The Ageless Allure of Dance
By Melissa Hirschl
Dance crazes can be like fashions: they continually rotate in and out of style. Whether it’s the jitterbug or the hustle, all have their shining moment in the sun, before they are replaced with equally exciting new trends.
Dancing is timeless and ageless; it provides a social outlet that gives us a way to release our energy. Most importantly, dance is a powerful tool for self expression and creativity.
Adam and Nicole DeKavallas, owners and operators of the social FX Dance Studio in Tempe, intuitively understand the many social and psychological dynamics of dancing as well as the steps involved.
The married couple has been teaching scores of people not only how to tango, mamba, cha-cha, waltz, two-step and rumba, but to rely on non-verbal communication, a key component of their teaching strategy.
“Dancing is like a language I can speak fluently to anyone I meet off the street,” explains Adam. “Rhythm is always inside you; it is inherent to your body, and moving to music is part of every culture.
“We can go to a club in Argentina and we don’t have to say anything to anyone. A man just looks at a woman and everyone knows that this is his way of asking a woman to dance. That’s what we mean by it being universal. You don’t have to speak to have a connection with anyone.”
Both Nicole and Adam agree that people rarely sign up just to dance.
“Most people coming in a dance studio come in just to have fun, learn a new hobby, and/or have a social outlet,” says Nicole.
“Many times couples sign up because they want to enjoy a romantic hobby together. When couples are six inches away from each other they really have to connect and focus on each other while building a partnership; non verbal communication is very important. We stress these aspects, as opposed to just teaching patterns that have to be memorized.”
Another reason Nicole cites for starting dance lessons is to develop self confidence.
“We’ve had one teen that’s been coming here for years,” she says, “and it’s mainly because he’s introverted and wants to come out of his shell. Lots of guys like to come here too because they’ve learned that lots of women love to dance; plus, they get to be in control on the dance floor.
“Men want to be able to go anywhere and make a woman feel like she’s being swept off her feet. Women love coming here too; I don’t know a woman alive who doesn’t want to dance or want to learn to dance.”
The couple also agrees that movies such as Along came Polly and Dirty Dancing I & II have fueled the interest in dance.
“Ninety percent of all the people that walk into this studio have a pre-conceived notion of what it’s all about, based on the movies,” says Nicole.
At the moment, say the pair, the dance that is sweeping the community is the Argentine Tango, which they say is professionally taught only at their studio.
A social tango, this dance is more intimate than the more flashy style often associated with the American form (rose in the mouth).
The Argentine version contains a lot of walking steps. “This is a dance that really speaks about the relationship between a man and a woman,” explains Nicole. “It’s romantic and sophisticated and demands a lot of poise. I think it’s popular here mainly because of our passion for it.”
The man responsible for the tide of Argentine Tango popularity, they say, is Michael Walker, a world-renowned tango dancer who has been in movies (he is also one of the five master tango dancers in the world, according to Nicole).
“He saw us dancing at one of our previous studios,” says Nicole, “and told us that we were the next professional couple he wanted to train. We were skeptical at first, but he eventually convinced us and molded us into the tango dancers we are today. When he taught at our studio last year, people came here from all over the country.”
“I think what makes our studio most appealing to people, says Adam, is that we are very friendly and very patient. We want our students to be shining examples of why we’re successful. Another aspect of our studio that makes us so popular is that we have no contracts; we do zero pressure from day one. Also, everyone who comes in the door gets a free half hour.”
Another well thought out feature of FX is that the dance studio floor is designed to make your dance experience as close to that of a “real world” setting as possible; it reflects the size of most floors around town. The owners purposely created it this way so their students will feel familiar when they have to transfer their learning to public places.
The studio offers a variety of options for those interested in learning dance. There’s a standard rate of $60 ($65 in September) per hour for private instruction (couple or single). Students also have the option of enrolling in private lessons, group lessons or the progressive five-week classes, where students get a practice CD and a night out dancing at the end of the course.
In addition, students have the flexibility of being in a “create-a-class” environment, where they create their own group class and decide on the time and date.
The studio is at 4415 S. Rural Road, Suite 10. Information: (480) 968-6177 or www.dancefxstudios.com.