Arthur Murray Franchised Dance Centers, with nearly 300 locations around the world, have been in business for 107 years. They have a proven method and highly trained instructors to prepare their students for social or competitive dancing.
Michelle and Emilio Garced are the co-owners of the centers located in Green Brook, Highland Park, and Manalapan, NJ. They themselves started as customers over 40 years ago and acquired their first center shortly thereafter.
Dances and the reasons for learning to dance have changed over time, but some things have stayed the same. There are certain dances that have never gone out of style, such as the waltz, polka, tango and fox trot. Swing and Latin dances are also very popular, as are country dances.
Learning to dance has become a common date night for couples. Instead of dinner and a movie, they prefer to do something fun and lively. Other couples may be preparing for their weddings or vacations. However, students don’t need to come in with a partner; the dance instructors can be their partners. And though many people come in to learn one or a few dances for a special occasion, once they discover how much they enjoy it, it often becomes a new hobby.
“That’s why Arthur Murray has been around for so long. We have figured out a system whereby we are able to personalize the lessons to each student’s individual needs,” said Michelle.
They welcome students of every age - from young children to those who are young at heart. Michelle related a story about an 84-year-old student. She’s very active, has two new hips and loves to dance. She wrote a letter about the merits of dancing and how it helps her balance and mental acuity and enables her to stay socially connected. The letter was actually published in the New York Times.
Dancing also helps increase energy levels, flexibility and stamina, and makes people happy. It also has other positive health effects such as weight loss and lower blood pressure.
Arthur Murray has cushioned hardwood floors, which have a lot of give and are easier on the joints. Their state-of the art facilities are not only safe for their students, but warm and friendly as well.
“It’s very much a family atmosphere. Everyone who comes through our doors feels that they mean something to us, that they’re not just a number or an account. It’s a very caring, enthusiastic and encouraging atmosphere,” said Michelle.
Most of the instructors regularly win awards within the organization for their achievements in dance instruction and many others are champions on both national and international levels. A good percentage of the dance students also participate with their instructors at various competitive events.
Based on a three-point system of teaching, it usually takes a couple of months to lay the groundwork in order to competently use the dancing skills learned. Progress depends on how often they come, their ability to retain what they learned, and the complexity of the dance.
To celebrate their 20th anniversary in Green Brook, a $39 sample program is being offered that includes two personal training sessions and a dance evaluation. Students can pick any dance they want or choose to brush up on their skills. It gives everyone a chance to try something new.