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Dancing the Days Away at Montereau

A few times each year you’ll hear the sounds of rumba and swing music coming from the Coterie Theatre.  Step inside and you’ll find a room full of eager beginners, anxious to learn the basics of ballroom dancing.  Although at first it can seem a bit intimidating, it’s never too late to learn!

“The only wrong step is to not walk through that door,” Montereau resident and ballroom dancer, Rick Skinner, said.

Rick, alongside Montereau’s Life Enrichment Coordinator, Melanie Lee, teach two sessions of ballroom dance classes per year.  Melanie started teaching classes in 2008 in preparation for a show she was producing, then started offering more classes from there.

Melanie said, “It can be challenging to teach a beginner the ‘how-to’ of ballroom dance, but if they listen to the music, hold their partner and look into their eyes, I find that a person can be transported and forget any troubles for a little while.”

During the class, Melanie and Rick demonstrate dances such as the rumba, waltz and foxtrot and then break down each step and work with the dancers individually to teach them the right moves. Their goal is to give them guidance and help the new dancers gain confidence.

“People will often tell me, ‘I can’t ballroom dance, I have two left feet!’”  Rick said.  “But I tell them, if you have two left feet, you are already half way there, because you need one anyway!”

Rick and Melanie both took different paths to the dance floor. Melanie started dancing ballet and tap at the young age of four.  She continued dancing through college, then performed and also choreographed for Red Glove Revue, the High Fever Follies and Broadway at Boston Avenue.  She also studied ballroom dancing, country western line dancing, Irish step dancing and flamenco.

Rick discovered his passion for Ballroom Dancing when he was 35 years old.  He started taking group lessons and grew to like it more and more with every step.  Eventually he graduated from student to teacher and taught large groups the basics of ballroom dance.

Rick’s favorite dance is the rumba. “It’s just the rhythm, the sound, the type of music, the movement to it, a Latin motion,” he said of his fondness for the dance.

“It’s great exercise, and it has great mental, physical and social benefits,” he added.

While many must search to find the perfect ballroom dancing teacher, Montereau residents are lucky to have two very experienced dancers right here on campus.


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