WV DANCE, INC.

DJ Services, Ballroom and Latin Dance Lessons and Dances

 


Dance baby, dance
(Reprinted from the Beckley Register-Herald)
March 4, 2012
Beckley, West Virginia
By Lisa Shrewsberry, Lifestyles Editor

Nobody’ll put Baby in a corner March 9-11, when former babies
—  even those with two left feet — convene, grabbing their partners
and holding their frames, to twirl and sway through The Greenbrier
resort’s Ballroom and Latin Dance Weekend.

 

Craig Giffin, president of WV Dance, inc., explains this, his first
weekend dedicated to dance at The Greenbrier, is a time to feel like

a star, under the lights that mimic stars, but lacking the drama of

"Dancing With the Stars" -- the fake tans, the flimsy costumes.

 

"Social ballroom dancing, what we do, is relaxed.  There's no

pressure.  You don't have to be dressed up in a weird way."

Participants need not be D-list celebrities to qualify for Giffin's

parquet floor.  "(On television) it seems like something so

inaccessible to the general population."

 

Giffin, however, is proof-positive ballroom dance is for everyone.

 

The former environmental attorney and current instructor/

administrator for the paralegal program at Kanawha Valley

Community and Technical College was a dance late-bloomer,

saving the rug-cutting until his first years of law school in

Morgantown.  "I went straight from being a student to being

a teacher.  I didn't have the desire to compete.  I found my

fun in actually doing it." 

 

Says Giffin, "There are a lot of ballroom dance competitions

held throughout the United States.  Our weekends are unique

in that respect -- they're for people like me who don't

necessarily want to compete."  This is his company's second

year hosting weekeds at Mountain State resorts.

 

The Greenbrier weekend will cater to both true beginners

and those who've had experience, while Giffin is offering

different dance floors, one for novices and one for old hats

at tripping the light fantastic, for a forthcoming dance

getaway slated for Stonewall Resort, Roanoke,

March 30-31.

 

"We get people of all ages.  I'd say most folks are middle-

aged to older, in their 30s, but mostly in their 40s-60s. 

Sometimes older."

 

His best advice for preparation for a weekend of hustle

and samba?  "I suggest wearing shoes with leather or suede

soles instead of rubber, which can be tricky to dance in."

 

Giffin puts his own dancing shoes to the test on the high seas

during summer as part of the Dancers at Sea program,

where he instructs subsets of general cruise populations

interested in dance on various styles during their

oceanliner vacations.  Cruising is where he discovered

another idea he decided to incorporate, starting

with the Stonewall weekend.  "We'll have gentleman

dance hosts to come dance with women who want to learn,

but who have to come by themselves.  That way, they get

to have someone skilled to dance with."  Dance instruction

has taken Giffin most recently to the Baltic Sea, where he

was privileged to explore destinations such as Sweden,

Denmark, Russia, and Finland.

 

WV Dance offers instruction throughout central and

southern West Virginia, including Monday evening lessons

September-May at the University of Charleston.

 

For more information on upcoming dance weekends,

visit www.wvdance.net  For details on the dance

weekend at The Greenbrier Resort, see story on page

5E.

 

 

DANCING DOCTORS SHARE GIFT

(Reprinted from the Putnam Standard)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hurricane, West Virginia
Ashely Reynolds

Contributing Writer

Doctors Mickey and Betsy Neal recently moved into their

new home in Putnam County.

Instead of taking their contractors advice to install a full

basement under the house, the couple, who has been

dancing for roughly 10 years, decided to put a ballroom under

 their home.

"The way the property laid, we would have to dig a lot. When

we visualized that, we both immediately said, ballroom,"

Betsy Neal said.

The ballroom, with custom floors, bright walls, bench seating,

and surround sound, is ready for dancing, but still a work in

progress for the Neals.

Around the same time the Neal's started to ballroom dance,

Craig Giffin read an advertisement in the newspaper about

ballroom dancing lessons being offered in Huntington.

