Before her children’s school, St. Regis, partnered with Fred Astaire Dance Studio for a Dancing with the Stars style fundraiser (Dancing with the St. Regis All Stars), Audrey Faust had never danced.
Never thought of it, even. She was too busy as a Bloomfield Hills realtor and mom of four sons to take on a time-consuming, physically challenging hobby like ballroom dance.
But dance she did at the St. Regis event, and she loved it. Living a 15-minute drive from our Bloomfield Hills studio, it was all the more enticing to consider signing up for weekly classes.
Seven parents took lessons and prepared to perform with our dance instructors as their partners, and it turned out to be one of the most successful fundraisers for the school ever.
Falling in Love with Dance
Many of the parent dancers fell in love with ballroom dance.
Audrey had never danced prior to the St. Regis event, except for an occasional night out with friends or at a special event. “Dancing was out of my wheelhouse,” she says.
The week leading up to the fundraiser, Audrey was petrified to get up in front of the crowd. But she kept practicing with her partner, Donald Westphal. In the end, Audrey loved dancing. “It made me happy every time I walked into practice,” she says.
Now, she takes weekly Thursday lessons with Donald. If he has an opening in his schedule, she jumps at another opportunity to dance.
“Every time I’m with Donald, I laugh. I want to be best friends with him,” Audrey jokes.
This year, Donald convinced Audrey to compete in the Michigan Dance Challenge with him.
She didn’t know what to expect. “There were so many dancers, beautiful dresses, I felt like I didn’t fit in at first,” she recalls. “But I did great for never competing before. Watching the professionals the last night overtook me. I felt excited and happy.”
“When I’m at the studio and see other students practicing, or at the MDC with all the other dancers, it pushes me,” she adds. “I just want to get better and at the same time, it’s a ton of fun.”
Donald and Audrey danced swing, cha cha, and rumba. The Michigan Dance Challenge took place at The Henry in Dearborn. It is the largest dance competition in Michigan, and we won Top Studio in the state this year and the last two years.
Once a Dancer, Always a Dancer
Now that Audrey’s been bitten by the competition bug, she has competitions lined up on her calendar. She’s competing in June with Donald as her partner and at a showcase in August.
“Dancing at Fred Astaire Dance Studio changed a lot of things for the better,” she says. Before she discovered dance, Audrey didn’t really enjoy working out and would go on walks for exercise.
The energy she feels when dancing energizes her. “I’m currently learning tango, which has become one of my favorites,” she says.
“It’s my time for myself,” she says, something busy, devoted moms rarely have. “If someone asked me what my favorite hobbies were before dancing, I wouldn’t have had an answer. Now I can say dance. “
Today, two of Audrey’s sons are in college and two are still at home. “They can see the difference dance has had on me,” she says. “I’m dancing at home all the time. My friends are proud of me, as are my boys. It feels good.”
Another benefit of dancing is the friends she’s made at our studio. Now, she says there are 15 people she’s connected with on Facebook and her sense of community among dancers is growing.
“I remember Evan coming up to me after the St. Regis event and saying, you’re going to do competitions, I can tell,” she says. She didn’t think she would continue dancing, but every Thursday at 12:45, she’s in the studio, eagerly putting on her dance shoes.
“I would go every day if I could,” she exclaims.
“Dance opens your eyes,” Audrey says.
When asked what she would say to someone who has never danced before, Audrey responded, “Come on, do it. You won’t regret it.”
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