HOW DANCE CHANGED MY LIFE: OWNER EDITION
Hello, everyone! My name is Shannon and I own the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. The first question I get asked after I tell people that I own a Fred Astaire Dance Studio is always the same. “Wow! What made you get into that line of work?” I always tend to say how much I love it, how it changed my life for the better, or how much I love seeing it change other’s lives for the better. The one thing I realized I never really do, is tell people HOW it changed my life. I tend to ask my students and other dancers why they love to dance- but never answer the question myself. So here I am to tell you about how dance changed my life for SO much better.
First things first, we must start 7 years ago…
I was in my Law 101 class when my teacher said she was going to start a ballroom dance club. Me, of course, wanting to do anything I could to please my teacher, eagerly said I would join. Little did I know, that very moment was the moment that would alter my entire life. Fast forward to a year later, my senior year in H.S., and here I was again in this ballroom dance club. I loved it, I hated when I didn’t have it after school, and I started to attend the Friday night parties at the studio. Now, Senior Project was coming up, and while I THOUGHT I wanted to do it at a law firm — I instead decided to do it at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Willoughby, Ohio.
Let me tell you- I was not prepared for the profound change that just one week in this studio would have on me. Andrea, the owner, took me under her wing and showed me the ropes. Believe me, I wasn’t very good at them at the time… She was patient when I was too scared to answer the phone, and understanding when I just did NOT get that you don’t let a person come in the door without saying hello. The entire staff was welcoming, reassuring, and made me feel like I’d chosen the right place. Within a week after completing my Senior Project, Andrea had asked if I would like to work as a receptionist for the studio. I remember SO distinctly what that moment felt like. I remember saying yes, walking out to the parking lot and running into another student, and all but jumping for joy and crying tears of happiness! I had recently gone through a hardship that rocked my world every which way you could name. But dancing… dancing changed all of that. This job that I thought would make me happy while helping pay for textbooks and my Starbucks addiction; would become my life’s path.
I went from being an introverted, closed-off, grungy, punk loving girl- to a happy, extroverted, boisterous, Frank Sinatra loving girl. I turned on the Latin radio station every day and would do the little salsa that I knew over, and over, and OVER! I so desperately wanted to know this magical land of happiness that all my new co-workers were currently residing in. I finally decided to jump all in, toes in the water, and to my surprise—it was like a hot tub. My world filled with happiness, music, laughter, exercise, all wrapped up in one simple word: dancing.
From there on out, and throughout the last seven years being with Fred Astaire Dance Studios, I have developed into the type of person my 5 year old self wanted to be. Happy, confident, physical, and well-rounded. (At least I’d like to think so!) I went from being glass half-empty, to glass half-full—heck, glass ALL THE WAY FULL! The combination of music, movement, concentration… it’s enough to fill every human need. Stress relief, exercise, social life, education, love. It all came to me and filled my empty head and heart. I have met some of the most incredible people that I consider myself beyond lucky to have met. I fell in love with my husband, who is also a dancer with Fred Astaire Dance Studios. I have traveled the world to places I never thought I would go. I have learned a skill that CHANGES PEOPLES LIVES!
I found that one size fits all pair of pants that actually IS a one size fits all. So, there you have it, folks. I fell in love with dance because it really, truly, changed my life.