"I just thought, you know, I've never done anything like this

before. It would be fun to go, just try it," Giffin said.

After taking his first set of lessons, finishing law school,

enhancing his dance skills, dancing on cruise ships and

around the Charleston and Huntington areas, he decided

teaching is something he would also be good at.

Now, Giffin teaches private intermediate lessons with his

 partner, Julia McCormick, in the Neal's ballroom, and

beginner lessons at the University of Charleston, which are

 open to the public.

"It's a great activity to do as a couple," Betsy Neal, sitting

in her ballroom during a break from Fox Trot lessons, said.

"Mickey and I have worked together our whole life. It's a great

social outlet to have something like this to do."

As Giffin and McCormick instruct four dance couples on

 how to perfect their twinkle steps, grapevines, and open

 box steps, the men and women concentrate on keeping

 their arms uplifted and their feet light.

Ingrid Al-Hajj, one of Giffin's students at the Neal's home,

 who has been dancing steadily now for almost three

years, said she and her husband started multiple times

 to ballroom dance.

"We would end up getting frustrated and quit," she said.

Al-Hajj likes the private atmosphere provided at the

Neal's home, and her husband videotapes some of Giffin's

 instruction so they can practice at home.

"This is my first time at the Neal's," Jim Wallace, who

has been dancing for more than a decade, said.

Wallace, who dances around Charleston at various

ballroom dance clubs and studios, says he doesn't feel

 competitive with other couples when he dances.

"I feel competitive with myself because I always want

 to do better," he said.

He and his dance partner, who he has only known since

 October, float over the floors of the Neal's ballroom as

if they have been dancing together for years.

"I like it when I do something and someone comes up

and asks, 'Oh, how did you do that?' but I'm not dancing

 just to get that reaction," Wallace said.

It is obviously a love of ballroom dancing and socializing

 that keeps these dancers dancing.

"For me, ballroom dancing has been something really

 very enjoyable," Giffin said. "It's a good social outlet and

it allows you to get up and do something physical without

 killing yourself, or breaking too many legs."

Although lessons at the Neal's home are private, Giffin

instructs beginner at the University of Charleston Thursday

 evenings, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. for $10 a lesson, or $50

for the dance semester.

For more information on Craig Giffin and WV Dance Inc.,

visit www.wvdance.net, or call (304) 984-1939.

 

 

BALLROOM DANCE LESSONS OFFERED

(Reprinted from the Putnam Herald)

(Friday, September 14, 2007)

Institute, W.Va. 

 

   Do you have a little Fred Astaire in you?  Want to explore your

inner Ginger Rogers? 

   You can unleash your twinkle toes without going too far from

home. 

   Nationally acclaimed ballroom dance instructor Craig Giffin

offers group ballroom dance lessons from 7-8 p.m. Tuesdays

in Room 134 of the Wilson Student Union at West Virginia State

University in Institute, and from 7-8 p.m. Mondays in the Geary

Ballroom at the University of Charleston. 

   A free dance practice session, from 8 to 8:30 p.m., follows

each lesson.  

   Lesson cost for community members taking the class is $10

per person per class or $50 per person for a six-week lesson

package.  There are no makeup classes for people who

purchase a package and who miss one or more lessons.

   Tuesday lessons are free for West Virginia State University

faculty, staff, and students.  Monday lessons are free for

University of Charleston faculty, staff, and students. 

   You do not need a partner to attend these classes. 

No prior experience is required to take these lessons. 

Visit www.wvdance.net or call Craig Giffin at (304) 984-1939

for more information.

    

 

WOMAN FINDS EMOTIONAL OUTLET,
YOUTHFUL VIGOR IN DANCE
(Reprinted from the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail)
(Thursday, September 27, 2007)
Charleston Daily Mail Staff

Julia McCormick has found the fountain of youth --

anywhere on a dance floor.

