Odd Jobs: Passion motivates ballroom dance instructor

By: Don Chaddock, Managing Editor
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Adriana Clark
Occupation: Ballroom Dance Instructor
Phone: (916) 849-6257

The slide of a leg, turn of a heel and poise of a couple intrigue TV audiences with shows like “Dancing with the Stars,” but for a 50-year-old mother of three, it’s how she earns her living.

Meet Adrianna Clark, a dance instructor who calls Folsom home. She specializes in three styles of dance: ballroom, salsa and swing. She’s been married for 28 years.

She got her start 15 years ago after watching a TV talk show.

“I was watching ‘Oprah’ and it was talking about people following their dreams and I had wanted to be doing something with dance,” she said. “I had my degree in business and had been working in marketing. I had my family and wanted to get back into working and after watching ‘Oprah,’ I called around to dance studios and called The Ballroom in Sacramento.”

She interviewed as a dance instructor, making it past the auditions and was put through a rigorous training program.

“I learned the six American ballroom dances. I had to learn the leaders and followers part. The leader is so much harder. So I did my training and started teaching for them. It was great and I got all my training for free,” she said.

When she moved to El Dorado Hills, the commute to Sacramento was “a little too far for the amount of hours I was getting,” she said.

Clark found another place to take a twirl and hone her skills.

“So I started at Showcase Ballroom. They were really busy there and I got a chance to grow in my teaching there. I taught private lessons, group lessons and also weddings. We had a lot of people who wanted choreographed routines for their weddings,” she said. “We would have couples and performance nights, where they would perform what they learned.”

Her next step was to branch out on her own.

“Later I started my own business, but I didn’t want to open my own dance studio because the overhead is really expensive. There is a lot amount of money and time that goes into renting studio space,” she said. “So I met (a couple) who own a studio and I rented space at their studio to start a ballroom dance program there. I’ve been there for almost five years.”

How does she get her students?

“I started out the business and it’s basically word of mouth. People call the studio and (my program) is set up on their website. The website is the first to come up in Google searches for ballroom dancing in El Dorado County,” Clark said. “Center Stage Dance Academy is the studio I operate out of. It’s owned by Georgina Coleman and she’s absolutely wonderful for allowing me to come in and start this program.”

Clark said she has a passion for her work.

“I personally love to dance because I think it’s fun. It’s really enjoyable. For me, the added benefits of dancing, are it’s great exercise,” she said. “It’s not just aerobic. It tones the whole body, especially the core. You can eat more, because you are burning so many calories. It also does a lot for your brain. Studies have shown it’s an activity for warding off dementia because you’re learning dance patterns. You you’re learning the patterns and putting the patterns to music, which is a whole other level.”

She isn’t just in it for the health benefits.

“Even without all that, I would still be passionate about it,” Clark said. “So many of the kids have never done it before and they come in so nervous and scared. Anyone can learn to dance. I hear people say they have no rhythm and have two left feet, but anyone can learn. It’s so rewarding to me to show people they can do it.”

She is living proof.

“I didn’t have any formal dance training, except for a little in college, before I was trained,” she said.

Clark offers group and private lessons through Center Stage Dance Academy in El Dorado Hills.