Felix Solis was going to college to be a computer programmer when he was told he needed a physical education class. After seeing the ratio of women to men in the ballroom dancing class, he decided that would be a good fit for him. He learned how to dance, stuck with it and eventually enrolled at an Arthur Murray studio, where he began to dance professionally and teach.
“When you dance professionally, you improve rapidly,” he said while sitting in The Ballroom on Hand Ave., in Ormond Beach.
His dance partner Annie Hawkins sat next to him. Between them, Solis and Hawkins have almost 50 years of experience teaching ballroom dance.
Hawkins left high school to join the ballet and stayed in the company until she was 21, when she started exploring ballroom dancing at an Arthur Murray studio. She also became a teacher and a professional.
“Ballroom dancing is a fit type of dancing, always moving,” Solis said. “It promotes good health, fitness, fun and confidence. “
The two are not only professional dance partners, but they also teach together traveling from dance room to dance room throughout the St. Augustine, Flagler and Volusia area to meet their students. They don’t have a studio of their own, but instead bring their lessons to their students to fit their schedules.
Their students range from teenagers to the elderly and have taken up ballroom dancing for a variety of reasons.
“It helps take their mind away from stress, the outside world and work,” Solis said.
For couples, Hawkins said she sees ballroom dancing as something they can share together. Even if they are interested in different things, she sees the couple she teaches come together and share a common interest in the dancing.
Those students and students from all over the state will be able to show off their talents Sunday, at the Palm Coast Dance Classic, which will showcase students from 14 dance studios in a one-day competition.
“It gives the students something to work towards,” Solis said.
The showcase not only provides a little friendly competition, but it also allows the students to meet each other and get feedback from other students.
IF YOU GO:
What: Palm Coast Dance Classic
Where: Palm Coast Veterans of Foreign War, 47 Old Kinds Road N., Palm Coast
When: 1-6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 10
Info: There will be three dance smooth and rhythm championships including prizes for top teacher, top solo, top student, top studio and general dancing. There will also be a performance by professional dancers Vanda Polakova and Misha Vlasov.