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Sapphire Ballroom News

February 2020

Love = Dance

As John Paul Young sang in the 70's “Love is in the air, everywhere I look around” ... in the stores, on the television, social media... even the studio is dolled up in big red hearts. But what does it mean? To me, I love my family, even when they make me crazy. I love my job (even when I'm lazy). I love teaching people stuff. And I looooooove to dance. Sorry about that rhyme earlier- it was there and I had to do it. Share the LoveSo... What does love mean to you? I hope that you have your own list of "lovely" things in your life, like dancing, that you can celebrate this month. And I hope that you know, here at Sapphire Ballroom, love is for dancing.

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 speical events from the list that you don't want to overlook: That's Amore Dance Party (Feb 8), 2 Valentine's Day Beginner Workshops (Feb 14), and Line Dance Workshop with Lisa (Feb 8). Details are below!

Taking a turn ‘round the dance floor on Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples
The scandalous spin on the origin of partner Waltz
Spin Yourself to Improve Your Partnerships
Classic Crooners Lovey-Dovey Playlist

Upcoming Events


Taking a turn ‘round the dance floor on Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples


Ballroom dance has a (perhaps well-deserved) reputation for romance. And while I cannot think of a sweeter gift idea or a better plan for a date night, it would be a shame if all the lovely people who happen to be single feel like they would not be welcome at our events.

Whether you put the "sing in single" or you put the sweet in sweethearts, ballroom dancing can be for you.

This year, Valentine’s Day is on a Friday - the night of our super fun beginner workshops. So, of course, we wanted to do something to make the night extra special for Valentine’s Day. So, how to make the singles feel warmly welcomed and give the couples a great date experience all on one night? The answer is two workshops: Sensational Singles at 7:00pm (the regular workshop time) and Cute Couples at 8:30pm (with enough time to get dinner beforehand).

Each workshop is still only $9/person for an hour and half lesson, complete with mini dance party and a special treat for everyone who comes out.

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The scandalous spin on the origin of partner Waltz

Now beloved in many cultures and seen as a classic – and sometimes even stuffy – dance style, Waltz was initially considered scandalous by much of polite society in its early years.

There are records describing some isolated dance styles that hint at the origin of Waltz (a “sliding” or “gliding” step pattern) as early as the late 1500’s. However, Waltz as we recognize it today evolved in earnest during the 18th century, most likely from traditional Bavarian and Austrian dancing that can trace its roots to the Middle Ages. The word waltz comes from the German “waltzen” for “to turn” or “to revolve,” and the dance is characterized by music in 3/4 and gliding steps that become gliding turns. The Waltz now has many variants and is considered the foundation of many other ballroom styles.

The initial scandal of Waltz was due partially to the focus on a single partner rather than the more communal dances common to Europe’s ballrooms. Additionally, the close embrace of the partnership placed the lead’s hands at the follow’s elbows or (even more shocking) a hand around the follow’s waist or shoulders. The other popular dances of the time tended to keep dancers at arms-length from one another and followed a pre-set pattern that required the dancers to face others on the dance floor as often as they faced their partner. The most intimate movements in these patterns required only hand holding. If you want to learn more about those communal dances, check out Sapphire’s friends at the NRV Historic Dance Society.

While the Waltz became fashionable in Vienna, Austria as early as the 1780’s, it took several more decades for the popularity of the dance to spread throughout Europe, to the British Isles, and then to the colonies. Napoleon’s army and the troops opposing them are often credited for spreading the dance with them as they traveled, but they certainly had help from operas and ballets that showcased waltz music as well as the increasing popularity of public dance halls that featured large ballrooms for dancing and other diversions. While the dance gained significant popularity in Britain during the Regency period (1811 – 1820), a British manual of good manners published in 1833 still went so far as to recommend that only married women dance the waltz, characterizing it as immoral for the unwed.

In the mid-1800’s, several Austrian composers – most notably Johann Strauss II – began to make very popular musical compositions that were set much faster than traditional waltz music, sometimes even doubling its speed (180 to 200 beats per minute for fast or Viennese Waltz, as opposed to approximately 90 beats per minute for Slow Waltz). This only increased the popularity of Waltz among the young dancers in society, who loved to show off for one another, and led to the development of the designed-for-speed Viennese Waltz dance style. This style is danced primarily in closed position and is characterized by almost constant turning, either toward the right (natural turns) or toward the left (reverse turns).

