Always in step …
Think you have two left feet? According to Shauna Baldino, there is no such thing. The Carbondale native and professional dance instructor is opening the doors to her new dance studio, Ballroom ONE, on Friday, Feb. 1 with an open house celebration and several free class demonstrations. Located on the second floor of 209 N. Washington Avenue, Scranton, Ballroom ONE opened its doors in November and Baldino has seen her dancing family expand at a steady sauntering pace ever since. A professional dancer, choreographer and accredited instructor with more than 14 years of experience, Baldino and her staff offer dance programs covering the likes of wedding dances to ballroom instruction, swing classes, Latin/club-style dancing and much more. She’s light on her feet without missing the beat. Meet Ballroom ONE’s Shauna Baldino…
When and how were you introduced to the world of dancing?
I was 8 years old when I started. My grandparents would always dance; they did the jitterbug and won some competitions. My grandfather, who was a musician, would play music at family functions and everyone would be dancing. We were brought up with music and dance. Later, my mom had partnered with Dave Ragnacci and had a dance studio. I started there, loved it and stayed with it forever.
What drew you into that world?
I think I was born that way. Being around it with my grandparents, there was always singing and music around the house. I would watch musicals on TV and the Mickey Mouse Club when I was little and they would dance around. That’s what I wanted to do.
Talk about how the music differs in all of the dances.
For every dance, it is different. We would use classical music for ballet. It’s slower and the timing is different. For swing and jitterbug, we use faster music; more ’50s and ’60s era. It’s nice dipping into the different eras and a lot of times we dress accordingly, which is a lot of fun. It’s a different feeling when you’re doing a waltz and you’re feeling classy and pretty as opposed to when you’re doing a Latin song that’s really upbeat, fun and uses your hips. We use a ton of show tunes with tap because it’s fun and easy to feel the beat.
When did your love for dance evolve into teaching?
I danced for a couple different studios, but when I was at Vince Brust studios, I would assist him while I was studying to be a teacher. What struck me was working with the wedding couples. We would practice their first dance or their father-daughter dance. I was building a relationship with people and the whole process of the wedding. You end up getting close to the students. Usually the man doesn’t want to dance and he does it for his fiancée. Then he realizes that it’s easier than he initially thought and enjoys it. The couple would return to the studio later on just for fun. Every person you teach learns differently. For some students, I have to sing out what I want them to do, some I have to count out with numbers and some I have to draw diagrams on the floor where their feet should go. Every day is different.
What are some of your favorite styles to teach?
I love everything, but right now the Viennese waltz is one of my favorites. It’s a classical waltz, but it’s a lot faster. I’m really into salsa and mamba these days, which is again fast, but all about using your hips. These are my favorites now, but it changes all the time. Variety is good. It’s almost like you’re playing a different character for every dance.
How do you keep it fresh and exciting for yourself?
I always try to use different music and my students bring in music, too. We joke around a lot. It’s a serious studio where we are focused on learning, but we have a real good time during class. We learn to laugh at ourselves. If you don’t get it on the first try, it’s not a big deal.
Has teaching helped you become a better communicator?
I try. I perform and I love it, but it’s mostly because I love dance. It’s like a family. The same students are coming back for so many more classes than what they initially signed up for. I feel the whole studio has become a family and we keep getting more and more members. We have 4-year-olds all the way up to students in their eighties.
What is your approach to teaching people about dance?
I sit down and talk to the students to find out their goals because everyone has a different goal. Some come in because they want to go out on the weekend and they don’t want to feel foolish on the dance floor. Some people want to compete. There is a big difference between the two. Some people will come in for a date night. Everyone is different and I take it from there. I want them to look good, feel good and have fun while they are dancing.
Talk about Ballroom ONE.
I’m so proud and excited about Ballroom ONE. I’ve been there since November and our grand opening is Feb 1. It’s already bigger than I thought it would be. It gets bigger every few weeks. We offer tap, jazz, ballet, Zumba, karate, ballroom, Latin and swing. We offer private lessons, group lessons, wedding dance and choreography. We teach everything from beginner to advance and competition levels.
What made you decide to take the leap and open your own studio?
It’s something I always wanted to do. When you’re a dancer you either want to perform or own your own company and teach. I performed and competed for so many years; I got that out of my system. There is nothing better than to have something of your own to be proud of. It was definitely the right time.
How has dancing changed your life?
I don’t know if I would say it changed my life because it’s been part of my life for so long. I do know if I’m stressed or having a bad day I can go into the studio, put on a song and dance and everything goes away. It’s always been a part of my life.
Do you have any words of encouragement for those readers with two left feet?
There’s no such thing! I think anybody can dance; it’s fun and it’s good for you.
— tom graham
The grand opening of Ballroom ONE takes place Friday, Feb. 1 from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. on the second floor of 209 N. Washington Avenue, Scranton. Adult dancers and children ages four and up of all skill levels are invited to this grand opening dance party featuring ballroom, Latin and swing for singles and couples. This celebration is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.ballroomone.com or www.facebook.com/BallroomOne.