Slooow. . . slooow. . . quick quick slooow. . . And again, five, six, seven, eight, slow, slow squeeze squeeze and slow. Marlene Nosé squeezes her thighs together for the quick steps, moving easily into the rhythm of the foxtrot. Her husband Val, across the floor with another partner, is focusing on the smooth slow steps, the satisfaction of achievement on his face.
A jazzy, sensual version of The Girl From Ipanema is wafting through the mirrored hall, reflecting the 20 or so casual-elegant couples moving carefully through their ordered steps.
"This is great for your legs," says Val, following the one-hour group foxtrot lesson. "We did not realize the exercise benefits of ballroom dancing until the first time we went skiing, about two or three months after we started."
Marlene agreements. "You have to keep this posture – abs, legs, muscle development – you have to focus."
The Nosés, a 58-year-old retired OPP officer, is a 55-year-old program manager at Health Canada, took up ballroom dancing about a year and a half ago after they saw the 2004 movie, Shall We Dance, in which Richard Gere's character takes up ballroom dancing with a beautiful, lonely instructor played by Jennifer Lopez.
"Marlene dragged me here after the movie," says Val.
Interjects Marlene, "I took the opportunity the very next day, because Val showed some interest in the movie."
"I thought I'd meet Jennifer Lopez here," laughs Val. "I just followed along to see what it was like. It felt strange, awkward to be doing this. confidence, but now I realize why this is fun. "
Marilisa Granzotto, co-owner of the Arthur Murray Dance Studios in Ottawa, along with husband Steve Martin, says ballroom dancing has been burgeoning over the past three or four years.
Certainly, movies like Shall We Dance have been an influence, as have the reality dance shows on television: Dancing With the Stars connects professional dancers with celebrities to perform ballroom and Latin American dances under the watchful eyes of pro judges and viewers who can phone in and vote couples off the show. The show features behind-the-scenes footage of training and professional dance demonstrations. So You Think You Can Dance, a show that scouts for dancing talent in the United States and puts contestants through a grueling 12-week competition to become America's No. 1. 1 dancer, is into its second season.
"Ordinary people learning to dance are very inspiring," suggests Granzotto, who has seen ballroom dancing go through many changes and fashions since she's been running the studio 15 years ago. "It's a great form of exercise," she says. "We have a lot of people come in because they do not like gyms, or they do not like aerobics, or they want a different form of exercise that is fun. year, and we have many stories like that. " Granzotto says ballroom dancing attractions the twenty-somethings as well as those in their 70s and 80s, but the average age of the dancers is between 30 and 60.
"It's easy on the knees. You have low-impact exercise in the rumba, and then you have the quickstep, and the Viennese waltz, which require a lot of energy."
Marlene has not noticed another side effect of ballroom dancing, other than keeping her in shape, is that it takes her mind off her job.
"It forces you to be present. It's good for the soul. And for a woman of my age, it adds glamor to the wardrobe."
"It's like a moment in time," adds Val, "where it's so much fun, that the rest of the world does not exist. And we've been married 36 years. to do together. " http://www.strive-magazine.com