Staff

Nicholas Plante

Nicholas Plante

Studio Director

Nicholas has been Ballroom Dancing for over 20 years.  He was a teacher, a manager and a competitor.  He and his partner in dance and life, Melinda, competed professionally in American Smooth, American Rhythm and Open Cabaret.  They retired professionally as Fred Astaire National Finalists.  In addition to running the studio, Nicholas also produces Ballroom Dance shows and competitions around the United States.

Which dances do you love the most?

All the American Smooth dances…in my opinion they have the biggest range of dynamics and emotional range.  And Salsa…there is simply no other dance that is more fun to dance socially!

What is the all-time best “Dance” Movie?

It’s a tie between Strictly Ballroom and Happy Feet.  They are both fun examples of challenging the status-quo and the “underdog triumphs in the end”.  The former because it comes across as a tongue-in-cheek satire of the Ballroom Dancing World, but actually it is much closer to reality.  And the latter because it is my daughter’s and my favorite movie to watch together!

What is the best thing about your hometown?

Every September they celebrate the “Defeat of Jesse James”.  The whole town reenacts the infamous outlaw’s failed bank raid of 1876.  Gunfights, parades, carnival rides and funnel cakes…the best of small town festivals!

Who is your favorite dancer?

Um…Fred Astaire!  My biases aside…he was the greatest multi-talented dancer of his generation of truly renowned dancers.  His precision and pursuit of dance perfection is legendary!

Favorite weekend binge-watch guilty pleasure?

The X-Files…the truth is out there!

What do you love most about Ballroom Dancing?

I love the mixture of disciplines it involves.  The artistry of music and expression, the science of motion and balance, and the synchronicity of dancing in harmony with your partner…especially if that partner is the love or your life!

What is the most rewarding part of your career?

I love to watch how students change and grow along their dance journey.  The most rewarding thing is seeing a student dancing…and actually enjoying dancing…when only 3 months ago they would have sworn they had 2 “left” feet.

Piece of advice for students/new students?

Dance as much as you can, while you can…sooner or later you won’t be able to.

Melinda Kiss Plante

Melinda Plante

Ballroom Dance Director

After learning how to ballroom dance and competing in on the European Circuit, Ms. Melinda was invited to teach and train at Fred Astaire Dance Studios in 2005. She enjoyed the warm, family atmosphere so much, she decided to stay in Wisconsin and share her expertise to her students in American and International styles of dancing.

Being a Champion Dancer several times in Europe and with Fred Astaire Dance Studios in the United States, she knows that dancing is the best thing she can give to her students to be happy in life.

Accomplishments:

  • Certified in Fred Astaire curriculum Bronze, Silver and Gold
  • German Champion A/B division
  • Fred Astaire Regional and National Champion/Finalist
  • Independent Finalist/Champion

Which dances do you love the most?

Rumba because it is the ballroom dance of the “couples” and I love falling in love when I dance it with the one I love.  Foxtrot makes me feel I am floating and flying on the floor and it allows me to be sassy.  Samba because it makes my body move all over I just can’t stop moving.  Paso Doble because my anger issues need to be somehow resolved through a bullfight!

What is the all-time best “Dance” Movie?

Shall We Dance is pretty high up because I know how J-Lo was feeling with her act to be the competitor with a dream. But when I was 10 years old, I think, I saw Grease for the first time and that pretty much beats everything else.

What is the best thing about your hometown?

I have adopted Appleton as my new home town, because that’s where my daughter will be raised!  But I really do miss the Schnitzel and Langos!

Who is your favorite dancer?

Yulia Zagoruychenko and Riccardo Cocci are my favorite right now but I can’t decide, there are so many out there and there will be always more.

Favorite weekend binge-watch guilty pleasure?

Anything that keeps my attention for several hours is my guilty pleasure but currently The West Wing is what I am watching…my way of preparing for my citizenship test!!!

What do you love most about Ballroom Dancing?

If you have ever driven a motorcycle or jumped out of an airplane you’ll know when I say “feeling free”.  Ballroom dance has the same feeling plus romance and passion!

What is the most rewarding part of your career?

I am very passionate about dancing.  I love when I can give students enough confidence and skill in dancing that they become as passionate as I am!

Piece of advice for students/new students?

Ballroom dance is all about patience and smiles!  If you make a mistake, just keep going.  Remember, some of the best dance moves start off as mistakes!

Megan Blake Dance Teacher

Megan Blake

Ballroom Dance Teacher

I love being a Ballroom Dance teacher.  I believe in high-energy, positive reinforcement.  I was student once, so I know what it feels like to learn how to dance, and I think that gives my teaching style a little touch of warmth and compassion.

Which dances do you love the most?

I love all the dances because they allow you to express yourself in different ways.  But if I had to pick…Salsa is a super-fun one because you can get really crazy and Tango is awesome because it is very passionate.

What is the all-time best “Dance” Movie?

Dirty Dancing! I love that the main character found herself through ballroom dancing.  I think that happens a lot in life.  Patrick Swayze isn’t too bad either!

Which Super-Hero Power would you pick?

Teleportation and Telepathy.  I could travel anywhere without having to go-through airport security and I could talk to other people when I am supposed to be quiet.

What is the best thing about your hometown?

There is always something for people to do, in any season! Especially summer, things are constantly happening.

Who is your favorite dancer?

Ginger Rogers.  She did everything Fred did…and she did it backwards and in heels!

Favorite weekend binge-watch guilty pleasure?

Breaking Bad.  Never gets old!

Which animated character do you most relate to?

Pocahontas without a doubt.  She always stood up for what she believed in, and she was always ready for an adventure!  Some may say she was stubborn, but I admire her strength of will.

What do you love most about Ballroom Dancing?

Pushing myself to new limits and then surprising myself when I master something new.  I honestly fall more in love with dancing everyday, and I never knew that a single thing could make me feel whole.

What is the most rewarding part of your career?

I love watching couples reconnect with each other through dance.  Nothing is more romantic!

Dance Instructor Xander Weiss

Xander Weiss

Ballroom Dance Teacher

Being a dance teacher is awesome.  I get paid to have fun all day!  My first love was a specific type of skateboarding called long boarding.  You may be surprised, but there are a lot of parallels between dancing and skating.  However, less road-rash in ballroom dancing…at least so far!

Which dances do you love the most?

Salsa…it’s fast and free and 2 fun! I am always in a great mood when dancing Salsa.

What is the all-time best “Dance” Movie?

I don’t have a favorite.  I prefer actually dancing to watching other people dancing on film.

What is the best thing about your hometown?

It’s small.  You really can get to know everybody.

Who is your favorite dancer?

Michael Jackson.  He’s got all the moves and a sparkly glove too.

Favorite weekend binge-watch guilty pleasure?

I “accidentally” watched the entire Vampire Diaries…oops.

What do you love most about Ballroom Dancing?

Short answer…EVERYTHING!  Dancing fits perfectly with my high energy persona.

What is the most rewarding part of your career?

I love teaching.  I love coming up with different ways to relate information to all kinds of different people.

Cristy Latona

Cristy Latona

Front Desk Administrator