Some of us find our calling very early in life. Such was the case with Melanie Dale, owner of A Step to Gold dance studio and ballroom. She knew that she would lead a life of dance by the time she was 13-years-old.
Melanie grew up in Wendell, North Carolina where she spent many days in the dance studio studying all forms of dance. She graduated from Vaiden Whitley High School and went on to study ballet and business in college. She danced with the Savannah Ballet Theatre for two years, and then moved to a position as the Director of Leisure Services in Dance with the City of Savannah. It was there that Melanie learned more about the business opportunity in dance. She met the owners of the local Fred Astaire Dance Studio who recognized her passion for dance and her ballroom dance potential. They hired her to teach ballroom dance in their studio.
Melanie moved to Florida for more advanced ballroom dance training and eventually opened a studio in St. Petersburg. In nine years she developed a business that included exhibition dancing, private lessons and competition judging.
In 1992, a divorced Melanie moved back to North Carolina with her five-year-old, Sunny, so that she could grow up in a small town surrounded by family and friends. She opened her first dance studio in Wendell, teaching private dance lessons during the day and group lessons sponsored by local community schools and private clubs like the Capital City Club in the evenings.
The Wendell studio grew steadily for eight years, developing a loyal group of dance enthusiasts. Her students even named the studio for her. They chose A Step to Gold to symbolize the impact dance education was having in their social lives, their confidence and their health.
Most of her students were from the Research Triangle area. So, after 9-11 Melanie decided to make a major change in her life, as many people did at that time. She moved her business to Raleigh. It was a big step into a big market with higher prices and more competition. However, her loyal students followed her to Raleigh, giving her a jump-start on the new business. 2013 marked Melanie’s 30th year as a professional ballroom dancer, certified ballroom dance teacher and studio owner. Sunny is all grown up now and is following in her mother’s dance slippers as a competitive ballroom dancer and teacher. With her mother’s support, Sunny is also a singer and actor with a degree in Music Theatre from Elon University.
“Our 5000 square foot facility is a haven for many ballroom dancers seeking to enjoy the mental and physical benefits of dancing, including those getting ready for a special occasion such as a wedding. We teach American Social and Competitive styles along with International Latin and Standard. I have 30 years of experience training adults and juniors for social and competitive dance and I am a nationally certified adjudicator and the master instructor for A Step to Gold Ballroom Teachers College. I train my staff at least twice a week and encourage team effort to help each student reach their goals. Come try a “Quick Start” program, or come in for a Wedding Consultation. What have you got to lose? We can help you with all of your dancing needs, even dance shoes”.
“On Saturday nights, our facility is available for private parties. We have an event coordinator onsite to help you organize your event. Call today to get an appointment to see our beautiful ballroom”.
Member of Imperial Society Teachers of Dancing and the North American Dance Teachers Association, Melanie Dale is the sole proprietor of A Step to Gold International Ballroom which began as a dream to fulfill the needs of many devoted students who wanted a large public place to do ballroom dancing on a weekly basis in Raleigh, NC. Twelve years ago there was no such place in Raleigh. Together they helped Melanie build this dream, which to some people, is their second home and great source of happiness. Melanie has been blessed with this opportunity to make a living at what she enjoys—teaching students and mentoring her devoted staff, after having studied both International and American styles of ballroom dancing with some of the greatest champions in the world under the direction of her previous husband Larry Silvers. Larry was one of the forerunners of International Style dancing in America and 11 times US ten-dance champion. Melanie is continuing to work towards what is considered to be a PhD in ballroom dance.
Melanie credits her superb physical condition and health to the aerobic, low impact exercise she gets from teaching her classes. Popular television shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars has focused public attention on dance as a form of entertainment and as a sport. With more of her peer boomers looking for new challenges and new ways of staying active, social and fit, many are turning to ballroom and couples dancing.
At a time when many baby boomers are retiring from their first career and looking for their next avocation, Melanie is recommitting to a life of dance. Most of her clients are professionals between 45 and 65 years old with very busy lives and demanding careers. “I am able to create a fun and supportive community for my students,” says Melanie. “I learn about their lives and their dreams and I get to watch them grow. My clients become like my family. And who doesn’t love being with family?”
Melanie never plans to retire from dancing, though she knows that she may have to eventually reduce the number of classes she teaches. “It can look like such a small thing, teaching people to put one foot in front of the other and pivot in time to the music. But I know what I do changes lives by giving people back their health, their joy and their sense of adventure.”