Gliding to music has kept her fit and trim, McCormick says.
And it has been a wonderful boost to her social life.

Watch video of Julia McCormick and Craig Giffin.

McCormick first took up ballroom dancing with her
late husband,
Richard, as a break from the stresses of
the jewelry business they ran with his two brothers. She
worked in the back office keeping the books, a perfectionist
who insisted on logging every penny earned or spent
at McCormick's Jewelers.

"When you are taking dance lessons, you have to
turn off work," she said. Her husband was happy to
dance with her, though she said he did not take to it as
passionately as she did. She traveled to classes
in Georgia with her sister and later competed in events
in Ohio and North Carolina.

A native of Smyrna, Tenn., McCormick recalls loving
dance since she was a girl.

"I was probably about 5 years old when a cousin
of mine taught me the Charleston," she said, offering
a small clue about her age, which she declines to reveal.
("I want people to see me," she explains.)

"And I always loved movies with dancing in them,"
McCormick added.

Her natural grace and her attention to detail made
her a good -- and persistent -- student.

"Whatever level you achieve, there is always the next
level," she said.

While McCormick has taken lessons in just about
everything from swing to samba, she is drawn most to
traditional ballroom styles, especially the waltz.

She and her husband were active in several dance
groups until his death in 1997. She has competed
in Dance Showcase events in other states that
draw thousands of dancers and has earned gold
and silver medals for her footwork.

"My husband told me on his death bed, ‘Julia, you
keep dancing because I know you love it,' " she said.

Indeed, she found it kept her busy and offered a
social outlet during some difficult times.

"I lost my only brother, my sister and my husband in
four years -- that was something to go through," she said.

In the late 1990s, McCormick attended an Academy
Dance Club event in Huntington, where she met a young
man who asked her to dance. She recalls that
Craig Giffin had just begun lessons and she
encouraged him to continue.

He recalls he was "horrible" when he first started
lessons. She recalls he carried himself well and
had potential.

They wouldn't meet again until about two years later,
when McCormick recalls being impressed by the
progress Giffin had made and they soon began
dancing as partners.

And when he began teaching lessons about a
year ago, he asked McCormick to help. They teach
regularly at the University of Charleston, West Virginia
State University and several other sites around the state.

Giffin, 34, and a lawyer by day, said the two have
become friends.

"I've learned several things from her," he said,
and not all involve dancing.

"I've learned a lot of ways to be more gracious toward
people, because she is a very gracious lady."

Their partnership and friendship illustrates best
what McCormick loves about ballroom dance -- the
way it can bring together people of all ages and
backgrounds. She wishes more young people danced
and she laments the lost tradition of cotillion classes for
young men and women.

"If I had had children, I would have wanted them to
dance," she said.

She now is active in four or five dance groups and
between lessons and social dancing, she often is
out several nights a week.

"Honey, there's no end to it," she said, smiling.

A parquet-floored room in her Kanawha City home
has been cleared for a practice area. Her closets
contain an array of clothing for dance, including
custom-made competition dresses studded
with sequins and mid-heeled dance shoes.

It is easy to see that her grace and manners on the
dance floor are part of her nature.

McCormick, who has served as a model for local
fashion events such as the Symphony Style Show,
is the kind of woman who dresses well for all
occasions. She's also the kind of woman who
can persuade the cable guy to give her his personal
cell phone number in case the Internet connection
problem she had is not fixed and she needs him to
come back.

McCormick's speech carries the refined drawl of a
Southerner and a slight impediment that comes from
hearing loss suffered after severe ear infections when
she was about 10 years old.

"It has gotten worse as I've gotten older," she said. Two
hearing aids help to correct the loss.

Fortunately, it doesn't affect her ability to dance.

"I feel the music. I know there are some tones I can't
hear. I may not hear the highest violin, but I can still
appreciate the symphony," she said.

Contact writer Monica Orosz at
monica@dailymail.com or 348-4830.

