesson (which will include approximately 30-45 minutes of dedicated dance time), consider making your next stop a dinner club, nightclub or lounge where you can show off your newfound skills together and talk about how much fun you had!
Though Pat and Tiffany feel an immediate attraction when they meet, they don’t have the courage to express their feelings honestly until after they learn to express themselves through dance. The couple may start off on opposite sides of the dance floor, but they come together in the end and find safety in each other’s arms.
Men and women turn up at Fred Astaire Dance Studios for many different reasons. Some are single and want to become better dancers. Some are couples hoping to bond over a shared activity. Others hope to turn pro one day. No matter where they’re coming from, these dancing hopefuls are all drawn to the joy of movement. They put in the effort to train their bodies and minds so they can set their spirits free.
Fred Astaire Dance Studios employs warm and friendly people who are passionate about dance. These professionals walk newcomers through the steps of romance, giving them the poise and confidence to make a good impression on the dance floor.
“It all comes down to basically learning to dance like nobody’s watching,” Ann said. “You switch off your worries and learn confidence from your dance instructor, so you can lose yourself in the dance and the whole experience.”