Franciscan couples stumble through first ballroom dance lesson


With much laughter, 15 Franciscan dance couples stumbled through their first ballroom dance lesson on the night of April 12 in the Gentile Gallery.

This ballroom dance lesson was hosted by Mary Ciaccia, a resident assistant of Marian Hall and a sophomore theology and catechetics major.

“Since swing dancing is already a common occurrence on campus,” said Mary Ciacca, “I’m hoping that ballroom dancing will become a common occurrence as well.”

Mary Ciaccia’s mother, Kristen Ciaccia, led the ballroom dancing.

Mother of seven homeschooled children, Ciaccia has been ballroom dancing since college. She was involved in the Arthur Murray Dance Studio and went to frequent ballroom dances at her parent’s yacht club. She also was involved in numerous dance clubs, which led is how she met her husband, Paul.

Though she does not teach dance lessons, Ciaccia will occasionally teach an engaged couple for their wedding, and she will teach ballroom dancing at her homeschool co-op. Her main goal is to teach the youth to dance.

“It builds confidence in yourself,” she shared. “It is a simple way for young men and women to enjoy being together.”

Ciaccia kept the dances lively with her animated movement and fun way of explaining the dances.

The Franciscan students were taught to waltz, rhumba and foxtrot to popular dance songs, such as “Save the Last Dance for Me,” “Under the Boardwalk” and “It Had To Be You.”

Starting with simple, basic steps, Ciaccia would have the men lined up on one side of the dance floor, the girls on the other, and walk them through each step slowly before bringing the couples together and trying it to music.

“It’s an intellectual exercise,” said Ciaccia. “We do it to reclaim culture.”

The basic steps consisted of the box step, the promenade and the hesitation step.

“The most important thing is to make sure you’re having fun,” shared Ciaccia. “There’s nothing more enjoyable than watching a young couple dance that are enjoying themselves.”

The response from the Franciscan University students was very positive. All enjoyed themselves and were eager to learn more.

The students shared that the dance taught them a lot and that they had enjoyed having Kristen teach them. They all signed up for a survey afterwards to give their feedback on the dance.

Mary Ciaccia is hopeful that her enthusiasm for ballroom dancing will spread, leading to more ballroom dances on campus.

“This was a great turnout,” said Mary Ciaccia. “I’m hoping to do it again.”

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