On their feet

December 15, 2005

Cleveland, OH —Howard S. Siegel, MD, and his wife, Judith, love a spin around a dance floor—whether it be with dance clubs, in showcases, when traveling, or teaching their students.

More than 15 years ago, Judith Siegel decided that the couple should learn how to dance better together. She purchased an introductory package of six private lessons from a dance studio. They found that dancing together was enjoyable and fun. The foray became a more serious pursuit. Today, they are both students and instructors of ballroom dancing, an increasing popular activity.

Dr. Siegel pointed out that they are not competitive dancers. They have, though, achieved "Gold Level" by finishing the required curriculum for that distinction.

"When a young bride and groom realize that their first dance will be recorded for posterity, they want to ensure they don't look foolish to future generations," Dr. Siegel said.

The Siegels also teach aboard cruise ships. Larger groups of couples come to learn the basics from them in the afternoon, so they are ready for ballroom dancing in the evening. Dr. Siegel noted that there has been a dramatic rise in the popularity of ballroom dancing of late and that cruise ships don't normally offer ballroom dance classes, so they are in demand when they cruise.

"Judith and I have taught for many years in our professional lives, so we are experienced teachers," Dr. Siegel said. "We are good dancers and good teachers, so we are especially good at teaching beginning dancers."

The Siegels spend a lot of time learning about dance and share that in their lessons.

"We have been characterized as overly intellectual dance teachers," Dr. Siegel said. "We like to dissect and analyze every dance. There is so much history and sociology involved."

They enjoy traveling as a way to learn more about origins of ethnic dance and how dance is perceived and appreciated in different cultures.

The Siegels are currently working with two other couples on a show to air on cable TV this year that will both showcase and educate about certain styles of dance.

Dancing together

The hobby started as something for the Siegels to do together, as a married couple.

"There are only a certain number of things that married people can do together!" Dr. Siegel said. "There are occasional disagreements over dance; it's two people trying to accomplish one result or goal. You have to learn how to negotiate and to compromise to solve problems together.

"In our experience, most dancing couples are happily married. Which comes first? I don't know!" he quipped. "To this day Judith still has no earthly idea what dance steps I am going to do next, but she follows my leads. We are always fine-tuning. It is much more complicated than it looks."

A life outside of medicine

The Siegels appreciate that dance is a different world for a physician and his wife. They meet people with different lifestyles, people who are more aesthetic or musical. They have a separate circle of friends in the "dance world." He books dance bands now for the groups they dance with.