Sapphire Ballroom
Sapphire Ballroom News - January 2020
Looking Forward

SeptemberIt's the year 2020 - I'm thinking of it as the year of clear vision. It's the year that you can clearly see yourself dancing with your friends, having a great time. The year that you can visualize and carry out a plan to learn and enjoy a new dance with us.

In this newsletter, we're both looking forward and looking back. Thinking about the good over the past decade and looking forward to new ways to improve or start dancing this year. It's a good time to make plans and enjoy memories - so let's get to it!

Scroll to the bottom for a list of ways you can join us on the dance floor to kick off the new decade in style. Highlights: here are three events from the list that you don't want to overlook: The Winter Luau Dance Party (Jan 11), Sweetheart's Special Dance Class (Jan 13), and Line Dance Workshop with Lisa (Jan 25). Details are below!

Looking forward
Give it a Whirl! Choose your own dance adventure in 2020
Stretch into a new routine

Looking back
Debbi’s Sapphire Story
Billborad's 100 Songs That Defined the Decade - can you dance to them? Yes, you can! (well, some of them)

Give it a Whirl! Choose your own dance adventure in 2020

Let's say you're ready to try dancing, what now? It's kind of like a choose your own adventure novel. My son is very into these novels right now - do you follow the loud music down the dimly lit hallway or take the stairs up to the second floor? Dancing at Sapphire is a little like that, only all the choices you make lead to good endings and more fun possibilities.

Your adventure might look something like this:

2020 1. After talking it over with some friends, or your sweetheart, or yourself, you decide to learn to dance this year.
Winter Sampler 2. You aren’t sure what style is right for you, but you hear about Sapphire’s Winter Sampler at the Blacksburg Community Center on January 7 and decide to attend. (This step is fun, but totally optional.)
While there, you find out you like the fun, upbeat attitude of swing styles and even try a few steps of a swing. [Really you could insert any appealing adjectives and dance styles in this section. Swing is just an example.] Hustle (a form of Swing) seems simple and fun, plus you love the music.
Group Classes 3. So, you elect to take the 4-week “Do the Hustle” class that starts on January 22 in Blacksburg. You have such a good time, you follow up with a second group class - Level 2 Hustle or Level 1 Swing in the next session.
Dance Party 4. After two sessions of classes, you decide it’s time to go to your first dance party at the studio in Christiansburg on Pi Day (3/14). You could have gone earlier, but now you feel comfortable. You’ve made a few friends at these classes and hope to see them at the party. The pre-dance lesson is Hustle, which makes the party even more appealing. During the dance, the music includes a bunch of songs you recognize and are super-excited you can now dance to!
You have a great time learning new moves and trying different styles with the other dancers you meet at the party. One of them invites you to join an intermediate Hustle lesson that’s taking place at the studio on Monday in a few weeks.
Upper Level Woksp 5. You think it over and agree - you're going to an Upper Level Workshop!
The Upper Level Workshop moves a lot faster than the Blacksburg classes, but you still come away with the basics of a new move, and you instructor assures you that the other details will come with time and practice.
Private Lesson

6. You feel like some one-on-one time might help you really solidify those concepts and a move or two you’re still trying to get the hang of from group classes. So, you decide to speak with one of the instructors about scheduling a private lesson.
You learn so much from your first private lesson! Not only do you really feel like you can do that new move from the Monday night workshop on your own, but they also gave you an easy-to-remember tip that fixed the awkwardness you were feeling during those moves during group class. In the last few minutes, you even had time to sample another dance style or two to help you decide which class you want to take next.

Dancing King

8. Before you know it, people know your name and are asking you to dance: you’re feeling like a member of the dance community and are ready to help other new dancers join in the fun!

This is all just one scenario, one path you can take on your journey to becoming a dancer. If you can’t make it to the Sampler - not a problem. Just give us a call if you’d like help deciding what to try. If your only available on Thursday nights - not a problem. There’s some form of group class happening almost every weekday night. You only want to learn “This Dance” - again, not a problem. Private lessons will fit that need. You only want to dance with your sweetheart - not even a challenge. Check out the Sweetheart Special or again Private Lessons might be your answer.
FBWs No matter which style you choose for your first class, or if you decide to start with private instruction or Friday Workshops, there are endless options for progressing after taking that first step. Each person’s dance journey looks a little different, but they all start with one easy decision: to get out there and give it a whirl! We hope you’ll choose to join us on the dance floor in 2020.
If you would like help making that first step, give us a call: we’d be happy to help you through the process!

