fred_astaire1Tom and Karen Robinson started taking dance lessons in 2010, in advance of their youngest son’s wedding. They wanted to be able to do more than a traditional, rock-back-and-forth slow dance and ended up being able to rumba at the reception.

Since then, they’ve kept up the dancing, trying to take one or two lessons a week.

“It’s something that we can do together,” Karen said, “and it’s always been fun.”

Fred Astaire dance studio on S Main Street in North Canton offers private lessons and group events for people of all skill levels. No one needs a partner to attend, though co-owner Jerry Satava sees a wide variety of couples—from people on first dates to those celebrating 50th wedding anniversaries.

He said dancing can be a bonding experience for a couple.
“It gives you an opportunity to spend 40 minutes holding somebody you care about in your arms,” he said.

For the Robinsons, their dancing history included participating in marching band and winning a cha-cha contest together in junior high school. Their tenure at the dance studio began with basic dance steps—to make sure their feet were in the right places—before moving into more subtle techniques such as posture, hand placement and hip movement.
“They want you to succeed, so they’ll start out with basic simple things and have you progress as you’re able,” Tom said.

fred_astaire2The number of lessons needed to become comfortable and confident while dancing varies, Satava said. But on average, it requires six months of taking lessons twice a week. How quickly people pick up the steps depends some on their athletic ability, but he’s routinely able to get couples dancing within the first 10 minutes of a lesson.“There’s never been a couple we haven’t been able to teach,” he said.

Dance lessons can be customized, so couples may request to learn a particular type of either slow or fast dance, such as cha-cha, salsa, swing or waltz. Most sessions for couples begin with the rumba, however.

For people who want to practice what they’re learning or who want to dance in a more social setting, the studio holds an 8 p.m. Friday group dance with a class, where attendance reaches between 40 and 65 people during the most popular month, Satava said.

On February 10, the studio will host its annual couples’ “tango and chocolate ball” that includes a group lesson. And starting this year, the studio will offer a marriage enrichment through ballroom dancing series.

Get in on the dancing yourself. Head to a Friday night social and mention you saw this article for a buy-one-get-one special.


About The Author

Alison Matas writes for The Repository, covering Canton City Hall. She grew up in Kent and has worked for newspapers in New York, Missouri, West Virginia and Maryland—and she’s happy to call Stark County her new home. When she’s not writing, she’s usually rehearsing for an upcoming musical or choir concert, going for a run or attempting to cook.

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