By Brigid Morrissey
|Christy Byers and Josh Surowki do a showcase routine. Photos by Adam Jones|
Christy Byers traveled all over the world to discover the art of dance. In Brazil, she explored Samba dancing. In Greece, she participated in a ballroom dance competition. But it wasn’t until she visited Argentina for the first time that she knew she’d found the perfect dance. The tango, believed to have originated in the 1880s in Argentina and Uruguay, is a social dance. “It’s a wordless conversation between two people,” Christy says. “It’s about connection and feeling the way your partner reacts to the music.” The added benefit of this social dance, according to studies, is that it lowers the risk of developing dementia and helps those with Parkinson’s disease.
Christy has been back to Argentina 38 times since her initial visit. She and Andy Blair, her dance partner and owner of Blair’s Ballroom, realized after visiting the tango mecca that they had been teaching a systematic or structured dance. Now, their mission is to bring authenticity back to the tango community in Louisville. Class is offered every Wednesday night from 8-11pm at the studio at 9321 New La Grange Road.
|Christy performs the Argentine tango ending in a Sentada with Ben Andrews.|
But Christy, 54, hasn’t always been a dance instructor. She didn’t even start dancing until she was 36. “I had no idea I could dance,” she says. “I didn’t like it when I was younger. I was the one who cried.”
Before she discovered her passion, Christy was running a doctor’s office and an adult crisis center. One night, she was at a local club with some friends when she noticed a pair of black-and-white shoes she’d never forget. Their occupant, a dancing Andy Blair, convinced her to start taking classes. “I became a dance junkie,” she says. “I enjoy the way it makes me feel. It’s the best drug there is. It’s rewarding. I’m always dancing.”
Christy transitioned from student to teacher after two years of dancing with partnerless men and continuing classes with other studios. Andy allowed her to start teaching tango to couples, and her effectiveness has made waves in the tango community. For the past 11 years, she has earned the top teacher award at the U.S. Pro/Am Dance Championships. She organized the first annual Louisville Tango Festival, which was held this past Memorial Day weekend, in an effort to make tango more accessible to the community.
|Christy and Quentin Gleitz|
For Christy, tango boils down to nothing but desire. “Dancing is a life skill,” she says. “Our youth need to learn how to dance again. The benefits to dancing have been proven in the health journals. It builds confidence. It’s exercise, and you don’t need a gym. And it’s fun!”
Are you feeling daring? Move out of your comfort zone and try this adrenaline-boosting exercise.