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Stretch into a new routine

Even though many people view ballroom dancing as a social hobby, it can really be a great low-impact workout. But we don't seem to treat it like one. Would you plan to go hiking, running, or biking without stretching? While a single hour of a social dance may be less strenuous than many of those activities, dancing all evening at one of Sapphire’s Saturday night parties can really work your body - especially if you dance a lot of energetic styles like East Coast Swing or Viennese Waltz.

The more time you spend on the dance floor, the more your body will appreciate a little dedicated warm-up and cool-down time. Here are a few simple stretches to get your body limbered up for those all-twisted-up outside partner steps:

1 Warm up your feet, ankles, and calves: This is a great stretch to do while you are changing into your dance shoes.
Sit up in a chair with your back straight and your feet hip-width apart. Lift one leg out in front of you and alternate pointing and flexing that foot, taking 1-2 seconds to reach each position. Repeat several times then switch to the other leg and give it the same treatment. Lift the leg you started with again. Draw small circles with your foot, then use your toes to point first to the left (10 o’clock, stretching toward 9) and then to the right (2 o’clock, stretching toward 3). Repeat several times, then switch to the other leg and repeat.
2 Walk it Out: If you haven’t gotten to walk much already today, take a lap or two around the dance floor to loosen up. Keep it slow and controlled, engaging your core as well as your legs. Concentrate on standing up straight while you walk, and allow your arms to move naturally from side-to-side. Alternatively, you can turn your torso or reach side-to-side as you walk, stretching the muscles in your sides and back. Having trouble remembering to step heel first in ballroom styles? Use this as an opportunity to practice rolling through your foot with each step.
3 Find Your Dance Posture: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, weight distributed equally on both feet. Your head should be centered over your shoulders, and your shoulders should be straight over your hips. Stand sideways to the mirror to check this positioning. Your weight should be centered straight down through your hips and knees.
Look straight ahead and lift your skull like someone is pulling up on your ears to help elongate the muscles in your neck. Slowly raise your arms, straight out from your sides and up over your head. Feel how your rib cage came up? Slowly lower your arms back to a position that’s parallel with the floor, and relax your shoulders down and back, without dropping your rib cage. Hold this position for a few seconds. Now relax. Repeat several times.

Now you’re ready to jump onto the dance floor! It’s sometimes intimidating to stretch or warm-up in front of people who are not also warming up. So - let’s make this a thing this month. We all stretch; we all warm up together. We will all benefit from it.

Do you have a favorite stretch or part of your warm-up routine that we missed including? Let us know what you’d add or would like to see included in future articles by sending us a Facebook message or an email.

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Sapphire Story: Debbi

Allow me to introduce myself - I'm Debbi. I'm short, snarky, have subtly technicolor hair (right now the purple is fading, but it will be spruced up soon!), and if you've danced at Sapphire you have probably met me at some point. This is me. There’s so many things I could talk about, y’all know I like to talk, but these are some of the things about being part of Sapphire that really stand out.

I honestly can’t remember if I was at that first Dance Party in July of 2004 which marked the opening of Sapphire Ballroom & Dance Center. But I know I was at the local Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting a few weeks later (there's a picture at the Studio, if you want to see).

I specifically remember Linda Stancill, studio owner, my mentor, and fabulous dancer, asking me if I wanted to Tango. I said “Um - sure?” and maybe I shouldn't have. I didn’t do so hot on that dance, but Linda smiled anyway, and that tells you a lot about what working for her was like. Wanting to live up to her expectations of me, I learned a lot about how to Tango, really fast.

I really wasn’t part of Linda’s community before starting to work at Sapphire. She had found me at the swing dance club in Blacksburg, hosting and teaching, and getting kind of bored with only dancing swing. So, I entered Sapphire community as an established dancer, a somewhat experienced teacher, but still a little bit of an outsider.

One of the first things I noticed was the almost complete lack of cattiness in the students and in the staff. Not that everyone always got along perfectly, but even if we were at odds, there was always an underlying sense of community binding us together. You could see that community in the group of dancers heading to Macados for ice cream after a dance party or when people would close ranks around a fellow dancer in need. Like when, a month after my second son was born, I ruptured my Achilles Tendon. People from Sapphire brought me and my family food, loaned me a wheelchair, took my dog for walks, and even weeded my garden. Just to make me feel a little less helpless and overwhelmed during my seemingly endless recovery. People have been rallying around me and my family recently as well, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate the support.

Now, Sapphire is the third prong in my life - family, personal, and professional. I love teaching; I love dancing; and I love my dance family. I couldn’t ask for anymore more. Well, a clone would be nice.

