Sapphire Ballroom & Dance Center Logo

  Trouble viewing this e-mail? Visit us here.

Sapphire Ballroom News

March 2020

Turning over old leaves & finding treasure underneath

Spring is just around the corner: the sun is starting to gain strength, the daffodils are blooming, and it’s time to turn over some old leaves to see what’s growing underneath.

MarchYup, March is here, bringing it’s exciting combinations of new growth and stormy weather.

Here is a little of what’s exciting going on at Sapphire right now:

  • This month is going to see the culmination of the Wednesday night Tango class - can you believe this group has been going since last April? - with a really awesome routine to Lindsay Sterling’s “The Arena.” (Yes, we slowed it down a bit!) Watch the Sapphire Facebook page for info on where this power-packed routine will be performed. (If you have suggestions, I’d love to hear them!)
  • This month will also complete the Monday night Level 2 Hustle as well as launching us into Level 3 Hustle. If you know a bit of Hustle, you have got to try this class. We will all be sports cars by the time it’s over! (I want to be a Delorean. Or a Bat Mobile…)
  • While I’m nerding out, have you seen when our dance party is this month?!?!? PI DAY! Please bring pies to the Pi Day Dance Party. What could be better?
  • One last thing - Eddie + Adela are coming back May 9, details available as they are finalized at and as well as being featured in the next newsletter. Put the date on your calendar, plan to attend, and if you want a private lesson, let us know soon!

Power of partial failure (Plant enough seeds and some will absolutely grow)
Knowing when not to try (When the soil isn't ready for planting yet)
Expert tips for surviving intense dance weekends (Cultivating fertile soil)
Upcycling Music (Several perennial favorites blossom with new potential)

Upcoming Events


Power of partial failure (Plant enough seeds and some will absolutely grow)

No one enjoys failing: that feeling that everyone just saw you misstep, that you are letting your partner down, that you will never get this… whatever “this” is.

But, but, but… let's turn that leaf upside down.

Think for a second about what potential you have when you've done a thing wrong. The next time could be better, probably will be better. If you got it perfectly the last time, the best you can do this time is "just as good" as your last attempt. Also, if you only try things with a low risk of failure, are you really challenging yourself? Without challenges, how much progress do you think you're going to make?

So, I ask you, is potential failure really something to be avoided or something to be embraced? I mean, you probably shouldn't go into a lesson expecting failure (that's a self-fulfilling prophecy!), but maybe you should go ahead and try taking a class or workshop, trying a dance where partial failure is possible, even likely. And afterwards, especially after a really challenging experience, choose what part of it you want to keep. Is that variation they taught in the second half of the lesson really worth the effort to hang on to? Or should you focus on the other thing, the piece that you got feeling good?

Let me tell you what I think will happen if you cultivate the idea that failure, at least partial failure, is acceptable.

1First, you will try harder things (classes, dance styles, musicality), because you don’t have to achieve perfection. If you can take a class in that intimidating dance style and get half of the material, you “got” more than enough to get started in that dance. Don’t feel ready to go to the next level? You can always take that class again. Some of our best students take the same classes over and over again.
2You will dance with people who are better dancers than you. The most beneficial thing you can do for your dancing is to dance with people who are better than you. You’ll feel better responses than you are used to, you’ll experience success in things that didn’t work before, and hopefully have fun doing it. I know that you don’t want to be a burden to those people - and that can be valid, but should not stop you from asking them to dance. Ask them to dance once or twice at a dance party, be up front about your skill level, and no one worth dancing with will turn you down or feel burdened. Just don’t monopolize their time because they might be trying for a dance with someone better than they are on the next song.
3You will be exposed to higher-level concepts earlier. In teaching dance, I am frequently teaching to wide range of skill levels and will throw out an idea with the preface of “If you feel like you handle another thing to think about….” I really, truly intend those comments for the people in the class who are ready for more information, who might have seen the material before and can add more refinement to their motions. If you are not one of those people, don’t worry and don’t try to apply the new information. If you can, listen to those comments and file them away for another day, letting them marinate until you can deal with that extra layer. That foundation that you were already working on: that’s what you need to focus on right now.

All in all, if you are willing to accept a little bit of failure, you will challenge yourself in more ways and come out a (partial) winner more often.

Back to Top.


Knowing when not to try (when the soil isn't ready for planting yet)

Dig with CautionNow that I hopefully have inspired you to try more new things, I do want to include a word of warning. Some things should be left for later.

