Student Testimonials

It’s been amazing!
I’m Foxy. I’ve been dancing for about 8 years at Fred Astaire, and I absolutely love it. One of the reasons why I love it is because I get to come off the floor looking like this –I’m all hot and sweaty, my face is red, my hair is all over the place, and I don’t really care! But it’s changed my life so much. I started out, like I said, about 8 years ago, and I’ve always wanted to dance when I was a little girl. I just never thought I had the ability to do it. However, coming here and working through everything I was able to do what I really wanted. I have the capability to dance! And I feel great about it. I’m able to perform. I used to be this shy little wallflower who would go hide in the corner and then I’d come out. Now I can go out and wink at the judges, and I can play with the audience –it’s just incredible to me that I’ve been able to do that. It’s given me so much confidence in my life. It’s helped my brain in terms of remembering things because I have to remember all these steps. I was amazed when I saw my daughters dancing and thought to myself how could they remember all those steps?–and today I can proudly say I can remember all those steps too. It’s like a brain game or a brain exercise if you will –and that’s just one piece of it, the other piece is physically. I mean, I think I’m in the best shape of my life, and I’m in the second half of my life so I think that’s incredible in terms of what it’s done for me physically, mentally, spiritually. It’s just that I feel like a different person than I did 8 years ago. It’s been amazing.

 My name is Sandra, I started 18 months ago. For my birthday I gifted myself a lesson with Fred Astaire.  After doing research for a number of months, I decided there was nothing that I really wanted but this is what I had wished for growing up watching channel 11 ballroom dancing. So I came into the Michigan Ave studio. I was very fortunate to have been assigned for my first lesson with Alan Saucedo who I just adored from the get-go we had such great chemistry. We had spent a lot of time together talking about why I wanted to dance and some of the things that brought me to dancing were that I had danced a lot throughout school, social dancing, I grew up Puerto Rican so there was a lot of salsa and merengue going on, I taught my kids how to dance socially as well. And it was just something missing because I had paid so much attention to my family and my kids that I wasn't doing something for me, and dancing was for me. So the moment I walked in there, I was hooked. And my first reason for coming in besides trying to find something for me, was for health reasons. I just felt I wasn't as healthy and I wasn't at a weight that I was happy with and I just didnít have as much energy. Iíll tell you that within my first month, I was doing a party performance in the studio. It was a little bit nerve wracking, but boy what a blast! I did my first rumba with Alan. It was really great we had great chemistry. Then prepared for my first competition 5 months later we did awesome and I danced with Andre as well and I got first in smooth and rhythm. So as you can imagine I felt like a princess! I was able to get these gorgeous, gorgeous dresses, my entire family came, and I invited them all to dinner to see me doing this and it was great having the support of my children, my brother, my sister, mom and dad, and husband. And to this day they all support me and do whatever they can to make sure that I can get into the studio. So I came in for health reasons and for dancing and what I have now is some of the best friends that I'll ever have across every age group and every ethnicity.There are some great coaches both female and male and you can always get the perspective on how to get better and when I look back about when I first started dancing the box, and where I can dance now and having more Cuban motion, I'm really, really happy that I'm here and basically, I'll just keep dancing until I just can't do it anymore! So I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart for Fred Astaire for being so patient with me but really so thankful for all the friends, and the learning, and all the competitions and the metals and trophies don't hurt either because those are really cool and I've got the biggest trophy in my house of all my kids competing in athletics. So it ís cool when your kids say their moms got the biggest trophy at home!So a lot of support, I've brought a couple of people into the studio to kind of venture out and do some dancing themselves and they have, and they continue to come and support me. So I wouldn't change a piece of it, but I'm thrilled that I found it. So keep dancing!

In January 2010, I was diagnosed with Stage II B Breast Cancer at the age of 36. I had 8 chemo treatments, a double mastectomy, 28 radiation treatments, and reconstruction. I had 9 surgeries in 2 years, and my body was really broken. And when I looked in the mirror I saw a tired old woman; and that’s how I felt. I had gained a lot of weight and really felt like a lost a lot of myself through all the treatments and recoveries. I had put on weight and had a number of aches and pains and I thought this was my new normal that I was stuck living with for the rest of my life. At the end of it all, in the fall of 2012 I was extremely depressed and a friend of mine told me about Fred Astaire Dance Studios and I decided to try it out because I knew I needed something new for me. What I didn’t know was my life was about to be changed completely and every part of me was about to be changed completely.
My first lesson was wonderful. Joel was easy to talk to and made me extremely comfortable. It was so fun and I really felt heard like he genuinely cared about me as a person. I left the studio that day feeling so much lighter and I had found some joy I hadn’t felt in a really long time. Over the months to come, I lost 50 lbs and one by one my aches and pains disappeared. And I found new life and joy and passion and I have found a community of people that I just absolutely love; they are like family to me. One of the more emotionally difficult struggles that I had before I started dancing after cancer was feeling like my body hated me. And the feeling was mutual, it had tried to kill me after all so I poisoned it and cut it and burned it just to stay alive. I went to see a counselor to cope with some of this for a time and a year into counseling I was still really struggling with my anger. But within just a few months of dancing I was able to make peace with my body and begin to accept it for what it is.
I don’t know that I love it yet but I am able to see that it can still work for me and at least be ok with it. I feel like there is a place in the soul that words can’t reach but dance can. And through dancing I have found more life and joy and excitement and passion then I had even before cancer I think. I am so grateful for everyone here at Fred Astaire South Barrington. I love you guys.

