2017-02-16 / Life in Leelanau

Couples waltz back through time at class in Solon Township

By Patti Brandt Burgess
Of The Enterprise staff


CINDY COCHRUN and Jed Jaworski get into the swing of things on Saturday at the Solon Township Hall, where they learned how to waltz in about an hour from instructor Mykl Werth. CINDY COCHRUN and Jed Jaworski get into the swing of things on Saturday at the Solon Township Hall, where they learned how to waltz in about an hour from instructor Mykl Werth. When Jed Jaworski was young he asked his grandpa what his favorite music was.

“I thought he would say The Beatles or something, but he said ‘I love a good waltz,’” Jaworski recalled.

Jaworski, of Frankfort, and his dance partner, Traverse City resident Cindy Cochrun, were learning the one-two-three, one-two-three basics of the waltz on Saturday at the Solon Township Hall.

As a kid, Jaworski had no idea what the waltz was.

But by the end of the hour-long lesson he and Cochrun and about a dozen other couples were gracefully gliding around the floor as dance instructor Mykl Werth offered tips, reminding them to look into each other’s eyes rather than at their feet and occasionally cutting in.


DANCE INSTRUCTOR Mykl Werth and student Katie Rasho demonstrate the basics to a group of wannabe waltzers Saturday at the Solon Township Hall. DANCE INSTRUCTOR Mykl Werth and student Katie Rasho demonstrate the basics to a group of wannabe waltzers Saturday at the Solon Township Hall. “Now I get it,” Jaworski said. “I feel like I know my grandpa a little better.”

Werth teaches dance at Northwestern Michigan College, using a method that gets people doing not just the waltz, but the basics of several styles of dance in just one night.

“I call it the Mykl Werth Movement,” Werth said. “I’m trying to spread it around the world.”

Werth says that rather than teaching steps, he encourages dance partners to move together as one unit.

“It’s a matter of finding a shared center,” Werth said. “That’s a balance point. That really makes you actually one being. You are one person.”

Werth, who has been teaching dance for nearly 30 years, also offers his “co-creative partner dance” class three or four times a year at the Old Art Building in Leland. The class includes the tango, the mamba, the fox trot, the cha cha, the swing, and of course, the waltz.

Katie Rasho took Werth’s partner dance class after taking a ballroom dancing class that she said she just didn’t connect with. After taking Werth’s class she finally got it.

“I just loved the way he was teaching me,” said Rasho, who is studying business management at NMC.

Now she helps out, waltzing with Werth to demonstrate the rise and dip of the steps and the continuous flowing rotations that are the hallmark of the waltz.

Whether danced to “The Blue Danube,” written in 1866 by Johann Strauss II, or Anne Murray’s more recent “Could I Have This Dance,” the waltz has long been considered one of the most romantic dances of all times.

What makes it romantic? Werth said he’s been asked that question many times and has never been able to explain it. But the rises and dips in the steps, the timing and the staring into each other’s eyes work their magic, he said.

“When that gets synchronized you almost get a rush between the two of you,” he said. “There’s this deep connection that you have right away. No other dance does that.”

Partner dancing became more popular after shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” both of which debuted in 2005. That wave has subsided, Werth said, with a lot of local dance classes not being offered any more due to lack of participation.

But his classes are stronger than ever, he said, because he makes them fun.

“I focus a lot on the men because they are the ones who didn’t want to dance,” he said. “The women wanted to dance all the time.”

Now he has more men than women who want to sign up.

He has a lot of younger students also, who once they get the hang of it find they can ballroom-dance to lots of different kinds of music. In fact, they often bring hip hop and other contemporary recordings into his class.

“All of the dances have their own emotion,” he said, and it’s about feeling that rather than being able to do the steps perfectly.

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