Sometimes that’s a matter of opinion - like if you really want to learn West Coast Swing without ever having seen a triple step before, I will teach it to you. It's just going to be harder than it has to be.

Other times it’s just reality. Look at the prerequisites for any given class and think about what they mean. If you take a class without the foundations expected, you can slow down the entire class as well as mess up your learning with a shaky foundation. If you’re not sure, or if you’re hoping you can join a class in spite of not quite having the letter of the prereqs (this happens all the time and lots of time it's ok!), talk to a teacher. You’ll probably get one of three types of responses:

  1. “You can handle it” means that you fill the spirit of the prerequisites and will do fine in that specific instance.
  2. “You might need extra help” or “It might be challenging” means you should plan on extra lessons. A private lesson or two might make all the difference in how you walk out of that class feeling.
  3. “I’m afraid it would be more frustrating than fun for you” is a warning. You can take the class if you want, but I would advise against it. Participants will probably be expected to have a background you don’t have yet, causing you confusion and leading to a bad experience.

In all of these cases, you may come out of the class or workshop with only part of the material mastered. And that’s ok, right? Partial failure is still partial success. (Read above.)

On the other hand, if your instructor says something along the lines of “You don’t have the foundation yet” or “Let’s try this first,” know that they are trying to give you the most positive experience possible. And that maybe learning Quickstep or Viennese Waltz is better left for after Fox Trot and Slow Waltz.

Back to Top.







Expert tips for surviving intense dance weekends (Cultivating fertile soil)
- Abridged reprint from our newsletter in March 2015

survival stuff for dance weekendsHave you ever gone to a dance weekend that offers workshops galore, social dancing, and private lessons? We offer events like these occasionally, and if you’re willing to travel just a few hours, they are available all around us. If you haven’t tried something like this before, you should. BUT, you should go in knowing what to expect and how to survive! Without doubt, these events will inspire you to better dancing, but they can also be overwhelming if you are not careful. Here’s some sage advice for making the most of any intense dance weekend:

Water. Most venues have water, but it’s handy to have your own water bottle (that looks different from everyone else's) so you can easily stay hydrated.

Snacks. Protein-heavy snacks like nuts help keep your energy up, even after you've been going for hours.

Notes. Bring a notebook. Even if you are not a note-taker, you may want to write down contact information or websites to check out. Sapphire keeps a stack of note cards and pens handy for you to use anytime you need one.

Extra Shoes. When you are on your feet for hours, a fresh pair of shoes can provide welcome relief. By changing the shape of your shoe, you change where the pressure points are and where your weight is hitting hardest. So, especially if you can change heel height, a change of shoes is a must.

Extra Shirt. You may want an extra shirt if you “glow” after dancing for a couple of hours. You might want to refresh your deodorant at the same time. We all sweat; it’s just part of being a mammal.
Breath Mints. Having gum or mints on hand is nice and considerate.

Mental Prep.
Do as much as you reasonably can. You won’t remember everything. Maybe not even half of everything. But when you have the opportunity to take classes from top instructors or opportunities to social dance with a variety of dancers, it's so good to try to get as much exposure as you can. Don’t miss an opportunity that may not happen again!

Back to Top.


Upcycling Music - several perennial favorites blossom with new potential

Upcycyled grocery bags make a cool purseI make purses out of grocery bags. I cut the plastic bags into strips and then crochet them into other bags (usually purses), and they are delightful. I’ve taken something I already had and put my stamp on it, making it something new, different, and cool. This is “upcycling” and I would love to hear how you do it too.

Now - about "upcycled" music. A lot of these songs were already great music, some were even excellent to dance to. Then... all of these songs got transformed (upcycled) into something fabulous, and fabulously different from the original - like my purses.

Just so you know, I am not including songs like “You Don’t Own Me” by Leslie Gore, which has been done over and over again, but always staying similar to the original sound. (At least as far as I know.)

Love You Like a Love Song

DJ Korotkoff does Love You Like a Love Song originally by Selena Gomez and the Scene - Rumba

The original by Selena Gomez is fast and driving, full of Hustle potential, though I’ve danced a few really nice WCS to it as well. DJ Korotkoff, however embraces the romantic side of the song making it a smoky Rumba, with no peppy feelings in sight. I love that this song starts with the line “It's been said and done, every beautiful thought's been already sung,” perfect for this article, right?


