Dancing with the stars
Published: Monday, June 1, 2009 at 7:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, June 1, 2009 at 7:26 p.m.
They're not exactly Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but Fred and Tricia Gregory have been dance partners for nearly as long as they've been marriage partners.
SHALL WE DANCE?
From Argentine tango to zydeco, Gainesville's social dance scene is so active, you could attend a different dance (and learn a new dance step) nearly every day of the week. Check out the Web sites here for a complete listing of events.
- The site offers a comprehensive calendar of dance events in the Gainesville area, with links to more than a dozen dance forms, clubs and studios in the region.
Gainesville Dance and Music Association
- This group is "dedicated to practicing and promoting participatory dance and music in and around Gainesville, Florida" and acts as a clearinghouse for dancers and musicians. The site includes a weekly calendar of dance events and a page of links to other dance organizations.
"She took me to Arthur Murray in 1968," says Fred, a history of science professor at the University of Florida, who married Tricia in 1967. "And there have been a lot of Arthur-Murray-like things since then."
This month, they're stepping out on the dance floor in style aboard the Queen Mary in San Diego with one of their favorite instructors, Richard Powers.
Powers, a Stanford University dance professor, also happens to be one of the nation's preeminent experts on the history of American and European social dance, from the waltz to the two-step to the tango. Powers choreographed the Ragtime-era dance scenes in the 1989 film "Cold Sassy Tree," the 19th-century ballroom dances for the 1989 film "North and South" and the Victorian ballroom dances for the 1986 TV movie "Mrs. Perkins' Ball," along with numerous stage productions in America and Europe.
The weekend of vintage waltz aboard the Queen Mary, in which everyone will be dressed in 19th-century ballroom formal-wear, is just one of many instructional dance sessions hosted by Powers and held at venues around the country.
The Gregorys first heard about Powers at a waltz brunch in Gainesville, which has a surprisingly active social dance scene. (See "Shall we dance?" at right.) After attending one of Powers' weekend dance events in North Georgia, they were hooked.
"He'll tell you this is the way they did it in Paris in the late 19th century, and when it got across the Channel, the English modified it in the following way," Fred says of Powers' encyclopedic knowledge of social dance. "Of course," Fred laments, "I can't do either one of the steps."
No matter. Powers also believes that if his students don't do the steps exactly as he and his dance partner have demonstrated, then they've simply added to the repertoire of dance.
Before Fred met Tricia, he had never danced a day in his life.
"Fred came from a family where you didn't dance, drink or smoke," explains Tricia, a registered dietitian and certified wellness coach with a private practice in Gainesville. Tricia's father taught her how to dance when she was growing up. And at age 91, her father is still dancing. Tricia and Fred often attend the weekly Swing and Sway dance sessions her father organizes on Sunday evenings at The Atrium, where he lives.
Tricia says she loves Powers' vintage dance events because she has a sense of becoming a part of history. Even without the period costumes, though, Tricia has always enjoyed dancing.
"As a wellness coach, I often mention that it's good to do something that removes you from the 'mundane here and now,'" Tricia says. "Dancing does that for me."
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