“To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful… This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.” -Agnes De Mille
Pamela Connolly wants to teach the world to dance, and she’s found a way to do it virtually — at least for now.
“No one should sit on the sidelines, or stand against the wall watching while others dance,” said Connolly, an accomplished actress, dancer, television star, psychologist, author and owner of Key West’s new Pasíon Project boutique dance studio, 523 Southard St. (She’s also married to comedian extraordinaire Billy Connolly, but that’s a story for another day.)
Pasión Project offers private and group dance lessons and fitness classes for all ages and experience levels. The studio offers aerial arts, balance and movement classes, ballroom, swing and a wide variety of Latin dances.
“I am thrilled to support the dance aspiration of others and be able to offer this unique dance curriculum in Key West with such terrific, professional instructors,” said Connolly, who appeared on the original, British incarnation of “Dancing with the Stars” and did several skits on “Saturday Night Live.” “We are also the first dance studio to specialize specifically in presenting and teaching Lambada in the United States.”
At the helm of that class is Master Braz Dos Santos, “the world’s most celebrated Lambada dancer,” according to Connolly, and star of the international dance show, “Brazouka.” Since his relocation to Key West, dancers have traveled from around the world to attend his 50-hour certification courses for dance instructors.
“No one has two left feet,” Connolly said. “You just need the right teacher, and of course, a desire to dance, which I believe is inside all of us.”
The Pasión Project studio faculty members also include: Tybaldt Ulrich, Jade Whitley, Brad Meccia, Amber La Bomba, Jorge Enrique Valerp, Jeff Mumford, Taylor Tarn and Dr. Michelle Gibson.
Classes include Argentine tango, swing, Carolina shag, bachata, hustle, all ballroom styles, country line dance and country swing, Brazilian zouk, Lambada, salsa shines, salsa and more. The Pasíon Project studio is also a fully equipped aerial arts studio with stretch, flexibility and injury-prevention classes.
When the pandemic prevented Connolly from opening the studio as planned in May, she set to work converting the space into a state-of-the-art virtual dance studio to inspire amateur and professional dancers online via Zoom. Instructors are trained to use the technology to teach, to show themselves from back and to use cameras at foot level to show close-up shots of their feet. When the doors open for live, physically distanced classes, students can choose between live or virtual learning. Private lessons are available for those who would like to avoid public interaction and/or desire one-on-one instruction.
“Like most business owners viewing the future as uncertain, we will always retain a virtual element, including a library of dance instruction videos available 24 hours per day,” Connolly said.. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Keys residents and visitors will enjoy and support this ‘Keys Strong’ local business.”