Continuing Education

Taking the First Step: Talking About Beginning Ballroom and Swing

The popularity of some courses is centered on the subject matter, others around the personality of the instructor. In the case of Celia Boarman's Beginning Ballroom and Swing, it is most definitely the latter with an emphasis on the former. Raised in a family of ballroom aficionados and regularly immersed in the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger ImageRogers, Boarman was destined to a life in dance. Her first ballroom class in the 8th grade was followed by numerous professional ballroom and swing classes which ultimately led to a stint in competitive dancing. It was all very exciting and fulfilling, and though she loved to dance, Boarman discovered she loved teaching dance even more. It’s a calling she’s devoted herself to for over 25 years.

Though ballroom and swing dance are styles rooted in a bygone era, Boarman’s students run a generational gamut from ages 18 to 75. Her students come alone or in pairs, with a history of dancing or none at all. “I had gone 65 years without ever stepping onto a dance floor except in those instances of extreme duress,” says regular student Nancy Lomneth. “I have always tried to get out of dancing whenever I could.  As an attempt to broaden my horizons and to make my husband happy I signed us both up for Celia's dance class in the winter of 2016 and we have been taking the class every quarter since.” Lomneth clearly succeeded in her attempts as her husband Mark Boyd can attest: “Probably what I enjoy about the class most, besides dancing with my wife, is the positive attitude and good humor of the group,” says Boyd. “We've done the class several times and have enjoyed our fellow learners.”

Many of Boarman’s students state they enrolled in her Beginning Ballroom and Swing to prepare for a particular event, but stayed because they enjoyed the challenge and the community they discovered. “Lots of people come because they are attending a wedding and want to participate,” says Eileen Darmon. “Other people may have always had an interest but were hesitant to take ‘that first step’ – no pun intended.” Lomneth shares this sentiment: “We were lucky to have a core group of beginners in our first class that we started to feel close to and since they were coming back the next quarter, we decided to, too.“

Her students note again and again that Boarman’s sense of humor and gift for playfulness are not only instrumental to her teaching style, but what make the class upbeat and buoyant. When pairs join her class, she disarms them with her particularly gentle style of levity. “I tell the female partners to convey to their male counterparts (leads) that I’ll Imagebe gentle,” says Boarman. “Men can be surprisingly self-conscious when they have to lead, and in this context, are not always comfortable dancing in front of other people. I feel we often get too heady when teaching, so I insert as much humor as possible.”

“(Celia) is a genuinely nice, happy, upbeat person with a love of dance,” says Lomneth. “She is positive and supportive to all of us at whatever level we present with.  She keeps the classes interesting by teaching us new dances each quarter and within each session by always adding something new to each dance we learn.”

Even with opportunities to dance in other venues up and down the I5 corridor, Boarman’s students insist on returning to study ballroom and swing with her. “Celia is such a fun teacher, she made it easy to want to do it again,” says Lomneth. “So we have kept coming back and the initial core of people kept coming back and the group has grown, so that we now know most everyone from a previous class which makes partner switching much easier for me and makes coming to class a way to connect with old friends. I also think we developed a sense of camaraderie having gone through the classes together.”

Boarman’s class is anything but a clique and her students would be the first to point out the class environment is very welcoming and supportive place for a beginner. “(Celia) makes no assumptions about what you've learned and what Imageyou've forgotten from time to time. She brings you back into the last of the past session, and incrementally goes from there,” says Arakawa. “No extraneous emphasis on bringing your partner in to your orb of control, sort of stuff that can go on ad nauseam on the internet.”

Boarman, like most artists, maintains a simple philosophy when it comes to her work, but it says volumes about why she and her students enjoy her classes so much. “My goal for all of my students is to help them to move together as one, moving together in partnership.”

Learn more about Beginning Ballroom and Swing.