There’s a transformation that happens when people step onto a dance floor. It is a physical, emotional and mental change that scientists have been investigating and dancers have been living. “The dance floor is a leveling ground,” says Caroline Augustin. “It doesn’t matter what culture you are from, your orientation, your age, or your body type. On the dance floor we all become happier.”
Augustin is the CEO and Co-Founder of Blueheel Dance Studio in Port Credit, Mississauga. The ballroom and Latin dance specialist sees that transformation in every dance and every dancer.
“Dance lifts you up, it boosts the serotonin and the dopamine,” Augustin said in a recent telephone interview. “I’ve been doing this for 17 years and I have seen that miracle happen again and again when people come in feeling depressed, and during our time together their moods improve and they change. When you dance, you have an opportunity to express your true personality that is bursting to come out.”
While individuals might feel their own moods improving as they dance, the therapeutic benefits are shared.
One of the benefits to Augustin is watching a young couple become true partners under her instruction.
“A lot of young couples who come in for their first dance choreography think that all they are doing is learning one dance,” she says, “but as they go through the process, they discover one another in a new way. They move from being the he person and the she person to being the them person. Wedding planning can be such a hairy time and when they come to the studio, it is just them away from everyone else. It’s a very special time.”
It isn’t just young couples preparing their wedding choreography who Augustin sees.
“We also see a lot of older couples whose children have grown up and gone to university. They have more time to spend together and they can enjoy learning to dance as a shared experience,” Augustin says. “For a lot of women, getting their partners to come through the door is the biggest challenge. There’s something about the male psyche. They don’t like to be out of their comfort zone, especially with that stereotypical view that ‘dancing is for girls and women,’ but when they come, it opens a door for them and all of sudden, they love it!”
For all the resistance some men might have to overcome before their first lesson, it is not universal. Blueheel is an inclusive place and everyone is welcome in the Blueheel space.
“Partner dancing is such a community thing, it is our ethos,” Augustin says. “We want to be a part of the place where we belong. It’s that sense of community that really drives us. When we are at the Jazz Festival or another event, well, before COVID, we brought dancing into the streets for everyone, by everyone. Dance belongs to everyone and everyone can enjoy it. I wish I could put that energy into a bottle and sell it.”
Like most businesses, Blueheel has faced its fair share of challenges with the move to online instruction during the pandemic.
“The transition to online has been very, very difficult,” Augustin says. “First there was the shock of COVID, and then the grief of losing life as we knew it. It took us a few weeks, but we added free dance lessons to motivate people to get out of their chairs. So we have free Instagram lessons to get people moving who are missing the studio. You can learn the steps and the drills on your own.”
Augustin has also received some help. Blueheel has received a grant and valuable advice through the Digital Main Street initiative offered by the Mississauga Business Enterprise Centre (MBEC).
“They had a team work with me to improve my digital marketing, website and social media presence,” Augustin says. “The team I worked with were awesome. They did a marketing audit and came up with some really great initiatives, walking me through the areas that I needed to upgrade. I am so grateful to have the professional resources available to me.”
One of Augustin’s new initiatives is a program she calls COVID Lockdown Couples Therapy, providing couple with a joint purpose and goal through online classes. Taking a little break from remote work, this online school supervision gives couples a chance to focus on one another.
Digital Main Street is a program that helps main street businesses achieve digital transformation. This program is built around an online learning platform, structured training programs, and our Digital Service Squad, a team of street-level members who help main street businesses grow and manage their operations through technology.
The Mississauga Business Enterprise Centre (MBEC) is a business unit of the City of Mississauga’s Economic Development Office. MBEC is your central source for business information, resources and guidance. For information and guidance, our team is currently available to serve you remotely. Please contact us by phone or email.