 

CHARLESTON LAWYER BECOMES

PROFESSIONAL INSTRUCTOR

(Reprinted from the Charleston W.Va. Daily Mail)

By Charlotte Ferrell Smith

Charleston Daily Mail Staff (2006)

September 20, 2006

 

     Even those with two left feet can learn to dance the

swing, foxtrot, waltz, tango, ballad, and samba. 

     Just ask Craig Giffin, a Charleston lawyer. 

     He swears he was a bit of a klutz when he began

ballroom dance lessons.  Now he's a professional dance

instructor.  So, he knows others can master the steps as well.

     "It's kind of like riding a bike," said Giffin, 33.  "The

muscles must be trained.  Once you learn, you retain a

great percentage.  When I started dancing, I realized I had

a long way to go."  "I am not naturally gifted.  I worked at it

and acquired the skills." 

     The Sissonville native earned an undergraduate degree

in political science from Shepherd College and then attended

 law school at West Virginia University.  He had just completed

his first year of law school when he happened across a

newspaper advertisement for ballroom dancing lessons. 

He thought it sounded like fun, even though he wasn't

quite sure what it was. 

     He asked friends.  He checked Black's Law dictionary. 

He still didn't know.  A fellow law student agreed to take the

plunge with him and give lessons a try.  He felt a little

apprehensive and clumsy but he got a taste of what

ballroom dancing entailed. 

     It was two more years before he began taking lessons

again. 

     In 1998, he began working full-time as a lawyer for

the state Department of Environmental Protection and

again started dance lessons. 

     He said perseverance made up for a lack of inborn skills.

     Giffin now has taken ballroom dancing lessons regionally,

 nationally, and internationally.  He studied the tango in

Argentina, swing dancing in Australia, and the salsa in

Egypt.  He also participated in Dancers at Sea, an

organization that provides dance instruction aboard cruise

ships. 

     Giffin, with the assistance of award-winning instructor

Julia McCormick, is now teaching several classes in West

Virginia. 

     On Mondays at Winfield High School, beginners may

study the waltz, swing, and ballad from 7:15 to 8:15 p.m. 

Intermediate students will learn the tango and samba from

6:15 to 7:15 p.m.  Cost is $10 per person with proceeds

going to the band boosters. 

     On Wednesdays, classes are offered at the University

of Charleston on the third floor of the Geary Student Union

in the ballroom.  A foxtrot class for beginners is set for

7:45 to 8:45 p.m.  Swing lessons for intermediate students

are set for 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.  Cost is $10 per class or $8 if

a five week package is purchased. 

     On Thursdays, ballroom dance lessons sponsored by

the Roane County Arts and Humanities Council are held

at the Roane County Recreation Center Roller Skating

Rink, 130 Steel Hollow Road in Spencer.  Classes are

$12 a lesson.

     No partner is required to take any of the lessons. 

Giffin recommends that participants wear slick-soled shoes. 

     "It's really for all ages," he said.  "We have people from

 different walks of life.  It seems the great majority are very

 friendly.  That is a trait that is common.  You have a good

time and it is good exercise." 

     Classes will be ongoing and will be taught in five-week

and six-week segments.  Aside from group lessons, private

lessons are available.  For more information, check out

the Web site www.wvdance.net or call 984-1939. 

 

STEPPING OUT

(Reprinted from the Roane County Reporter)

By Jim Cooper, Editor (2006)

 

     Craig Giffin's first encounter with ballroom dancing

was less trip the light fantastic and more trip. 

     "It was interesting," Giffin said.  "I stepped on my

partner's toes a lot.  I was so bad when I started."

     That was a decade ago.  Now Giffin, an attorney

with the West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection,

moonlights as a dance instructor.  He is currently

teaching classes in Charleston, Winfield, and Spencer

at the Roane County Recreation Center and Roller

Skating Rink. 

      In his role as a teacher, Giffin remembers the

challenge that faces beginning dancers.

     "He's a good instructor," Dr. Carroll Christiansen,

one of about 20 people in the local class, said.  "He's

quite forgiving.  That makes it easier for those of us

who have trouble with forward, backward, left, and right." 

      Giffin said he decided to try ballroom dancing after

seeing an advertisement for lessons in the newspaper. 

      "My grandmother said I had danced when I was

about four or five years old," he said of his previous

experience.  "I don't remember that, but I'm sure it was

freestyle with no partner.  I thought (ballroom dancing)

would be kind of fun to do." 

      Giffin struggled at first, but enjoyed the friendship

and encouragement displayed by the other dancers. 

He worked hard to improve and eventually mastered

ballroom staples from the waltz to swing. 

      He has studied dance locally as well as in cities

including Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Washington, and

Columbus, Ohio.  In 2003, he traveled to Argentina

to study the tango and [has also gone] to Australia

to learn swing techniques.  Last year he visited Egypt

for instruction in salsa and also danced during a

Caribbean cruise as part of an organization called

Dancers at Sea.

     Giffin said he waited to become an instructor until

he was more skilled so as not to do a disservice to

his students.  His repertoire also includes the fox trot,

bolero, rumba, samba, cha cha, mambo, polka, and

many others.

     The elegant waltz is the dance of the evening

during a recent class in Spencer.  Several dancers

move toward the center of the wooden floor at the

skating rink to await instructions from Giffin.  He quietly

 but authoritatively positions the dancers and walks

away to start the music. 

     He returns and alternates between partners Tracy

 Hartness and Julia McCormick as a rendition of 

"Tennessee Waltz" fills the room and light plays

on the silver disco ball overhead.  

     Giffin glides effortlessly through the steps as

the more mechanical, but smiling, novices around

him concentrate on their footwork.

     "I love it," Dr. Pedro Lo said.  "I have a problem

remembering the steps but (my wife, Remy) leads

me around.  She lets me lead sometimes, too."  

     Dr. Harry Anderson and his wife, Joyce, had 

taken lessons previously in Winfield from another

instructor.  Anderson said he had basically forgotten

most of what he had learned during those lessons

and was in the process of picking it up again. 

     "It's an activity we haven't had in Spencer 

before," he said.  "It's good."

     Giffin said class members would decide which

dances are taught. 

     Ballroom dancing has recently grown in

popularity on the competitive level and through

the television program "Dancing With the Stars." 

Talk show host Jerry Springer, country singer

Sara Evans, and NFL great Emmitt Smith are among

the celebrities for the show's second season that

started last week.

     "It just kind of shows what I do," Giffin said of

the show.  "Ballroom dancing is romantic and action

oriented.   I watch it to see if they're doing the steps

right.  I think it generates a lot of interest in ballroom

 dancing." 

     Giffin said the first impression he had of his

Spencer students was favorable. 

     "When I came for the first class I was impressed

with how they picked up the steps," he said.  "My job

is to help those who learn at a faster speed and

those who learn at a slower speed."

     And even those who might step on a few toes. 

 

BALLROOM DANCE CLASS

OFFERED IN WINFIELD

By BONNY RUSHBROOK

(Reprinted from The Putnam Herald (2006))

WINFIELD-- Have you ever watched a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rodgers' movie, and pictured yourself and your significant other, dressed to the "nines," floating around the dance floor to a waltz or executing a saucy tango, while the rest of the dancers spread out into a circle to watch just the two of you?

Or maybe a big event such as a wedding or prom is approaching, and you wish you knew where to put your two left feet besides on your partner's toes? Wish no more because help is just a 2-step away -- right here in Putnam County.

Craig Giffin, daytime attorney and after-5 ballroom dancer and dance instructor, is inviting anyone interested in ballroom dancing to sign up for group lessons with his company, WV Dance, which will meet Monday, Sept. 11, at Winfield High School. The Intermediate class will be from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. and the Beginners runs from 7:15 to 8:15 p.m. Giffin said not only will students get some exercise and learn a new skill; he or she will also be aiding a good cause. Proceeds from the class will benefit the Winfield High School Band Boosters.

Winfield High School rates are $40 for the six-week class.

Giffin, 33, said people should not be afraid to try ballroom dancing even if they believe that maybe dancing is too difficult or because they have the proverbial two left feet. He believes that most people can learn to dance if they really want to learn. In the beginning, dancing was a struggle for him, Giffin said.

"For me it was more difficult. I am not naturally gifted," he said.

As a matter of fact, he did not know what ballroom dancing even entailed when he saw a listing for it in the Entertainment section of a Charleston newspaper in 1996.

"I was just perusing through and it caught my eye. I didn't know anything about that. I had to learn what it was," he said.

He said he took some lessons in Huntington and later was referred to Eva Tanner (now deceased) of Charleston who taught him the many types of ballroom dancing. He also credits Tom Cyrus of Charleston. When he first started the lessons, he was in law school, and didn't get into it seriously until he finished his law degree.

Giffin said it was a couple of years before he felt really comfortable with his ability.

"You have to learn rhythm -- get a feel for the timing. You have to train your muscles to react in certain ways with the music. It's like learning a language. It's a learned skill like riding a bike. You don't come out of the womb knowing how to dance," he said. Perseverance and a desire to learn was the key.

"I have a personality where if I want to do something, I want to be good at it."

He decided to teach because after seeing how proficient he had become at so many different dances, people were asking him to teach them. Still, he took lessons for eight years before attempting to instruct others. In an article from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's in-house magazine, the "Water Cooler," he said, "I did not want to begin teaching until I had achieved a mastery of the dances that I plan to teach. I felt that I would have done a disservice to my clients had I begun teaching at an earlier point in my dancing career when I was not as skilled as I am now. However, I now feel that I have obtained a mastery of what I am planning to teach and feel that I am able to offer a quality service to those who are interested in learning how to dance." Giffin said his own experiences as a student have helped him as well

"I know what people can do wrong because I know what I did wrong. I know all the mistakes that can be made, and how to correct them," he said.

He said one thing he will emphasize is the difference in style or personality between the various types of ballroom dancing. He said some instructors don't emphasize this, and the result is that the dances look the same.

"By teaching the correct way to dance, it allows them (the students) to express themselves in their dancing," he said.

Giffin believes dancing is helpful for several reasons. One, dance skills are certainly useful for social events such as weddings, parties, or inaugural events. In addition, it keeps people of all ages active. Moreover, it is ideal for high school students who have an upcoming prom because it gives them confidence in their ability in a social and dance setting.

"It helps build self-esteem," he said.

He said WV Dance private and group ballroom dancing lessons in a wide array of dances -- including the ballad, bolero, cha cha, foxtrot, mambo, meringue, nightclub, 2-step, polka, rumba, salsa, samba, four count swing, American waltz, and Vienna waltz.

The Winfield beginner class will feature the dances most people need if they are attending a social event, such as the East Coast Swing, Ballad/Slow Dance and the American Waltz. The Intermediate class includes the American Tango and Samba.

"It's a good community activity, and a good way for people to have a good time," he said.

Giffin is an accomplished dancer in both smooth and Latin forms of dance. He has trained both regionally and nationally for more than eight years in ballroom dancing, and has received instruction in both the Fred Astaire and Arthur Murray styles of dance.

Internationally, Craig took Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Salsa in Cairo, Egypt, and Swing in Melbourne, Australia. He attended the 2002 CITA Argentina Tango Festival in Buenos Aires and the 2005 Corn Palace Polka Festival in Mitchell, S.D. In 2005, he joined and began participation in Dancers at Sea, an organization that teaches ballroom dancing on cruise ships worldwide.

"I went to Argentina for a two-week vacation, and spent one week in a Tango workshop, seven hours a day. The people in Cairo (Egypt) taught New York style Salsa. They actually have Salsa lessons at the Nile Hilton," he said. Giffin added that what you learn locally will probably work when you visit another country.

"You can learn to dance the Salsa in Charleston, and dance in Cairo as well," he said.

Once you have developed the skills and added a little style, there are several dance clubs available right in Charleston: The Passepied Club, the Latin Club, University Club, Academy Club, Charleston West Virginia Chapter of USA Dance, Inc., Quadrille Club, and the Cotillian Club. If you live in Beckley or are visiting the area, you can go to the Beckley, W.Va. chapter of USA Dance, Inc.

Assisting Giffin as an instructor is Julia McCormick, who graciously volunteers her time to WV Dance. McCormick has danced for more than 20 years. She has competed and received awards from her participation in various ballroom dancing competitions including Heritage Classic Dancesport Championships in Asheville, N.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Epcot Center World Showcase held at the Buena Vista Palace Walt Disney World.

If you want to sign up for the classes, a dance partner is recommended, but not mandatory. Giffin also asks the couples to switch partners as they learn, because it keeps dancers from picking up bad habits. You might figure out what you are doing right or wrong if you dance with different people.

Most dances are done in casual or semi-formal clothing; however some dances at the clubs will require formal dress. For the lessons, Giffin said to please wear slick-soled shoes (leather or suede is recommended). Tennis shoes are not recommended.

Shoes can be obtained at Backstage Bodywear in Charleston. In addition, the shoes can be ordered from the Internet. Try Capezio, Inc., Capezio of New York, or Dancesport Shoes.

If you can't make the Monday night sessions at Winfield High School, Giffin is also giving lessons on Wednesday evenings at the Geary Student Union Building (third floor ballroom) at the University of Charleston and Thursdays at the Roane County Recreation Center Roller Skating Rink at Spencer. He has more information on his Web site, www.wvdance.net, about dance instruction at these other locations.

Giffin encourages everyone to give dancing a chance by attending a six-week session.

"I encourage them to give it a shot. You might find an interest you never knew you had before," he said.

For more information, call Giffin at (304) 984-1939 or visit the above Web site.

 

DEP LAWYER BEGINS DANCE

INSTRUCTION

By Colleen O’Neill (2006)

(Reprinted from the Water Cooler, a West Virginia

Department of Environmental Protection Publication 

for Employees, with slight editing as to content) 

 

 

While the fancy footwork of Fred Astaire and Ginger

Rodgers can only be found on the big screen, that elegant

style of dancing still lives.  In fact, ballroom dancing

thrives and DEP employs someone who regularly

trips the lights fantastic in West Virginia. 

 

“I’ve been ballroom dancing for over eight years,”

said Craig Giffin, an attorney with the West Virginia

Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of

Legal Services.  “I began taking lessons after my

first year in law school in ‘96.  After concentrating on

graduating from law school and passing the bar

exam, I began taking lessons again in the fall of ’98

after I began my full time employment with DEP.”

 

He explained how dancing is a good social outlet. 

Dancing is fun, and you get to meet new people, he

said.  Plus, it doesn’t involve any activities for which

you might be imprisoned.  “That’s always a positive,”

he said.

 

Craig commented that the genuine warmth of other

practitioners is what kept him in dancing when he first

started.  Since that time, he began to feel more and

more comfortable with the dances.  And, over the last

couple years, “many people have complimented me

on my technique and movements.  After some people

indicated that they would like to take lessons from me

if I offered them, I got to thinking that if I taught lessons

I could help other people enjoy something that has

given me a lot of enjoyment.  It is this thought that

spurred me consider teaching dance.” 

 

Thus what began as a quest for a new hobby has

turned into a passion for Craig.  Although he has

fervency for the practice of law, his passion towards

dance has led him to decide to not only dance, but

also instruct.

