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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

"What is the Aloha Ballroom Dance Academy?"

Founded by Rita O'Connor and Brian O'Connor in 2002, the Aloha Ballroom Dance Academy is a 501(c)(3) charitable and educational non-profit organization whose purpose is to educate the public about Ballroom & Latin dancing through professionally instructed group classes and public performances. The Aloha Ballroom Dance Academy boasts Maui's ONLY Trained & Qualified Dance Professional, Rita O'Connor, Professional Member & Competitor with the National Dance Council of America. The group classes and other dance privileges given by Aloha Ballroom Dance Academy are for Aloha Ballroom Dance Academy STUDENTS-ONLY, unless otherwise stated. Besides being the largest ballroom and latin dance class in the state of Hawaii, in February 2007, the Academy broke the World Record for the Largest Dance Class in the World!

"Who are the students of Aloha Ballroom Dance Academy?"

People, like yourself, who have always dreamed of gliding across the floor like Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers or dancing to the latin beats in nightclubs! The Academy has newcomers, beginners, intermediate and advanced dance students. There are dancers who want to continue improving their dance skills, dancers who want to learn a new skill or dance & couples who enjoy an activity, which they can do together for mutual enjoyment & improved relationship skills, as well as single men and women who enjoy sharing the pleasures of dance while making new friends! We have Kama'aina as well as island visitors -- primarily adults - but include students in their early teens through their active 90s!

"Does the money I pay to Aloha Ballroom Dance Academy stay in the Maui ohana?"

Yes, we are the ONLY non-profit ballroom dance association on Maui, which keeps the dance fees in Maui to further benefit the goals of the organization and it's students. All proceeds go towards enriching ballroom dance opportunities for Maui which include, but are not limited to: dance space rental for class and socials, insurance required by the County, office supplies, sound equipment, publicity, advertising, etc.

"What will my monetary donations (tax-deductible) be used for?"

The Aloha Ballroom Dance Academy is a charitable, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which gives back to the community at-large, as well as the immediate dance community. The organization was created and functions on the donations of time and financial contributions by its students. All helpers are volunteers and their tireless help has helped the Academy grow and prosper to become the successful dance organization it is today!

Monetary Donations are applied to a variety of events beyond the group classes such as, but not limited to the enhancement of themed social dances, expansion of the music selection & supporting the organization's goals. These donations also afford the Academy discretionary monies to supply, purchase or reward the students, such as, but not limited to dance-related promotional items, partial contributions toward Academy student ticket purchases (to offset the student's cost) or complimentary gift certificates as awards. In addition, the Aloha Ballroom Dance Academy makes financial contributions to local Maui charities ranging from the Homeless Resource Centers, American Heart Association, The Children's Place of Wailuku and the Food Bank.

"What if I've never danced before?"

Social Ballroom & Latin dancing is for everyone and anyone who already knows how to walk! Everyone once started as a beginner & remembers taking their first dance class where it seemed like everyone else already knew how to dance! Aloha Ballroom Dance Academy has new students every quarter and the classes are progressive going at the individual group's pace!

"What if I don't have a dance partner?"

Both dancers without partners, as well as couples, are welcome to join our group classes. In class, when practicing the steps in partnership, we have those who want to stay with their preferred partner & those who are 1.) without a dance partner for the evening, 2.) do not have a steady dance partner or 3.) prefer to practice their social skills with different partners. For those without a partner, we encourage "rotation," whereby partners switch upon the direction of the Instructor. The Instructor makes a concerted effort to make sure that those without partners are dancing often!

"What is Rotation?"

Rotation is an excellent and widely accepted way to improve social dance skills, learn to dance with partners of different levels, and another way to meet new friends in the dance community! For more experienced dancers, rotation helps improve leading & following skills. Rotation is encouraged, but not required, and is a wonderful way to help share learned dance skills with others.

"What if I only want to take one class?"

As a non-profit, educational association, Aloha Ballroom Dance Academy makes their top-level professionally instructed group dance classes affordable for everyone! Currently, group classes are on Wednesday evenings from 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm. There are two (2) – three (3) dance classes ranging from very Beginner to Intermediate-Advanced; it is all under one dance "course." Classes attended on a “drop-in” basis are $15/class/week.

"Who is the instructor?"

