No 5: Changing Lives through Dancing
By David Earl Woodbury
Friday, January 24, 2014
“Starting without a Paper Clip”.
When we signed our lease for the Arthur Murray Santa Monica Dance Center on September 16, 2013, I returned to the studio and sat on a rickety bench and a card table with a netbook and a cell phone, and that was it. We had the power turned on and we had water, but no phone, internet, or dance floor!
As I began to build our dream, I would reach for a note pad to write on, a stapler, a Sharpie, and then a paper clip, and I realized that we were starting from scratch, from our hopes, our vision, our dreams.
As the days followed I became a mobile office, bringing in several bags that had extension cords and chargers. Another bag had office supplies, and yes, paper clips, pens, papers and notebooks. Without having a sign, a dance floor, not a stroke of new paint or any new electrical of plumbing, we were experiencing a lot of new students walking in. Since we are a Guest School at heart, I created a Guest Book and we began collecting names to call when the floor was finished.
As the floor boards were being set, I began to dance on the newly laid wood. I could not wait to experience the thrill and joy of dancing in our new studio. Then, as the last piece of wood was laid, we all took a moment for the photo shoot and celebrated. Then, the magic of dancing began and we taught our first training session that very day, on our new floor!
Our first student lesson was November 7th and it was a joyous day for us all!
Now, I’m in a beautiful front room that we call the Dream Maker Room. This is where we turn dancing plans into reality and our students begin the great journey of Dance through the Arthur Murray Medalist System. Also, we create magic in the front office by planning our events and competitions for our students and staff. It is an exciting room with a wall of glass that brings in light, life, and hope and energy.
As I am composing this reflection in a nice chair, working on a glass table, typing on a state of the art PC and yes, I have paper clips right next to me. Everything in our studio came from our vision, hard work, and persistence. We have in essence built a new home for ourselves, our Arthur Murray Home, and it is beautiful. Everyone who walks in our doors says how welcome they feel and that the feel the good vibes in the studio! Our studio them is Hospitality, all are welcome in this place!
What is the magic for me? First, it is my amazing partners, Gabriela Young, the Queen of Salsa and she is a master coach. Joel Rieck, my partner and a brilliant Arthur Murray Man! He can do anything and accomplish every dream he has. Then our great staff who I focus on the most. They are so full of enthusiasm, hope and the love of dance and teaching dance! Then, our fantastic students who make this all possible through their participation and presence in the school. The Arthur Murray Students make my day a joy and they truly bless me and I love and appreciate them.
The rest of the magic for me is the fact that I am living in my dream come true! Starting just from a chat, a thought, a concept, we are now changing thousands of lives through dance. We offer courage, confidence, growth, self-esteem, and transformation to all our staff and students and we are giving them a place to live the life they have dreamed of.
The rest of the magic is now I am truly a consummate Arthur Murray Man! I live, worship, and work all in a mile radius, and I am walking the walk, and talking the talk. I want to me know at the Arthur Murray Man of Santa Monica. When people talk about dance, I want them to say, “Oh yes, you have to go to Arthur Murray, they are the best!” We are the dance beacons dancing in Santa Monica and we enthusiastically want to give back to our great city.
Live your dream…make it happen…dance today!
David Earl Woodbury
Next Week: Polish Your Dancing Skills – The Medalist System