Ballroom dancers celebrate with gala
Students and instructors of Superior Ballroom Dance Studio were busy dipping, gliding, and posing their way around the dance floor last Tuesday. They are busy preparing for the 1st Annual Anniversary Gala in the Greysolon Ballroom on May 16.
“It’s going to be a fabulous evening of dancing,” said owner and instructor Andrea Kuzel. “Dancing for dancers and performances for non-dancers.”
After the first hour of social dancing, students and instructors will take to the floor to perform pieces they’ve been working on since February. Starting at 8 a.m. every half an hour or so, there will be tangos, rumbas, waltzes, salsas, cha chas, merengues, and foxtrots. All performances are choreographed by ballroom artist Mariusz Olszewski.
“It’s like watching a genius when he choreographs,” Kuzel said.
Olszewski created 30 routines for the Polish version of “So You Think You Can Dance.” He has choreographed for and coached two World Champion couples, received a McKnight Artist Fellowship Award and performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the Joyce Theater in New York and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.
“He created videos for each of the students to learn their dances from,” Kuzel said. “We are so fortunate to have him with us to celebrate this anniversary.”
Kuzel and her professional partner Darren Franco opened the doors to their studio in April of 2013 and it has grown immensely since then.
“All those binders over there are for all our students,” Kuzel said. “I bought 60 binders at the beginning of the fall, and we need more binders. So we have anywhere from 100-150 regular students.”
How does the small studio support that many students?
“We grew from two teachers to four teachers and we’re actually looking for more. Our teachers teach 25-30 hours a week in private lessons, group classes, etc.,” Kuzel said.
Instructors like Proctor resident and University of Wisconsin-Superior student Ayoub Dib. Dib started teaching in August of 2013, took a break for his last full semester of school, then resumed teaching in January while working on his final thesis.
“I like the feeling and the expression of emotion. I like watching my students improve,” Dib said.”It’s incredible how much you can see, even within the lesson as the student grasps the concept.”
When the Budgeteer visited the studio, Dib was working with his student Kim Herrig on a dance number for the upcoming gala. Dib and Herrig will dance the rumba to “Every Storm” by Gary Allan.
“I’m excited for the dresses. I have a normal dress and a fabulous sexy rumba dress,” Herrig said.
Though the journey to the gala dance floor has not been easy for Herrig. She began taking lessons in January, but broke her foot in February and had to take a month and a half hiatus.
As soon as Herrig got her cast off and was able to start practicing again, she scheduled six lessons in the first week.
“She was actually practicing her choreography in a cast with her crutches,” Dib said.
“This has been great therapy for my foot though,” Herrig said. And she would know, being an occupational therapist.
Kuzel calls it a hidden benefit of ballroom dancing.
“I always say that people come in here wanting to learn to dance but then, whether they know it or not, the benefit comes out later. Whether it’s helping with balance, self esteem, find somewhere where you’re accepted, where you learn social graces, where you and your spouse reconnect,” Kuzel said.
In fact seeing these changes has inspired Kuzel to create a new scholarship fund: The Kevin E. Johnson Scholarship for Love of Dance. Named after Kuzel’s late father, who she said helped her achieve her dreams and aspirations of dance. It will benefit the students who find joy and better lives through ballroom dance and help them better their lives. More information about the scholarship and fund will be given at the gala.
“After all our mission is to change lives through ballroom and Latin dance,” Kuzel said.
More information about the gala can be found at www.superiorballroomdance.com/anniverary-gala or by calling the studio at 218-348-1928. Tickets can be purchased for $50 before the gala online or in person at 208 W. Superior St. Tickets are $60 at the door.
If you go
What: Superior Ballroom’s One Year Anniversary Gala
Where: The Greysolon Ballroom, 231 E. Superior St.
When: 7 p.m. - 11 p.m. Friday, May 16
Cost: $50 in advance, $60 at the door