There is life after work,” says Millie Dhirmalani, and that life is at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in the Princeton Shopping Center. The studio, of which Dhirmalani is a co-owner, has been offering private and group lessons in Latin and Ballroom dance since it opened in October, 2009.

The studio prides itself on teaching dance to people of all ages and abilities. “I don’t want students to feel intimidated that they’re beginners,” Dhirmalani says. Fred Astaire offers a 30-minute introductory class that gives prospective students a general picture of what the studio and what dancing are all about. Dhirmalani and studio manager TJ Matthews liken the intro class to a tasting, where new dancers can sample a little bit of everything.

New students are then encouraged to have lessons as often as possible to develop the muscle memory that is crucial to successful dancing. Private lessons are available from 1:30 to 9 p.m. daily, and group classes meet three to four evenings each week. The studio provides dancing shoes available for purchase, and no partner is required because most of the dancing occurs one-on-one with an instructor.

During lessons Fred Astaire’s certified instructors guide students through the cha cha, the waltz, and everything in between. The instructors are “fabulous,” Dhirmalani says, and themselves are award-winning competitive dancers who practice continuously to become better dancers and teachers. The studio also boasts a full-size dance floor and state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, which create a professional and exciting setting for students.

The studio strives to create a fun atmosphere for its students, but as Dhirmalani explains, dancing also comes with many benefits. In addition to toning muscles all over your body, it is great cardio exercise that can help you lose weight. The studio offers cardio group classes.

Dance also serves as a confidence booster and stress reliever and has been proven to improve memory. “Dance has become essentially one of the magic remedies for redirecting one’s focus. If you’re concerned about work, your family, or your massive to-do list, for a short time, while you are dancing, your worries seem to disappear,” Dhirmalani says.

And, of course, there is a social aspect to dancing, which can be an excellent way to meet new people. At their monthly “First Friday” practice sessions, students are encouraged to rotate around and form new friendships. The studio teaches youths and single people in addition to couples. But don’t let that fool you: dancing can also help repair relationships, and special packages are available for couples looking to impress on the dance floor at their wedding, and couples are taught both separately and together to encourage leading and following.

What are you waiting for? Anyone can become a dancer at Fred Astaire Dance Studio, so call today to schedule your introductory lesson. Gift certificates are available and make a great gift idea for any occasion. The transformation from when students walk in the door to when they finish their lesson is undeniable: “Students leave here feeling better about their dance ability. They’re happier people. They leave their troubles behind,” Dhirmalani says.

Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Princeton. 301 North Harrison Street, Princeton. 609-921-8881. Visit www.fredastaireprinceton.com for the studio’s calendar and pictures of past events. millie@fredastaireprinceton.com.

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