Published: January 31, 2018
Your passion for dance has taken you on quite a journey. Can you tell our readers about how you got your start?
Jaki: Both my parents were professional ballroom dancers and owned successful studios in Colorado Springs. Every day after school I was picked up and brought to the studio and I would sit and watch them teach. If they had an hour free, they would teach me something on the side. But most of the time, I lived in the studio, I did my homework in the studio, I went home with them at night. I started competing when I was six with my dad and I was able to travel with my parents around the world.
When I was 19, I started teaching at one of their studios and by 21 I took over a studio, re-branded and reconfigured it and made it my own. Eventually, I began to feel like I was a big fish in a small pond and I wanted to get out and see new things, so I moved to New York City and started managing the top Fred Astaire studio in the nation. I was there for eight years and started competing the last three years I was there. I ended up placing in the top 20 in the world in ballroom. It was a great experience, but I kind of wanted something different with my life after a while. I still want to compete professionally, so I decided to move back here, open a studio and that brings us to today…
Following your move from New York, you opened this location in March of 2017. Why did you choose to locate in Cherry Creek North?
Jaki: When I moved back, it was the only place I saw myself having a studio. When I lived in Colorado Springs, we would come up here all the time and Cherry Creek was one of the places I loved. I loved the environment. I loved the boutique-type style of everything that's around here from gyms, shops, restaurants, etc. It spoke to me, so I told my realtor "I will only have a studio in Denver if it's in Cherry Creek North." There was no other option for me.
Who are Ballroom & Beyond's clientele?
Jaki: Honestly, if you can move, you can dance. And I don't mean just walk, because I have also taught people in wheelchairs. So, I literally mean, if you have the desire, you can dance. I teach kids from ages six to twelve. I also have a big section of wedding couples who are getting ready for their "first dance." I have moms that are looking to drop off their kids at school and then come in and do something for cardio. I have widowers. I have people who don't want to sit inside and need a hobby and need an outlet. I have married people who hire babysitters get dressed up, go out to dinner and then come in for a lesson. I have older couples who are doing it to stay flexible and in shape and challenge themselves mentally. I also have clients who want to take their dancing to the next level and compete.
What styles of dance do you teach here?
Jaki: Ballroom and Beyond is an umbrella term that just means partnership dancing to music. So anything you can do with a partner: Country Western, Latin, Salsa, Merengue, Rhumba and then you have the ballroom styles, Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz and Quick Step.
You offer a Saturday, morning class, however, that does not require a partner, correct?
Yes, and this class is more focused on cardio exercise. It's all Latin steps, so you can actually learn Salsa, Cha Cha, and Samba while you work out. These are the fundamental steps of ballroom dancing that you can take out of class and perform.
While we're on the topic of taking dancing skills to other places, tell us about the vacation packages offered by Ballroom & Beyond…
Jaki: We typically go on cruises, but we have done trips all over the world. Usually in the daytime we go out and explore. We might do a dance lesson in the afternoon, maybe take a nap and rest a little bit. Then we get all dressed up, meet for cocktails and dance for two to three hours every night. It's the the best combination for a social dancer. We have a blast.
What if someone wants to dance, but is too busy to make it in to your class times?
Jaki: I do Skype lessons! Some might think you always need to have someone to dance with, but there are a lot of things you can work on by yourself.
You also help many of your clients reach the competitive level of dancing. What does that entail?
Jaki: I help my clients set both short and long-term goals for themselves. It's like training for a marathon, right? I also help my clients with hair, make-up, dresses, nutrition, etc. Ballroom & Beyond is a one stop shop for getting groomed for competitions.
What's on the horizon for Ballroom & Beyond in 2018?
Jaki: I'm really excited to launch a class called "Abun-dance." It's targeted at like-minded women who want to reclaim their femininity. There are many strong women out there, but many of us have lost our sense of femininity. This class will be 45 minutes of high energy impact dancing, stretching, some elements of yoga and some of the softer dances, and we'll end with a sort of meditation where we can become aligned. It takes a woman on an emotional journey through dancing, sweating, moving and meditating. I think people will walk out feeling ready to take on the world.
Ballroom & Beyond
300 Josephine Street
Denver, CO 80206