It’s easy to dance when nobody’s watching; in front of a crowd is a much different story. But, through the help of Shall We Dance?, there’s no reason to fear tangling your toes on the dance floor, with the expert instruction of the company’s co-owners and former professional dance partners, Kimberly Hassman and Brandon Thompson.
Located in Anchorage, Shall We Dance? opened in 2004 in the Louisville area, before welcoming a satellite studio to New Albany the following year. Hassmann and Thompson, along with three part-time staffers, help train men and women to move with fearless elegance, whether preparing for their first dance at their wedding or an upcoming charity ball. The studio offers lessons in salsa, merengue, mambo, the cha cha, tango, fox trot, swing, plus many other styles, in a private or group setting. Shall We Dance? also hosts several travel opportunities, including an upcoming student trip to Argentina, where adults can learn Argentine tango while witnessing the beautiful scenery of Buenos Aires.
Aside from dancing, the studios’ space is available to rent for private events, where you can showcase your newfound talent in dance. “It’s a great venue for smaller sizes,” Kimberly said. “It’s a nice venue, it’s a very beautiful area, it’s just very quaint.”
The Voice-Tribune visited Kimberly to learn more about Shall We Dance? and sit in on her lesson with Craig Stevenson and The Voice-Tribune’s Lauren DePaso, who were rehearsing their act for the upcoming Motown Idol, part of Louisville Collegiate School’s Motown Gala fundraiser.
– Ashley Anderson, Staff Writer, The Voice-Tribune
What type of people do you typically teach at Shall We Dance?
Mostly it’s couples. I would say our average age is somewhere between 40 and 60, just wanting to get comfortable. And a lot of it is they’re making it date night. Something to do together.
For something choreographed it’s usually to get ready for their first dance for their wedding. … (Or) a lot of times a father (and) daughter will come and they’ll want something put together, because dad does not want to embarrass (his) daughter.
That’s most of the time when people come in for something specific. I would say probably 95 percent of everybody that walks through the door, they just want to be able to look comfortable out on the dance floor, whether it’s for a wedding, going to a high school reunion, some type of charity event, a gala.
What’s the key to staying comfortable?
Most important is for the guy to stay in charge. The guy is the leader; the girl is the follower. And a lot of times, the guy may not be a really strong leader, but if the girl will just follow whatever signals he’s giving her, what direction to move, timing and just do the best you can to stay together, that always looks better than the girl kind of taking off on her own and turning herself, where it looks like she’s doing everything.
What else should a new dancer know before hitting the dance floor?
There is dance etiquette. Normally if you’re in a dance that travels around the floor, you should be moving counter-clockwise, and a lot of people don’t know that. So they’re going the wrong way, and so you kind of have people everywhere.
What are the most popular types of dances to learn?
I would say most of the songs that people bring in for their first dance will either fall into a rumba or a fox trot, occasionally a waltz.
What’s the best dance for date night or a romantic occasion?
Rumba’s the dance of love. Rumba or bolero. Bolero’s a little bit slower, very elegant. It has characteristics of waltz, it has the rise and fall, but it also has hip action in it. So it’s definitely very sensual, very romantic.
What’s the most rewarding part of teaching at Shall We Dance?
I like the idea of being the only studio in New Albany on that side of the river. … The other thing is, I guess what would be most rewarding for me is I’ve danced all my life but I’ve been in ballroom dancing for about 22 years now, off and on, teaching. And I love to work with adults because I know the older we get, the harder (it is and) the longer it takes to learn and pick up things. Our brains are not sponges anymore like (they) used to be. And it’s very rewarding to see a couple struggling, trying to get through a step or get around the room in a dance, and then all of the sudden the light bulb going off, it making sense, and they tell me, “It’s not work anymore, it’s fun. I (feel) like I’m really dancing.”
Dancing is a great way of expression, and I think it’s great for couples because a lot of times maybe there’s not so much expression at home, communication, but here you have to communicate together or it’s not going to work.
Collegiate Motown Gala
Craig Stevenson and The Voice-Tribune’s Lauren DePaso will represent The Voice in Motown Idol, an unforgettable talent contest featured at Louisville Collegiate School’s annual Motown Gala, held Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, 1701 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd.
The Collegiate fundraiser will also include an open bar, hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, dinner, a Platinum Record Raffle and a live auction. Tickets are $125; Platinum Record Raffle tickets are $100 each for a chance to win $5,000 or your first pick of any live auction item.
Event proceeds fund scholarships, arts, technology and faculty professional development. For more information, visit www.loucol.com/gala.
Shall We Dance? is located at 1404 Evergreen Road in Anchorage and 208 Pearl St. in New Albany, Ind. For more information on the studio, visit www.shallwedancelouisville.com.
Contact writer Ashley Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org, 502.498.2051.
Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune