In its 14th year, Advance Your Dance Maui has become a hot spot for the mature crowd with a loyal following.
Started by Frank and Sandy Hook of Kihei, it’s a Saturday class followed by an open dance floor at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
“In the ’70s Sandy signed me up for hustle dance lessons without my prior knowledge,” says Frank, now 70. “She knew I loved music but never danced.”
They kept taking different dance classes as a couple from then on. At the time, both were schoolteachers in Plainville, Conn.
Frank taught second grade for 31 years, and Sandy taught second and third grade for 34 years. They first visited the islands in 1978 and committed to retiring here.
When a neighbor on island developed cancer, the Hooks began leading social dances at the MACC on Saturdays to raise funds for his medical bills. By the time their friend died, a dance ohana had formed. People wanted the Hooks to keep it going, and they did.
First they hired a local couple who had just turned professional to teach a class during an intermission in the social dancing. The couple left, and Frank and Sandy took over teaching it all: ballroom, Latin, country, swing dances, as well as line dances and choreographed partner dances. Advance Your Dance Maui was born.
“I enjoy dancing with all level dancers, from Frank to the newest dancers,” says Sandy Hook.
“Our MACC dances are a fun place to learn and enjoy partnership dancing for adults of all ages, in a safe environment,” says Frank Hook.
Colleen Mitsuya, 68, arrived on Maui from Honolulu in the 1970s with her husband, Donald Watson. Semiretired, she now manages a vacation rental in Wailea and does other sales work — all arranged around her dance schedule.
“If you told me I would be ballroom dancing in the future,” says Mitsuya, “I would have said, ‘Not in a million years!’”
At work years ago she saw an ad for dance lessons at a price she could afford. She asked Don to join her, and it began their life of dance. They would practice privately at home to reinforce the lessons, calling Frank to settle any heated disputes on the steps.
“I will not divulge who was right or wrong,” she laughs.
Don wanted to join the advanced West Coast Swing group lesson. When told he needed to practice more to join, he began to show up and take notes he could refer to, and was joyous when he was accepted.
Don has since died.
“He loved dancing more than I ever imagined,” Mitsuya says.
She continues to practice her steps, the spirit of Don with her. “We are very lucky to have them offering us a place to dance the night away.”
Attendees to the popular Saturday night MACC dances add their $9 to the fee box and either join right in on the dance floor or take a seat to study the steps. The age range is 40 to 90.
No partner is required, and most dancers rotate, dancing and learning with most every attendee. Husband and wife lead the classes together.
Many have been with the Hooks and Advance Your Dance Maui since its launch and are quick to welcome newcomers. Even mainland visitors join in. They’ve also hosted top American dance professionals to teach, including West Coast Swing and Country Dance Hall of Famers.
“Frank’s repertoire of dance music is outstanding,” says Mitsuya. “He puts a lot of time and effort into choosing his music each week, and Sandy is the best hostess with the mostest! She will make you feel at home and is always willing to help you.”
“We have worked very hard to make it so much more than just a place to dance,” Frank Hook explains. “It is a true ohana, where people care about each other, help each other in times of need and even travel together.”
Four dance couples, now married, met at the MACC dances.
“Our dance group is such a special group of people,” says Sandy Hook.
Beyond the MACC dances, the Hooks DJ and host five balls a year at the Maui Beach Hotel in Kahului. They’ve been asked to choreograph wedding dances and showcase performance dances. In Kihei they hold beginner and advanced group dance classes and private coaching sessions.
Over the past decade they’ve held Maui Food Bank benefit dances at the MACC and donate all the money taken in plus their studio rental fees to purchase essential food items for the Food Bank. To date, Advance Your Dance Maui has donated 21,070 pounds of food to the Maui Food Bank.
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