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Last Edited: 28 December 2010 at 7:28pm

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Ballroom dancing has fascinated me since my early teens, and did not have the opportunity to join ballroom dancing of any sort until I moved into Madison for college.

A friend of mine took me to a social dance, where I groggily sifted through partners and instructors that easily read my level of inexperience, hastily moving to someone with more…”flair.”

However, there was one instructor that stuck out to me and didn’t treat it that way.
It was Darrell, where we danced a relatively simple form of cha-cha.
But, instead of a regimented pattern which I had done repetitively in various classes and practices, he simply smiled and encouraged me to use improvisation and expression.
That encouragement, and an anomaly of a happenstance, stuck out to me.

Having taken lessons from Darrell for almost a year now, I can tell you that not only has my form and background knowledge of ballroom dancing improved, but also the level of confidence in myself.
(Which is an INCREDIBLY important life skill, in of itself.)

He has taught me that it’s okay to mess up. He’s helped me learn how to learn. He’s helped me form patience with myself. He has taught me the importance of being comfortable.

It’s clear that, not only is he an amazing dancer, he LOVES what he does and he cares about the people that come into the studio.
Take the time to come in and check it out.

While there are many good opportunities in Madison and good instructors, there is a significant difference between something that is “good,” and something that is “great.”
Choose wisely.

Sometimes, a comment box isn’t enough to express both awe and gratitude.

<i am in cali now, take your class on a field trip here to see swing latino, academia de salsa. I have seen NYC ballet underbalanchine, tango in santelmo in buenos aires, but i have never seen anything as amazing as salsa caleno, swing latino has won 5 out of the last 10 world championships, they are having a party tonight with el mulatto who started it all, the 8 year old jovenes do helicopter lifts


As a new dancer this year, you gave me so much to love about ballroom dancing. You taught me not only the steps, but how to behave in ballroom situation, how to be a good follow, and – perhaps most importantly – how to laugh at myself when I make mistakes. As you say, ballroom isn’t about being perfect; it’s about loving what you’re doing. Thanks to you, I do love ballroom, and I know it will be a part of my life for years to come.

For that and for all other reasons too numerous to mention, thank you.

Darrell, you did a phenomenal job with teaching the Sept/Oct 09 rumba intro class. Your personality and professionalism as an instructor really shines through and I walked away with more knowledge to become a better dancer, not just knowing the basic steps of rumba. I hope UWMDA brings you back in the near future!

Regards, Mytoan

The remodel looks great! All that hard work for those few days really paid off. The space looks bigger and brighter.

I am a dancer of two years now. Starting out with UWMBDA, and through them finding Darrell. I remember watching him at social dances and thinking what an amazing dancer he was. He always made dancing look fun. So I started to take lessons at the Art of Dance with Darrell. 1 year later I was competing in a PRO/AM competition with Darrell. Needless to say he took a girl with 1 1/2 left feet and taught her how to dance. I recommend everyone I know that even thinks they might want to dance to take lessons at the studio. Darrell is full of energy. His lessons are always fun, entertaining and interactive. Thanks a lot Darrell for everything you have done for me and taught me. I’ll always remember!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was always the self conscious person lacking the courage or self confidence to get up in front of people and dance at a wedding or any other social event. Dancing at Art of Dance has completely changed that. The helpful, and never demeaning, teaching style of Darrel, and the encouraging atmosphere at the studio made dancing so fun and comfortable I quickly began to forget about my prior inhibitions. I have gone from being afraid to dance in front of anyone to confidently dancing at competitions in front of hundreds. This transition was quicker than I ever thought possible. I began dancing at Art of Dance in July, and participated in a competition in November. Thank you Darrel for giving me the knowledge and self confidence to enjoy a great new hobby.

I have so many memories from Art of Dance since it opened in 2003. To name a few… latin lunch, creating new moves like the “krither,” learning technique and control, ice skating outings with fellow dancers, mastering the moonwalk in 2.5” heels, road trips to competitions and dances in other cities, and always meeting great people. Thank you Darrell for all the fun times at Art of Dance!

