Dancers flock to JK Shuffles
JK Shuffles at 99 Danbury Road (Route 7) in New Milford recently celebrated its second anniversary.
The dance studio, opened by Jill Weiss and Kevin Fritch, is located on the upper level of the building that houses Weiss’ other venture, Fat City.
“We needed a place of our own where we could focus on dancing,” said Weiss, who had been teaching line dancing at various venues in the area before finding the space.
Weiss and Fritch decided to move Fat City’s show and sales room to the lower level, where production is based, to make way for the dance space that boasts a 2,000-square-foot, unfinished solid Northern Pine dance floor, as well as a seating area with numerous tables and chairs.
The floor is built specifically for dancers, as it is supported by one inch of plywood and a half-inch layer of unique dance foam, which helps to protect the health of dancers’ knees, hips, ankles and feet.
“The space is incredible,” said Chris Lollo, of Brewster, N.Y. “You can’t find a better floor.”
Robin and Bruce McCandless, of Pawling, N.Y., are among the couples with construction skills who helped Weiss and Fritch construct the space.
“It’s an investment,” Robin said of their donated time. “We love dancing, we love the comradery, love the ease of dance.”
JK Shuffles offers instruction at all levels for line dancing, as well as workshops in salsa, Latin, two step, country swing and more, and Jazzercise.
The schedule includes beginners’ night Mondays from 7 to 10 p.m. ($7), improved/intermediate (advanced beginners) Tuesdays from 7 to 10 p.m. ($7) and intermediate/advanced Thursdays from 7 to 10 p.m. ($10).
Open dance nights, which run from 7 to 11 p.m., and special events are held Fridays and Saturdays, with information posted on JK Shuffles’ website at www.jkshuffles.com.
Weiss said there is a misconception that line dancing is all about country music.
“Yes, we do country, but line dancing is only about 50 percent country,” she said.
There are three different facets of line dancing: mainstream progressive, which is ballroom based; country; and soul dancing, which is urban based.
Most of the dancers wear soft-toe shoes, not cowboy boots, Weiss said with a smile.
During instruction, Weiss guides students through the multiple steps of a dance. Learning the steps is critical before learning the sequence, she said.
Two mirrors — flanked by white curtains to make the mirrors look like windows — on one wall provide students with the ability to watch their form as they dance.
Lollo described Weiss as a “phenomenal instructor who can turn anyone into a dancer.”
“She’s a good teacher, thoughtful and kind,” said Brenda Kymer, of Beacon Falls, N.Y., who has been dancing with Weiss for about four years.
Mike Schreck, of Danbury, and Rosemarie Maconi, of New Fairfield, are regulars at JK Shuffles. He cited his appreciation for the layers of dance and its complexities.
“Three years ago, I was a brick with legs,” Schreck said. “Now I can dance.”
Weiss’ choreography is popular. One of her recent dances is listed as No. 3 on an international line dancing chart out of England.
Students are invited to drop in for classes. For the beginners’ nights, students will learn steps early in the evening and build up to structured dances.
“I like the friendliness and comradery between dancers,” said Anna Marie Gerhard, of Yorktown Heights, N.Y., who with her partner Morty Amstel have been longtime friends with Weiss and Fritch.
Debbie Hanlon, of Sharon, said she loves dancing and enjoys spending the time with her mother, Barbara Prindle, who also attends classes.
Prindle, who has been dancing for more than 30 years, said line dancing is “good for the mind and good for the body.”
“You make new friends here,” added Hanlon.
For more information, call the 99 Danbury Road (Route 7) dance studio at 203-417-1875 or visit www.jkshuffles.com.