Simply Three does Sucker originally by Jonas Brothers - Tango

I actually love this song by the Jonas Brothers. The original is both cool and catchy, but it’s hard to pin down - Swing, Quickstep, Cha Cha? Hmmm... But Simply Three’s version is straight up Tango, and a delightful one at that!


Adam Lambert does Believe originally by Cher - Nightclub 2-Step

Originally a rocking and powerful Hustle by Cher, this song got a complete remodel in this version sung by Adam Lambert at the Kennedy Center Honors. His rendition is equally powerful and touching, but very much a fresh look at this classic. I don’t believe this version is available for purchase yet, but as soon as it is, you’ll find it in our playlists.

Stone Cold

Molotov Cocktail Piano does Stone Cold originally by Demi Lovato - Viennese Waltz

Originally released by Demi Lovato, Stone Cold does lose something by leaving out the lyrics. But the beat becomes much more friendly in this piano-only version and the melody is still just as enchanting. Just sing the words in your head, close your eyes, and let this song sweep you off your feet.

No Diggity

Chet Faker does No Diggity originally by Blackstreet - West Coast Swing

This 1997 Grammy winner by Blackstreet has been made and remade so many times (maybe because it’s that cool?). I’ve heard big band swing versions, groovy lounge-y versions, Pitch Perfect included it in their “Riff Off”, and I'm pretty sure it was on Glee at some point. But my favorite is Chet Faker’s version: a slow and funky West Coast.

Dancing With Myself

Postmodern Jukebox does Dancing With Myself originally by Billy Idol - Fox Trot

PMJ does so many of these, it was hard to choose just one. In fact, Oops I Did It Again was my first pick because it really is super fun to dance to. But after thinking a bit more, this version of Billy Idol’s hit just suited my mood a little better.

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.

Back to Top.


Calendar icon

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 smoky Salsa, wonderful Waltz, carefree Carolina Shag, and more (not all in one night). Beginners and singles are very welcome!
Dance Party

Pi Day Dance Party with Hustle Lesson - Saturday, 3/14, 7:30pm
We’ll be spinnin’ round baby, right round, as we celebrate circles, numbers, and all things nerdy. Start the evening off with a lesson in 4-Count Hustle where lines and circles join to make something magical and slightly irrational. Remember - there’s two prizes for dancing chefs now: one for sweet and one for savory. It’s gonna be radical!
Upper Level

What’s Next “Crossing Borders” Workshop: Rumba and Salsa - Monday, 3/16, 8:00pm
Do you Salsa and want to know how to Rumba? Or vice versa? Guess what, you might know more than you think.
Prerequisite: Level 2 Salsa or Rumba
It's Line Dance Time   Line Dance Workshop - Saturday, 3/21, 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 is welcome, but not required. $9/person.
Prerequisite: None! Beginner and advanced line dancers will find lots to love at this workshop.
Upper Level

What’s Next Workshop: West Coast Swing - Monday, 3/23, 7:00pm
Come out to see what inspired madness John has for us. Will Mr. Twister get even twistier?
Prerequisite: Level 2 WCS
Upper Level

What’s Next “Crossing Borders” Workshop: Rumba and Cha Cha - Monday, 3/23, 8:00pm
Another Crossing Borders Workshop where we show you how to take moves from on dance into another, this time with Cha Cha and Rumba.
Prerequisite: Level 2 Cha Cha or Rumba
Upper Level


What’s Next 4-Week Class: Level 3 Hustle - Mondays, Starting 3/30, 7:00pm
Get an intro to 3-Count Hustle (all the fun of 4-Count in 25% less time) and learn the benefits of sports-car precision handling.
Prerequisite: Level 2 Hustle
Upper Level

What’s Next “Crossing Borders” Workshop: Rumba and Salsa - Monday, 3/30, 8:00pm
The last in this Crossing Borders series, we will return to Salsa for another look.
Prerequisite: Level 2 Salsa or Rumba
Upper Level


The next set of Blacksburg Classes starts April 7 & 8, so be watching next month’s newsletter for details, or go to for the scoop right now:
Taught at Blacksburg Community Center.


Back to Top.


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

To unsubscribe from this newsletter, please reply to this address with “Remove me” in the subject line.  If you would like to change the subscribing address, reply with “Change My Address” in the subject line. Thanks!

To subscribe to Sapphire Dance News, our monthly e-newsletter, visit us at

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