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Matt Karr - Social Dance Lessons
Scottsdale/Phoenix Dance Studios - 602.694.4088

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Local dance instructor aims high for West Valley dancers by Kara Horowitz, special to the View - Nov. 18, 2008, The West Valley View

Bonnie Matheson of Goodyear is a paralegal in the Verrado community in Buckeye. But on some weeknights, she is Bonnie the ballroom dancer, a cha-cha and rumba dancer who will be performing in the upcoming Matt Karr dance show.

Twelve routines will be performed by Matt Karr and his students from his Avondale-based dance studio on Nov. 28 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 2532 W. Peoria Ave. in Phoenix.

Matheson has been dancing for two years and with Karr for almost a year. Matheson originally danced with Fred Astaire Arizona, a dance studio in Goodyear.

"I found the greatest mix and best flexibility with Matt," Matheson said. "I dance at my own pace and do a few shows."

Matheson began dancing later in life as a way to exercise. But she has since seen that dancing helps her relieve stress and is therapeutic.

"When I walk through this door, I become a different person," Matheson said. "I would give up lots of other things, but I would never give up my dancing."

Karr began teaching ballroom in Arizona in 1973. He now bases his instruction in the West Valley and hopes to expand dance to more of its residents.

"One of my goals for the West Valley is to have social dances every weekend," Karr said. "Dancing helps with exercise and meeting people. Plus it's fun, it's entertainment and it's inexpensive."

To reach this goal, Matt and two other instructors put on a social dance night from 7 to 10 p.m. every Friday at Litchfield Elementary School on Wigwam Boulevard, just east of Litchfield Road. The night consists of two dance lessons, ranging from tango and country western to swing and cha-cha.

Mary Kanitz, a student of Karr's for four years, is an advocate of the transformative power of dance.

"A community that dances has fun," Kanitz said. "You meet really fun people, and every time I learn something new. Plus, Matt can teach anybody!"

"My favorite part of teaching is to see how happy students are when they leave," Karr said. "It goes much deeper than just learning how to dance."

Karr wasn't always a dancer. In fact, his college dance instructor told him he didn't have a chance. A few semesters later, that same teacher offered Karr a position at the Milwaukee Ballet Co.

After a one-and-a-half-year stint in the ballet, Karr moved to Phoenix and began teaching ballroom.

"Dancing builds confidence, makes people feels good, gives them worth," Karr said. "Those things are more important to me than whether somebody gets the single twinkle in one of the steps."

Karr gives private and group lessons every day of the week. For information on the upcoming show and dance lessons, call Karr at 602-694-4088 or visit the Web site www.socialdancelessons.com.

Kara Horowitz can be reached by email at khorowitz@westvalleyview.com.



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