The History of Fred Astaire Dance Studios
When people think of a dancing legend, Fred Astaire is the first to come to mind. Just the mention of Fred Astaire conjures up images of dance and grace. He left a lasting impact on the world and we are proud of our great dance heritage which began in 1947 when the Master of Dance himself, Mr Fred Astaire, co-founded our company.
Considered to be the greatest multi-talented dancer of all time, Fred Astaire wanted to establish a chain of studios under his name to make sure that his techniques would be preserved and passed on to the public. He was instrumental in our instructional techniques and the choice of dance curriculum. The first Fred Astaire Studio opened on Park Avenue in New York City, and with this opening, Fred Astaire brought his immense talent out of the glamour of Hollywood and onto the dance floors of America and the world.
Astaire once observed: “Some people seem to think that good dancers are born. All the good dancers I’ve known have been taught or trained. To me, dancing has always been fun. I enjoy every minute of it. I am glad that I can now put my knowledge to use in bringing personal confidence and a feeling of achievement to so many people”.
Today, there are numerous Fred Astaire Franchised Dance Studios located in cities throughout North America and internationally, which are required to maintain the highest standards of excellence. We achieve this through our National Dance Board and Fred Astaire Franchised Dance Studios curriculum certification.
Our studios have produced a wealth of amateur and professional dancers who are living embodiments of the style and grace of Mr Fred Astaire.
Biography of Fred Astaire
The name Fred Astaire is synonymous with dancing, elegance and class and no one other person has so profoundly affected the taste and style of Ballroom Dancing. Born Frederick Austerlitz in 1899 in Omaha, Nebraska, Fred Astaire first achieved fame in the dancing team “The Astaires” with his partner, sister Adele.
From 1917 to 1931 The Astaires delighted audiences in the United States and England until, in 1931, they made their last appearance as a team in the stage rendition of “THE BANDWAGON”, a smash musical revue at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City. Fred Astaire then went on and answered the call to Hollywood where his talents not only as a dancer, but as an actor, singer and composer were developed in the Hollywood years, demonstrating his immense versatility as a performer and musician.
During this time, a dedicated Fred Astaire fan, Charles L. Casanave, (a well-known motion picture executive) had a dream of sharing Astaire’s gift with the American public and approached Fred Astaire with his idea at a meeting in the Plaza Hotel in New York City in 1946. These two dynamic personalities from different sides of the film industry stirred each other’s imagination to such an extent that, before the meeting was over, a great new partnership had been formed. Fred Astaire was to bring his immense talent out of glamorous Hollywood onto the dance floors of America and the world – Fred Astaire Dance Studios had been born.
Over many months while a decorator’s dream of a dance studio was being built, Fred Astaire himself made daily treks to a nearby rehearsal hall with scores of young teachers in tow and there laid the foundation of the famed Fred Astaire method of ballroom dance instruction. Throughout the next decade the beautiful training centre at Park Avenue inspired the opening of many Fred Astaire studios across America which thrived as thousands of thrilled students flocked to their doors, eager to learn the Fred Astaire method of dancing. The early years also saw other events bring the name of the Fred Astaire Dance Studios to the public’s attention, such as Astaire’s creation of the “Swing Trot”, the publication of the Fred Astaire Dance Book and the release of the Fred Astaire Dance Records through RCA-Camden. The new idea had met its challenge; the groundwork had been laid well, assuring a future for a dance chain inspired by a very famous pair of feet.
With over 150 Fred Astaire Dance Studios throughout the world and being in business for more than half a century, our strength derives from the fact that we have the name of a fabulous dance personality in our trade name, the most complete ballroom curriculum in the world and the finest assembly of professional teachers. By the continual development of better methods, patterns, programs, activities and techniques, Fred Astaire Dance Studios will continue to offer the most complete ballroom curriculum in the world as well as the finest teachers thus offering the highest possible standard of social and ballroom dancing and the best dance schools in the world.
Fred Astaire died in 1987 from pneumonia. With his passing, we lost a true dancing legend – as Mikhail Baryshnikov observed at the time of his death, “No dancer can watch Fred Astaire and not know that we all should have been in another business”
Fred Astaire’s Dance Partners
Although famous for his magical partnership with Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire also danced with the leading ladies of his time, including Cyd Charisse, Lucille Bremer, Joan Leslie, Leslie Caron, Vera Ellen, Barrie Chase, Judy Garland, Eleanor Powell and Rita Hayworth.
“For ballroom dancing, remember that your partners have their own distinctive styles also. Cultivate flexibility. Be able to adapt your style to that of your partner. In doing so, you are not surrendering your individuality, but blending it with that of your partner.”
– Fred Astaire from The Fred Astaire Top Hat Dance Album, 1936
Fred Astaire Films
Fred Astaire starred in 31 musical films. He was famous for his collaboration with Ginger Rogers in the following films:
Flying Down To Rio (1933)
The Gay Divorcee (1934)
Top Hat (1935)
Follow The Fleet (1936)
Swing Time (1936)
Shall We Dance (1937)
The Story Of Vernon & Irene Castle (1939)
The Barkleys Of Broadway (1949)
Songs Introduced By Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire introduced many classic songs by famous American composers, including:
Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” from The Gay Divorcee (1932)
Jerome Kern’s “Nice Work If You Can Get It” from A Damsel In Distress (1937) and “A Fine Romance,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” and “Never Gonna Dance” from Swing Time (1936)
Irving Berlin’s “Cheek To Cheek” and “Isn’t This A Lovely Day” from Top Hat (1936) and “Let’s Face The Music And Dance” from Follow The Fleet (1936)
Gershwins’ “A Foggy Day” from A Damsel In Distress (1937) and “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off,” “They All Laughed,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” and “Shall We Dance” from Shall We Dance (1937)