My husband Geoff and I first came to Fred Astaire with the combined dance equivalent of Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Elaine from Seinfeld.
We lacked moves and confidence. Armed with Michael Buble’s “Everything” we were ready to work hard to make our first dance on our wedding day just that.
With the help of our dance instructor, we started to loosen up, have fun, and learn dance steps. Soon our weekly lessons at the studio were not just preparing us for our big day, but were the perfect date night to cap off our week.
Thanks to our instructor and the whole Fred Astaire family, our first dance on our wedding day was truly “everything” we hoped it would be … and it is the first dance of many we hope to share with Fred Astaire.

Christmas 2008 was definitely memorable. My son surprised me with 3 intro Fred Astaire dance lessons! I was so touched I cried. It’s true. There’s a photo on my dance binder from that Christmas morning. The only dancing I had done aside from booty shaking at the occasional party had been a bit of ballet which ended at age 5. However, after watching DWTS I thought if a deaf woman could get on the floor and give ballroom a shot then so could I. 
From my 2nd lesson when my instructor showed me Tango and then called the manager over to look at my line I was hooked.
It’s the hardest physical thing I’ve ever done, but also the most rewarding. Besides the sense of accomplishment in learning new steps or maintaining connection with my partner when I cross that threshold into the studio I leave work & the world behind me. For the next 45 minutes I feel no guilt in thinking of nothing but myself and what I am trying to accomplish in that day’s lesson.
Not that I didn’t often sit in one of those chairs before lesson started, my stomach aflutter with anxiety about feeling so exposed on the floor, wondering what had I been thinking to have introduced more stress in my life. However, my thoughts were focused on dancing – not spreadsheets or deadlines or groceries or laundry. And the anxiety eased as I became more comfortable and confident in my dancing.
I had hoped that dancing would prove a diversion from work and provide a break from gym routine. While my co-workers still sometimes ask me to prove that I’m putting in fewer hours I have scaled back on work and use dance as a reason to stake out personal time.
Going to the gym became superfluous. I was feeling better and looking better just dancing. Since starting lessons in January 2009 I have dropped 3 dress sizes. I’ve not been this slender and fit since I was 14. Dancing is great exercise and certainly more interesting than the gym. Besides, on the dance floor you can often wear fabulous outfits while breaking a sweat. I don’t recall pulling out the rhinestones and false eyelashes for trip to the gym.
Dance was never a world in which I pictured myself living. I watched it on telly and attended dance performances, but it was a world I thought for others – not for me. My opinion has changed. I am a dancer and while I have much to learn we are all dancers who cross that threshold for our lessons. We each have different paths we follow, but that need to express ourselves physically to music is why we’re all there.
My sense of accomplishment is due largely to the wonderful instructors with whom I have worked. Those individual investments in my growth have helped me progress quickly. 
Fred didn’t write it, but he did sing it beautifully:
There may be teardrops to shed. 
So while there’s moonlight & music & love & romance
Let’s face the music and Dance! Dance!
Let’s face the music and dance  Thank you!

Sarah & Paul
We wanted to write you a note of thanks for all the work you did getting our dance in shape for the wedding! The dance was a HUGE hit. I think it surprised a lot of people, especially seeing Paul out there. You gave me a lot of confidence in myself as well and I wanted to thank you. People LOVED the dip! Thanks so much!

I’ve taken group dance lessons at many places before I came to Fred Astaire, but never learned much more than the step patterns. Now I am learning about form and technique, the things that really make dancing beautiful! And taking part in the competitions is a real motivator…nothing like fear to spur you on. I am constantly amazed at the dedication of my teachers and coaches. They are genuinely interested in my development, not just “putting in their time”. And they possess an abundance of patience… I am a very slow learner! Not to mention the physical benefits of dance, as well as the mental challenge of learning new things. All of this, combined with the friends I’ve made at the studio, have made my “dancing days” some of the happiest of my life. I only wish I had discovered the Fred Astaire Experience years ago! “Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well.”

