When local dance instructor Greta Van Doren talks about Dancing with the Michigan Stars there is as much enthusiasm in her voice as there is precision in her steps on the dance floor. The annual event has raised more than $400,000 over the past five years for mostly Washtenaw County-based charities and organizations.
The sixth annual Dancing with the Michigan Stars is from 6 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, March 12 in the giant ballroom at the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest at 1275 S. Huron St. in Ypsilanti.
Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Ann Arbor and owner Tansy Degen have been the driving force for the event and the leaders in volunteering not only their facility, but time and talents as well. Each of the 10 contestants have been preparing for the big event since October with weekly lessons at Arthur Murray, all on the house.
“This event is always a highlight of the year for me and everyone here,” says Van Doren, who has been part of the event ever since it hit the dance floor five years ago. “I’m very excited about this year.”
Van Doren says it’s different then her usual classes at Arthur Murray.
“Most people come into the studio to learn social dancing and a variety of different dances, but it’s a different kind of experience training someone who has never danced before a whole routine,” she says. “We have a time-frame to work with and it’s really fun to see the routine start to take shape and see how much they enjoy it.
“For me personally, I have already worked with a lot of different dancers who brought different skills and I try to incorporate their skills and strengths into the routine and that’s a lot of fun and I think they enjoy it too.”
And the contestants aren’t the only ones learning.
“Yeah, I feel like I learn something new every year,” Van Doren says. “It’s just a rewarding experience and I enjoy the lessons very much.”
Keith Hafner, owner of the popular Keith Hafner’s Karate in Ann Arbor, is one of the 10 contestants taking the dance floor this year. He was teamed up with Van Doren who taught the martial arts expert how to tango.
Hafner says it’s not as complicated as it may sound because he’s in good hands once he steps out onto the dance floor.
“The teachers are so good that I really don’t know how difficult it is because they make it seem so easy,” Hafner says. “I think too my martial art’s background helps because we are really learning a pattern which I’ve been doing my whole life with martial arts.”
Van Doren remembers that first lesson back in October.
“It went well,” she said. “We went over some fundamentals of dancing and talked about the different styles and it was pretty clear that the Tango would be a good fit for his personality. He’s pretty intense and took this seriously so it was just a great fit for him. And even though he’s a serious person we certainly had a lot of fun with the lessons.”
Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Ann Arbor, located at 5060 Jackson Road, provides the community with a high-quality dance experience, in a nurturing environment. “We believe that learning to dance opens doors to improved health, closer relationships with loved ones and produces a greater passion and joy for life,” says Degen, who did an excellent job organizing Thursday’s annual fundraiser.
All Arthur Murray Franchised Dance Studios are independently owned and operated by individuals who started as dance instructors and worked their way up to the executive level. By the time they are qualified to purchase a franchise, they have experienced every phase of studio operations, from teaching and supervising to marketing and managing.
For more information on Arthur Murray Dance Studios in Ann Arbor, HERE