Dance studio owner helps Rapid City find its groove

An AP Member Exchange shared by the Rapid City Journal

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Jamey McCaskill quickly got hooked after he stepped onto a dance floor for the first time. He became an award-winning professional ballroom dancer and now, as the owner of National Dance Clubs, he’s out to help Rapid City find its groove.

McCaskill and his wife, Nancy, bought the former Gotta Dance studio in Rapid City in late 2017, the Rapid City Journal reported . The McCaskills incorporated the local studio into National Dance Clubs, a Tennessee-based chain of ballroom dance clubs they’ve owned since 2016. The chain first opened in 1984.

“There are a few powerhouses in our industry known for being premier ballroom dance clubs, and we’re one of them,” said McCaskill, who has 13 years of dance experience. “We have a tried-and-true proven system of teaching that teaches people how to dance whatever their dance goals may be, whether it’s to dance for a lifetime or just to learn to dance the basics. … Our goal is to deliver a five-star service and product.”

National Dance Clubs specializes in exclusively teaching five categories of ballroom dance — rhythm, smooth, international Latin, ballroom and theater arts. Rhythm dances include cha cha, rumba, swing, bolero, mambo, merengue, salsa and paso doble. Smooth dances include waltz, tango, foxtrot, Viennese waltz, and the Peabody, which McCaskill calls “one of the most fun dances out there.” The Peabody rose to popularity in the 1910s and ’20s, along with the Lindy and jive, but has a jolly style all its own, McCaskill said.

International Latin dances include cha cha, samba, rumba, paso doble and jive, while the ballroom category covers waltz, tango, Viennese waltz, foxtrot and quickstep. Finally, the theater arts category is for experienced dancers who want to learn lifts and complex moves for competitions or exhibition performances, McCaskill said.

“We have classes geared to which level of a dancer you are, and we have private lessons that allow instructors to focus on what an individual needs and wants,” McCaskill said. “We teach people to dance to the most popular music that will be played in most social environments.”

Non-ballroom dance and exercise classes that were previously offered at Gotta Dance, including yoga, belly dance and clogging, have moved to other studios in Rapid City.

National Dance Clubs instructors use a world-renowned curriculum from Dance Vision International Dance Association. Through DVIDA, McCaskill is a certified grand master dancer in all five categories of ballroom offered at National Dance Clubs. Every location, including Rapid City, is staffed by full-time trained dance instructors. McCaskills personally trained local instructors Melissa Houska, Ramon Pardo and Tricia Huber. All three successfully passed an associate degree-level exam in professional dance instruction.

The McCaskills will be moving National Dance Clubs from its current location on Oshkosh St. to a new, centrally-located studio on Disk Drive near Kohl’s. Like its current location, the new studio will have a professional-grade floating dance floor, which is cushioned and built on a suspension system. The floors allow teachers and students to dance for hours without suffering leg fatigue and are comparable to those professional dancers and their star partners use on the long-running hit TV series “Dancing With The Stars.” It will also be equipped with large mirrors that will aid teachers and students in improving their form. The new location should be open in March.

Beyond teaching the skills needed to dance, the McCaskills genuinely want to help people experience the joys and benefits of dancing. Its side effects include weight loss, better posture, stress relief, sharper mental acuity and a happier mood.

“It’s the life-enhancing experiences people have while dancing ballroom, whether it’s a couple finding new things out about each other no matter how long they’ve been together, or somebody overcoming a tough loss. People have more fun out of life (when they’re dancing). Giving people their groove back, being able to see people continue to grow as individuals and ballroom dancing helping with that … that’s what keeps me coming back,” McCaskill said. “I like knowing once they learn from me, people can go anywhere in any social environment and feel comfortable and confident dancing.”