It's time for the annual six-week International Dance Festival hosted by Arthur Murray Franchise studios each summer. Each participating Arthur Murray Franchise has a full schedule of activities for students designed to create a competitive environment and boost student participation in group classes, private lessons, ballroom dancing, and Latin Dancing.

There's a unique theme each week to create interest and promote participation and excitement for both instructors and students. The first week of the festival is designated as Fitness Week. In Boca, where we met franchise owner Bethany Mollo, the classes offered include: Isolations, Cuban Motion, Cardio Dancing, Rise and Fall, and Jive Kicks.

Tropical week sizzles

Week Two of this International Festival places the focus on tropical climates, as Caribbean and South American dances such as Rumba, Merengue, Argentine Tango, Salsa, Bachata, Mambo, and the Brazilian dance known as Zouk will be the focus.

Once students work on their skills and exercise movements it will be time for them to use their skills in social settings around the local area. This theme is called, "Nights Out on the Town." Some of the dances students will enjoy in these social settings include Cha Cha, Salsa, Merengue, Rumba, Nightclub 2 step, and even dips and spins. Dancing at local venues is more than just fun, it builds confidence in these social dance settings.

In the week designated as "Around the World Adventure," Arthur Murray Dance Studio instructors will teach the students about the dances they should expect to experience on their travels. Bethany shared, "We'll be talking about the dances you'd be doing on a cruise ship to the Caribbean or on a vacation to South America or Europe."

Romantic moves

The later weeks of the International Dance Festival include "Romance Through Dance and Hollywood." Romance through Dance includes dances you'd want to dance with someone you love or you'd like to be dancing close with.

"We're excited about the Hollywood Week because we know that some of our students will dress up like their favorite stars and perform."

Bethany Mollo said that she looks forward to the International Dance Festival each year because the dance studios compete with each other and the students compete with other students and themselves to earn rewards for participation.

Bethany said, "It's a great opportunity for students to learn how to use their dance skills in all sorts of scenarios including nights out in nightclubs; in-studio performances; exercises for flexibility, cardio, and strengthening; Dance Culture for social dancing worldwide; contests within the studio and on social media."

The trend is growing for participation in ballroom dance competitions due to the continuing popularity of television dance shows such as "Dancing With the Stars." Bethany said, "I am always amazed at the energy and enthusiasm of the students and how it increases with each competition they enter. "

Dance competitions can be expensive for those who are paying their own way, since there's always an entrance fee, travel expenses such as airline tickets, hotel rooms and food; and that's before you pay for your dance attire and accessories.

There's something magical about entering dance competitions for the students, as they move from getting started and feeling nervous to being much more confident and skilled as they continue to compete.