Wesleyan Demo 2005

Old Dominion Ballroom

Sapphire Family

Real Fmaily

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100 Songs That Defined the Decade - can you dance to them? Yes, you can! (well, some of them)

Billboard recently released a list of 100 songs that defined the decade: Their list is far ranging and definitely eclectic, featuring Broadway, Pop, Alternative, K-Pop, Country, and more. We’ve chosen some of the best dance tunes from the mix to share with you.

I encourage you to visit Billboard’s webpage because the list as a whole is fascinating, sometimes disturbing, definitely powerful, and really well thought out. Plus each song has a nice description of what made it integral to the 2010’s.

Because 100 songs is way too many, I tried to pare down their list into something more managable. I probably spent too much time trying to choose which songs to include and ended up with a really mixed bag: some are challenging, some are easy; some are old friends, some are new to me. They all have one thing in common, I know I would enjoy dancing to any one of these songs and I hope you will too.

Somebody I Used To Know

Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know - Rumba

It's fast, but really works as a Rumba.


One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful - Hustle or East Coast Swing


Imagine Dragons - Radioactive - West Coast Swing

I first heard this song in the closing credits for the movie “The Host.” It was one of those dancing-in-the-aisle-of-the-movie-theater moments. Yes, it’s crazy slow for WCS, but if you really embrace those 2’s, you’ll have a great time.

Call Me Maybe

Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe - Hustle

This is not the official video for this song, but I have to share it anyway - 2012 DWTS Team Week.

Let it Go

Idina Menzel - Let It Go (from Frozen) - Nightclub 2-Step

Yeah, I got pretty tired of hearing this song, but it really is a good nightclub. Try it out, if you’re not afraid of the earworm.

Follow Your Arrow

Kacey Musgraves - Follow Your Arrow - Country 2-Step

How did I miss this song in 2013? Well, I’m glad to hear it now!

Get Lucky

Daft Punk featuring Pharrel Williams, Nile Rodgers - Get Lucky - Hustle

I remember this being performed at the Winter Olympics in 2014. Interesting choice for an international sports competition, don’t you think?

Thinking Out Loud

Ed Sheeran - Thinking Out Loud - Bolero or International Rumba

It could also be an American Rumba if you like dancing reallllllly slow.


Enrique Iglesias - Bailando - Salsa or Samba

I think it’s really a matter of opinion which you should dance to this one.

Uptown Funk

Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk - Hustle, West Coast Swing, Cha Cha

This song is so excellent because it calls back to 70’s and 80’s funk. After listening to it, I always want to hear Walk the Dinosaur (Was Not Was).

My Shot

Lin-Manuel Miranda - My Shot - Fast American Tango or West Coast Swing

I’ve heard this song several times and never thought about dancing to it until reading this list. It’s going to be a part of our next Stage and Screen Playlist, no doubt.

Hard Times

Paramore - Hard Times - Hustle

Not your typical happy disco hustle song, but it definitely has a groove worth dancing to.


Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee - Despacito - Salsa or Samba

This song, along with it’s remix featuring Justin Bieber, made me dance a little in my car every time it came on the radio. I really prefer to Samba to it, but Salsa works too.


Kesha - Praying - Nightclub 2-Step

A powerful song about emotional abuse, I have visions of doing a really powerful Nightclub 2-Step to this song. Anyone want to dance?


Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey - The Middle - West Coast Swing

bad guy

Billie Eilish - bad guy - West Coast Swing

Ok - it’s fast. I know it’s fast. But it’s so fun; please try it?

There were lots more on the first draft of this list. Several got cut because their rhythms are challenging, or they had tempo changes… Those things that artists sometimes do when they aren’t explicitly making dance music. Some others got cut because we use them at the studio all the time, so there’s nothing more to say about how dance-able a song it is (Camila Cabello’s Havana, for example).
What songs do you think should have made this list? What would you like to see in next month’s playlist? Let us know - we’d love to hear from you on Facebook or by email.

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Calendar Graphic

Coming Events:

Events are hosted at the Sapphire Studio on Main Street in Christiansburg unless otherwise specified.


Friday Night Beginner Workshop - All five Fridays this month, 7:00pm
This month's workshops feature amazing beginner-friendly lessons in Tango, Nightclub, Cha Cha, Swing, and more (not all in one night) plus a mini dance party at the end of the evening for you to go wild with all of your cool new moves. Beginners and singles are very welcome!

