Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Meet Mokena Dancer Anastasia Tuskey!

My journey to the ballroom.
I like to dance. I like to feel graceful. I like to feel beautiful. Dance does that for me.
                When I walked into the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Mokena in November of 2013, I had no idea how ballroom dancing would change my life.
                Last fall, I was invited to participate as a local “star” in Guardian Angel Home’s annual Dancing with the Local Stars fundraiser. I had attended the event in prior years and secretly envisioned myself as one of the dancers. When I was asked to participate, I agreed because as I mentioned I like to dance and I am a big supporter of Guardian Angel Home and its mission.
                As soon as I learned who my professional partner would be, I called the Mokena studio to book my consultation appointment with Ephraim. (I must confess I asked to be partnered with Ephraim because I saw him dance in the previous events.) When I arrived at the studio I was welcomed and immediately put at ease. I was very nervous and afraid of making a fool of myself but as soon as I began dancing with Ephraim, I felt this was something I could do. We began our rehearsals and created an awesome dance for the competition.
                During my lessons, I became intrigued by the world of competitive ballroom dancing. I attended the Freddy Ball in March of 2014 and remember vividly Kimi Mabry asking me if I would ever think of competing. I literally (and sad to say, rudely) laughed out loud – never in a million years would I think of myself as a competitive ballroom dancer. But the seed was planted. At my next lesson, I inquired about more lessons and learning other dances.
                I was eager to learn all the graceful and sexy moves the other students were dancing. Ephraim was very patient and careful to slowly add new steps all while helping me perfect my dance for the April fundraiser.  During this process I began to notice a change in my body – I became leaner and taller and dropped 20 pounds!
                While I did not win the trophy at the fundraiser, I did win a great benefit to my life. I look and feel better than I have in 20 years. In less than one year, I have danced in two local competitions and the annual showcase. Each week, I anxiously look forward to my lessons. I have two wonderful teachers, Ephraim and Chris, who have both seen my potential and taken me out of my comfort zone. I am so excited to learn new steps and push myself further than I ever thought I could.
                I have always loved dancing – since the age of six when I began ballet lessons. I danced all through high school and also joined the pom pom squad. I was very active until a serious car accident in 1982 almost ended my life and my dance career. After a month in the hospital and a long, painful rehabilitation process, I was able to return to the dance studio but at a much reduced capacity. I became very frustrated with my limited ability and decided to leave the dance studio permanently.
                Joining the Fred Astaire family brought me back to the dance studio and rekindled my love of dance. I am so thankful to find an outlet to express this love and share it with others. My confidence has soared. I feel much happier and successful in my job and my personal relationships. And I have maintained a 70-pound weight loss.
                Dance has become a big part of my life. I have invited many of my friends to the studio, anxious to share my passion with them. A few of signed up for lessons but all of them have enjoyed themselves.  Dance has improved my health. I no longer face the threat of high blood pressure or diabetes which are part of my family history. I have developed nice friendships through dance and I look forward to seeing students from other studios at various events throughout the year.
                I feel truly blessed to be alive and able to dance.  I am so happy I took that “leap” into the studio and this amazing chapter in my life. My only regret??  I did not enter the ballroom sooner!! 

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