Unique to Academy, your Instructor, Rita O'Connor is a Ballroom & Latin Dance Professional with almost 30 years of Ballroom & Latin teaching experience from New York City to Maui! ! Rita has been a decades-long, active Professional Member & Competitor with the National Dance Council of America (NDCA). Rita enjoys sharing her love of dancing and her teaching expertise with others to help students have the most enjoyable time on the dance floor! In addition to Rita’s numerous awards as an International Latin dancer (www.PrivateImageDance.com, Rita's professional background includes being an Instructor at Pierre Dulaine's, NJ, , ("Mad Hot Ballroom" movie fame & Founder of the American Ballroom Theatre), as well as an Instructor, Pro-Am Competitor & Professional Competitor with Paul Pellicoro's DanceSport, NY & Stepping Out Ballroom & Latin Dance Studio, NY. Rita has appeared on TV ("Broadcast 9," "Good Morning America" & "MTV") & has danced in Instructional Dance videos. Rita is Choreographer for solo exhibitions & team formations & she teaches keiki through adults, individuals & couples (from wedding couples to social dancers to competitors) in private dance lessons through her company "Private Image Dance Studio,"www.PrivateImageDance.com. Her Maui dance performance appearances include the Hui Nui Visual Arts Center, The Maui Arts & Cultural Center (in the acclaimed “Argentine Tango Amour” show), the Rotary Club, Maui Humane Society & Maui Aids Foundation fund raisers to name a few & various educational programs at public & private schools island-wide. Rita also holds college degrees in Fashion Design (Rutgers University, NJ & The Fashion Institute of Technology, NY) & is a Ballroom & Latin costume designer. Rita has coached Maui’s top Amateur dance couples & competitors who regularly place top in the annual Hawaii Star Ball national dance competition in Oahu.

"What should I wear?"

Your safety and comfort are important aspects of dancing and footwear can play an important part. We recommend that you have shoes that are secured to your feet, so that they don't come off and you don't fall off or out of them. 'Slippas' and open back sandals are not encouraged. For the ladies, both flats or high heels are appropriate. We also recommend that you have a smooth (leather or suede) bottom shoe that will allow your feet to swivel on the floor. Rubber soled shoes (especially those with treads) do not allow your feet to move freely, which is especially important while doing turns; shoes which don't allow foot action can result in twisted ankles, sore knees or lower back problems. Insofar as clothing, there is no dress code at The Academy, and we suggest you wear something that is comfortable and allows you freedom to move. Many students come from work, so it is not uncommon to see ladies in dresses or skirts and gentlemen in casual pants. Our facility is air conditioned, so you may want to take that into consideration also.

"How long are each of the dance classes?"

Each dance class is 60 minutes long, with ample time for a review of the previously learned dance steps in the dance course, a lesson in a new step & time to practice the new step(s).

"How can I become more involved with the growing success of the Academy?"

The Academy's growth is based on students, like yourself, volunteering to assist in small and large ways to help promote ballroom & latin dancing in Maui! Every little bit helps and it is through the volunteering efforts of its students over the past four years that the Academy has become the state of Hawaii's largest and most successful dance organization. Whether you can help out at one event, or assist with behind-the-scenes work, or be part of our maintenance team, or any one of a variety of other functions, there is a need for your help! We're always looking for TEAM LEADERS in a variety of areas; please inquire for more information: ritaoc@hawaii.rr.com. Be a part of our success!

"What is proper Dance Etiquette?"

The Academy offers these guidelines and strongly encourages all students to follow them for the maximum comfort and enjoyment of all dancers.

  1. Respect and Communication. Everyone has unique personal boundaries and this should be respected in partnership dancing. Dancers are encouraged to communicate with their partner to establish a comfortable partnership. This communication is especially important when students are rotating or have different partners.
  2. Frame & Dance Hold. In general, it is the ladies choice of how close to stand to her partner. Men set their frame, then, the ladies set their frame and the partnership distance where they are comfortable. We use 'social dance position' distance (space in between the couple, connected through the arms and hands only) for Latin dances. Smooth dances can be danced at the 'social' distance or body-to-body if both people in the partnership choose. If the lady chooses to dance in a more open social frame, we ask the gentlemen to please respect that distance. Of course, if the man is uncomfortable with any frame, he should also communicate this to his partner.
  3. Connection. All connections with a dance partner should be in a 'prayer-like' (very light pressure) hold. There is never any need to squeeze or grip your partner, or pull them in close or use a pushing action to 'lead' them. A tight grip or pulling in of a partner can make many people feel uncomfortable or unsafe and can be harmful. All dance communication should be done with very light action. During demonstrations or instruction of the dance, students do not need to hold onto their partner. It is a good idea to relax and stand apart, while each person focuses on the instruction given, until it is time to dance together again.
  4. Rotation. Everyone is allowed the option to rotate partners if they wish. There is no need to pull a partner out of rotation. If this should happen and you wish to stay in rotation, please let the person know and step back into the line of rotation.
  5. Accepting a Dance. Everyone who is asked to dance has the option to say "yes" or "no, thank you" and their choice should be respected. It is polite to always answer courteously because an offer to dance is a gracious offer.

The Academy wishes to provide a fun and comfortable environment for everyone. We know this can sometimes be tricky in Ballroom and Latin dancing as partnership dancing is a "contact sport," so to speak. We hope that no one takes any choice made by another personally because it is simply each person's unique comfort level and acceptable boundaries.

If for any reason, there is a concern that your communication is not working for you or is difficult for you to express, Academy volunteers and Instructors are here to help. Please feel free to talk to any of us. It is the Academy's practice to maintain confidentiality. Many individual and personal issues can arise when we partnership dance and the Academy will try to help so everyone is free to learn, dance and enjoy!


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