 

“One of the things that I considered when people

first approached me about teaching dancing was

my level of mastery of dancing.  I did not want to

begin teaching until I had achieved a mastery of

the dances that I plan to teach.  I felt that I would

have done a disservice to my clients had I begun

teaching at an earlier point in my dancing career

when I was not as skilled as I am now.  However,

I now feel that I have obtained a mastery of what

I am planning to teach and feel that I am able to

offer a quality service to those who are interested

in learning how to dance.  That has what has led

me to decide recently to begin teaching dancing

this fall.”

 

Craig has studied dance locally, nationally, and

internationally.  Regionally, he has spent time l

earning dance in Columbus, Ohio, Pittsburgh,

Ohio, Baltimore, Maryland, and also Washington,

D.C.  Receiving instruction abroad, he traveled to

Argentina in 2003 to study the Argentine Tango,

Melbourne, Australia to acquire technique in Swing

dancing, and Cairo, Egypt in 2005 to become

skilled in Salsa.  Craig also participates in a dance

organization, Dancers At Sea, that books dance

cruises; in 2005, he danced on a cruise that went

to the Caribbean.

 

The list of dances this 33 year-old has a mastery

of is impressive.  His skill runs the gamut from

dances of flair and panache to those of a flirtatious

nature and seduction.  In the classes he will begin

in the fall at Winfield High School, he plans to

teach dances of elegance, such as the Waltz,

American Tango, Ballad, and the Fox Trot, to the

provocative and sexy, like the Salsa, Rhumba,

Samba, and Mambo.  He may also teach playful

dances, like Swing and the Polka in private and

other group lessons.

 

“I enjoy all the dances, as each one has its own

personality, its own distinct character,” Craig said. 

“The Swing is informal, the Polka is campy, the

Waltz is elegant, the Salsa and Mambo are sexy,

and the American Tango is dramatic and passionate.”

 

“One of the things I intend on emphasizing in the

classes I will be offering later this year is the

difference in style between the various types of

ballroom dancing.  Some instructors don’t really

emphasize this and it results in all of the dances

looking the same.  When this happens, you lose

some of the enjoyment that each dance has to offer. 

 

In addition to teaching styles of dance, he’ll also

be teaching men how to lead dances, women how

to follow, and various steps unique to each dance. 

 

Craig hopes that by teaching others this movement

art, he’ll also give the dance community a shot of

enthusiasm.  “Charleston has historically had a

thriving dance community.  In fact, I detail on my

website, www.wvdance.net the many dancing clubs

both in Charleston and other parts of West Virginia,

including Beckley, Lewisburg, Parkersburg, etc., that

people can join and participate in once they begin

dancing. 

 

“One of the things I’ve noticed over the last several

years, however, is that as people have moved away

or passed away this community has dwindled a bit

and clubs have lost members.  It is my hope that I

can help this community to start growing again by

equipping people with knowledge, skill and

technique of dance,” he said. 

 

“I think that my efforts, along with the popularity of

shows like “Dancing With the Stars” will help to

once again grow West Virginia’s interest in dance.

 

The Web site for WV Dance, the name of the company

 he has formed to facilitate dance instruction, can

be found at www.wvdance.net  Besides listing clubs,

the site contains information about what dancing

clothes or shoes you need, upcoming group lessons, 

how to contact Craig, and frequently asked questions

students have about dancing.

 

I’m willing to teach group lessons and private

lessons in the Charleston, Hurricane, Winfield, and

Ripley areas,” he said.  “I have now started teaching

a group class in Spencer on Thursday nights at the

Roane County Recreation Center and Roller Skating

Rink and during the second week of September I will

 start teaching group classes at the University of

Charleston on Wednesday evenings and group classes

 at Winfield High School on Monday evenings.  I am

available for private lessons both during the week

and also on the weekends.  Most anytime will do,

except Sunday mornings as I enjoy attending church

at that time.”

 

For more information, please visit WV Dance's

website at www.wvdance.net, contact Craig at

304-984-1939, or email him at KCCKK-1@juno.com