“Men, for an hour while you’re in this room, you have the lead. Cherish it, because the moment you walk out that door your wife is in control once again,” Christie Curtis jokes as she and Blue Barrand demonstrate the basic proper technique and form for ballroom couples.
As a father-daughter dance teacher duo, Curtis and Barrand lead ballroom classes at the Lawrence Arts Center every Thursday night. They have been teaching together for 12 years. Right now, they are teaching a Latin ballroom session at the Arts Center to 9 couples.
Dance has always been an important part of their family.
“The first time we danced, [Christie] was 2 years old and I held her on my hip,” Barrand said.
Barrand started dancing when he was 8-years-old. He went to social dances with his parents, which cost 10 cents to get in.
While dance was more of a social activity for him in his youth, Barrand took ballroom more seriously when he was older. He began formal training during his 50s. at Walters Dance Center in Kansas City, Kan. Barrand began competing with his wife in 1976. They traveled all over the country for competitions. Some of the dances they would compete in include waltz, foxtrot, tango quickstep, rumba, cha-cha and jive.
His favorite memory from competitions was when he and his wife entered a national amateur couples competition for Latin ballroom. They had made it to the top 12, and when competing for the top six, Blue thought they wouldn’t make the cut.
“I said to my wife, ‘Oh just relax, we know that we didn’t make it past that round,’” said Barrand. His wife took off her shoes and they both relaxed offstage.
A few minutes later their names were called and they had to rush back out on the floor all disheveled. They had been chosen as one of the top six amateur couples in the country. “It was the biggest surprise of my life,” Barrand said.
Curtis grew up watching her parents compete in different ballroom categories and eventually majored in dance education at the University of Kansas.
“After college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Curtis said. “After teaching my first ballroom class I thought, ‘This is it.’” She liked getting to know the couples she taught and teaching them new things.
Barrand and Curtis had both taught classes with their spouses for many years. In 2001, they started teaching dance together.
“My dad and stepmom taught a class at the Lawrence Arts Center. When my stepmom decided she had to take a break, I stepped in. And I just never gave it back to her,” Curtis said.
Charles Higginson, a returning student to Curtis and Barrand’s class enjoys the chemistry they share with the class. He and his wife began taking classes with Blue and Curtis after a few friends took classes from Curtis and her husband.
“They’re really comfortable with each other. They are just really in sync,” Higginson said.
Barrand instructs the men on how to lead, while Curtis teaches the women how follow successfully. They separate the men and the women and teach them the moves, then they have everyone come together. They make the class fun for the couples.
“They tease each other all the time. Especially him. And they are just good at what they do,” Higginson said.
They make a lasting impression on couples they teach at the Lawrence Arts Center. “For his age, he is graceful. He is really smooth. He’s been doing this for decades, he’s got the moves down,” Higginson said.
HAYLEY JOZWIAK: Blue Barrand and Christie Curtis, a father-daughter dance teaching pair inLawrence, Kan., talk about their favorite part of teaching together.
CHRISTIE CURTIS: It’s fun. We keep it in the family. I was brought up that way, we might as well end it that way.
HAYLEY JOZWIAK: Teaching dance is an important part of both of their lives.
BLUE BARRAND: You dance with her husband, Lawson. I got to dance with my wife. Then we get to dance together.
CHRISTIE CURTIS: Yeah, we get a little bit of everything.
HAYLEY JOZWIAK: It’s their love of dance that makes them so passionate about teaching.
CHRISTIE CURTIS: I think we love it enough that we don’t have to be inspired. Mention dance and we’re out on the floor and we’re inspired. Just the ballroom dance inspires us.
BLUE BARRAND: Just the thought of dancing. Ballroom dance that is.
CHRISTIE CURTIS: Give a us a floor and music, and we’re happy.
HAYLEY JOZWIAK: This is Hayley Jozwiak, with Get to the Pointe.