Published October 24, 2016
Volume 24, Number 10



‘Dancing with the Stars’ Fixture Launches First Studio in Park

Instructor Caitlyn Roberts & Instructor/Manager Zach Morris
Fans of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars are well acquainted with professional dancer Mark Ballas. He has won the competition twice, with partners Kristi Yamaguchi and Shawn Johnson, and has finished in the top three in another six seasons, making him one of the most successful pros in the history of the series. Now, in addition to appearing on Broadway in the hit musical “Jersey Boys,” he has launched a dance studio franchise that bears his name, and the first location is in Hacienda at 4877 Hopyard Road.
“We're predominantly a ballroom dance studio which is basically just a generalized term for any type of partner dance,” says Zach Morris, studio manager. “We specialize in all popular types of partner dancing which includes, but are not limited to: waltz, tango, foxtrot, Viennese waltz, quickstep, cha-cha, rumba, East Coast swing, West Coast swing, jitterbug, salsa, merengue, and country western. We also offer non-partner dancing classes such as zumba, jazz, hip hop, and ballet.”
Mark Ballas Dance Studio offers three different avenues for learning: group lessons, private lessons, and practice parties. Group lessons will provide instruction on a specific, pre-selected dance that anyone who is interested can join. Generally, these classes will be divided into dance-level appropriate settings. The most helpful avenue is private lessons, which put a student or couple with an instructor who addresses their specific needs and questions. Private lessons will help the students excel much faster in the dances that interest them.
Parties are held once a week on Thursday or Friday and provide students with an opportunity to dance in a social setting, either with an instructor, a fellow student, or a guest whom they have invited to attend. “Often there will be dance demos and shows held at these various parties,” Morris says. Those who are interested in what the studio offers are invited to experience a complimentary 30-minute private lesson, after which Morris will be available to answer any questions and explain how students can get started on their dancing journey.
While Ballas himself will not be at the studio every day, he will be in attendance at the studio’s official grand opening gala in March. Morris anticipates that Ballas will be on hand for coaching and special events two to three times each year, and that events featuring other Dancing with the Stars professionals are likely as well.
Another important area for the studio is weddings. “We do a lot of specialty and first dance choreography,” says Morris. “People pick their song and we help them create a special experience using unique choreography tailored to their specific music selection. The elaborateness of the choreography is dependent upon how much time is allowed to prepare for a specific event. We recommend that you come in at least six months prior to your wedding to obtain optimal results.”
Perhaps the most surprising thing, Morris says, is the impact that learning to dance can have. “It's absolutely life changing,” he says. “It becomes a lifestyle for people and one of the healthiest hobbies you could ever get addicted to. People come in painfully shy. Often new students are literally shaking on their first lesson — they're so terrified because they hear that we're professional dancers, which we are, and initially that can be intimidating but by the end of their first lesson they're comfortable, laughing, and realize dancing is not as hard as they anticipated. Hardly months later they consider us part of their family. On top of the social benefits to be gained from dancing there’s a proven physical and mental benefit that extends to all ages.”
Hacienda’s Mark Ballas Dance Studio, located in Hacienda’s Gateway Square at 4877 Hopyard Rd., Suite B-1, is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. For additional information, call (925) 201-1956 or access www.markballasdance.com.

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