Written by Domenica Farishian, firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, 08 May 2014 00:00
If you are a “Dancing with the Stars” fan, you may secretly envision yourself gliding across the dance floor in perfect synchronicity with your favorite dance professional, the crowds cheering you on, as the judges reveal your scores.
At the Hicksville Public Library you don’t have to be on the hit show to have your dancing dreams realized. At the library, everyone is a star while taking the ballroom dance classes of seasoned instructor, Catherine Politis.
“Ballroom dancing is one of the most beautiful gifts a person can give themselves,” proclaims Politis.
Politis treated me to a one on one lesson, teaching the classic waltz. Our heads turned, frames held tight, the enthusiastic instructor lead me across the dance floor in the traditional box step waltz. While I was worried about stepping on her feet, Politis was continually cheering on my efforts with a nod of approval, encouragingly stating “good job” or “great footing.”
Feeling like a “star” my first time out as a ballroom dancer, it is easy to see why her class at the library is filled with dozens of dance hopefuls. Politis clearly loves what she does, and it shows. As she led her class in a swing dance lesson, music could be heard in the background, but it was the sound of laughter that was filling up the room. “I love people and I love making them smile,” Politis happily states.
Living by her motto “A dance hour is a happy hour” Politis has seen her share of bright smiles over the course of her 20-year dance career. She first started out working off of the dance floor as a licensed optician. However her dreams of teaching dance were always calling to her. In her early twenties she responded to an advertisement for a ballroom dance instructor at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Manhattan. It wasn’t just her skills on the dance floor, but her personality that quickly caught the attention of studio heads. “You really need to be able to relate to people,” Politis noted.
After 10 years with Arthur Murray Studios and achieving an award as top instructor multiple times, Politis decided she was ready to go out on her own. There has been no stopping her ever since.
Hired as an instructor by local libraries, the Department of Education and enlisted for private lessons, Politis instructs dancers for a variety of venues including Sweet 16’s, proms, bat and bar mitzvahs, and weddings.
During these lessons Politis teaches ballroom dance techniques, but it is really what her students take away off of the dance floor that she emphasizes at all of her lessons.
“Dance is really about making people feel at ease with themselves, and building self-esteem,” Politis said. Her focus on self-esteem boosting is perhaps most evident in the lessons she teaches at local high schools. There, instead of a competitive dance environment, Politis brings out the very best in her students and rewards them for areas of achievement, such as “most charismatic” or “best showmanship”.
The way Politis tells it, anyone can be a so-called showman. “You just have to have the guts to show up,” she said.
This includes students of all ages because according to Politis, dance is timeless as well as ageless. “Ballroom dance makes the younger students feel more mature and the seniors feel young again,” she said.
One of her long time students at the Hicksville library is Toby Kramer, an “ageless” senior citizen who couldn’t agree more. “There is no age limit. I have been dancing forever and I never want to stop,” says Kramer. In the Hicksville classroom Kramer is on hand whenever Politis needs a spry footed partner to help her demonstrate the newest steps she is introducing to the class.
Politis’ longtime dream is to one day open up her own ballroom dance Studio where she will teach not only ballroom dance classes, but also charm and etiquette.
Her ballroom dance classes are offered at the Hicksville Public Library Monday nights at 7:30 p.m. This class session is currently full, but they are offered several times throughout the year.
Politis says students need only bring proper fitting shoes, their smiles, and leave the rest up to her, because as she explains it, “a moment dancing beautifully can be one of the most beautiful moments in a person’s life.”