Terry Dean, Thank You
Sometimes late at night when all is quiet and I’m supposed to be falling asleep, I hear my husband, Dale, whisper: “You’re thinking about dancing again, aren’t you.” “How do you know?” I always ask. “Because you’re completely still, and holding your breath again,” he says. We’ve been having this exchange for fifteen years now, and I can trace its beginnings to the week we first walked into Terry Dean’s Dance Studio.
I thought it would be great for us to take ballroom dance lessons together. Dale made it through the first seven of eight in the series, then pleaded to be released. I was hooked; he said “go for it!” I remember how fantastic it felt, moving to beautiful, contemporary music in different ways, with another person, even when I had no idea what I was doing. Kind classmates led me patiently through the basics, explaining the seemingly impossible. I watched Terry’s advanced group class in awe, wondering how I could ever actually be one of those graceful women, able to follow.
If I was lucky enough to have Terry ask me to dance at a weekly party, my heart beat like crazy. Absolute thrill and sheer terror propelled me across the floor with him. I couldn’t fathom how Terry was able to spin the way he did. I remember at a more quiet time asking Terry how I could be a better dancer. He gently talked to me about dancers he had known with tremendous talent who had never gotten anywhere, whereas the ones who just kept working at it had done really well. The morning of 9/11, after watching the tragedy on the news, I headed into the studio to work on a routine that Terry was choreographing for me and Mark Trimpe. I remember feeling tremendous comfort that I had my community at Terry Dean’s Dance Studio, all the more so at such a frightening moment for our nation.
You might remember a time in your life when being at Terry Dean’s Dance Studio as many evenings as possible was just where you needed to be. Maybe it’s right now. You might have met your life partner at the studio. Or maybe you met elsewhere, but as a result of learning to dance at the studio. You may have been recovering from something painful as you held your breath and walked through his doors. You might have met some of the favorite people in your life today, at Terry Dean’s. You might have begun a dance journey that has taken you out of town, out of state, out of the country… but it began at Terry’s. Dancers are passionate people, so some of that journey may have been exhilarating or crazy-making. But you came alive.
At our dance this past weekend, I was told that Terry Dean had retired. I felt sadness, and I wanted to say thank you. Thank you, Terry, for giving me, aside from my family, the greatest joy in my life every day. Thank you for inspiring me to move to music in ways I never thought I could, to float, to swing, to play. A powerful, talented and passionate force on the dance floor for so many years, you have drawn many, many of us into this crazy addiction. And I, for one, feel tremendous gratitude. How different my life would have been without your gift. Thank you. May your retirement be all that you wish it to be, and know that you have left a tremendous legacy. Dancers, join me in sharing your own story with Terry? Terry Dean’s Bluelight Ballroom can be reached at BlueLightBallroom@gmail.com where it is in Adam, Tara, Taylor and Justin’s capable hands.
-Natasha Copeland, Community Liaison, USA Dance Charlottesville