By Deborah Bostock-Kelley

If you are looking for a thoughtful holiday present for that special loved one, have you considered the gift of an experience rather than a physical present: the gift of dance? Celebrating 21 years in Carrollwood, Easidance Ballroom has gift certificates for instruction in every type of dance. 

Whether you seek private lessons working one-on-one or in a group setting, Easidance has a class for all interests. These include Latin-flavored dance classes in Mambo/Salsa, Rumba, Merengue, Bachata, and Cha Cha, as timeless dance floor classics of Waltz, Viennese Waltz, Tango, Bolero, Quickstep, Paso Doble, Jive, Foxtrot, East Coast Swing, Country Two Step, Line Dances, and Hustle.

From six years old to millennials to business people, retirees, and professionals looking for trainers, Easidance Ballroom caters to ages and all experience levels. Husband and wife owners Timothy and Michele Mason take pride that whether learning competitive dance, a choreographed first wedding dance, a dance to feel comfortable on the dance floor, or simply an opportunity to socialize with like-minded dance enthusiasts, everyone is treated like family. 

“We teach all levels of dance – people who want to have a new hobby, maybe a date night for some, and competitors. We offer it all at the studio,” said Timothy.

Originally from the United Kingdom, Michele started dancing at 4 and Timothy at 8 years old. Their paths crossed in the late 80s when they sought new dance partners. Timothy was professional, and Michele was in the high amateur ranks. 

“We got together, had a successful tryout for a month, and took it to our coaches, who liked it. We then formed a professional partnership. We continued to train and study under our coaches in the U.K. and compete in the European circuit,” explained Timothy.

In their early twenties, Timothy and Michele embarked on a four-and-a-half-year contract in New York City to work in one of the leading studios in Manhattan and began competing in the American circuit as well as the European circuit. 

By the time the couple retired from competitive dance, they were renowned in the professional dance circuit in both the UK and America and had ranked second in the U.S. and eleventh in the world. A partnership and friendship turned to love, and the couple married in 1994 and moved to the Tampa Bay area.

In 1999, they retired from competing, though continued to travel, doing shows, coaching, judging, and lectures. As they wanted more control over their travel schedule, they decided to open a dance studio on Gunn Highway in Tampa, then settled into their permanent Carrollwood location four years later.

Timothy said, “There are so many benefits of dance, not just the joy that brings to people. Some people dance for fitness. They come to us and say, ‘I can’t do the treadmill thing and the bike. I love music, and I want your ballroom studio to be my gym.’”

Dancing can also be healing in those with dementia and has been prescribed as part of therapy. Because ballroom dancing is mentally challenging and requires listening and problem-solving, studies have found that this challenge to the mind may prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s in older adults. Because ballroom dancing involves precise physical activity, listening to the beats in music, remembering dance steps, and taking a dance partner into account, it is mentally stimulating.

Many articles attest to the effectiveness of dance for seniors as a form of physical and psychological exercise. Studies show how dance is successful in keeping their minds active learning to dance, step patterns, and coordination.

“There’s been many stories about how dance changes people’s lives. Maybe someone has lost a loved one, and they’ve been for years set indoors, and they find the courage to go back out again. They walk into the studio, and it opens up a new lease on life with a new set of friends and family, exercise, and a new social world that wasn’t available to them before.”

It isn’t just about the social aspect of dancing; Easidance is recognized as a place that trains champions to reach the highest level of competitive dancing.

“We’ve had some students taken from what, we consider, a bronze level, and they’ve gone on to be national champions in the ProAm level, where the student is dancing with their instructor.  We train people not just looking at dance as a hobby, but a dynamic sport.” 

Timothy and Michele also host weekly social dances.

The couple finds joy in witnessing firsthand the transformation of someone learning to love to dance. With over two decades of touching lives, Timothy explained that there were many similar stories of introverted teens, adults, and senior citizens that came out of their shells and blossomed through the social community of dance. They discover self-confidence, grace, poise, and the ability to communicate with others.  

Forty-five-star Google reviews attest to “top-notch instructors and an atmosphere second to none.”

Easidance Ballroom’s mission is to create a safe, nonjudgmental place where anyone – no matter what the level of experience – can have a fun time learning to dance.

Easidance Ballroom is located at 5111 Ehrlich Road, Suite 140. Forty-minute private lessons are available on weekdays daily, morning, afternoon, and evening. Group lessons are Monday through Friday. Social dances are Friday evenings. Call (813) 908-3340 and learn more at  http://easidanceballroom.com/