A Recap of Our Spring Freestyles 2018

Our 2018 Spring Freestyles was on March 2 and 3, and it was an absolutely amazing time! It was our second year as a two-day event. It was also the first year that Arthur Murray Paoli and Narberth could join us, making for a total of six schools attending, our biggest yet. Curious exactly what a Freestyles event is? Check out our blog post explaining here!

In line with the Kings & Queens theme, our Guest Judges were the illustrious Bob and Cynthia Long, of Arthur Murray Albuquerque, the creators of the current Arthur Murray syllabus. Despite having judges, Freestyles is not a competition, and is instead focused on giving feedback to the students — as well as being a celebration of their dancing. It is a great learning opportunity, both offering an outside perspective as well as valuable floor time.

“If the studio is the practice field, then Freestyles is game day,” says student Jerry Cerulli of the event. Jerry has been dancing with the Cranford studio for over 5 years, and has been dancing in our Freestyles events since his first year with us.

We also had a full Juniors Division on Saturday for the first time. With nine students in the Children’s Programs for both Cranford and Hillsborough, the kids had the opportunity to dance in heats with their instructors. For some of them, this was their first Freestyles events, but others have danced with us in prior Freestyles.

For some of our students, this was their first time dancing in a Freestyles event. “Fun — the first thing that comes to mind is ‘fun’! It was a lot of fun,” says student Diane Toma of her first time. Diane has been dancing with the Cranford team since last August.

The grand finale of the weekend is always our formal banquet, held on Saturday night. Unless you’re ready to dive right into the dancing portion of Freestyles, we always recommend joining us for the evening portion. It’s a great opportunity to cheer on your fellow students, enjoy dinner, watch professional shows, and let loose on the dance floor with your Arthur Murray family. It’s an excellent way to see what Freestyles can be about if you feel you are not ready for two full days of dancing just yet.

We hold this event twice a year, in the Spring and Fall, so your next opportunity to join us is in October. We can’t wait to see how many of you will join us then!

But What IS Freestyles?

Whether you’ve heard the term from an instructor or another student, or saw it on the calendar, or heard it in an event announcement, or have seen the poster in our studio — we like to talk about our events here, in case it weren’t obvious — you’ve probably heard the term “Freestyles” before. Of course, hearing about something is very different from knowing what it is, so you may still be wondering — what is Freestyles?

Think of Freestyles as a mini dance vacation, one or two days long. You get to spend as much time as possible dancing, as many dances as you can, giving you vital floor time. The more you dance, the faster you feel progress with your dancing. You dress up and feel glamorous, both on the dance floor and for the evening banquet. Other Arthur Murray schools attend, allowing you to catch up with (or meet!) your extended Arthur Murray family. It is a celebration of YOUR dancing and dance journey!

The dancing portion of the day is full of heats, which are basically “rounds” of dancing. One Waltz heat is one time you will be out on the floor with your partner or your teacher dancing Waltz. There will be other students and staff on the floor as well, dancing the same dance, so you won’t be alone. Those on the sidelines will be cheering and watching.

The event begins with Country Western style dancing. This is a great way to warm up and let loose on the dance floor. Next, we take off the boots and hats for long dresses and suits for the Smooth dancing (Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz). No matter your level, it is always fun watching how your Foxtrot will progress through the levels. After lunch, the skirts get shorter and the ties come off for the Rhythm and Specialty dances. The energy in the ballroom works itself into a frenzy at the hip sway to the music.

That evening (Saturday evening for our two-day Spring Freestyles), we host a formal banquet, with a fun theme to match. There are professional shows performed by the staffs of the various schools attending, so everyone gets the chance to see their instructors perform as they would at professional competitions.

After the event ends, we compile all of the feedback from the guest judges to give back to each student. “But it’s not a competition!” you repeat, puzzled, and that’s still correct! You are never scored against other students. You are given feedback, which is for noncompetitive events — it is a standard of expectations for your level. (Scores, by contrast, are given for competitive events.) It will be an outside perspective, however quick, on your dancing and where you are in your dance journey. It is by no means a perfect glimpse into your skill (there are a lot of others on the dance floor in every heat, after all), but all together, it can be a very good idea of how well you are dancing for your level.

A Recap From the Fall Freestyles 2016 Event

If you have spent much time in the studio, you have probably heard about the Freestyles showcase. It’s an event the dance studio hosts in partnership with other studios in Montclair and Princeton during the spring and fall. It’s a full day of dancing for staff and students alike, complete with professional shows, a banquet, and a theme of the day. The Fall Freestyles, held on October 16th, was a huge success!

Arthur Murray Dance Center of Cranford

For students Ira and Alex Augenzucker, it was their first Freestyles event. “It was a blast. We have not had the opportunity to actually dance with so many people and so many different dances in such a friendly non-competitive setting. It was F-U-N!” said Ira.

His wife Alex had a similarly great time. “Not knowing what to expect, I was more than pleasantly surprised,” she said. “Coaches kept us from feeling out of place. Dancing was great fun, and the day went by so quickly. Can’t wait for next time!”

Nicole LaBruno has been a student with dance studio for several years now and has participated in many Freestyles events. “Freestyles is a great opportunity for us as students to showcase what we have been working on for the past six months,” she said. “It’s fun and exciting to have a change of pace. Getting dressed up and doing extravagant hair and makeup makes me feel like I am in another time! Being on the dance floor with others who share a love for dance is a surreal experience.”

Guest judges from Arthur Murray dance studios across the globe always attend the Freestyles events. For the 2016 Fall Freestyles, the judges were the talented and fantastic Lynda Smith and Daniel Heroux! The dancers were absolutely thrilled to have them in attendance.

Despite having judges, the Freestyles event is not a competition. Instead, it offers dancers a unique learning opportunity in a fun setting. Aside from specific categories, students do not compete for placement, and instead receive feedback on their dancing across all their heats, with a particular eye on categories such as timing, footwork, and frame.

Teachers can then regroup with their students after the event. They go over the feedback together, and they receive a fresh perspective on a student’s strengths and areas to work on going forward together during dance lessons. It’s an awesome learning opportunity and definitely a reason to get excited for the next Freestyles in March!

If you are interested in learning more about this event or participating in dance lessons, please contact the studio today.

Photo Credit: Gabriel Saldana