It is often said that one must spend 10,000 hours on a certain activity to become an expert. Esther Kando Odescalchi has certainly reached this threshold in dancing, beginning to dance at age 12 in her native Hungary, and continuing to learn and teach ballroom dance in the U.S. for over 40 years. She earned a Dance Masters of America certification and performed professionally in musicals and on television. Hudson Valley residents have the opportunity to learn from Kando Odescalchi and her dance partner, Mark Huard, at Dutchess BOCES upcoming ballroom dance classes through the Adult Learning Institute (ALI). 
Esther and Mark will be teaching three classes on Mondays beginning in April: Intermediate Ballroom/Latin at 6 p.m., Basic Ballroom/Latin at 7 p.m. and Disco Hustle Special at 8 p.m.  

“We teach ballroom, Latin and swing, and that’s why we refer to it as social dancing,” shared Kando Odescalchi. “There's a group of dances you learn” Huard added. “Typically with a beginner class, we'll start with the waltz and foxtrot. And then there's the merengue, which is a Latin dance,” he said. For the more advanced classes, the dances taught are often based on student interest. 

Those who sign up do not necessarily need to have a dance partner; both singles and couples are welcome to sign up. In addition to the two instructors, there are people who assist, called dancing angels, who act as partners for those who need a partner. 

Huard was a dancing angel for a few courses after picking up ballroom skills quickly from none other than Kando Odescalchi herself. “Over the years I had this curiosity about ballroom dancing. One time I finally said I was going to take a class and I signed up for a class at BOCES, and it was Esther's class,” he shared. “It just clicked with me. So I started out as her student and now I teach with her,” he said. They have been teaching together for over 10 years. 

There are many benefits to learning ballroom dance, including physical and mental health benefits. “Dancing is mathematics, music, kinesthetics and aesthetics done in a beautiful atmosphere and the music is always nice,” Kando Odescalchi shared. “It's a social activity and if you happen to like your partner, it's also romantic. There is no other activity that includes all these features and benefits.”  

In addition to supporting health, the classes form a real community. Many students come back year after year to continue learning and the instructors often organize dinner dances “where they can use their skills and socialize. We’ve become very good friends,” Kando Odescalchi shared.  

“Our goal is to get you dancing on the floor,” Huard shared, whether it be for a dinner dance, a wedding, or other event. “We do it because we love to dance. I enjoy when I see who's really progressing and getting the hang of it, and it's nice to know that I'm getting them along that road, and they’re not spending a lot of money to learn it.” 

In addition to these dance classes, ALI offers other enrichment opportunities including mastering the art of cooking, homeowner’s classes, defensive driving and more. For more information, visit https://dcboces.org/adults