A sense of joy has informed Two Left Feet® Dance Studio (TLF) from its inception. “The name came about because it was funny,” said founder and executive director Christina Vidovich.
The goal for her “little dream studio,” Vidovich said, was to be different from “all the other dance studios (that) take themselves very seriously, with strict curriculum and having to pass tests to dance.” Instead, she sought to create a non-intimidating place where students would “know that it is OK not to know what you are doing because they have come to learn.” The studio’s motto, “Laugh with Us, Dance with Us,” emphasizes that spirit.
“I enjoy dancing and sharing that joy with others,” said Vidovich who has been a professional ballroom dancer and instructor since 1996. “The most fun is being able to teach people who know nothing about ballroom dancing and help them change, grow and develop into dancers.” At TLF, competition among students or even with themselves is discouraged. Instead, Vidovich said, “My teaching style and the dance studio create an atmosphere where you can come to relax, have a great time and always feel welcome. Fun is our focus—and you may learn to dance too.”
Vidovich is no prima donna. “I’m much more about the studio as a whole versus the studio being about me,” she said, noting that her instructors are “the face of the studio that everyone sees smiling and encouraging them each week.” Her staff members, “like any great teachers,” she said, work beyond their studio hours, “thinking about and planning classes.” These days, Vidovich does more of the “behind-the-scenes work,” reaping the rewards of her role as “(Wizard of) Oz … watching everyone grow in courage, heart and education of dance, social skills and socializing.”
Vidovich grew up in Cleveland, but spent summers with family in D.C., where she “wanted to move someday because … it just was more culturally diverse.” She teaches 15 styles of American social ballroom dance and has studied and choreographed at least an equal number more. Polka is the dance style she loves most. She explained that her “father’s family is from Croatia, and this is one of those dances you literally dance with someone around the room before you can walk. It is my favorite until this day because it’s just good silly fun!” Both her parents, she said, “were recreational musicians playing piano and guitar, and they danced together at all family events and parties.” Identifying as “half-Filipina,” Vidovich said she began formal dancing in the Philippines, where “ballroom dancing is very much a part of the social scene and culture.”
Still, Vidovich did not pursue a career in dance. Instead, she said, “it was a side hobby as I have been a model, actor, writer and artist. I was always busy creating businesses and this one just happened to fall into place at the right time with all my endeavors.” Those endeavors include her company My Cherry Girl, for which she has designed “comfy, relaxed” American-made girls’ fashion and written “girl power” children’s books since 2006, and her production company Everyday Jane Says, for which she has written, directed and produced videos “with a comedic twist” since 2010.
TLF, said Vidovich, “took its first steps in 2001,” initially teaching adult ballroom and Latin dance in the Rachel Carson Elementary School gym, the Gaithersburg Senior Center and other metropolitan area venues. Opening a studio in a “just the right size” space in Kentlands Market Square in June 2003, she said, was “an adventurous step” at an auspicious moment. “The timing couldn’t have been better with excitement drawn up with a new prime time television show, ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and the DVD release of “Shall We Dance.’”
“Many laughs and many dances later,” in 2015, Vidovich said, the City of Gaithersburg’s Arts on the Green invited TLF to collaborate on the Winter Waltz Ball at the Kentlands Mansion. “This first-time event proved to be magical,” she recalled. “The attendees, dancers and spectators alike enjoyed participating in the waltz dance lesson taught by TLF instructors. The variety of dance music played included spicy salsas, sassy swings and tantalizing tangos.” The event sold out.
Meanwhile, back at the TLF studio, Vidovich added, children attended a ‘Frozen’-themed party, where they “danced, created art and crafts projects, watched a puppet show and sang their favorite theme song, ‘Let it Go.’”
This year, TLF and the city have scheduled a return engagement. “Within hours of the announcement (of the 2017 event),” Vidovich said, “the first six reservations came” for the adult event and “the first three” for the children’s party. While Vidovich will be out of town when the dance takes place, five “wonderful” TLF instructors, including deejay/dance assistant Aaron Archer, and lead ballroom and Latin dance instructor Jocelyn Rawat, will run the Winter Waltz Ball while other instructors run the Kids Night Out.
For the immediate future, on behalf of her dance studio, Vidovich “looks forward to more laughing and more dancing and another successful evening for kids and adults of all ages.” And her advice to everyone: “Keep dancing and keep smiling. It’s contagious!”
The Winter Waltz Ball will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, at the Kentlands Mansion, 320 Kent Square Road. Admission, $30, includes non-alcoholic refreshments; a cash bar will be available. Cocktail attire is suggested. Call 301-258-6425 for reservations. From 6:30 to 10 p.m., the Kids Night Out party for children, ages 4 and older, will take place at Two Left Feet® Dance Studio, 217 Market St. West. The fee is $35 per child, $20 per sibling. Call 240-632-2345 for reservations.