Joanne Middonte Catch-Up in Northside Newspaper
An article featuring Arthur Murray Crows Nest owners Joanne Middonte & Chris Michaels in The Northside Newspapers Sydney in February 2010.
Who was Arthur Murray?
The Arthur Murray School of Dance was started in 1912 by an American chap who was a shy man. He enrolled in lessons to help bring him out of his shell and it turned out he was good! He liked to say, if you can walk, you can dance. He used targeted mailouts to send people a dance step, once a month, by mail. This was an era when affluent people had their own ballrooms and people came to know who Arthur Murray was and invited him to teach them privately in his home. There are now over 350 Arthur Murray Dance Studios worldwide and 10 in Australia, including the school at Crows Nest.
What kind of dances do you teach?
Anything that involves another person. We do encourage people to take individual lessons because the dance steps are different for a man and a woman, but it’s social dancing and we teach both fast and slow rhythm.
What’s your story? How did you come to be running a dance school?
I’ve danced all my life but when I came to the end of my schooling I believed it was not something I could make a business of, or earn a living from. I had plans to study to become a lawyer but before I started my studies I felt like I needed to work and do something else for a year. I saw an advertisement for dance teachers and I went in telling myself it was for a year – but I’d found my niche. I’ve been at the studio for 20 years and owned it for 15.
Has there been a resurgence in social dancing?
Dance has never gone out of fashion, but we’ve had a lot of people asking whether we’ve been busy since shows like ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ have been on television. Really it started with ‘Dancing With The Stars’.
What if my fella won’t come?
You know, there’s nothing more masculine than a man who can dance, but we do teach men and women in private lessons and have on offer the group and social opportunities.
Once you’ve learned the moves, where can you show them off?
We’ve got such a full social dance calendar. We host social dancing parties every second Friday night and organise dinner dance outings – the people who come to the school come to know each other and some have organised dances at home, or clubs. It’s very social!