Dance Lesson; Studio Instructor Puts Students through Their Paces

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 7, 2005 | Go to article overview

Dance Lesson; Studio Instructor Puts Students through Their Paces


Byline: Marguerite Higgins, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Willie Hendricken is light on his feet for his first private lesson at the Bethesda Dance Studio on a recent afternoon.

Mr. Hendricken, 43, the owner and head instructor of the 3,500-square-foot studio, does warm-up moves across the bright oak floor as his student, Molly Clay, 56, dons her dancing shoes.

Mrs. Clay, a Bethesda resident, has been taking private lessons from Mr. Hendricken once a week for the past 41/2 years. She has moved up from being a social dancer to learning the more intricate steps and poses for the tango, rumba, waltz and cha-cha.

With a quick nod, Mr. Hendricken leads Mrs. Clay to the center of the empty studio. He sets up a series of musical selections and the couple start a spirited tango.

They dance through intricately choreographed stanzas of four to 20 steps each, seeking a level of perfection demanded in national dance competitions.

The dance warm-up continues with a swing dance followed by the cha-cha.

Then Mr. Hendricken gets to the core of his lesson by critiquing Mrs. Clay's performance in each dance.

He leads Mrs. Clay into a waltz but before long he begins stopping her in mid-move to check her posture and body stance.

"Tuck in your stomach and keep your shoulders down to here," the Irish immigrant says with a light accent.

"When your doing a dance, you need to keep in mind where all the parts of your body are moving and work to control their every movement," he explains.

The couple begin to glide and twist again as they move onto the tango. Mr. Hendricken continues to check the mirrors on the studio walls to make sure Mrs. …

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