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It all began when I pulled out that big yellow book and flipped through the pages looking for a dance studio when I saw an ad for the local Arthur Murray Dance Studio, I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a magical moment. I’ll never forget that moment for it has shaped the last 15 years of my life.

best_dance_classes_nj_has_to_offer.jpgWhen I arrived at the studio for my job interview I was greeted by the owner and all of other instructors as well, each one of the warmer and happier than the last. I could immediately sense that this place was different; different from the job I wanted to leave, different from anywhere else in the world. The owner took me on to the dance floor and starting teaching me the box step. He probably didn’t think the box step was anything special, but I did.

That night I went home and practiced it for hours. Over the next few days I would catch myself tracing boxes with my feet everywhere I went. Soon after, he explained the Arthur Murray training method and hired me right then and there. I was so excited, because the thought of dancing for work was thrilling to me!

At the time my major motivation was my love for dance. I couldn’t have known that in one year’s time my motivation would change completely. All it took was a single conversation at a Medal Ball with one of my students that did it for me, a single conversation which drastically altered the course of my career, a conversation I never saw coming.

One of my couples (we’ll call them Mr. and Ms. Smith) were as regular a pair as you could wish for. He was a high powered lawyer and a man of some significance, if his personality was anything to judge by. He was fun, despite his force of character, and seemed to delight in his own very corny jokes. She was sweet and polite whenever I saw her, though I sensed a hint of loneliness buried deep. She was a housewife, I discovered, and her children had only recently left home. They didn’t talk about themselves much. He was always focused on his dancing, which delighted me, and I assumed she was just happy to be active.

Husband-Dance-Lessons.jpgThey were an easy couple to teach, all things considered. Eager to learn and show off in front of others, they quickly became my model students. Eventually, they tested out of Bronze 1. I remember how proud I was seeing their grades. When Medal Ball time came around, I wanted them to feel as proud and accomplished as I felt for helping them get there! An Arthur Murray Medal Ball is the event at which students formally graduate from one level to the next. We always accompany it with a beautiful dinner dance. Mr. and Ms. Smith were there, of course, and they seemed to be livelier than ever. When they got their trophy, they beamed. I’ll admit, I got teary eyed! How could I not?

But even that was nothing compared to the end of the night. The party was finally dying down when Mr. Smith approached me and said "I what to thank you for the bottom of my heart.” he said, “Before we came in for dance classes we were on the verge of getting a divorce. You saved our marriage." I was so stunned. Maybe it was the simple, direct way he said it (he was always pretty straightforward) but I was left speechless. I remember thinking, “Me? How could I, a twenty-year-old, snot-nosed kid who knows nothing about life help save a marriage?

Looking back now, I know how important that moment was. It felt good hearing such praise, I’ll admit. Who wouldn’t? But I soon realized it had little to do with me and everything to do with dancing. Up until then all I knew was that dancing was fun, but there was so much more to it. For that couple it was romance, holding that special person again in your arms and igniting that old flame, enjoying each other again in a whole new way.  Most importantly, it brought them happiness!  

Over the years I have watched dancing improve many people’s lives just as it has changed mine. I can credit that very first visit to that Arthur Murray Dance Studio some 15 years ago with every blessing I have in my life. Blessings such as meeting my wonderful husband with whom I share two amazing children and three very successful Arthur Murray Dance Studios. I now get the opportunity to help our teachers guide their students and help improve their lives through the power of dance. Dancing has given me the confidence I was lacking and helped me to realize that everyone deserves happiness.  I feel honored and blessed every day, and am so glad that I walked into that Arthur Murray Dance Studio so many years ago.

If you are thinking about it, do it. I guarantee you, it will change your life forever.

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Jennifer Villavicencio has been dancing all of her life. She started teaching professionally in 1998 and has achieved incredible success during her time in the Arthur Murray Franchise. She has multiple Top Instructor and Top Counselor awards under her belt and now focuses on the training and development of their staff. Jennifer and her husband, Danny, are the owners of the Roxbury, Chatham & Morristown NJ studios. They feel extremely fortunate to be able to share their passion of dancing with as many people as possible. Their main objective is to make dance lessons fun and easy in a relaxed and un-intimidating environment. They are also the proud parents of three beautiful children.