Discover the Romance! the Sizzle! the Fun! of Dancing Together!
is a season for everything under heaven;
A time to mourn,
and a time to dance.
Ecl 3:1, 4b
Don't Miss a Step of It!
|Meet your instructor, RJ Wilson|
RJ was born an raised on Capitol Hill in Seattle Washington, moved to Lake Sammamish in Bellevue Washington, and graduated from Lake Washington High School in 1961. His first dance lessons were given by his Grandmother Katherine when he was five years old. "Grandma Kate" came from Yugoslavia, and taught RJ many of the folk and social dances of Eastern Europe, including the Waltz, Polka, 2 Step, Varsouvian, Schottische, Peabody and the Charleston.
Grandma and Grandpa lived in Roslyn Washington; a town divided into Scotts, Yugoslavian, Italian, and Sweeds. With all those ethnic groups mixing together, dancing was a common language to be shared by everyone of all ages! By the time RJ was in high school, he had developed quite a variety of dance styles and rhythms. High school provided another opportunity to sharpen his dance skills. The phys-ed program offered social dance classes as an elective for PE, and RJ took 3 years of dance training. Friday and Saturday were dance nights at the Teen Canteen, where RJ was quite popular with the girls...he could dance!
Six years in the Navy and three tours in Vietnam did not deter RJ from dancing. He says "Some of my dance moves served me well in Vietnam!" After his tour with the Navy, RJ attended Willamette University where he earned two Bachelor Degrees, one in Political Science and the other in Urban Development. Fun classes at Willamette included participating in the performing arts program where he picked up some training in Jazz , Tap, Soft Shoe and some more Swing.
After graduation RJ trekked off to Hawaii to see what sun and surf was about. It was in Hawaii where RJ began his formal training as a dance instructor. The Hawaii Ballroom Dance Association, then sponsored by the State Parks and Recreation Division, was looking for people interested in training as an instructor, and RJ answered the call. The training program took four years. It was a cooperative effort run by the franchised studios of Fred Astaie, Arthur Murray and Lets Dance Studios. RJ completed the training and passed the tests for Silver Level Instructor for the HBDA, and was subsequently sent around the islands teaching classes and workshops. In addition, the HBDA provided ongoing training camps with current world championship couples as these couples traveled through Hawaii on their way to and from other competitions around the world.
After five years in Hawaii, RJ had enough of paradise and returned to Salem to open a dance studio and share his love of dance with Willamette Valley residents. The first two years, RJ taught at various locations from Centralia to Eugene, mostly for Parks and Rec Programs and Community Colleges. In 1988, RJ linked up with Lora LaMon. Together they put together the first Willamette Valley Open Showcase, which was held in the multi-purpose room at McKinley School in Salem in October 1990. The Professional Show was American Rhythm Rising Star Champions, Rick Pride and Catherine Joy. The 2nd Showcase was held in October 1991, featuring another outstanding professional Seattle couple, Peter Mant and Ava Kaye. That same year, RJ and Lora moved in to their first studio on Silverton Road.
Throughout the years, RJ has taken advantage of many opportunities to further his dance training. He has taken classes in Jazz, Modern and Rhythmic Gymnastics. His coaches have included Northwest teachers, Rick Pride and Peter Mant as well as national champions like, Ron Montez, Bob Powers and Buddy Schwimmer. Association memberships include a Charter Member of the Willamette Chapter of USABDA, as well as the National Dance Council of America, Professional Dancers Association, and a member of ASCAP.
RJ enjoys dancing and teaching and continues to teach beginning level Ballroom, Swing and Latin dances. He lets Lora do the intermediate and technique classes. RJ also enjoys competitions, choreographing for wedding couples and fun stuff for social dancing. He finds the new student a challenge as well as a reward. "I look forward to each new class as a new test of my ability to make sense out of all the confusion".
Ballroom Swing Latin Classes
Adult Ballroom Swing Latin Classes
Hawaiian Spinning Poi Classes
Hip Hop Classes
Belly Dance Classes
Wedding Dance Preparation
Dances - Pearce Ballroom
About the Studio - Goals & Philosophy
Meet Instructor, Lora
Meet Instructor, RJ
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Ballroom 317 Court Street
Downtown Salem, Oregon
(Next to Great Harvest Bread Above Roy John's Jewelry)
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