Former ballerina teaches ballroom dancing at studio
Editor's note: This is part of a series the Aiken Standard will run on local dance studios. To have yours included or to send us suggestions, email Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Passion, beauty, surprise – dance is an art form that encompasses it all.
This is just one lesson taught by the instructors at Aiken's Palmetto Ballroom.
Since at least 1998, married couple John and Carolyn Chester have operated dance studios.
Their focus is the multifaceted style of ballroom dancing.
Ballroom dancing can refer to swing, waltz, tango, cha cha, rumba, foxtrot, mambo, salsa or bolero.
Each style is taught by the Chesters.
“Every dance is a different character, so they all have something different to offer,” Carolyn said.
Every student is taught through private lessons.
“No two people really learn alike,” Carolyn said. “We want to individualize every student's experience.”
The couples who come in will be taught together, Chester said. But no partner is needed.
“Most of our students have a love of music and just want to dance,” Carolyn said.
Carolyn comes from a professional ballet career.
Her fascination with famed dancing couple Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers led her to ballroom dancing.
“It inspired me, and I said, 'Some day, I'm going to ballroom dance,'” she recalled.
Carolyn and John are both certified through the Fred Astaire Dance Studio.
“My husband and I love to dance,” Carolyn said. “We love ballroom dancing and really love teaching.”
Their studio has choreographed for weddings and for competitions.
Two students were Kathy Huff and Charlie Hansen, who came in for lessons and went on to be the winning couple at last year's Dancing with the Aiken Stars benefit with their “Beep Beep Beep Beep” routine.
“'You did it! Congratulations to Kathy Huff and Charlie Hansen: 2013 'DWTAS' champions! So proud of you guys!,'” the studio posted on its Facebook shortly after the benefit.
Depending on the time of day, couples such as Huff and Hansen could be dancing alongside other students.
Since most music is set in the same timing, “everything can be danced to the same beat, even though it might not have the same flavor or feel,” Carolyn said.
Therefore, one couple can be learning the East Coast swing, while a woman next to them learns the Argentine tango.
The only exception is the waltz, as it is generally based around a different timing, Carolyn said.
To help with this adjustment, the teacher may count out the steps for the student.
Throughout the year, group activities are offered to studio members, as well a chance to showcase their work to their family and friends.
“Everyone knows each other,” Carolyn said. “They are like a big family.”
The studio is at 601 Silver Bluff Road, Suite 10.
It is open Mondays through Fridays from 2 to 8 or 9 p.m., depending on the lesson.
“We can be flexible with their schedule,” Carolyn said as a reason behind doing private lessons.
Before they opened the Aiken studio, the couple operated in Augusta for around five years.
“We are both from South Carolina, so we ultimately wanted to be in Aiken,” Carolyn said on the move.
Aiken's Palmetto Ballroom has been open since 2003.
For more information, visit its Facebook page or call 803-641-4800.
Stephanie Turner graduated from Valdosta State University in 2012. She then signed on with the Aiken Standard, where she is now the arts and entertainment reporter.