Over time, other moves such as hesitations (taking only one step over three counts), underarm turns, and other figures evolved into both Slow and Viennese Waltz social dancing and American Style competition dancing, but International Style competition Standard (slow) and Viennese Waltz are still danced in closed position with a very limited number of steps.

Whether you prefer to aim for the floating Cinderella look of a classical Viennese Waltz or the challenging array of moves available in a Slow Waltz, you should plan to join Sapphire Ballroom for the That’s Amore Dance Party on February 8th at 7:30 p.m. Our evening will start with a beginner-friendly approach to the smooth and classic Viennese Waltz, with plenty of opportunities for experienced dancers to showcase their speedy spinning later in the evening.

Sources/Further Reading:
* Cooper, Paul (2015). Regency, The Regency Waltz.
* Del Hierro, Maria Pilar Queralt (2017). National Geographic, The Elegant Waltz was Once Vienna’s Forbidden Dance.
* Golovach, Igor and Blank, Michelle (2014). WikiDanceSport, Viennese Waltz.
* The Jane Austen Centre (2011). The History of the Waltz.
* Pytlik, George (2019). Delta Dance, The colorful history of the Viennese Waltz.

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English Country Dancing


Close waltz


Darek Hough with Bindi Irwin

Spin Yourself to Improve Your Partnerships

Ever wonder why instructors often teach the lead and follow parts separately, even when having a partner could provide a frame of reference or extra stability? How about why people who come from a line dance or hip hop background become such fabulous partner dancers? There are several reasons, but often it’s because being able to execute most moves on your own will make you a better dancer and a better partner, especially when you’re talking about spinning.

Being able to control your balance, your rotation speed, where you stop, and when your weight shifts during a turn are core skills for any dancer. Whether you’re working on making a nice big, showy Merengue underarm turn or a quick and sassy Salsa copa turn, executing the right amount of balanced rotation at the right moment can make a move feel and look great.

If there’s a particular spinning move that’s giving you trouble, ask an instructor to break down the movement and steps with you, even if you’ve heard it before. (Most of us need to hear it more than once!) Then practice completing those motions on your own over and over again, without the assistance or interference of a partner. A series of turns can be an excellent warm-up exercise or way to fill those two minutes while you’re waiting on the Keurig to finish brewing your morning caffeine. If you get dizzy easily, but want to practice spins, break up a series by using basics in between the turns or turning first in one direction and then to the other.

So, next time you find yourself with space to roam but no handy partner, don’t hesitate to spin yourself!

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Classic Crooners Lovey-Dovey Playlist
– Contributed by Adam & Kayla Smith
Either of our families would probably take one look at this list and guess we created it. This style of music is frequently on in the background at our house, especially as we’re cooking dinner and dancing in the kitchen. Which probably explains why Foxtrot is one of the styles we find ourselves dancing most frequently, especially the box-based moves. So, we’ll get a few of those out of the way first:
Fly Me To the Moon

Frank Sinatra – Fly Me To The Moon – Classic Foxtrot

This list just wouldn’t be complete without one by Ol’ Blue Eyes himself! But if you’re in the mood for a slightly more fun & funky foxtrot (or a swing!), check out: Linda Ronstadt – Straighten Up and Fly Right ( or Forever Gentlemen – Cheek to Cheek (

Now for the really fun part – even among the classic sounds in this genre, you can find a variety of dance styles:
Papa Loves Mambo

Perry Como – Papa Loves Mambo – Mambo

So, we’re not old enough to actually remember this, but this song always brings to mind photos from the great old school dances Kayla’s grandparents have told us about attending when they were younger – where a majority of the young people knew how to do more than just “shake it.”

Count Your Blessings

Bing Crosby – Count Your Blessings – Bolero

This anytime-of-the-year song is from our favorite Christmas movie, but is also a wonderful reminder to focus on and appreciate the important things.

Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps

Doris Day – Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps – Rumba or Slow Cha Cha

You might remember this one from the movie Strictly Ballroom. If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out the next time you’re in the mood to laugh (thanks to the retro costumes and make-up/hair, not the dancing, which is actually quite good).

San Antonio Rose

Patsy Cline – San Antonio Rose – Country Two-Step

No surprise that we couldn’t put a list together without including at least one classic country crooner, so Kayla could sneak in a Country Two-Step!

And, as you move toward the more modern artists that draw on this style, you can find lots of pleasant surprises:
I Love Paris

Harry Connick Jr. – I Love Paris – Quickstep or Single-Time Swing

A speedy twist and fun new arrangement for a classic tune.

