We asked Gregg Wright, a Silver 3 Student in our studio some questions about his love for dancing and experience at the studio and asked him to travel back in time and take a look at his first days in the studio up until now. What a great story and wonderful recommendations he shared with us!
1) How long have you been a student at Arthur Murray Ashburn?
My 10 year anniversary is this February!
2) Which awards have you won?
All Arounds First Place at Associate Bronze, Full Bronze, and Associate Silver levels and second place in Full Silver; third place in Full Silver Smooth Scholarships; Top Student at Freestyles in category across various levels; second place Associate Silver couples category dancing with my wife.
3) I remember you telling me about the time when you first came into the studio. You told me that you had never danced before and were just learning the club swing basic. Looking back at these years, it must be so great to see where you are now and I’d like to share your tremendous progress and achievements to inspire other students, especially those who have recently started! Could you speak to this a bit?
I suggested to my wife, Mary, who with me was an Arthur Murray student for six years, that we take dance lessons because we often went to charity balls. corporate dinner dances, and weddings and felt out of place because we didn’t know how to dance. Also, it looked like fun.
Early on in our Arthur Murray lessons, I struggled as I am not a naturally gifted dancer, to say the least. It was hard to be one of the slower students because in most things I did in life I was proficient if not pretty competitive. The first 18 months were fun but also frustrating as I did not progress as fast as I’d like. Eventually I realized that dancing is much harder than it might seem unless you are one of those unusually gifted people, and so it requires study and most of all, lots of practice.
I had the great fortune to have some of the best Arthur Murray instructors in the area, at what is the best studio in the area. Gabe and Leigh are master teachers and insist on excellence in their instructors, and the Arthur Murray syllabus provides a great curriculum to develop your dancing as much as you want. I also benefited from the support and encouragement of fellow students, who helped me through patience and practice.
I eventually got over the beginner’s hump and learning figures and technique became easier, and as a result, a whole lot more fun. I had some success and good experiences in freestyles and showcase events, and after a couple of years I really was taken with dance and wanted to become a strong competitive dancer.
4) Any recommendations you might have for other students based on your experience?
To develop into a competitive dancer, which is my orientation, I’d recommend several things:
1) apply your best study habits, starting with learning the names of the figures in the syllabus. Take notes because it is easy to forget all of the instruction we get in class and lessons; I still take notes after nearly every class or lesson, recording the step pattern for new figures and making technique notes on familiar patterns.
2) go to as many group classes and practice parties as you can, and spend at least some of the time at parties consciously practicing the technique you learned in class.
3) As early on as you can muster, incorporate expression into your dance; go beyond the step mechanics and put some feel and style into it. I started this way too late.
4) Try to participate in one or two freestyle or showcase events each year, as you get a lot of experience and gain confidence from them. 5) Above all, see your dance development as a journey in which you are trying each week or month to get better, and take satisfaction from your progress.
5) What is your favorite part about the studio?
My favorite part of life at the studio is taking lessons, as I enjoy learning and practicing technique, followed closely by the practice parties.
6) What do you love about dancing? Anything you’d like to say about the impact or benefits of dancing as a hobby that you have found?
My interest in competitive dance has broadened to just loving to dance and for some time dance has been a major part of my life. I get a lot of enjoyment not only dancing at my limits with the instructors and advanced students, but I really enjoy dancing with the newer students and watching them as well as the men develop. It goes without saying that one of the great joys is to go out dancing with my wife and friends and feel comfortable being the first ones out on the floor, and to get compliments on my dancing. One of the best was at our daughter’s wedding, when she said that many of her friends told her that my dancing was “bad-a**”, which I took as favorable.
7) When you are not dancing, what else do you like to do?
Dancing takes up most of my free time, but in season, I play a lot of golf, which has a much in common with dance in terms of balance, core rotation, ease of movement, and inherent challenge.
8) What is a fun fact about you? (It can be anything!)
Fun fact—Jeez that’s hard. I started as a master’s level social work student working on child abuse and neglect cases in Chicago’s slums. Then I eventually took a job with a Washington consulting firm and went on to a long career in IT and management consulting.