If you’re looking for a fun way to connect with your partner, find a new hobby to exercise both your body and your brain, prepare for a wedding or other special event, and make some friends along the way, might we make a suggestion? Ballroom dancing lessons from internationally renowned teachers at the Sound of Dance Studio, right on Granite Street!
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Olga Golubko and Dmitry Filatov began dancing at very young ages, while still in single digits. “My parents chose this for me,” Olga shared. “It’s very common in Ukraine for parents to choose something like this for their children; that’s why the US brings in so many dancers from Europe to teach and perform, because by the age of 20, they already have a good background and lots of experience. If you watch Dancing with the Stars, you’ll see lots of Russian names.” Some children go through their rigorous training and drop it eventually, but happily, Olga loved it.
Similiarly, Dmitry’s parents tried to find a good fit for him. “I tried football, Karate, swimming, but it didn’t stick. Dancing did,” Dmitry said. “I was probably too young to know why at the time, but art was always inside of me.”
The two met in college at Rivne State University, a performing arts school in Ukraine. They each received degrees in Dance, which encompassed teaching, performing, and choreographing for a wide variety of styles, including ballet, tap, modern, folk, and especially ballroom. “There were lots of jobs open for artists and performers, but we always declined them, because we wanted to teach,” Olga said.
Their dance training also moved beyond just the physical. “We also learned about the psychology of different age groups so that we would be prepared to teach people the way they needed to be taught,” she explained. While in Ukraine, they taught children and then began teaching adults when they went to China and kept teaching adults when they came to the US.
While it can prove quite difficult to come to the United States for many people, the two were able to make their way over through their work with another dance company about ten years ago. They stayed with them for four years, but eventually left to strike out on their own and start their own dance studio and teach in a way that felt more authentic. Dmitry and Olga don’t believe that teaching should be systematic, but rather customized to the student as much as possible. “Teaching should be fifty-fifty relationship between students and teachers, customers and business people – the customer or student is not always right, but neither is the business owner or teacher,” Dmitry explained.
This approach to teaching, along with the welcoming environment of the studio and their long-term focus, appears to be working well for the pair. While other studios may have high turnover of new students coming in to take a few lessons before a wedding and then leaving shortly afterwards, Olga and Dmitry typically retain many of their newcomers – dozens have been coming back for years and have gone on to participate in ballroom dance competitions across the country, proudly and deftly representing Rhode Island.
“We try to personalize our lessons, and we don’t push only our way,” Dmitry explained. “Our students should respect our methods but we also want to listen to them.” Olga agreed, adding that they try to follow the Golden Rule and treat others as they would like to be treated, both personally and as a professional mission. “Business is not our top priority,” she said. “We don’t advertise a lot, we don’t want to be too aggressive because we don’t like when other companies are like that with us.” No contracts are required at Sound of Dance, and you won’t be on the receiving end of any phone calls hounding you to renew your lessons.
Learning to dance won’t necessarily be a total cakewalk, however, and that’s a good thing! While students can expect to supported at the Sound of Dance, they should also expect to be challenged. “Many people think they know what they want to learn, but we also try to advise our students to learn something that maybe they don’t like right away, or that they don’t think that they will like, because this is how you develop as a dancer,” Dmitry explained.
The two truly believe in the power of dance. “We would love for ballroom dance to be taught in schools,” Dmitry said. “We believe that it is what kids need to balance out their cell phone addiction and all of this technology; dancing is a way reconnect and learn how to talk to and understand each other. We feel that a major social problem being faced today is men and women not learning to relate to each other until too late in life.” Dancing can help bridge a multitude of gaps and teach people a new language, one that can be shared between strangers, a new couple looking to prepare for their wedding day, or two partners looking to reignite their passion for one another.
“We just want to say thank you to the US for the opportunity to have what we have,” Dmitry shared, as we wrapped up. “Our country gave us knowledge and experience, but no opportunities. We truly appreciate being here.”
Two private lessons are available for a low introduction rate of $35. Additional private lessons are available for purchase in packages, and include one group class a week as well. Students may choose to focus their lessons on several styles of dance, including Waltz, Samba, Foxtrot, Swing, Cha-Cha-Cha, Salsa, Tango, Rumba, and West Coast Swing.