Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

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Dick Blake teaches positive life lessons through dancing, etiquette, manners classes

Dick Blake counts the rich and foumous, as well as plenty of school children and families, among his devoted clients of dance and etiquette. (Photo courtesy of Dick Blake.)

Dick Blake counts the rich and famous, as well as plenty of school children and families, among his devoted clients of dance and etiquette. (Photo courtesy of Dick Blake.)

By LAURI GROSS

Dick Blake may be a genius. Since age five, he has known instinctively what researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine concluded after a massive 21-year research project: Dancing is good for you.

The research, led by neurologist Dr. Joe Verghese and recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, studied elderly subjects to see which activities best improved their cognitive functions. Crossword puzzles produced a 47 percent lower risk of dementia and, reading, a 35 percent reduced risk. Playing golf, bicycling, and swimming had no effect at all, and regularly engaging in social dancing lowered the subjects’ risk of dementia by 76 percent. The researchers explained that social dance – foxtrot, waltz, swing, tango, and Latin dance -activates our brains’ neuroplasticity by forging new neural pathways: It challenges the mind and forces it to make split-second decisions as two partners follow not just preset steps, but also improvise.

Dick Blake has been sharing his love of dancing throughout his life and, several decades ago formed his own business that bears his name and now includes ballroom dance lessons, as well as etiquette training for families, schools, customer-service professionals and more. To Dick, each person is a product and how each of us packages the product decides our success or failure. Being skilled in dance and etiquette helps transform people into successful products through finely tuned body movement and – based on the Einstein College research – a finely tuned mind to go with it.

Dick has been featured in more than 100 television shows and hundreds of radio programs and print publications. His undisputed effectiveness is obvious when considering his long, successful career, the loyalty of his clients – many of whom have been with him for years or even generations – and by his flexibility to adapt each lesson to his audience. He peppers each presentation with jokes and also quotes from Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Shakespeare, and others. He literally has hundreds of poems memorized but before reciting anything, Dick carefully considers quotations from those in his repertoire to make exactly the right point to specific clients, which have included school kids, celebrities, athletes, politicians, families, and plenty of local doctors, including the Cleveland Clinic’s Drs. Robert and Elaine Wyllie. The Wyllies recently performed the tango as Spotlight Dancers at a benefit for the Diabetes Partnership of Cleveland, at which Dick served as one of the judges of the evening’s Dancing with the Stars competition.

In everything Dick does, it is clear he embodies what he teaches: To be able to sell ourselves, we need manners … Success is a process of growing, not a destination … Our lives are what our thoughts make of it … Everyone is happier when they are learning and growing … How we package ourselves includes how we walk and talk and everything we do that affects how others see us, and so on.

Come see for yourself at Dick’s Beachwood studio, (at The Hamptons, 27040 Cedar Rd., Beachwood) where he has no set class times and there are no lesson packages to buy. Instead, Dick and his wife, business partner and fellow professional dancer, Lorraine, handle every client individually, and schedule each appointment with flexibility. Reach the Dick Blake School of Ballroom Dance and Etiquette at 216.831.5463 and visit DickBlake.com for more information.

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