The front door to any dance studio can be intimidating.
But as much courage as it takes to ask someone to dance, to perform a dance routine, or to get out on the social dance floor when everyone else is sitting down... there's something far more daunting:
For years, research has shown that ballroom dancing has been seen as one of the best activities for maintaining brain health, but in 2017 the Arthur Murray Live studios in Northern California decided to create a partnership with the Longest Day and Alz.org to raise money for Alzheimer's research.
Since the fundraising began, there has been an outpouring of support and contributions from Arthur Murray students. In addition to other Arthur Murray studios joining the cause, there have been corporate level sponsorships, and we caught up with one of those sponsors, Michael Wright.
Michael has been a student at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Redwood City, and recently started an event company, Enchante Productions, to create formal events centered around elegant dancing.
AML: Let's start with your dance journey. How did you get started and what prompted your first steps into Arthur Murray?
MW: I’ve always been interested in dance. I took a course in dance during graduate school, thoroughly enjoying it. I told myself that one day I would get serious. But the drive to advance my career left me with little time to spend. The years passed. Then, a few years ago, one of my nephews married, hosting a dance at his wedding reception. I was asked to dance several times, and I felt like a fool on the dance floor! That is when I said to myself, “It’s time!”
A memory that I hold dear is of my mother (no longer with us) teaching me as a teenager how to waltz. She told me that some day I should consider taking dance lessons at a place called Arthur Murray Dance Studios. Hence, my arrival into the Arthur Murray world!
AML: What a wonderful memory, and we are certainly happy that you followed her advice! Sometimes people come in for one reason, and find other unexpected benefits from taking dance lessons. What were some of your unplanned or surprise benefits to learning?
MW: One benefit of dance that has caught me totally by surprise has come to my attention through the charity drive for the Alzheimer's Association. I did not know that dancing helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Sweet!
AML: We have students that eventually get the courage to dance in front of people. In your case, you got the courage to create a company centered around social dancing. How did your new company Enchante get started, and what's your vision for this project?
MW: I began taking dance lessons with the idea that, one day, I would be good enough to take a date out for an evening of dancing. When I began searching for places to dance, however, to my dismay, I couldn’t find any that matched my vision.
Seriously! In the Bay Area, at least, there just aren’t places that provide a beautiful ballroom where couples come dressed in tuxedos and gowns to enjoy elegant dancing.
Next came a crisis of logic. Dance lessons aren’t cheap! I want to become a very good dancer. It just doesn’t make financial sense (to me) to invest all that much money and not have frequent opportunity to dance in an elegant social setting.
OK, there are weddings, but I’m running out of nephews and nieces already! So, I came to the conclusion that either I needed to quit taking dance lessons, or I needed to take matters into my own hands and create what I desire. After much thought, Enchanté Dance Productions was born!
AML: What were you doing before you started this venture?
I retired from Career #1, a research physicist, in May 2016, and decided to pursue the venture that is Enchante Dance Productions, Career #2.
Career #1 was a great blessing in my life, and has enabled me to pursue Career #2. Surprisingly, I am working much longer hours in Career #2. I feel like a friend of mine who retired form a career in banking and bought a lot of apple orchards. Another friend asked him if he enjoyed no longer having to work from 9 to 5. My retired banker friend replied, 'Yes, I like working from 5 to 9 much better!'"
AML: Excellent! Well, we want to thank you for being such a big supporter of the Arthur Murray Live + Alzheimer's Association fundraiser. What prompted you to make such a big show of support?
MW: First of all, and most important, finding a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease is a most worthy goal. I have witnessed and personally felt the heartache this terrible disease inflicts. Secondarily, I am grateful for the opportunity to bring Enchanté Dance Productions to the attention of the Arthur Murray community.
AML: What do you wish more people knew about social dancing?
MW: Many people tell me that they love to watch good dancing, that they wish they could dance so well, but they are sure they do not have the capability. They claim to have no rhythm. They claim to be a klutz. It doesn’t make sense to even try. I had the same fears, and expressed them to my instructor at dance lesson #1.
I wish more people could be made aware of what my instructor told me: “If you can walk, and you can count, then you will persevere, you will learn to dance, and dance well."
AML: What's next for Enchante?
MW: More! More dances, more people, more fun!
AML: What message would you like to share regarding your donation to this cause.
MW: May all who face this terrible disease take hope in the work of the Alzheimer's Association.
For More Information on Enchante Dance Productions, visit:
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