Mark a class act as dance joy spreads
FOR former Dancing with the Stars judge Mark Wilson, just stepping through the door to dance gains seniors top marks.
The five-time Australian dance champion teaches all ages from under 8s to over 80s, and says each has its own joy.
But he recognises that for many who come to dancing in "the second half of life", having lost a partner, gone through divorce or become empty-nesters, it can be a real challenge to enter this new social world.
"It's not about technique as it is for the youngsters, it's about social contact and growing in confidence, fitness and mental engagement," he said.
"And we laugh a lot."
A big believer in the healing qualities of dance, Mark runs a free social dance each Monday at Twin Towns from 6.30-11pm, attracting up to 150 people to sing and dance the night away to classic tunes.
"When you're dancing, all the problems in the world go away for a couple of hours and it gives you that cathartic energy to face the next day, the next challenge," he said.
"It's like a wonderful massage or meditation … we dance our troubles off."
However, Mark admits he doesn't get it all his own way, with one of the regulars in her 90s quickly letting him know with a thumbs down if she is not impressed by his song choice.
"I love it, the joy is palpable … Everyone has accepted who they are and it's not about egos, it's about engagement," Mark said.
On Tuesdays, the social dancing moves to Surfers Paradise Golf Club and is a bit more contemporary, but still offers a range of different styles from sequence dancing to Latin, ballroom and new vogue.
It starts with a beginners' class from 6.30-7.30pm, or at the same time a more advanced class lets you brush up on steps or learn more complex moves.
From the first dance, the progressive jive, he said it didn't take long before even those who have never previously danced realise their movements are becoming more coordinated, and the rhythm starts to flow naturally.
Then it's time to really hit the floor with the social dance session from 7.30-9.30pm.
Each class is $15, as is the social, or you can enjoy one class and the social dance for $20. You don't have to have a partner, because Mark and his team will either dance with you or help you find someone to dance with.
"It's such a beautiful atmosphere, and no one is forgotten," he said.
A new Thursday class has just started as well for those wanting to learn ballroom and Latin dance.
While it is a long way from his 10 years on television alongside Paul Mercurio, Todd McKenney and Helen Richey, brushing shoulders with the stars, Mark has no regrets.
"I really loved doing the TV; we had so much fun … but my life is not about that, it's about us all being someone and how we treat each other and connect," he said.
"I'm so lucky to be dancing with people every day and I see the girls' and boys' eyes light up and people's souls awakening in front of my eyes …"
What Dancing with the Stars had really done, he said, was provide "a really good brand", for dancing, as people see the fun, sexiness and fitness involved.
"I get to share that with others every day and it's the best feeling."
To find out more about the Mark Wilson Dance Centre, including other classes, go to www.markwilsondance.com or phone 0425 833 525.