People come to the Verve Ballroom for many reasons.
Some are simply intrigued by the idea of learning how to be a ballroom dancer. Others are looking to make new friends. Still others find ballroom dancing to be a great way to stay in shape.
Whatever their reasons, co-owner and instructor Alexandria Hawkins sees a common threat among many of her students.
Hawkins noted that people do a lot of social interacting these days, but it’s often done online through their computers or smartphones.
What ballroom dancing brings is actual face-to-face contact.
“It’s nice to have that human connection,” said Hawkins, who co-owns the Verve Ballroom with business partner Barney Chiu. “I think that’s a lot of what we’re missing now.”
The Verve Ballroom opened last August. The ballroom is located at 19820 40th Ave. W, Suite 102, in Lynnwood.
Lynnwood seemed like the ideal choice to locate their dance studio, Hawkins said. It’s near Interstate 5 and I-405 and it’s easy to get to from the Eastside. The Verve Ballroom draws dancers from all over the area, including Everett, Edmonds, Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Monroe and Bothell.
Hawkins started ballroom dancing when she was 17, though she started ballet at 5. Hawkins was the 1998 Rising Star Champion of the Challenge of Champions dance competition circuit. After 30 years of competing, Hawkins retired to focus on her teaching. She coached the winners of the U.S. Youth Standard Championship at the USA Dance National DanceSports championships in 2012.
Hawkins met Chiu in one of her group classes about 11 years ago. She has been his dance teacher and his dance partner in pro-am competitions for many years. During the course of conversations, Chiu mentioned he wanted to open a business.
“He knew I was a dance teacher,” Hawkins said. “One thing led to another. ‘Hey, let’s do that. It sounds good.’”
One of the best parts about teaching is seeing her students develop their skills.
“I enjoy watching a person go from feeling like they have two left feet to understanding they have a left and a right,” she said. “They have a sense of rhythm and they can move around the floor and enjoy themselves. I like watching their confidence build on a social level.”
Many people’s first impressions of ballroom dancing might be from the ABC show, Dancing with the Stars. Hawkins wants people to know that there is a lot of drama created through television.
“They have to show the fighting and the arguments and the teacher being mean,” she said. “But that’s really not what happens. Learning to dance is enjoyable and relaxing and fun. And it’s not put on this earth to torture the mere mortals of earth. Normal people invented it and normal people do it. You don’t need to be special.”
Two of those normal people were Jani Scmke and Darryl Robbins, a couple who have been married for 30 years. Unlike many couples where the woman is the one who broaches the idea of taking dancing lessons, it was Darryl who always wanted to learn ballroom dancing.
“My husband wanted to take lessons for so long,” Jani said.
The two enjoyed their lessons with Hawkins.
“She really is a good communicator,” Darryl said. “She makes it easy to understand. She was excellent in helping us to improve.”
The Verve Ballroom offers group lessons on Fridays, followed by a two-hour social dance party.
People will learn the basic concepts and understanding of two dances. “They’ll know two patterns and they can move around the floor,” Hawkins said.
Ballroom dancing is good exercise, especially for the older generation.
“It keeps the mind and body connection working together,” Hawkins said. “It develops coordination skills, which is the most important thing. Eye-hand coordination.”
Another great thing about ballroom dancing, Hawkins noted, is that there are different levels. Ballroom dancing can be just for fun or you can join a league or even go pro.
“It’s what you want out of it,” Hawkins said. “It’s not what somebody else wants out of it for you.”
For more information on the Verve Ballroom, see www.theverveballroom.com or call 425-640-3070.