Q & A: LESLIE SPEARIN OF ARTHUR MURRAY DANCE STUDIO

 The days of dance as a mere perfunctory side item in your celebration are over. For proof, one need only check out YouTube, where videos of husbands and wives, fathers with daughters and Sweet Sixteens stealing the show with elaborate, choreographed numbers abound.

Leslie Spearin (right) and sister Juliana help Atlanta move to the rhythm at Arthur Murray Studios. PHOTO / courtesy Mark Penstone

For Jewish community member Leslie Spearin, dance has been a part of life since childhood; after studying the art and competing for many years, she moved on to judging ballroom dance. Today, she and her sister Juliana own three Atlanta-area locations of the Arthur Murray franchise, a storied dance studio company this year celebrating its 100th anniversary.

The Atlanta Jewish Times spoke with Spearin regarding what she and her studios can bring to your simcha, be it with lessons taken in preparation for the event or given in an introductory package as a gift.

Atlanta Jewish Times: Is there a most popular or most requested dance for celebrations?

Leslie Spearin: I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’ve seen everything from Cha Cha to Tango to Waltz. People kind of pick the dances based on their personality.

If you’ve got a fun couple who’s getting married, they’re going to want something upbeat and fun, so maybe they’re going to pick swing. If it’s something more romantic, they’ll pick something slow, like a waltz.

People really do it based on their own personality, which is the great thing about what we do. We can work with each individual. It’s not just a factory where people come through and take class; we’re very personalized.

AJT: What can lessons bring to a celebration?

LS: It adds so much to those memories that you have forever. It just sets it apart from doing the usual things everyone does.

I think there are three parts to any event that you do: There’s the anticipation of the event, there’s the event, and then there’s the recollection of it. I think the dancing helps with the anticipation of it, because you’re building up, taking lessons, getting ready for it. Then you have the event, and [then] you have the good memories of the dance: You have the pictures; you also have something that you can take with you and always use.

People come in for any kind of celebration, from doing a very simple dance where they just look nice and they’re moving together to a very dramatic choreographed dance and everything in between. [But] it’s not just about doing a special dance or performance. If you learn to dance, you’ll be able to dance at every celebration you go to.

You can get out on the dance floor and enjoy your husband or wife. You can just enjoy the music and the evening instead of sitting at the table, watching everyone else’s purses while they’re out having a good time.

AJT: Describe the different levels that are offered at Arthur Murray Dance Studios.

LS: We teach on a private basis, so that’s probably what sets us apart. You just learn a lot faster, and it’s a better investment.

We start of with an introductory private lesson. There are different packages that you can take [so that] everyone can work their own level, as fast as they can go and on the dances that suit them and suit their lifestyle.

We have [packages with] everything from four private lessons to 72 private lessons, so it just depends. Some people do it for a few lessons, though for some people this becomes their hobby that they may fall in love with. They just love the challenge of learning and continue with it.

AJT: Finally, what’s your favorite “party dance” – “Macarena,” “Chicken Dance” or otherwise?

LS: [Laughs] Party dance? Gosh, well…“The Electric Slide” is always good for getting everybody onto the floor. And you can kind of throw your own style into it.

Editor’s note: Visit arthurmurrayatl.com for more information.