Save The Last Dance

Michael Bublé – Save The Last Dance For Me – Cha Cha

We love social dancing and learning from other partners, but this song captures how nice it can be to have someone that perpetually claims the last slot on your dance card. And the video is really cute, too.

We Might As Well Dance

Madeleine Peyroux - We Might As Well Dance – West Coast Swing

A nice slow West Coast that would give you time between steps to focus on technique… perhaps moving throughout those slows or trying out some of those fancy footwork triples Eddie and Adela highlighted in November?

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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Coming Events:

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


    Friday Night Beginner Workshop - All four Fridays this month, 7:00pm
This month's workshops feature beginner-friendly lessons in gliding Foxtrot, peppy East Coast Swing, romantic Rumba, and more (not all in one night). Beginners and singles are very welcome. Check below for how we are honoring Love of Dance on Friday, Feb 14!
Upper Level

Fox Trot What’s Next Workshop: Passing Time Passing Feet - Monday, 2/03, 7:00pm
Time to add a little extra shine to your Fox Trot? This will be a challenging night, heavy on technique. Great as an introduction to a new world of Fox Trot or for people who want to polish their silver.
Prerequisite: Level 2 Foxtrot
Upper Level

Salsa What’s Next Workshop: Mirrors and Combs - Monday, 2/03, 8:00pm
Add a little sassy style to your Salsa with a pattern featuring mirror breaks and some fancy combs.
Prerequisite: Level 1+ Salsa
It's Line Dance Time   Country Line Dance Workshop - Saturday, 2/8, 2:00-4:00pm
Join Lisa Utz for an afternoon of line dancing. 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. Early registration welcome, but not required. $9/person.
Prerequisite: None! Beginner and advanced line dancers will find lots to love at this workshop.

Dance Party

That's Amore Dance Party with Viennese Waltz Lesson - Saturday, 2/08, 7:30pm
Come celebrate with people just as in love with dancing as you are. We′ll start our soiree with a Viennese Waltz Lesson - sure to make your head spin and your heart pitter-patter.
Note: admission is now $15/person
Upper Level

Waltz What’s Next Workshop: Spin Doctor - Monday, 2/10, 7:00pm
Adding unexpected spins to this flowing dance.
Prerequisite: Level 1+ Waltz
Upper Level

West Coast Swing What’s Next Workshop: Over a Barrel - Monday, 2/10, 8:00pm
More fun than a barrel of monkeys, barrel turns add new fun to familiar moves.
Prerequisite: Level 2 WCS
Upper Level


What's Next in Hustle - Mondays, starting 2/17, 7:00pm
Hustle, that simple, fun swing style that goes to soooo much modern music, has hidden depths. Join this class to learn more about what Huslte can be, including the benefits of "sports car precision" and an intro to 3-count timing. Taught at Sapphire Studio in Christiansburg.
Prerequisite: Level 1 Hustle.
Upper Level

Rumba What’s Next Workshop: Cuban Walks - Monday, 2/17, 8:00pm
Closed, Open, and everything in between - these essential walks will make your Rumba sizzle. This Workshop will feature fairly simple variations with lots of technique.
Prerequisite: Level 1 Rumba
Upper Level   Single Time Swing What’s Next Workshop - Monday, 2/24, 8:00pm
Get ready to jive and wail with some excellent timing variations.
Prerequisite: Level 1 Single-Time Swing
Upper Level


West Coast Swing Level 2 - Tuesdays, starting 2/25, 6:15pm
Taking this excellent class to the next level.
Taught at Blacksburg Community Center.
Prerequisite: Level 1 WCS
Upper Level


Learn to Salsa and Merengue: 4-Week Class for new dancers - Tuesdays, starting 2/25, 7:15pm
If you love Latin music and want an energy-packed hour, then this dance class is for you! Held at Blacksburg Community Center. No prior experience needed.
Upper Level


Level 2 Nightclub 2-Step - Wednesdays, starting 2/26, 6:15pm
Learning even more Nightclub - want to join in? Just ask!
Taught at Blacksburg Community Center.
Prerequisite: Level 1 NC2
Upper Level


Get Swinging! 4-Week Swing Dance Class for Beginners - Wednesdays, starting 2/26, 8:15pm
Get ready to dance the night away to classic rock n' roll and up-beat blues with this hip, happy dance. Taught at Blacksburg Community Center.
No prior experience needed.


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Thanks for reading; we hope you found something you liked. Until we see you again, happy dancing!

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Sapphire Ballroom & Dance Center
30 W Main Street, Suite C, Christiansburg, VA  24073 - 540-382-8782