I began taking lessons in the summer of 2009. I’d been making an effort to get into better shape for several months, and while I noticed improvements in strength it was without skill. I had started to consider how to remedy that when a couple of friends brought up their dancing lessons here and invited me to try it out. I expected my endurance, flexibility, and reflexes to improve (as they would with many sports) but there were others that I didn’t expect. The continual stress on posture and poise in class improved them outside of it.
I’ve learned to be assertive when leading while doing so in a way that would best help the follower carried into projects and groups elsewhere. I’ve had to be more patient with myself when things don’t come as quickly as I’d hope, and that’s made me more sympathetic to others when I’m trying to teach them something. Additionally, I’ve been exposed to artists and styles of music that I’d known little about before, and gained a greater appreciation for the art. I would recommend Fred Astaire because of its staff that is both serious about their craft and yet goes out of their way to make it fun and welcoming makes it an easy choice. Large enough to bring in great coaches and hold classes on a variety of topics, they’re still able to make it feel like a little piece of home.

Ballroom dance is something I’ve been interested in for a while. A friend of mine signed me up for a lesson and a guest party in July of 2009, and I’ve been hooked ever since! Ballroom dancing has benefited my life a several ways. I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of interesting people. I’m a little on the shy side, but dancing has made me more outgoing. Because of all the activity, I’m in better shape. I’ve also noticed an improvement in my memory. Since my brain has become so used to learning new moves and patterns, I can retain things much easier in my everyday life. I would recommend Ballroom Dancing to anyone that is looking to get in better physical condition, to anyone that wants to meet new people, or to anyone just looking for a new and interesting activity .

I’ve been ballroom dancing since the summer of 2009. I have always had an interest in Ballroom dance. With a name like Fred Astaire, I was sure I was getting the best in the business. Seeing how I live right across the street, I can’t believe I didn’t start earlier! Taking up ballroom dancing has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. Ever since I first stepped foot into the studio, I have become a healthier and happier person. I feel so blessed to be able to be surrounded by such talented instructors and fellow students. I make time every day to come to the studio and I’m always so excited to be learning something new. In a short period of time the studio has made me into a confident and able dancer. Being at the studio is a wonderful creative outlet for me. It is a great way to escape the pressures of life. The studio has students from all walks of life and is a very supportive environment. Whether it’s for competitive reasons or social ones, Fred Astaire has something to offer for everybody. You will make great friends while getting into better shape and enjoying a fun new hobby!

I have been dancing at Fred Astaire for about nine months. I started at the Studio as part of a charity event and with no intention of making it a long-term part of my life. That all changed as soon as I entered the Studio. There is an air of fun, excitement, friendship and acceptance that can be truly understood only after experiencing it. Everyone at the Studio – staff, instructors, students, coaches – supports one another. They make you feel welcome every time you walk through the door. The talented and professional Fred Astaire staff work very hard to balance the fun with the instruction. Being a student at Fred Astaire has added something to my life that I didn’t know was missing. I can’t completely explain it, but every time I leave the Studio I have a smile on my face and I can’t wait to go back.

Holli H.
March 24, 2011I have spent my entire adult life working up the corporate ladder. I’ve learned to shut down emotions, develop a thick skin and drive forward through every barrier. After 20 years, I’ve achieved many of my professional goals, but found myself more and more often sitting alone at night with my cats wondering what is missing and if there are any challenges left to conquer. Then after almost I year off, I returned to Fred Astaire. Dancers and students alike smile and genuinely seem happy to be where they are. Every time I walk through the door, I wonder to myself if I have stepped into some alternate universe.  Yes, it is definitely a different, kinder and more beautiful universe. I’m learning to smile again. My body is starting to recall that it used to be an athlete (I never thought that would happen again). I have remembered how much I love music, physical activity, laughing and being with people. Although I still spend time with the cats, I no longer wonder what is missing. Instead, I dream of what new mountains I can climb tomorrow.

Mark F
I’ve been taking lessons at Fred Astaire since August of 2009. I first noticed the studio in a shopping center I frequent on the way home from work. I have had a growing interest in social dancing which reached the point one day that I decided to stop into the studio and check it out. After one lesson, I knew it was something I wanted to do. I have noticed improvements in my coordination and mental alertness. I find that as I learn more steps, learning becomes easier and faster. The emphasis on smoother and precise movements has restored a physical self-awareness that had faded over time. Not to mention feeling more confident and comfortable on the dance floor. I recommend this studio primarily for the staff. They are friendly, encouraging and extremely proficient. They are excellent dancers and excellent teachers.

