"Dancing With The Stars" still inspiring locals to try ballroom - ABC21: Your Weather Authority

"Dancing With The Stars" still inspiring locals to try ballroom

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA 21) -

In less than 24 hours, the curtain will rise for ABC's "Dancing With The Stars Live! Light Up the Night" tour here in Fort Wayne.

Dancers take the stage Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Embassy Theatre, and tickets are expected to sell out.

With the hot ticket in town, we checked in with local ballroom dancers for insight on how the network show has influenced dancing in the Summit City.

In America's not so distant past, learning to dance - really dance - was a part of growing up - like learning to drive. But over time, we lost that somehow, and the art of ballroom dancing in the U.S. nearly died.

Until 13 years ago, when viewers first heard the phrase, "Live from Hollywood, this is Dancing with the Stars" ring out from their television screen.

"It was huge," said Kelly Bartlett, co-owner of the Fort Wayne Ballroom Company. "It became an overnight sensation."

Bartlett and her husband Christopher Spalding opened the studio off Lima and Dupont nearly five years ago. They say the show sparked a reawakening in ballroom dance.

"It's been huge for the ballroom dance industry," said Spalding. "Mainly because it's brought ballroom dance into everyone's living room. It's shown women and men that anyone can dance."

And they  mean ANYONE. My husband and I took classes at their studio for our first dance at our wedding. Neither one of us had ever taken a ballroom class before, but after several classes, we not only surpassed the 7th grade sway - we pulled off a fancy dip!

Bartlett and Spalding say DWTS has had an especially noticeable impact with men.

"They have football players out there dancing," says Spalding. "So it teaches men that it's not feminine to dance or to want to learn how to dance."

Twenty-six seasons later, Bartlett says the show still inspires new folks to get off the couch, and slip on some dancing shoes.

"It's been great for business," says Spalding. "It gets people excited about learning to dance."

That's especially true for Sheree Blasius - a DWTS superfan.

"I don't like the show," says Blasius. "I love the show."

After her kids moved out of the house, she decided to finally give dancing a go herself. Now she can't get enough! She competes and even teaches.

"I wake up in the morning," says Blasius. "What do I think about? Ballroom."

And now her husband is hooked too. 

"Initially I said I'm doing this for you," said her husband Doug. "Now I have to admit I'm doing this for myself and my wife."

Together, they never miss an episode of DWTS.

"I enjoy hearing the feedback from the judges," says Doug. "Particularly Len who is very old school."
Feedback the couple gets to put into practice at the studio - something they might have never tried, before DWTS.

"We compete together," says Sheree. "We never thought we'd ever do anything like that before."

And Doug assures reluctant husbands everywhere, learning ballroom has it's perks off the dance floor too.

"Your wife will love you and bring you breakfast in bed because you're doing this," says Doug. "And you will become addicted to it, I guarantee it."

If you're interested in attending the DWTS show, you can buy tickets here or at the Embassy Theatre ticket office: https://www.ticketmaster.com/Dancing-with-the-Stars-tickets/artist/1086116

And if you want to learn more about dancing yourself, call the Fort Wayne Ballroom Company at (260) 437-6825 for more information.

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