Upper Level

Upper Level Workshop - Viennese Waltz: Intro to Dancing like Disney Royalty - Monday, 1/06, 7:00pm
A whirlwind introduction to Viennese Waltz - a great chance to brush off the dust or to try a new vision of your favorite Waltz moves.
Prerequisite: Level 2 Waltz or previous Viennese Waltz

Upper Level

Upper Level Workshop - Salsa: CBL w/ IST - Monday, 1/06, 8:00pm
Don't know what those crazy letters mean? You need this workshop! A Cross Body Lead with InSide Turn is the move that will make your Salsa swirl!
Prerequisite: Level 1 Salsa

Upper Level

Social Dance Class Sampler: a FREE introduction to Ballroom Dancing - Tuesday, 1/07, 7:15pm
Tired of watching other people dance? Start your year off with Sapphire and this one-night workshop! It's a great way to get started on your path to partner dance. Taught at Blacksburg Community Center

Dance Party

Winter Luau Dance Party with Rumba Lesson - Saturday, 1/11, 7:30pm
Dig out your flowered shirts, wear them over your long-johns, and get ready to Luau at Sapphire Ballroom! Note: admission is now $15/person

Upper Level

Upper Level Workshop - West Coast Swing: Hammerlocks and Arm Tricks - Monday, 1/13, 7:00pm
Yet another awesome variation on the inside roll, with some nifty positions on the way.
Prerequisite: Level 2 WCS

valentines Sweetheart's Special Dance Class - Monday, 1/13, 8:00pm
Looking for the ultimate date experience with your sweetheart? Learn to dance together! This class will feature Hustle and Rumba, two great dances for wherever you go. Class meets weekly for 4 Mondays, finishing just in time for Valentine's Day.
Prerequisite: None! It's a great class for beginners. Unlike most of our offerings, partners are required.
Upper Level

Upper Level Workshop - Nightclub 2-Step: Roll with it - Monday, 1/20, 7:00pm
Simple and dramatic variations on rotations that lead to rolls (not the kind you eat).
Prerequisite: Level 1 Nightclub 2-Step

Upper Level

Intro to West Coast Swing, 4 Week Class - Tuesdays, starting 1/21, 6:15pm
West Coast Swing is a challenging, exciting, and sassy dance done to a huge variety of music including many of the currently popular tunes. Prerequisite: Great for seasoned dancers and ambitious beginners alike.
Taught at Blacksburg Community Center.

Upper Level

Level 2 Rumba, 4 Week Class - Tuesdays, starting 1/21, 7:15pm
We’ll be building on the basics of this “dance of love.” Rumba is perfect for this time of year - a beautiful, romantic Latin dance style. Prerequisite: Level 1 Rumba
Taught at Blacksburg Community Center.

Upper Level

A Better Slow Dance: Nightclub 2-Step (Level 1), 4-Week Class - Wednesdays, starting 1/22, 6:15pm
This quiet gem of a dance will keep you on the dance floor for a huge variety of slow music. Prerequisite: None! It's a great class for beginners. Held at Blacksburg Community Center.

Upper Level

High Powered Tango: 8-Week Routine Class - Wednesdays, starting 1/22, 7:15pm
Our first routine class of 2020 will tackle the feisty fun to be found in intermediate Tango. This is sure to be a dynamic start to the new year! Prerequisite: Level 4 Tango.
Taught at Blacksburg Community Center.

Upper Level

Do the Hustle (Level 1), 4-Week Class - Wednesdays, starting 1/22, 8:15pm
If you love grooving to disco or popular music, then this class is for you! Learn the basics of Hustle, as well as one or two moves to wow your partner. Taught at Blacksburg Community Center.
Prerequisite: None! It's a great class for beginners.

It's Line Dance Time Country Line Dance Workshop - Saturday, 1/25, 2:00-4:00pm
Join guest instructor Lisa Utz for an afternoon of line dancing at Sapphire's first CLD workshop. With an exciting combination of beginner friendly and more challenging dances, as well as tips on how to jazz up any choreography, this workshop will get your toes tapping in no time.
Prerequisite: None! Beginner and advanced line dancers will find lots to love at this workshop.
Upper Level Upper Level Workshop - East Coast Swing: Even More Rockin’ - Monday, 1/27, 7:00pm
Learn how to take advantage of that rock step to make your swing even more awesome.
Prerequisite: Level 2 East Coast Swing

Welcome to 2020!


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Sapphire Ballroom & Dance Center

30 W Main Street, Suite C, Christiansburg, VA  24073 - 540-382-8782