Tucson students find Royal Wedding connection in footwork

(Source: Tucson News Now)
(Source: Tucson News Now)
Updated: May. 18, 2018 at 5:34 PM MST
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(Source: Tucson News Now)
(Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Step by step, they're practicing and feeling the music that moves them.

"You find the right tune. You find the right style. You tell a story. It feels like a different kind of freedom," said Viola Watson, who's been a student at Fred Astaire Dance Studio for two years.

As she takes her place on the dance floor, as a student in her lessons, Watson can't help but feel royal.

"There is something to ballroom dancing," she said. "It changes the way that you hold yourself, the way you walk into a room, and it's so subtle you don't even realize it. But it's super powerful and probably one of those hidden reasons why I enjoy it so much and I don't even think about."

Watson is watching closely as, more than 5,000 miles away, a Royal Wedding is taking shape in London.

Prince Harry is set to marry Meghan Markle, an American actress, at St. George's Chapel in Windsor early Saturday morning, May 19.

Americans in particular - some 46 U.S. broadcast affiliates will cover the wedding - are obsessing because the bride is one of their own, the Associated Press reports.

"I'm really excited about the fact that Harry is marrying an American, an African-American, an older woman, a divorced woman, a woman who has been an actress - which probably in Victorian England wasn't considered the highest form of career. I think it really shows that we all can be royalty today, no matter how we started out and no matter what sort of strikes you may think you have against you. There's still a chance that you will be a princess in somebody's mind," said Roberta Shaffer, a student at Fred Astaire Dance Studio.

Step by step, Shaffer transforms when she dances.

"Your posture improves. You feel like you could have a crown on your head and it wouldn't fall off," she said.

The Tucson woman sees herself in the young love between Prince Harry and his bride-to-be.

They will be married in the most public of settings, with the wedding being watched by millions of people worldwide.

Some 79 international broadcasters, including outlets from the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, are planning to report on Markle and Harry's wedding, the Associated Press reports. More than 5,000 U.K. and foreign media and support staff have credentials to cover the action in Windsor, a town 22 miles west of London.

But in private, Shaffer will focus on the couple's footwork, finding that she too can be swept away in the majesty.

"Those are two people coming from very different worlds. Yet, they fall in love. They're going to build a life together," she said. "We can all think we can become a princess, too. The dancing is part of it. You dress up a little bit. You wear something to dancing class that you wouldn't wear out to dinner with your husband. I think that's a little bit of being a princess."

One of her teachers, Wayne Corso, who co-owns Fred Astaire Dance Studio at Grant Road and Swan Road in midtown Tucson with his wife, called the Royal Wedding "a love story" with which each of them can connect.

"Everybody that comes in here is looking for their own love story," Corso said.

It's a tale that Corso has told for 15 years. That's how long he said he's been waltzing with his wife.

Corso is curious, as his students are left in suspense, theorizing what the royal couple's first dance will be as newlyweds.

"I'm so curious to see what they're going to do with that and how they really become a global couple," Watson said. "I'm actually kind of interested about the breaks from tradition."

They are all waiting to see royalty do what they've done for decades.

"I guess it brings something that's royal down to my level. So now, all of a sudden, we've got something in common with the royal family. I don't think their feelings towards each other are any different than my feelings towards my wife when I'm dancing."

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