I have been a student at Fred Astaire for almost 2 ½ years. I have always loved all styles of dance, but I especially loved ballroom dancing. I always wanted to dance as a kid but never got the opportunity, so when I saw that Fred Astaire opened a dance studio in the area, I decided that it was time to live my childhood dream. THAT was the one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I tell my family and friends that it has truly changed my life. There are so many benefits, it’s hard to talk about all of them. Ballroom dancing is absolutely great exercise – I’ve tried Yoga and Pilates and other fitness classes at the health club but for me, it’s an exercise to exercise. Not so with ballroom dancing. I actually don’t think of it as exercise because it is so joyful. Nevertheless, I’ve definitely notice that around 100%. I’ve never left the studio feeling anything but energized and happy! I have two daughters who dance and I have always been in awe of their ability to get up on a stage and perform in front of people and I’ve always marveled at how they can remember all those steps. I am pretty shy and self-conscious and I never thought it would be possible for me to do either of those things. Now I compete at the national competitions where I do have to perform and I have to remember the steps to nine choreographed routines. To me, those are remarkable accomplishments! The people at the studio are the absolute best! Everyone, staff and students alike, are so friendly. On “Dancing with the Stars”, the celebrities are always talking about how close they become. That’s true at the studio too. People cheer each other on in competitions and it has a real family atmosphere. I absolutely adore the staff at the Fred Astaire studio. They are amazing dancers and teachers and they truly care about each and every student regardless of age or ability. There are not enough positive adjectives to describe how I feel about my two wonderful teachers, Aaron and Chris. They give and give and give. It never seems like dancing is a job to them. They are the BEST! I also like the fact that Fred Astaire is always enhancing the learning experience. They bring in the most amazing coaches, including Tony Dovolani and Maxsim Chermakovsy from Dancing with the Stars. Although I’ve never danced at another studio, I doubt there are many studios that bring in so many professionals to work with their students. I would strongly recommend ballroom dancing to anyone. I guarantee it will change a person’s life.

Paul and Cindy
It all started a little over a year ago when a husband, eager to score some brownie points with his wife, gave her a certificate for five ballroom dancing lessons. Little did we know just how much fun dancing would be, and we have never believed that dance lessons would occupy such an important slice of our lives. It’s the studio. The instructors, staff and other students are wonderful. The instructors praise and encourage without a hint of condescension, and they all share great talent and a genuine love for what they do. The studio atmosphere is friendly, happy and welcoming! Dance lessons are our “date nights,” and we look forward to learning new dances and steps and polishing the older ones. Competition is not in our plans, but we enjoy cheering on the other students and instructors. We’ll never be as graceful as Fred and Ginger-think Fred and Wilma-but that doesn’t matter. We’re participating in an activity we really enjoy, and we’re doing it together. When we dance, we laugh, and that’s what really matters!!

I couldn’t have written this testimonial four months ago. I was tired, overworked and overweight. I don’t jog and thinking about going to the health club gives me hives. I’ve always loved to dance- but it was alone in the kitchen or while cleaning the house or at a wedding with my husband. The second fantastic season of Dancing with the Stars had just ended this past spring when my husband read in the local newspaper that Tony Dovolani was going to be at the local Fred Astaire Studio.
Wow! I summoned up my courage and called the studio requesting to be included in Tony’s group lesson. My life hasn’t been the same since. Not only have I had the opportunity to make new, wonderful friends- both the patient, supportive instructors and fellow students, but my life has changed.
I know that sounds bizarre, but it’s true! It’s been uplifting. I’ve lost 20 pounds- and still counting, I’m sleeping soundly at night, am more alert in the office and have more self-confidence than I’ve had in years.
My husband tells our family and friends that it’s been a long time since he’s seen me so happy. I can have the worst day in the office and after my lesson, feel invigorated. The best part of it all is the fun! I have found my bliss. It was there waiting for me all the while. It just took a few days at the studio with some great people for me to find it. I am continuing my dancing, entering competitions with my instructors and feeling fantastic. This is one of the best things that I have ever done for myself. I can’t imagine a day without dancing.

When I first walked into the studio to watch my friend’s lesson I was nervous and initially did not want to get up and dance. Once Aaron got me out on the dance floor the lesson was so much fun and he made me feel so comfortable that I haven’t stopped dancing since.
The whole studio provides an atmosphere of fun, excitement and a genuine friendliness that makes you feel at home there. In addition to the fun I have lost weight and my employees say I am a happier person since starting dancing. I have also gained confidence ( both on and off the dance floor).I have always loved dancing but would always hide in the middle of the crowd on the dance floor so that nobody could see me. Now that I have more confidence I am no longer in the middle of the crowd. I successfully danced two routines at the Holiday Showcase, one at the practice party and I plan to continue my dancing.