BWW Feature: ARTHUR MURRAY DANCE STUDIOS Still in Step Despite Coronavirus
Businesses such as the Arthur Murray Dance Studios have had to close to prevent the spread of the virus but continue to spread the joy of dance. As a part of his DNA, Bob Powers, owner of the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Mesa (arthurmurraymesa.com), keep moving and share steps online. John Almeida, owner of the studio in Scottsdale (arthurmurrayscottsdale.com), will feature online videos produced by the corporate office.
Bob's wife Julia partners with him with her company, Artistry in Motion, designing and create ballroom dancewear for women. She started as a dancer and became the undefeated 12-time US Rhythm champion and 3-time world mambo champion. With her love of movement, she is now offering Core Rhythms Live online on Facebook daily starting at 11 a.m. MST (no daylight savings time in Arizona).
Originally from Russia, Julia's mother insisted her daughter learn to dance since her mother taught ballroom dancing. She would meet her husband when he traveled to Russia on a dance tour. When Julia immigrated to the US, she moved to Phoenix to be closer to Bob.
He became enamored with dancing when he saw the film, Saturday Night Fever.
"I took a girl on a date to see the movie, and it just touched me. I was trying to figure out what to do with my life at the time, and dance became my passion," says Bob.
Dancing for Julia and Bob exploded as a way to connect and express their talent professionally for over 15 years. Bob has been with Arthur Murray for 43 years, and during most of that time, they traveled and taught. When they wanted to settle down 10 years ago, Bob became a franchise owner of Arthur Murray Dance Studios in Mesa.
With coronavirus (COVID-19), including social distancing and quarantines, Bob and Julie wanted to offer a way to still connect with everyone.
"Core Rhythms was a fitness video we did about 10 years ago that we sold worldwide through an infomercial that was very successful," explains Bob. "We decided to bring it back, and we have gotten such a great reaction. There have been many as 1.8K views in one day."
John also discovered dance 45 years ago when he learned The Hustle to impress a girl and ended up marrying her.
"Dance works for romance," he laughs. "Arthur Murray was looking for instructors; I was hired and trained and bought the studio in Danbury (Connecticut), which has remained in the family until it was sold about two years ago." John then relocated to Arizona in 1993, and now he owns and operates the franchise in Scottsdale.
He chose to keep the business open until the state of Arizona mandated closure of non-essential businesses on March 31. John felt his students needed the interaction, even with the six feet distance.
"When I made the decision, I had a meeting with my 10 staff members and told them that if anyone is uncomfortable, I would understand, but all of them decided to continue to teach. While some students wanted to wait, others were so grateful that we are still open," he explains.
He has chosen not to offer anything online, but the chairman of Arthur Murray Dance Studios recently traveled to his studio to film some of the videos the corporation will post online.
According to government officials, coronavirus cases continue to spike with the United States surpassing Italy with the number of cases reported. However, Arthur Murray Dance Studios across the world are flooding Facebook and other social media platforms with free instructional videos for their students or offering in house line dance classes to prevent touch.
While Bob is concerned about his business, he is also hopeful. "We should come out of this being more careful, but I can't imagine that people will be having contact like hugs, shaking hands, and touching each other. We need to connect, and dance is a natural way. We are ready to bring joy back."