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We all have a story as why we started dancing. Whether it be for exercise, fun, or the thrill of learning something new…everyone’s reason is different. For our next Dance Family Spotlight, we are highlighting Carl Gottlieb! Take a look at his dance journey:

1. How long have you been dancing?

I started dancing 22 years ago (Over 7 years at International Ballroom).

2. What got you initially started on your dance journey?

In the summer of 1998, I was preparing to go on a cruise. I thought it would be a good idea to learn a few dance steps. I scheduled a free lesson at both another chain and at Fred Astaire Dance Studio. I went to the lesson at the other chain and had a good time. The next night I had a lesson scheduled at FADS. I was having problems at work. I called up the studio and talked to the manager (Mr. John Penatello). He asked if I could make a 9:30 p.m. lesson. Little did I know it was the luckiest day of my life that I was able to make it.

I got to the studio and met the manager and studio director, Jean Penatello (a former undefeated US champion). Then I was introduced to the teacher. This was the first time I met Christina. From the very beginning you could tell that this was a very special young lady. I could also tell she was a much better dancer and teacher than Christine. We hit it off right away.

At the end of the lesson, I realized that the FADS studio I was going to was much better than the other studio, and I signed up.

I started working on their Beginners Program. I attended my first Studio Party on October 2nd, 1998. At the party, the studio owner, Charlie Penatello, announced that the FADS regions would be holding a competition. He told us that we would be competing against people of our own experience and age; so, it didn’t matter if you’ve 100 lessons or 5. And then out of the depths of the studio came a shout saying “OR EVEN 3.” Of course, that was Christina and by the end of the night I signed up for my first competition.

I went on the cruise on November 1st and at every opportunity I was on the dance floors, most of the time in the middle of the day, practicing my steps. I came back to the studio on November 9th and started to get ready for the Tri-State Championships on Nov. 12-15th. I had a blast at the comp (even though when I look back at the tape, I cringe about how bad I was). That was the start of my life in Dance.

3. How has ballroom dancing impacted your life?

After 22 years it’s hard to imagine not dancing. It brings joy into my life every day. I never feel that anything is totally beyond me. For someone who is naturally very shy it has changed me totally. When I’m out there on the floor I feel like I can do anything. When I’m on the dance floor at a competition, performing a showcase or just at a party or on a trip, I am in my element. It’s all about the performance and having fun. There is nothing better than interacting with the teachers, students and the audience you are performing for. I have been truly blessed in the 22 years I’ve been doing this. I have met so many people! It has changed me in so many ways; from the coaches I’ve had and especially my teachers (Christina Penatello, Lacey Bramblett and Madelaine Kenner and others). I can’t wait for the next adventure at International Ballroom. I can’t describe how much dance adds to your life. If you have the opportunity, just do it. There is nothing better.

4. What advice would you give to anyone who is interested in or are just starting on their dance journey?

Everyone starts this journey into dance for different reasons. Whether you start this to do social dancing, perform in a showcase or compete in a competition, your main goal is to have the most fun you can every day! Just get out on the floor and don’t worry about anyone else. Have the most fun you can and dance like no one is watching!