The phenomenal success of TV shows like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance has reinvigorated public interest in classic forms of dance performed with modern flair. And while the Midwest is certainly not Hollywood, locals can experience all the drama and fun of dance at Chassé Ballroom & Latin Dance Studio in Fenton. The business is co-owned by Michael and Ashleigh LaJoice, who say that their main goal is “for couples or singles to come to our studio to have fun with their partners and friends and get away from the stress of life, even if it’s only for 45 minutes.”
Studio Manager Bethany Green, who also instructs various classes, has been dancing since she was three years old, and loves to share her passion with others. “I can’t imagine life without dancing,” she says.
Dance genres taught at the studio include the waltz, foxtrot, tango, rumba, and salsa and cha cha. Instruction is also available in bolero, merengue, East Coast and West Coast Swing and more. According to Bethany, one of the most popular classes is American-style ballroom dancing: “It’s a beautiful form of art. Ballroom dancing is romantic, passionate, playful and fun!” she exclaimed.
Michael says that for couples, dancing is an opportunity to “rekindle the romance.” “Many couples need to get out of the house, away from the TV and daily stress and just reignite that spark,” he said. “On the dance floor, the only focus is you, dancing as partners.” Bethany says she is seeing a new trend in couples who are engaged to be married. “We’re doing a lot of choreography for brides and grooms to create a very special first dance,” she reported.
But it’s not just couples who are frequenting the dance floor at Chassé. Opened in October 2007, the studio offers private lessons, group lessons and dance parties to give beginners as well as advanced students a variety of fun choices. A wide range of people – from high school seniors to people in their 80s – come to the studio to take dance lessons for many reasons. It just depends on their musical and athletic preferences, and what their goals are, says Bethany. The dynamic Zumba fitness classes, which are not only physically but also mentally beneficial, according to Bethany, are particularly popular right now. “It’s mentally stimulating but it is also fun,” says Bethany. “Basically, the bottom line is that we want our students to enjoy dance and to want to come back!”
Friday evening is open dance night at Chassé. It’s an opportunity for students to take a private lesson from one of the seven talented instructors, and then practice their newly learned skills on the dance floor at Chassé’s Practice Party. My City Magazine caught up with students Lorrie Perkins and Mike Morris, who were attending their second dance lesson in preparation for their upcoming wedding. The couple was learning the Night Club Two Step for their first dance as husband and wife to the song, Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not by Thompson Square. “I love it; it’s a blast!” exclaimed Lorrie, although she admitted to feeling a bit self-conscious at first. “The instructors are very patient and good teachers,” added Mike. Kate Dolata and Chris Warden have been students at Chassé since February, and they were busy learning the tango. Both are very active and enjoy exercise and working out. “We wanted to find a form of exercise that was a little more diverse; something we could do together,” said Chris. “It’s a lot of fun,” said Kate with a smile.
Whether you want to learn a new dance for a special occasion, rekindle the romance in your life, or just have a good time getting some exercise, Chassé Ballroom and Latin Dance Studio is the place for you. “Come on in and join the party!” say the owners. ♦
Photography by Mike Naddeo