We took the beginning ballroom dance. We have never had so much fun! We drove an hour and a half in order to take this class. The time spent dancing (and traveling) was worth it! Darrell truly loves what he does and it shows. His easy-going ways and passion for what he does inspires us to try new steps. We are still learning but having fun doing it. The class time flew by. We think he can turn even people with two left feet into dancers! We have never enjoyed dancing until we took his class!

i have been dancing all my life and really have enjoyed learning social dance. darrell certainly has the skill and the enthusiasm that makes his classes very enjoyable for all levels. keep it up darrell!

I’ve been attending Art of Dance for about a year and a half now. I started with no experience and have moved up to “semi-competent”. Darrel is an excellent instructor, and classes are both fun and flexible. Honestly, I’ve enjoyed it far more than I would have expected when I agreed with my wife to attend a few classes. We now dance for fun and exercise both in class and out around town. We came frm a small town where the only dance I knew to begin with was some very basic polka, and the “clutch and shuffle” from high school; now we do a bit of waltz, foxtrot, tango, salsa, merengue, rumba, bolero, and several others.

One of the best things about Art of Dance for me has been the Latin Lunch classes on Thursdays and Fridays–it is $5 per class as a simple drop-in class–no contract or advance payment, you just bring the money whenever you can make it. That sort of flexibility was a huge plus when I was just starting out and reluctant to commit to any sort of “package” payment option as most studios offer. I highly recommend dropping in for a class or two if you’re considering “testing the waters”. Everyone is friendly and fun, and there are students at all levels.

Art of Dance is a great place to take lessons, regardless of what your level of experience is. Darrell’s good-natured humor and disarming teaching methods make you feel comfortable immediately, which is an ideal environment for learning. From the start you really learn how to *dance*, the principles of dancing, not merely how to do a few specific steps or moves. So you really can go right from the classroom to the clubs and have a great time in both places.

The flexibility of the studio’s schedule is also a great plus — you can sign up for a weekly class in the evening or drop in for Latin Lunch over your lunch break. Regardless of the size of the class, Darrell always offers helpful advice for the group and individuals. After class, I inevitably leave the studio thinking, “Hey, that was fun! And I really think I learned something too.”

As a high school student, I was very welcome at the studio and didn’t feel completely out of my element as I had wondered if I would. I started out in the teen ballroom class where I was introduced to many different styles of partner dancing in a fun and relaxed environment. I fell in love with it, and have moved on to challenge myself in some more advanced classes. Darrell has been an amazing instructor, and I am so glad I found him and the studio, so that I will have a place to keep dancing when I start at UW next year!

I really enjoy Darrell’s teaching style having enrolled in several of his group lessons. He starts each lesson with a short warm up exercise to improve everyone’s balance and flexibility for the lesson. He has an energetic and engaging personality and his attentiveness to everyone facilitates camaraderie between everyone in the class. It’s obvious that Darrell has dedicated much effort to his knowledge of dance and instruction. I recommend him to anyone whether you are a beginner seeking a fun new activity to just make new friends or a more experienced dancer who would like to improve your technique.

This is the first studio I’ve been to (in three states and two countries) that I’ve felt comfortable and downright happy in–no mean feat! Not only is there a high quality of dancing–both the instructors and students–but it’s relaxing and fun. One of the most useful things I am learning is not just how to move my body, but how to *be in* my body.

Dancing with Art of Dance, whether it be lessons or a competition, is one of the best experiences a person can have. Darrell and classmates are supportive and fun, and smiles and laughter abound. Darrell makes everyone feel like a million bucks when they’re dancing.It’s a great way to get some exercise, hear fun music, and make many new friends. The studio is bright and beautiful and it’s right downtown! Dancing at Art of Dance is an experience not to be missed!